Saturday, March 17, 2007


The Problem with Apologies

So, why is it that the West is so rankled over the concept of Japan apologizing or not apologizing for comfort women?

Well, here's one for you, in question form. Why is there a movement in Japan to remove any reference to sexual slavery from textbooks?

Former education minister Nariaki Nakayama takes pride in an achievement he and about 130 fellow members of the Liberal Democratic Party took the past decade to accomplish: getting references to Japan's wartime sex slaves struck from most authorized history texts for junior high schools.

"Our campaign worked, and people outside the government also started raising their voices, creating a national trend," said the 63-year-old Lower House member from Miyazaki Prefecture, who also openly claims the 1937 Nanjing Massacre was a "pure fabrication."

Read more »

Friday, March 16, 2007


International Eavesdropping

around the worldGeek that I am, I love listening to the pilots on United flights as they communicate with various control towers. This is particularly fun on cross-continental flights as accents change from world-weary New Yorkers scolding pilots, to cheery Irish greeting good morning, to the clipped English efficiently landing planes. The other direction is fun too. Last time I flew across the US, then over parts of Russia (!) before finally entering Japanese airspace. A United pilot once told me that he struggles sometimes with female Japanese air traffic control operators; their accents aren't so bad, he says, but the pitch of their voices is unnaturally high.

All across the globe, all these people communicate in various forms of English; labored, slurry, high-pitched, etc. Except, that is, where there is a little problem. Last time I was in Japan, I sat there on the runway in Narita listening to all the planes coming and going. And then we just sat. And sat. And sat. The Japanese air traffic controller continued to ask us to sit. And then he asked others to sit and wait. And wait we did, until finally some ANA pilot had had enough and switched to Japanese and asked--ever so politely--just what the hell was going on. At that, the Japanese air traffic controller became animated. His Japanese even went up a little in pitch I'd say, and he very freely admitted that a JAL plane was having a problem--a blown tire--and we couldn't take off until the runway was cleared of debris. There was much fluid going back and forth of thanking for this information. And then the world returned back to highly formal, dare I say even intimidating English.

A JAL plane. But of course.

Much, much later, a little announcement was made in English that the runway had been cleared of "debris" and takeoffs would resume. And off we went. What, I wondered, did the non-Japanese speaking pilots think of all this? Perhaps it was just business as usual.

First posted on Japundit

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Ben Hills' "Factual Innacuracies"

I'm still waiting for a comprehensive list.

1. Factual error - Hills says Masako’s grandfather is a criminal who caused the mercury pollution. He was brought in to salvage the company and the situation after the fact, and not the cause. He wasn’t the one who presided over polluting of the river. It’s such an easy timeline to check.

Not true. Look at pages 174-175 of the American edition. For those who don't have the book and have not read it: "Disposing of the 'Chisso Problem,' which had been used as an excuse to derail the romance five years before, was relatively simple, since, as we have seen, there was never really a problem form the start." Look also at pages 134-135. "What was Egashira's role in this horror story? Quite obviously, he had ntphing to do with the establisment of the factory or its industrial processes. He remaiend based in Tokyo, and his prime responsibility as 'outside' president and then chairman was to keep the company afloat. . ." The closest Hills comes to blaming Masako's family is this line, page 135. "Morally, if not legally, he bears a heavy burden of responsibility." But this is quickly followed by: "Having said that, if the Marunochi attorney had telephoned Kitaoka down in Kyushu he would have learned that the victims bear Egashira no grudges."

2. most Westerners can’t accept - that emperors never had any political power in its 1500 year history, except in the 7th Century(?) for about 20 years. Everything was done in his name, but his will was decided for him by the government of the moment. All through the history, he was a puppet. Think about it. If emperors had real power like of kings of England, would the same line have lasted unbroken for 1500 years?.

Page 195: "This system--an emperor who reigned in name alone and left the actual ruling to the shoguns, those 'barbarian-subduing generalissimos'--contineud righ tup until the aqrrival of Commodore Perry's warships in the middle of the nineteenth century."

3. Someone posted a "factual innacuracy" regarding the term Show. Interestingly, this so called list of "factual innacuracies" seems to have disappeared from Japundit. Essentially, a poster complained that Hills innacurately claims that Emperor Akihito was given the posthumous name "Showa," when in fact the entire period during which Akihito reigned is termed "Showa."

Here is the relevent quote on page 164. "He was posthumously given the name of Showa or 'radiating peace', which many thought quite Orwellian considering his role in the world's most devastating war." A snippy comment? To be sure. Factually innacurate.

Well, the term Showa refers to more than just one thing. It does refer to period, but is also happens to be the posthumous name given to Emperor Akihito.

Like all his predecessors, he is known since his death by a posthumous name, that, according to a tradition dating back to 1912, is the name of the era coinciding with his reign. Having ruled during the Shōwa era (Enlightened Peace), he is now known as Emperor Shōwa.

4. The poster named calico wrote: Hills is also mistaken that members of the Japanese royal family are not allowed and have never divorced in the past.

Hills never makes this claim. Look on pages 274-275. "It is commonly said that divorce is forbidden to members of the imperial family who are on, or in line to, the throne . . . but it is not quite true. It is correct that in the history of the Japanese monarchy, only one royal, a distant cousin of the Meiji emperor . . . divorced . . . A number of others are known to have lived emotionally if not physically apart from their wives . . ."

5. BTW, talking about the restricted lives of the royals, if that’s
what Ben wishes to call, it was the allied powers, the occupation army lead by Douglas MacArthur and the International Military Tribunal (IMTFE) lead by William Webb of Australia that drew the basic blueprints of the future role of the royal family in Japan.

Page 201-202: "Paradoxically, as Kunaicho's influence on the outside world withered, MacArthur's root-and-branch reforms had the effect of enormously increasing its power over the few remaining royals."

I'm not sure that those of you who turned in these "factual innacuracies" have actually read the book.

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