Japan Today

MASSWIPE comments

Posted in: Harvard professor ignites uproar over Korean sex slave claims See in context

I see Ramseyer's article as an expression of mostly impotent rage by an aging academic (he is 66 years old) whose time has come and gone. Several younger Japan historians have already taken apart Ramseyer's article in a methodical and systematic fashion. So there is one person at Harvard Law who basically thinks Koreans (including underage girls) were willing, consenting collaborators in their own subordination to and exploitation by Japanese imperialists.

OK, but this alone should not send people on the other side into paroxysms of rage. Ignore it, because Ramseyer doesn't matter that much despite his Harvard affiliation. To me, it's puzzling and kind of sad that Ramseyer actually sat down and wrote something like this in the twilight of his academic career. There are a LOT of bitter older people in U.S. academia who want to get angry feelings off their chest.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Posted in: S Korea seeks 'amicable solution' to comfort women issue with Japan See in context

"But it said Seoul has neither the right nor the authority to prevent the victims themselves from raising concerns, adding that 'the real problem cannot be solved only by agreements between the governments that do not reflect the intentions of the victims.'"

Interesting development. The current situation is untenable and it appears the South Korean government is starting to realize that. Citizens of a country can't just ignore or disregard an international agreement that their national government concludes with the government of another country. What's the point of even having a national government if it commands so little respect from its own citizens?

13 ( +19 / -6 )

Posted in: Japan says no truth to Times report on canceling Tokyo Olympics See in context

Japan must hold a general election for the House of Representatives no later than October of this year. It will be interesting to see how, if it happens, the cancellation of the Olympics affects the fortunes of the LDP.

I just hope the Japanese government learns a lesson from this debacle. May this be the last time massive overspending for an Olympics occurs in Japan. What an appalling waste of money.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Posted in: GOP plans to upend Biden win for Trump rips party apart See in context

Note that one of the Republican Senators planning to object on 6 January is Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. He was U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2017 until he quit in July 2019 to run for the open Senate seat in Tennessee. The U.S. hasn't had a permanent ambassador in Tokyo since, and Hagerty has transformed into a full-blown Trump cultist.

The other Senator from Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, also plans to object. In all likelihood, both Blackburn and Hagerty had to voice their intention to object to validating Biden's victory on 6 January in order to secure federal aid for Nashville (the capital of Tennessee, and where a suicide bombing occurred on Christmas morning). There is no bottom with Donald Trump, as we are finding out yet again today with revelations about the call to the Georgia Secretary of State.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Posted in: Abe visits Yasukuni Shrine for 2nd straight month See in context

Well, no need to hold back anymore I guess. Going the other way, a total of four ex-Japanese prime ministers have visited a memorial hall in Nanjing, China that's dedicated to victims there of the 1937 massacre carried out by Japanese soldiers. The four are Hatoyama Yukio, Fukuda Yasuo, Murayama Tomiichi, and Kaifu Toshiki. Something tells me Abe doesn't plan on becoming the fifth to go there.

14 ( +21 / -7 )

Posted in: Berlin allows 'comfort woman' statue to remain for time being See in context

All excellent points above by Septim Dynasty. I would add that with some exceptions, the only Westerners (whom I define as any person who was mostly raised in the U.S., Canada, the Central and Western European democracies, Australia, and/or New Zealand and attended secondary and primary schools where the major language of that country was the medium of instruction) willing to strongly support the Japanese side regarding the comfort women issue are people consumed by feelings of self-loathing. In other words, people who zealously defend Japan as a way of compensating and making up for the fact that they were born and/or raised in a place that they've come to hate.

It doesn't help that Japan's official position on the Korean comfort women is that at least some of them were not coerced into the system and voluntarily entered the sex trade. Yes, at least some Korean girls and women wanted to have sex near a battlefield in China with multiple Japanese soldiers per day! That's a winning argument there...

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Posted in: Berlin rescinds approval of 'comfort women' statue installation See in context

Well, it's pretty common for people of ethnic Korean background who castigate the Japanese to repeatedly state that the Japanese need to become more like the Germans in terms of being contrite and remorseful. Is that rhetorical strategy now out the window since even the Germans appear to have "betrayed" Koreans?

A reassessment of strategy by Koreans wouldn't be a bad idea. Many of them tend to believe that Japan today is a barely legitimate, borderline "rogue" nation akin to Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the 1990s. Fair enough, you can think whatever you want about any country. The problem for Koreans who feel this way is that besides South Korea there is not one advanced industrialized capitalist democracy where a significant number of people feel similarly hostile towards Japan.

What do you do when you have no reliable allies in a campaign to admonish, castigate, and condemn another country's government and people?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Posted in: N Korea abductees' families urge Suga for help; North says issue resolved See in context

"That North Korea ever let some repatriate is in itself a miracle."

North Korea never agreed to let the 5 living abductees repatriate to Japan in 2002. The original agreement was that the 5 would be able to temporarily visit Japan before going back to North Korea where their children were still living. But then the Japanese government reneged on that agreement once the 5 were in Japan, and declared that they would never go back to North Korea. The children of the abductees were later brought to Japan in 2004 after Tokyo gave Pyongyang cash and food aid.

Now, you may think that it was right for the Japanese government to renege on that original agreement with despotic North Korea regarding the 5 abductees. But doing that in 2002 really wrecked any chances of further drawing North Korea's regime out of its isolation and ending its overt hostility to Japan.

"Japan says when it’s over. Until then, N. Korea gets nothing"

I suppose this is the attitude of the Yokota family and that's understandable. But think about what this really means: For Japan, the abductee issue won't be over until regime change occurs in North Korea. It's been decided in Tokyo that there is no way to trust the Kim Dynasty. But regime change in North Korea as Japan would like to see it won't occur unless the U.S. military invades North Korea like it invaded Iraq in 2003 and topples the government. But you know what? That will never happen because North Korea has nuclear weapons and the 2003 invasion of Iraq resulted in such a debacle that the U.S. lost all credibility as an agent of positive regime change in an authoritarian country.

The only result of Japan's hardline attitude on this matter, rooted in the bizarre belief that Kim Jong Il in 2002 decided to tell the truth about 5 abductees but lie about the 12 others, is that North Korea unintentionally succeeded in driving a wedge between Japan and South Korea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: N Korea abductees' families urge Suga for help; North says issue resolved See in context

"Japan officially lists 17 people as having been abducted by North Korea with five already repatriated in 2002. But Pyongyang maintains that the abduction issue has already been resolved, saying eight died, including Yokota's daughter, and that the other four never entered the country."

I've asked this before and will again: The default assumption here among supporters of the Japanese government's stance on this issue, it seems, is that the North Korean government in 2002 decided to tell the truth about 5 of the abductees (i.e. that they were alive and well and living in North Korea) while lying about the 12 others.

North Korea's leaders are terrible and cruel, but they are far from irrational. What would have been rational about telling the truth regarding 5 of the abductees listed while lying about the 12 others back in 2002?

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Posted in: Japanese actress Yuko Takeuchi, 40, found dead at home in apparent suicide See in context

"Something is seriously wrong with that part of society not only in Japan, but greater Asia. Celebrities in Japan and South Korea in particular seem prone to suicide."

I was thinking about this comparison. This is (by my count) the fourth suicide of a Japanese celebrity since the end of May, following Kimura Hana on 23 May, Miura Haruma on 18 July, and Ashina Sei on 14 September. But my impression is that the situation for celebrities in South Korea remains much worse, with far more vicious verbal attacks on social media taking place more frequently.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abductees' kin urge new gov't to make progress with N Korea on issue See in context

"Japan officially lists 17 people as having been abducted by North Korea with five already repatriated. But Pyongyang maintains that eight died, including Megumi Yokota, and that the other four never entered the country."

The default assumption here by the Japanese is that the North Korean government in 2002 told the truth about 5 of the abductees (they were alive and well and living in North Korea) but lied about the other twelve. You can find the North Korean regime deplorable but also believe they were telling the truth when they stated that 8 abductees had died and the four other people listed never entered the country. Can somebody explain why they think the North Koreans would tell the truth to Japan about 5 people but lie about 12 others?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: U.S. analysts concerned over revolving-door leadership in post-Abe Japan See in context

It sounds like these analysts are hoping for another strongman to come in and try and dominate Japan as Abe did. Isn't the whole idea of democracy that things change either for good or bad? If I didn't know better I'd say they are big fans of Nippon Kaigi!

Not far off the mark. Members of Washington's foreign policy "blob" who are positively inclined towards Japan are emotionally invested in the country to the point where they don't want a repeat of the "revolving door" era from 2006 to 2012 when there was a different prime minister every year. As a result, they tend to have an almost worshipful attitude towards Abe, which is certainly strange. As journalist Richard Lloyd Parry put it so well recently, "Rarely in a modern democracy has a figure of such blandness and mediocrity achieved the political success and international renown of Shinzo Abe."

As some commenters insinuated above, it's hard to understand why it's so important to have one person in the PM's office for a period of at least a few years. Having a different prime minister in Japan every year didn't mean the country was plunged into chaos and turmoil, as anybody who lived in Japan for all or part of the 2006-2012 period will tell you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Learn about the tragic history of WWII kamikaze pilots at two museums in Fukuoka See in context

their sacrifices serving no other purpose than prolonging the war.

––Even the exhibit in Chiran expresses this sentiment, but this just might not be the case. Why?

1) The Japanese main islands were NOT invaded.

2) After the surrender Japan was NOT divided between the victorious powers unlike Germany.

Yes, excellent points. Japan succeeded in winning the peace after losing the war. Many people in Korea today, quite understandably, believe that Japan's leaders in 1945 made a decision to intentionally deflect the growing the US-USSR power struggle from Japan to Korea. Inflicting maximum bloodshed on the Allied powers outside of the Japanese mainland became the objective, rather than victory, in order to prevent a Germany-like division of the 4 main islands. Kamikaze attacks were a part of this strategy. Below is a link to an article published last month on this Korean perspective. The map of the planned multilateral occupation of Japan is extraordinary. Shikoku would have been under Chinese occupation! Tokyo would have been a divided city like Berlin.

The anger that Koreans feel about this is understandable. On the other hand, the Japanese reacted in a logical sort of way given what they surely knew about the depredations that were committed by Red Army soldiers in eastern Germany beginning in the spring of 1945. Avoiding at all cost a similar outcome in eastern Japan became priority number one.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Japanese drama set in New York is your next binge-watch series See in context

The trailer opens with a reference to New York as the "city of dreams and freedom." I don't mean to sound negative, but New York hasn't been that kind of a city for quite a while. And the reason is the outrageous cost of housing. New York has always been a bit expensive, but the situation spiraled out of control starting in the early 2000s. The city is now more like Dubai, with a really stark division between the ultra-wealthy (who own most of Manhattan) and everybody else. Same thing has happened in lots of places--London, Washington, Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney--but thankfully not Tokyo.

Remember, you're not "free" if what you pay for decent housing (in the form of rent or a mortgage) amounts to more than one-third of your gross income.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Posted in: Japan is behind the world by at least 20 years when it comes to administrative technology. The shoddy state of the government's digital systems is holding back technological progress. See in context

I think there was a time when hearing prominent people in Japan (and Noguchi is prominent) say that the country was X years behind in some area of public policy or technology served a purpose. It was a kind of psychological trick to motivate people in Japan to work harder towards the goal of "catching up." It didn't even necessarily have to be true.

But I wonder if people in Japan really care that much anymore about being perceived as behind. I just don't sense that pursuing grand national projects in the name of achieving parity with the world's leading powers holds much appeal anymore. Especially considering that the two major national powers (China and the U.S.) are both deeply flawed and dysfunctional societies. The third major power in the world (the European Union), meanwhile, is a supranational organization and not a single country.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: NHK apologizes over tweets said to fan discrimination against Koreans See in context

About the diary entries upon which these tweets are supposedly based: "Diary entries by Shunichiro Arai, whose writing forms the basis for Shun's tweets, are being published on the Hiroshima Timeline official website, but there is no mention of 'Korean people' in the original text." Full story can be read at https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200824/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

There you have it. NHK uploaded a bunch of embellished tweets that made Koreans in Japan at the time look arrogant and threatening. Question is, who added the fake text and who signed off on uploading a bunch of fake tweets?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: NHK apologizes over tweets said to fan discrimination against Koreans See in context

"The article says clearly, The tweets were based on diaries kept by a 13-year-old boy, a housewife and a newspaper reporter in Hiroshima 75 years ago. There’s your testimony from the time."

Definitely NOT a good enough excuse or rationalisation for what happened here. The diary entries upon which these tweets were supposedly based should have been made public by NHK, of course with the consent of the writers of those entries or their descendants in case the writers are deceased. No consent, no fake tweets supposedly based on them getting uploaded the way they were.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Posted in: NHK apologizes over tweets said to fan discrimination against Koreans See in context

Link below is to a screenshot of one of the offending tweets, supposed to have occurred on 16 June 1945. Something about Koreans bragging that Japan would lose the war, and Shun's feelings in reaction.


4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe ties Sato for longest uninterrupted term as PM See in context

"Aristocracy is fundamentally incompatible with democracy.

This is pretty much the fault of Americans." 

Why is the dominance of hereditary politicians in Japan pretty much the fault of Americans? From what I understand, sons and daughters of politicians in Japan have enormous structural advantages because they can inherit well-oiled political machines staffed by people who have a strong incentive (namely, keeping their jobs and livelihoods) to make sure a hereditary successor takes over. Is it really American officials who force the Japanese against their will to accept a political system tilted in favor of hereditary politicians? I doubt it.

It is Japanese voters who support and uphold this system and appear to have little issue with how it functions. They're not ignorant, they know who's who. I'm sure they know intimately well the family trees of the Abe, Koizumi, Nakasone, Hatoyama, Aso, and Fukuda political dynasties.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan to pitch Osaka, Fukuoka as int'l financial hubs after pandemic See in context

"’It's natural that people will start moving to Japan and Singapore (from Hong Kong),’ Finance Minister Taro Aso said”

Natural? I wonder what word Aso used in Japanese. Was it atarimae (当たり前)? Well, it doesn't strike me as either natural or atarimae that financial firms like Morgan Stanley & Co. will view Japan as a place to move to from Hong Kong. There's no doubt Singapore stands to benefit the most. Is Taipei considered unattractive because of uncertainty surrounding Taiwan's future? I ask this because English competence in Taiwan seems way higher than in Japan. Every major Taiwanese politician speaks fluent English, it seems.

But Fukuoka as a financial hub would be amazing if it happened. Great city, closer to Seoul and Shanghai than it is to Tokyo. The potential is there.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Posted in: Moon says he is always ready to talk with Japan over historical disputes See in context

"Seoul says the ruling must be respected as a decision by an independent judiciary."

This is the one thing about this case more than anything that puzzles me. Was there ever really an expectation on the part of the South Korean government that the government of Japan would actually abide by a decision handed down by the Supreme Court of a foreign country? Maybe executives at the Japanese companies ordered to pay were willing to consider conceding, because for any private sector company the bottom line trumps everything, but surely people in South Korea were not so naive as to think the government of Japan would just go along with that. Certainly not a government led by Abe.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Posted in: Melting 'frozen memories,' AI helps Japanese recall war days See in context

"What’s with all the Second World War articles?"

"Seriously? Another article of their WW2 thing?"

I guess some people don't pay attention to anniversary years. This year is the 75th anniversary of the war's conclusion. That's why there are more stories than usual in 2020 compared to 2019 or 2018. You can anticipate a lot of coverage around this time of year on at least three more anniversaries in the future: The 80th in 2025, the 90th in 2035, and the 100th in 2045. I agree it's overkill, and I very much hope that excessive coverage doesn't mark the 85th (2030) or 95th (2040) anniversaries.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Go To fiasco may see gov't paying Tokyoites' cancellation fees See in context

Just look at the slogan: Go To ツラベル.

Can well be read like in "Go to trouble" instead of "travel".

Minor point, really, but I don't think a native Japanese speaker would think this. I'm not a native Japanese speaker, so somebody out there who is can correct me if I'm wrong. The katakana word for "trouble" is トラブル. Two of the four katakana letters are different. I think it's a bigger problem that a poster for promoting tourism looks like an organizational chart explaining the Japanese bureaucracy.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Posted in: Olympics must go ahead next year as symbol of overcoming COVID-19, Koike says See in context

"I'm a contrarian. I now hate the Olympics."

You are far from being a contrarian. The Olympics are now so disliked that residents of Boston in the U.S. organized a grassroots movement to thwart the city's bid to host the 2024 games. They succeeded. Residents of cities around the world know how disastrous it can be to host the Olympics. The 1976 games wreaked havoc with Montreal's finances, the 2004 games in Athens arguably accelerated Greece's descent into economic calamity, and the 2016 games in Rio just made everything more miserable for people living in that city's huge slums. Tokyo 2020, from day one, was a vanity project for Ishihara Shintaro.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan conveys objection to Trump's plan to add S Korea to G-7 See in context

"Trump going after the all important Korean-American voters."

Don't know if you're being sarcastic or sincere, but that could very well be a part of his motivation. The U.S. is now home to the world's largest Korean diaspora population at an estimated 2.5 million, bigger even than the Korean diaspora population in China. And I'm guessing the majority of those who are of voting age are either native-born or naturalised U.S. citizens. Further evidence of potential complications in the U.S.-Japan relationship.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Posted in: Japan conveys objection to Trump's plan to add S Korea to G-7 See in context

On so many issues, it can be stated that Donald Trump is not wrong, but the motivation behind why he is not wrong is itself wrong or flawed. He's not wrong to state that the G-7 is outdated. The first meeting, which was originally the G-6 (minus Canada), took place in France in November 1975. Mao Zedong was still living and both China and India were largely poverty-stricken agrarian societies that were very minor players in the production of steel, automobiles, electronics, etc. And countries like South Korea and Spain weren't just non-democratic at the time (neither would experience full democratization until the 1980s), they were also economically insignificant.

So in the aftermath of the first oil shock in 1973, it made sense for the U.S., Japan, and the big 4 European democracies to coordinate and strategize about how to recover from the crisis. That's why the first G-6 meeting was convened. By the way, Canada joined in 1976 to make it the G-7 because the U.S. didn't want to feel outnumbered as the only North American representative. And eventually the G-7 became an annual thing rather than just a short-term response to the oil shocks and other economic crises of the 1970s.

Here we are 45 years after the first meeting. China and India are the world's two biggest steel producers. Automobile production in China dwarfs that of any other nation. So it's not wrong to call the G-7 outdated. The creation of the G-20 was a logical response to the G-7's growing outdatedness. But Trump dislikes the G-7 because he dislikes the very idea of coordination and cooperation of any kind and just wants to (verbally) fight everybody all the time. That's not really a good reason to dislike the G-7.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Posted in: LDP wants to attract foreign workers for Japan's financial sector See in context

"LDP wants to attract foreign workers for Japan's financial sector"

I assume this means the LDP wants to get more foreigners working for domestic Japanese investment banking firms and other financial services companies in Tokyo. E.g. Nomura Holdings, MUFG, Mizuho, etc.

Well good luck with that. Virtually all the foreigners I've known who worked in finance in Tokyo were employed by the gaishikei, e.g. Bank of America, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, etc. The perceived gap in quality of workplace environment between Japanese and non-Japanese financial firms in Tokyo has always been huge. A fluent English speaker with an economics degree from a top university in Europe, North America, or Australia/Singapore isn't dreaming of working at Mizuho.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Posted in: Large-scale retail facilities add life to Toranomon Hills Business Tower See in context

"Large-scale retail facilities add life to Toranomon Hills Business Tower"

Life? More like lifelessness. I'll admit that the opening of Roppongi Hills 17 long years ago in 2003 was exciting. But the novelty wore off quickly after that with all of the other "Hills" shopping complexes opening in Tokyo. These places remind me of sterile, duty-free airport shops. It's not exciting to see such places in the middle of a huge city.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Posted in: Japan's low virus mortality rate reflects social manners: Aso See in context

"Why is noone from this goverment standing up and make his mouth stop spitting out all these phlegm? What does he has that's so special that allows him to talk all these nonsense and noone dares to confront him in public?"

I guess you don't know much about Aso Taro. He is extremely high political royalty in a country run by political royalty. His maternal grandfather, Yoshida Shigeru, was prime minister of Japan for about 7 years between 1946 and 1954. His wife is the daughter of Suzuki Zenko, prime minister from 1980 to 1982. Aso's great-great grandfather was Okubo Toshimichi, an important "founding father" of modern Japan in the Meiji Era. And as if that weren't enough, Aso's sister married the retired emperor's cousin.

So Aso himself hasn't really done anything special. But he won the birth lottery, and for that reason I'm guessing that makes it hard for anybody in Japan to confront him in public about the things he says.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Posted in: Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet? See in context

"Has Japan dodged the coronavirus bullet?"

I do think there is a reason for why this question provokes so much controversy. If Japan has indeed dodged the coronavirus bullet, that's great. Nobody should be disappointed by the relatively low number of people in Japan who have died from the virus.

This is a thing among people who really know Japan and Japanese people well, but I do think there are some people who are apprehensive about seeing a revival of "Nihonjinron" discourse if it's generally concluded that Japan was spared the worst of the virus, similar to avoiding the worst effects of the oil shocks and economic crises of the 1970s.

By Nihonjinron discourse, I mean ethnocentric, excessively navel-gazing discussions about why the Japanese people are unique in positive ways. A lot of people really, REALLY do not wish to see a revival of such pseudoscientific blather among Japan-born, ethnic Japanese people. Count me among those people. In other words, wonderful if Japan has dodged the bullet but I'd prefer that Japanese people not conclude they are unique and special as a result. Because such feelings easily give way to arrogance, and arrogance about better weathering the economic storms of the 1970s is partially what led Japan into the ultimately disastrous Bubble Economy era of the 1980s.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

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