Peace and love
Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, October 20, 2009
IT WOULD BE EASY to understand if people outside Japan were to swallow the media-created image of the country as being populated by dorky otaku, airhead gyaru enthralled by designer brands and octopus tentacles, sexless married couples, whale-murdering xenophobes, and loners so socially inept they have to rent friends. What else are they given a chance to see? Even some self-isolated foreigners living in the country carrying their excess baggage of preconceived notions fall for it.
But there’s more to Japan than meets the media eye. As old American television program had it, “There are a million stories in The Naked City. This is one of them.”
Here’s one of the 127 million stories in Japan, translated from the 1 October issue of the weekly Shukan Bunshun.
The new Democratic Party candidate Kushibuchi Mari (41) defeated Liberal Democratic Party incumbent Ito Kosuke in Tokyo’s District 23 in the recent election. A former official of the NGO Peace Boat, Kushibuchi was all smiles when she and her husband were photographed in front the Diet building on her first visit. Her husband seems to be receiving more attention than she is, however.
Her husband is Li Song, one of the directors of the Japanese branch of the Federation for a Democratic China, an activist group working for Chinese democracy. According to a Chinese journalist, “He is quite well known among the democracy activists in Japan. At the torch relay ceremony last year in Nagano (for the Beijing Olympics), he was involved in activities related to the Tibet issue.”
Born in Harbin in 1967, Li came to Japan in 1989 after the Tiananmen massacre. A Chinese activist describes how he met Kushibuchi: “The two of them met in 1994 while working on Peace Boat activities. Li also worked with Peace Boat the next year on relief efforts after the Hanshin Earthquake. When Tsujimoto Kiyomi ran for office the first time as a Social Democratic Party candidate in 1996, Kushibuchi managed her election office and Li drove her campaign car.”
Li earned a reputation as an extremist during a June 1997 demonstration eight years after Tiananmen. The activist explains:
“When Wu’er Kai-shi, a student leader during the Tiananmen demonstrations, visited Japan, he was refused entry to the Chinese embassy at Motoazabu. Li was following Wu’er as his driver. He got upset and crashed the car into the barrier at the checkpoint set up by the Japanese police.”
Li was arrested for obstructing police officers in their official duties. Newspapers at the time ran photos of the car and its windshield, which the police had smashed with their riot sticks. This directly led to his marriage with Kushibuchi.
“After Li’s arrest, it was found that he had overstayed his visa. For some reason he had not applied for a special activities visa. To prevent his deportation to China, Ms. Kushibuchi came forward and said she was his fiancé.”
He was provisionally released from custody, and the two were later married.
Li instantly become a hero to some for his bold action, but not all of his compatriots were pleased. Said one, “We’ve been working peacefully for democratization, but that one incident tarred us as a violent organization. After that, the police shadowed us whenever we had a meeting.”
Before this month’s 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese embassy’s public safety division was concerned that “the anti-government activist who is the husband of a new Diet member might stage a political disruption when Prime Minister Hatoyama was visiting from Japan.”
This reporter tried to contact Li by telephone to ask him about it, but he replied, “I am not accepting any interview requests. If you want to know about the Diet member, ask the person herself.”
Ms. Kushibuchi’s office replied, “We consider the activities of Li Song and the political activities of Kushibuchi to be separate. We will not respond to a request for an interview.”
We hope this does not become a headache for the Hatoyama Administration when a new feeling of friendship is emerging between Japan and China.
I translated this article for the reasons I stated above.
But as a personal opinion, I hold no truck for either of these two. Working for the democratization of China and earthquake relief is indeed commendable. One has to wonder, though, about Li Song, a political refugee who couldn’t be bothered to get his visa straight after eight years in the country, and who thought he was going to accomplish something by pointlessly ramming a car into a police roadblock at a foreign embassy in that country. All he accomplished was discrediting his organization in the eyes of the authorities.
As for Ms. Kushibuchi, all she’s ever done in her adult life is work for Peace Boat. That organization was founded by Tsujimoto Kiyomi with the help of her Significant Other, a Japanese Red Army member expelled from Sweden for terrorist activities, and a man later identified as a KGB agent. They admired the peaceful Yasser Arafat so much they sailed to visit him several times. As for Ms. Tsujimoto, now part of the new Government, she inadvertently told a reporter her aim was to destroy the Japanese state.
It is not unreasonable to assume that Ms. Kushibuchi chose to run as a DPJ member because she realized she would be unlikely to win as an SDPJ member. So few of them do, after all. It is also not unreasonable to assume that she shares some, if not most, of Ms. Tsujimoto’s political philosophy.
Nor does it speak well to her view of openness as a servant of the people in a democracy by stiffing a request from a reporter to ask reasonable questions about her husband. That’s a basic requirement for people in political life.
Then again, there are probably many things she’d rather not talk about publicly.