Jim Harper comments

Posted in: S Korean assembly speaker says apology needed from Japanese emperor See in context

Emperor Akihito was only a schoolboy during the War.

The son shouldn't need to apologise or atone for his father's involvements.

And yet he already has apologised, directly to the South Korean people. I suspect another apology would be quickly forgotten. Ah well.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Posted in: Flu infection rates surge to record-high in Japan See in context

people don't get flu shots, then wonder why there's a flu outbreak.

Two relatives of mine got the vaccine, along with their entire family, and caught 'flu anyway. The vaccine does not confer protection for every variety going around. That's practically impossible.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Posted in: Amid tensions with Japan, S Korea to boost world awareness on wartime sex abuses See in context

@boblicious:

Was there even a generation of Japanese who opposed, protestwd and spoke out against the occupation of Asia by the Japanese army? I'll wait for your response. Take ur time. No rush.

There were plenty who opposed the war, the expansionism and the crimes. Like their equivalents in Nazi Germany, a great many ended up in prison or worse. Opponents including two of the Emperor's brothers- Takamatsu, who protested against every step of the Japanese invasions and angered his brother by telling him they couldn't hope for fight for more than two years against the US. Another brother, Mikasa, saw the atrocities in China and was horrified, eventually smuggling back film of the massacres. He forced his brother to see what Japan's 'liberation' of Asia was really like (MacArthur would later decide it best if people believed Hirohito had no knowledge of such things). After the second atomic bomb, Mikasa demanded that his brother abdicate so the country could have a chance at a new future. He'd also written a full and graphic account of Japan's 'conduct' and intended to release it, but the IJA stepped in and destroyed almost every copy.

A number of Japanese formed clandestine group to spread anti-war propaganda and carry out acts of sabotages. Others fled to China to join the forces fighting against Japan.

Amazingly, right-wing Abe's own grandfather was a dissenter. He managed to get himself elected in 1945 (after convincing the authorities he was firmly pro-government). He used his first chance to speak in the Diet (the parliament/senate) to table a motion calling for an immediate end to the immoral war and the removal of all Japanese troops from foreign countries. He was, of course, arrested moments later and thrown in prison, eventually being freed when the war ended.

Bizarrely, Abe talks an awful lot about his other grandfather, known as the Monster of Manchuria, a Class A War Criminal, but not about embarrassing man of moral courage. Funny, eh?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Posted in: Amid tensions with Japan, S Korea to boost world awareness on wartime sex abuses See in context

As a first statement, I have no love for the Japanese right-wing. Their attitude to women, their homophobia, their revisionism, their xenophobia: I detest it.

But they do not represent all Japanese. The Japanese I've met have all been aware of their wartime atrocities. They've compared their country then to Nazi Germany or North Korea, a horrific regime that was a danger to everyone around them.

Unfortunately, their democracy is broken. Because of its flaws, it is almost impossible for anyone other than the ruling coalition to take power, and of course the ruling coalition have no interest in fixing the system. So please don't consider statements made by this right-wing government to be indicative of the feelings of the average Japanese.

Second, Japan should make a payment for the 'comfort women' and let the matter drop. I'd really like it if Abe and company could stop with the revisionist statements, but I'm more likely to see pigs flying past the window.

Third, South Korea's statement that they are committed to improving relations Japan while simultaneously reminding the world of the terrible truth about their crimes is political posturing of the worst kind. If you want to start a poison PR campaign about someone then that's your right, but at least have the courage to not try and frame it as part of 'improving relations'. It's a bit like Vietnam saying "We are committed to improving relations with South Korea while telling the world about the war crimes they have yet to express any remorse for", y'know?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Posted in: Court upholds 'sterilization' rule for gender change See in context

The harder it is to change sex legally, the harder it will be for one member of a gay partnership to change sex so they can marry as heterosexuals. 

This is not an option for gay people. They do not wish to be a different gender; following surgery they would be stuck in the wrong body. Furthermore, a gay man (for example) would now have a female partner, the opposite of what he feels naturally attracted to. It's hard to imagine any gay couple would make such a drastic, psychologically destructive change just to get married. The only place I have heard of gay people having sex changes is Turkey, where it is routinely used as an alternative to a lengthy jail sentence.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Posted in: Court upholds 'sterilization' rule for gender change See in context

Forgive if I'm wrong, but the sex change surgery explicitly renders that individual incapable of bearing or fathering (as applicable). So as I see it, the main point of this ruling is to reinforce the legal stance that an individual will not receive legal status as a different gender until they have undergone the surgery (and by extension, rendered themselves infertile). Rather than being about forcing people to have the surgery (although it certainly presents them with very few options), this is more about telling people that self-identification makes no difference to your legal status. This in turn could have a significant impact on other areas, such as toilet usage, since it gives others the capability to cite this ruling when denying individuals in transition the use of the appropriate facilities. But to be honest, I'm not sure if this has even become an issue here in Japan yet.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Posted in: S Korean court orders another Japanese firm to pay for forced wartime labor See in context

While I can completely accept the atrocities committed during the war and the oppression of Japanese rule in Korea, I think there is a certain unwillingness to examine the actions of the corrupt and authoritarian regimes that governed South Korea until 1987. Aside from their own brutality and the crimes committed against their own people (and during their involvement in the Vietnam War), this is a government that chose development loans, infrastructure assistance and business investment over the payments to victims that some other nations received. If I were South Korean, I suspect I would be very angry about the various actions committed by the pre-democracy regime. It's not just the Japanese who could be considered responsible for the lack of compensation. Especially when the Korean responsible for the treaty was an intelligence officer in the Imperial Army and involved with the suppression of Korean resistance to Japanese rule.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

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