Fugacis comments

Posted in: Should the statue of a girl dedicated to the memory of Korean women forced to work in Japanese military wartime brothels be removed from outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul? See in context

Yes. It should be moved elsewhere in Seoul, but not directly outside the embassy. Obviously the sex slave system is a horrific war crime and deserves commemoration aplenty, but to have it outside the embassy is to tacitly make it a constant issue in any diplomatic engagement with Japan at all, which helps no one.

21 ( +34 / -12 )

Posted in: Should Japan have its own nuclear weapons as a deterrent against security threats or should it rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella? See in context

I'd rather take a third option:

No nuclear weapons, and no reliance on another country's nuclear weapons. The Cold War is over, and thank heavens it is. Perpetuating that kind of international relations creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of pointless standoffs.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Posted in: Which places in Japan do you think are overrated as tourist attractions? See in context

Actually, I had forgotten about the Luminarie. Yes, that was pretty boring - a long, slow walk in the middle of a crowd for some lights that really would have been more appreciable from a distance.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Which places in Japan do you think are overrated as tourist attractions? See in context

Osaka Castle. Honestly, ignore inside and check out the grounds; there is nothing preserved inside that is worth the entrance fee.

I'm actually pleasantly surprised that I can't think of any others (that I've visited) that have been disappointments, though. Japan manages to make a lot of its attractions (e.g. temples, gardens, museums) very peaceful and well paced, so that you can take in the sights and the info without a rush - and even just enjoy the atmosphere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Posted in: Which side do you think is most responsible for the deterioration in Sino-Japanese ties? See in context

An excellent analysis, Frungy.

I think it is the case that China has internalised a harsh lesson from its history of colonial victimisation, first from the West and then from Japan: Be strong or you will be victimised. Hence China is taking an aggressive and indeed belligerent stance against what it perceives to be encroachments on its national interests, seeing international pressure as a repeat of colonialism.

There is a vicious feedback loop of nationalism from both Japan and China, which is gradually escalating. People often say that the Communist Party uses resentment of Japan to deflect attention that would otherwise be directed at its own shortcomings, and this is true (though far from the only thing accounting for hostility towards Japan). However, right-wing politicians in Japan have been doing their part to stoke this up with provocative acts such as visiting Yasukuni Shrine or whitewashing war history, and they profit from the increased tension likewise by getting Japanese people afraid of Chinese anger so that they will vote for more hard line politics. In the end, both profit from the other's behaviour so much that they might as well be in partnership.

I answered "Both" on this basis, but if trust is to be rebuilt, Japan needs to fully address its war atrocities and the creeping revival of imperialist sympathies, and this will be the first step to convincing others that Japan is not about to revisit that past.

2 ( +9 / -8 )

Posted in: What is the most effective way to learn kanji? See in context

It depends on individual learning styles, but I always found myself relying a lot on muscle memory, so for me, writing a kanji many times over was very useful. I use a small whiteboard when practising kanji. If I can get a feel for it, then when I'm trying to remember it I think of hand movements and which one feels right.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe tells world to stand up to China or face consequences See in context

Every time I think he can't get worse, Abe goes and proves me wrong. He's already deliberately stoked up tensions with Japan's neighbours, feigned surprise when they then don't want to talk, and now he's attempting to show them up on the world stage. I say "attempting", because thankfully I don't think any of the other countries at the Davos conference have any interest in getting involved in Japan's self-made quarrel.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Posted in: N Korea calls Abe 'militarist maniac' See in context

Hypocrisy perhaps, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Abe is in fact a militaristic maniac.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Kishida calls for summits with China, S Korea See in context

Well of course he's not going to get anywhere; what does Japan expect when Abe has spent so much of his premiership making calculated moves to antagonise Korea and China? Both countries rightly perceive that Abe is pushing an aggressive, unccoperative foreign policy which includes Japanese remilitarisation, and a hostile diplomatic environment just helps him to do that.

Abe is fully aware of how visiting Yasukuni Shrine and making denialist statements on Japan's wartime atrocities reflects on the country in the eyes of Korea and China. Any diplomatic sense would have told him that if he wanted constructive dialogue, that was a terrible foot to start off on. Add in that he's calling for negotiations on issues such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu and Dokdo islands while saying that there is nothing to negotiate, because self-evidently they belong to Japan.

If China and Korea were to agree to a summit, it would be seen as a victory for Abe and a show that Japan can get away with whatever it likes. Both countries' leaders would be fools to agree to a summit unless Japan makes some conciliatory moves of its own.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: Japanese WWII soldier who hid in Philippine jungle until 1974 dies See in context

He'll be getting the hero treatment, because the Japanese establishment still have this fetish for imperialism and don't really believe that anything done in the war was wrong. Likewise when the efforts were being made to get him back; the Japanese media at the time were outraged when some Filipino policemen shot at him; apparently no regard for the fact that he had murdered several Filipino civilians, who apparently just didn't matter.

He should have been locked up to rot in a Filipino jail decades ago. Instead we get treated to this glorification of war. Yay.

11 ( +23 / -12 )

Posted in: Japanese watch Abe's Yasukuni shrine visit with mixed feelings See in context

Yasakune [sic] is a Shrine not just to War Criminals but to All who died serving the Empire,and a testament to the brutal folly of man in his quest for power.

Clearly you've never been there, and particularly not to the Yushukan. The entire mythology of Yasukuni Shrine is built around militarism and the glory of death for the nation.

As for China , it's run by degenerate war mongers who happily enslave the people in crippling conditions for the Communist End.

What China has done domestically has nothing to do with what Japan did. Japan's actions don't become somehow okay because of what China has done.

Abe has every right to pay his respects any time & anywhere -the last I heard Japan is a Democracy.

Apart from constitutional issues, of course Abe has the right to pay his respects at Yasukuni. Doesn't mean it's a good idea, or that he won't be criticised for it.

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Posted in: Japanese watch Abe's Yasukuni shrine visit with mixed feelings See in context

No the problem is China and South Korea refusing to accept apologies, always calling them "insincere". In other words, it is those two countries that keep rejecting the apologies and preventing any kind of progress towards resolution from happening.

The apologies are insincere, because they belie those apologies with their later actions. You can't apologise to someone and then deny that you did anything wrong and act proud of what you did and expect that apology to still stand. For Japan to make apologies and then have its Prime Ministers visit a shrine that glorifies Japan's aggression is an insult to all the countries Japan victimised.

Current disputes and differences can never be resolved if you keep blaming one party on the past, something that no one can change.

Blaming one party? There is no other party to blame but Japan. Korea didn't annex Japan in 1910. China didn't go to war in Japan in 1937. The whole state of affairs was initiated by Japan, and they bear the ultimate responsibility for it. Again, your equivocation is representative of the problem - that Japan and its apologists have a horrifically warped vision of what actually went on in the former half of the 20th century.

To me an apology is insincere if after doing so they invade you again.

God, what a doormat you must be if that's your threshold for an insincere apology.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Posted in: Japanese watch Abe's Yasukuni shrine visit with mixed feelings See in context

Japan has raised military spending to the point where it holds an army in all but name - one that, if deployed, would be a match for Korea and probably China. It has hosted the US military throughout its Cold War belligerence and conducted international diplomacy with the implied threat of US military assistance. Article 9 is all that stands between Japan and remilitarisation, and if you hadn't noticed, Abe is looking to revise the constitution.

The deficiencies of Japanese school textbooks have been repeatedly highlighted, as have the obligatory 'patriotic' indoctrination that the Japanese government forces on schoolchildren. Institutional racism is a persistent problem in Japan, and ultranationalist thugs blare propaganda and hate speech in cities and towns throughout the country with no complaint from the majority.

But more than anything, it's the political establishment in Japan that has changed very little since the war. At least one Prime Minister was a former war criminal, and many more have had strong links to war profiteers - doubly the case with cabinet members. Note how many members of the cabinet have visited Yasukuni Shrine. Note how many have made statements denying or downplaying historical atrocities. Note how many are so eager to change the constitution.

Simply put, Japan's postwar pacifism is a veneer that her neighbours see right through, but that you expect us to be convinced by. The political establishment has hardly changed at all, sentiments romanticising the war are widespread, and the constitution that prevents Japan from going to war is under attack. In short, it looks very much like Japan will be revisiting the early Showa era, and China and Korea are rightly angry - and worried.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Posted in: Japanese watch Abe's Yasukuni shrine visit with mixed feelings See in context

“Even if Japan gives consideration to the feelings of China and South Korea (by not visiting the shrine), they don’t reward Japan but keep attacking us,” he said.

And this thinking is exactly the problem. Japanese governments and Japanese people seem to think of atonement for past atrocities as something that they do because it's pragmatic and curries favour with powerful nations to do so, and that they should be rewarded for making apologies or giving compensation. This is exactly why Japan always seems insincere to China and South Korea - because it is insincere. As soon as the apology's been made and a financial consideration has been paid over, Japan goes back to denying the atrocities and beautifying its history, all the while massively disrespecting Chinese and Koreans domestically and internationally.

The verbal apology is only part of atoning for the past - the rest is in making the future different, and constantly avoiding what led one down the route of transgression in the first place. Japan hasn't done this.

6 ( +16 / -11 )

Posted in: Abe visits Yasukuni shrine; calls it pledge against war See in context

Visiting Yasukuni as a "gesture of peace"? That's like doing a Sieg Heil as a gesture of anti-racism. Totally disingenuous.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: 2 extremists guilty of British soldier's murder on London street See in context

We don't do execution in the UK, nor do we do "An eye for an eye". We'd be worse off for it as a nation if we did.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: 2 extremists guilty of British soldier's murder on London street See in context

Well there was a foregone conclusion. In a sense they got exactly what they wanted; an opportunity to showboat in the witness stand and preach their insane world view. In my mind, however, the best thing is if we dismiss all talk of "holy war" and "revenge for British aggression", and just call this crime what it was: a vicious and sordid murder. Don't give them the pleasure of indulging their quixotic fantasies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Ishiba under fire for comparing state secret bill protesters to terrorists See in context

What a farce of a word "terrorism" has become - nothing more than a snarl word to throw at people who dissent from the establishment's views or wishes, which serves to elevate them to a special category of threat where due process no longer applies.

It doesn't surprise me at all that protest=terrorism is the thinking of this government. I'm just wondering how long it will be before the next large protest is brutally suppressed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan and the rise of the male parasol See in context

Fact #1: It's cooler in the shade.

Fact #2: A parasol is portable shade.

Fact #3: In the summer, people generally desire to stay cool.

Everything else is cultural conditioning.

QFT. It's practical, effective and simple, and a pleasant alternative to spending the whole day sweating under a hot sun.

All this gender policing is ridiculous, paranoid and intrusive. But actually what amuses me more is how arbitrary it is. Apparently it's unmanly to get out a handy portable shade that can fit in your pocket or your backpack and have handy shelter from the elements within 5 seconds while preserving cool clothing; but it is acceptable by macho standards to stand in front of a mirror for ten minutes pasting cream over oneself and worrying about whether everything's covered. Utterly bizarre, and one might say superstitious.

I have used an umbrella as shade in the past. It's convenient for when I don't have time to slap on sunscreen before leaving the house, and when I know I'm going to be walking for a long time without shade. Simple and effective. Why is practicality unmanly, exactly?

But for those decrying the decline of masculinity, I will make this statement. As a man with some self-esteem and confidence, I will wear or carry whatever I damn well please, and if you have some objection, I will happily tell you where to shove it. You don't get to tell me what's manly and what's not, or to pressure me to conform to your standards, because I'm not as wimpy as the dullards who worry about whether their "man card" is going to be taken away. Understood?

If not understood, just bear in mind that umbrellas are also very useful for whacking obnoxious self-appointed gender police upside the head.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Posted in: Abe may push nationalism after election See in context

Of course he will. He's been waiting for the opportunity to take Japan back to the good old military days since he was reelected. Reducing the required threshold for amendments to the constitution; abolishing Article 9; promoting "patriotism" in schools; thinking that human rights need to be redefined in a way more suitable to "the national interest". Abe is going to drag Japan back to the 1930s.

It proves once again that the Japanese political establishment has not changed much at all since the war, and they're just waiting for a chance to break free from constitutional chains and assert their power in Asia again.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Chinese ask: Why doesn’t Japan hate America for dropping the A-bombs? See in context

To simply claim that Japan committed numerous war crimes without having a fair and balanced view on the nature of war crimes, and the repeated violations of war crimes that other countries have committed, and who are still committing, is clearly wrong, even from an academic standpoint.

Translation: "WAAAAHHH WAAAHHH! What about the US war crimes? And also WAAAHHH!

So go on, tell me how Japan's war crimes are justifiable because other countries also committed war crimes.

Japan has not officially denied Nanking, in fact it has apologized and paid reparations and ODA. End of discussion. Do you understand?

No, this is not the end of any discussion, much as apologists like yourself would like us to stop holding Japan to account. Japan apologises, and attempts to pay off its victims, but then in the same breath denies and downplays its atrocities. Denialism is present at the topmost levels of Japanese politics, and denialist films like Ishihara's still get huge patronage and tacit support, while bands of thugs attempt to silence those who make documentaries revealing the extent of crimes while the police turn the other way.

No, the discussion is not over. Get it?

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

Posted in: Chinese ask: Why doesn’t Japan hate America for dropping the A-bombs? See in context

The equivalence being drawn between the atomic bombings and Japan's war crimes against the Chinese is insulting. They are not the same.

The atomic bombs were dropped on Japan as a morally questionable means of ending a horrific war that had been going on for almost a decade, with a death toll in the tens of millions. It was done to force the surrender of a country that viewed itself as the divine ruler of all of East Asia, which routinely sanctioned war crimes and slavery at all levels of its political structure, which launched unprovoked attacks and conquests of neighbouring countries, and had vowed to let every Japanese die rather than surrender. The morality of the decision, or whether it was necessary, may be debated, but all understand that it was a decision taken in extreme circumstances, with a view towards ending a war.

War crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731, etc, on the other hand, were exercises in pure sadism and aggression, committed as part of Japan's imperial conquest of East Asia and done to terrorise the local population into submission as Japan continued its relentless expansion and subjugation of human beings. They can in no way be justified or explained, and they speak of an aggressor nation.

Japan has furthermore continued to deny, downplay, or justify these actions, and was condoned in doing so by the US' cynical Cold War politics. Few Jews still hold a grudge against Germany for what it did against them, and that is because Germany has erected memorial after memorial, and educated generation after generation of its people about the dangers of ultranationalism and the responsibility they have to never see the same repeated.

Japan, on the other hand, has not changed much at all under its veneer of "pacifism", and an article of the constitution that is currently under attack by Abe is all that stands between modern Japan and a return to the 1940s. That is why Japan's neighbours are angry.

-3 ( +16 / -19 )

Posted in: Message for voters See in context

"Suckers - I mean, 'people' - of Japan, I am once again running for office. Please lend me your money...erm, and support...for this effort."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan, China, S Korea to cooperate on air pollution See in context

Japanese and Korean companies have their role in the pollution too. The smoke-belching factories and toxic spilling chemical plants all across China merely cater to international demand for low cost, mass produced goods - and Japanese and Korean companies are major drivers of this economic arrangement. I hope that all parties can get serious about this: the Chinese need to step in and get back to enforcing their environmental standards and tackling the local corruption and dysfunctional economies in the inner provinces; and the Japanese and Koreans need to get serious about standing up to the corruption, political power and vested interests in the zaibatsu and chaebol and demand that they take ethical and environmental concerns into account.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government is going to have a hard time making any progress on pollution and environmental degradation, even if they wanted to. A good book on this is When a Billion Chinese Jump, by Jonathan Watts.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Bombs, mosque attack kill 17 in Baghdad See in context

There isn't another religion in the world that carries on like this any more. It's sick.

What, the predominantly Hindu Tamil Tigers don't count? Or the Christian Lord's Resistance Army? I think we can conclude that many do carry on like this nowadays, not just Islam.

In any case, this decades-old religious/ethnic strife won't be going away any time soon. The invasion of Iraq was mishandled disastrously, as was the reconstruction, and probably deliberately so by the US. You can't just invade and force a place to be a democracy; the shift towards peaceful cohabitation and democracy will probably take decades.

How to integrate the Sunni and Shi'ite communities is similarly going to take forever. Maybe a power-sharing structure like that in Lebanon would work - with an agreement that the President should be Sunni and the Prime Minister Shi'ite, and possibly rotating so that in the next term, the President will be Shi'ite and the Prime Minister Sunni.

Shi'ite triumphalism has been a big problem in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein; some more public gestures of conciliation wouldn't go amiss.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Boston bombing suspect to be buried See in context

The body was taken initially to another funeral home, where it was greeted by about 20 protesters.

Oh just let the dead lie, please! Going after someone in death as well as life says more about you than them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Posted in: Depressing suicide prevention posters cause controversy in Kobe See in context

I suspect a lot of the discomfort people feel in seeing these posters lies in their unwillingness to accept that Japan's high suicide rate is in any way their problem. Being faced with it so starkly and matter-of-factly forces them to think about an issue they hope and assume someone else will address.

"It's not my problem." is at the heart of their unhappiness with the campaign.

Bingo. I think that's what a lot of the complaints are about - confronting them with an unpleasant reality that those around them are suffering and may need help. Far too many people would rather it were kept out of sight and out of mind. They'd rather not hear it, and would just say a half-hearted "ganbare kudasai", with no real care at all for the people around them.

The isolation, the cold hearts and barriers between people, and the opprobrium and even scorn poured on people who express these cries for help by people like Disillusioned are what cause the despair that makes it all the more likely that someone will just end their life when they could have been helped.

As one of the twitter posts said, "this is reality", and people have to deal with it. Seeing one of those posters may make you feel a bit sombre, but consider how the people expressing those thoughts themselves feel, and consider yourself lucky. And if you hear someone saying things like this, don't turn a cold shoulder; listen to them, and talk to them.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Japan, China, S Korea to skip finance talks amid tensions See in context

Abe told a parliament committee that South Korea and China were important partners for Japan and he did not want the shrine controversy to become a diplomatic or political issue.

Then don't visit the shrine, and tell your colleagues not to either. And while you're at it, stop issuing denials of Japanese wartime atrocities, and stop these militaristic overtures about changing the constitution and abolishing human rights in Japan in favour of nationalist polity.

Too hard? Then hand over to someone with a better grasp of diplomacy. It will be a diplomatic issue, because Japan appears to be a continual unrepentant oppressor with only a veneer of "pacifism" and an article in its constitution - which Abe is making efforts to overturn - between it and renewed military aggression.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Posted in: Leafy Yasukuni shrine stirs raw emotions See in context

Every year, Emperor Akihito goes to remember and honour those who died in the Second World War, and all other wars in which Japan has been party. He does it at a secular war memorial at the Nippon Budokan.

There is no reason why all those lawmakers had to choose Yasukuni Shrine to make this "tribute", and why they could not accompany the Emperor to the Budokan to make a secular tribute without all the imperialist and militarist baggage that Yasukuni Shrine entails. They do it as a stubborn gesture of militarism, to make a statement that Japan's war was somehow honourable.

Yasukuni Shrine is a relic of State Shinto, a now expunged national religion that viewed the Emperor as a living god and the head of an all-encompassing Japanese "family". It considers every life lost in all of Japan's wars to now be a kami in service of the emperor - including the Taiwanese, Korean and Manchurian imperial subjects that it pressed into service. The shrine officials decided that the 26 class A war criminals had also fought and died "in the service" of Japan. By so doing, they consider war crimes to have been justifiable and honourable.

The families of several Taiwanese - aboriginal and sinitic - and Koreans have made protests to have their relatives disinterred and removed from the shrine. The very wood construction of the shrine itself was made of timber harvested from Taiwan.

To pay tribute at Yasukuni, rather than the National Budokan or just the local shrine or temple where their lost family were registered, is to glorify and reify that national mythology. It is inexcusable and there is no such thing as an apolitical visit there.

Frankly, the place should be torn down, and then maybe Japan can remember its war dead in a healthier way.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Posted in: Boston bomb suspect charged; religious motive seen See in context

Tried as an enemy combatant!?! God help us, if the Republicans have their way the US really will slide into dictatorship.

Boston is not a warzone, and the brothers Tsernaev are not 'enemy combatants'. Whether or not they are US citizens, and whether or not they were acting on the command of a wider network, it is utterly dangerous and chilling to paint crimes committed in the US like this (not to mention the rather blatant racism whereby mass killings committed by white Americans are just "the actions of lunatics", whereas a bombing committed by two Caucasians with Muslim names is "terrorism").

To give them this status and abuse international codes of warfare erodes the rights of Americans of all kinds; it introduces the harsh and restrictive laws of war into a peacetime country, bypassing civil and political rights and treating anything vaguely defined as "hostile" to be a threat. This is quite apt to be abused.

First it will be acts like this; then anti-war demonstrations, the OWS movement, protest marches, even "seditious speech" will be treated in the same way: with US citizens snatched with black bags over their heads and transferred to Guantanemo Bay without trial, and subjected to torture. They will pick the most marginalised group to pilot this on first.

I'm glad the current US government has the good sense not to pull this idiocy, even if for the wrong reasons.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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