In that piece, I wrote how Germany may not be preaching “universal values” per se, but politically-expedient political myths. Well, interestingly today, the German parliament voted to recognize the so-called “Armenian genocide” as a true “genocide” and a crime against humanity. Turkey – which has been both fighting and growing its own brand of terrorism abroad – is none too thrilled.
In the lead up to China’s commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, I thought I’d do a little personal aside … that might explain why Japan can be so delusional about so many things.
Politics … in many ways … especially politics in the democratic sense (i.e. at the level of the people) … is about caricatures … about simplifying (over-simplifying as the case may be) the issues. Politics is about setting narratives – about burnishing worldviews – through selective highlighting (and de-emphasis) of reality … to present a particular view of the world that sometimes resembles some aspects reality … but that can some times also be completely in contravention with any sane view of reality.
There is a reason why people often avoid talking politics and religion in polite settings. People can try to use logic and reason … but the problem is that underneath iceberg tip of logic and reason are mountains full of unspoken – and sometimes even unconscious – presumptions. It’s why reasonable people can disagree vigorously and get so worked up about political disagreements. Read more…
I came across an article in Asia Times on Japan’s WWII surrender that I thought was very well written. It is important because within that surrender lay the seeds of today’s historical revisionism. But more important than that, it is a good case study on what Japan is NOT.
Too often, many in the West think of Japan as this enlightened, modern, forward-looking, peace-loving society. But when the West seems to have misunderstood Japan’s nuanced and conditional surrender for a real unconditional one akin to Germany, then perhaps it is time re-evaluate to what Japan is in reality, and what Japan is headed to be.
Here I offer two articles, first as a context, and second as a case study.
First is that article in Asia Times on Japan’s WWII surrender. Read more…
Now the word “comfort Women” has been removed from High School textbooks and instead replaced by South Korean “individuals victimized by Japan during the war seeking to file lawsuits in Japanese courts to seek apology and damages.” like these people are a bunch of money grubbers. Not to mention that Japan want to portray themselves as liberators in Asia from American, European, French and Dutch colonialism.
What’s surprising is that Japan not only seeks to dilute the issue of the atrocities during WWII, but they want to do it to American textbooks as well.
Rather a surprising move: “Japan’s foreign ministry requested that McGraw-Hill delete a passage containing a reference to comfort women from a text on world history used by high schools in California. The passage says that Japan’s imperial army “forcibly recruited, conscripted and dragooned as many as 200,000 women aged 14 to 20” to serve in military brothels.”
Also Japan goes after its own citizens who want to publish truths about comfort women issue.
Even its own citizens are targeted when trying to write about the ‘controversial’ comfort women issue. A Japanese journalist is being sued for defamation and personally threatened because he has written articles about Comfort women.
In an effort to rearm themselves and want to remove article 9 out of its constitution, Japan want to relive its ‘glory days’ as Imperial Japan and remove any references of atrocities during the last World War is dangerous indeed.
April 15 is tax day for most Americans. It is the deadline for Americans – rich or poor – to file and pay their taxes. But this year, it appears, it is also smear China day. You may think with so much things going on in the world, things to do, that perhaps for this one day, China might be spared unnecessary smearing. But it is not to be so.
Last week, on April 15, both New York Times and Wall Street Journal ran two underhanded articles on China, assigning the blem for the unfruitful search for missing Malaysian airline MH370 squarely on China. Both papers reported that China was in big on the search for MH370 not necessarily because a majority of the victims were Chinese citizens, but really because Chinese leaders wanted to show off their new technology wares – to grab the International spotlight to to show off. Unfortunately, the Chinese bumbling not only made China look bad, but may have actually stymied the search. Read more…
Earlier today, I stumbled upon a curious article in the Washington Post titled “This is why Germany doesn’t want China anywhere near Berlin’s holocaust memorial”. According to the article, President Xi was (in short) barred from visiting German’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin because Germany was worried about embarrassing Japan.
Here is a copy of the article in full:
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Germany for the next two days, meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German officials. It’s the third leg of Xi’s European Union trip, and an important one – as Deutsche Welle notes, Germany is China’s most important trade partner in Europe.
There is, however, once place that Xi isn’t wanted during his time in Germany: Berlin’s famous Holocaust memorial. Der Spiegel reported this month that German authorities had refused a request from Xi’s entourage for an official visit to the site. While the Chinese president may visit the site on his own, it will not be a part of the official itinerary and Merkel will not accompany him.
Visits to the Holocaust memorial, officially known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), are a key part of a trip to Berlin for many visitors. Why wouldn’t Xi be granted an official visit? Read more…
Peter Lee wrote an interesting piece at Asia Times titled “India places its Asian bet on Japan” today regarding his take of India’s recent rapprochement with Japan. Before reading this piece, I had regarded Singh’s recent trip to Japan as nothing much more than two second-rate power trying to form a second-rate alliance against a perceived first-rate power. But perhaps there is something more…
An almost sad tribute to Boeing’s 787 above, attributes the recent Infernal Batteries problem of two 787 a week apart from each other, both while in normal operations, to the growing pain of “innovation”.
Except, this was not “innovation”. Using such batteries in airplanes perhaps, but the battery technology, Lithium Cobalt Oxide type, is not new. It was invented in the late 1970’s, and have been in prolific use in cell phones and laptops since 1990’s.
There’s been another round of commotion related to the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands (in Japanese it’s called Senkaku) between China and Japan. It all started with a Tokyo mayor trying to ‘buy’ the island from some supposed private citizen who ‘owns’ it. We know these islands’ administrative control was simply given to the Japanese by the U.S., and in the Chinese government’s view, a violation of the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, which stipulate that Japan must return all lands it usurped during the Second World War. In response, some activists from Hong Kong and Macau landed and was soon captured by the Japanese coast guard, though couple of days ago, were released. That sparked protests in Japan. In turn, some Japanese activists have landed on the Diaoyu Islands. That then sparked protests in China. At the moment, the U.S. is conducting military exercises with Japan, designed to deal with China in case China one day takes it by force. China’s reaction to that exercise here. What now? I want to weigh in with couple of thoughts. Read more…
My strategy for fighting jet lag returning from Asia is to have a large breakfast followed by a large lunch on the departure date. Minimal fluid around lunch and depart in the afternoon. Sleep little the night before. And then sleep all the way in a window seat on the plane. On numerous occasions, I managed to be out before take off and waking up as the plane approaches San Francisco. Picture to the left was my breakfast (a promise I’d show Allen during a chat) from yesterday while in Japan.
Seriously though, I had a number of interesting encounters during this trip to Japan. Read more…
On March 6, 2011, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara resigned officially due to accepting donation from a Korean national. Most countries have laws banning officials from accepting foreign donations directly or indirectly. Obama was forced to return some donations in 2008 for this same reason. Maehara’s receiving of 250k Yen is paltry though, and I don’t think that is the true reason for his resignation.
It is generally known that Maehara is a Washington hawk. He takes a much more confrontational approach towards China, Russia, and North Korea. It is likely the mishandling of the Kuril Island dispute with Russia that is causing his resignation. Read more…
With Egypt in turmoil and the U.S. officially “favoring” the protests (via Obama’s indirect support), I’ve been scratching my head on what has happened to this once critical relationship. After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Egypt changed strategy 180 degrees to embrace the United States. Egypt then struck a peace accord with Israel, a critical step for the U.S. strategy in that region. It is well known that with Egypt’s cooperation, America’s foot-hold in the Middle East was greatly enhanced. For example, the U.S. military have rights to fly over Egypt. U.S. naval ships have priority access through the Suez Canal. In exchange, Egypt was given massive “aid.” By Marian Wang’s count, it has totaled well above $60 billion to date.
So, what went wrong? Why isn’t the U.S. interested in propping up Mubarak anymore?
Editors over at Middle East Quarterly published in December 1995 a ten-point summary, “Does American Aid Help Egypt?” by Aryan Nasif, who wrote in The Left, a Cairese journal, argued the “aid” came with tremendous hardship. Don’t get me wrong, the Egyptian government must take responsibility too, for taking the “aid” and for accepting the terms attached. Amongst Nasif’s points, he said:
The U.S. mutual security law states explicitly that no economic or technical aid may be granted to any country unless it strengthens U.S. security.
Separately Tuesday, prosecutors reportedly seized records from the operator of the video-sharing site YouTube to try to determine how the footage was posted online.
Further details of the records were not immediately known Tuesday evening.
YouTube is a subsidiary of Google Inc. of the U.S.
Although the Google camp has expressed willingness to cooperate with the investigation, the prosecutors believe it would be difficult for the search site to voluntarily submit user information, given its policy of keeping such data secret, the sources said.
Map to the left with the ‘A’ flag is one of the islands under dispute. In some ways this is similar to the dispute between China and Japan over Diaoyutai/Senkaku. Perhaps an all-or-nothing approach to ownership is too much of a out dated thinking.
In terms of news coverage, the thing that really struck me is how different Japan, Russia, and China reports than from how the U.S./U.K. media reports. In the case of the latter, they will put so much more spin or propaganda into the news. I am beginning to wonder if I should boycott U.S./U.K. media altogether.
Many Americans think the politics of East Asia is dominated by China on one side and U.S.-Japan on the other. While that may be true on the surface, the dynamics are actually very complicated, and in fact makes that dichotomy false. The pillar of the Japan-U.S. alliance was born out of the Cold War in fear of the former Soviet Union, which no longer exists today in case you haven’t noticed. In contrast, the threat today is a loose combination of whatever is posed by North Korea, China, and Russia. For the on-going of American occupation of Japan, I think it is a much harder sell today.
We see cracks in the pillar recently – former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made the policy pronouncement when taking office to focus on this idea of an East Asian Community. He won partly on the issue of wanting the U.S. to relocate the military base in Okinawa. Japan is now occupied for over 60 years. This situation is unprecedented in history. How long should the U.S. be occupying Japan? Another 10, 100, or 1000 years? Japan is already paying for the U.S. military presence, so it is only a matter of time before the Japanese wanting to spend that money too on her own military. Read more…
In 1945, by executive order, U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It promptly lead to the surrender of Japan. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki, with roughly half of the deaths in each city occurring on the first day. (Wikipedia.org) Those eventual deaths after the first day were no doubt horrific as radiation eventually broke them down. Every anniversary in early August, this sad past is commemorated, and is a reminder for humanity the dangers of nuclear weapons. It is also a reminder of what humans are capable of doing to each other.
Following is a letter from a Hidden Harmonies guest, raffiaflower, of a piece written about this commemoration. Or, rather, there are other victims to commemorate too. Read more…
The latest buzz is the expected overtaking of Japan by China as the world’s number two economy some time in 2010. I’ll ignore the more polarizing perspectives from the likes of CNN and the NYT. Here are some decent takes on this “news”: Bloomberg, BBC (video), and Japan Today).
As reported in Xinhua News, I think the most important aspect of this story is really the per capita of $3,600.00 in China vs. the $39,000.00 in Japan. The ratio of real wealth is 1 to 10, and China’s population is actually 10 times bigger than Japan’s. If the world has humanity, it should hope for continued stable development and that China’s per capita GDP catches up to Japan’s $39,000.00. In the article below, Xinhua writers explain why China is not that excited about surpassing Japan as world’s number 2 economy: Read more…
I think this is a responsible move on Japan’s part. It is a step forward in reconciliation. Some people argue unless the Japanese take full responsibility for their past atrocities, warming of relations with Japan should not be allowed. That is backwards. I have always said in the past, the warming of relations gives confidence and actually allows both parties to face a difficult past. This is more in tuned with human nature. Of course, this does not mean the past ought to be forgotten.
For the Chinese people, they in fact have shown incredible forbearance. The ultimate lesson of this recent history for us all is to not let it repeat. That should be a goal our generation work towards. If we do not, we are in fact likely sewing the seeds for our future generations to repeat the past. The Chinese government is expanding relations with Japan despite this unresolved history. That is responsible, wise, and admirable. Read more…
Recently I visited Japan on business, and on my way to the airport, I heard some comments that gave me some real pause for thought. There were three of us sharing the airport shuttle; a Canadian woman of European decent who works for Siemens in R&D, an African American man who is a sales executive, and myself. Upon learning the woman was from Canada, the African American man tells her that he traveled to Canada frequently, and he was in Toronto a lot to fix a “mess.” In a nutshell, he had to force a sales manager who was originally from Hong Kong into early retirement, because the company was struggling in their sales numbers. He faulted the fact that the sales force based in Japan were reporting into the Toronto based sales manager. The Canadian woman blurted out, “they (the Chinese) hate the Japanese.”
Under U.S. pressure, the Japanese government revalued the Japanese Yen 200% from end of 1985 through early 1988 to address the trade deficit U.S. had with Japan. Did it make any difference for the U.S.? What happened to the Japanese economy as a result of that revaluation?
In my prior post about Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama’s opinion piece on the NYT, I was encouraged by Hatoyama’s view of an Asian Union. This is an interesting trend I encourage our readers to follow. Xinhua reported Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Yu Myung Hwan has met in Shanghai on September 28, 2009 to “deepen their all-round cooperative partnership.” This is in preparation for the three countries top leaders to meet in October in Beijing. It will be interesting to see what new trilateral agreements they reach by then, at which time the top leaders will endorse and announce.
The news this morning is of a new resource-sharing agreement in the East China Sea that represents the start of a new era in east Asia. Japan and China has agreed to ignore territorial demarcation for now, and instead focus on extracting oil and gas from fields in the area.
Many Chinese see in the agreement a government desperate to buy international peace before the Olympics, at any price. One post (原贴) from Tianya:
The Olympics is only a game, how can it be used to kidnap China; how can it lead to such a heavy loss in Chinese interests?
China has 100% sovereignty over the East China Sea continental shelf, this is our most fundamental principle. Once China makes a mistake on this basic principle, then the consequences are long-lasting and severe. This naturally implies China will fall into the hopeless situation of having to negotiate. Once China accepts Japan’s demand for “joint development”, it inevitably dilutes China’s sovereignty over the East China Sea continental shelf.
The Chunxiao natural gas fields have already been fully developed by mainland China, why is there any talk of joint development? Japan’s is using its claims of sovereignty to request a taste of Chunxiao’s rewards. I absolutely can not accept this perspective.
If China agrees to sharing the East China Sea oil and gas fields, this is equivalent to recognizing Japan’s sovereignty over the continental shelf. This is a very serious strategic mistake, with unimaginable consequences.
I'm just trying to imagine, if I had a time machine, going back to 1982 and telling someone that in 2012 a European dissident would be granted asylum by a South American country, to protect his free speech rights from the American effort to prosecute him. I wouldn't have found anyone who would believe that. Funny how the 'sureties' of the world can prove so ephemeral. (Richard Pearce, a reader at Huffington Post, in referring to Julian Assange)