GaijinNKyoto comments

Posted in: Japan stands tough against rice imports in trade talks with U.S. See in context

While I agree with what is being said here. I think it's interesting the reaction it's getting in the US which seems to be quite negative. From what I can gather the TPP would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) "trade" pact model.

Which has spurred massive U.S. trade deficits and job loss, downward pressure on wages, unprecedented levels of inequality and new floods of agricultural imports. The TPP not only replicates, but expands NAFTA's special protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs.

The U.S. TPP negotiators literally used the 2011 Korea FTA under which exports have fallen and trade deficits have surged. As a template for the TPP.

It would also provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries. Many would impose limits on government policies that we rely on in our daily lives. For safe food, a clean environment, and more. Our domestic federal, state and local policies would be required to comply with TPP rules as well.

It would require us to allow food imports if the exporting country claims that their safety standards are "equivalent" to our own.

Even if it violates the key principles of our food safety laws. These rules would effectively outsource domestic food inspection to other countries.

Imagine Japan allowing imports from China which have known food safety violations.

Under the agreement any U.S. or Japanese food safety rule on pesticides, labeling or additives that is higher than international standards would be subject to challenge as "illegal trade barriers."

The U.S. and Japan could be required to eliminate these rules and allow in the unsafe food under threat of trade sanctions. Now I don't think US, Japan imports are what the problem is here. It's all the other countries which don't have the same strict guidelines we do.

Since this trade agreement involves some 12 countries. What protections would we have to keep unsafe food out of the Japanese & US markets?

I can also see this applying to medications or generic prescription drugs which could be a disaster. To me the TPP sounds like a corporate power grab.

Which is intended to minimize litigation and maximize profits for their corporate coffers.

Anyways I came across an interesting comment on the Hill you guys should read. It only reinforces what I have said here and gives us more reason to be wary of this act.

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/239123-former-ustrs-president-must-have-fast-track-to-complete

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Posted in: Hikaru Utada to return to entertainment industry after 3-year-hiatus See in context

I merely write as a musician and music teacher. I see little worth in her music. It is formulaic and irrelevant. Whether or not someone likes music is relevant only to them not the body of academic and artistic knowledge that is music. Wow aren't you an arrogant one lol. Furthermore just because you are a musician/music teacher doesn't make you an expert on the subject.

At least Utada is selling herself on her musical merits!! If pop stars do not respect themselves or their craft than why should anyone else. I don't think this is the last we will see of Utada though. The musical landscape is changing and artists no longer need to be tired to their labels to be successful. This is something of which the RIAA would like us to not believe of coarse. Nearly every musician who has made a living recording music first had to sign over their entitled rights to be exploited by a third party. When you see that copyright protects corporate interests much like other questionable government subsidies that were originally meant to protect the average Joe, you see copyright needs to go, along with the RIAA. We can either face the truth and change for the better.

Or we can repeat the past and risk damaging the musical, cultural, social and personal significance even further. While the RIAA and others like it are betting their gatekeeper position is sustainable. I think they have another thing coming. There is no reason Utada needs to stay on-board a sinking ship though. The record industry has lost respect among many musicians and fans alike. There are plenty which would have loved to have said what she did but didn't have the guts to. As a musician yourself one would think you would understand that. That alone makes her not just any Japanese pop artist but one which has earned my respect and admiration. So no matter what your definition on what is relevant to the body of academic and artistic knowledge. I know of many other musicians which would be more then happy to call you out on that.

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Posted in: Abe vows to change constitution, reestablish 'proud Japan' See in context

There are several points I want to hit on so let's get started shall we. Under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S.. Constitution. Congress has sole power to declare war and grant letters of marque and reprisal. Yet Article II, Section 2 provides that the president shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. While it's clear that the writers of the constitution intended for Congress alone to declare war. Presidents don't always check with Congress before acting. This might explain why Congress has only made that decision once at the start of WWII. The US founders were far from perfect, and at times, inconsistent and unjust; but, on the powers of war, they were unwavering, and their principles were sound. Presidents must acknowledge that being military commander-in-chief does not entitle them to take the nation into war. Rather, they are to fight only conflicts authorized by Congress. At the same time, Congress must be willing to confront tough issues, rather than leave them for the president. Legislators have no higher responsibility under the Constitution and to the voters than to decide when it's citizens must fight.

The reason I set this up was to put this potential decision into some context. No President or leader from any nation should have that kind of power given solely to them. It would make them no better then Kings or dictators from oppressive regimes. Furthermore does Japan really want to follow an example of which has cost the US dearly. In both lives, reputation, and the disdain of the world. Which in turn has made the US the #1 terrorist target on planet earth because of it. I don't think Japan wants that headache turned on itself. Not to mention acquiring a debt of which was largely due to our military operations throughout the world. You put that into a Japanese context and it would be difficult to swallow. Japan does not need this now in it's current economic state. Let's just say for argument sake that Japan were to ratify the constitution. What would it accomplish other then pull the US into a conflict of which it doesn't want any part of. Either China recognize the Senkaku Islands as Japanese territory or else!! While personally I do feel the islands are Japanese is besides the point.

This tactic is not all that unlike North Korea trying to blackmail US into getting it's way or face Nuclear War. Thus turning South Korea into a sea of fire as a means of getting what it wants. To address the second part of this debate. What really concerns the US isn't so much Japan wanting to remilitarize. It is more dealing with Japan's hard line and flat out denial of it's own past aggressions which has many in Washington on edge. When Abe makes statements like returning Japan to it's former glory. Or wanting to make less apologetic overtones as to Japan's involvement during WWII. It doesn't make for good relations when it was those actions which created so much pain and suffering and the death of countless lives. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how a victimized country, as Japan sees itself. Can then turn into a very big problem later. Not only for the US and it's allies. Yet to the world as a whole if Japan ever sees itself as we Japanese against the world. Not something of which is to hard to envision as they already think that way. For Japan's sake I truly hope his return to power is short lived and without fanfare.

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Posted in: Famed American sniper killed at Texas shooting range See in context

If they cared about taking the life of another they would not go on to join the military in a position where they would be taking lives.

Oh that is rich!! If they didn't care then wouldn't have helped in the earthquake and tsunami efforts here in Japan. When Haiti earthquake disaster hit that thrust them into the chasm of poverty and disorder. Many may not realize just how much the military contributed to the medical issues that were front and center. This effort did not end when the news coverage went away, and tens of thousands of Haitians continued to be treated for medical issues at various sites around the Island. The patients not only receive medications but also public health information to help them help themselves in a sustainable way. The medical teams generally consist of military family practice providers, internal medicine doctors, pediatricians, women's health specialists, dentist and optometrists. On the other side of the world, Operation Africa Lion provided medical care in Morocco. Which gave medical care to five villages as part of the Humanitarian and Civic Assistance portion of the exercise.

In the Philippines, Operation Balikatan is a recurrent joint mission in which the US Army surgeon's and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Nurse Corps work together to exchange the latest medical advances including advanced cardiac life support skills, tactical nurse combat care and treatment of blast trauma. Humanitarian assistance projects are a part of that effort in the surrounding communities where free medical, dental and veterinary care are offered. In addition to the medical support, the military engineers build and repair schools and contribute to other civic projects in these poor communities. Most impressive is the US Military's Humanitarian Mission Dire Dawa in Ethiopia. Not saying it's perfect but to claim if people cared they wouldn't join the military is shameful and insensitive and shows a lack of knowing how military operations are carried out.

Furthermore how many of you have ever been in the military? Let alone know what vets go though and how the government treats them. If want to blame someone, blame the damn VA and how they can't ever seem to get their act together. If you admit you have nightmares about combat (part of the PTSD diagnosis), the doctor will see you once a month. 1st month, orientation. 2nd month, base line. 3rd month, mama issues and per-military problems. 4th month, what you did in the military. 5th month, what is the problem. So, long story short, after many months of waiting to get approved for psychological help. It takes a minimum of 5 months from the 1st psychologists visit before the psychologist asks you why you are sitting in their office. The 5 months combined with the 4-6 months of waiting to hear if you can go to the doctor is way longer than it takes a person to snap.

The VA cannot treat the Veteran with just six counseling sessions and expect Veterans to be cured who are suffering from PTSD. Their goal is to steer Veterans to continue seeking help else where. This is not treatment, rather handing the responsibility else where. Sounds like somewhere else I know! Military needs to take each individual soldier and evaluate thoroughly and get them the help they need. This story is tragic for all involved. I don't blame our service men and women for doing what they are asked to do. The real problem here is the government not taking metal health problems more seriously and just expecting vets to suck it up. Thumb me down if you want but Japan as well has it's own problems with not taking mental health issues more seriously. It's a growing problem which is only going to get worse before it gets better if things don't change.

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Posted in: Abe wants to replace landmark 1995 war apology See in context

Anyone who believes that the Yasukuni controversy is an obscure historical matter that Chinese and Koreans use to badger Japan for political advantage has probably never spent much time there. The problem is not the 12 Class-A war criminals interred at the shrine. The real problem is the Yushukan military museum next door. Walking past the Mitsubishi Zero, tanks, and machine guns on display in the museum, one finds a history of the Pacific War that restores "The Truth of Modern Japanese History."

It follows the nationalist narrative: Japan, a victim of the European colonial powers, sought only to protect the rest of Asia from them. Japan colonial occupation of Korea, for example, is described as a partnership, one looks in vain for any account of the victims of Japanese militarism in Nanjing or Manila. One might be able to defend the museum as one viewpoint among many in a pluralist democracy. Although there is no other museum in Japan that gives an alternative view of Japan twentieth-century history as far as I am aware.

Successive Japanese governments have hidden behind the Yushukan museum operation by a private religious organization to deny responsibility for the views expressed there. That is an unconvincing stance. In fact, unlike Germany, Japan has never come to terms with its own responsibility for the Pacific War as other have stated. Do you see Americans denying Hiroshima and Nagasaki ever took place? However, it is arguable in Japan's defense as well. That Japan has only been able to avoid squarely confronting its war guilt and war crimes because of the active connivance of the United States.

In 1948, intensification of the Cold War persuaded the American government that Japan should become an American ally and bulwark against the spread of communism in Asia. This was unlikely to happen if investigation and prosecution of Japanese for war crimes continued. Although socialist Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama officially apologized to China in 1995 for the war, Japan has never had a genuine internal debate over its degree of responsibility, and has never made a determined effort to propagate an alternative account to that of Yushukan.

From the beginning of 1949, the United States called a halt to Japanese war crime prosecutions and the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan, General Douglas MacArthur, began to release suspected war criminals from Sugamo Prison. MacArthur also obstructed prosecutions of Japanese war criminals by Allied countries. So while I don't excuse Japan for their continued denial of history. I also don't excuse the US for it's apparent acceptance of allowing it to continue.

According to Watanabe , the Pacific War boiled down to race, as the US was determined to keep a non-white people down. Watanabe is thus the equivalent of a Holocaust denier, but, unlike his German counterparts, he easily draws large and sympathetic audiences. I know of a couple of Japanese writers that explain how the Nanjing Massacre was a big fraud. This which leaves the US in a very difficult position. A number of American strategists are eager to ring China with a NATO-like defensive barrier, building outward from the US-Japan Security Treaty.

Since the final days of the Cold War, the US has been pushing Japan to rearm, and has officially supported a proposed revision of Article 9 of the postwar constitution, which bans Japan from having a military or waging war. So in all fairness to the Japanese the US had this coming. America should be careful about what it wishes for. The legitimacy of the entire American military position in the Far East is built around the US exercising Japan’s sovereign function of self-defense. Japan’s unilateral revision of Article 9, viewed against the backdrop of its new nationalism, would isolate Japan from virtually the whole of Asia. Not a good way to be starting out for Abe barely 3 weeks in office.

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Posted in: Does Japan need a political "third force" to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the main opposition Liberal -Democratic Party (LDP)? See in context

As long as it doesn't include people like Ishihara/Hashimoto maybe? Although the U.S. doesn't have a third party system either and I doubt even if we did it would make much difference. There is little historical evidence that third parties have ever accomplished that goal. The Progressive Party of Theodore Roosevelt, the American Independent Party of George Wallace, the Independent Party of John Anderson and the Reform Party of Ross Perot did not end legislative stalemates, and none achieved sustainability. Some like the Tea Party would have been better not existing at all as did more harm then good. It is estimated that a quarter of Americans consider themselves independents. But this independent constituency is quite heterogeneous and would be unlikely to coalesce into a united, cohesive third party. Any efforts to form a third party would likely result in splintering into multiple, smaller parties, each with its own agenda.

One only has to look at the European parliamentary systems to appreciate the inherent inefficiencies of multiple political parties. The growing body of independents would be better served by leveraging their increasing influence within the current two-party system. Our system of winner-take-all politics is the problem. We need a parliamentary-style democracy and runoff elections on top of oodles of campaign finance reform. This will not happen any time soon, or at all if we continue hyping mythical centrism. So instead of a third party that would simply average the bad ideas that come out under the guise of centrism. Let us advocate a fairer system that lets all voices in the country be represented, and let the politicians form coalitions to get the job done. I think all of us be it US, Japan or otherwise could stand some political reform but what exactly that is and in what form is anyone's guess.

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Posted in: China relentlessly harries Japan in island dispute See in context

I am going to try to tackle this in two parts. Firstly the thing I would like to know. What is the real reason either are pushing so hard for the islands? Is it mealy nationalistic sediment or something more? Personally I believe the islands belong to Japan at least on paper. There was an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20, 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory. Neither Beijing nor Taipei disputed that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, along with the entire island of Taiwan were formally under Japanese occupation at the time. However, per post-WW II arrangements, Japan was required to surrender territories obtained from aggression and revert them to their pre-1895 legal status. The second piece evidence is a Chinese map from 1958 that excludes the Senkaku Islands from Chinese territory. Although these boundaries was based prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945).

This still leads me to wonder why China all of a sudden has had a change of heart lol. The only logical explanation is what the islands might hold in potential resources as the reason more then not. The second part of this argument is why hasn't their been any surveys done to prove one way or the other? There may not be enough there to be worth the effort. Not to mention it's not like Japan really needs that anyways. The Bakken Oil fields discovery in Western US (Montana and Northern Dakota's) is the largest in US history. This is one of several sites which may rival the middle east reserves. If this proves to be the case then our dependence of middle eastern oil will be reduced quite significantly. We could easily ship whatever Japan needed. I know this because I have a friend that works the oil fields. He also knows that Montana is seeing the largest export of coal in more then 20 years.

They have by far the largest coal reserves in the country which are already seeing an uptick in exports. So the point being is that whatever those worthless islands might have is probably peanuts in comparison and hardly worth anyone's time. Is it really worth starting a potential war over? Japan US could easily build a pipeline which would create thousands of jobs for both countries and cut China out of the picture entirely. As far as I am concerned Japan is the only ally I really care about of which we can trust. I would rather give jobs to the Japanese then that piranha of a county we call China!! In closing you can bet the US will come to Japan's aid. Our economies are more connected then many people are led to believe. So it is in our best interest despite what the naysayers say.

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Posted in: Police probe claim U.S. serviceman punched 13-yr-old boy in Okinawan home See in context

As a former military man myself. I cannot tell you how extremely disappointed I am with how our servicemen have been behaving. In fact I am going to say something now I never thought I would ever say. These men are not Americas as far as I am concerned. They should be stripped of their rank, removed from service and given a dishonorable discharge. If I was these men commanding officer and had the power to do so. I would have given all of them a court marshal, no questions asked. I say now is the time to make an example of these men and drop the gantlet. Any serviceman who is found to be in violation of the curfew will be sent to the brig. Fined $2,500 dollars and stripped of a rank!! Wow a bit harsh is it not? Not in the least and if I was in charge they would wish they would have never known me!!

If we cannot conduct ourselves in a professional and respectful manner. Then we have no business being here period!! I think what needs to happen now is this. Every personnel serving in Japan must take a mandatory ethics & anger management class. If any serviceman is found to be intoxicated their entire unit will be punished. Time we remind them what basic training was like. You mess up everyone pays the price. I knew of people who got broken ribs or beaten with a soap bar who keep messing up. I bet that would get them in line real quick. In addition to this everyone also be required to take Japanese etiquette classes of which they will have to pass or be sent home packing!!

A physiological evaluation also be performed of which they will need to pass or will be sent home. Every service member will also be required to carry an alcohol permit card. This will need to be scanned every time they drink. This might help keep them from getting intoxicated knowing it is being tracked. They violate their limit they pay the price!! All personnel will also be required to wear a tracking bracelet. Similar to what convicts wear so they don't go outside a certain parameter set by the base. Although it would serve a secondary function as well. If you are off base and are under curfew. You will need to sync with a docking station at the time allocated by the base.

If you are late it goes off and you are contacted immediately by the MP's. Once docked you then cannot leave until the curfew expires. Any tampering with your bracelet will set it off. Don't even think about trying to. I hate treating our servicemen like prisoners. Although something needs to be done to get it through their thick skulls that this behavior will not be tolerated. A zero tolerance policy needs to be enacted so that the get the message loud and clear!! If they don't like this policy then request a transfer. Sometimes I really do wonder why I had to be born among such stupid countrymen! You can can think I lost my mind but the safety and security of the Japanese people should be first and foremost on everyone mind. :)

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Posted in: Ishihara: Unrepentant Japanese nationalist See in context

Being a strong leader also means being a responsible one. Some thought Hitler was a strong leader as well and look where that got them. Nationalism not need show it's ugly head now or even in this world. Doing so only creates pain and suffering for everyone else caught in the crosshairs. Those on here which support this nutcase keep doing so. You might find yourself being rounded up and put on the first plight out of the country under his rule lol. I think Ishihara must have distemper!! I can't think of anything else to explain a man of such poor character.

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