Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Business travel

Will be back to blogging next week.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Current Dokdo Situation

Folks, I'm going to step back on this as other blogs are doing a masterful job of covering the situation.

My opinion, Japan is pushing an issue that it really shouldn't at this time.
Typically, some Koreans are over reacting, some are doing the proper thing.

Let's hope calm heads prevail and no blood is shed. Then go back to the negotiation tables and don't leave until borders are secured by written and signed agreements.

Personally, I think it is time for Japan to finally concede the issue of ownership. For this, Korea should be willing to allow liberal interpretation of current international law and grant fishing rights to Japanese fishermen that more than make up for the concession. Finally, strict rules on movement of military vessels through this area needs to be codified and enforced to stop any accidents.

Those that violate the rules should be dealt with firmly.

Just my thoughts.


UPDATE: As usual, The Marmot is all over there. Read here then here. He has it sliced, diced, sautéed, chopped, smused, mushed and ready to go.

Student's view of Yasukuni

Fascinating article on two sociology students visit to Yasukuni.

We met at Shinjuku, which is one of the most popular places in Tokyo. By his request, we decided to visit Yasukuni shrine, which is a notorious and hated place among many East Asian people. As most of you probably know, for the past couple of years the Japanese government has been strongly criticized by other Asian countries such as South Korea and China because Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has visited the shrine every year and prayed for those Japanese people who fought and died for their country. Korea and China have criticized these actions because 14 of those `war victims’ are convicted `Class-A war criminals.’
Again, it needs to be clarified that there are far more war criminals honored there, it is just that 14 have the distinction of being Class A, the worst kind of war criminal.

Yaksuni is a huge well-organized place, just a 10-minutes train ride from Shinjuku. It is one of the most overwhelming pieces of architecture I have ever seen in Japan that left me wondering how much money it had cost the government to build.

The museum was, as we expected, horrible. It showed a heavily biased version of Japanese history from its origin through to the present day. Its contents were exactly the same as the Japanese history textbooks, which have been condemned by Korea and China for allegedly distorting history.

We watched a typical propaganda film. It was about the historical process of Japanese modernization since the 19th century. It focused on Japanese wars against China (late 19th and 1930-1945), Russia (early 20th) and America (1941-1945). I call it propaganda because firstly, there was no logic in what they tried to say. One of main characteristics of propaganda is to arouse the audience's emotion and not to let them THINK logically and rationally.

Secondly, it pretended to be objective, but in reality, it was too partial to be called an objective and reliable documentary. It ignored the complications of the real world and concentrated on only small aspects of the truth: a kind of lying through omission.

But, after the film, I noticed some members of the audience had been deeply affected and even moved to tears. Then I thought that by accepting this kind of propaganda without question, people would not hesitate in sacrificing themselves for the state. I think what is important is to consider who will benefit from those people's `sublime nationalism.’
People need to understand this part of it as well. Not only are war criminals honored, but that period of time is honored. The whole focus is to make you proud of what Japan did during that period and make you think that Japan was a hero and a victim, certainly not an instigator and a criminal.

Too many try and trivialize this abomination and excuse it. It's time to build a new place of mourning for those who aren't so convinced of the glory of the past.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Japanese War Vessel Violates Korea's EEZ

After Japan announced plans to conduct a maritime survey in the East Sea, a Japanese patrol boat appeared near Korea’s Dokdo islets last weekend. Appearances of Japanese naval vessels near Korean waters have been increasing in recent years.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Korean activists captured video footage of a naval vessel approaching a Korean passenger liner in the East Sea.

"The vessel was approaching our ship at full speed. It was a Japanese naval vessel. I could see the word Japan Coast Guard clearly, and also the Japanese flag," a witness said.

The Korea Coast Guard confirmed that a 195-ton Japanese patrol boat passed through Korea's Exclusive Economic Zone on Saturday morning. It added the disputed vessel did not violate Korea's territorial waters, but four Korean patrol ships were standing by in case it did. This is the 18th time this year alone that a Japanese patrol boat has appeared near the Dokdo islets.


Most of the time, this wouldn't be a big deal, but with tensions running high, both sides really do need to show the upmost care and caution.

The Smith & Merritt Institute Part 2

Well, I thought I would write that little piece and be done with it. Guess not. Why you ask? Because I'm getting email about it. Weird, eh? I blog about subjects that I feel are extremely important, world changing events, I hear bupkis. I write about some personal financial folks, I get inundated with email. I guess I'm the one, the only source of information about them out there on the good ol internet.

Does that make me some kind of informational guru?

Anyway...

In 10 years, after Mr. Daniel Reed Smith and Mrs. Kathryn Merritt become billionaires, I'll be able to point and say, "Its all because of ME, ME I tell you!" "Fall down on your knees and respect me!!!" ha.

Actually though, I thought I would try to answer some of the questions I've been getting.

First, the first article I wrote came from and informal talk with them. I personally have never called or received a call from one of their workers. I don't know what is said on the phone. I have no idea what things cost or don't cost. I have no desire to be able to answer those questions either. I'm far more interested in the two founders, their ideas and what they are thinking now and in the future. I'm interested because they validate some long held beliefs on my part. For example, I've long held the belief that refinancing your home to pay off ANY debt such as credit cards, or to go on a trip is ludicrous, asinine and plain ol STOOPID. (yes, I know the proper spelling of the word, sheesh) They fully agree. I believe strongly in having a cash reserve for emergencies. Bingo! Again, they agree. I believe in paying off your debts before investing. 3 for 3, they feel even more strongly than I do about this.

What I do know is they seem very sincere. They believe in what they teach and try to live by it. I didn't mention it in the last piece, but I do know they are very charity minded. I know they have started a charity helping to pay the expenses for families whose children have cancer. They did this because Kathryn lost her young son to cancer and she feels very strongly about helping, especially the families. Many of you know, actually, any that have read my blog for any period of time knows that I helped start a charity helping Iraqi children. So, I can understand Kathryn's dedication to this and respect it fully.

Also, I did find a press release from them. Interestingly, they have a quote from Denis Waitley about them. With Denis behind them, it gives them some more legitimacy. Of course, nothing like the legitimacy of having ME blog about them...

Here are some excerpts from the press release:




Daniel Smith and Kathryn Merritt have been in the financial sales and marketing industry for nearly 2 decades. During that time, they were instrumental in the launch and management of campaigns for companies such as Charles Givens, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Peter Lowe, Denis Waitley, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, and many others.

...

Best selling author Denis Waitley agrees. "I've been close to Dan and Kathryn for years and impressed by their financial ideas and philosophies. This new institute and release of their new program will allow them to achieve their dream of helping their fellow man as well as giving new hope to those in financial need."



Well, that's about all for now. Still, my curiosity is piqued so don't be surprised if I blog about them again. I mean, I am the one that found them and gave them all this unintentional publicity...and we all know its all about ME! ;-)

UPDATE: Kathryn and Dan have now started their own blog. Please see their blog for information and for comments. Due to my recent health difficulties, I will no longer be maintaining this blog. Any further comments will be automatically deleted.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Korea Determined to Stop Japan

First you have the situation between Japan and China and now this one between Japan and South Korea. The tension levels are escalating at an alarming rate.

Cabinet ministers on Monday agreed to strengthen the nation's countermoves against Japan's plan to conduct a maritime survey in the South Korean exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near Dokdo, saying that the current situation is ``more serious'' than ever.

...

Tokyo is expected to dispatch survey ships to the South Korean economic waters this week. Claiming that the survey area falls within its EEZ, Tokyo notified the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) of its plan to carry out the survey from April 14 to June 30 in waters in the East Sea.


Note, they did NOT inform Korea of their proposed actions. That was sure to infuriate Seoul and cause an incident based on that alone. That doesn't include them actually following through with the survey mind you.

The government also plans to keep strict guard over Dokdo and nearby waters to fend off the Japanese survey ship's trespass on the South Korean EEZ.

Seoul says Japan's proposed survey area includes a part of the South Korean economic waters, making it mandatory for Tokyo, under a U.N. maritime law, to seek Seoul's permission first to carry out a survey there.

A domestic maritime survey law also allows law-enforcement authorities to take action, including stoppage and seizure, against foreign vessels' unauthorized survey within the South Korean economic waters.

In reaction to Seoul's stance, a ranking Japanese official told Yonhap News Agency in Japan that Tokyo will ``likely'' notify Seoul of its survey plan before sending its vessels to the South Korean EEZ.

The Japanese official also warned that seizure by South Korea of a Japanese government ship is a ``grave'' violation of international law. He argued that stoppage and inspection of the government vessel is also illegal.
Again, at this point there is no way Korea is going to back down, it will be interesting to see if Japan does. Given the far more grave situation it has with China, I could see them saving this battle for a later day.

Good Primer on Yasukuni and the Yashukan Museum

Not sure that is what the article wanted to be but it is a pretty good primer on Yasukuni and what is taught at the Yashukan museum.

The place that is the symbolic source of the enduring Chinese-Japanese feud is disarmingly serene, awash in cherry blossom petals while merchants at its approaches peddle sake and pastries.

Carp glide in the pool of a garden near the Yasukuni Shrine shaded by the luminous leaves of Japanese maples.

Visitors must wash their hands with ladled water at this memorial to 2.5 million military dead, but China wishes Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi would wash his hands permanently of this austere shrine honouring among its subjects Class-A war criminals.
For those that have never been, it is a serene, gorgeous setting. Too bad what is taught there isn't in harmony with the setting.
At the adjacent Yashukan war museum, a restored Zero fighter rescued from the war rubble of the south Pacific port of Rabaul shares space with a Kaiten, or Japanese single-man mini-sub/human torpedo.

It's also the venue for daily screenings of a video on modern Japanese military history that would surely leave visitors from Beijing in a hot lather.

The film includes footage of Japanese soldiers marching triumphantly into Nanking in 1937 while dutifully omitting any mention of atrocities recalling the Imperial Army's massacre in the city of 300,000 Chinese civilians and PoWs.

The 50-minute production raises questions over whether the Pacific War initiated by Japan was ever a violation of international law.

Japanese military aggression is showcased as altruism devoted to bettering the lot of Asian neighbours fortunate enough to earn the emperor's attention.
It ends with a discussion between the reporter and a Japanese student.
She admits her high school curriculum didn't raise the odious aspects of her country's war past, another sticking point in relations with China. "It's not in our textbooks -- I had to go to the library," she says.

While that curiosity has raised her awareness of Japan's war crimes, Narita said she's torn over whether Koizumi should end his Yasukuni pilgrimage and insists the divide over that issue among her countrymen is strong.

It's a paradox sure to keep Japan mired in a world where what was then, is still now.

The Line in the Sea has been Drawn

And China is daring Japan to cross it.

Japan has asked China to clarify reports that Beijing has imposed a ban on shipping near disputed gas fields in the East China Sea.

Both Japan and China have claimed rights to develop the Pinghu gas field which straddles an area both countries say is part of their territory.

News reports say a ban has been imposed while Chinese workers lay pipelines and cables in the area.
Ouch. This can't be good. I'm not sure what Japan is going to do either. It looks as if the gas reservers under this area are extensive enough that China is playing hardball.



Here you can see the areas that each claim, each well inside the others.

Reports over the last few days have suggested the Chinese authorities have now banned all unauthorised shipping traffic around the Pinghu gas field until the end of September.
China is going for the touchdown here. Like all developing and developed nations, China has a huge thirst for fuel and feels that it has found the motherlode. Now we have to see if Japan will allow it to be snatched out of their hands.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Plunge Pontificates Cited by Joongang Daily

My first time being quoted in a Korean paper. Wow.

ISLAND MENTALITY

"Dokdo" is a word that can send Koreans, and a few bloggers too, into paroxysms of indignation. This week's main Dokdo news concerns Tokyo's plans to conduct a maritime exploration project near the disputed islets. "Plunge" at the blog "Plunge Pontificates," (http://plungepontificates.blogspot.com), whose raison d'etre is to badger Japan into squarely addressing its history, is withering toward calls by the Japanese ambassador for calm by the Korean side. "Oh please," he writes. "You must respond cool-headedly toward our provocation. GAH."
He even seems to understand, at least partly, why I write what I write.

Is China the Next Japan?

Fascinating article on whether or not China can make the same move that Japan did in the 70s reinventing herself as a technological superstar or if it is a veneer covering a sea of rot, waiting to collapse. Okay, that is a bit overboard but it is an excellent article raising some wonderful, thought provoking questions.

I wish I had the time right now to cover it in depth, I just don't. But, I felt it was important enough that I wanted all to read it so I'm giving it a link.

Please, please go read it!

Tensions Rise Between Tokyo and Seoul

Excellent editorial on the current, rising tensions over the Dokdo situation.

Japan's plan to survey waterways within Korea's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is, in short, a naked and calculated provocation. Tokyo's move presupposes the rocky islets between the two countries, called Dokdo (Tokdo) here and Takeshima in Japan, as its territory despite Seoul's long effective control on them. The Japanese government even went as far as to directly notify the International Hydrographic Organization of its plan, without revealing the information to Seoul. Tokyo's diplomatic impudence seems to know no end.
Basically, knowing that it has lost full control over the situation, Tokyo is trying a backdoor approach. Sneaky and underhanded, but that fits Koizumi to a tee.

It wasn't this bad until about a year ago. When a Japanese prefecture renewed claims over the desolate islets by designating a "Takeshima Day" in March 2005, some right-wing politicians applauded the move, but the Japanese government said it was merely a provincial decision. Last month, however, Tokyo instructed 55 high school textbooks to clearly label the disputed island chain as Japanese territory. Whether this gradualism is a tactic or a reflection of slowly escalating nationalism, it is equally displeasing.
I think it is plain to see that it is the ever growing nationalism that is taking over Japan. It will only get worse.

Tokyo has always tried to make this a territorial dispute and take it to the International Court of Justice. Seoul has rightly snubbed the approach, as seen again on Friday in its omission of comment on the islets. Internally, however, the government needs to develop logic to refute Japanese claims in global stages. It could also pinpoint Tokyo's two-faced diplomacy, which claims sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands, citing Japan's effective control and criticizing China's survey nearby its southernmost islet.
Amen on that. Doesn't matter the tactics or ethics, as long as Tokyo gets what Tokyo wants.

What kills me is Tokyo has decided to take on everyone at once. It goes after Korea while fighting China while fighting Russia and on and on.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Japan Raises Tension Levels

I guess Japan is just determined to piss off their neighbors.


South Korea asked Japan on Friday to cancel a planned maritime survey near South Korean-administered islets called Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan, the Japanese Embassy in Seoul said.

Tokyo dismissed the request, which South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Yu Myung Hwan delivered to Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Shotaro Oshima at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry.

The Japanese government posted a public notice earlier Friday about its plan to send a survey vessel from the Japan Coast Guard to conduct maritime surveys in the Sea of Japan, which South Korea calls the East Sea.

Yu told Oshima that South Korea demands an immediate halt to the survey, saying the survey area includes South Korea's Exclusive Economic Zone.

In response, the Japanese envoy told Yun the survey will be conducted within Japan's EEZ without violating international maritime law, and called for a "cool-headed" response to the issue.

Oshima added that Japan cannot accept any South Korean action against an official Japanese vessel.
Oh please. You must respond cool-headedly to our provocation. GAH.

Time for some naval bombardment practice by South Korea. "Oh, we've had this planned for months."

UPDATE: Robert gives this a much more thorough, less sarcastic analysis than I do. Read his now.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Plunge Meets Daniel Reed Smith and Kathryn Merritt of the Smith & Merritt Institute

Yes folks, I know I'm going off subject a lot lately, first global warming, and now personal finance. These are just some of the things outside of Asia that interest me and so I'm letting you in on it a bit.

This one today is pretty awesome! I was able to actually meet and spend some time with Dan Smith and Kathryn Merritt.


(Found a photo of them when I found their website!)

Now your next question, I know, is who are they and why should I care? I'll tell you why. In Kathryn and Dan I think you have two of the nimblest minds in the financial world. Not only that, they are going to change the world of anyone who listens to them. How? Not with some get rich quick scheme or other scam, but with sound financial advice that when you hear it you just wonder why you have never heard it before.

Just this past January, Dan and Kathryn began a company known as the Smith & Merritt Institute. Yeah, not the most original name in the world, but it fits with what they are teaching, again, simple, direct financial advice. The kind of advice that I wish I had been able to learn from my parents. If not from them, then at least at school. Heck, I would have taken a course in college if it had been offered, but it wasn't. Instead, I was able to sit and have lunch with them. A good friend of mine set it up knowing my interest. Both Dan and Kathryn and have spent their lives in the financial world having worked with some of the largest names in the business. Through that, they gained a wealth of knowledge which, along with their own knowledge and insight, led to this amazing partnership.

So, here I am, at lunch with my buddy, Dan and Kathryn. They were as personable as could be and made me feel like I was the most important thing to them. We quickly began to talk about personal finance and what it takes to be wealthy, something I've got a great interest in. ha!

Kathryn began by talking about attitude. I can tell how important it is to her. She told me that if I want to be rich, it is all about how I act and how I believe. She calls it the "Law of Abundance." You have to understand this before you can move on. You need to understand that money is like energy, flowing. Money needs to be spent! You need to enjoy spending money, something I LOVE to do. Damn, with the way I LOVE to spend money, I should be a Billionaire by now!

Next, and I felt this was very important, you have to believe that being rich is GOOD. It is proper. There is NOTHING wrong with being rich! I loved hearing that! Too many times, people deride the rich. I've always been one of those that felt it was the rich that have the ability to change the world. Look at the amazing things being done by the Bill Gates Foundation! She made the statement that you can never be poor enough to help another poor person, but a wealthy person has a variety of options and ways to help that person. FINALLY!

Dan was in total agreement. It was fun to watch them as they can almost finish each other's sentences. They seemed to feed off of each other intellectually.

As the lunch progressed, we got into the meat of the subject. While discussing how I need to think and be was good, I wanted to hear some specifics. Again, it was refreshing as they espoused an ideal that I have believed for a longtime. They believe in getting COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OUT OF DEBT. You get out of debt before you ever think of investing. Now, here is the best part, they include your home in this. Yes, you get out of debt, including your home, before you do any investing. Wow!

We talked for a while longer, then lunch was over, way too soon. Evidently they are writing a book and I hope to get one of the first copies. The title, I hope it is okay to let it out, fits perfectly.
Abundance - Spending Your Way to Wealth
.

Anyway, this might not be of interest to any of you and again, I know it is way off my normal subjects, but it was important to me and I wanted to share.

To everyone, get out of debt! Live life abundantly!

UPDATE: Found their website and a photo which I posted above.

UPDATE II: Kathryn and Dan have now started their own blog. Please see their blog for information and for comments. Due to my recent health difficulties, I will no longer be maintaining this blog. Any further comments will be automatically deleted.

Shopping for Babies

The saying used to be shop till you drop, but now that takes on a new meaning in Japan..

Alarmed by its sliding birth rate and rapidly aging population, Japan is hoping the prospect of lower shopping bills will encourage couples to go for bigger families.

The government is considering issuing identity cards to families with children which would give discounts at stores cooperating with the program, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said on Thursday.
What genius thought this one up?

The Right-Wing Continues its Advance in Japan

JAPAN'S ruling coalition agreed today to revise education laws to promote patriotism in schools, a taboo since World War II.
The proposal has triggered opposition among liberals including Japan's teachers' association, which say it is reminiscent of the nationalism seen in Japan before and during the war.
What can I say. We continue to watch and be wary.

If approved by Parliament, where Mr Koizumi's coalition holds a strong majority, it would be the first revision since the law was enacted in 1947.

Patriotism would be listed as an educational goal and defined as "an attitude which respects tradition and culture, loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them, and contributes to international peace and development".

The current education law, which was enacted under the US occupation, stipulates the need for compulsory schooling and equal opportunities, carefully avoiding any mention of patriotism.
Another mistake in a long list of them.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Global Warming - Dissenting Scientists Face Losing Everything!

More on a subject dear to me. This OP/ED piece pulls no punches in taking on the Global Warming Industry. Let's be honest, that's what it is, an industry. They are in it for the money, don't let them fool you into thinking otherwise.

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming?
Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy.
Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.
Massive increases in funding and hell to pay if you oppose them! Sounds like any other cause be it the AIDS industry, big Tobacco, Oil or other major player.

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.
Damn, this is just too good.

But, it is the rest that gets bad. What is happening to scientists that are trying to get the truth out?

In 1992, he (Al Gore) ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists--a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.
This final statement I want to share is truly telling.

In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming--not whether it would actually happen.
Who wrote this opinion piece? Is he some crackpot from some no-name diploma mill?

M. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.
Maybe we should listen, at the very least, listen.

Defining Patriotism in Japan

It is decisions like this that show just how nuanced a language can be.

The ruling coalition is expected to seek a revision of the Fundamental Law on Education by toning down the wording used to define the notion of patriotism, ruling bloc sources said Tuesday.

Tadamori Oshima, head of the coalition's task force on drafting revisions of the law, plans to propose at a panel meeting Wednesday using the wording that defines patriotism as "a mind which loves the nation and homeland, respects other countries and contributes to international peace and development" in the revised law, the sources said.
To most people, this would seem like a sensible, non-aggressive definition of a word. Right? WRONG!

However, there may be a change to the wording because some members of New Komeito, which is backed by the major lay Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, have opposed using the phrase "loves the nation," they said.

During previous discussions between the two parties over how to express the idea of patriotism, LDP members have called for using "a mind which loves the nation."

But New Komeito members have favored "a mind which treasures the nation," saying "loves the nation" gives the impression of nationalism, like that seen in Japan before and during World War II.
Now we can see how this wording can be offensive to some. It keeps going from there. Language is so important and the proper interpretation of it even more so.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Stop the Presses! Global Warming Stopped in 1998!

Yeah, not my normal thing to post about, but I'm one of these who gets annoyed at the sky is falling, global warming, left-wing, unbathed, unshaven ninnies. Anytime an article like this comes out I jump for joy, especially considering the fact that the author is an expert in the field of climate and climate change.

For many years now, human-caused climate change has been viewed as a large and urgent problem. In truth, however, the biggest part of the problem is neither environmental nor scientific, but a self-created political fiasco. Consider the simple fact, drawn from the official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, that for the years 1998-2005 global average temperature did not increase (there was actually a slight decrease, though not at a rate that differs significantly from zero).
How can this be?!? I thought we were burning up! A little aside here, but we are having one of the longest winters ever in my neck of the woods. I woke up to a fresh 6 inches of snow in my yard last week, unheard of this time of year! Anyway...

Yes, you did read that right. And also, yes, this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In response to these facts, a global warming devotee will chuckle and say "how silly to judge climate change over such a short period". Yet in the next breath, the same person will assure you that the 28-year-long period of warming which occurred between 1970 and 1998 constitutes a dangerous (and man-made) warming. Tosh. Our devotee will also pass by the curious additional facts that a period of similar warming occurred between 1918 and 1940, well prior to the greatest phase of world industrialisation, and that cooling occurred between 1940 and 1965, at precisely the time that human emissions were increasing at their greatest rate.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Nothing more annoying than they hypocritical global warming nut. Almost as bad as the ultra right-wing, brown-nosing, Koizumi lover.

Since the early 1990s, the columns of many leading newspapers and magazines, worldwide, have carried an increasing stream of alarmist letters and articles on hypothetical, human-caused climate change. Each such alarmist article is larded with words such as "if", "might", "could", "probably", "perhaps", "expected", "projected" or "modelled" - and many involve such deep dreaming, or ignorance of scientific facts and principles, that they are akin to nonsense.
I love this man! He nails all the things that annoy me the most about these global climate change nuts!

The essence of the issue is this. Climate changes naturally all the time, partly in predictable cycles, and partly in unpredictable shorter rhythms and rapid episodic shifts, some of the causes of which remain unknown. We are fortunate that our modern societies have developed during the last 10,000 years of benignly warm, interglacial climate. But for more than 90 per cent of the last two million years, the climate has been colder, and generally much colder, than today. The reality of the climate record is that a sudden natural cooling is far more to be feared, and will do infinitely more social and economic damage, than the late 20th century phase of gentle warming.
Finally, a person of rational thought. I bow to him and to his courage to speak out considering what his peers must think of him. He must already be Wang-ta.

Read the entire article on your own and, if you have a moment, look up the good professor and drop him an email thanking him for bringing some rational discussing to this issue.

Hines Ward Continues to Impress

Despite the rude press in Korea and cutting his trip short, Hines Ward is going back to Korea next month with his wife and children.

Korean-born American football star Hines Ward said Tuesday that he will return to his native Korea with his family next month to build a foundation to support biracial children.

``It's kind of my way of giving back to the Korean community by helping the biracial kids here in Korea,’’ he said in a press conference at a Seoul hotel.
I am so impressed by this man and his mother. These are two incredible people.

Princess Aiko Starts School

What a cutie.



She was a queen among her new kindergarten friends yesterday, but there was no royal waiver from the routine of school life for the possible heir to the Chrysanthemum throne.

Four-year-old Princess Aiko's day went like this: arrive 9.30am, change into casual clothes, wash hands, gargle, go outside and play, stop to eat the lunch that Mum has packed, get back into the blue suit and go home at 1.30pm, the timetable posted on the Gakushuin Kindergarten website said. On some days there is no lunch, just some milk and home at 11.30am.

Princess Aiko arrived for her first day of kindergarten with her father, Crown Prince Naruhito and mother, Princess Masako. In dark uniform and long socks, she was carrying a book bag and a satchel for her lunch. The satchel, presumably, also held a glass for gargling. (Japanese gargle frequently for good hygiene).
It saddens me that Korea did not keep their royalty.

It's All Relative, Isn't it?

I was amazed by this poll.

More than 70 percent of Japanese think their country is a dangerous place, a government ministry white paper has shown.
Japan, dangerous? Are they serious? If I was given a list of all the countries in the world and told to list them by degree of being dangerous to live in, Japan would be near the bottom. Maybe they should reword the survey and try again. If you said say, "Where would you feel safest living? Rwanda, Congo, Ivory Coast, Iraq, Iran, America or Japan?" I wonder how many would say Japan is the safest? 99%?

It's all relative I guess.

The Gulf Between Japan and China Getting Wider

I find the CSMonitor to be one of the better mass media sources. While not perfect by any means, they seem to follow journalistic standards of impartiality better than other of their brethren. Having said that, this article is quite interesting. I might also like it because of the way it agrees with much of what I think.

A year after rocks and bottles peppered Japanese businesses and diplomatic offices in the most public anti-Japanese outbursts in urban China for decades, relations between the two largest Asian powers have, if anything, frozen further.

In a little-noticed development, Chinese leader Hu Jintao appears for the first time to be setting a clear precondition for dialogue between Japanese and Chinese leaders: the cessation of visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese war criminals are enshrined. Mr. Hu gave that message to Japanese "friendship" delegations who arrived in Beijing 10 days ago, making it difficult in face-saving Asia for Japan to yield on visiting the controversial shrine. Such a policy could drive Asia's two largest nations further apart amid ever-intensifying competition for influence and resources, experts say.
Little noticed by others, but loudly and fiercely discussed in the blogosphere. A little aside here, but it must really upset the Korean government to be left out of these articles. Also, notice the mistake above, it isn't 14 war criminals, there are thousands of those. It is 14 class "A" war criminals. An important distinction.

Yet a year later, both sides have continued a steady stream of provocative rhetoric and acts. At a rare national press conference last month, Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing quoted a German diplomat who called the Yasukuni Shrine visits "stupid and immoral." When Japan officially summoned Chinese ambassador Wang Yi the next day in Tokyo, Mr. Wang refused to go - a serious diplomatic breach.

Shinzo Abe, Japan's cabinet secretary, told Japanese reporters only last week that "China and Japan have nothing in common." Yet while Mr. Abe, the lead candidate to replace Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in September, may have targeted a home audience, his comments were the lead headline in Cankao Xiaoxi, an influential paper among Beijing elites: "Shinzo Abe dares to defame China as damaging Asia's stability."

"We have a problem, and I don't see a way out of it right now, " argues a Chinese government source.
Yep, the rhetoric is hot and heavy on both sides. The final comment above is the one that is particularly concerning. There is a way out, it just takes one side or the other or both swallowing some pride and backing down.


Both have taken an unusually sharp turn toward nationalist rhetoric. The turn has been especially swift in Japan, which until recently was considered a pacifist nation. The current architecture of relations - powerful economic links but deteriorating political and emotional ties - is unique in geopolitics, sources say.
This is what is the most upsetting and which many in Japan try to deny, nationalism is running hot and heavy in both countries. Unfortunately, in Japan, that nationalism also includes the glorification of the past and the whitewashing of atrocities committed.

China's stance since Koizumi quietly visited Yasukuni shortly after his landslide election last fall appears to be to wait to deal with a successor. One professor here says China is prepared to wait "20 years, or as long as it takes," for a leader who will treat China properly.
China has always had patience, far more than we do in the west. In this instance though it is not only patience but allowing a grudge to grow and fester. If it truly took twenty years, it would be ugly to behold.

The Communist Party under Mao was in no small part formed in opposition to the hated Japanese occupation of China in the mid-20th century. James Mulvenon, deputy director of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis in Washington, says that China has too long relied on Japan's lack of historical veracity as a way to cover its own problems, and its own lack of an affirmative strategy for getting along with Japan.

"If Koizumi suddenly stopped visiting the shrine, what would China do?" he asks. "I'm not sure Beijing knows."
I always find this to be a cop out. It goes back to the "we won't do it because it won't make a difference" crowd. You don't know that! Japan has never been willing to face its past so it is disingenuous to say this. Besides that, it doesn't matter anyway. Anyway you look at it, if Japan would face its past and atone for past crimes, it would win. Period. Japan would win. Either other nations would accept the act(s) of contrition and relations would improve or Japan would gain the moral high ground and the rest of the world would condemn the other nations for not accepting Japans acts of remorse and repentance.

Big Brass Ones

It takes big brass ones to do this considering what your nation has done in the past.

A Chinese government official says China will decline any request for the return of ancient Japanese treasures given in tribute to past Chinese rulers.

Beijing's Palace Museum has several hundred items dedicated by the Ryukyu Kingdom, now Japan's prefecture of Okinawa, to ancient Chinese emperors.

He was responding to Japanese media reports that officials in Okinawa had asked Japan's new ambassador to China, Yuji Miyamoto, to "return the Ryukyuan treasures to their hometown".
Wow, considering the massive amounts of treasure looted by Japan over the past century, this really is galling. How about we start by returning all the stuff you stole, then feel free to ask for things.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Sky is Falling!

CEO's with a paltry raise! Illegal Immigrants, we need you to vote Democrat! Brian Doyle is a pschyo nutjob! The Oath I swore! Disgusting Immigration Rally! numbers are racist! Top Ten Reasons for Coming to America Illegally!

So what in the world is all that? Headlines from other blogs that I read on a pretty regular basis. Thought you might be interested, some of them are really good, others I read for personal reasons. Give them a look see if you have a moment, I don't think you will be disappointed.

Great Britain an Embarrassment!

Taking some time to read some other blogs, I found this abomination!

British law also prohibits self defense - all forms of self-defense. If violent crime were a boxing match, the criminal would have the right to threaten and/or use lethal force, while the vicitm is restricted to Marquess of Queensbury rules (actually, Robert's Rules of Order).
GAHHHHH!!!!!!

I don't know why this issue pisses me off so much but it does. How dare someone question someone defending himself. I've made damn sure that my daughter is able to defend herself. She is a gorgeous young woman and I want her to know how to take care of herself. I want her to react swiftly and not wait for a situation to 'escalate.' I've drilled this into her and it came in helpful not long ago. A young man decided he could grab her anatomy in an inappropriate manner. This young man got a swift knee to the nuts and a swift kick to the face as he went down. She then walked away and called me on her cellphone. I was at the school immediately and in the principals office making sure her rights were protected. Luckily, we live in the US where, so far, we have the right to keep ourselves safe. The young man, although injured, was given no sympathy by the school. If we lived in England, this would probably be a different story and my daughter might have been the one in trouble.

There have been doubts expressed that a right to self-defense still exists in British law. Following one homicidal home burglary Dr. Ian Stephen, an Honorary Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) at Glasgow Caledonian University, told householders:

"If you attack the burglar, or react in an 'over-the-top' manner... you will inevitably end up on the receiving end of a prison sentence that will far outstrip that imposed on the intruder in your own home....
[W]hen individuals are confronted by intruders there are some actions they should follow. Direct contact should be avoided whenever possible. If unavoidable, the victim should adopt a state of active passivity..."
How thoroughly disgusting. My opinion of Great Britain is plummeting.

Read the rest of the article on your own.

Seoul Turns Yellow

The annual dust storms are upon them.



Sandstorm are likely to blanket much of the nation between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, three days after the worst-ever seasonal sandstorm hit the nation, weather forecasters say.

The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said Monday strong sandstorms with fine dust concentration level up to 10,000
/ that hit Inner Mongolia and the Gobi Desert until Monday afternoon will probably be blown into Korea by northwesterly winds.
That is just nasty. Maybe Korea should demand some sort of compensation from China for the hardship and suffering caused by these storms. :-)

There were on average 3.6 days of spring sandstorms between 1971 and 2000. But the figure could double this year, which has already seen four such storms. Chinese meteorologists say cold air in Siberia and the Mongolian Plateau is more active than in the past and thus increasing the number of sandstorms. KMA data show that there was only one sandstorm in the spring of 1986 and 1987, but 21 days in 1995 and 31 days in 2001, indicating that the uninvited guest is visiting the nation with increasing frequency.
Ugh!

Korean Women = Shallow

At least when it comes for what they are currently looking for in a man.

Young Korean men who tend to flab or prefer reading books to grunting at the gym are in for an uphill struggle if they want to attract a girl. At least the young women who responded to a straw poll by the Chosun Ilbo say that a man’s body is an important aspect when they pick a date.

The Chosun Ilbo asked 163 twenty-something women living in Seoul, and 123 of them responded that they consider a man's body when they start to date. In a part-for-part breakdown, 71 said the most attractive part of a man are shoulders, back and chest. Next came forearms (21) and bottom (15), with the face a poor fourth with 11. Most described their ideal types as graduates of the modeling world like Daniel Henney with 35 votes, Joo Ji-hoon with 27 and Cho In-sung with 15.
No other comment particularly needed...

Japanese Parents Producing Ill-mannered Brats...

And the parents aren't much better themselves...

"I work part-time at a family restaurant. The other day, a couple of mothers came into our place, each of them accompanied by two kids. As soon as I gave them all their glasses of water and menus, the kids got up and started dancing on top of the table -- without even taking their shoes off!! The parents didn't even look like stopping them," a waitress tells Josei Jishin. "They kicked over one of the glasses and water spilled in all directions. I raced over with a towel to wipe it up, when one of the mothers started telling me off. 'What the hell are you bringing water out for kids anyway? Are you out of your mind? Let's go,' she said, whisked up her kids and walked out of the restaurant.
Nice... What kills me is the parents attitude. The brats behavior is perfectly understandable considering the actions of the parent.

"When I went to take out some money, a little girl of elementary school age stood beside me and stared at the screen of the ATM I was using. When I gently told her not to peep at what I was doing, a bristling voice suddenly spat out from behind me with a barb: 'If the kid was smart enough to remember numbers that easily, I wouldn't have half the troubles I do,'" the housewife says. "When I turned around, the mother was giving me a really dirty look. I was just thinking that she should be more worried about teaching her kid some proper manners rather than staring daggers at me, when she spoke again: "Hurry up, will ya. I'm waiting around here.'
There's a mother and daughter that both need a bitchslapping.

UN Reports on Severe Racism Problem in Japan

This was not unexpected, probably wasn't to anyone. Yet, despite the way this report plays to my prejudices, even I found it overly vitriolic. Anyone who knows a Korean who has lived in Japan in the past and now knows that major strides have been made. So, this report has me quite conflicted. I guess one of my biggest problems is the person who wrote the report spent 9 days, yes 9 days in Japan and comes out with this rather scathing report.

How can you spend 9 days in a country and come away with the understanding needed to produce a report on racism and xenophobia? Who did he meet with? What agendas did they have? How balanced was the groups he was meeting with? Sorry, even though there are parts of the report I agree with, all things considered, I would rather distance myself from it.

Another UN failure.

In July 2005, the United Nations special rapporteur on discrimination and racism, Doudou Diene, went on a nine-day tour of Japan and talked to minority groups, anti-discrimination campaigners and government and police officials around the country. After releasing his preliminary findings to the press last year, Diene handed the completed 23-page report based on his research to the UN Commission on Human Rights in January. [Doudou Diene Report]

Japan has been condemned before for its failure to humanely accommodate the descendents of its former colonial subjects in Asia, and for its willful neglect of its own minorities in Hokkaido, Osaka and elsewhere, and for its restrictive policies toward immigrants and refugees. Still the blistering tone of the UN report caught many by surprise. The country was criticized in quite forceful terms for its "deep discrimination" which Diene said the government was not doing enough to combat.

The report was especially harsh in criticizing Japan's treatment of the over one-million people of Korean and Chinese descent in the country, many of whom still feel pushed to the margins of Japanese society even as they move into their third and fourth-generations. But he also called for measures to protect the rights of Japan's indigenous Ainu and Buraku minorities and small but growing number of foreigner immigrants.
The end of the article prints pieces from those supporting and those opposing the report. While it galls me to do so, I think I agree with the following reply more than any other:

William Wetherall: A seriously flawed report

There are serious flaws in the " Mission to Japan" report recently submitted to the United Nations by Doudou Diene. I have written a counter report in which I evaluate, paragraph by paragraph, the credibility of Diene's observations, analyses, and recommendations. The counter report also examines the phrasing Diene has adopted to essentially "minoritize" and "racialize" people in Japan in ways that do not reflect legal and demographic realities.

The counter report concludes that Diene came to Japan, not to objectively study minority issues, but to follow the bidding of the activist organizations that have been lobbying the United Nations human rights committees for the past couple of decades -- mostly participants in the BLL/IMADR-led "minority solidarity" movement in Japan.

Ironically, Diene has done a lot of damage to BLL/IMADR's cause -- which is not entirely without merit. It was a grave mistake to allow someone who apparently knows so little about Japan to write a report under the auspices of an objective UN mission.

Diene's "mission" was basically a ploy to embarrass the Japanese government in the eyes of the world, knowing that the content of his report will be disseminated in global mass media through press conferences and other venues. However, his report spreads all manner of misinformation, and invites all manner of misunderstanding, about Japanese and East Asian history, about Japanese law and society, and most importantly about racial, ethnic, national, and other minorities in Japan.
For a report like this to be meaningful, it needs to be given the time needed for such an in-depth subject. Agendas must be dispensed with and proper research needs to be conducted. Both sides of each issue needs to be thoroughly examined. Having read the report, I would have been embarrassed to be the one that wrote it.

Does racial discrimination exist in Japan? Duh. It is a serious issue causing problems for untold numbers of people. Let's deal with it properly and not with the histrionics and easily seen agenda as the one contained in the Doudou Diene Report.

Koizumi Bends Over for the Right Wing of His Party AGAIN...

In the face of the opposition saying they would push for the removal of class A war criminals from Yasukuni, Koizumi responded with the following:


Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday dismissed the possibility of the government asking Yasukuni Shrine to separate Class-A war criminals from the war dead honored at the shrine, dismissing a suggestion by opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa.

"It is not a matter for the government to say something," Koizumi told reporters at his official residence.
It might not be a matter for the government, but it is something he could personally express his opinion on. Let's remember, he never visted the shrine until he became PM! For him, it is purely political.

UPDATE: Japundit's JP writes about this and links to a much better article than I did.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Angus Hamilton - Korea - Table of Contents

As promised, here is the table of contents. If you wish to view a certain section of the book, email me (baesen(at)gmail(dot)com) the section and I will work on getting scans of it to you.

Your humble servant,

Plunge





Whales Take Revenge on Japan!

Okay, maybe not, but it sounds good.

A high-speed passenger ferry hit a suspected whale in south-west Japan, and 49 people were injured, an official said today.

The boat, carrying 109 passengers and crew, hit the suspected whale near the mouth of Kagoshima Bay in Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost main island, according to Coast Guard official Tsuyoshi Kariyazono.

Just think if whales were armed...

Does North Korea Have Nuclear Weapons or Not?

North Korea's official announcement that it has nuclear weapons should not be taken seriously, the head of the World Nuclear Association said.

John Ritch, speaking in an interview after the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle 2006 conference in Hong Kong, said the situation in North Korea was similar to that in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, when the Iraqi leader exaggerated the country's military capability for political purposes.
You knew this would happen, the inevitable comparisons between the North Korean situation and Iraq. What do you think? Does North Korea have nuclear weapons? Can we afford to discount their claims, especially when we know the countries they have had dealings with?

New DJP Leader "Gets it!"

Yes! A Japanese politician that finally understands!

The New leader of Japan's largest opposition party suggested on Sunday that the 14 Class-A war criminals be separately enshrined from the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, Kyodo News reported.

"So-called Class-A war criminals should not have been enshrined at Yasukuni, which honors the war dead," Ichiro Ozawa, president of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) said on TV, "If Yasukuni is back on form, I think a prime minister and the emperor could offer prayers there."
Ah... if only he could become PM...

China Intensifies Focus on Japanese Misdeeds

This can't be good for anyone. While I'm the first to say that Japan needs to acknowledge the past and make amends, what China is planning is just going to inflame feelings even more.

More than 200,000 Chinese filed through the remains of Japan's notorious Unit 731 here last year, visiting the ghosts of World War II. In exhibits mounted throughout the bleak headquarters building, they saw wrenching descriptions of biological warfare experiments carried out on thousands of Chinese prisoners from 1939 to 1945.

The phrase "Do not forget us" has been inscribed on the wall of one room, where visitors can see the names and photos of some of those who received botulism injections, were made to suffer frostbite or had their internal organs removed by Japanese military doctors.

Heeding those words, authorities have drawn up plans for a $62.5 million expansion of the museum, condemning a middle school and an apartment complex to make way for restoring the once top-secret facility, where researchers estimate 3,000 Chinese were killed and 300,000 sickened by the hideous wartime experiments. The aim, said curator Wang Peng, is to make the story of Japan's atrocities at Unit 731 known to an ever-wider audience.

Now, if it was done right, it wouldn't be a bad thing, but I just can't think the Chinese government will "do it right."

UPDATE: Amazingly, Curzon and I agree on something in Asia. Look for my post on the rapture happening soon.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cornwall Chee -- or, My Doc Rocks!

It's kind of weird having your family physician also in a rock band. But there you have it, they are damn fine too. Cornwall Chee is their name, give them a look and listen to their music here. My favorites are Anything, Indian Canal and Red Blood.

They just cut a CD, still working on the art work though. I'll enjoy following them.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Just Leave the Guy Alone Already!

Looks like Hines Ward is cutting his trip and appearances short in Korea because of the obnoxious media.

Ward wanted to cancel all his remaining scheduled visits, but decided to make an exception for his meeting with biracial men and women of Korean nationality hosted by the Pearl S. Buck Foundation at Olympic Park on April 8.

Lim also announced that the Wards might even cancel their planned trip to Jeju Island.

The competitive reporting methods used by Korean media outlets are the cause. Everywhere the Wards go, scores of reporters follow their every move. Any chance of privacy seems out of the question. Ward’s celebrity status among Koreans makes his wish to travel and getting to know his birth country nearly impossible. Reporters flock to Ward’s official appearances and personal outings alike.

Geez, the guy just wanted to visit Korea with his mother and the media has turned it into a circus. Way to go guys! Piss off another person who could have done wonders for Korea's image. Idiots.
And to add insult to injury...

Ward is also angry at the excessive commercialism at his expense. A lawsuit is its way against a Korean publishing company that released a book about Ward without his consent. Ward’s mother Kim was especially angered by the false accounts in the book. “The book states I was beaten up and abandoned by my husband because I couldn’t speak English. These are all lies,” said the outraged mother. Ward plans to publicly warn the publisher and another company that acted as if it were his official representative at a press conference scheduled on April 11, the day of his departure. Ward rested at the hotel of his stay on April 7 and spent some rare private moments with his mother at the Yongin Everland theme park in the afternoon.

Industrial Espionage Major Problem For Japan

Interesting article showing how Japan is targeted by many countries for industrial espionage. While most of it is not a concern for the average person, missile technology and the like is. Unfortunately, it looks to be a growth industry.

In a 2002 case, a trade representative attempted to buy classified missile technology from a member of Japan's Self-Defence Forces.

According to the police, the man pretended to be an Italian consultant when he first approached the Toshiba employee, who has neither been named nor charged with a crime.

"The man told me he was from a different country and said his job was related to business consulting," the Toshiba employee was quoted as telling police. "I later thought something was strange because he asked for documents that I thought were unnecessary for his job.

"I spent the money on having fun," he said.

The Russian man left Japan in June - before the allegations became public - and the National Police Agency has issued orders that he not be allowed to re-enter the country.

The devices reportedly have applications in advanced fighter aircraft, missile guidance systems and submarines.
The biggest problem seems to be Japan's older workers with no particular plan allowing for a comfortable retirement.

Mike O'Keefe, managing director of risk consultants Kroll Japan, says that Japan's labour force is greying, with a lot of engineers approaching retirement age who do not see much in the way of retirement pay awaiting them.

"Some of them take early retirement and get straight on a plane to China to assist one of Japan's competitors; some don't even wait for retirement but go over for the weekend to share what they know"

Toshiba officials, however, dismissed the capabilities and value of the semiconductors allegedly sought by the Russian spy.

"Discrete semiconductors are simple, functional devices such as transistors and diodes, widely used in colour TVs and other home appliances," company official Keisuke Oomori said in a statement.

"It did not include such advanced technologies, products and services that require export licences under Japan's Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law," he said.

Said O'Keefe: "Everyone wants high-tech secrets and protecting them is a challenge, especially when security in Japan is not very high."
The hilarious part of the article was the final paragraph which had absolutely nothing to do with anything discussed.

Japan invaded China in 1937 and is blamed for the massacre of as many as 300,000 civilians in the eastern city of Nanjin.

Angus Hamilton - His Thoughts on Japanese in Korea

Just a couple more pages showing what Angus thought of the Japanese that were living in Korea. It needs to be understood that he credits Japan with pushing Korea to modernize as well as the massive amount of trade that they did with Korea compared to other countries. Much of his history seems to be written to prod England into securing a much greater role in Korea. Outside of Japan, he credits the US with pushing for modernization in Korea.

With this having been said, Angus did not think much of the Japanese that were in Korea.

One more thing, I will be posting the Table of Contents soon. If there is any part of the book that interests you that I haven't posted, I would be more than happy to scan those pages and make them available to you. I'm only posting pages that are relevant to this blog and the things that interest me.






Angus Hamilton's contempt and disdain for the Japanese in Korea certainly shows, which I find interesting considering the way others at this time perceived the Japanese. Maybe it has a lot to do with what Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling wrote earlier. If so, they had little influence on Angus Hamilton.

There will be more to come from the indomitable Angus Hamilton.

Real Man's Sport

Saw this via Dean's World.

Now here's a Real Man's Sport.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Karate Neophytes Lost on the Mountain

Got a chuckle out of this, especially since they all lived.

Three Singaporeans were lost for a day in the freezing mountains of Aomori, Japan on a quest to fulfil the dying wish of a family member by trying to find a karate master.

Nine others also joined them in their quest in Japan.

It was on Thursday that the Japanese media began reporting about the 13 Singaporeans in Aomori prefecture, northern Japan.

Three of them went missing on Wednesday in the mountains, where there was still two metres of snow.

Luckily, they were spotted trying to beat the freezing weather in an abandoned car.

They were dressed lightly, totally unprepared for the snow.

It was not the fact that they got lost that attracted media attention; rather it was their reason for being in Aomori.

They were in search of a karate master in Aomori's Soma village.

It was to fulfil the wish of a karate master in Singapore, who died some years ago, to find a man in Japan who possessed secrets about karate.

According to Ms Asari of Hirosaki City in Aomori, the group did not possess a photo or any concrete materials about the man, except that he was quiet, a widower and had two daughters.
Just makes me think of all the low budget, old karate flicks. "ummm...your master is strong, but not as strong as..."

Pyongyang feels the Squeeze

Slowly but surely, North Korea is getting squeezed tighter and tighter. They have now basically been kicked out of Macao.

"Macao had to clean up its act," said David L. Asher, a former State Department official who specialized in North Korea and was one of the architects of the action against the Macao bank. "There are $5 billion in annual gaming revenues at stake. They have to work with the United States."

The freezing of the $25 million in the Banco Delta Asia has been a particularly big blow for a government scraping by for lack of hard currency. North Korean banks kept large sums of money in the Macao bank. Now, with those accounts suspended and other banks frightened off by the Treasury Department action, North Korea has been largely cut off from international trade.

"The impact is severe," said Nigel Cowie, a British banker based in Pyongyang who is general manager of the Daedong Credit Bank, serving mostly the tiny foreign community in the North Korean capital.

In a telephone interview from Pyongyang, Cowie said that North Korea, because it had no credit and a weak banking system, dealt almost exclusively in cash, which might have created the appearance that it was laundering money when it was not.

"I can't speak for what everybody was doing, but I can say that in our case, a lot of legitimate business has been hurt," Cowie said.

The North Koreans blame the U.S. for their woes in Macao. A senior North Korean diplomat, Li Gun, visited Washington last month on what appeared to have been a futile attempt to get the Macao freeze lifted. He left angry, declaring that North Korea would boycott negotiations on its nuclear program until the banking situation was resolved.
Just keep squeezing and we'll see what pops our.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Textbook Screening

You would think, from listening to some people, that this is a recent problem. It actually goes back a long way.

Appearing on a TV program Sunday on Japan's China policy and other issues, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe commented on a 1982 controversy over the rewriting of Japanese history in school textbooks. The gist of Abe's comment was this: In 1982, the then education ministry's textbook screening council put pressure on the author of a social studies textbook to replace the word "shinryaku" (invasion) with "shinshutsu" (advance).

When this was reported by the media, China and South Korea raised an outcry. In response, the government effectively verified the media report in a statement by the then-chief Cabinet secretary and apologized to Beijing and Seoul. But, Abe stressed last Sunday, there was no such rewriting of the textbook, and that the government should have checked the facts more carefully before it issued the apology.
Taken as that, it is understandable. But would it shock anyone to know that Shinzo Abe is conveniently ignoring certain realities?

But the issue we are making here is that the government at the time was anything but tolerant of any textbook author who discussed Japan's "shinryaku" of China. In fact, with the China issue alone, there were four entries in textbooks where "shinryaku" had to be deleted or changed to "shinnyu," or "entry." As for Japan's military activities in Southeast Asia, there were cases where "shinryaku" was replaced with "shinshutsu." In the screening process before 1982, the education ministry council forced a change from "shinryaku" to "shinshutsu" in defining Japan's relations with China. With the results of the 1982 screening, South Korea also demanded corrections in passages that dealt with South Korea's independence movement.
So, while they got the certain instance wrong, the issue was exactly on.

Japan has been whitewashing their history for a long, long time.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gusts of Popular Feeling Does it Again

I might just stop writing and read what Matt writes.

The title to his post, Kenkanryu in the Realm of the Revisionists.

Don't miss it.

Angus Hamilton, Korean Historian

During my recovery period, I thought I would write a little on Angus Hamilton. Angus was a historian who lived in Korea from the late eighteen hundreds until the end of 1903. He was there during a period of great upheaval when Korea was influenced from internal and external entities. Angus took it upon himself to write exclusively about what was happening in Korea. He saw the influences of America, France, England, Russia, China, Japan and other countries as well as the development internally with the intrigue of certain of the Korean ruling class as well as the King and Queen. A fascinating look at Korea, and interesting to read considering his time there being before the colonization by Japan so he doesn't look upon Japan's influence for what it was, a prelude to their invasion.

Let me know if you have any problems with the images.

Below is the cover of the book, part of the intro, and his writing on Seoul. I'll let you read his words.


Book cover


Intro

Notice his intro to the book, those he thanks and especially his reason for writing the book.


He writes about Seoul, his observations fascinating as he tells how quickly the city has changed.





Notice how he talks about the improvements to Seoul, schools, hospitals, banks and shops. Korea is massively changed in only a short period of time.



Jumping ahead, passing up his section on the formation of the postal service, I wanted to show those he feels responsible for the change.

This is just a start. I'll keep adding to this and talking about the interesting Angus Hamilton.