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.

Comments:
I've just finished reading the book. It's a fascinating read, I found it hard to put down once I'd started. Have you read it yet, Marie?
 
Kobekko -- I did finish reading the book and, yes, it is tough to put down once you stop. The ending, however, is very, very sad. I have some more thoughts and will post soon. Hopefully you'll stick around to discuss them withme!
 
Sorry -- posting while traveling. Obviously I meant "hard to put down once you start". And withme should read "with me"!
 
Sure I'll stick around to discuss it with you!

Page 213 - Masako miscarried at "seven months." This is a glaring error, even if only a misprint. There's no way Masako was seven months gone at the time, more like seven weeks.

I was shocked to read that she was kept under virtual house arrest (p. 192) until she conceived. How can anybody reasonably be expected to conceive under those stressful circumstances?
 
Are you sure about the seven weeks versus seven months thing? I always understood she was pretty far along in her pregnancy.

Not only do I wonder how she managed to conceive, I wonder how she managed to stay put until she conceived. I'm not sure I could put up with the stress. I'd have left. I guess she did have that one month where she fled to her family. I couldn't have returned.
 
According to all the info I could glean, the miscarriage occurred about three weeks after the media storm in which the pregnancy was leaked (I think by Asahi Shimbun), which makes it unlikely that the whole pregnancy had been concealed from the public for six or seven months. Masako had even taken a trip to Belgium shortly before it occurred, which probably wouldn't have been allowed if her pregnancy had been so far advanced.

Also, by that late stage the gender of the foetus would've been easily detectable, but this has never been publicly announced. Obviously I'm no expert about these matters - and neither is the male author, which may explain his mistake! - but I'd say that the pregnancy was likely in the very early stages (ie, Masako may have missed one or two menses by then). Miscarriages at that stage are relatively common - and in Masako's case, hardly surprising considering the awful conditions she was enduring at the time, the poor thing.
 
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