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kuchikomi

Tatami rooms don't agree with G-8 visitors

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When plans for Japan to host this week’s G-8 summit at Toyako were first announced, innkeepers in Hokkaido began to fret over the suitability of their accommodations for foreign visitors. Certainly the deluxe hotel suites used by foreign heads of state would be adequate; but the prospect of handling the overflow from the sizable national delegations, which included aides, support and security staff at the summit, had the local innkeepers on edge.

Sure enough, the evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (July 8) reports, when the approximately 2,000 members of the foreign government contingents and media correspondents began converging on Toyako, the innkeepers’ anxieties proved prophetic.

“This is a hot springs district, so naturally most of the rooms are Japanese style, with tatami,” says a representative of the local innkeepers association. “But some of the visitors demanded Western-style rooms.”

Since facilities in Toyako were insufficient to accommodate all the visitors, some are being dispersed to Noboribetsu and other nearby resort towns. Previously the local ryokan (Japanese inns) had converted a portion of their tatami rooms to Western style years before, when they expanded or remodeled, but the overall capacity was still insufficient, and some of the foreign visitors had to be put up in tatami rooms. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to encourage the foreign governments to use these rooms, but to no avail.

“When they adamantly refused to sleep on tatami, some inns laid down carpets and brought in large beds for the tatami rooms,” says Nikkan Gendai’s source. “Naturally this all had to be done at the owners’ expense.”

After the leaders of the four African nations of Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana attended the extended conference on July 7, they immediately departed for Tokyo.

“That’s because of the dearth of suite room facilities in Sapporo hotels,” explains a local hotelier. “Many Africans are physically big and the beds and rooms were too confined. Apparently in their home countries these people lead a quite affluent lifestyle.”

Pristine Toyako may have been selected as an ideal venue for world leaders to discuss the global environment, but in the eyes of foreign visitors, the area’s “living environment” gets failing marks, Nikkan Gendai concludes ironically.

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104 Comments
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Twat, spoilt pompous corrupt head of states. Stop complaining and take in the beauty of Hokkaido and the japanese style inn. How many Japanese people go abroad and demand to have tatami rooms!

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"apparently in their home countries these people live a quite affluent lifestyle" What a stupid remark! As if this was surprising, and that only in beautiful Japan people lived an affluent lifestyle! I wish this hotelier would take a foreign trip, then he could experience for himself the "affluent" and spacious lifestyles of people in foreign countries (even Africa!!) compared to holy Nippon.

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Most foreign tourists here welcome the experience of a ryokan stay, even if it's only one night. And almost everyone at some point in his life gone camping outdoors. A futon is a LOT more comfortable than a sleeping bag. Perhaps it's not so much the unfamiliar mode of sleeping as the hearty raw egg, natto and seaweed breakfasts that follow upon their awakening that are the source of the current complaints.

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Wow, that is one of the biggest examples of cultural insensitivity I've seen in a while. I'm surprised the heads of state haven't reprimanded their delegations. Also why should the ryokan owners pay the extra costs? Especially when the governments of these whiny diplomats could easily cover the expense. Look at whose in the G-8. Lastly, tatami rooms are very nice, though I prefer a bed myself.

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My heart bleeds for them.

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Perhaps it's not so much the unfamiliar mode of sleeping as the hearty raw egg, natto and seaweed breakfasts that follow upon their awakening that are the source of the current complaints.

That's definitely a possibility, but then they would not have needed to bring carpet and beds in. Also, it would be quite easy for them to phone ahead and say they planned to eat elsewhere.

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Should have sent everyone that complained to a crappy tobacco-stained 10m2 4980 yen/night business hotel.

"Here you go sir, just as you requested. A bed, shower, and western toilet. Enjoy your stay in Japan"

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Keep in mind that the people we're talking about are NOT tourists, they're government officials here on business. While most of them probably want to take in a few sights while they're here, I'm not terribly surprised that they want comfortable sleeping arrangements, and for them, sleeping on the floor does not qualify.

They're not here to camp, or to rough it (and for many of them, sleeping on a floor of woven straw falls into that category). They're here for an international summit.

For me, while I no longer mind sleeping on the ground, I still have a hard time spending my time sitting on the ground. I imagine that the lack of chairs and desks in tatami rooms is a big part of the problem, since many of these people probably have work to do in their rooms, and expecting everybody to be okay with just working on the floor does not seem realistic to me.

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Most foreign tourists here welcome the experience of a ryokan stay, even if it's only one night.

Did it once.. never again.. I loath tatami as well, but to expect that anyone part of the G-8 summit is going to be happy with a little futon on the floor is very very naive.

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A conference of empty promises, wasted fuel, and too many tatami rooms.

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How many Japanese people go abroad and demand to have tatami rooms!

None, because most Japanese who travel abroad sleep in beds when in Japan. Tatami sleeping is and has been on the decline in Japan. While many of us here would welcome a cozy futon, I can see as someone else pointed out, this is a working trip for most foreign delegations and perhaps their rooms weren't sufficient for work. Also, for some folks with physical/mobility issues sleeping and sitting on the floor is just not possible.

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I love tatami rooms. Great smell.

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I don't understand why can't people accept other cultures other than their own?

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Oh my GOD!! So insane! I can't believe and I'm embarrassed that any head of state would be so undignified as to insult the host country by insisting on something like this. How horrible! I beg the Japanese people to forgive all foreign visitors who don't "know" and better. Please forgive us for our ineptitude.

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they should hold the next G-8 in Alaska and have the Japanese stay in Igloos.

remember, business travellers (and diplomats) need desks, comfortable beds, internet connections, etc etc. If i was going on a leisure trip, sleep and screw all day, i guess its okay, but not for these pros.

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Oh my GOD!! So insane! I can't believe and I'm embarrassed that any head of state would be so undignified as to insult the host country by insisting on something like this. How horrible!

are you serious, or are you being sarcastic? Offering a head of state or delegate a futon on a floor is as close to a slap in the face as you could ask for.. This is why I`m sure they went apesh!t.

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Surely if they can get big beds and carpets in, they can get bacon and eggs in too, and beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread, sausages, yes, don't forget the sausages, ketchup too of course.....

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I think it had less to do with the futon/tatami, and more to do with the lack of chair/desk/internet/shower in room.

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Addicted and Japanophile1, Japan is acting as the host for their guests. Rule number one of hospitality is make your guests comfortable, and if they don't find futons comfortable, then it's a failure on the part of hospitality to give no options but to sleep on the floor.

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I disagree. When you visit a country you should expect to adjust somewhat to the local conditions. No one made them choose Hokkaido for this. If they wanted more western rooms, they should have had some places built. Otherwise hold it somewhere else. Spoiled bunch of priviledged class leeches for the most part anyway. They should spend more time living like normal people if they expect to solve normal problems. And Japan is pretty nice compared to many many places. No sympathy for them at all. But a lot of sympathy for the Ryokan owners. Don't change we love your tatami and onsen!

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The hotels shouldn't have to pay for the changes; the Japanese government, which chose this out-of-the-way little burg, should have to pay. Or reimburse.

Most of the time I get ticked off when foreign nationals demand everything in Japan be the same as it is back home - forks, no chopsticks- , but I agree, these are not tourists; they're working people who need a working desk etc in their rooms. On the reverse, most tourists in Little Tokyos around the world are Japanese.

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"Oh my GOD!! So insane! I can't believe and I'm embarrassed that any head of state would be so undignified as to insult the host country by insisting on something like this. How horrible! I beg the Japanese people to forgive all foreign visitors who don't "know" and better. Please forgive us for our ineptitude".

These leaders are here to do serious work if you didn't know (and I'm sure many people will bleat otherweise though). They are not here on school excursion to see the delights of foreign countries and their wonderful and exotic cuisines. Many of them spend a lot of time travelling, giving up family time, eathing foods they might not enjoy, working long hours, speaking to people they would rather avoid (and the list goes on). I'm sure in many they've already given up a lot to get where they are today.

To get serious work done in a limited amount of time, asking them to sleep in a futon might actually be too much. Providing them with a suitable place to sleep in order for them to do their job to the best of their ability is not too much to ask for at all.

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How many Japanese people go abroad and demand to have tatami rooms!

probably none...why would you go on vacation and purposely ask to downgrade your accomodations ?

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Betting. I have a hard time feeling sorry for these people. They are afterall reaping the benefits of their position and did choose their career path as any of us have.

Further, the hard work they are doing will benefit companies and the priviledged world wide far more than it will the mass majority of people they supposedly represent. They will continue to exploit labor, trade with oppressive states, fail to offer real long term solutions and funding for those solutions where they are most needed. And they will never take the hard steps necessary to reverse global warming, increasing food prices or growing poverty.

They will talk at these topics and offer band aids here and there that will help sooth symptoms today and maybe tomorrow. But what we, and the billions of poor and underclass people globally need, are real solutions and a willingness to sacrifice and pay for them.

So if they cannot sleep on nice comfy beds instead of equally comfy futons in lovely ryokan's in Hokkaido while failing to truly think of most of the living breathing people on this planet who would kill for a week in such a place, then too bad. Let them suffer, in such extreme comfort.

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These people are here on business. The futon experience is okay while on vacation, but traditional Japanese rooms lack some of the most basic amenities for business travelers. The Inn operators were smart enough to recognize it and raise the issue but government people are just too damn smart to listen.

I think in the interest of fairness, I bet the foreign guests (except the Fwench maybe) are all abuzz over Japan's sophisticated toilets.

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Again why did they choose a rustic location if they are not prepared to deal with the local situation. Why not Tokyo or Sapporo who could offer "western" hotels?

People are sleeping on stone roads that these guys should be helping and are not. Maybe we should have held this in Bangladesh and set up some flooded farmland for them to sleep in so they could feel the problems they are tasked with addressing.

How can anyone defend these people?

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kboy: Too right! I hate sleeping on tatami. I wake up stiff and with a backache that lasts all day. Cultural sensitivity would have been the organizers of this event realizing that people are flying here and there, on tight schedules and therefore in need of a comfortable place to sleep and for many, that comfortable place is a bed.

*tkoind2: I disagree.

Oh, what a surprise!

When you visit a country you should expect to adjust somewhat to the local conditions. No one made them choose Hokkaido for this. If they wanted more western rooms, they should have had some places built. Otherwise hold it somewhere else. Spoiled bunch of priviledged class leeches for the most part anyway.*

It's not a holiday. It's a working visit. What part of that do you not understand? It's highly doubtful any of the people from the countries mentioned would have had enough power to decide where this summit would be held so stop being ridiculous. Hokkaido was no doubt, chosen by the hosts, not the guests.

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tkoind2: Again why did they choose a rustic location if they are not prepared to deal with the local situation. Why not Tokyo or Sapporo who could offer "western" hotels?

By "they", can we assume you mean the Japanese - who are the ones who chose this "rustic location"?

Japan decides to host 2008 G8 summit in Hokkaido

A hot spring resort in northern Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture was selected by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday as the site of the Group of Eight ( G8) summit meeting in 2008, Kyodo News reported.

The Lake Toya resort was chosen mainly because its location in rural mountains facilitates security measures, government sources were quoted as telling.

The other three candidates are all combinations of cities. Yokohama and Niigata, which are about 300 kilometers away, have proposed to host a port cities summit, and the ancient Kyoto, the industrial Osaka and the Hyogo prefecture in Japan's Kansai region have claimed to stage a Kansai summit.

Abe will formally announce his choice in the evening, Kyodo said.

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Well I'm not surprised. These are hard working people here on business not some 20 somethings in japan on the 1 year english teaching lark. Of course they demand top facilities.

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They may be visitors but they are still GOVERNMENTS of sovereign countries!Of course they will demand the best possible conditions for them to work ...no surprise here.Just like in their own countries,if they want something they will just raise more tax!

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downgrade your accomodation

Tatami rooms are not a downgrade, but rather a cultural difference. Attacking something different as inferior is blatant cultural insensitivity.

why did they choose a rustic location

Isolated locations have been chosen recently as a result of the mass out of hand protests and other security threats that exist when in a large city.

Also if you look at the article, the people who are complaining are not the high level diplomats or heads of state, but rather the platoon of cronies and other underlings that accompany the G-8 leaders. Also with the tatami rooms all you have to do is sleep there. You can do most of your work outside of the ryokans.

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And something no one has commented on............are you ready...................anyone who has been in Jpn a while knows they tend to want to back 3-6people per room, can you imagine.......

As other have said better than I, Jpn screwed up if they thought working people wud welcome being crammed into tatami rooms that only offer minimal space & then its move the one table off to the side or sometimes you even have to fold the legs in order to make enough room for futons, fine for a vacation, stupid for a working biz trip, DOHHHHH!

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However, I do agree that their was a lot of poor planning on the part of the summit organizers. It's obvious that ryokan rooms are not the most appropriate accommodation for such an event. Also I highly doubt that such "visitors" could appreciate the true beauty of a ryokan

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they adamantly refused to sleep on tatami

Proverbial jaw on the ground. What utterly precious, insensitive, nit-picking nose-in-the-air wallies. People who can't adjust to sleeping native for a few nights have no place putting themselves forward as globe-trotting professionals.

A futon is simply a bed with no legs. The only advantage a 'real' bed has is that you don't have to fold it up and put it in the cupboard in the morning - and none of these exalted guests would have the job of putting the futon away.

The article makes no mention of people complaining about Internet access or what was served for breakfast.

The poor little rich boys of Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana couldn't cope with futon and tatami, but I imagine a hefty proportion of the people they claim to represent would be ecstatic at the chance to sleep anywhere as comfy as a nice clean futon in an elegant Japanese-style hotel.

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I just checked the pictures of those leaders who return to tokyo. They are actually big and tall and truly tatami I use wouldn't be good for them

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If the diplomatic staff are so provincial, uninformed, or downright rude as to not adapt to what the host country has to offer, they don't belong in any sort of diplomatic service. I'm going to hope that there were no Americans who complained about the accomodations but if there were, they need to be fired from the diplomatic core immediately. As a footnote the African leaders who left for Tokyo as the accomodations were insufficient proves my point about further no strings aid to Africa. These guys find a ryokan unacceptable and yet their subjects live in huts without running water? enough said....

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realist: read my post above: these African heads of state should be ashamed. They come from poor countries and their corruption is what gives them their affluent life styles. The innkeeper is not wrong it's the patrons who need to learn some manners.

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In addition to my comments above let me just add that these "hard working" people are here to represent their home countries not embarass them. My Aunt was in the diplomatic core in the 50s and 60s stationed in Germany, England and Japan. If you are working in this branch of any government you adapt to the local fare, it's part of the package.

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"After the leaders of the four African nations of Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana attended the extended conference on July 7, they immediately departed for Tokyo."

Leader of Tanzania : Yo , u guys got your funding yet? Leader of Senegal : Yup! Leader of Ethiopia : Got it! Leader of Ghana : Me too! Let's all head to Roppongi!

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I am with usaexpat.

How many of the people that those african guys represent sleep on a straw-mat on dirt floors with only a blanket to cover themselves. They most likely felt insulted that they had to sleep like their subjects.

From what I saw on the Telly, they conference center and the media center seem to offer all the stuff needed to do the work. And I doubt that they were packed 6~8 per room.

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Oh wow, so you have to sleep on a mat made of grass.

woopdie doo.

I'm used to sleeping on hard wood floors, so I wouldn't be bothered. (Its too hot during the summer to sleep on anything but.)

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Overall a stupid place to hold a large international event...

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"When in Rome, do as the Romans." Talk about "leaders" of countries displaying a lack of tolerance and understanding of other cultures. This sets a really bad example for the millions watching from around the world.

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Agree with noborito. There's not really much left to say on this topic - only that it wouldn't even be an issue if the G-8 was in another location with more rooming options available.

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the local inkeepers must have been petrified at the thought of those big africans wearing their shoes on the tatami and putting soap in the bathwater

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Sorry, to disagree but when you sleep on the floors in those countries it is because you "have to" not because it is the chosen way of sleeping. No one would have suggested that Merkel, Sarkozy, Bush or those traveling with them sleep on tatami so why in the world should it have been more acceptable because these people were from Africa? Perhaps they should all have been served one big bowl of sorghum with a little chicken broth over it to share amonst them and maybe only given a small glass of dirty water and made to pee in a dug-out in back - because after all isnt't that how their "subjects" live? If you want to object to the fact that they complained about the host's offerings, I can almost understand that but to bring in the fact that the countries mentioned are poor so somehow it is acceptable, there you lose me. Or do you believe that people should be treated according to the wealth of the country they represent? With that kind of logic, the poor guys from Malawi will be camping rough while the ones from the U.S., Japan and Germany get suites at the finest hotels. Elitist bull!

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No one would have suggested that Merkel, Sarkozy, Bush or those traveling with them sleep on tatami

Don't see why not.

to bring in the fact that the countries mentioned are poor so somehow it is acceptable, there you lose me

No one as far as I can see is saying that the African leaders (or anyone, leader or otherwise) should be treated badly because they come from poor countries. It's the fact that people who live such obviously privileged lives should complain while the people they claim to represent and care about suffer greater hardships than they can apparently even imagine. If the so-called top leaders ran away because they couldn't stand the perfectly good accommodation provided for them, I hope they would get just as much flack.

In fact they are getting flack for stuffing their faces while discussing world poverty and hunger - perhaps not since Marie Antoinette was supposed to have leaned from a Versailles palace window and suggested that her breadless peasants eat cake can leaders have demonstrated such insensitivity to daily hardship than at the luxury Windsor Hotel on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/07/g8.japan?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

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From what I seen on japanese telly, etc.

Major complaint so far has been that the reporters couldn't do things as they liked. No flap about accomodation as they got access to the Net, etc on a free basis. Yep, they were whining about the "Press gifts" they got.

Just another "no news" from a source like they used for "WaiWai".

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cleo: But they didn't, did they? And that is the larger point, but choose to miss it if you like. As for whether or not these guys can imagine hardship, I don't know that and doubt you do either. They may come from priviliged backrounds or they may have come from the poor class. And as far as I know, no one "ran away". They left when the tasks they were given were finished or would you have had them stay where they were no longer needed. If you think there is no suggestion that people should be treated badly because they come from poor countries, then read more closely. People are not stupid enough to say they "should be" treated badly but there is a definite tone that it is somehow more acceptable to do so to people who come from impoverished nations.

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I'm afraid I have to disagree with the majority. It's appalling to offer different standards of accommodation to visitors based on which country they came from. Maybe it would do Bush and Brown good if they were forced to sleep on the tatami for a few nights, but the fact is that if the Japanese government had produced tht sort of accommodation for them, it would have caused a diplomatic outcry. It's not what is considered an international standard as far as hotel provision is concerned.

Perhaps a lot of the commentators here have been in Japan too long. These guys are not Japanologists or Japanophiles - they're diplomats. They probably weren't even aware that it's a cultural tradition to sleep on the floor. Believe it or not, a lot of visitors are still shocked when asked to sleep on the floor, and it's hardly surprising, because it's not the kind of thing you'd be asked to do in many other countries. The Japanese government should have had the cultural sensitivity to bear this in mind.

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kikichan.

Reread the article. It sez there were not enough western accommodations for all the people (some 3000+). Nobody said or hinted that the accommodation was assigned by nationality or other criteria.

And I think I am safe in saying that the higher up you are up the totem pole the better your rooms will be.

Yet, besides JT I have seen no reports about people complaining about rooms, other gripes yes.

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And if you think that the big guys do the work at the meetings you are way mistaken.

They are there to pass around the cucumber sandwiches and pose for photos, planting trees, etc while the real work been done prior to the event and by their underlings.

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Texas: i'm as culturally sensitive as the next guy but going from sleeping on a kingsize bed to sleeping on straw mats is a downgrade in comfort in almost anyone's book..forget that 'ganbare' stuff as well, life is not to 'endure' its to 'enjoy'..unless you live in japan i guess...or, north korea

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The elite dignitaries are very culturally sensitive and interested in the world people indeed. When I hear all this talk about for ex. Hillary saying how close she is and knows the average working person...I laugh. Why, don't you stay with me here in Japan. BTW "I take cold water showers from the end of May to late September". Wonder how she could handle the reality of a real average person. And how many course meals were served at the G8 conference? 32 or 36? yes, I'm not so big and tall as my average American, still I think the tatami is comfortable sleeping. Yes, the open~minded. chou

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sleeping on a kingsize bed

Whoever mentioned a king sized bed, and anyway, can you confirm that all these delegates own king-sized beds? Most of the people complaining are just minor bureaucrats. Also I don't think the Africans are the only ones in the ryokans (they were just an example), so it has nothing to do w/ the fact that African countries are poorer.

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As for the size of the "guests", not all non-Japanese are larger than Japanese so size isn't really the issue here.

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Zen_Builder

You re-read the text.

'After the leaders of the four African nations of Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana attended the extended conference on July 7, they immediately departed for Tokyo. “That’s because of the dearth of suite room facilities in Sapporo hotels,” explains a local hotelier.'

That's the leaders of four large countries who didn't have proper accommodation - or so the article implies - not just underlings. And bear in mind also that these people will have paperwork to do in their rooms, and will need space. I don't think sitting on the floor in a ryokan with no internet connection is a good way for any government official to do business. Ryokan are not designed for people who are there to work. They're designed for leisure use.

And I bet Gordon Brown's entourage, no matter how high they are in the pecking order, have all been given rooms with beds.

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" After the leaders of the four African nations of Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana "

Since when are these G8?

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Since when are these G8?

Many other nations attend the G-8 summits as a way of making sure they aren't forgotten, and so that they can be kept up to date, as well as lodge requests/complaints

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Here we go again, the big black square not being able to fit firmly into the round hole they have provided. They have a right to seek alternative accommodation if what they had was not suitable. This notion that Africans should be happy with anything because they are largely under develop is a whole sale lift from the book of colonial teachings. The Japanese has bought into that attitude and it is evident in the kind of imagery we see in Japan that has anything to do with Africans. There are lots of things I like about Japanese culture but sleeping on the floor is not one of them. It is at first uncomfortable and certainly is requiring getting use to. The Africans seemed to have been very tolerant for enduring it for a few days.

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These African guys are probably richer than most of the other diplomats there. Africa and the middle east are the richest countries in the world when it comes to commodities etc. In Africa you see poor as people then drive to the government precinct... 12yo in a BMW or even a Ferrari. No im not kidding. Especially in Nigeria. Im mixed white and black 6'3 and I would sleep in a traditional inn. Im planning on it this year acctually. These guys would not be my height they are just spoiled idiots. My family works in diplomacy so I know how it works.

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Tatami. Get rid of it.

It houses dust-mites by the BILLIONS. Causes asthma and excema in children. Is a haven for mold in humid climates. It is delicate and weak. You can't place anything on it heavier then a rice bowl. The tatami room in most homes is a giant waste of precious space.

It is a woven straw mat. Nothing more, nothing less. Worth noting that apes make beds in trees every night by weaving branches and leaves together.

Caves, keep the rain off your head, but you'll note we don't live in them anymore.

As for the cultural aspect. Head-hunting and cannibalism is a "culture" with some people. I don't see anyone supporting that!!!!

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I don't see how you could connect tatami with cannibalism. Anyway tatami has a strong cultural significance to the Japanese. Also carpet carries a lot of dust mites, and other undesirables.

This notion that Africans should be happy with anything because they are largely under develop is a whole sale lift from the book of colonial teachings.

No where does explicitly it say the Africans were the only ones in the ryokan. This is not in the least racist.

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kikichan.

If you watched the news reports in Japan there were PLENTY of facilities for people to work outside their rooms. Heck if their underlings could do it(interviewed on TV while working) why couldn't they do it?

And it was NOT just the african delegations that had Tatami rooms as many try to imply. It hit across all nations and nobody else complained.

On average a Hotel will have one or two suite rooms at the most even in the west.

From your own post to me: "That’s because of the dearth of suite room facilities in Sapporo hotels,” explains a local hotelier.'"

No call me nuts but there is difference between a suite-room and a western style hotel room. Heck, I wish we had access to a suite room when we travel overseas on business, nah we just get the average Joe Brown hotel room in a business hotel. Asian travel to Hong Kong, etc you often have to walk sideways past the bed as there is not enough room.

And I find japanese tatami rooms more spacious/luxurious than most business hotels I stayed at.

As for sleeping in a futon on Tatami done it for a few years and no problems.

Just me.

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Again why did they choose a rustic location if they are not prepared to deal with the local situation. Why not Tokyo or Sapporo who could offer "western" hotels?

Seattle, 1999.

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As for those of you who snipe at the G8 visitors wanting a bed,

what part of "international conference" do you not understand?

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Protestors tore up Seattle, G-8 Summits attract a lot of excessive anger, so there has been a need recently to choose more isolated locations

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As for those of you who snipe at the G8 visitors wanting a bed

A futon is a bed, it just has no legs and doesn't take up so much room during the day. As far as sleeping goes, the only people who need a bed with legs are people who sleep under the bed.

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I am with cleo.

A bed is good for people that got knee or hip problems and thus cannot easily move from a ground position. If a futon is well aired/beaten(daily) it is just as soft and comfy as a mattress.

Heck when I was young we used to air/beat our duvets daily.

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Cleo,

So is an area of a ground where flowers and vegetables are grown.

While you and I may find a futon just as serviceable as a bed, they are not the same. And no amount of explaining Japan's beautiful customs to an unknowing and uncaring world will ever change that.

But all that is immaterial.

An international conference means just that.

International.

Japan's beautiful customs notwithstanding.

Standards must be met. And Japan, more than any other nation on this planet, is more concerned with meeting those standards. For nation. For power. For prestige.

This futon mess is a national embarrassment to Japan.

And they've strived so hard for so long to be modern.

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wooops.

They've come so far, just to miss it by a...

foot..on.

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JeromeInJapan- I agree with you, I am 6ft 3inches and I hardly meet any African that is as large as I am. This idea that they are disproportionately larger that others is a fantasy put out there by those who wish to label the Africans as different. A lot of them tend to have more money that brains, and the notion that power is a corruptive force is perhaps more obvious in Africa because of widespread poverty and fiscal mismanagement. But that does not detract from the fact that they are essentially like the rest of us

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When in Rome.

There is no reason to assume that diplomats or workers from other countries were also offered tatami.

Really? The article states clearly, most of the rooms are Japanese style, with tatami.

It also says some of the visitors demanded Western-style rooms.

Sounds to me like most of the visitors were quite happy with their tatami rooms, or at least had the manners not to complain about being offered what is perfectly normal accommodation for the country they are in.

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When in Rome.

You see, that's just it.

Japan ain't Rome.

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Actually, it says people were sent to Noborestu since there weren't enough facilities in the original place and that many of the rooms had previously been converted to those with beds. It sounds like piss poor planning all around to me and people have a right to complain if they don't like their accomidations. I've seen Japanese do it many times and have not thought them rude for doing so. If other diplomats or workers were offered tatami and liked it good for them. I would have complained too because tatami would have left me with a backache for the rest of the day.

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It's one thing for a person with a physical condition to request a change of accommodation, and quite another for someone whose condition is a large hat size to complain about perfectly good accommodation just because it isn't what they're used to at home.

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And you would know that none of them suffer from back, knee, or other health problems how exactly? Face it, Japanese may think sleeping on the floor is the cat's meaow but plenty of other people find it to be uncomfortable and silly. It's sleep. It matters if you're to function well. They had every right to complain - especially if they were told they'd be in accomadations with beds. They were here to do work not to have some sort of "cultural experience". As for the tired "when in Rome" chestnut of wisdom, thanks for the laugh!!!!!! Were the accomadations being offered for free? Yeah, I thought not.

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They had every right to complain

No, they had every right to request a change to a room with a bed, especially if they suffer from some back or knee infirmity. Complaining and demanding what you're used to just because you're used to it is what crass tourists off the farm for the first time do, not seasoned professionals here to do a job of work.

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If a futon is well aired/beaten(daily) it is just as soft and comfy as a mattress.

Heh! Umm... No. It isn't.

But I agree with all the rest. It's an international conference, yes, but it's not only rude, but complete fantasy to expect the host nation to provide every comfort of home for 2000 people arriving simultaneously.

I mean this seriously, if the delegates from the G-8 nations can't put aside a selfish desire to sleep on a bed as opposed to a futon for the duration of the conference in what are generally comfortable hotels, then how can they ever possibly be expected to make any concessions towards addressing world poverty or CO2 emissions? Can't give up a bed for a few days? Imagine trying to get them to live without their SUVs.

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*They had every right to complain." Ambrosia

"No, they had every right to request a change* Cleo

Oh boy. Everyone has the right to be a jerk. Or ought to, at least. The right to free speech includes winging, complaining, and demanding. So thank you Cleo, for yet again introducing uncommon sense into the dialog. You have moved from not liking the actions of the summit attendees through disrespecting attendees, finally to arrive at denying the attendees their basic freedoms.

All for the love of Japan's beautiful customs.

But, again, all that is really immaterial.

It is not about rights. It’s about asserting privilege.

So let’s not muddy the waters with a bunch of extraneous stuff about rights, cultural sensitivity and insensitivity.

We’re talking money, here. We’re talking G8 folks. Y’know the fat cats who rule the world.

I recognize the attendees’ position of power and therefore respect their assertion of privilege. For those of you clinging to perfumed-scented, misty silk screen visions of Japan and her beautiful tradition, just remember that the respect for power, prestige and authority are deeply Japanese values.

Never forget that in the land of milk and harmony, Power trumps Culture.

Considering this is the G8 summit, the attendees desire for modern accommodation is a reasonable one. Beds, separate showers, internet access, cable news, and bland Western-like food are all standard. Failure to provide such accommodations is a failure on the part of Japan to provide for the summits attendees.

But we should not be too hard on poor Japan. Japan had little choice but to choose this remote location which guaranteed failure for adequate accommodation, because the alternative was even worse: failure to provide adequate security.

The Seattle fiasco stills looms large in minds of global capital elite. Y’know, the guys who run the world.

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finally to arrive at denying the attendees their basic freedoms

Oh gawd 'elp us. No one is denying these poor little rich boys their 'basic freedoms'.

As you say, Everyone has the right to be a jerk. And freedom of speech means that it's OK to call a jerk a jerk. The folk with no physical disabilities who threw a wobbly because their bed didn't have legs acted like jerks, sounded like jerks, looked like jerks. If it waddles and quacks....

Basic freedoms. sheesh.

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I think it's amazing that these people have the gall to complain at all when they are all on a "jolly" paid for either by their employers or the taxpayers of their country (or US in Japan...) I'm quite sure that they were given perfectly good futons to sleep on, which as anyone here should know, can be just as comfortable and warm as any western-style bed.

...and my heart doesn't exactly bleed for African delegates who in some cases simply steal government revenues from their people to fund the kind of lifestyle where sleeping on a luxury futon is unacceptable to them.

I hate stories like this.

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i hope the japanese complain about not having tatami rooms when they travel overseas. then maybe everyone would notice how idiotic this all is.

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I think that the main conclusion that can be drawn from all this is that the G-8 Summits have gotten way too big and are a waste of tax-payer money. Instead of trying to deal with every issue under the sun, maybe they should properly deal with a number of them. The summits are starting to look more like a circus performance. I'm not saying get rid of the G-8 just get rid of some of the excess.

i hope the japanese complain about not having tatami rooms when they travel overseas. then maybe everyone would notice how idiotic this all is.

Why would a Japanese person complain? Most Japanese have slept in western-style rooms before. Most Japanese hotels are western, usually only ryokan have tatami.

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"Oh, you don't like the buggy straw mats on the floor? Well, BOO HOO!"

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Why would a Japanese person complain? Most Japanese have slept in western-style rooms before. Most Japanese hotels are western, usually only ryokan have tatami.

I think the point was made: To illustrate how ridiculous the delegates' complaints are.

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Oh gawd 'elp us. No one is denying these poor little rich boys their 'basic freedoms'.

Yes, someone is. You are.

Abrosia wrote *They had every right to complain."

You directly rebutted this statment with "No, they had every right to request a change."

Your "No" denied the accuracy of Ambrosia's point Therefore, what you wrote can only be interpreted: No, (they did not every right to complain.) They had ....."

You flat out denied their right to complain.

The right to complain is part of the right to free speech. Your denying the attendes their right to complain means you do not recognize their right to free speech. Rather you recognize their right to request. The right to free speech is a basic freedom. If you deny the attendes their right to complain, you have denied them a basic freedom. Since you do not recognize their right to complain, you have denied them a basic freedom. Therefore, your statement "No one is denying these poor little rich boys their 'basic freedoms'" is untrue.

You are.

So long as you maintian they have no right to complain. So long as you maintian they have every right to request a change, you maintain that they have every right to a curtailed freedom of speech. Which is, and I can't believe I actually had to type all this to make this clear to you, is not free speech. Free speech is not curtailed speech. Its free. It means I can be demanding, you can be sweet, and Jon Stewart can be what many think is obscene. Its like you're living in Animal Farm, where squeeler has added on to "All animals on Animal Farm have the right to do as their conscience dictates, including the right to free speech." with "except they have to say it nicely, or say it not at all."

But, yet again, that really is not the point, now is it?

The primary point: this is an international conference.

Considering this is the G8 summit, the attendees desire for modern accommodation is a reasonable one. Beds, separate showers, internet access, cable news, and bland Western-like food are all standard. Failure to provide such accommodations is a failure on the part of Japan to provide for the summits attendees.

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OK Everyone, hear ye hear ye!

The complaints are legit!! Said Done because I said so!

For all you who think working & tatami go together imagine this, starting next monday in Tokyo no one is allowed to work at their desks, cant use their chairs!!!!

Everyone, get yr butts on the floor & get to work! NOW!

You thought(know) Jpn is ineficient, lets see what happens come monday

YEOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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G-8 visitors must make more visits,around the world/japan/asia,when they leave posts ,to notice various type of rooms in different nations/cultures, when they would not be able to complain.

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The right to complain may indeed be protected under free speech. But that does not translate to a right to beds as opposed to futons. Last I checked, I don't believe "beds" was included in any of the fine print. Yes, the G-8 atttendees can complain all they want, but to suggest that their expectations are reasonable or that Japan has some sort of obligation to provide beds in a country in which the traditional setting for sleeping involves sleeping on a futon? Tens of millions of Japanese do it every day. If they can do it, get up in the morning, and go to work, then the little princesses and princes of the G-8 can suck it up for a few days while they accomplish, err, little if anything.

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DanManjt -

lol, just got out of our first class in Civics 101, have we? Thank you for the edification. Now let me edify you a bit on the English language. To have a right to do something can mean, as you like to believe, all that hifalutin' stuff about Basic Human Rights. Or in the vernacular, it can just mean to be justified in doing something.

As you point out, they have every legal right to say whatever they want about the accommodations provided for them. Equally I have every legal right to call them precious little jerks for demanding legs on their beds. Nothing you or I write here on JT is going to affect anybody's legal rights. Didn't they teach you that in Civics?

So back to the vernacular; as LFRAgain reminds us, tens of millions of Japanese quite happily sleep on futons every night, get a good night's sleep and are ready to face a new day in the morning. Globe-trotting high-and-mighties who complain that this isn't good enough for them are precious little jerks. And of course they have every legal right to let the rest of us know what they are. Just as we have every legal right to call them out on it.

Considering this is the G8 summit

Where people are discussing how to help those in abject poverty....

the attendees desire for modern accommodation is a reasonable one.

Who says the accommodation wasn't 'modern'? Futon are used in millions of homes every day. They're every bit as 'modern' as beds with legs.

Beds, separate showers, internet access, cable news, and bland Western-like food are all standard.

The article makes no mention of showers, internet access, cable or food. What makes you think these were not up to standard?

Why would Africans want to eat bland Western-style food?

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thank you lfragain. my point exactly.

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LFRAgain,

Thanks for the response.

I am glad that we agree on the Summit's attendees' right to complain. Sorry to say, that is the extent upon what we can agree. Perhaps this impass results from what appears to be a misunderstanding on your part about my position. I do not argue that because the attendees have the right to demand beds that Japan is under any obligation to meet those demands. I zeroed in on the issue of rights simply to point out Cleo's muddy thinking. But then I explicitly stated "all that is really immaterial. It is not about rights. It’s about asserting privilege."

Its not about rights. Its about asserting privilege.

The question is not whether Japan is under an obligation to respect the G8's attendees rights. The question is whether Japan benefits suffers if she meets or doesn't meet G8s attendees assertion of privilege. Therefore, what is good for 10 million Japanese is irrelevant, and the line of thought you based this rebuttal on irrelevant as well.

As is your dislike for the "princes and princesses," and your disparaging the quality of their efforts. All that is irrelevant.

The only two considerations are, to repeat,

The attendees assertion of privilege.

I argued above that "I recognize the attendees’ position of power and therefore respect their assertion of privilege." I'd like to hear your thoughts on why you think its ok to deny respecting the attendees position of power and not recognize their assertion of privilege.

More importantly

Japan's response to that assertion.

I also argue above that not meeting the attendees assertion of privilege brings national shame on Japan, because it tells the attendees who were denied Western-style accommodation in no uncertain terms

You do not matter to Japan as much as those who have Western style accommodation.

I believe it safe to say that this is not the impression that Japan's conservative, prestige conscience, and power seeking elite had in mind in hosting the G8 Summit.

What do you think?

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Cleo

To an impartial observer, the attempt for one to belittle another's argumentative style is only as persuasive as the substantive gap between the soundness of the former and the latter's respective positions. Such an impartial observer, I fear, would not judge your attempt very promising. Your parsing about the difference between the legal and what I shall term moral implication of Rights is amusing, to say the least. It is amusing, because, there is no possible way for anyone to construe that I ever believed at any point that you posses the power or position to deny any G8 attendee anything legal. It inevitably follows, then, that the only relevant value of your little routine was in your recognition that the attendees do have the right to demand beds and demand it unpleasantly. And it is really only a little distance more for you to admit that they should. Because I think upon sober reflection you will recognize that everyone should, as a matter of principle, maintain the right to express themselves in the manner they wish. Even when, or rather especially when, that expression conflicts with the prevailing norms, values and mores of a society.

This dedication to personal Liberty is Western Civilization's greatest contribution to the planet, and in my humble opinion, is worth more to the human race than all the futons in the world. It is bedrock upon which America was founded; it is what makes the US not only a powerful nation, but a great one. It is what makes the US better than Japan.

In response to your questions,

Who says the accommodation wasn't 'modern'?

For starter, Japanese do. "Japanese Toilet" and all.

But the complete answer is, sad to say, not a nice one: it is the strong, the powerful. For the strong do what they will and the week suffer what they must. It is the strong nations, the powerful nations, who set up and enforce the rules by which all nations play.

Japan, your beautiful, peace-loving Japan, that understands and works this truth in International Politics like no other. It is Japan, like no other, who strives for Prestige. It is Japan, like no other, who is more about status than any other. It is Japan who obsesses on meeting, promoting, those rules. It Japan who has, ironically, defined her own heritage as unmodern and jealously gaurded equal reciprocity in sharing her "beautiful traditions" with the world.g

Sushi Police indeed.

The article makes no mention of showers, internet access, cable or food. What makes you think these were not up to standard?

I don't. You missed the point, which is, these are the standards, and futons are not part of it. BTW, air-conditioning is included too.

Why would Africans want to eat bland Western-style food?

Its not that they would want to. Its that they do. In the same way that many expats will only speak Japanese to Japanese, and will use chopsticks.

Moreover, Africans eat bland Western-like food for the same reason that they consume mediocre Hollywood movies and know who Michael Jackson is. Its called "soft-power."

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the attendees do have the right to demand beds and demand it unpleasantly. And it is really only a little distance more for you to admit that they should.

Why on earth should I admit that people should be unpleasant? Sugar. Vinegar. Which catches more flies?

you will recognize that everyone should, as a matter of principle, maintain the right to express themselves in the manner they wish

And equally you will recognise that I maintain the right to consider high-and-mighty wannabees who throw a wobbly about nothing to be nothing but precious little jerks. And to express that opinion in the manner I wish.

that expression conflicts with the prevailing norms, values and mores of a society

The futon is the prevailing norm of this society.

It is bedrock upon which America was founded; it is what makes the US not only a powerful nation, but a great one. It is what makes the US better than Japan.

How on earth did America get in there? I thought the mod in his infinite wisdom objected to comparisons with other countries, especially when they're totally irrelevant? And just as an aside, your assertion that the US is 'better' than Japan is nothing more than your opinion. Not everyone, including me, will agree with you.

What's not modern about a Japanese toilet? I very much doubt the toilets in these posh hotels and ryokans were hole-in-the-floor-don't-drop-your-wallet affairs. More likely heated seats, music-playing, automatic disinfecting, automatic lid-raising, bum-washing, flashing lights affairs. Though the squat types may not have the automatic lid.

It is the strong nations, the powerful nations, who set up and enforce the rules

Tanzania, Senegal, Ethiopia and Ghana? ...

You may not have noticed, but Japan is up there in the G8; Japan is one of those 'strong nations'. There's no reason Japan should not set the standards when it hosts one of these jaunts.

your thoughts on why you think its ok to deny respecting the attendees position of power and not recognize their assertion of privilege

They're not in a position of power. They're servants of the people. Supposedly. They're not there to assert privilege, they're there to do a job of work. Supposedly. And no one denied them anything. They just didn't like the perfectly adequate accommodations they were offered.

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Some tediously wordy comments here confirming that, just like a number of those in the G8 entourage, some people are better than others at adapting to different cultures.

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"give them a tent to sleep in!" was the best response i got from a japanese friend.

i'm suprised that the hotel owners foot the bill of providing beds in this situation. too kind. maybe the goverment has a fund to help with that.

If these people are so busy and important and rude... then why don't they get better organized travel coordinators.

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Ah, cut and paste. The last refuge of the quibbler. Its gives the appearance of a response, when none is actually there. It appears to take issue with something important, but actually just dissect a post to the point of meaninglessness, which I suppose is the intention of the Cut-and-Paster.

Allow me to demonstrate:

Why on earth should I admit that people should be unpleasant?" Sugar. Vinegar. Which catches more flies?

Why An interrogative marker. On A prepostition marking something is above and touching something else. earth Known also as the planet earth, the world, and also means dirt or an area of dirt. In Latin, its terra firma. Why on earth A question strongly expressing the speakers desire to stress why....

And so on and so on. And so on.

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serendipity628

I suppose precision and clarity seem tedious to the the unrigorous.

Cultural sensitivity and insensitivity have nothing to do with it.

What part of international conference do you not understand?

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lol. Danmanjt, you really are clutching at straws. Give up.

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Well, I am glad that at least we both are finding this amusing.

In reply, let me just say that as a general JT rule of thumb, when people resort to ad hominem and then declare victory it usually means they've puttered out of ideas.

If you wish to continue our discussion, kindly respond substantively to my yesterdays post.

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DanManjt -

I did respond, you apparently disapprove of either my response or the way I framed it. That's your choice.

Let's try to put things in a form you are willing to accept (you see how reasonable I am? and pleasant?) :-)

The right to free expression does not include the right to be unpleasant. For example, I'm within my rights to voice my opposition to the military exploits of George Bush and his pals, but if I choose to express my anger by throwing rotten eggs at George, then I'm in trouble. The international, globetrotting precious little jerks in Hokkaido obviously weren't that unpleasant, but still there's a world of difference between making a request and making an obnoxious complaint about perfectly adequate accommodation and forcing hotel-owners to remodel rooms that really don't need remodelling.

And again, there is nothing un-modern about a Japanese toilet. http://www.theplumber.com/japan.html

And again, Japan is right up there with the 'strong and the powerful'. If it's 'the strong and the powerful' who decide what's acceptable, then when in Hokkaido the rest of the world should feel privileged to have the chance to experience what millions of Japanese consider the norm - and what hundreds of millions of those supposedly represented by the international globetrotting precious little jerks would consider the height of luxury, and comfort they aren't likely to see this side of the Pearly Gates.

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DanManjt,

Thanks for the response. First things first: A futon is a place to sleep; therefore it IS, by definition, a bed.

To continue, we’re talking about three things here: One, whether or not these G-8 prissies have the Right (with a capital “R”) to complain about their sleeping arrangements. Two, whether or not they have a right (lower case - as in “being in the right” or “being correct”) to complain about their sleeping arrangements. Cleo’s thinking wasn’t muddy. She was quite clear in what she meant by “rights” and you distorted that meaning for whatever purpose, perhaps if only to give yourself a platform from which to launch your digest version of civil rights principles. Since you opened that particular avenue of the discussion, don’t back out of it by belittling a poster’s honest clarification of the difference between the two. That kind of petty sarcasm diminishes the credibility of your argument. Finally, the third issue here is whether or not Japan has an obligation to address those complaints beyond what they’ve already done.

On the one point, with regard to Rights as they pertain to Liberty and the free exercise thereof, the G-8 guests are not being denied any intrinsic right to complain. You know it. I know it. And no one here was calling for it. Speaking in the lofty terms of individual Liberty, they expressed their right to complain, were not imprisoned by the NPA, and were free to go home to complain another day.

Regarding whether or not they have a right, e.g., are “in the right” to complain, I believe they do not, or more clearly, are unjustified in griping about their sleeping accommodations, particularly when those accommodations are entirely modern by the estimation of some ¼th of the world’s population in particular, and by the general standards of most industrialized countries. You think that’s irrelevant, but I respectfully disagree - with just a hint of disdain for your pretentious and arrogant tone.

Speaking of Japan in particular, futon mattresses and futon comforters are made with high quality materials, complying with government-mandated safety minimums regulating purity of materials used, flammability resistance, and durability, standards that meet or exceed those of many Western nations, including the USA (massive beef recall, anyone?). The standards used to produce these common household items adhere to so many of the same as those used for the sheets, pillows, and comforters used in the West that the odds are incredibly high that those futons were made on the exact same assembly line that your comforters were. That a futon lacks a frame and four legs does not diminish its ability to fulfill its function and provide a comfortable place to sleep.

In order to better gauge your position, please answer me this: Had Japanese delegates demanded the installation of Japanese-style toilets, tatami, and futon in their hotels in the last G-8 conference in Germany, would you have considered their demands reasonable?

The reasons they are not “in the right” to complain, IMO, are numerous, but start most simply with clarifying the relationship between Japan and the visiting G-8 representatives. Simply put, it’s a relationship between guest and host. G-8 members are the guests. Japan is the host. For guests to piss and moan to the host in this manner, especially when the accommodations perfectly suit the needs of the guests (clean, safe, climate-controlled, conveniently located near meeting venues), is the height of arrogance and rudeness. It’s petty, childish, and offensive to the host. Just as I would never visit your home and berate your taste in sofas, neither should the G-8 guests criticize Japan for not going through considerable expense, both monetarily and materially, in recreating mini-oases with “a flavor of home” for these spoiled, preening asses.

Which leads into yet another reason some G-8 members need to gain some perspective: This (and every other G-8) meeting is ostensibly about discussing ways to combat material and financial shortfalls in the world today. The hypocrisy of these sorts of petty demands is obvious.

On the third point, does Japan have an obligation to provide beds for all 2000 G-8 guests? Based in large part, but not exclusively on what I outlined above, the answer is no. Japan has done its part. Japan has provided a venue, far from the access of violent protest. Japan has committed a small army of police officers for security. Japan has provided hotels in a resort area that is held in high esteem in the tourism industry, complete with all of the amenities that one would expect to come from a decent hotel – clean rooms, baths, dining, air conditioning, televisions, laundry facilities – ALL at a tremendous expense to the proprietors of the businesses and to the host nation itself. Japan’s met it only obligation, which is to provide a safe, clean environment for the members of the G-8 to conduct their business.

"Privilege?" "Power?" "Liberty," "America?!" You forgot to throw "mom," "apple pie," and "baseball" in there. I’ll second Cleo’s confusion. How the hell did America become the centerpiece of your argument?

You ridicule other posters’ positions with Animal Farm references regarding the foolishness of applying any sort of relativity to freedom of speech, yet you seem perfectly at home with the idea that some people are more equal than others because of the power they possess; Some are more equal than others because of the prestige they possess. You defend the G-8 attendee’ demands as a privilege conferred by power and essentially dismiss 1000 years of progress towards human rights by extolling the very anathema of Liberty: Might Makes Right.

Returning to my host/guest analogy, if I were, say, Wayne Newton, and I brandished a weapon in your home when I made a demand that you replace your sofa with one I preferred, would that mean you had an obligation to comply, if for no other reason than the power and prestige I possess? By your reasoning, it would. And that's more than a little screwy.

You asked:

I'd like to hear your thoughts on why you think its ok to deny respecting the attendees position of power and not recognize their assertion of privilege.

Because the attendees are elected representative of democratic governments. They don’t deserve or demand any other privilege than the honor of representing their constituents. Anything beyond that, any further expression of the privileges of power and prestige – well, there’s a word for that: Corruption.

Japan has failed at nothing in not providing enough Western-style beds for these pampered buffoons.

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Cleo LFRAgain

Got really busy really fast. I apologize for the delay and plan to respond this weekend.

Cheers.

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