detlef langer comments

Posted in: Have a good trip See in context

I get the impression they are sharing some kind of private joke here. Bowing and receiving a bow for the camera, they can't (and won't) hide their smiles.

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Posted in: Kisenosato wins spring sumo title See in context

I stand corrected. I had my doubts but the outcome proves me wrong. Congratulations, yokozuna Kisenosato!

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Posted in: Tom Cruise to visit Japan for 22nd time See in context

I'm sorry but Tom Cruise simply isn't Jack Reacher. Not by a long shot.

For starters, the bulk of Jack Reacher's "Jack Reacher-ness" rides on his size and physical appearance. According to the novels (and the Wikipedia article), Jack Reacher is really big: 6'5" (196 cm) and 250 pounds (113 kg). This, together with his sheer physical strength, is emphasized in each of the novels.

On the other hand, Tom Cruise is 5'7" (170 cm) and 148 pounds (77 kg).

Second, according to the biographical bits and pieces strewn into the novels, he is ex-Army and an ex-MP. In that line of work, you get to see the more shadowy sides of human existence and tend to get physical from time to time. Over time, that shows on your face: scars, lines, a certain weariness. Plus, there is the experience of being "cycled out" due to downsizing.

Tom Cruise, however, shows nothing of all this. In fact, he appeares as if he just stepped out of the "Top Gun" or "Mission Impossible" sets.

In short: He doesn't project any "Jack Reacher-ness" at all. He projects Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher. And that simply won't cut it for me.

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Posted in: Could Islamic State reach Japan? See in context

@WilliB (mostly): I think you're right except one thing, i.e., IS basically being a "Sunni liberation movement". I'd say it's already gone far beyond that. Besides that - regarding the question, why should IS attack Japan (or any other nation, for that matter): As you put it, the Caliphate is supposed to be global, which means, Japan as well is a country of "infidels" or "unbelievers" who have to be or will be given the choice of either a) accepting Islam (which by the way means "voluntary submission to God", not "peace" as it's frequently misunderstood), or b) live under Islam's rule and paying Jizya (non-Muslim tax) or c) being killed.

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Posted in: Thailand's army declares martial law See in context

It is not coup. It is restoring law, order and peace from chaos.

I'm sorry but I beg to disagree. Restoring (and maintaining) law, order, and peace is the genuine task of a government with the police as a means to that end. It's not the job of the military.

BTW I'm not saying that a coup is a bad thing under any circumstances. If a government is unable to uphold law and order (maybe because the police are not following orders or for whatever reason), it may under certain circumstances be necessary for the military to step in in order to maintain the nation's integrity.

Nevertheless, it is a coup, regardless of the motive and reasoning behind it. And as far as Thailand is concerned, I cannot see the nation's integrity to be threatened.

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Posted in: Thailand's army declares martial law See in context

In my opinion, the title of the article is a misnomer. Martial law is declared by a government (whether democratically elected or not), not by the army. If it's "declared" by the army, it is a coup. plain and simple. Why not call it that? Just because the "government" seems to be allowed, at least for the time being, to "operate" as a figurehead? Don't think so.

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Posted in: China takes propaganda war with Japan to United Nations See in context

@theeastisred:

The Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined along with war dead. Those convicted as war criminals are by definition not war dead. They died after the war.

Thank you for bringing this up. I've been wondering for some time now why they are enshrined there in the first place since they are obviously no war dead.

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Posted in: Germany urges Japan to deal honestly with WWII past See in context

@Olegek:

Anybody know about this fact in modern Germany?

Anybody feels regret ?

Well, I'd say it's a case in point for what you quoted of my comment in your post.

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Posted in: Germany urges Japan to deal honestly with WWII past See in context

@toshiko: By the way, I'm not generally against my country giving friendly advice to other countries with which it maintains friendly relations, as e.g., Japan. But in my opinion, it should give this advice only if asked to do so and, even more important, not publicly, like, during a press conference.

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Posted in: Germany urges Japan to deal honestly with WWII past See in context

@toshiko: While I feel truly humbled by the admiration and respect Japanese (even personal acquaintances) have for Germany, I've to concede that maglev101 is right about Germany not complaining about Japan.

Nevertheless, there are certain remote similarities between Japan's and Germany's situation: Although Germany has apologized time and again and keeps apologizing at every opportunity, it never seems sufficient: There's always someone who thinks Germany hasn't apologized enough.

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Posted in: Germany urges Japan to deal honestly with WWII past See in context

As a German, I feel - once again, unfortunately - I've to be ashamed of my government. Germany has no business telling Japan - or any other country, for that matter - how it should deal with it's past. And that's NOT because of WWII or the holocaust or whatever - it's just because it's bad behavior. So spokesman Seibert should have refused commenting on the issue even in general, i.e., he should have left it at his first sentence, "I do not wish to comment on questions related to Japanese domestic politics".

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Posted in: Rare photo of A-bomb split cloud found in Hiroshima See in context

@Vernie Jeffries

I was there last summer and I can only second that! It's really depressing and disturbing. In the museum you will discover that you won't find the really harrowing Photos on Google or elsewhere. The "taking photographs prohibited" sign is not for show and it's consequently enforced. I couldn't have dinner that day.

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Posted in: Emperor turns 79; reassures well-wishers he is in good health See in context

Congratulations to my Emperor-in-law! I wish him all the very best! May he live long in good health!

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Posted in: Agony endures 75 years after Nanjing Massacre See in context

@ hidingout

I'm tired of this argument. There are plenty of deniers in Germany.

But you do know that denying the holocaust is a criminal offense in Germany? Besides - Germany confronting its past is not an argument but a fact.

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Posted in: Noda dissolves lower house for election on Dec 16 See in context

shouting "Banzai" three times - Japan's equivalent of "three cheers"

If I'm not mistaken, "banzai" means "ten thousand years". Correct, however, is that they usually shout it three times, at the same time stretching their arms out above their heads.

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Posted in: German customs seize Stradivarius from another Japanese musician See in context

As usual, there seem to be several gaps in the story which are bound to disclarify the matter.

First of all, one should expect the case of the Belgium based violinist Horigome to have been discussed among musicians, so a certain awareness of there being a problem should be assumed.

Second: The violinist had the violin "on loan" from a Japanese foundation. Does that mean that she loaned it while in Japan (so she didn't have it with her when she left Germany) or did she have it with her when she left Germany? (In other words: Did she loan it some time before leaving the country with it?)

For the last case, a form comes in handy which serves well even for your battered, well-worn laptop which has been traveling with you for several years now. It's called a "Naemlichkeitsbescheinigung" (yes, that's the name, and it sounds funny even in German ears, but, hey, that's your tax euros at work...) You can download it from the internet or get it from any customs facility. Fill it out (and in doing so, clear all customs issues which might arise beforehand), get it stamped by customs prior to departure (send an assistant if you're too busy to do it by yourself), and upon return, produce the form at customs - case closed.

Having said all that, a healthy dose of common sense would do very well even for customs officials.

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Posted in: S Korea: Japan must educate its people about World War II See in context

@ Ryu-1inOH

I spent a few years in England and during that time was traveling to Germany regularly for work. While there I talked with many people and candidly asked what they thought about being litterally drowned with reminders of the holocaust. Their reaction was the same as people in that situation all over the world: "we don't want to know; we are not responsible for what the previous generations did"

I think this comment needs some clarification.

First of all, you're absolutely right regarding one point: German public discussion is literally drowned in reminders of the Holocaust. But the reaction is not exactly "we don't want to know; we are not responsible for what the previous generations did" - at least as far as the vast majority is concerned. (There are, however, nutcases who still don't get it or deny it outright but these won't learn whatever might happen.) Most Germans either do want to know or are constantly confronted with it, at school, in political discourse, etc.

The point is that whoever sees fit to "remind" the Germans once more of the Holocaust and the atrocities committed by Germans (at that time) seems to do so with an attitude of "it's about time you learn this". So, the average German has learned of the Holocaust at school (usually twice in a normal gymnasium - junior high school/high school - curriculum), and is being reminded nearly constantly, reminded again, reminded again and again... What these people you've met might have wanted to tell you is actually: Yes, we've heard it, we've learned it, we've been fed it over and over again - but why are we always being treated as if we hadn't?!

One more thought. I would strongly state that today's Germans are not "responsible" for what their ancestors did. You can't be and you can't be held responsible for something that happened before you were born or before even your parents were born. But you definitely ARE responsible for the way you handle the history of your nation. And this, in my opinion, goes for today's Germans as well as for today's Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, British, French and whatever nation comes to mind.

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Posted in: China warns of 'further actions' in Japan island dispute See in context

I think the "historical" reasoning is either just an excuse or grossly overemphasized. As has been stated earlier in this thread, there are many countries on this Earth that have "owned" certain territories sometime back in history and don't "own" them anymore today.

Besides that, you have to hand it to the Koreans that they seem to know how effectively claim territory. On these islands which are called Takeshima by Japan, there are permanent facilities and a permanent outpost of police or military personnel. And no Japanese vessel comes near these isles, let alone tries to land on them.

The Senkaku islands, hoewever, are uninhabited. They're just there. And I think that's why they are still "disputed". If there were a permanent facility whatsoever on those islands and, say, a Coast Guard station or some port just to provide emergency shelter for fishing boats, flying the Japanese flag, there wouldn't be any "dispute" over those islands and no one, not even China, would dare come near them.

So basically, I think there is something to the question asked earlier: Where is Japan? There may be the position that from Japan's point of view there is no dispute about these islands since they are Japanese territory and therefore there is no need of taking a position - but... does the Japanese government hope the "dispute" goes away it they keep talking about a "peaceful solution"?

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Posted in: Emperor, empress arrive in Karuizawa for short holiday See in context

I wish them a peaceful, relaxing summer break. The Emperor shouldn't overdo the rehab, though. It's still hot out there.

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Posted in: 2 typhoons approaching southern Japan See in context

Yesterday when I arrived at Okinawa it was pretty gusty and a hell of a surf but otherwise there was no sign of a typhoon. Today the wind had settled and apart from some short showers there was nothing. The clouds have this telltale yellow tint, however.

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Posted in: Group of 7 major economies to hold emergency talks See in context

@globalwatcher

The problem with these Euro common bonds is that they effectively commit the "stronger" countries to bailout the "weaker" ones. That means that Germany and France will have to bailout the others and thus save them from exercising (more) fiscal discipline.

Another problem is that even Germany does not by far exercise as much fiscal discipline as would be prudent in the situation. Although taxes keep flowing into Germany's treasury, they are not used to reduce the country's national debt but only seem to spur on the FDP (one of the parties in chancellor Merkel's coalition) to demand tax reductions. At the same time, the net new borrowing as projected in the next national budget still runs into billions.

France, on the other hand, seems to be committing herself to increased government spending (and thus even more increasing her national debt).

Therefore, it seems doubtful hat Germany and France will indefinitely stay able serve their bailout commitments even without Euro common bonds.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

Ben Jack,

In order to finally discuss the poem on grounds of its content and not of it's author's past, I'm completely with you in stating that the poem is unbalanced and that it doesn't help peace along.

But there is one thing that gets me worried.

On the one hand, there is Iran, clandestinely or not so clandestinely developing the means to build nuclear weapons even if it claims otherwise. I think Iran's having nuclear weapons would make the world a much more dangerous place regardless of Iran's motives for having them in the first place, the more so as Iran repeatedly announced its determination to wipe Israel off the map.

But we have been knowing that Ahmadinejad character to be a loudmouth for a long time now.

On the other hand, we have always been knowing Israel not to be a loudmouth. And against this background, I'm getting more and more uneasy reading (or hearing in the news) that in Israel's government (or its military, or both) the discussion seems to be focusing on the "when" (and maybe the "how") of a preemptive strike against Iran rather than on the "if". And yes, I'm very well aware that Israel doesn't openly threat to strike against Iran and that such a preemptive strike doesn't necessarily mean that it would be a nuclear strike.

But there is so much talking about "something has to be done against Iran's developing nuclear weapons and fast" or about a "window of opportunity rapidly closing" that I'm afraid that there will be such a preemptive strike in the near future and that Israel will subsequently count on her partners stand by her and cleaning up the mess it would make.

So I'd really would have wished for the poem to be balanced at all.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

oginome,

Since you seem to be able to evaluate Israel's motives so well and even gauge it's potential reactions

if a German writer born after 1945 had written that poem, then Israel wouldn't have have banned entry

would you care to explain one thing for me: The fact that Grass was in the SS has been revealed in 2006. It caused considerable outrage in and outside Germany. At least in Germany, Grass has completely lost his moral authority. But oddly enough, this revelation didn't prompt Israel to ban Grass from entry. If I understand correctly, Grass could have traveled to Israel just two or three weeks ago unimpeded.

And now, the same SS past (which hasn't and the evaluation of which hasn't changed since then) is the (only?) reason for Grass's being banned from entry?

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

However, I assumed he was talking about attention outside Germany.

That could be the case indeed. Thanks for pointing that out, Ben Jack. Maybe I'm being too German-centered on this issue. As far as I can learn by browsing the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, or the Telegraph, the reactions seem to be more relaxed than in Germany or, not surprisingly, in Israel.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

Ben Jack,

Thanks for clearing that. I'm with you in that Grass might be secretly happy with the media attention he gets, even if he accuses the (German) media of "Gleichschaltung" (for this term, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleichschaltung).

What caused my response to oginome is the following sentence:

The ONLY reason this case has gotten so much attention is because Grass is an ex-Nazi.

That, I think, is exaggerating. Of course, Grass's having been a member of a Nazi organization has contributed to that kind of media attention. But it hasn't caused it. As I've tried to explain above, I think that any contemporary German author would have caused a media firestorm by publishing this poem. The point is not being ex-Nazi but being German and an Israel-critic.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

Ben Jack,

Assuredly, he published his poem in the hopes that it and he would be ignored. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

I get the feeling that you're misunderstanding me intentionally. Of course Mr Grass wanted to get attention for the poem. Every poet or writer wants that. But did it ever occur to you that a writer might want to write and publish a poem because he wants to say something - and not just to be in the news once again?

Make no mistake: I don't agree with Grass. (Funny thing that I should be compelled to stress this as if this were an inner-German discussion.) As I've stated in an earlier post, I think that Grass doesn't understand the situation in the Middle East.

So for the record: I fully agree with you that he does ignore Iran's threats to Israel and its stance in the nuke issue. I agree that it's not Israel that threats to wipe Iran off the map but the other way round. I hope that clears matters up or you as well.

But all that still doesn't make the poem simply a publicity gig as it has been claimed.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

oginome,

I'm afraid you are still, as we in Germany say, "barking up to the wrong tree".

Three aspects. First: Guenther Grass has been controversial before. Back in 1990, he strongly opposed the German re-unification, claiming that the division of Germany in West and East Germany after WWII was some kind of punishment for the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and therefore, in order to atone for that, Germany should have to stay divided eternally. Back in the day, this was, notabene, an extremely leftwing position. Well, we took it in stride and got us the re-unification despite Grass's verdict.

Second: You're still exaggerating the "ex-Nazi" aspect. I'm not sure you fully grasp the impact ANY criticism of Israel has in Germany. Being German, you DON'T criticize Israel. You simply DON'T. At least not in public, and definitely not if you want to be taken seriously further on. Criticizing Israel puts you either in the extreme leftwing or in the extreme rightwing political corner, albeit with opposite motives. It's as simple as that. Even if there is absolutely nothing "Nazi" or "ex-Nazi" in your personal history to be found, you'll still be labeled "anti-Semitic" forever, which is, for all that matters, more or less the same as "Nazi".

So, the fact that he has been a member of a Nazi organization in his youth may have been abetting the reaction in the public but not, as you seem to think, causing it in the first place.

Third: I think you're wrong in claiming that he is just seeking attention or, as nip&tuck first put it, "for a thrill". No - he means what he says. In saying what he means and "what must be said" (in his opinion), he didn't care for the "firestorm of media attention" he would create by saying it. Claiming, at least implicitly, that he published the poem in order to get attention grossly misreads the man.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

I salute you on your command of the English language at least. I wish my German were anywhere near.

This coming from a native speaker of English... - thank you very much and my salutes for your taking up the battle against the intricacies of German ;-)

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

Heh, it's the Israeli/Palestine issue. You ask the impossible.....

Well, you know the proverb: Be realistic. Ask for the impossible.

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Posted in: German peace activists back Grass in Israel dispute See in context

@ oginome @ SuperLib I'm afraid it's not that easy. On the one hand, there is (at least here in Germany) a pro Israel lobby trying to pin kind of a "once SS always SS" stance on Grass. While it is indeed, and rightfully so, regarded as a scandal that he took six decades of self-righteous furor against all that (or whom) he considered to be "Nazi" or "rightwing"or "racist" in any way before revealing that he himself had been a member of the Waffen-SS, it is (here in Germany) also an easy way of tabooing anything you don't want to hear or read by calling it anti-Semitic or "Nazi". That way, those who criticize Grass have an easy way of avoiding to discuss the poem on grounds of its content.

On the other hand, what would make me worry is not the poem itself but the kind of support Grass is receiving. For example: Willi van Ooyen, who is cited as "a spokesman for a group that organizes the traditional peace marches held each year on Easter weekend in Germany" is not only a member of the party "Die Linke" ("The Left") - a political party which shares the subliminal anti-Semitism of the left (even if that is not in the old-fashioned Nazi way but in the pro-Palestinian way) - but has a history of membership in pro-communist organizations as well.

Besides, I think that the outrage is indeed exaggerated. For once, there is nothing in the poem that hasn't been said before. Furthermore, I think that Grass simply doesn't (want to) understand the situation in the middle east. So everyone just breathe.

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