AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

This just in–journalists are still clueless about Japan

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, March 14, 2009

ONE WOULD THINK that in the instantly interconnected modern world–where international travel is so accessible that people can (and do) jet from Tokyo to New York after work on Friday to catch a Saturday night concert, and then fly back in time for work Monday morning–those getting paid for journalism about Japan would have developed at least a modicum of insight into the country before presuming to offer anything about it for publication.

Think again.

It’s apparent that the boon of ultra high technology has done little to ameliorate, much less eliminate, decades of know-nothing journalism about things Japanese.

The most recent Exhibit A is this article by Gavin Blair published on a website called Global Post. The article is titled, “Analysis: Japan Looks Inward”, in which the author claims the Japanese are “shunning the outside world”.

As evidence of this isolationist navel-gazing, Mr. Blair cites the declining popularity of subtitled rental movies, pop music, and foreign literature courses at universities. There is a smattering of the obligatory quotes from college professors, yet the author offers few statistics or specific facts to back up his dubious proposition.

You think I’m exaggerating?

In the days of VHS cassettes, a visit to a video rental shop here for a Hollywood blockbuster would often end in disappointment — all the copies would be out except the dubbed one. Listening in English while reading the Japanese subtitles was considered infinitely preferable because English was inherently cool. Today, an increasing number of young Japanese think it’s just too much trouble when they can watch a dubbed version instead.

It shouldn’t be all that difficult for a journalist to ferret out the statistics about DVD rentals or purchases in Japan, particularly if he were somewhat fluent in Japanese. But Mr. Blair doesn’t seem to know any of these statistics. (He doesn’t know how to use adverbs either, but I digress.) That deprives his claim of any credibility, unless we’re supposed to think his limited late-night observations at a nearby rental shop have identified the critical social trends in a country of 127 million people.

With this assertion—at the top of the article, no less–one also has to wonder if the author has ever seriously studied a foreign language. The ability to follow a movie or television program in a foreign tongue is achieved only after several years of dedicated effort, and then often only after spending a significant amount of time abroad.

Yet we’re supposed to swallow the contention that the Japanese are insular because they would rather entertain themselves with a movie they can easily follow than try to decipher the rapid-fire dialogue of native speakers?

Whereas in Western countries, of course, it’s all the rage for native English speakers to rent subtitled movies so they can enjoy it in the original language.

Yeah. Sure.

It appears that Japan is increasing looking inward and walling itself off from outside influences — a trend that’s showing up in everything from movies to music to learning languages. Even as the supposedly irresistible tide of globalization washes against Japan’s shores, insular and parochial attitudes are strengthening.

So what are the manifestations of these “insular and parochial attitudes”?

“When I was a university student, courses like English literature, German literature, French literature and foreign languages were difficult to get into, they were so popular,” said Takashi Koyama, a professor at Akita International University. “Nowadays, those courses are struggling to get students.”

Ah, so. Today’s university students aren’t so interested in studying Balzac in the original (unlike those diligent foreign language learners in the West), and that means the Japanese are insular and parochial.

Did the author consider that as the competition intensified for full-time jobs at Japanese companies over the past 15 years, when firms started hiring more temporary and part-time employees, university students might have wised up and realized it was in their best interest to pursue more practical studies? Japanese with degrees don’t want to make a career out of asking whether the customer would like a milkshake with those fries any more than a Western graduate would.

Wait. It gets…well, not better. Just more so.

The trend was certainly on display at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. The event was the most successful in Japanese cinematic history, landing two gongs, including the first ever full Oscar for a non-animated movie. But even as Japan bathed in the glory of Hollywood approval, pundits and politicians were lining up to explain how the victory by “Okuribito” (“Departures”) in the foreign language film category reflected the “unique Japanese concept of death.”

Well, perhaps the film does reflect the “unique Japanese concept of death”. Do the Japanese have their own distinctive thanatopsis, or is this just a few people rooting for the home team too enthusiastically?

Mr. Blair doesn’t feel compelled to elaborate on this question. Perhaps he thinks the mere mention by Japanese of such a concept is prima facie evidence of ingrown intellectualism.

I read a hard copy of one vernacular Japanese newspaper every day and subscribe to the RSS feeds of about a dozen more, yet I managed to miss all those pundits and politicians “lining up” to make this explanation.

Mr. Blair doesn’t mention anyone in this queue by name.

And isn’t it odd that when the Japanese receive an award that is given almost exclusively to Americans, it is used as evidence that the Japanese are growing more insular?

Yeah. Sure.

As recently as 2000, imported movies outsold Japanese productions by more than two to one. In 2007, Japanese films took the majority of the box office total for the first time in more than 20 years, and last year, only three overseas films managed to break the top 10. “Younger Japanese audiences don’t connect so strongly with Hollywood films recently,” said Yusuke Horiuchi of Toho-Towa, which distributes overseas films in Japan.

Hey! An actual statistic! Shame it doesn’t mean anything.

Japanese aren’t the only ones who don’t connect so strongly with Hollywood films recently. I think I’ve managed to watch three from start to finish in the past decade.

But the Japanese don’t watch Hollywood movies as much as they used to, so that means they’re turning all Banzai on us again.

Yeah. Sure.

The increasing market share of domestic movies can be at least partly explained by a recent bump in the quality of Japanese film; it’s difficult to make the same case for the local music industry. “J-pop” is still dominated by saccharine acts manufactured by a small number of talent agencies and hit factories here, and yet they too are outselling international artists like never before. The last few years have seen a steady decline in sales of overseas bands with Japanese artists cornering 81 percent of the market in 2008.

Hey! There’s another actual statistic!

But to bolster his claim that the Japanese are once again drawing a bamboo curtain between themselves and the rest of the world, Mr. Blair tells us that Japanese teenagers prefer to listen to Japanese music, whose lyrics they can actually understand, instead of the recent product from Western countries.

Fancy that!

The assertion that young Japanese listen primarily to “saccharine J-pop” is a dead giveaway that the author has no idea of the musical interests of the Japanese nor of the music being produced here. Those claims about “saccharine J-pop” weren’t even true 20 years ago, when that style of music was at its peak.

Perhaps some junior high school girls may enjoy the treacly tunes, but certainly not all of them. That’s even more true for high school girls and most boys of any age.

I can say that because I actually know Japanese children.

Is Mr. Blair aware that:

  • Japan is the second largest jazz market in the world…
  • Conductor/keyboardist Suzuki Masa’aki is considered by some European critics (specifically those of Goldberg magazine and Len Mullinger’s Musicweb) to be the foremost contemporary interpreter of Bach’s cantatas…
  • Orchesta de la Luz performed well enough to have hits on the salsa charts overseas…and that it was a band with live human beings playing in clave, which is beyond the capabilities of most Western pop musicians. (At least those Western bands not using computerized rhythms to begin with)…
  • Japanese shops dealing in secondhand CDs pay more for used reggae and ska than other types of music…
  • P-Vine is a local vanity record label so successful at reissuing rare R&B, blues, and soul recordings on CD that Western lovers of that music were paying premium prices for imported copies?

I don’t think so.

But that doesn’t stop him from subjecting the reading public to an argument based on the tedious and culturally smug assumption that Western pop music is so superior that people should of course—of course!–prefer it, and a taste for something else borders on the xenophobic.

Why? The faux thuggery and monotony of hip-hop/rap and the nerdy, Nembutal-fueled neediness of today’s white pop have driven hordes of younger Western listeners to seek out older forms of popular music, as a visit to any Internet e-mail group focusing on those forms will attest. As one British DJ put it, this is the first generation in history whose parents had better taste in popular music than they do.

Besides, Mr. Blair exaggerates both the trend and the time of its emergence. The last time Western pop music outsold Japanese pop music in Japan was the year the song Last Christmas was used for a local TV series. It was performed by the duo Wham!, of which George Michael was a member.

That was a quarter of a century ago.

The causes of this increase in parochialism are somewhat hard to identify.

Oh, I don’t know about that. Crappy Hollywood movies and unlistenable Western pop music are quite easy to identify.

By the way, just why is Japan being singled out here? Ten percent of the population of India—90 million people–is capable of handling English, yet Bollywood movies and their musical spinoffs are much more popular there than Hollywood films and Western pop music.

Are they going all isolationist too?

The current global slowdown has been brutal to Japan’s export-driven economy. Whether this reliance on foreign economies emphasizes to Japan the interdependence of today’s planet, or whether the nature of this “imported crisis” increases resentment at the world beyond its borders, remains to be seen.

Whatever that’s supposed to mean. Perhaps it’s the “critic views events with concern” pose.

But whatever its roots, some are worried a rise in nationalist sentiment is mirroring this loss of interest in foreign languages and foreign affairs.

And just who might “some” of those worriers be? Mr. Blair doesn’t tell us that either, and he takes it as given that there is a rise in “nationalist sentiment”.

Need I mention again that the author offers nothing concrete in the way of justification for any of this “nationalist sentiment” stuff?

For people of a certain political persuasion, or people younger than a certain age, the adjective “nationalist” has become a substitute for what used to be commonly known as patriotism. Unfortunately, those people are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with that natural sentiment.

There is nothing wrong with the Japanese thinking there’s nothing wrong with being Japanese, especially as it was once an emotion denied them in many quarters, both at home and abroad. Indeed, it is a healthy phenomenon indicating the restoration of a normal level of national self-respect.

“The decline in the English ability of Japanese people also means that people are becoming isolated information-wise,” Koyama said.

No it doesn’t, unless either Mr. Koyama or Mr. Blair wants to claim that “information” easily accessible overseas is not available at all in the Japanese language. One wonders exactly what that “information” might be.

You guessed it. Mr. Blair doesn’t tell us.

At Akita International University, Koyama teaches all of his classes purely in English. One of the principal aims of the university, founded only five years ago, is to raise the standard of English among young Japanese.

How about that? Mr. Koyama and I have something in common. I teach two classes purely in English at Saga University, a podunk third-rate state school in the Kyushu sticks. All second-year humanities students there are required to take two English courses.

One of the principal aims of this requirement is to raise the standard of English among young Japanese.

Indeed, this year’s Academy Awards were also memorable for the very limited English in the two directors’ acceptance speeches — in fact, the younger filmmaker appeared even less comfortable in English than his compatriot, more than two decades his senior.

At this point, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that cultural imperialism is the only reason the author has for supposing that Japanese film makers working in Japanese for a Japanese audience must necessarily be fluent in English.

Some observers in Japan however, no longer see creeping isolationism in a globalized 21st century as a laughing matter.

What glum observers might these be, and what is their political orientation, ideological baseline, and–most important–credibility?

All together now: Mr. Blair doesn’t tell us that, either. But that’s not all he doesn’t tell us.

He doesn’t tell us that the Japanese are traveling in record numbers to South Korea every year, a country with whom they share an unpleasant history and a sometimes contentious relationship. Or is Korea ignored because it’s not part of the Anglosphere?

He doesn’t tell us about the Fukuoka Asian Culture prizes, awarded in that city since 1990 to people who have made significant contributions to Asian culture. The laureates hail from more than 25 countries, including Mongolia, Laos, and Bhutan.

He doesn’t tell us that the same city has held an Asian film festival every September since that same year. Last year, they screened movies made in such countries as Syria, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia, instead of those from Hollywood.

He doesn’t tell us that Fukuoka City has the world’s only museum devoted to Asian art. (You’ll find a link to its English-language site on the right sidebar.)

He doesn’t tell us that…

But why continue? He doesn’t tell us because he doesn’t know any of that exists. Rather than perform the basic legwork, he finds it easier to offload a collegiate coffeehouse harangue based on the assumption that an interest in Hollywood movies and Western pop music correlates to international sophistication and awareness.

Coca-Cola sales are down, too. Does that mean Japan is shutting its gates on the hairy barbarians again?

It’s difficult not to draw the conclusion that Mr. Blair has little or no conception of what movies the Japanese actually watch, what music they actually listen to, how they actually interact with foreigners other than himself (particularly non-Western foreigners), or what information in Japanese is available to them. And that’s not to mention his lack of knowledge about the extent of political and cultural trends that might actually be described as so nationalist as to exert an overall negative influence on the culture. (Here’s a hint: Next to none.)

There’s an old proverb in Japan (and China and Korea) that a frog at the bottom of a well knows nothing of the sea. One has to hand it to Gavin Blair—he’s pulled off the difficult feat of turning himself into a frog in a foreign well who knows next to nothing about the well he’s in.

But—and how like the typical Western journalist writing about Japan–that doesn’t stop him from telling us all about it.

The tragedy is not so much that Mr. Blair wrote the article to begin with. As I noted at the beginning, ink-stained wretches have been peddling this hedoro for decades. The tragedy is that Global Post gave it a public platform.

Why tragic? A quick look at Google shows that the article got picked up by The Huffington Post and a few blogs that should know better, thereby spreading the contagion. It’s a shame that online sources are sometimes willing to sacrifice quality for the sake of offering daily content in volume.

The next time Global Post wants to run an analysis of contemporary Japanese society, perhaps they could do us all a favor by finding an author with an adult viewpoint, who knows something about the country, and who is competent enough in basic journalism to buttress his claims with something resembling research.

232 Responses to “This just in–journalists are still clueless about Japan”

  1. Even if it were true that Japanese were watching fewer subtitled movies and more dubbed movies, it is absurd to use this fact as evidence that Japanese people are turning more inward. Mr. Blair is making a ridiculous generalization.

  2. João Gonçalves said

    Information:
    “He doesn’t tell us that Fukuoka City has the world’s only museum devoted to Asian art.”
    There is a Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, devoted to asian art (Museum of the Orient). Here is the link: http://www.museudooriente.pt/
    Thank you for bloging.
    João from Portugal

  3. Big D said

    This Mr. Blair is making such an idiotic statement and is truly ignorant. They way he say it, one would think that American are the only modernized people and everyone else should follow them. Something I strongly disagree.

    Instead of saying Japanese are isolating themselves from the world by not following the American trends, He never said anything about how Japanese are creating the trends themselves and causing big popularity throughout the world.
    As I see it, Japan is actually one of the leaders of the modern age and the future. Like American, the Japanese have much influence and presence and recognition internationally. Japan contribute so many to the world. Technology such as electronics, transportation (i.e. autos, motorcycles, trains, robotics) are used and recognized as some of the top manufacturers in the world. The Japanese media have, or had, gain a worldwide fan base. J-music (J-pop, J-rock,etc.), Japanese cinema and dramas are listened and watched by fans throughout Asia and extends even to the West and gaining more popularity. Anime and manga and video games are especially popular, as you can see from the many conventions and festival all over the world. Japanese culture and fashion are also popular.

    Maybe the reason not alot of Japanese youth getting into Hollywood movies are music anymore are because it sucks? At least that’s how I feel. I haven’t watched any new movies for a while, only watching on the old ones. The music is getting worse anyway. basically right now, there’s nothing in Hollywood that that would say it’s superior or better than their Japanese counterpart.
    by the way, the Hollywood remakes of Japanese movies can’t even compare to the original.
    Not all Hollywood movies are crappy, there are some good one once in a while.

    I’m looking forward to Transformer 2 and Blood: The last vampire.
    Also looking forward to Steven Spielberg’s Ghost in the Shell and other upcoming hollywood remake of Akira, Ninja Scroll and Cowboy Bebop, all Japanese originals.

  4. Very informative blog entry.
    “Why tragic? A quick look at Google shows that the article got picked up by The Huffington Post and a few blogs that should know better, thereby spreading the contagion. It’s a shame that online sources are sometimes willing to sacrifice quality for the sake of offering daily content in volume.”

    Of course, no-one would ever write an article specifically using target keywords that are likely to result in large numbers of hits on Google or get picked up by high-profile and popular websites, would they? No, perish the thort.

    Does Mr Blair even exist? The reference to VHS suggests Mr Blair possibly died about 20 years ago and someone dug out this old article from the “morgue”. I have no statistics, but I suspect the majority of visitors to video rental stores do not borrow videos but DVDs, and most DVDs of non-Japanese movies include the original soundtrack as well as the dubbed translation. How would anyone know whether a rented DVD was watched using the original soundtrack or the dubbed translation?

    Alas, the purpose of commercial news media is to sell audiences (or “eyeballs”) to their advertisers, not to purvey “the truth”. For example, I just read this today:

    Fox News publishes columns from Steven Milloy who blasts all new energy ideas as “junk science.”… Molloy blames past economic recessions on conservation efforts, and peddles junk science by claiming North America is awash in untapped oil reserves.[7] It is amazing that Fox News editors publish such nonsense and that Milloy is still paid.

    Or maybe not so amazing.

  5. denske said

    I can add my own anecdote. In Tokyo’s subway morning rush, 4 out of 5 days of the week there is at least one Japanese person in the subway car reading an English publication. I have never seen a westerner on that subway reading in Japanese. Which culture is insular?

  6. mac said

    Why would anyone need Western culture to when there is always, ahem, Taiko at home;

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/56404/taiko/

    Or ancient original traditional Wadaiko dance groups like, Cobu;

    to fit into neat little patronising journalistic boxes.

    Its such a shame that young Japanese people do not enjoy or take any interest in developing their own Yamato tradition further;

    And cinematic artists like Takashi Miike are unable to break free of rigid Japanese inhibitions and conformism (find your own links to shock and amuse but check the above).

    I am constantly amazed, and blown away, by whatever genre of arts or music made in Japan I catch on some TV channel (note: I am not saying “Japanese art or music”, I am saying art or music made in Japan). Why would any kid born here want or need to suck up to the West?

    There is a limit to how much alien cultural compost any society can or will consume … what does he want? A return to the 70s and every Japanese chick believing the the Bay City Rollers really only drank milk?

    To an extent, Japan’s absorption of and into contemporary, international culture was completed a long time ago, the osmotic process speeding up hugely since the mid-80s when young and ordinary Japanese people could start to travel and live abroad. I witness the amazing speed at which they studied, replicated and then started to transform and develop cutting edge art, music, fashion etc. But it done. Its finished. They are up there at the front producing their own, with their own vast market to satisfy, looking out, loved and respect by the rest Asia … why would they need to be anymore enslaved?

    The butt end of this process is the fact that every small town looks like a messy midi-sized Mid-West America with wires, boxy malls and baseball caps. The plus end happens when you watch some utterly beautiful, dreadlocked, rock chick drummer singing as well in her own videos, bands doing razor sharp licks, moves and looks in any genre you might care to mention without any of the dirty and flab we accept in the West.

    The Japanese movie industry does have problems with conservatism. The demands of Japanese society presents huge obstacles to young people expressing themselves creatively … they just don’t have the same space, time and money available in the West. And yet despite it all, Japan is a international level cultural powerhouse of it own.

    Is it the “outside world” they are shunning .. or just what is, by any international standards, “shit” that they are shunning? Is there really inside and outside any more?

  7. ampontan said

    JG: Thanks for telling us about the Lisbon museum. I didn’t know that, and neither does the museum in Fukuoka!

    Mac:

    … what does he want? A return to the 70s and every Japanese chick believing the the Bay City Rollers really only drank milk?

    Dude, you are too much! Hilarious!

  8. Ross said

    your defense of Japanese culture is as absurd as the article you are criticizing, and your rant reads like an essay I wrote on ‘the scarlet letter’ when i was in eighth grade. you should be ashamed of yourself, and take into consideration the idea that maybe you don’t know anything about any culture, much less the way japan reacts to the rest of the world and vice versa. apologists like you are the other face of ‘clueless’, irresponsible reporting on japan.

  9. James A said

    Wow Ross, I shudder to think how that essay looked compared to the eloquent and devastating critique you just dished out.

  10. tony9 said

    In Defense of Blair!

    This Mr. Blair guy has all the right intentions, so I don’t believe it’s fair to attack him like this.

    I think his observations “will” have merit if the economy here in Japan doesn’t improve. Societies do turn inward when the economy is poor and there’s lots of statistical analysis for that. When the OP’s subject is no longer able to afford his weekend trips to the Big Apple and he’s finally served his termination papers at work and then soon after his divorce papers he won’t be “red white and blue.”

    When he sees foreigners living better and doing things that the subject use to do he’ll internalize.

  11. ampontan said

    Societies do turn inward when the economy is poor and there’s lots of statistical analysis for that.

    But if that’s the case, T9, then why didn’t it happen in Japan during the 1990s after the collapse of the bubble economy? That was the so-called “lost decade”, when the economy ran into a brick ceiling and collapsed.

    Yet, instead of turning inward, Japan became even more open.

    If for some reason Japan turns inward this time, it will have a whole planetload of company. So why single out Japan?

  12. mac said

    Sure, Tony, but that makes the issue not Japanese and not about Japan.

    What is true to say is that “Japan” or “the Japanese” are largely fitted into a very narrow band of prejudices and stereotypes. All the editors in the Western world appear to sit down at some point with a blank page, empty few broadcast minutes or the writers cramp say,

    Gosh, what will I do … I know, its been a while since we ran an article about whacky/racist/WWII/insular nationalist Japanese people” and the general public just loves to think, “My God, them sneaky Japs must be back in their opium dens conspiring another Pearl harbor-like event“.

    Junior hacks or bloggers, on low or no wages (as I suspect the case is here) and attempting to find their way up the slippery pole, will offer what they know will be most easily accepted. As I see the Global Post states in its manifesto that, “We are proud to be an American news organization with a decidedly American voice”, so I suspect that means dumbed down, vainglorious and inward looking like the rest of the American media.

    The article also made it into the gutter press (Japan Today) as, “More Japanese shunning the outside world”, Thursday 12th March.

    May be homegrown is just better and easier. If the guy think J-Pop is all the music they’ve got … he deserves all the whacking he gets.

    BTW, the Bay City Roller reference is true (Japanese Rollermania deserves a sociology thesis all of its own) and I am surprise no one commented on the links I offered that the Japanese are doing just fine entertaining themselves.

    Do they want more young Japanese to travel? Its simple, relax visas and working permits. Who is to blame?

  13. tony said

    @Ampon

    Denial. Japanese are constantly in a state of denial. They know the bubble economy went belly up, but has it lead to a change in their lifestyle? Same can be observed in every free market economy where people go on living as if the economy is still good.

    I think what Mr. Blair was trying to highlight here is a social feature that’s unique to Japan, in the fact that, there are Japanese people who do internalize there frustration with their own country by lashing out at non-Japanese entities which may appear to be inward looking…i.g. I love American movies, but I hate myself because I can’t understand what they are saying, and my English is never good enough. I am a helpless little Japanese person because I cannot affect change in my own society so I will throw a tantrum in defiance to social norms and make it appear that I’m becoming inward.

    Japanese society is extremely fragile. It is the only society in the world where people live and work in harmony with half a deck of cards. 98% of the people here are either crazy or borderline mental cases, but because they’ve learned to conceal it so well, it’s hardly noticeable.

  14. mac said

    > Japanese society is extremely fragile.

    Hmmn … yes, that is why it survived two nuclear bombs, total annihilation of all its major cities and industries by firebombing, and was then able to restore itself to no. 2 in the world within 50 years … and successful control population growth without the need for Maoist state intervention.

    Just out of interest Tony, on what academic research, or personal experience, do you base such prejudices?

  15. tony9 said

    Hi Mac, maybe the same way you base your baseless assertions on.

    What society after the two atomic bombings? Was it the society where the little boy was pushing bits and pieces of his mother along the street in a basket looking for a hospital? Japan didn’t restore itself. Japan was restored by its occupiers and then taught pacifism and no history. Japan was castrated and was stripped of her military leaders and army and spoon fed Democracy.

    Now the country is struggling to find its place in the world fifty years later and having to grapple with its history all at the same time, and the young people don’t care.

  16. camphortree said

    Tony and Tony9,
    Your view on Japan or Japanese sounds like your wishful thinking.

  17. tony9 said

    My view on Japan is fact.

  18. mac said

    Its amazing how many “facts” one can fit on the back of a postage stamp.

    I am sorry, my history is a bit patchy … was that before or after the Whiteman civilized Africa and brought peace (and infested blankets) to the Native Americans?

    Now, remind me … that bit about Japan enjoy 250 years of peace and sustainability during the Tokugawa dynasty whilst Europe and America torn themselves and the rest of the world to pieces … are you suggesting that Japan had no moral culture or society of its own before America kicked its doors in (1852 for whale oil), fueled up its enemies (AVG), strangled it to the ground (oil embargo and banking heist) and then waited until it dared punched back at a bully?

    That wasn’t democracy … those were naked capitalist interests.

    I think you have just defeated your own argument because surely then McArthur is responsible for the shit job he left behind as the 52 State?

    I thought it was all more about creating a submissive market for American products and services (kind of like Haliburton in Iraq today), and a handy aircraft carrier hanging off the butt end of the Soviet Union. Wasn’t all more about containment of the Red Beast?

    Personally, my own great regret about that whole period was that Japan was forced to surrender to the USA. At least it should have demanded surrendering to France and then at least we would have decent bread and no fast food except for udon.

    And, please, take back all those baseball hats with you as you leave.

  19. Trapped in Brazil said

    To Tonys: American reports and politicians criticized Japan because of the bubble, saying that we are incompetent. Well. a decade after, American economy went down trough the same hole, doing the same things, and rewarding the ones responsible with millions of dollars in bonuses. job well done everyone.

    Also, we managed to kept our history and costumes intact besides all the effort of westerns. Incorporate somethings along the way isn´t the same thing as loosing your traditions. About our military, in terms of conventional forces, know that only the USA army can stop Japan today.

    But back on the topic, international media like to paint Japan as the cause of all bad or weird things in the world, since it is the only non-white country wich is doing good and destroyed the “whites-are-Gods” policy they tried to impose on Asia.

    They say a lot of thing about Japan, like we are rapists, pedophiles, war-crazed-killers, non-culture-barbarians, only eat raw fish, we all dress like gothic lolitas, all anime and manga are hentais, crappy movies (but still, Hollywood like to rip off a lot), we are destroying the eco-system, Japan wouldn´t be anything without America, we started WWII, we don´t exist as a race, we like to invade other countries to steal resources (that´s laughable when coming from westerns), japanese scientists doesn´t invetn anything but just copy, etc, etc.

    Interesting enough, they don´t give as much focus for this kind of news:

    http://www.edition.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/europe/italy/10/28/rome.porn/index.html

    If it was about Japan….

  20. camphortree said

    Tony9
    “My view on Japan is fact.”

    Thank you very much for the good laugh.

  21. Alexander said

    I am simply amazed as to how Mr. Blair could put together such a dribble-ridden and extremely poorly researched excuse of an article.

    I am even more amazed, however, as to how anyone could find themselves agreeing and trying to defend the article in question. I have to imagine that such people know no more about Japan and it’s culture and language than Mr. Blair himself.

    Foreign film rentals in the US account for under 6 percent of the market. I guess all Americans are insular and ignorant – a lot like Mr. Blair and some of his supporters.

  22. bender said

    I think many Japanese are insular. No doubt about it.

  23. mac said

    I think it was a spelling error. Really what Tony (aged 9), wrote was;

    “My view on Japan is fuct.”

    Don’t worry, its a kind of knock door and run game kids play. Once they did it to neighbours doors, now they do it to blogs. Flame bait and run.

  24. ampontan said

    Bender: You’re right, some Japanese are insular. So are many Americans.

    For one example, listen to the whining that goes on among American baseball fans about the WBC. They think an international tournament of the finest players in the world designed to become baseball’s version of the World Cup is a waste of time because coverage interferes with the news from the spring training camp of their favorite team.

  25. tony said

    I am the subject expert and authority on Japan. I know more about Japan than most Japanese. I don’t think you are giving Mr. Blair a chance here to defend himself. He does afterall make very salient points which are at best better than most posters on this blog.

  26. mac said

    Yeah, but Mr Blur does not have the same sense of style and panache.

    OK, Tony, please let us taste the fruits of your expertise … but, please, before you hit the sake bottle.

    Alexander makes a very good point … how many white Americans do you know, outside of Manhattan, that watch foreign or subtitled movies? I was amazed by my time there. I was talking to this guy about the replica of Christopher Columbus’s boat in Barcelona and he was, “like … what’s Barcelona?”. He had not a clue. I mean, Christopher Columbus does have some relevance to the Americas.

  27. Aceface said

    “I am the subject expert and authority on Japan,I know more about Japan than most Japanese”

    Well,I don’t deny that you do,Sir.
    But you still have to admit the fact that Mr.Blair(and many foreigners who write on Japan)don’t give any chance to the Japanese to defend themselves.

  28. bender said

    Yes, America is one big, fat inward-looking nation. Even the Olympics receive second-rate coverage by the media.

  29. Matt said

    ampontan,

    I’m sorry, but your “critical analysis” of Gavin Blair’s original article is rather atrocious. I suppose I’m one of the few (if not only) here who read the original article first, and throughout reading your “rebuttal”, I couldn’t help but see an excess of drawing implications that simply weren’t there. Aside from the childishly aggressive tone and abundance of silly ad hominem attacks, you take decidedly neutral lines and interpret them in such a way that it’s clear you brought with you an agenda to take offense to ol’ KKK Gavin Blair.

    Perhaps the point you’re most missing is that Blair isn’t accusing Japan of being the most insulated country in the world. His point is that it is becoming *more* insulated *now* that it was *before*. Your assertion that there is good reason to reject Western culture is moot. Your assertion that Americans are more insulated is also moot – that is pretty obvious to anyone in the world with a working brain, and I’m pretty sure Gavin Blair didn’t need to write an article stating the obvious.

    Also, the overwhelming majority of information in this world is in English. Yes, each country has an edge regarding its own native cultural literature, but no language in the world has as much information about as many things from as many international sources as English.

    Also, Fukuoka City does not have the world’s only museum devoted to Asian art. Neither is Lisbon the only other one.

    Sorry if this sounded a little harsh, but I wouldn’t have been so harsh had you not been so unduly critical of Blair’s article.

  30. camphortree said

    Tony said,
    “I am the subject expert and authority on Japan.”

    You are one hell of an authority on Japan. The more you talk, the more you sound like a clown.

  31. Trapped in Brazil said

    Matt, you defend Mr Blair saying that Japan is becoming more insulated then before, but before when? When Japan was occupied perhaps? When USA were determined to use Japan as a show-off of “how good the american way is” for the neighbours of Mother Russia?

    America is the most insulated modern country today. It wants to sell their stuff but don´t want to buy from anyone, unless they don´t have a choice. They don´t like to receive immigrants either, altought their forefathers were immigrants themselves. They also condemned the holocaust, but the three americas saw the biggest genocide ever when europeans arrived. I don´t see Americans saying about creating an Native American State as the UN did to the Jews. They like to criticize other but don´t look to their actions, want to make justice with what belongs to others, want to impose their culture on others but don´t want to influence themselves, who is insulated?

    Also, in economics, Americans said to Asians and Latin countries that when their banks or industries were facing an economic crisis, their government should let they go bankrupt, without any help, but when the crisis knocked on US´ doors, they immediately started vomiting money like there was no tomorrow, without even taking precautions about were that money was going, man, wish I was the CEO of some big bank in America, I should start a global crisis and still be rewarded with a U$ 400.000.000,00 bonuses.

  32. mac said

    Japan:

    Number of Valid Japanese Passports in circulation: Approx. 33,000,000 (2005)

    Number of Japanese Travelers who went abroad: 16,830,000 (2004) – 55.2% went to the USA

    Number of American Tourists who went abroad, 27,351,000 (2004) – 4% to Japan.

    The 16 million Japanese traveling overseas figure seems pretty stable, a 5% drop is estimated for 2009. More to the point, only 5 million foreign tourists coming into Japan with the Tourism lamentable “Yokoso” camping seeking to double the number … no chance.

    Actually, second thoughts, let’s keep the tourists out.

  33. Matt said

    Trapped in Brazil,

    Your rant on America doesn’t make anything Blair said about Japan any less true. I hate to be redundant, but here’s a copy-and-paste line from my original post:

    “Your assertion that Americans are more insulated is also moot – that is pretty obvious to anyone in the world with a working brain, and I’m pretty sure Gavin Blair didn’t need to write an article stating the obvious.”

    Like ampontan, it seems like you have a tangential agenda of your own. Genocide of Native Americans? A Native American state? How does any of this relate to Japan turning inward? I can assure you, that if Japan won WWII, its surrounding Asian neighbors wouldn’t be in any better a state than Native Americans are today. There’s certainly no need to victimize Japan.

  34. Matt said

    Mac,

    The per-capita difference between America’s 9% and Japan’s 13% isn’t nearly as “suggestive” as you imply. Japan is an island country the size of California. An American who travels to different American states need not travel out of the country, and yet he or she is still traveling far more than a likewise Japanese who travels within his or her own country. This much should be obvious.

    The difference between Americans who went to Japan and Japanese who went to America is also not surprising, nor is it relevant. Traveling to one foreign country more than another does not make you less insular, and traveling to other foreign countries more than one other does not make you more insular.

  35. Gavin Blair said

    Dear Bill,

    Thanks for taking time the time to read, and to post a critique four times as long as the original article! I wish I had time to write an equal lengthy riposte, and that I had so many words to play with for the original piece. It’s a complex issue and it may well be that I didn’t do it justice in 800 words.

    I think you make some good points and it’s a shame you cross the line into vitriolic sniping and also to ascribing opinions to me that I don’t hold, nor have ever expressed.

    I’d like to answer a few points here as it’s clear you went to considerable effort on your post.

    Firstly, as I’m sure you know, not everything journos write gets published ‘sono mama’ – but gets edited, rewritten, rearranged etc. I didn’t come up with the “shunning the outside world” phrase and I think it’s probably an overstatement. The point of a headline, of course, is to attract attention – and this it certainly did.

    As for the ‘unique concept of death’ pundits, I heard at least three announcers/commentators/critics say something close to this.

    “But that doesn’t stop him from subjecting the reading public to an argument based on the tedious and culturally smug assumption that Western pop music is so superior that people should of course—of course!–prefer it, and a taste for something else borders on the xenophobic.”

    I don’t think Western pop is particularly superior nor do I think not liking it borders on xenophobic. For the record, pardon the pun, I love the fact that you can sit in tiny coffee shops here and listen to real jazz, both domestic and foreign.

    I wish I had had more space to go into the nationalist issue, and without backing up the assertion – it may well have been better left out.

    There are many things about Japan, including the museum in Fukuoka, which I don’t know about. Clearly, even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to fit all of it into an 800-word piece. It’s just as clear to me that you decided after reading the headline of the article that I was one of those ‘fresh off the boat, doesn’t know anything about Japan, doesn’t speak Japanese, cultural superiority complex, Japan-bashing journos who churns out this kind of drivel on a regular basis’. None of those is true, except maybe the drivel part, and I think your view of me and what I actually wrote is as skewed as the views of the media in whose box you unfairly placed me.

    Apologies for the long reply, thanks to everyone else for reading and posting, and I’m genuinely glad the piece provoked some debate.

    Regards,

    Gavin Blair

  36. Aceface said

    “Firstly, as I’m sure you know, not everything journos write gets published ’sono mama’ – but gets edited, rewritten, rearranged etc. I didn’t come up with the “shunning the outside world” phrase and I think it’s probably an overstatement. The point of a headline, of course, is to attract attention – and this it certainly did.”

    Translation:”I just followed the order from the superior”.

  37. Aceface said

    The numbers of Japanese nationals living in overseas.
    http://www2.ttcn.ne.jp/~honkawa/1175.html

    The numbers of foreign nationals living in Japan.http://www2.ttcn.ne.jp/~honkawa/1180.html

    The numbers of international marriage between Japanese and foreign citizens.
    http://www2.ttcn.ne.jp/~honkawa/1190.html

    You’ll be the judge.

  38. bender said

    I read somewhere that fewer young people in Japan are studying abroad. I’m talking about graduate studies, not “kokan ryugaku”.

  39. Aceface said

    Japan never had huge post graduates students studying abroad like other East Asians.Mostly because foreign degree mills won’t be an asset on your CVs and many were intended to come back to Japan at some point unlike Koreans and Chinese.
    Added to that,it’s becoming a lot easier to get into J-university because of the declining youth population that contributes lower competition in entrance exams.Ofcourse the economic malaise from the 90’s partially affect this too.

  40. M-Bone said

    Gavan,

    If you publish an article, if your name goes on it, you should not use the editing process as an excuse. When the journal decided to use “more Japanese are shunning the outside world” as a phrase to promote your article, did you protest?

    It seems that many of the most important potential statistics are absent from your analysis. Why on earth would you include record sales (especially since, as Ampontan indicates, they have shown a Japanese lead for decades) while ignoring the massive increase in foreigners living in Japan, international marriage, and tourists visiting Japan / Japanese government promotion of the tourist industry? All of these shifts took place in the timeframe that you discuss.

    Your VHS anecdote is what really turned me off. Have you been to a Tsutaya lately? The number of popular American TV dramas like Prison Break, Lost, and 24, has exploded. They now have Korean sections that are almost as big as those devoted to Japanese film.

    You cite no statistics concerning what the older, “more open” Japan was like and only give vague anecdotes like the VHS one which I believe to be very misleading. As a result, you can establish no change through clear evidence and your entire point falls apart. Of course, you could be right, but that doesn’t mean that your article actually established anything.

    Just pick another media – like US video games. While domestic games are more popular (and why shouldn’t they be?) US games are selling better in Japan than at any point in history! I guess that means that Japan is a wonderfully open society. Or not. Those types of contextless examples are simply not meaningful.

    Also, are you aware that Akita International University is a pariah school that nobody takes seriously? In Koyama’s quotes, I see contextless self-promotion, despite the fact that AIU has a reputation for treating its foreign faculty like garbage and being the most parochial place around. In Koyama’s words, I see “Japanese should study at an international place like AIU!” but it is a flat out disaster of a university.

    Here is a long comment thread on the place from the Chronicle of Higher Education website –
    http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,28632.0.html

    So in short, your article was bad. So bad that 800 words and editor trouble are neither an explanation nor an excuse. That doesn’t mean we hate you. We just hope that you produce something better the next time around. I don’t mind criticism of Japan either, as long as you produce clear evidence to support your views and the context that would tell us that someone like Koyama is a crank.

  41. Aceface said

    And some more ideas on the Gavin’s article.

    Why more Japanaese films and less foreign ones?
    Because we have waves of multiplex popping elsewhere in the last decade and TV stations start to produce movies.Multiplex want to show same film in as many screens as they can and TV station can use all of their shows for free advertisement.This materialized in J-TV stations making endless waves of spin-offs from popular TV series and made it into the blockbuster that being shown in multiplex all over the nation,which eventually maximized the share of the domestic film.

    Why kids listen to more J-pops than ever?
    That’s probably have something to do with Karaoke.There are casual relationship between Karaoke charts and top 100 charts in Japan.During the 90’s,the influence of FM radio and TV had outgrown compared to Karaoke bov in the sales of CD and it’s difficult to sing a song that you don’t fully understand.

    Why youth stop going abroad?
    When I was student back in the early 90’s,I didn’t have any PCs nor cellular phones.Most kids now do.
    Back in 1992,I travelled Europe for six weeks from my saving from part time job,But it would cost me the double price had I traveled there after 2002 because of euro and it’s rapid increase against yen.
    Under such circumstances,I wouldn’t surprise why college students these days not traveling as often as I was.

    And Okuribito….
    Yeah,I would be disturbed if some commenter using “Unique Japanese concept of death”meme justifying,say,Kamikaze pilots or honoring war criminals in Yasukuni shrine.
    But isn’t the movie precisely about such theme? I can’t speak much since I haven’t seen one.But being a guy working for TV station,I can safely say this.we couldn’t use so much clips of other Academy award nominee because

    a)the distribution companies don’t allow us to get into the details of the plot,since most of them including “Slamdog Millionaire”weren’t on Japanese silver screens yet.
    b)thus we had to use available clips distributed by Associated Press and Reuters which are very limited.But not “Okuribito”which has been hitting the road for quite sometime already.

    French lt/German lit.
    French and German have been the second and the third most learned language in Japan since Meiji restoration.But this western leaning tendency had long been under criticism that we are undermining our Asian neighbors.Currently Chinese and Korean are replacing the nitch of French and German.Not saying these European language isn’t worth learning in 21st centruy Japan,but I’d say the cultural shift is quite natural considering what the job needs demand.
    Plus,Japanese higher education have been restructuring itself and liberal arts tend to be the target.Which is why French lit and German lit suffers most(As that was the case in Tokyo Metropolitan University in 2004.

    http://www.ac-net.org/dgh/blog/archives/000639.html

  42. M-Bone said

    Ace – exactly right on higher ed. The number of students studying Japanese history and literature has been declining as well. Meanwhile, more students are studying business and IT, “internationalized” subjects.

  43. mac said

    > “traveling far more”

    Don’t make me laugh. Miles do not the travel make. Just try the trip between Kyushu and Korea, its less than 100 miles. That is identical to New York to Philadelphia.

    The relevance between the number of Americans who showed an interest and respect enough for Japan to go there versus the number of Japanese who show an interest and respect enough to go to America (0.36% of American – 6.5% of Japanese by those figures) is that 18 times as many Japanese as Americans actually know something about the other nation from first hand experience. That is a very significant difference.

    An American who travels 3,000 miles within America is basically going no where. Largely, (unless they go to a racially segregated ghetto), it is the same culture; the same diners, the same fast food, the same motels, the same Disneyland …

    Yes, I have traveled 1,000s of miles overland in the USA and, yes, I recently just traveled 36 hours non-stop across Japan and I still did not get from the top to bottom, never mind touch the islands.

  44. mac said

    I think Gavin makes a good point relating to journalism in general. And the same thing is even more true about television … the problem invariably lies with the lack of imagination of the commissioning editors who themselves driven by what sells. Neither facing the article subjects nor the public, those editors are the ones doing the craping on all others, journos alike.

    I think Bill makes his usual good point about the stereotyped nature of reporting on Japan.

    Gavin, do you think you could get Bill a paid slot to write a riposte to your article? He does have a well qualified and more unique voice within the current crop of Japan commentators.

  45. Mike said

    Journalists are still wrong on Japan. Yup…just like everywhere else…this is nothing new.

    I was wondering when you’re going to change the name of this website to “Shooting fish in a barrel.”

    Let’s face it, you love to take on the easy targets, the ones anyone who knows anything about Japan ignores anyway. It seems to fill some gap in your manhood – hey, those are your issues, not mine, so don’t try to explain them away with some form of projectionist thought.

    You don’t have much else to offer, which is such a shame.

    And “Mac”:

    Sorry, but this guy is a nobody with no qualifications. Please, he’ll never get anywhere simply shooting fish in a barrel. This website is easy to write and requires no independent thought – just copy certain Japanese newspapers and claim the thoughts are yours. That’s why no foreigners in Japan who can actually read Japanese take this clown seriously – we know which papers he’s stealing ideas from.

    Grow up. Be a man. Stop shooting fish in a barrel and contribute something.

    Last chance.

  46. Aceface said

    “Grow up.Be a man.Stop shooting fish in a barrel and contribute something”

    And you sir?

    You just don’t understand.WE are the fish in the barrel.Not Gavin Blair or “foreigners in Japan who can actually read Japanese.
    And Ampontan gives us “fish in the barrel”, a rifle with telescopic sights so that we can snipe them back.

  47. Aceface said

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20090319-00000722-reu-bus_all

    And it seems to be more Japanese are going abroad this spring thanks to the strong yen and cheap energy price……

  48. ampontan said

    Last chance.

    Last chance, or what?

    You’ll talk about the gaps in my manhood again?

    In note #47 in a string of comments on one post on a website written by a clown that no one takes seriously?

    Quaking in my boots here.

    As for my “qualifications”, I’ll say this: I read a mailing list (without posting) out of Todai for a few months last year for academics specializing in Japan from around the world to discuss current events in Japan.

    I dropped out, though. I knew more about what was happening in Japanese politics, in more detail, than anyone else on the list. It was a waste of time to read. In fact, I was surprised by the sheer stupidity of many of them, though in retrospect, I don’t know why.

    Feel free to make any suggestions for some real, hard-hitting, speaking truth to power-type posts, though.

    You know, the serious stuff, like complaining about Hokkaido bathhouse operators who won’t admit foreigners after unpleasant experiences with Russian sailors.

    My favorites among those penetrating insights are the ones complaining that Japan signed some obscure, unimportant UN agreement that no one ever heard of and isn’t following the terms to the letter, as if any other country in that pointless organization is.

    By the way, what makes you think I’m doing this for foreigners in Japan who can read Japanese? They’re last on the list of my priorities.

    And thanks for adding to my collection of weird comments at the top of the page. You’ll fit right in with the people talking about my phallus envy, pencil dick, lack of intelligence on a molecular level (sic), and virulent Japanese nationalism. That last one came from an academic, presumably qualified for something or other. He wrote it after I shot some fish in a barrel by comparing Japanese newspaper editorials with Korean newspaper editorials.

  49. mac said

    Mike.

    I too would say its more in the order of “bloody hell, there is someone in the barrel of fish that is firing back at us” too, and that would be right. If you have the sources to back up what you have just said, put up or shut up.

    If it is going to come down to a Yankee versus international point of view, the Yankees are going to lose this time, especially when it reads like the mental illness of …

    Tony wrote: Japan, “the society where the little boy was pushing bits and pieces of his mother along the street in a basket looking for a hospital? Japan didn’t restore itself. Japan was restored by its occupiers and then taught pacifism and no history. Japan was castrated and was stripped of her military leaders and army and spoon fed Democracy.

    I know America and their despot cronies always preferred war against women and children … but I am neither and, sadly, there are too many pot-bellied General Pattons still fighting WWII on the internet. Its time to move on … Japan has.

  50. tony said

    You never get enough, do you mike? I’m no Yankee, but a spokes man against your ilk. I am the PR of the conservatives.

  51. […] Why journalists are still clueless about Japan. […]

  52. jome said

    whatdya mean insular, Japan has one of the largest English language learning markets in the world? I hear Japanese talking American slang (not such a good thing) all the time. Worse, they pick up really trashy talk like this
    http://japansugoi.com/wordpress/vermilion-pleasure-nights-naughty-one-point-english-lessons/

  53. Nat Nopma said

    I agree with Mr. Blair’s article. I suspect that the reasons for the seeming trend toward insularity have more to do with marketing efforts of local companies than any actual informed decision-making by the population. Simply put, the people are eating up the slop that they are being fed on TV and in magazines and billboards.

    One of the hallmarks of the Japanese people is their consumerism, and what that boils down to is that Japanese more readily consume and act upon the marketing messages that are put before them. How else can one explain such widespread designer brand fashion vulgarity in this country? LOL! It is all part of the oft-discussed “group” mentality and related individual insecurities.

    The same media and marketing messages, many Japanese would agree, are causing individuals today to be more self-absorbed and withdrawn from even fellow Japanese. There is a greater coldness and promotion of self-centered values in today’s advertising.

    The typical Japanese youth today is an empty vessel eager to be filled up by the media and advertisers with directions on how he/she should spend his/her time and money. If you tried to take those media and marketing messages away, you would have a lot of clueless zombies desperate for direction.

    It is therefore no wonder that local marketers are ever more intensely focusing the population’s attention on Japan-centric topics or products or services. Afterall, that is how they build their audiences and sell their products.

    It may be often difficult for foreign companies or for the Japanese branches of foreign companies to wage marketing battles on native soil that can compete at the same level of intensity and precision as locally-headquartered firms. So along the way, pop topics focused on issues at home, served up by media/marketers as “important”, increasingly overshadow outside options and perspectives.

    For certain, Japanese movies for one are gaining ground on Hollywood ones, and for certain, this is about broader marketing, NOT about quality. (Note that it would be illegal in the US for Toho to fill up their self-owned cinema screens, such as at Roppongi Hills, with their own movies, due to antitrust laws.)

    Yet, the average person has little awareness of just how controlled and manipulated his life is by marketers, and will automatically defend choices as being of his or her own volition, or as even being the choice of the entire Japanese people, as in, “WE JAPANESE love crappy Toho movies with bad acting”.

    Finally, having worked with several members of the Japanese TV media, I can say that on the whole the people behind the scenes producing the content are among the least educated and lowest paid guys around. It is literally a case of the blind leading the blind.

    And, all of the above can be said to be true in and of America as well. Just as Japanese care little about Paris Hilton or Oprah or American Idol, Americans could hardly give a rip about the what the morning “wide” shows in Japan have to say about Kimutaku’s new haircut.

    It is marketing that is controlling the attention of all people of industrialized nations increasingly, toward inward and irrelevant details of one’s own society, often with no importance beyond the selling airtime or fashions or whatever, and on the promotion of self-importance.

    Personally, Ampontan, I find your attack on Mr. Blair to be an overemotional, silly and self-satisfied pile of rubbish. At minimum, I recommend hiring someone to edit your writing, which oozes with so much snobbery and pseudo-intellectualism that wading through it in search of a sensible argument is simply tiresome and painful.

    And, you should apologize to Mr. Blair and his publication.

    Nat Nopma
    *****

    The typical Japanese youth today is an empty vessel eager to be filled up by the media and advertisers with directions on how he/she should spend his/her time and money. If you tried to take those media and marketing messages away, you would have a lot of clueless zombies desperate for direction.

    But I’m the self-satisfied, pseudo-intellectual snob?

    Keep ’em coming, dude!

    Oh, Nat, about those personal pronouns? Pick one and stick with it.

    – Amp

  54. Nat Nopma said

    “It’s apparent that the boon of ultra high technology has had little impact on ameliorating, much less eliminating, decades of know-nothing journalism about things Japanese.”

    Ugh! Would somebody please take a red pen to this writing disaster?

    Let’s hope someone can have an impact on ameliorating it…

    *****
    You’re right, that was a clumsy sentence. Thanks for pointing it out.
    – Amp

  55. Matt said

    Very, *very* well said, Nat Nopma.

  56. Tony said

    Amen! Nat Nopman!

    Good retort.

  57. Aceface said

    OK,so why does media brainwashes Japanese mind ultimately leads to the conlusion of “Japanese isolationism”?

    And Nat Nopma’s statement is highly subjective and have little reference on original Blair article.

    So am I to say there are strong demands in outside world on any kind of negative coverage on Japan whether it’s not even backed up by any objectional stats or comaparative refferences?

  58. M-Bone said

    Nat Nopma, arguing that Japanese young people are empty vessels for hype, fills up a post with just about every empty headed Van Wolferen / Alex Kerr cliche out there. Don’t rip Japan for being unoriginal if you can’t come up with your own ideas.

    Nopma provides no retort. Blair’s article just does not follow basic rules of evidence. To prove change you have to tell us what things were like before. He doesn’t. Just gives us a string of anecdotes to prove a dubious conclusion that he seems to have came up with before doing his research.

    Lots of bashing Ampontan here, but I don’t see anyone willing to take on the statistics that Aceface provided.

    Ampontan, I’m sorry to see that what looks like a very good blog has attracted these kinds of regular comments.

  59. Aceface said

    Living in the world of Japanese television for the past 15 years,I can confirm basically what Nat had said is true.However…..

    Most of the no-brainers such as the endless gourmet programs that are so infested in the industry is pretty cosmopolitan in selecting topics such like the latest installment of french wine bar in Roppongi or new chefs coming from Shanghai in Ginza or eat-in restaurants in streets of Seoul.These programs can be described as intellectual desert of a sort,but certainly not “insular”.

    And all the fashion victims walking the streets are armed with western brands from head to toe.They may be the slaves of consummerism,but again,not exactly very “insular”.

    And what is evident about this new fiscal year(atarting april) in J-TV world is sudden increase of investigating journalism oriented programs.
    Recent economic run down has made many TV station getting more serious about broad casting,partially because the sponsors are becoming more selective about which programs they are funding, and stations are cutting down endless “game shows” and “variety program” and moving budgets and muscles on news news broadcasting.

    Which would lead back to my already stated conclusion that current economic slowdown has little or no connection to Japanese turning to “isolationism”.

  60. ampontan said

    And what is evident about this new fiscal year(atarting april) in J-TV world is sudden increase of investigating journalism oriented programs.

    Can you give us some tips about the days, times, and networks these programs will be appearing on?

    In a way, I’m not surprised. I think it connects with the next post I’m about to put up.

  61. Aceface said

    http://www.j-cast.com/2008/10/13028166.html

    http://www.asahi.com/showbiz/tv_radio/TKY200809240305.html

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/entertainment/tv/20090310et02.htm

    http://it.nikkei.co.jp/digital/news/index.aspx?n=MMITel000023102008

    http://news.nifty.com/cs/entame/showbizddetail/naigai-2008092592659744/1.htm

    There’s a lot more on offline..

  62. Aceface said

    http://www.iza.ne.jp/news/newsarticle/entertainment/television/192119

  63. mac said

    External financial assets of residents in Japan equalled 250.2 trillion yen at year-end 2007 representing an increase of 35.1 trillion yen or 16 % from the previous year-end, a new record high for the second consecutive year.

    Hollywood? Sony Pictures own Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, MGM (20%).

    Honda, Toyota … doing better overseas in North America than at home.

    Takeda Pharmaceutical paid $8.8 billion for America’s Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Daiichi Sankyo paid $4 billion for Ranbaxy, TDK spent ¥200 billion on Epcos, a German firm, Tokio Marine, an insurer paid ¥500 billion for Philadelphia Consolidated, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group paid $9 billion for a stake in Morgan Stanley, Nomura took over the European, Asian and Middle Eastern operations of Lehman Brothers … the list goes on.

    Is Japanese money insular?

    The kids on the street!?! Do these journos head outside of Roppongi? All kids will reinvent themselves in days if they bother … my feeling is they have already cherry picked the best, bought it in, analyzed it and are creating their own, many of which are many times better; the music is up to scratch by any standards, check out the printed media, fashion beyond it (it strikes me there are a far greater number of small, independent boutiques than there are in the West) and looking out as a provider to the rest of East Asia.

    So what really is the purpose, or virtue, of the expense of “going outside” which the author seems to limit to consuming Western things?

  64. Nat Nopma said

    My points, subjective? Yes, that is correct.

    I can’t speak for Mr. Blair, but you won’t find ME out in the libraries of Japan gathering data on any of this. I am not trying to be a blogger, nor a journalist, nor self-appointed Japan journalism critic. And, I have a life! 😉

    My main opinion in all of this is that Ampontan could openly criticize Blair’s lack of statistics, could disagree with his position, and could make those arguments interesting and thought-provoking for his blog readers, without needing to be so shrill and disrespectful on a personal level about it.

    I think Blair’s article does have value, and that he is certainly not “clueless”. I wrote out my own observations to support his case if possible, hopefully convincing others that the topic is worthy of genuine, respectful debate, rather than a total writeoff. He is onto something that I myself have often felt in recent years here in Japan, but which I have not heard others ever attempt to express.

    I agree with Ampontan however that the article is too short on supporting facts and statistics to be considered tight journalism, even if I do support Blair’s intentions. You could go so far as to say that my post above ultimately goes against Blair — I do not think Japanese people are choosing to be insular on a national level or “isolationist”. They are just being sucked into media and marketing machinery of ever-increasing cold effectiveness.

    There is a magazine for every age group and personality type, advertised in every subway car and train station. And that’s just the tiniest part of what I’m talking about. Maybe more so in Tokyo advertising than in the rest of the country, there’s a certain “go fuck yourself” look in the eyes of the women on the covers of those magazines more often now, which I don’t think was there ten years ago. It’s an image of extreme self-importance, self-absorption, humorlessness. The message is, “This is what important people buy, wear, read, and think.”

    And indeed, the models on the covers of magazines like friggin’ “CanCam” for crying out loud often become the biggest of the bigtime national personalities in short order. Your average Japanese youth will not know the names of leaders in government, but you can be damn sure she knows who Ebi-chan is.

    I think the beginnings of the more self-absorbed, more intense style of marketing coincided with Ayumi Hamazaki’s rise to the top. That’s just my unqualified opinion/observation. Come to think of it, she has only very recently been lowering herself to actually SMILE in posters and ads that I have seen. (The older a female celebrity gets, the less “fuck you” glaring you can get away with I suppose — hell, by the time a Christmas-cakey celeb is stuck on the cover of “Maquia”, she’s an eagerly similing symbol of 32-year old desperation, hoping to invite a glance from damn near anyone).

    In America, we have all the same bullshit. One saving grace at least is that we have late night talk show hosts to provide satirical balance against the phony, self-absorbed asshole types like Paris Hilton, Christian Bale, etc. Any famous person in America who starts taking their own bullshit too seriously while in the public eye is guaranteed to get taken down a notch in nightly talk show monologues. While some of the grittier magazines provide that to a degree here in Japan, satire just is not as widely employed. I wish people here were quicker to stand up and call out others’ bullshit for what it is.

    Thus, you get a lot of phony media images being taken more literally by more of the masses. In any Tokyo subway car on any day of the week, read some of the ads hanging above the center aisle, the ones for the mens and womens fashion magazines. Read the various headlines and taglines and look at the images, and think about the message being conveyed. I am not saying that those magazines alone control the minds of the populace, but I think they offer very good clues into why Japanese might seem increasingly focused inward. They are focused on what’s being sold to them, meaning “sold” in all of its connotations, by those who are immediately around them and in their faces.

    In America, an easier place to spot the kind of media & marketing-driven transformation that I am trying to explain is politics. The American population seems more polarized than ever. I think anyone can see without statistics or pie charts that it is because the news outlets (and in turn the political parties themselves at times) are using ever more skillful marketing techniques to fool us into thinking that every issue and news flash is ultra-important and demands that we stay tuned-in 24/7. There are more channels, more news personalities, and therefore more empty air time to fill, and a more intense drive to grab audience share, whatever it takes. What it takes is to create the illusion that nothing else on planet Earth at this moment is more important that Senator Craig’s airport restroom misadventures, or whatever. And thus, another little piece of what would probably look to outsiders like an “insular” focus on purely American topics and American sources of information.

    Well, time to end this whole rambling digression. The drugs are wearing off.

    By the way, below is what led me eventually to Mr. Blair’s article, and finally to this blog. Having read the linked article, I respect what Mr. Blair and Global Post are trying to preserve. We are in an environment where serious newspaper-level journalism is economically threatened. These people are taking risks to try to solve the problem. I think Mr. Blair can be forgiven on the statistics point, and should be given encouragement for what he and Global Post are trying to pull off in the larger picture.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/business/media/23global.html?_r=2&ref=business

  65. Nat Nopma said

    >> the music is up to scratch by any standards, check out the printed media, fashion beyond it.

    On this point at least, without meaning disrespect, I have to think that you have been cleverly fooled by style to overlook the substance part. Seriously.

  66. Aceface said

    OK,So we now got Nat Nopma No,2 online?

    What we’ve been talking by sacrificing our precious private life so far is whether Japanese have gone “isolationist” because of economic slowdown which is the point Blair originally brought up in his article.If that’s not what Nat No2 is thinking right now,then he shouldn’t have sucked into the debate when he was Nat No1.

    Also there are more ad hominem attack on Ampontan by Nat No.1 and being SO shrill and disrespectful on a personal level while Amp is just criticizing on proffesionalism and intellectual integrity on the side Gavin Blair and Global Post.

    Anyway,if Nat No.1 and No.2 become free from multiple personal disorder they are undeniably suffering right now,they should start writing CV and send it to the office of Paul Wolfowitz for the long absent spokesperson of his.

    Or maybe they can come to me and help me edit what I write.
    But be warned.I’m not well educated and nor well paid.

  67. Nat Nopma said

    >> Oh, Nat, about those personal pronouns? Pick one and stick with it.

    LOL

    Amp, doing a stickler job on me for personal pronoun usage underscores my point.

    Look, I didn’t grammar check your writing, and I wouldn’t know the rules anyway. The rules are never the important part of communicating.

    It’s about being natural and readable instead of fake and self-important. It goes deeper than your ability to construct a sentence, and into matters of motivation behind your writing.

    “It’s apparent that the boon of ultra high technology has had little impact on ameliorating, much less eliminating, decades of know-nothing journalism about things Japanese.”

    Train wrecks like the above happen when the ego trip becomes more important than making a clear point.

    You thought I was talking just about the “impact on ameliorating” mistake in your sentence, but actually I was calling the entire thing from start to finish a disaster, regardless of grammar. And it is representative of the writing style throughout your site. You are forcing me, the reader, to work harder to decode inefficient sentences, in return for no increased payoff, all because you want to showoff what you think is cleverness. And the cleverness itself creates new problems (e.g., “impact on ameliorating”) as you end up out of your depth so quickly.

    I would love to spend the rest of my early AM on a deeper critique, beginning with “It’s apparent” and all that’s wrong there.

    But probably it’s better if I stop myself here… 😉

  68. Nat Nopma said

    >> “What we’ve been talking about so far is whether Japanese have gone “isolationist” because of economic slowdown which is the point Blair originally brought up in his article.If that’s not what Nat No2 is thinking right now,then he shouldn’t have sucked into the debate when he was Nat No1.”

    Hi Ace,

    On the one hand I am usually game for friendly debate. On the other hand, at this hour of the morning (admittedly nobody’s fault but my own), if you really believe the above, then my first thought basically is that you can blow me.

    What got my attention among other points is the headline at the top of this page, thank you very much. Or I should say, the entire attack that was made along those lines. If what I have written in response is somehow irrelevant or undesired, then hey, have my comments deleted. Short of that, there is no law that I am breaking by stating my thoughts here in whatever manner I please. How YOU became the guy who decides what I am allowed to type is completely beyond me.

    1. Blair is in my opinion correct that a shift is going on. His article has merit for trying to put his finger on a matter that I believe is real but as of yet has not been clearly defined by ANYONE. Mainly I wrote here about this same shift that I too also have noticed, but I ascribed different reasons to it. Just because I can agree with others here that there is no willfull turn toward “isolationism” does not mean that Blair is “clueless”. I wrote in his defense.

    2. Ampontan on the other hand writes-off Blair unfairly in my opinion, while himself contributing almost nothing original to the topic. To me, his writing reads like somebody who mainly gets off on the rush of trashing others’ work. Your characterization of his attack as merely an innocent critique on professionalism is disingenuous. Ampontan was flat-out rude and insulting to Blair.

    3. Am I being as insulting to Ampotan as I find Ampotan himself to be? YES! Do I think he deserves it? YES!

    When I found out what Global Post is attempting, I went to their site thinking about possibly paying for a full membership. I liked their thinking that, as a member, I would be thought of as almost one of the editorial staff. What a daring and unique concept. I took almost personal offense to see such a bright startup of a company being so callously insulted by Ampontan. He could have been constructively critical, but instead made an ego trip out of pissing all over these guys’ efforts. I have a soft spot for people who take risks and make things happen, and a major peeve against people who criticize such people.

    Time for me to sign off I think.

    I have read some of your other posts, and actually you do make some respectable points…

  69. mac said

    ampontan,

    do you want to suspend the “no personal attacks” rule so that I can tell this guy what a prick he is being?

    I mean … darling … ignore the issues, for God’s sake ignore any scale of differences, poo-poo the typos and try turn the attention elsewhere.

    “Style verus substance” … that is soooo 1980s without even the hint of irony that a true patische or revival might carry.

    Then he goes on to write how he’d love to spend the rest of his early AM continuing to be a prick … and even offer you psychotherapeutic support whilst doing it.

    Frankly, there is only one kind of language good enough for such a circumstance.

  70. Nat Nopma said

    Now we’re having fun!

  71. M-Bone said

    Nat, so you think that Global Post is great. That’s fine. That, however, has nothing to do with the lack of evidence in Blair’s article.

    You also think that Blair is correct in his assertions, provide some opinions of your own, and admit that those assertions are based on a gut feeling, not on evidence or research. That is fine. That, however, has nothing to do with the lack of evidence in Blair’s article.

    This, however, is Web 2.0. Any person can put whatever they want online. It is up to their audiences to call them on sloppiness. This is what is being done with Blair.

    Since when did it become “normal” for journalists to assert that a shift has taken place but provide no evidence on what things were like before? Since when did an anecdote about video rentals in the 1980s replace the need for rental stats? Do-it-yourself journalism has massive potential. I support it as well. What I don’t support is the scrapping of journalistic standards and the most basic rules of evidence.

    “I can’t speak for Mr. Blair, but you won’t find ME out in the libraries of Japan gathering data on any of this.”

    The problem is that Mr. Blair didn’t do this either and we have called him on it. Leaving out the stats that Aceface mentions (and you have chosen to ignore) suggests that Blair’s article was poorly researched. These stats are easily Googled by anyone with Japanese skills in 3 minutes. So Blair is either irresponsible in omitting them or does not have the Japanese skills to present a detailed analysis. Either way, the result was a bad piece of journalism.

    I even raised the issue above that his ONE real Japanese informant for the piece has A – a vested interest in making Japan seem insular to promote his “international” uni and B – is at an institution that has a terrible reputation for ethical lapses and discrimination against foreign staff.

    Seriously, Web 2.0 does not work unless informed members of the public call this next wave of journalists on their lack of information or incompetence.

  72. Nat Nopma said

    You know what, M-Bone? I completely respect everything you have just written. I see all of your points.

    As far as I can tell, yours is a perfectly presented argument, written clearly and efficiently, free of ego-driven personal insults. There is not a single point you have stated that I can argue against. Consider me persuaded.

    If this had been your blog all along, I suppose I never would have dropped-in to express any written objections.

    On that note however, I think you will be able to understand better than anyone else here how very different your approach is from Ampontan’s at top.

    Your earlier post wrote off all of my points in a single stroke, much as Ampontan’s comments write off Blair as an entirely clueless journalist. However, I think that you are probably among those here who can comprehend how I can on the one hand be open to your arguments while at the same time be sickened by Ampontan’s.

    Just my own opinion here, but I think the comment that has been left on the Global Post website under Blair’s article is unnecessarily rude. It is lacking in class. The result I think is that both this blog and Mr. Blair simultaneosly look bad. I think an effort at a do-over there would be worth the time and trouble.

    Because, what if Gavin Blair is just a very young guy working in a fragile and underfunded startup, still finding his way as a journalist? Or even if he’s a veteran at it? What would have been the best way for your points and those of Ampontan to have been communicated? Could it have all been said in a constructive way, with a genuine goal of improving journalistic quality, win-win?

    As far as I can tell, until somebody finally responded to my assault with an actually useful and rational position, this had been mostly about the fun of working up a self-righteous froth for its own sake, unleashing it on some guy Ampontan will never need to meet in-person and look in the eye.

    Ampontan could do the right thing and change this from a personal attack on Blair to instead helpful and contructive feedback and guidance.

    Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to compose such a good post.

  73. M-Bone said

    “Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to compose such a good post.”

    ‘welcome. But still, I can understand why Ampontan was pissed off. Blair really does have a lot of explaining to do – not just for the lack of journalistic standards and research, but for what seems like an assumption, bizarre to the point of being offensive, that Japanese should be listening to more foreign pop music and watching more Hollywood movies.

    I read the end of his article as making fun of the English abilities of Japanese. Meanwhile, I see that he uses sources like an English-speaking hack at AIU and presents no evidence that he can even do a quick Japanese language Google of his own – otherwise he could have those rental stats or better. This makes Blair seem like a pretty parochial character – exactly what he is accusing Japan of.

    In 25 seconds of Googling, I found the video rental stats for 2007 (2008 not yet released)-

    Foreign films – 29.8%
    Animation (includes Disney and Pixar) – 24.2%
    Overseas Dramas – 20.1%
    Japanese Movies – 14.8%
    Japanese Dramas – 6.1%
    Sports, etc. – 5%

    Overseas Dramas rate increased a whopping 66% from 2006-2007. COMBINED, Japanese films and dramas only slightly edge them out.

    Not only is Blair completely off base, he is missing the real trend, the INCREASE in the popularity of foreign media lately, and is instead making up a DECREASE. This is completely irresponsible and justifies Ampontan’s tone in my mind. To not present easily available evidence and argue the exact opposite of what it shows is just flat out bad.

    In the end, however, feelings about Ampontan’s tone are subjective and we will just have to agree to disagree on this point.

  74. Aceface said

    “Short of that, there is no law that I am breaking by stating my thoughts here in whatever manner I please. How YOU became the guy who decides what I am allowed to type is completely beyond me.”

    1)I don’t decide who type what,or what to be left on the comment section.Ampontan does.

    2)You are accusation is mainly revolving around the supposed ad hominem from one writer to another.Which is exactly what you are doing in your previous posts to Ampontan.Something I found highly hypocratic.

    “Japan isn’t turning isolationist,but Blair isn’t clueless”

    Well,I don’t know why you want to connect your personal issue and agenda on this specific article written by Mr.Blair,but the fact remains the article itself is about “Japanese turning isolationist”and you are not only trying to reach this topic from completely different angle but also blow the whole debate into different universe.

    “Global Post,a noble institution”.

    I’m sorry to have myself insulting the church you are about to attend.
    But put it blantantly,if one writer can’t logically connect one phenomenon with another in 800 words.S/he shouldn’t be writing on the issue.It takes more than a deadline and punchline to make a journalistic works.

    And I also want to remind you that Dick Chenney had a big picture too.He just didn’t have the right information and right analysis and it turns out to be everything was wrong.But he never admits that and that’s why the whole hell break loose.Not saying you are one of them.but I just see a disturbing symptom and couldn’t resist the analogy.Anti-intellectualism walking with the outfit of thinking man.

    One thing I agree with you about is that late night talk show hosts more or less help detoxificating negative influence of Paris Hilton showered to the American nationhood.
    But why depend on one celebrity to fight another?And why do you need half dozens of David Lettermans and Conan O’briens for such tasks?

    It all tells me that you can’t fight a fire with another fire.

  75. ampontan said

    Says Nat:

    When I found out what Global Post is attempting, I went to their site thinking about possibly paying for a full membership. I liked their thinking that, as a member, I would be thought of as almost one of the editorial staff. I took almost personal offense to see such a bright startup of a company being so callously insulted by Ampontan. He could have been constructively critical, but instead made an ego trip out of pissing all over these guys’ efforts. I have a soft spot for people who take risks and make things happen, and a major peeve against people who criticize such people.

    Yo, Nat! Everything you know is wrong! Here’s why:

    A person at Global Post sent me the link to the Blair article by e-mail thinking I’d be interested in it.

    I read it and wrote back, saying that my comments would be unflattering to the author.

    The GP source replied that they understood and had no problem with that at all.

    My post appeared, which they obviously read.

    Two days ago, the same person at Global Post sent me another article. They thought I might be interested in that one too.

    In other words, Global Post (a) had no problem with my piece at all and (b) wanted me to use more of their articles.

    So, Global Post wants me to continue and Gavin Blair wrote a note saying he didn’t mind. You’re the only one who’s bothered.

    In fact, you want me to apologize to Global Post for doing something that Global Post thanked me for.

    We are in an environment where serious newspaper-level journalism is economically threatened.

    And that threat to newspapers is entirely self-generated. They brought it on themselves, as anyone who has read American newspapers over the years knows without being told. (For example, the “leading” newspapers in the US didn’t bring up the recent problems with the Chas Freeman nomination at all until it was already scuttled.)

    If this article is what you consider serious journalism, I hope to contribute in any way I can to its early destruction. Perhaps it would be better for Global Post’s survival if they commissioned different articles.

  76. Nat Nopma said

    (Okay, I will read and reply to the above posts in order. First, reading M-Bone…)

    M-Bone,

    Again, if you had been the one to lay out this case to begin with, I would not have jumped into the fray.

    What we have here is the logical-level argument against Blair’s article, which you spell-out nicely, and then the separate emotional-level ranting which to me seems clearly to have been the true driver behind Ampontan’s writing at the top of this page. They are in my mind two separate discussions.

    I am persuaded on the logical level by what you have said about Blair’s article. I have no argument there, other than that I intuitively think Blair is onto something generally. I don’t think Japanese “should” watch more Hollywood movies or care more or less about the West, but I have perceived a “shift” of some kind. My two cents is that it is an insular trend driven by marketing, happening at the individual level, not willful isolationism in a nationalistic way. I appreciated someone trying to talk about this until-now undefined (real or imaginary) shift. I think further open-minded exploration into the topic would be a good thing, not a bad thing.

    So, I don’t think Blair is just 100% “clueless” and that that’s the end of it. I am convinced however that you are right about the journalistic quality of the article.

    As to how it was handled here though, that is where I am not persuaded at all.

    You are wiping that discussion aside when you say, “I can understand why Ampotan was pissed off.” You are saying his approach is justified. Such equating is the problem I have with all of this.

    This may be hard for some to understand, but “Japan” does not exist. It is not a thing. Nobody owns it. You cannot point to a person and say, “You are Japan”. Nor is it a piece of rock or plot of dirt or writing on a piece of paper.

    And the same is true of journalism. It is nothing more than a mental construct.

    It is not cool to take a vague, faceless issue and use it as justification to attack a real, live human being in a personal way. It is a cover for ego-driven jerkoff behavior. Ampontan risks nothing of his own here, and Blair has in reality (difficult as it may be for some to understand) not hurt or insulted a single human being. Yet, Blair the individual human being, has been trashed and written off as a journalist. Out of it, Ampontan gets his free shortcut to feelings of superiority.

    “There are dicks, there are assholes, and there are pussies.” The assholes are the ones who just shit all over everything, is I think how the rest of that quote goes.

    You, M-Bone, could send your post to Blair as you have stated it above, and nobody could fault you for it. I certainly would not. Your words could have a constructive impact. But you cannot say that Ampontan is justified to be “pissed off” as if his poor little feelings have been hurt. There is no justification for writing-off Blair, the human being with a name and a face, as being a 100% clueless journalist. Ampontan’s argument, if it can be called that, is ego masturbation at someone else’s expense, under a thin justification.

    And yes, I have thoroughly enjoyed exercising my own ego in attacking and insulting what I see as the source of unfair, bullying behavior.

    Stand up for individuals. But do not get yourself into a froth over “issues” and then start attacking people with names on that justification, because such behavior is phony.

    That is the line I am trying to draw. If this blog was about doing the right thing, the goal would have been to help Blair to see any shortcomings so that he can improve his work.

    Can you be persuaded to accept that argument, as I have accepted yours? You have not yourself crossed the line I am trying to draw, but you are saying that it is okay for Ampontan to do so. Is that really what you believe about how people and society should behave?

    If somebody has a problem with America, I don’t get crazy about it. I don’t give a turd. Most anti-American comments are so over the top anyway that they only reveal the ignorance of their source. If I were to be “offended” about what anybody says about “Americans” in a general sense, it would only reveal a kind of emotional immaturity on my part. And if I strike out about it in an attempt to do damage to an individual in return, then the villain is actually me.

    When I call today’s Japanese youth empty vessels ready to eat up the marketing slop that is fed to them, 😉 I am aware of how that argument falls apart when taken too seriously, beyond anything more than a dramatic image for the sake of making a point. I am pushing people’s buttons when I say something like that, but I am not attacking individuals, and there is a difference. No individual human beings need to get personally offended and outraged by my descriptions of “Japan’s youth”, unless they choose to cater to those enjoyable personal urges. Because, reasonable people understand that individuals are individuals, just as I understand that anti-American comments are not necessarily aimed at me, the human being who happens to be American.

    I think that future blog articles here would have more credibility if they stick to the issues, try where possible to help people improve, and avoid wholesale dismissal of individuals in ways that could harm their reputations or livelihood.

    I think Mr. Blair deserves an apology.

  77. Nat Nopma said

    (Now reading Aceface…)

    “2)You are accusation is mainly revolving around the supposed ad hominem from one writer to another.Which is exactly what you are doing in your previous posts to Ampontan.Something I found highly hypocratic.”

    I can understand your point here. The difference I see however is that I am standing up for an individual against a bully. Blair did not insult or bully anybody. Ampontan could have made his case without getting personal. I therefore am not at all conflicted over being personally rude to Ampontan (and I actually did not realize until just now that his personal name is displayed on this page, by the way). On the other hand, let’s face it, I am just exercising my own ego here too. I could have been entirely polite and restrained in my comments. But that just would not not have been as much fun for any of us. Anyhow, you will not find me ambushing individuals who themselves are not attacking others personally.

    “Well,I don’t know why you want to connect your personal issue and agenda on this specific article written by Mr.Blair,but the fact remains the article itself is about “Japanese turning isolationist”and you are not only trying to reach this topic from completely different angle but also blow the whole debate into different universe.”

    I guess you are saying that I should just leave so that the rest of you can get back to agreeing with each-other. That is probably excellent advice! LOL

    But it really isn’t possible for me to blow up your debate into a different universe. Respond to what you want to respond to. I do not control anyone here. And if you want to keep the issue framed in the one safe way that you already have it, nothing I say needs to threaten that.

    I think I have done an okay job of responding to specific issues, but I admit I have thrown-in further points of my own on top of all of that and have gone down some tangents. Just ignore it all. 😉

    “I’m sorry to have myself insulting the church you are about to attend.
    But put it blantantly,if one writer can’t logically connect one phenomenon with another in 800 words.S/he shouldn’t be writing on the issue.It takes more than a deadline and punchline to make a journalistic works.”

    If a person out there plying his craft and sticking his neck out to earn a living is not directly attacking innocent individuals, then I think that person deserves to receive criticism in a form that can serve constructive and positive ends, particularly if the comments could affect his job or stick with him permanently on the web. Your comment here reflects the view of an asshole rather than a person with useful contributions to make to society. I think there is hope that you can improve though, and probably the real Aceface in real life with a real name is not actually a bad guy. 😉 I just hope that you are never judged in your work by your own same standards here if you should one day make some mistakes or be in need of guidance.

    “One thing I agree with you about is that late night talk show hosts more or less help detoxificating negative influence of Paris Hilton showered to the American nationhood.
    But why depend on one celebrity to fight another?And why do you need half dozens of David Lettermans and Conan O’briens for such tasks?

    It all tells me that you can’t fight a fire with another fire.”

    I respect you for considering my points individually and agreeing when you see something of value. As for fighting fire with fire, I think that is an apt way to describe it, but I think it would be wrong to believe that there is a “solution”, and that therefore fire-with-fire doesn’t work, i.e., that it fails to “win” the fight ever. The best quality of man is his ambition, and it is also his worst. Just as there needs to be down in order for there to be an up, there forever needs to be opposing forces that hold society in check at what hopefully is the best possible equilibrium. The challenge is to keep it civil, never letting society turn too cold, polarized and hate-filled, even while encouraging debate and satire.

    “And I also want to remind you that Dick Chenney had a big picture too.He just didn’t have the right information and right analysis and it turns out to be everything was wrong.But he never admits that and that’s why the whole hell break loose.Not saying you are one of them.but I just see a disturbing symptom and couldn’t resist the analogy.Anti-intellectualism walking with the outfit of thinking man.”

    I agree almost entirely with the principles of Dick Cheney and the Bush administration, so I do not see what it is that he is supposed to be “admitting” to. The masses have become so childish and liberally bent that they do not understand how we achieved all of this peace and prosperity that we today take for granted — peace and prosperity which has so far been a brief and rare anamoly when viewed in the context of world history. Peace is not the normal state of human beings when left to their own devices, as amply demonstrated throughout our theads on this page. 😉 Japan’s war filled history is further testament, and no, I am not necessarily talking about WWII there. Today’s peace and prosperity was created in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where we showed the world that we would no longer tolerate the Hitlers and the Tojos. Terrorism however is the first serious security threat in 60-some years to nations of the world against which our nuclear deterrent is ineffective.

    I have never heard anybody offer a convincing solution to the terrorism problem better than “Fuck it, we’re going create democracy in the Middle East!” And it is no surprise that the rest of the world refuses to get their pretty little hands dirty.

    So we had to trump-up charges about WMD? Whatever. Only babarians ever get attacked by the US, and they always deserve it.

    Yet, principles are one thing, and execution is a whole different matter. God knows I wish that Bush and Cheney had made fewer mistakes in executing their vision. “Let’s end terrorism”, “Let’s bring democracy to the Middle East”, — these sorts of goals are no cakewalk. But if you think you have a better idea for maintaining world security, hey, let’s hear it. Until then, everybody else can take their Cheney-bashing and stuff it up their holes.

    And God help the good nations of the world if America ever falls from its position of superpower.

  78. Aceface said

    Well,All I can say is Mr.Blair and Global Post sure grabbed the right kind of readerships…..

  79. Nat Nopma said

    (Now reading Ampontan…)

    Regarding Global Post encouraging your comments, actually, I did not know about that. You are right, there is no reason for me to be defending Global Post as if they need my protection, especially if they say they are wanting more.

    When I think about it, I suppose any writing on the blogosphere is good publicity for a new news outlet, and perhaps news outlets are happier about controversy and criticism as a form of exposure than other companies might be. Furthermore, it might not bother them so much as an organization if any one member of their team is directly criticized. But, all of that is speculation on my part. Whatever the details, Global Post is not a helpless victim crying out for my help. None of my business at all maybe.

    As for Gavin Blair, well, c’mon, he is responding to you with a level of civility and respect that you yourself did not grant him. I would not be so quick to conclude that he’s perfectly okay with being written off as “clueless”.

    More than that, I have to stand by the larger principle here, that criticism against those who are not out bullying others should be done in a constructive way, and that what you did was more about ego than about helping Blair, or helping the Post, or helping Japan or journalism or society. The whole thing struck me as phony ego-exercising. It’s the kind of approach society could use a lot less of these days.

    I think that your blog could be just as interesting, and in fact much more credible and engaging, if you made it your own principle to not go overboard in attacking specific individuals who themselves are merely expressing a view on “issues”. Stick to the issue or the quality of the content, but leave the personal side out of it to the degree that you can.

    Regarding newspapers under threat, they are facing a situation which is not of their own doing. Sure, you could criticize them on the detail level at any given moment for this or that, or you could say that all big newsmedia just suck in general, but still, Chas Freeman has got little to with the ecomonics of the newspaper business.

    Newspapers traditionally have focused more time and resources on journalism than other outlets like news and radio. The Internet has disrupted the papers’ ability to afford such resources, due to economic problems like the loss of classified ad revenue to alternatives like Craigslist. Nobody has solved the issue of how to maintain that level of focus in the new Internet world for the longhaul.

    With apologies, this blog is not only NOT the answer to the problem, it is the very kind of result we should fear, should it be all that we are left with.

    Balance, focus on the issues, basic civility, journalistic skill and genuine writing talent — all out the window. And in its place, people who have never risked their time and money and careers in truly paying their dues to learn the craft, all thinking themselves and their “news” writing brilliant.

    But, now, having pretty thoroughly said everything I can say about every point that has been raised here these past 24 hours or so, I need to also say that I very definitely respect you for giving me free reign here. You in fact have not even written much to try to discourage me.

    I shall now return to the real world and let you guys carry on without my further meddling. 😉

    Thank you!

  80. M-Bone said

    Nat: I see the point about tone. However, Blair takes what I see as a disparaging tone toward Japan in the article in question, just as he took a disparaging tone toward Aso in an article a few weeks ago. (I also have no love for Aso but…) if Blair is going to to dish out, he should be able to take.

    It also rests in the nature of media. I think that one of the major causes of bad Japan writing – and this goes for “rising” nationalism as well – is that there is always a pressure on journalists to report negative shifts. If there aren’t any, they have to fuddle language or ignore evidence in order to make them up. They take an adviserial stance. Ampontan takes an adversarial stance toward Blair, that much is clair. However, blogs have gained popularity and a media place by orienting in this way. I don’t fault Ampontan for taking an adversarial stance toward the adversarial.

    You should also keep in mind that Ampontan (and Aceface and I) have been doing this for years now. The Japan reportage hasn’t been getting any better. A level of frustration can also be forgiven. Check out the exchange between Aceface and I on the “rising nationalism” thread. If two random guys posting here can see that Japan reporting is still stuck in the ideological ruts of the 1940s and 1950s, why can’t the journalists?

  81. Nat Nopma said

    “Ampontan (and Aceface and I) have been doing this for years now. The Japan reportage hasn’t been getting any better. A level of frustration can also be forgiven. ”

    I suspect you will always see it that way.

    I happen to think that Japan gets some of the best PR of any country in the Western media.

    Just don’t ask me for statistics… LOL

  82. M-Bone said

    “I suspect you will always see it that way.”

    No, we’re also very sensitive to good Japan reporting when it pops up.

    “I happen to think that Japan gets some of the best PR of any country in the Western media.”

    Did you miss the obsessive demonization over whaling in Australia, NZ, and the UK? Norway equivalent? No.

    The hyper-coverage of a few murders in Japan that have been compared to a “Yellow Peril” scare?
    http://www.japanfocus.org/-David-McNeill/2460

    The constant harping on issues of war memory? This has also been condemned by a very good author – http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20061202b2.html

    And NOBODY can explain why articles about rising nationalism and militarism in Japan appear at as fast (or faster) a pace as those about China.

    We’ve sat through “The Coming War With Japan”, “The Enigma of Japanese Power”, etc. It never ends.

  83. ampontan said

    Since M-Bone brought up the subject of the UK’s coverage of whaling, I thought it might be instructive to take another look at this. It generated 95 comments, even more than this post.

    Some of the best PR in the world?

  84. Nat Nopma said

    I am going to offer my surrender at this point. For sure I would be getting in over my head to take on the above. 😉

    I have very much appreciated the opportunity to express my views here, Ampontan. Thank you and good luck in your mission.

  85. mac said

    Nat Nopma,

    If you want to poo-poo me as ignorant, or any claim as unfounded, please be specific about which statements you mean instead of making broad, sweeping allegations.

    The internet is full of supercilious wannabe editors playing school monitors to other individuals. This technique of discrediting others is a very weak device.

    I am up for serious discussion. I just don’t think that the condescending position you have taken warrants anything more than rotten tomatoes of ridicule so far.

    Personally, I think we should get into cahoots with 2channel and create a cabal of web activists that melt any young journalist, blog or editor playing to the stalls with tired, old, well-worn racial prejudices and stereotypes about Japan based on insane WWII – and older – propaganda.

  86. Nat Nopma said

    And that, Mac, is the most vague and meaningless reply I have seen yet!

  87. mac said

    Are you a teenage girl by any chance?

    You sure as hell debate like one. And I apologise to every teenage girl there is in saying that because I know damned fine many of you are capable of better.

    Faced with invitation to get real and specific, what is the best the ‘backwards ampontan’ (Nat Nopma) can come up?

    If you are a teenage girl, let’s not fall out but change the subject and focus on your better virtues then.

    So … I am now ignorant, vague and meaningless … and Ampontan talentless, lack in craft and ‘paying no dues’ (to chose a few pointed barbs).

    May be it is Japanese expert Gavin Blair’s girlfriend weighing in to save him???

  88. Matt said

    Wow, you guys take this stuff *way* too seriously. As far as facts are concerned, I’m going to have to side with Nat Nopma. But as far as this *discussion* is concerned, well, it stopped being a civil discussion as soon as a dissenting opinion was presented.

    Mac: Calm the hell down.

  89. Aceface said

    “it stopped being a civil discussion as soon as a dissenting opinion was presented”

    Before we go pointing fingers at each others in John Woo style stand off,I would like to ask you what kind of”facts” and “discussion” are concerned here.

    What our opponents are practically saying
    a)”Japanese are blah blah blah,because they are Japanese.”kind of discourse must be accepted without any retort.

    b)And Blair has a point because he is afterall the foreign correspondent with his feet on the ground eventhough his conclusion is being constructed with absence of any basic stats/facts/logical explanations.

    c)Any criticism upon the venerable piece on Global Post is not only a threat to the freedom of speech,but a bullying to the young and ambitious writer in making,thus should be stopped.

    d)The owner of the blog must tolerate every single personal ad-hominem attacks inmposed by passer-by commenters who accuse him of being such which is in question.

  90. M-Bone said

    “As far as facts are concerned, I’m going to have to side with Nat Nopma.”

    Nat had the class to admit that he had no research and no facts. That’s very, very rare on the net.

  91. Nat Nopma said

    “Nat had the class to admit that he had no research and no facts. That’s very, very rare on the net.”

    Translated: “Look, pal, Nat don’t know shit, and neither do you!”

    (LOL Teasing, people…just teasing…)

  92. Nat Nopma said

    It is interesting that random passers-by approaching this thread fresh seem so far to be expressing mostly support for my views, while those opposing are only the core residents of this blog–apparently who have been here for a long time.

    I am not saying there is anything wrong or unfair, or that any of it proves a thing. It is just an observation.

    >> “…the ‘backwards ampontan’ (Nat Nopma)…”

    Yo Mac, there’s a dude on the line here from Mensa who says he’d like to speak with you.

    Meanwhile, to everyone else, as hard as I am finding it to actually pull myself away, surely this is the moment for winding down my comments and making my exit, now that the first of the truly hard-core screwballs is coming-on in full force. Mac will send this thread hereafter into a meaningless nosedive beyond any hope, as happens inevitably on the net. Even if he has a logical case to make, he certainly is not giving me anything I can respond to if I were to try doing so in earnest. So I just won’t respond…in earnest, that is.

    No doubt Mac fools many into thinking he’s brilliant. Hell, he’s probably the English teacher all the others look up to at the ECC Shizuoka branch. And the Shizuoka district is not so small, mind you.

    In Mac we have the true posterboy pseudo-intellectual. He can outdraw any gunslinger — which is why it’s such a darn shame that he’s only armed with a BB gun. Annoying as hell? You bet. But quite incapable of the firepower needed to even make random passers-by stop and pay serious attention.

    From everyone else, I have been kindly granted an earnest debate, no matter how roughly I dished it out, and no matter how opposed in our views. Everyone but Mac has exchanged views with me in the form of points and counterpoints, investing them with thought, so that I could have a ball to whack back across the court for a chance at possibly scoring a point.

    Mac however is unwilling to come at me straight-on for a genuine tussle — revealing his fear of the possibility of losing if he were to do so. Instead he’s just shooting spitwads from his intellectual hiding place down in the dark bushes, where I cannot see a single clear point at which to fire back.

    Of course, NOW he will come at me with something semi-concrete, but I cannot imagine anyone blaming me for saying, “Sorry, I’m outta here.” I think I have said as much as anyone could possibly ever care to hear from me at this point, and Mac has already explained twice in his own words that he is unwilling to come out of the bushes and engage.

    To at least show some effort though, I’ll do what I can here with what he has given me to work with.

    >> “Are you a teenage girl by any chance?”

    Mackie-poo-poo! Why don’t you come over this weekend, big boy? I’ll sit on your face and let you judge for yourself.

    >> “So … I am now ignorant, vague and meaningless.”

    That is not what I said, is it Mac? Go back and read the post.

    You are claiming that *I* am the one who debates like a girl, yet you twist logic for a fraudulent upperhand worse than girls I’ve given up on and dumped. Sheesh!

    With apologies, ladies and gentlemen, that is pretty much the entire Mac ‘N Nat show. Over-and-done with. Just a lot of spitballs bouncing off, making no mark and serving no purpose. Representative of Mac’s entire presence here.

    Moving on now, in “winding down my comments”, let me just say that if I were to retreat from all of my other points in posts above and completely surrender on the positions I have taken–let’s say out of fear of Mac’s intellectual firepower–there is just one opinion that I would insist on keeping.

    That opinion is this: The comment on the Global Post site under Blair’s article is not cool.

    It does not help your case.

    Any of you here could do better than that, without sacrificing your aims.

    It is that comment that sent me here, having made me think, “Jeez, what a jerkoff”.

    From that adolescent comment, I followed the link, looking to spill a little blood of a bully who deserved it.

    I do not know who actually wrote the comment, but it is clear that those I have been debating here collectively support it.

    But if any of you were to now write, “Nat, on just your one point here, I understand what you are saying, and I am persuaded”, then I would just have a lot of genuine respect for that.

    I would really be happy to just see something here like, “Sure, we don’t like Blair and we think he’s bad for Japan and bad for journalism, but we agree now that we do not need to stoop to childish personal insults to make our point.”

    So far, only M-Bone has been willing to send a little credit in my direction for that particular position. Still, it was not so much a “Yes”, but more of a, “Yes…but here’s all the other stuff that makes it quite okay”. It was not a reply that I would file into the folder labeled, “Persuasion Accomplished.

    It seems like a tiny detail after our having debated so much, but that’s why I am saying it is the one small kernel I insist on keeping.

    You need to look at the comment on the Global Post site as a standalone matter. It does not matter if Blair deserved it, or if Global Post invited it, or if I am a total asshole, or whatever.

    It’s not ultimately about me versus the rest of you. It’s about what you are really trying to accomplish, and how you are going about it. Are you trying to help people improve so that you might see a day when your goals are achieved? Or is it about hanging onto beloved grievances so that you have a token reason to get riled up and demonstrate superiority, all for a quick dopamine ego rush?

    M-Bone’s explanations in posts above stuck to issues and logic, without personal insults, and I think come-off looking respectable no matter what side one takes. The comment affixed to the bottom of Blair’s article however is just Beavis-and-Butthead level, and does not serve any genuinely constructive aim.

    If you start with someone’s comments on an “issue” having no targeted individual human victim(s), but then use that issue to justify a personally-insulting retaliation, then it is you who has become the real villain.

    The regulars on this blog should retract or denounce the “clueless” comment at the bottom of Blair’s article, if only to help keep your own aims respectable and effective.

  93. M-Bone said

    “opposing are only the core residents of this blog–apparently who have been here for a long time.”

    I just showed up like a day before you did!

  94. Bender said

    Can anyone summarize in one sentence what the hyped-up discussions here are about?

  95. Nat Nopma said

    M-Bone,

    Sorry, I misunderstood what you meant then when you said, “…Ampontan (and Aceface and I) have been doing this for years now.”

  96. ampontan said

    Not every one agrees with a few people who think I have gaps in my manhood and am a stupid, immature jerk-off who can’t write; one of the latter said the following: “The typical Japanese youth today is an empty vessel eager to be filled up by the media and advertisers with directions on how he/she should spend his/her time and money.”

  97. Matt said

    ^ How conveniently you omit context. You ought to try out as a political commentator. You’d do well.
    —————-
    I already do well, thank you.

    And context has nothing to do with the statements. They stand alone.

    – Amp

  98. Nat Nopma said

    > “Can anyone summarize in one sentence what the hyped-up discussions here are about?”

    When Ampontan sees a news article with elements he perceives as critical of Japan, he will hunt down the reporter with personal insults aiming to publicly discredit him and silence further debate.

    I believe that standing up for individuals is right, but ambushing people with names and faces self-righteously over mere “issues” is quite wrong, and possibly the most worrying trend in society today.

    Sorry, that was two sentences… Damn, now it’s three! Aw, damn, damn…!
    ————-
    Not only was it four sentences, it was only your side of the debate.

    – Amp

  99. Nat Nopma said

    Actually, I am going to retract these four words from the above: “and silence further debate”.

    I think what is being sacrificed is genial discussion on perceptions of Japanese insularity, so that only a few diehards like me can even make an attempt at it. But it is certainly wrong for me to go so far as to claim that Ampontan is silencing debate. If this isn’t debate, I don’t know what is. Sorry, my mistake.

    Still, there has been little interest in my assertion that marketing trends may in fact be leading to a type of ‘insularity’, therefore Blair is onto something, therefore his article has at least a kernel of merit. “We don’t want to hear about that!” seems to be the reply from the Ampontan faction. Or maybe I did a crappy job trying to explain the links that only I am perceiving. Oh well.

    And, none of the Amp faction here will say without qualification, “Personal insults against Blair were unnecessary and self-defeating.” M-Bone won’t say it, Amp won’t say it, and Ace won’t say it. You may as well attempt debate with the nationalists in the big black speaker trucks when they visit your neighborhood.
    —————-
    That last sentence is horseshit and you know it. Not everyone is going to agree with everything you say just because you say it.

    There are no personal criticisms in this piece. Plenty of professional criticisms, however. You’re the only one who took it personally.

    No one is interested in your assertion because few, if any, agree with you, the assertion was not supported, there were only subjective impressions, and you ignored the statistics other people provided and which Mr. Blair failed to find, or failed to look for to begin with.

    – Amp

  100. bender said

    I think Japan is being beset by insular-psyche ever more because of the deep global recession going on. Look at how many times economists, politicians, and journalists discuss about how “agriculture” might be a solution to the economic woes. Such baloney.

  101. Nat Nopma said

    “No one is interested in your assertion because few, if any, agree with you, the assertion was not supported, there were only subjective impressions, and you ignored the statistics other people provided and which Mr. Blair failed to find, or failed to look for to begin with.”

    And there you have it.

    Simple suggestions from passersby like me that, hey, there COULD be an ‘insular’ trend of SOME kind will NOT be entertained here.

    And reporters like Blair are “clueless”–and that’s final!

    What a jerkoff…! LOL

  102. Aceface said

    “Look at how many times economists, politicians, and journalists discuss about how “agriculture” might be a solution to the economic woes. Such baloney.”

    They are hoping to kill two birds with one stone.Sending youth to the aged agro-sector and lessens the unemployment caused in the manuafactring industry.
    There are some arguments related with food security that related with Chinese dumpling fiasco last year and certain ecological issue that relates with CO2 reduction.
    Some of the ideas are indeed baloney,but some may not.Anyway,labeling them all as “insular” is probably a mistake.

  103. bender said

    “Food security” is often a convenient phrase thrown in to further protect agriculture in Japan which is already too protected. The latest and most severe food crisis was when Japan was blockaded by the US and couldn’t import food from overseas- more than 60 years ago.

    One crazy article I read in the Nikkei last week was about how school lunches (kyu-shoku) are using breads made with rice flower due to the rise in the international wheat price- the food security stuff again-it was a bad crop in Australia last year- but then surprisingly, the article went on to say that bread made from rice flower is pricier than those made from wheat, so the government needs to subsidize them. Food security indeed. Another good example of baloney, or severe lack of brain juice? Maybe the assumption that Kokusan (domestic) food is better is literally eating up people’s minds.

  104. Aceface said

    Hey,Bender!

    You put the debate back on the right track.Send your piece to the Global Post.

  105. Aceface said

    Debate continue….

    Food security argument has little indication with “Japan going insular because of current deep global recession”.

    Because

    A)Japan imports 60% of food comsumption which is bigger than most of the nation in the world.And it’s INCREASING.
    http://www.syokuryo.jp/fan/japanese-problem.htmlB)It has ALWAYS been like this.

    B)This isn’t even new.The barriars,both mental and institutional were a lot higher during the days of heyday of Japan Inc.Not the recent phenomenon.

    C)The object of security strategy is to gain the guarantee that the obligation will be met.Not being the wise consumer in agri business,thus the current debate justified.

  106. Aceface said

    From Sankei.

    http://sankei.jp.msn.com/world/america/090328/amr0903281844013-n2.htm

    “収入は(1)ウェブ上の広告(2)特約を結んだ新聞社やテレビ・ラジオへの記事配信(3)契約先からの発注に基づく「オーダーメード」の記事配信-の3通りから挙げることを計画している。”

    ”もっとも実験的な試みである「オーダーメードの記事配信」は、4月初めから始まる。契約者が、まるで編集者のように「こんなネタを取り上げてくれ」「こんな狙いで記事を書いてくれ」と注文を出すことができるこのシステムは、年末まで2000人程度の契約者を見込む。”
    ——————————————————–

    とりあえず、「日本の若者はなぜ簡単にメディアに踊らされるのか?」をブレア記者に注文してみるか・・・。

  107. M-Bone said

    When you include animal feed, Japan’s self sufficiency in food is about 30%! Is being worried about that a sign of insularity or sanity?

  108. mac said

    No, I don’t teach English. Yes, I think Americans – and especially the American media and popular history – sucks very badly; and, yes, I worked there. Yes, I think the best way to handle a ridiculous article like the original is to pick on the Gavin Blairs of this world and, if necessary, rig their Google ratings.

    Nat, please skip the hysterics and get down to the specifics. Yes, all those accumulated insults were cleaned from your posts. Your involvement here is noted for its lack of hard evidence and its surfeit of “grammar and manners policing”.

    —-

    Whilst neither refuting JA’s interests nor seeking at all to canonize them (quite the contrary), food security is a very serious matter. Literally one element of any countries national defense strategy and obviously impacting on the environment.

    However, the Japanese figures are artificially skewed and the situation appears much worse than it is. The food industry is entirely distorted by the glut of cheap oil, but it wont last for ever. They are true … but only given the current Westernised diet.

    If Japan was to return to a traditional (Edo era?) diet, it would be far closer to being sustainable – even of rice. I can remember the figures right now. I posted about this earlier, and might even have included the references for them. From memory, they suggest Japan could be self-sufficient of rice even today.

    Personally, I cant eat the “humble” 4 cups of rice a day (a la Miyazawa Kenji), nevermind the farmers’ 5 cups but most of my food comes does come from a cycle ride away. Its no great punishment and this is one area where,

    a) the “insularity fact” is entirely contradicted, and
    b) it would be a very good thing

    [and, c) if given the choice of Japanese and Chinese food, I would join the other 99% of Japanese and buy Japanese …

    Although I did have this idea about invading Manchuria again and imposing Japanese standard agriculture according to JAS or JONA. It would be good for the local, good for Japan and a good example to the rest of Greater East Asia … we need to liberate Asia from the whiteman, his white bread and white milk and beef imports.].

    There is also an argument that “food insecurity” (dependency on other countries) is good because ensures good relationships. Personally, I don’t buy it. We need to building sustainable lifestyles where ever we are.

    I, personally, happen to believe that Japan is far more likely of creating sustainable societies and has far more scope for a very pleasant sustainable lifestyle than most Western countries. Mostly because the people are so fine and far less likely to tear each other apart given the slightest provocation.

  109. Bender said

    Uh, do you guys know why the WTO Doha round failed? Developing countries are actually demanding developed countries to liberalize agricultural trade, which means that they are demanding developed countries to lift their protectionist tariffs on farm products and stop subsidizing their agriculture. This stuff is NEVER reported by the Japanese media and academics don’t mention this, either, which I think is hypocritical.

    Japan can’t possibly self-sustain its 120 million strong population! Reverting back to the Edo period means that you’ll have famines every decade or so with life expectancy of 20 somewhat years. And I hate to repeat myself, but Japan starved when it was blockaded by America during WWII. Why doesn’t anyone mentions this? Remember that America had to ship tons of food to Japan to save its starving population during the occupation. Whether Japan likes it or not, no trade, no food security. And let’s not forget that there are lots of countries wanting to export food, but can’t because of the prevalent protectionism of developed countries- they are actually being forced to import food and lose their arable land, falling ever into deeper debts on the way.

  110. Bender said

    BTW, I think it has to do everything with the recession- it’s one of those protectionist policies that are favored by politicians and the mass. It’s getting worse, because people are not informed of how the WTO talks are going on every time. And the site you’ve linked to about food security is a government site- the same ministry that hunts whales. Don’t let these guys fool ya.

  111. Nat Nopma said

    >> “So … I am now ignorant, vague and meaningless.”

    I’ll ask it a second time: Is this what I said, Mac? Yes or no?

    (rolling my eyes in wonder… 😉 )

  112. mac said

    Try this headline:

    “Rabid Anti-Japanese Bigot Gavin Blair in August 2008 for J@pan Inc, proving his commitment as a long-term anti-Japanese propagandist conspiring to destroy Japanese interests abroad and foment racism based on WWII stereotypes.”

    In “The Sound of Silencing”, Gavin Blair claims a string of recent incidents suggests that freedom of expression in Japan is vulnerable, noting evidence of a lack of protection for the right to freedom of expression guaranteed in Japan’s Constitution. Gavin Blair is a FCCJ member.

    Freelancer “Gavin Blair came to Japan 10 years ago to study martial arts after graduating from Exeter University in the UK with an MSc in sport and exercise psychology. He began his writing career working part-time for a Japanese magazine in 2000. Blair now contributes news stories and predominantly business-related features to newspapers, websites and magazines in the UK, the U.S., Hong Kong, Ireland and Japan.”

    In “One-sided arguments” for the FCCJ, Gavin Blair lambast Japanese environmentalist for being so “full of righteous hot air” that they “add at least a degree or two to global warming”. Gavin Blair went on to refer to courtesy Japanese press agent’s as “flacks”, whilst boasting about “overseas junkets with hotels more luxurious than he could ever stay at when paying my himself”.

    Referring to Shintaro Ishihara and the “Hillary Clinton of Japan” and Mainichi Newspapers as “a nationalist group, whose raison d’etre is to stop Japanese-born “Koreans” from acquiring citizenship and voting rights”, Gavin Blair is also an expert on the Roppongi restaurant scene, Tokyo bars and criticizes Japanese journalists for being, “not very good at English”.

    However, Gavin Blair’s work is described by an organization often criticized for its patronizing attitudes towards Japanese, the FCCJ’s Steve McClure, as “fascinating”.

    Elsewhere, Gavin Blair calls the man widely credited as re-defining the way the music industry sells music, Steve Jobs, as “smug-looking” and Apple, Inc a “PC also-ran” computer company. Apple, inc has 35,000 employees worldwide, worldwide annual sales of US $32.48 billion and financial reserves of $8.7 billion.

    src: Google, http://www.e-fccj.com/files/n1s-200811.pdf etc.

    Now, to be honest, I don’t think Gavin Blair is a bad lad. I don’t believe in the headline I have composed … entirely. I actually agree with some of what he writes ( … even if his Anti-Apple diatribe was also factually weak and another sterotype. I suppose he is a Windows PC user).

    What I am doing here is to specifically illustrate the construction of cheap or bad journalism. How easy it is using sources. And to make an example of why journalists need more responsibility in these days of the internet. Japan is a cheap and easy whipping post with no one to defend it. Gavin Blair is a reflection on the FCCJ and foreign journalists in Japan.

    Ampontan on Gavin Blair journalist ranks number 3 on Google.

    BTW, is Nat Nopma, who apparently hopes I have some kind of interest in his buttocks, the one and the same Gavin Blair? Good heavens, I hope not.

  113. mac said

    Oh, it gets worse … he rights for the low brow, right wing, “Little Englander” newspaper called The Daily Express. The Daily Express is notorious for its diatribes on foreigners; http://www.express.co.uk/printer/view/89248/

    The first response is;

  114. mac said

    POORLY RESEARCHED ARTICLE

    Unemployment benefits and benefits for the poor are two separate things altogether in Japan. This article makes it seem like they are the same thing. It is fairly easy to get unemployment benefits – all one has to do is show up at Hello Work (jobseeker’s agency), prove one is unemployed and come back for monthly meetings. These benefits only last for a few months, after which time if you have no savings, no-one to support you, no hope of getting another job, you might need to apply for the benefits where you have to demonstrate you don’t possess luxury items.

  115. M-Bone said

    Mac, I think that you made a mistake there –

    “a nationalist group, whose raison d’etre is to stop Japanese-born “Koreans” from acquiring citizenship and voting rights”

    was not Mainichi, but another group that he describes in the article.

    I do admit, however, that it is easy to make the mistake as the piece seems to have editorial problems.

    In addition, the WaiWai business was, of course, taken from various Neomarxisme/Neojaponimse coverage/commentary that Aceface and I were involved in from the start, effectively borrowing from (and that’s charitable) Marxy without adding any of his nuance or any of the counterpoints that came out in the comments (a rather epic 100+ post debate). Is anybody surprised that Blair’s article appeared about a week and a half after Marxy’s “Members of a Nation State” piece? Don’t think that we don’t notice.

    If Gavin Blair is still reading this thread, I could understand if he thinks that some of this is harsh. I could also understand if he is worried that having this come up high in Google results could impact his ability to get work as a journalist (of course, outlets are probably just happy for extra hits and probably like this sort of thing….)

    But if Blair is still reading, I hope that he takes a look at the video stats that I pulled and thinks hard about putting evidence over snappy headlines in the future.

  116. mac said

    I think we are at number 3 on Google for Gavin Blair journalist, which I thought was likely search any editor might make. Controversy sells. Would the FCCJ: The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (http://www.e-fccj.com/) reading and discussing ampontan be a good thing? May be they should pay for him a trip up to talk to them?

    If you do a search on the FCCJ website for Gavin Blair, you will come up with all the articles I referenced.

    No worries, as I stated, what I wrote was a … DELIBERATE … attempt at an example of … BAD JOURNALISM . A pastiche made from Gavin Blair’s own articles in the way that such journalism creates such articles for money. I wont apologise for it. Describing Steve Jobs as “smug”? … The poor guy is dying of cancer or something right now.

    What will be interest to watch is if this FCCJ member will look at your evidence and request a correction or from his editor. (I don’t know the specific subject and so I have no position on it).

    The “POORLY RESEARCHED ARTICLE” comment was a headline from another a commentator commenting on another Gavin Blair article about Japan or the Japanese at the link given above.

    Does anyone know, is Gavin Blair, journalist, also Gavin J. Blair, journalist?

    Now, I have to get back to polishing the black van, and laundering my white gloves, I still have my plan to invade Manchuria to fulfill …

  117. Matt said

    Holy cow. Are you guys crazy? Do you have some kind of sick personal ambition to tear down Gavin Blair’s career? Blair is hardly the only journalist to have ever used edgy headlines. “Shooting fish in the barrel” doesn’t even BEGIN to approach the level to which this libel is, in a world of hundreds of thousands of journalists, completely ridiculous.

    Nothing he wrote is anti-Japanese. While his articles may not paint a perfect, rosy picture of Japan, NO good journalism does. The whole POINT of journalism is to point out possible problems that must be addressed.

    If you really want to tear people down, try going after *real* racists (i.e., at Stormfront or AsiaFinest).

  118. mac said

    Its not about the individual, it is about the issues. Hopefully the FCCJ will start to discuss it at least.

    I have seen those guys in actions and what I saw was pathetic. I know some of the problems they face but I was amazed at the best they could come up with.

    Nothing I posted is not already up on the internet, and I did not exactly put any effort into. I am strictly tabloid.

  119. Matt said

    What “issues”? For God’s sakes, Japan is already one of the most well-liked countries on the planet. If you’re concerned about America’s view of Japan, look no further than this:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/115258/Canada-Remains-Americans-Favored-Nation.aspx

    Methinks you need to sort out your priorities. Maybe start lobbying for Iran or North Korea instead. They could use it a hell of a lot more than Japan.

  120. Aceface said

    @Bender

    “This stuff is NEVER reported by the Japanese media and academics don’t mention this, either, which I think is hypocritical.”

    It did.I’m the living witness.The news articles were on my desk almost everyday.
    You can say that while Japan didn’t contribute in making deals at Doha,there were just too many interests that contradict the major players.Japan and Korea didn’t want abolish the tariff upon rice.EU and the U.S didn’t back down the subsidies to the agriculture sector.Emerging ecomomies like China and Brazil didn’t want to lower down the trade barriers upon industrial goods to the developed nations in return and India and Vietnam had suspended their rice exports for the sake of food security due to the rise of the domestic price.
    Japan can be partialy blamed for the failure,but then again,Japan alone couldn’t have save the deal anyway.

    “BTW, I think it has to do everything with the recession- it’s one of those protectionist policies that are favored by politicians and the mass.”

    But I don’t see no “rise of protectionist policies”in Japan.It’s the decline of export that is hurting Japan lately.Not the import.Americans talk about protectionism,which is understandable considering the current situatuion in auto industry.

    “And the site you’ve linked to about food security is a government site- the same ministry that hunts whales. Don’t let these guys fool ya.”

    But the stats don’t lie.And you know how I feel about whales.

  121. Gavin Blair said

    Dear all,

    Just back after a week away and surprised to see the debate still raging. Unfortunate that it descends into name-calling at some points but that’s human nature combined with the anonymity of the net, I guess.

    Have to answer a few points. The most important for me is being accused of being racist or anti-Japanese – it’s not true and I find it truly offensive. For the record: for all its faults, I love this country and have chosen to make it my home.

    MAC – I suppose you could defend your post as a parody of bad journalism and therefore use that as an excuse for the inaccuracies, but I think there are still a few points worth making –

    The ‘One-sided arguments’ article appears in what is a semi-humorous monthly column, but nevertheless – as for ‘lambast Japanese environmentalist for being so “full of righteous hot air”’ – they weren’t environmentalists and it was a joke. ‘flacks’ is not an insult just slang for PR people, journos are ‘hacks’, they are ‘flacks’. There was no ‘boasting’ of “overseas junkets” – it was supposed to be a joke.

    I never referred to “Shintaro Ishihara and the “Hillary Clinton of Japan” and Mainichi Newspapers as “a nationalist group, whose raison d’etre…..” – please reread.

    “criticizes Japanese journalists for being, “not very good at English”. – not a journalist but a leader of a nasty little right-wing group ‘whose raison d’etre…’ – please reread.

    As for this and Steve Jobs dying of cancer –
    “Elsewhere, Gavin Blair calls the man widely credited as re-defining the way the music industry sells music, Steve Jobs, as “smug-looking” and Apple, Inc a “PC also-ran”
    I never wrote this article, I’m really not sure what you’re referring to here.

    (“The Sound of Silencing” – that was indeed an article suggesting ‘freedom of expression in Japan is vulnerable’ and I stand by it.)

    M-BONE – you’ve essentially accused me of plagiarising someone’s work. I had never read the article you referred to and so I checked it out it. It was posted on July 24th and I filed my piece on July 14th.

    As for the FCCJ having this view or that view – it’s a collection of people with a wide variety of opinions – it has no collective consciousness.

    Gentlemen, I’m happy to engage in healthy debate, but please, no more insults or inaccuracies.

    Regards,
    Gavin J. Blair

  122. Aceface said

    “but please, no more insults or inaccuracies.”

    Indeed.

    But one crucial question.

    How accurate do you think our criticism upon your article on “Japan going isolationism”,Mr Blair?

  123. Nat Nopma said

    >>”How accurate do you think our criticism upon your article on “Japan going isolationism”,Mr Blair?”

    Don’t take the bait! Don’t do it..!

  124. M-Bone said

    “I had never read the article you referred to and so I checked it out it. It was posted on July 24th and I filed my piece on July 14th.”

    Well, your piece was published in early August it seems, so forgive the confusion. The July 14-early August period was for editing? If that editing process had included a look at what was published in that gap of time, this misunderstanding could have been avoided.

    This one about the bestiality restaurant that you mention in the start of your piece, however, was posted about a year earlier –
    http://neojaponisme.com/2007/09/20/how-the-world-learns-about-japan/

    And you didn’t happen to see any of the Neojaponisme commentary weeks before your deadline?
    http://meta.neojaponisme.com/2008/06/30/the-waiwai-bonfire/
    http://meta.neojaponisme.com/2008/06/22/byebye-to-waiwai/

    The fact of the matter is, that nobody is accusing you of plagiarising anything, but that your WaiWai piece did appear quite a bit after rather prolific debates on Neojaponisme and JapanProbe that make essentially the same points. The lack of citation or acknowledgement seems to be an example of a journalist not taking the blog/discussion discourse seriously. Not misconduct, but a little nod / shoutout never hurt anybody.

    In any case, I would like to hear if you think that the evidence in your looking inward piece is appropriate and why you did not include easily available statistics and why you omitted points like foreign marriage, foreigners in Japan, Japanese living overseas, that seem more relevant than say, the Oscar speech anecdotes.

  125. Aceface said

    Look.Nat.It’s just getting interesting here.
    If you are not debating nor possess capability in contributing,you can always stay out of this.

  126. bender said

    Aceface:
    Please take a visit to this site before you comment anything about trade:

    http://hei.unige.ch/~baldwin/ComparativeAdvantageMyths/CompAdvMythsFrame.html

  127. ampontan said

    Bender: I think I’d want to see a more diverse range of opinions than the NYT, Slate, and Krugman before I came to any conclusions.

  128. bender said

    Well, I’m not trying to convince you. BTW, Krugman’s essays on free trade has nothing to do with the liberal/neo-liberal split, if you actually read them. It’s plainly how comparative advantage is usually understood and misunderstood.

  129. Nat Nopma said

    >>”If you are not debating nor possess capability in contributing,you can always stay out of this.”

    Ace,

    The temptation here is to say, “Same to you!” LOL

    Seriously though, if it was only you here, I would have kept out of the way and not made my ‘bait’ remark. You at least have shown willingness to judge points individually on their merit (er, when you aren’t telling me to shut up, that is). You are probably the only person in this thread other than me who has repeatedly agreed with various points voiced by the ‘opposition’.

    Unfortunately, your allies are not this way. Your request to Mr. Blair is a trap, even if you yourself did not intend it that way.

    Mr. Blair could reply to your request with the most powerfully logical and statistically-supported argument in the history of man, and your allies would not budge a millimeter. Evidence of that abounds here. They have already forfeited any entitlement to further earnest debate, as they have shown that they will not give points to any position outside of their own. The game here is rigged.

    Therefore, contrary to your opinion, I think my ‘bait’ comment is the most relevant and important post on this entire page. It sums it all up.

    Mr. Blair can achieve nothing here in making any further comment. While I do not think M-Bone and Amp are the incarnation of evil, they have utterly closed their minds on the topic at hand. And Mac, well, he may as well be written-off as a hater and a flake who at best puts on only the superficial appearance of logical debate.

    In my opinion, the best thing Mr. Blair can do is to let his article and his generous posts above stand as they are, with no further comment.

    And that, Ace, is my ‘contribution’, thank you very much.

  130. M-Bone said

    “think M-Bone and Amp are the incarnation of evil, they have utterly closed their minds on the topic at hand.”

    Nat, evidence? There isn’t any in Blair’s article. There isn’t any in your posts.

    Japan isn’t an insular place because a Japanese professor at Tokyo University told me so. I met a Japanese student in Sydney who spoke English very well, so Japanese young people must have a strong international outlook! There are two Japanese in high positions at the UN, and they speak great English! So international. Oh, I saw some English novels at a library in Japan. I remember that there were not so many in the 1990s. Guess what? International!

    See, none of that is evidence that anyone should take seriously. We will be “closed minded” as long as this is what we are being presented with.

    Amp, M-Bone, Aceface side –
    Statistics indicating a dramatic increase in Japan’s foreign population, marriages between Japanese and foreigners, Japanese living in other countries; sales of foreign video games in Japan at all time high in 2007-2008; dramatic increase in popularity of foreign TV dramas, rentals of foreign films and dramas dramatically outperforming Japanese, all demonstrated with statistics.

    Why not throw in some new points – considerable increase in Japanese participation in UN operations, disaster relief, etc. since 2000. See 国際協力ガイド〈2009〉(print)

    Japan has established a leadership position in international cooperative green technology initiatives and efforts to cut emissions.

    Japan has dramatically expanded its coordination with the US military (do not like this) as well as military exchange with countries like China (since 2007).

    Huge increase in tourists (mainly Korean and Chinese) since 2005.

    Gavin Blair –
    The English videos used to be all out.

    Koyama Takashi says that Japanese are parochial (so they should all study at his scandal-ridden English-language university)

    Japan won its “first full Oscar for a non-animated movie” but pundits talked about a unique concept of death. (?)

    Hollywood box office not as high as it used to be.

    Japanese people like to listen to music with Japanese lyrics.

    “whether the nature of this “imported crisis” increases resentment at the world beyond its borders, remains to be seen.” So something that hasn’t happened yet MAY BE evidence of insularity. (?)

    “Even some of our young diplomats can’t really function in English properly, which means they can’t get information from abroad. It’s a dangerous trend.” Koyama again, but if he could get information from abroad, he would see that his university is a disgrace.

    Japanese academy award winners spoke bad English.

    and now for….

    Nat –
    Japanese young people are brainwashed by the media so they are insular. (Of course, even if you accept the brainwashing argument, you could argue, as Aceface did, that they are brainwashed to think that foreign countries are COOL).

    We have a difference in opinion, but the difference in meaningful evidence is even more striking.

    Just to throw you a bone, I’ll show you what evidence of Japanese insularity would REALLY look like –

    Surveys show the number of Japanese saying that they have positive feelings toward two biggest partners – China and America – have declined in the last year. (This is significant, but I wouldn’t argue that it is evidence of “insularity” as feelings toward South Korea, Australia, and India have gotten more positive).

    Japanese ODA has declined considerably in the past few years (very good reasons for this, but it can be used for the “insularity argument”).

    See, I’m so confident that my evidence is better that I’ll even pull an Ivan Karamazov and argue the other side too.

    I won’t argue that there are no insular trends in Japanese culutre. Compared to past decades, however, Japan’s outward looking orientation and deep international connections should be obvious. And if you do want to suggest, as I am willing to, a mixture of influences in a VERY pluarlistic society, you had better be prepared to use good ol’ fashioned evidence.

  131. Aceface said

    @Bender

    I’m already convinced that free trade is good and Japan needs imports.
    But the issue you were raising is whether Japan is insular regarding food import and my answer is no.
    And I also believe that we are living in the society and not in the market.Free trade is probably the fastest behicle to take everyone to the prosperity in theory,but in pracitice,not everyone can make it to the bus.Which means some visible hands are needed to help those who can’t enjoy the fruit in the free trade scheme,which may take the form of government subsidies.

    “Mr. Blair can achieve nothing here in making any further comment. ”

    He already achieved a lot more than he thinks by leaving these two matured comments.
    Why not the third one to end this little “Blair Witch Project”of ours?

  132. Nat Nopma said

    M-Bone,

    I did acknowledge your point on evidence earlier. I praised your explanation even. And, I realize data is the only thing you guys want to discuss. Nothing wrong there.

    At the same time though, I did not see the rule on this page that says, “All points must be made in accordance with one of the following pre-determined list of beliefs.”

    If I ask, “Would it not be more effective and civil to raise grievances about news articles without attempts at shaming the journalist and writing him off with the meaningless personal insult of, ‘clueless’?”, then what I get is:

    Mac: “Let him burn.”
    M-Bone: “I see your point, but A, B, C, and D makes it all okay”
    Ace: “Stop raising aspects we don’t want to consider.”
    Amp: “Blair loves it. I am the real victim here.”

    You see, I think reasonable people would all answer the question with a simple, “Yes, you are probably right.” In fact, other than the four of you, most others said as much already, either before or after I posed the point.

    So, if others see an issue here from an angle that’s different from the way you insist it must be framed, my experience is that that person’s view will not get a fair shake. To reasonable people I say, “Don’t take the bait.”

    Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!

  133. Aceface said

    Time to ban this chap,Bill.

  134. M-Bone said

    “In fact, other than the four of you, most others said as much already, either before or after I posed the point.”

    See, this is why I like evidence –

    Agree with Ampontan-gumi (4 strong already) –
    Tornadoes28, Big D, M. Sheffner, James A, Camphortree, Trapped in Brazil, Alexander, Jome

    Agree with Nat / Blair – Denske, Tony, Matt, Bender

    Bender is angry about agricultural protectionism, that’s fine (although I don’t agree). Denske was semi-coherent. Check out Tony’s web page. Matt tried to argue that it doesn’t matter if Japanese go out of their country more because if an American went the same distance, he would still be in America (or maybe Canada if he went north, but who’s counting?).

  135. Aceface said

    From Tony’s web page “Soul of Japan”.
    “On Mishima:Functional schizophrenic who was a five time Nobel Prize nominee, had a vision of a spiritual army that would protect the emperor, which could be symbolic in protecting old traditions and values. That through this army he would prove his love and loyalty to the Son of heaven through self disembowelment . This form of expression which was committed at the very height of Mishima’s physical beauty and maturity was considered the most dignified way to die.”

    “Beauty can come in many forms and can be expressed in many ways. But one must first define a sense of beauty first – mine is this blog. I too, like Mishima, focus on the ‘old way’ but through another form of expression, I also feel that many things in Japan should never change and should be protected at all cost. One thing that’s just as painful as the death of the Soul of a Nation that’s spinning out of control, is the impending doom of a culture fast becoming too Westernized for its own good.
    Mishima felt that at the very apex of ones beauty it is better to die then than to be remembered being in a state of decrepitude at ones death.”

    Reading this made me wonder why he’s in the opposition,however his web page being linked to Global Post might means something.

  136. Aceface said

    Related.This issue of FCCJ’s NO.1 Shimbun.

    http://www.e-fccj.com/node/4372

    (QUOTE)
    “It would of course be wonderful if reporters could be entirely clean conveyors of reality as they pick their way among the thousands of bits of reality for an 800-word story, were that not beyond human ability.

    In practice, most journalists will convey matters in tune with their editor’s expectations, their undiscovered bias, or the aims of smart, opportunistic “sources” who manage to seduce them.

    The problem likely comes down to the common misunderstanding that journalism can be something other than a craft and a trade; that it is a “profession” comparable to law or medicine, with its attendant rules. The current generation of active reporters is accustomed to reciting “professional journalism” principles as if they had Ten Commandments stature. These standards of neutrality have fostered a bureaucratization of American journalism that cannot be reversed.

    The proliferation of journalism schools and university journalism courses has helped this along. We are all familiar with the ritualistic incantations that are supposed to convey professionalism; the interminable quotes from people who either want or do not want to be identified (in itself taking a precious number of words from a 500-word report) and the required “two independent sources” for anything that is deemed to be extraordinary. As a correspondent reporting on many a major event in Asia for 20 years, I have often been astonished by the time and effort my American colleagues had to waste on finding people they could quote saying things they wanted to say themselves, instead of using their energy to try to get to intellectual grips with the situation at hand.

    The formulas of bureaucratic journalism have an indoctrinating effect. These often stand in the way of the journalist’s gaining his or her own understanding of the issues at stake. They often hinder development of a sense of proportion, and work against the development of political instincts and intuition that may quickly tell the journalist the gist of a situation. They create a culture of journalistic complacency with the recurring illusion of a job well-done as long as the rules have been followed. They foster an inability among journalists to see themselves and what they do in perspective.#
    (End QUOTE)

    Not bad.Wolfren san.

    And Is Gavin.J Blair whose writing on NHK,the same person I know about?

  137. M-Bone said

    Somebody at the FCCJ seems to think that mass murder is funny –

    http://www.e-fccj.com/node/4267

    NANKING INCIDENT – Urban-renewal scheme launched by the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanking, China, in 1937 to relieve serious overcrowding. Some Japanese commentators modestly claim the event didn’t occur and say the people of Nanking are too eager to credit their Japanese benefactors with implementation of the scheme.

    KYOTO – The formerly beautiful ancient capital of Japan, spared from destruction in World War II so that postwar property developers could prove their urban-redevelopment skills were on a par with those of the U.S. Army Air Force.

    This one, however, was hilarious –

    NAMPA – Picking up what’s going down.

  138. M-Bone said

    Before someone jumps on me and accuses me of not knowing who Ambrose Bierce was, just let me say that I know the Devil’s Dictionary well and the difference between it and the above is that it is actually funny and sometimes poignant –

    Compare Bierce on history to the Nanking and bombing ones above –

    History, n: an account mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

  139. Bender said

    One word of caution there: criticizing journalism is fine, and I agree that many reporters are substandard, but can we do without them? I don’t agree with that. “Net citizens” can’t take over- there’s no integrity at all. Better have journalists shape up rather than rely completely on blogs. Plus, you don’t have bloggers going into war zones and such, do you? I enjoy reading magazines and newspapers, and I think they’re OK (except for those you read in the toilet, as the old Japanese sayings goes).

  140. Aceface said

    I’m the last person to deny the mainstream journalism and embrace web 2.0.This maybe something I have different attitude with Ampontan,since I work in the industry and he isn’t.

    No one actually thinks blogs will take over the mainstream media,but what we have here at Ampontan is sort-of missile defense system in J-blogosphere.Itself isn’t a weapon of aggression.It only shoots down the misfire targeted to our interest.Something our opponents misunderstood.

  141. Georgie Pye said

    “you don’t have bloggers going into war zones and such, do you?”

    No they just live there.

    http://salampax.wordpress.com/

    Blair apparently lives in his particular “war zone” too. Shame he couldn’t haul his ass out of the local foreign correspondents’ (gaijin) bar.

    (But yes, your point about journalists shaping up is correct.)

  142. Nat Nopma said

    “Itself isn’t a weapon of aggression.It only shoots down the misfire targeted to our interest.”

    A self-delusion that I keep trying to point out.

    Shaming individuals over their views on issues is where the aggression *begins*.

    (Aceface’s reply: “Banish him!” LOL)

  143. Nat Nopma said

    “Nat, evidence? There isn’t any in Blair’s article. There isn’t any in your posts.”

    I acknowledge your win on the numbers of posters for each side. As for my key example in that post, all I can do is laugh at Ace’s response. Do you need more evidence than that? LOL

  144. ampontan said

    M-Bone, Bender, Aceface:

    The FCCJ crap doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. While I’m not in the industry, I did write for my university newspaper (One of my friends wound up winning a Pulitzer Prize for reporting). I’m familiar with a particular type of person who gravitates to that field. They’re often professional wiseguys and collegiate spitball artists. Some are those with unhappy childhoods filled with resentment because they can’t get dates and wind up going into journalism to fight for “social justice”, whatever that is. (I’ve heard this social justice business from the horses’ mouths in both the US and Japan.)

    Hit Google and insert “Mickey Kaus” and Journolist to read about a thread of messages on a formerly secret mailing list for left-of-center journalists attacking one of their own as racist.

    Which brings me to integrity. If the average journalist (or media outlet that employs them) had any, American journalism wouldn’t be dying a slow death today. They’re still in denial. They talk about how the “model” doesn’t work any more. (Subscriptions and ad revenue.) The problem is not the model–nobody wants to read what they’re writing anymore.

    When the AP White House correspondent in 2004 publicly states that his mission is to deny George Bush reelection, I don’t think we’re going to see any great swing to integrity any time soon.

    Not only does Georgie Pye talk about bloggers going into war zones, the mainline media who are there often can’t be bothered to do their jobs. Several years ago there was a large, noisy demonstration in Baghdad (several thousand people) protesting the tactics of the Iraqi terrorists, who of course killed mostly Iraqis. It passed by the hotel where the NYT correspondent was staying.

    Guess which American newspaper failed to cover it.

    And after the 2008 election, I think it will be impossible for me to ever associate American journalism with integrity again.

    Of course, whatever hope I had for it was hanging by a slender thread to begin with. After George Stephanopolous left the Clinton administration, he wrote a book that described Bill Clinton’s frothing, purple-faced temper tantrums that occurred several times a week. The American public was shocked.

    The British public wasn’t. Clinton regularly had such infantile outbursts, and the British press reported it. (I read it in the Economist.) No one in the U.S. did, and the reasons are obvious.

    Non-traditional journalists (those that do research) might not be much better on the whole, but they’ve already exposed traditional journalism for the Potemkin village it is.

    Just ask Dan Rather.

  145. Georgie Pye said

    Does anybody actually pay attention to the FCCJ? I do a fair bit of research on Japan’s relations with the outside world, and I don’t give a blind shit about them.

  146. Aceface said

    “I’m familiar with a particular type of person who gravitates to that field. They’re often professional wiseguys and collegiate spitball artists. Some are those with unhappy childhoods filled with resentment because they can’t get dates and wind up going into journalism to fight for “social justice”, whatever that is.”

    Whoa,did you hire a private investigator to look up my past life,Ampontan?
    Good thing is my brethrens chose journalism and laptops as the weapon of choice instead of blowing up the subway with plastic explosives.

    Point I’m trying to make is the foreign correpondents are easy compare to the journalists writing to the home audiences hence they have very little accoutability to the readers and editors who are basically clueless(the word gets you,huh? Nat?)about the country you are posted.
    You know what would happen to me if I write a piece on “How come the youth are so easily driven by the mass media” to the millions of Japanese public in the language they understand?
    The most imaginable responses would be “So how the heck were you doing when you were 19?”(and my answer would be “I was exactly as you are back then…”)or “I’m a memeber of the Friend of Darfur,but my boyfreind gave me a CORCH bag yesterday.Would that make me an airhead or concerend citizen or perhaps both,please answer?”.
    Foreign correspondents don’t have to worry about these things.Because they are pretty much like talking to the vacuum.

  147. Nat Nopma said

    >> “the word gets you,huh? Nat?”

    Not at all. In making a point, calling ‘journalists’ and ‘editors’ clueless is fine. Anybody can say anything about Japan or ‘Japanese youth’ or ‘the media’ or America, and absolutely nobody has any need or right to get personally offended about it.

    The problem only begins when someone CHOOSES to get offended over such nameless, faceless mere categories, decides to make a phony claim of “defending our interests”, and then uses that false ammunition to justify attacking an individual in a personal way. In that case, “clueless” becomes just a personal insult.

    Not that anyone in the Amp-gumi here will ever in a gazillion years acknowledge such a principle. Instead, it becomes all about me, and if you can write me off, then you need not acknowledge the principle.

    Nice tactic. Just don’t take the bait!

    *****
    1. Nothing in this post is even remotely personal. It’s criticism of his professional conduct and his “professional” product. The idea that it is personal is either a figment of your imagination, or you are unable to differentiate between the two. Or both.

    2. No one here is “offended” in the slightest.

    3. The only false ammunition being used around here is by you. Wait, scratch that. You don’t have any ammunition.

    4. If it’s become all about you, it’s because you chose to make it that way. At least Mr. Blair had a few lame examples for his arguments. You have none.

    5. I’m really starting to wonder if you actually did work for some media company in Japan, or if you’re just some ALT who didn’t enjoy the country repeating what someone else told you. The people who get so upset about the vapid consumerism of youth that they feel compelled to write about it are usually young themselves, often still at school.

    6. I understand this is going to unleash another torrent of Nat Nopma words, but how you choose to spend your time is your business. Have fun!

    – Amp

  148. Aceface said

    “In making a point, calling ‘journalists’ and ‘editors’ clueless is fine.”

    Good.

    “The problem only begins when someone CHOOSES to get offended over such nameless, faceless mere categories, decides to make a phony claim of “defending our interests”, and then uses that false ammunition to justify attacking an individual in a personal way.”

    Well,that’s more or less the debating is all about.Mr.Blair chose to put his idea not on his secret diary but a public domain we call “online magazine”.He has a opinion,we have opinions.

    And not intending to disrespect,but”Gavin Blair”is to me not the name of an individual,but a verb.It represents the “on-demand” instant Japan analysis so common lately.

    ” In that case, “clueless” becomes just a personal insult.”

    At least I raised some aspects for reconcideration in the form of data and stats.It is you who stop raising any aspects you don’t want to consider,Nat.

  149. M-Bone said

    “Anybody can say anything about Japan”

    I don’t know, man. “Journalists” aren’t a race/ethic group/culture.

  150. Nat Nopma said

    Ace, I did say very clearly that I agree with your (‘your’ meaning Amp-gumi collectively) points about data and journalistic quality. I completely granted the point.

    And, I said that there is the OTHER SEPARATE POINT OVER HERE that is also worthy of consideration. I appreciate you and M-Bone now responding to it. Thank you.

    I see your point, M-Bone. It is a good one. I still think that the more important line is the one that needs to be drawn between categories versus specific individuals. To re-state my example, although “American” in the regular sense is not an “ethnic group”, I would consider it to be just immature and unnecessary to get riled up every time somebody says something negative about Americans.

    No reasonable person takes seriously comments made about all 300 million Americans, or all XX million “Japanese youth”, or all journalists or editors. And even if someone says something insulting about any such group of people, the only respectable response is logic-based criticism. And on that point, I also said that I think M-Bone has stated the case very well.

    Aceface on the other hand is at least not calling for my execution this time, but his latest response is on very thin ice in my opinion.

    I think it should be the easiest thing in the world to say, “We don’t need to get personal and try to shame and discredit reporters. We aren’t going to do it that way anymore, because we now recognize the phony ego self-stroking that it entails.”

    M-Bone’s wording of the criticism in an earlier reply to me I think was entirely appropriate, focused on data as the problem, and did not at all get personal or insulting. I think it was way more powerful and respectable than naming the journalist as “clueless”.

    I just find it amazing that you guys won’t even budge a millimeter on the one simple little point about the line between people with names and faces versus faceless and nameless categories, issues or even, yes, races/nationalities.

    When you guys come around on that one little point, I will see the whole Amp-gumi in an entirely different light. Until then, it’s frankly like comedy to watch the constant diversions away from such a simple principle.

    Don’t attack individuals out of phony outrage over “issues”. Attack individuals for attacking individuals.

  151. Aceface said

    “Aceface on the other hand is at least not calling for my execution this time, but his latest response is on very thin ice in my opinion.”

    Well,I didn’t want my own hands stained with your blood,so I let Ampontan to do it instead.
    However that wasn’t what Ampontan(the very person you are attacking for attacking individuals)wanted,and there you have it.

    So you are sticking to this view that “Gavin Blair” is not a standing journalist with analysis that’s worth “debating”,but a fragile sensible thing that requires full and unlimited protection from any and every criticism on internet.

    OK,I can deal with that.But I still think Blair is wrong on the issue.

  152. Nat Nopma said

    “So you are sticking to this view that “Gavin Blair” is not a standing journalist with analysis that’s worth “debating”,but a fragile sensible thing that requires full and unlimited protection from any and every criticism on internet.”

    You can keep making a mockery of whatever I say to avoid the point. It does not change the principle I am explaining–one which the reasonable people of the world understand intuitively, and the truly hard-core assholes cannot bear to face.
    Did I say anybody is too fragile and sensitive? My one little point that I personally I trying to push here is not about Nat Nopma or Blair or video rental statistics. It is about right and wrong on an intuitive level.

    >> “not intending to disrespect,but”Gavin Blair”is to me not the name of an individual, but a verb”

    If that is really what you think, whether it is Blair or whomever, then you, sir, are truly a hopeless asshole.

    And that’s a noun.

    *********
    To repeat the rule for comments: No ad hominem directed against other commenters. This is unacceptable, it’s not debatable, and don’t try to weasel out of it by prefacing it with “If that is what you really think…”.

    Say what you like about me. I enjoy cleverness as well as anyone else and try to collect the good ones (see masthead), but few are as clever as they think.

    – Amp

  153. M-Bone said

    “says something negative about Americans.”

    But we are NOT getting riled up when people say negative things about Japan, just when they do it without suitable evidence.

    For example, there is no way that you could say that Ampontan’s stimulus list – in which he accuses the Japanese government of gross hypocrisy, incompetence, and corruption – is “positive” about Japan. It is, however, reasonably constructive criticism detailed with prolific examples and I agree with about 75% of it and don’t feel like letting the dogs out on that last 25%.

    “Until then, it’s frankly like comedy to watch the constant diversions away from such a simple principle.”

    But I think that it is safe to say that we feel that all of this talk about levels of niceness distracts from the issue of the original article’s “cluelessness”. There is certainly something in Blair’s description of the Oscar speeches in the original that made me think he wasn’t being so nice either. I mean, come on, its not like we said he eats babies or anything.

  154. Aceface said

    “It is about right and wrong on an intuitive level.”

    Same here too.But what I have in my mind is the “writing” of Blair,not the man himself.

    “And that’s a noun”

    Whatever.

  155. Nat Nopma said

    “its not like we said he eats babies or anything”

    I think Mac said that in #112, actually.

  156. Aceface said

    And this came folowing by Mac in #112
    “Now, to be honest, I don’t think Gavin Blair is a bad lad. I don’t believe in the headline I have composed … entirely. I actually agree with some of what he writes ( … even if his Anti-Apple diatribe was also factually weak and another sterotype. I suppose he is a Windows PC user).”

    And here we all agree,We don’t think Gavin Blair is a bad lad.

  157. Georgie Pye said

    So let’s see…

    Nat thinks that people who complain about the monolithic categorization of “Japan!” are just touchy and shouldn’t take things to seriously. While such generalizations leave out the subtleties of daily life in Japan, they are, after all, a way of understanding the whole (leaving aside the fact that M-Bone and Ace have proven Blair was blowing his “story” out his ass). However, talk about “journalists” as a shorthand for a large number of correspondents who “get it wrong” when writing about Japan and suddenly Nat throws a wobbly and calls you a bully.

    – And then categorizes everybody who disagrees with him as an amorphous “Amp-gumi”. Gee, for someone who takes offense at generalizations, you sure are a dab hand at throwing them about, Nat.

    You can’t have it both ways. Either it is okay to talk about individuals as part of a larger generalizable whole, or it isn’t. However, the problem with Blair’s article was not only that he generalized “Japan!” or “Youth in Japan!” or whatever. I think anybody writing on this page knows that such generalizations are sometimes necessary – or at least justified. The big problem is that Blair – as with many other journalists, just didn’t do the legwork to see if his own assumptions were wrong. And he is not alone.

    The next time Mr Blair is coming up with fashionable theories about Japaneseness in his gaijin bar of choice, he might like to take a deep long look inside himself. Or at least at Google.

  158. M-Bone said

    “Amp-gumi”

    I think I started that. It was, however, shorthand for Nat grouping us all together.

  159. ampontan said

    M-Bone: Feel free to call out the dogs on that post if you have the time or inclination. It’s hard to tell from this thread, but as a general rule, I try to follow the Brit tradition of letting people criticize my writing without rebuttal. Then again, an old girlfriend once told me that if you have a strict rule, but break it, then it probably was best to break it in that situation.

    Aceface doesn’t always agree with me, and I suspect if we met in person we might have other areas of disagreement. Bender tends to disagree more, but they’re both intelligent and they both know by now I’m not going to make a federal case out of it.

    Besides, you might bring up something I wasn’t aware of, or a logical flaw, which will make future posts better.

    I think I like gundan better than gumi. Or is that too militarist?

    One thing people might be missing. There’s a reason I have that Alistair Cooke quote on the right sidebar, third from the top.

  160. Georgie Pye said

    “Then again, an old girlfriend once told me that if you have a strict rule, but break it, then it probably was best to break it in that situation.”

    Did you sleep with her best friend?

  161. ampontan said

    GP: No, but I did sleep with her younger sister.

    Except that was three years before I started going out with the older sister, and it was how I met the older sister to begin with, and it was after the thing with the younger sister was over, so they were cool with it.

    It’s funny how life works sometimes. BTW, do you know of the Elvis song Little Sister? Later done by Ry Cooder?

    Little sister don’t kiss me once or twice
    Say it’s very nice
    And then you run
    Little sister don’t you do what your big sister done.

    In my case the sisters were reversed, but big sister and I got along much better.

  162. Nat Nopma said

    No, Georgie, you have my argument wrong. At this point in the thread however, who can blame you?

  163. Georgie Pye said

    Please feel free to correct me. If your only point was that Ampontan was ungentlemanly to claim that Blair was clueless, then might I suggest that;

    a) Blair should probably not be a journalist if he cannot handle the occasional brick-bat thrown in his direction; or,

    b) he should do a little bit more research before he pens his next piece.

  164. M-Bone said

    I think that “gundan” is fine, bit of a baseball feel, “gun” would be a bit fascist.

    “M-Bone: Feel free to call out the dogs on that post if you have the time or inclination.”

    On second though, I agree about 85% of what you said. I’ll save the dogs for something major. Anyway, we’re not going to settle the stimulus vs. more money for people debate here and we’ll have a whole lot more evidence as to what works in a few years….

  165. Aceface said

    “Aceface doesn’t always agree with me, and I suspect if we met in person we might have other areas of disagreement”

    Yeah,make sure you dress something on if we to meet in summer.

  166. ampontan said

    Aceface: By that, I meant other international topics not having to do with Japan…sorry if it came out weird.

  167. Aceface said

    And on the role of the journalism in the society….

    Anyway,you will be offered a free beer from me.

  168. Nat Nopma said

    Hey Georgie. I have made my point about five dozen times already. I acknowledge your opinion.

    At this point my only goal here is to get this thread up to 1000 comments. Then I will know I have accomplished something with my time. 😉

    Who wants another fight?

  169. Aceface said

    Maybe in another thread….

  170. mac said

    Sorry … or thankfully for some … I have been offline. And so deeply offended at the insults to my journalistic integrity (3 minutes on Google), that I must offer my defence. But, OK, it is probably time to move on and fry some bigger fish.

    I have to say I do like the idea of a Journo-Gumi behind Oyabun Ampontan-san picking off foreign correspondents one at a time … do you think we could get back up from the real guys? David Aldwinckle say good bye to that little finger of yours.

    But, there is one thing about calling someone you have never looked in the face smug, Gavin … but, journalistically, to use the same 4-lettered word twice in the same paragraph is symptomatic of PC-Fanboy Erectile Dysfunction Syndrome.

    Gavin Blair: I never wrote this article, I’m really not sure what you’re referring to here.

    From: http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/631/feature.asp “in 2004 beside a photo of a smug-looking Steve Jobs, the computer company’s chief executive. Jobs could afford to be smug”.

    Gavin Blair: I never referred to “Shintaro Ishihara and the “Hillary Clinton of Japan”

    From: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/diplomacy/090216/the-hillarys-asia “The Hillary of Japan: Shintaro Ishihara, by Gavin Blair TOKYO — The moribundity of Japanese politics throws up few figures that polarize opinion the way Hillary Clinton can”

    So, if he does not know his topic and he does not know his own work, what does he know … apart from the way to a free journalist’s junket and the next gaijin bar?

    I am afraid what alerted me were the articles for “our man in Tokyo” Gavin Blair for the The Daily Express. For those of you that don’t know, The Daily Express is an English right-wing, anti-European, anti-Asylum seekers tabloid that specializes in lurid stories about dirty immigrants, single mothers, Spitfire pilots and Hitler’s Jackboots. It would eat up “whacky, brutal or insular Japanese stories.

    Look, here’s a picture of a funny looking Japanese man with a story by ‘Gavin Blair in Tokyo’, http://www.dailyexpress.co.uk/posts/view/89248

    The Daily Express is owned by “Dirty Dick Desmond”, a Jewish pornographer who left school at 14 but made his money out of titles such as, Asian Babes, Skinny and Wriggly, Big and Black and Old Hags. “The Prince of Porn”, as he is known, is famous for describing the takeover of the Daily Telegraph, the UK’s most respectable broadsheet, by the German Axel Springer group as “giving into Nazis” and haranguing The Daily Telegraph’s chief executive and associates in fake German whilst imitating Adolf Hitler, before erupting in a tirade of four-letter words.

    His “services” to the British public included on-line shows allowing paying customers to ask models to perform live sex acts. I should say that criticism such as ours here will only increase Gavin’s kudos for the likes of the Daily Express. They’ll probably offer him a full-time job.

  171. ampontan said

    The “moribundity” of Japanese politics. Ha! Clueless is looking more like the most appropriate word choice every day.

    I’m about ready to bet that we’ll soon start seeing articles by Gavin Blair in the English-language press talking about the “new breed of Japanese politicians”

    And that Daily Express article is a trip. The first commenter’s headline: “POORLY RESEARCHED”!

    There’s also the line about those in Japan “lucky enough to have jobs”. The unemployment rate in Japan as of 30 March was 4.4%. In Dailyexpressland, it is 6.5%. In the U.S. it’s 8.1%. In the Euro Zone it’s 8.3%.

    Looks like the lucky ones are in Japan.

    The article is also unintentionally humorous–and pathetic–in its implicit acceptance of living perpetually on the dole as a respectable option.

  172. Aceface said

    “Looks like the lucky ones are in Japan.”

    I don’t know about that.

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/business/view/japans-jobless-benefit-conditions-worst-among-industrial-nations-ilo

    If I were to be unemployed,I would always choose Dailyexressland instead of the rising sun.

  173. mac said

    Ampontan:The article is also unintentionally humorous–and pathetic–in its implicit acceptance of living perpetually on the dole as a respectable option.

    An honorable and respect tradition in the more socialist Europe and a better one than selling your daughter or having to commit suicide. The theory goes that if no one claims the social welfare benefits, then the government would only reduced them … so it is better than someone does in case your class needs them later (a bit like Japanese government funding but without so much concrete being laid). On top of which, designated unemployment is a major component of the capitalist system that disempowered the workers and so some deal had to be offered to stop the proletariat revolting during period when they, or their industries, were made redundant. The Commie threat was always that much closer in Europia.

    Whereas general welfare existed since WWI in the UK, what the the post-war welfare increases in the system did was not so much help the poor but to help the relatively well-off; the middle classes. Removed from the curse of payments for health, education and comprehensive insurance, and they and their children had their creative and entrepreneurial potential freed up.

    If there is ever a question why Britain continued and even just still continues to be disproportionately influential, then it is due to what is left of that system.

    20 words or less response … no references given … don’t quote me on it.

  174. Bender said

    In Japan, it seems that unless you’re employed as a “seishain”, you’re naked and defenseless, an underclass. But I don’t think it’s the Koizmi reform that caused this, which seems to be the popular belief now. More possibly the long-term employment system coupled with the long recession that’s crowding out younger generations and women. Also, I suspect “seishain” at those big retails stores don’t get paid much, so it also depends on what company you’re hired at. I’d guess going to good schools and be skilled is one way to avoid this trap, but in the 90’s I remember that studying your ass off was shunned- if you were from Todai, you were automatically classified as some loser-geek.

  175. Aceface said

    Related.
    http://www.j-cast.com/2009/03/21037797.html

    “Todai=loser geek”.

    Yeah,but the loser-geek with golden seishain tickets,that’s for sure.
    “Hakens” are not exactly the creation of Koizumi reform,however Koizumi had allowed Japanese company to breath a lot easier with weak yen,and that had made many manufacutre companies like Toyota and Sony hiring hakens to fill their labor needs.

  176. Aceface said

    More.
    http://agora-web.jp/archives/542688.html

  177. Nat Nopma said

    Now if this isn’t evidence of Japan turning insular (not from ‘isolationism’, but media & marketing), then I don’t know what is:

    http://uk.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=101134

    Ha! I win.

  178. Aceface said

    No.You didn’t.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thong_(clothing)

    “Thongs were first called V-strings. Thongs are descended from the earliest form of clothing, the loincloth, which were generally a male’s clothing item, the reverse of modern Western culture where the thong has more acceptance among women. It is thought that they were originally developed to hide the male anatomy by primitive peoples. In modern clothing, thongs first became popular as a swimsuit style in Brazil. The origin of the word “thong” is from the Old English thwong, a flexible leather cord.[4] G-string or thong is probably the earliest form of clothing known to mankind; having originated in the warmer climates of sub-Saharan Africa where clothing was first worn nearly 75,000 years ago. Many tribal peoples, such as some of the Khoisan people of southern Africa, wore thongs for many centuries. Much like the 2000-plus-year-old Japanese fundoshi, these early garments were made with the male genitalia in mind.”

    “Going back in time”happens to be the universal trend in the world of women’s underwear,along with transgender dressing.

  179. ampontan said

    Ha! I win.

    You want me to see if I can dig up Suzie’s e-mail address for you? You seem to be about the same age.

  180. mac said

    Oh, get your head out of those womens’ underwear Aceface, and pass me the frying pan again …

    Here’s an audio clip on the “shocking” amount of “grey” crimes being committed by elderly Japanese including our Englishman in Kawasaki, Gavin Blair. The stock market has been fallen, “things are really bad in Japan” and the elderly and being squeezed … crimes rates are up 17 times.

    [audio src="http://www.worldvisionreport.org/media/audio/2009/0307/grey-crime-japan.mp3" /]

    And it comes complete with yet another patronizing picture of a funny looking Japanese person;

    http://www.worldvisionreport.org/Stories/Week-of-March-7-2009/Grey-Crime#

    Pensioner penitentiaries; an uncomfortable truth that is “not reported in Japanese media” … people are worried about youth crime but, in fact, its the opposite that is true … its the rampaging grannies that we should be all afraid of.

    Questioned about whether he actually managed to interview anyone involve Gavin sort of falters … “erm,that was more difficult”.

    Excuse my Alistair Cooke-like attempt at being trendy but sticking with the insular yout’ of Nipon (mon), I checked out the local “scene” in my one railway in-and-out Hicksville. In a single week I discovered; a Junglist event (Jungle music), an Irie Dancehall night (Reggae), a Rock tribe night, that my “ken” has its own Underground Drum’n’Bass scene, Noise music and some scratchy Superfly soul and funk.

    God, its true … the narrow minded Nips really have such a limited world. Not a bit of Kawachi ondo or naked, tattoo-ed Taiko in sight (see link above).

    I still cant understand a word they are singing about … but then I never could even when I was that age.

  181. Aceface said

    So they’re not singing Jonas Borthers,Mac?
    That’s the sign of the apocalypse….

  182. Nat Nopma said

    >>”You want me to see if I can dig up Suzie’s e-mail address for you? You seem to be about the same age.”

    Oh, where’s your sense of ladies underwear humor, Ampo?

    And, yes, if can pass me that address…

  183. Aceface said

    Even if the kids are only listening to “J-Pop”,I don’t find that automatically “insular”.
    Just as auto industry,music industry’s current trend is “hybrid”.

    Example:

    Amuro Namie:Okinawan singer with quarter Italian American back ground.

    Crystal Kay:Born from African American father and Zainichi Korean mother.

    Sawajiri Erika:Born from Japanese father and French Algerian mothe.

    Jero:African American with Japanese descent(Mother is half Japanese)

    Ito Yuna:Japanese father and Korean American mother.

    Hitoto You:Taiwanese father and Japanese mother.

    Kawamura Kaori:Japanese father and Russian mother。

    Aoyama Thelma:Grand father is Trinidad Tobagoan.

    Wents Eiji:German American father and Japanese mother

    BoA:Korean

    Tsutiya Anna:Amrican father and Japanese mother

    Monkey Majik:Canadian brothers band with two Japanese members

    Leah Dizon:American with French and Phillipino ancestry.

  184. Bender said

    Yeah,but the loser-geek with golden seishain tickets,that’s for sure.

  185. Nat Nopma said

    I want to know if Namie Amuro prefers panties or fundoshi.

  186. mac said

    OK. If the conversation has lowered itself to discussing women’s underwear, this thread is now official over … so, let us all end it in a happy song!

    The FCCJ Song – to the theme of “Alabama” (with apolgies to Bertolt Brecht)

    Show me the way to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club
    Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    Show me the way to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club
    Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    For if we don’t find the Foreign Correspondents’ Club
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you
    I tell you
    I tell you we must die

    Oh, for Pearl Harbor
    We now must say good-bye
    The Japs have lost their ardor
    But we must fight the war
    Oh, you know why.

    Show me the way to the pretty J-Pop star
    Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    Show me the way to the pretty J-Pop star
    Oh don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    For if we don’t find the pretty J-Pop star
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you
    I tell you
    I tell you we must die

    Oh, the fun of Japan News
    We now must say say good-bye
    We repeat our tired old views
    And the West cannot lose
    Oh, you know why.

    Show me the way to the whacky Jappy thing
    Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    Show me the way to the next whacky Jappy thing
    Oh, don’t ask why, oh, don’t ask why
    For if we don’t find the next whacky Jappy thing
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you
    I tell you
    I tell you we must die

    Oh, the bars of Roppongi
    We now must say good-bye
    We’ve lost our easy money
    And we must have our pay
    Oh, you know why.

  187. Aceface said

    Just one second.

    Can’t say exactly what Namie has on the issue,However Miyazawa Rie(born from a Dutch father and she DID sing back in the day)had made nationwide sensation with her in loincloth.

    http://img2.blogs.yahoo.co.jp/ybi/1/92/15/white_cat38111/folder/1166974/img_1166974_23615586_4?1236128968

  188. mac said

    Yet another example of why journalist like this ought to be restrained to a small island off Nagasaki …

    Its so typical. The BBC, Britain’s paid for by the tax payers news service, cannot even publish an article on cherry blossoms without somehow having to mention WWII and “convicted criminals” in the Yasukuni.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8002030.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7984860.stm

    This time, enjoying a nepotistic foot up the ladder from his father the famous BBC journalist and newsreader Michael Buerk, Roland Buerk, repeats the usual tired, worn out cliches. Normally the BBC correspondence for Bangladesh, which obviously equips Roland perfectly to report on Japan, perhaps half the problem with these boy writers is that they are rotated so often they all keep reporting the same ‘101 Japanese news story’ thinking they are doing something wonderful, daring and unique.

  189. Aceface said

    Veteran journalist(and one time president of FCCJ) asking questions on Japanese war-time wrong doings to…….Asada Mao!

  190. mac said

    It worth bearing in mind she was 16 years old at this point (April 2007).

    FCCJ events are, here; http://www.fccj.or.jp/event

    These guys really are twats … “get in there fast and traumatize them when they are young, huh?”.

  191. Aceface said

    Gebhard Hielscher is known for “Vee did everything,You did nothing”school.
    He’s only trying to show that he is “The Good German™”.

    And this is not a bad question.If Mao agrees Hielscher,he can use the quote in his next article to bash the Japanese goverment.
    If Mao screws up,still the quote can be used to bash the Japanese government and write another not-educating-the-truth-of-history-to-the-youth article.

  192. Aceface said

    http://son-of-gadfly-on-the-wall.blogspot.com/2009/05/online-nyt-edit-trips-up-saletan-on.html

  193. Aceface said

    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/japans-weird-unemployment-solution/?scp=3&sq=japan%20unemplo

  194. Bender said

    That freakonomics article is true, is it not?

  195. Aceface said

    Freakonomics;”Japan’s weird unemployment solution”.

    “When Japanese unemployment edged up to a three-year high of 4.4 percent in February, the government started looking for creative ways to lower it. One solution: get the unemployed out of the country by offering citizenship buyouts. The program applies only to unemployed people of Japanese descent who were born abroad but now live in Japan (they’re known as nikkei). The plan pays out-of-work nikkei $3,000 to return to their country of origin, not to return until economic conditions improve in Japan. Like other strange Japanese ideas, we don’t expect this one to spread to our shores any time soon.”

    First off.”citizen ship buyouts” is misleading.Hence they seems to have no clue about what the citizenship means.People who are considered as target in this programs are almost 100% Brazilians(with Japanese ancestry or spouse) who are here in Japan by working visas who can not speak any Japanese and somehow didn’t have any savings inspite of having more than 30000 dollars worth annual income(the rent is paid by their company)or so they say.
    And somehow,for beyond my understanding,Japanese government chose to use our taxes to buy them tickets back home if they wish,something that was never applied to Okinawans who got laid off in Aichi prefecture along with Brazilians.Strange indeed.

    Secondly,this is a practice already being exercised in EU.Not particullary “a strange Japanese idea”.

    For some unknown reasons,GoJ had thought it would be better off for these Brazilians to stay with their loved ones in the country of their origins and this is the project that is worthy of Japanese taxes and not Brazilians.
    Ofcourse we could always take all American way of solving the situation as leaving foreign workers be in the ghetto and have them lot there dreaming American dream.I’m sure there are tons of them in Chicago where the authors of Freakonomics resides.But we don’t.And NYT can’t have the slightest clue.

  196. Bender said

    Uh…does Germany send people of German decent back to Ukraine if they are unemployed?

    Also, I think it would be extremely inhumane to send legal American residents back to their homelands just because they’re unemployed. I’d be darned if any administration tries to do such a thing.

  197. ampontan said

    Aceface: Do you have a Japanese-language link explaining that offer?

    Bender: If it is an “offer” and not “forcing”, which makes it a voluntary program, why is that a problem?

    I think Germany might not be a good counterexample to use. Some ethnic Germans in Eastern Europe are given the “right of return”, even if they are not citizens, in a special case.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_of_Return#Germany

    And not all Germans like it, either.

  198. Bender said

    I gave Germany as an example because I knew that, and is comparable with Japan because Brazilians are being issued work visas because they are of Japanese decent. They are not your ordinary guest-workers, you know, so it’s kind of perverse if you treat them as Japanese when you invite them to work for you cheap, and tell them that they’re not Japanese when the job market dries up.

    If it’s an offer, it might not be a problem. Let’s see if it is. But they came because of unemployment in Brazil, no?

  199. Aceface said

    There you go.
    http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2009/03/h0331-10.html

    http://mytown.asahi.com/shizuoka/news.php?k_id=23000120904130001

    Related:
    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/04/28/japan-czech-republic-and-spain-foreigners-well-pay-you-to-leave/

  200. Aceface said

    Bender:
    Read what I write more carefully,Had I wrote GoJ is sending them back just because of they are unemployed?It is just AN OFFER they can refuse any time.

  201. bender said

    If you think that the Japanese government is doing the Brazilians a favor and there’s nothing dishonest or disturbing going on, that’s fine with me. Don’t blame me for not reading your comments.

    However, I don’t agree with you, and neither does the Asahi article nor “mutantfrog”. Apparently, freakononmics doesn’t, either.

    BTW, in Asahi’s article…

    「ブラジル人は甘えすぎ。国の制度が嫌なら使わなければいい。自分の生き方は自分の責任で決めるべきです」

    What a pathetic and unkind thing to say.

  202. Aceface said

    Asahi is polemic.MTF isn’t getting the full picture and Freakonomics is plain wrong.

    “What a pathetic and unkind thing to say.”

    Is it? Anyway,the words came from the Brazilian whom Asahi guy found at Hellowork,not some cruel xenophobic Japanese apart from your expectation.

  203. bender said

    The hell I can’t “read”. Do you argue by attacking other’s intellect?

    I sense a serious lack of empathy here. If Japan denies you reentry and offers you a ticket to go home- how would you feel? A “generous offer” or a message that you’re unwanted?

    There is no “truth”, just many faces to the same phenomenon. Freakonomics wasn’t making things up, or senselessly attacking Japan. It just had a different view from you, and a view that many happen to share.

  204. Aceface said

    Bender at #126.
    “Aceface:
    Please take a visit to this site before you comment anything about trade”

    “Freakonomics wasn’t making things up, or senselessly attacking Japan.”

    Ohhhh.Nooooo.Steven Levitt DOES.
    He may be a wiz-kid in the world of economics but I know more about sumo wrestling and Mongolians.

    http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/01/30/those-damn-mongolians-are-at-it-again/

  205. Aceface said

    “I sense a serious lack of empathy here. ”

    That’s because you don’t read well.

    And I detect serous lack of empathy in Japan reporting in English language in general.But that’s OK,because the problems are these reports are not fact based or highly biased.

    Let me take one example,who had cried over thousands of Japanese workers being laid off by Carlos “Cost Cutter”Ghosn(who happens to be a Brazilian national) of NISSAN CEO a decade ago?The whole foreign medias lionized him for doing smart move as the savior of the Japan INC.
    And when the TOYOTA CEO Watanabe starts laying -off Brazilian workers in his plants,which is basically the same thing as Ghosn did,this become humanitarian crisis?

    “If Japan denies you reentry and offers you a ticket to go home- how would you feel? A “generous offer” or a message that you’re unwanted?”

    As long as I know that other options available such as welfare and job-training and Japanese language education and seeking other jobs and this repatriation program as the last option,sure I don’t mind.I probably thank the generosity and curse the cold-hearted Brazilian consulate.(Anyway,the Brazilian vice-consulate said “they are in their mess,because they are in their mess.We didn’t put them in their mess.It’s called self responsibility”Word to word.I’m taking this out from my own memo.)

    Many Brazilians who don’t have money to buy tickets back home are notliterary broke.Many of them have houses in Brazil built with their money they rightly earned working in Japan.They just don’t want to sell them for the tickets which is rational,however,I don’t see the reason tax being used for that.If they are in Japan asking for welfare to sustain the living in Japan,that’s another story……

    “It just had a different view from you, and a view that many happen to share.”

    And where exactly these people get these information to hold such views in the first place?
    That’s the problem we’ve been talking on this thread.

  206. Bender said

    You’re attacking the messenger, period.

  207. Aceface said

    I’d say all the messengers delivering the wrong messages must be shot at once,period.

  208. tomojiro said

    Whoa, I’ve almost forgot that I have post at Freakonomics. And rereading my post, it is sad to recognize so much grammatical failure.

    英語は難しいね~。

  209. Bender said

    It’s also a matter of taste. Were you defending the comfort woman ad run by Japanese conservatives back in 2007?

  210. Aceface said

    What?

  211. mac said

    Just to kick this topic back to its original subject …

    We had a festival up at our local castle which I attended. Bear in mind, I don’t live on the mainland and where I am there is only a single railtrack on the way in and out.

    I only managed to befriend a few folks but the first I did had studied Swahili and toured Africa with her judo master teaching out there but who is going to Korea to live. The second spoke of her affinity to the gypsies of India where she had traveled widely and studied yoga and we shared memories of Spain and Morocco. She is not alone in the Indian connection, the guy that does the curries at our local farmer market spent over 10 years as a saddhu (naked India holyman) before returning to Japan. The guys next to us are currently living in an native American teepee whilst they build their eco-house in the hills somewhere.

    Yup … just your average, quiet, rainy weekend in an racist, inward and conservative country like Japan.

  212. Aceface said

    The latest.
    http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/wealthofnations/archive/2009/05/26/japan-the-world-s-worst-economy.aspx

  213. tomojiro said

    “The latest.”

    Men that was first class bulshit journalism.

    Since when is newsweek hiring junior highschool kids as reporters?

  214. ampontan said

    Thanks for the link, Aceface.

    One thing people may not be aware of from living in Japan is just how serious the trouble the old line media is in. The largest newspapers in town are going bankrupt and switching to Internet editions entirely. Some have switched to being free papers given away on the street, supported by advertising only (the Examiner, the original Hearst papers!). The New York Times is crumbling and gradually being bought up by a guy from Mexico. Newsweek is losing money and advertising, and roughly half its readers in the past 10 years.

    Newsweek is switching from news to opinions and trying to charge more for it as a result. Their model is The Economist, apparently.

    In other words, they’re desperate, so they’re trying to recreate themselves and go upscale.

    A lot of these publications, if they survive–a big if–will become something other than what they were known for in the past. The name may be the same, but that’s all. Expect some to disappear. Go down the toilet, if you will.

    Some of this is happening in Japan, but not so much. Mostly monthly magazines so far. (Ronza, Gendai, and Shokun! in the past year among the news magazines. Too bad about Gendai.)

  215. Bender said

    Japan is still America’s oldest and best ally in Asia, but will be interesting to see how these similarities and differences play out as the U.S. moves closer to China diplomatically.

    Ah..how is this?

    America is still Japan’s oldest and best ally in Asia, but will be interesting to see how these similarities and differences play out as Japan moves closer to China diplomatically.

    Interesting how some Americans (and Brits, Wallabies, etc.) like talking about them choosing China over Japan (which is arrogant in itself- do they choose Germany over France or Sweden? Smacks of racism if they think only one nation is worthy of befriending in E. Asia), but they seem to know nothing about the 2,000 year old relationship that Japan has with China. America just appeared out of nowhere 150 years ago. Now, Confucius said…

  216. Bender said

    Thanks, Bill.

    Confucius said, those who know, know how much they do not know…

  217. Bender said

    I like this, too:

    敬鬼神而遠之 可謂知矣

    Respecting gods and spirits are fine, but don’t be overwhelmed! This is wisdom.

    Indeed.

  218. Aceface said

    Yeah,but the whole point is why is this titled as “The world worst economy”?
    Japan lags behind Zimbabwe just because we lost in charm offensive to Chinese?
    After reading this,I wanted to recommend Gavin Blair to Pulitzer Prize committee for the best investigative journalism on East Asia.

  219. bender said

    Well, I can understand the title. There’s a serious problem about the Japanese economy and you can’t deny that no matter how much you might love the country. I agree with Krugman that the problem has to do with lack of demand (or I think this is what he is saying), instead of Japanese-style cronyism or whatever deficiencies in the system the media likes to point fingers at.

    If you have someone talk about too much rules to follow, tell them “welcome to the USA”. I mean that America has tons of rules, too, and the most obvious one for foreigners is immigration.

  220. James A said

    Newsweek is deliriously retarded. All they know how to do is arrange pretty pictures into full-page spreads, and write some words that don’t mean anything. It’s like a bit of parsley next to a mound of cotton candy on a platter. They’re the nadir of mass print news media. I know few people who actually read their crap and take it seriously.

  221. ampontan said

    I mean that America has tons of rules, too, and the most obvious one for foreigners is immigration.

    I would say “legal immigration”. You lived in California (as did I for seven years), and should know about how beneficial illegal immigration can be.

  222. bender said

    Yes…but now, there are troopers everywhere on the border, so it’s becoming difficult. Even coming in from Canada is risky.

  223. Aceface said

    @Bender
    1)It’s a she not he.

    2)Krugman is lost on Japan.He’s been saying something completly different(and contradicts)every time he speaks on Japan.

    3)Cronyism should be condemned for it’s own injustice.However it has little to do with strong economy.Look at China(or Japan in the past or any Asian tigers for that matter)

    4)If that’s the theme of the article than the title should be”How Japan can learn from American Way” or something.Anyway Newsweek does that almost every week for the past 17 years.

    5)The author try to mix three different things,Japan is not doing better than others in global economic crisis,she doesn’t like Japan as much as China,China should be focused as America’s main partner in China.But she used rhetric that America and China has more in common while Japan and America different.It buggs any Japanese since Americans always preach in the name of common universal value and at the same time criticize Japan for the lack of multiculturalism aspect within the society.Like Krugman,some people should learn to stop giving free advice to the society they don’t know very well or at least wait until they have more clear idea on what they are talking about.

  224. Aceface said

    “I would say “legal immigration”. You lived in California (as did I for seven years), and should know about how beneficial illegal immigration can be.”

    One thing I can’t understand about American argument on immigrants is there are very few indication of having floods of illegal immigrants from Mexico and it’s impact to the lower class Americans. They are beneficial because they lower the minimum wages and the biggest loser would be underlcass African Americans.Restricition on immigrants may work against economical benefits in charts,but it may be the gospel for underclass who needs to compete them.
    Anyway Japanese are reluctuant of having large scale of immigrants because it took more than a thousand years to turn this feudal society into middleclass dominating civic one and don’t see much merit in starting something all over again.

  225. ampontan said

    That comment of mine might have been unclear. What I meant to say was how beneficial illegal immigration can be for the illegal immigrants, though it does benefit others as well.

  226. Trapped in Brazil said

    The one who benefits more from illegal immigrants are their countries of origin, since the illegal immigrant sends money to their families (And a big share of that money is eaten by the IR).

    Now about the offer from japanese government to help brazilians immigrants, well, I must say that is mostly good, since the brazilian embassies only serves to prepare for President Lula (Sieg Heil) extensive travel charts. And what´s more, most of the nikkeis are extremely dumb, they have a fish like memory so they go to Japan praising the opportunity (Since that the legal monthly wage here is about US$ 200,00), and cursing Brazil. Some years later, they reutrn to Brazil, cursing Japan and singing praises about the Brazilian Eden, until 1 year or more, whem they are forced to remember why they went to Japan in the first place.

  227. Bender said

    like Krugman,some people should learn to stop giving free advice to the society they don’t know very well or at least wait until they have more clear idea on what they are talking about

    Making people shut up? Here cometh the agent of intolerance. That’s a big uh-oh.

    it took more than a thousand years to turn this feudal society into middleclass dominating civic one and don’t see much merit in starting something all over again.

    Now this is over-simplistic. Actually, it only took 15 or 20 years from 1945. Also, why can’t you think of immigration this way?: with immigration, the Japanese civilization actually expands, spreading into the hearts and minds of new peoples. Like Bill. Without immigration, Japan might face decline and stagnation.

  228. mac said

    Having lived prior in a part of a major city with one of the highest immigration ratios, I cannot recommend untrammeled immigration at all. There is only so much ‘color’, and I use that word metaphorically, that any civilization can absorb before losing its own identity and values. Sadly, it is invariably the more demanding, refined, ‘high end’, or hard bits to recover that die first; e.g. sense of civic responsibility, discipline, respect for others etc. Bad habits spread quicker.

    Of course, there is virtue to cross fertilization … but Japan wants to think far more deeply about the process than it is going to, and than the politically correct or the self-interested are going to allow. Inevitably, those that make such decisions are not those that live with the problems afterwards.

    In my opinion, its really only the drive of today’s economic system that “must” grow in order to appear strong and healthy that would drive it. Why should Japan follow such an unsustainable model? Other key factors such as sustainability, security and cultural values should take primacy over “hell bent growth” at all cost.

    Rather, I’d encourage it to run down its population, outsource everything, and aim instead to become the offshore, upmarket state … the Switzerland of Asia; secure, refined and appealing to those that already appreciate it for what it is … not just for its money. Where immigration is necessary, it should only be on very short-term, clear and distinct terms and conditions, e.g. ‘you come here … work this long … and leave … no buts … no fake marriages … no nothing’. Its sounds hard ass but the motivations are well meant. Too many mistakes have been made elsewhere (and before) to be copied again.

    Interesting folk are always going to find a way in anyway.

  229. Aceface said

    “Making people shut up?”

    Nope.I meant to say “think again”.

    “Actually, it only took 15 or 20 years from 1945.”

    You got me there.

    “Also, why can’t you think of immigration this way?: with immigration, the Japanese civilization actually expands, spreading into the hearts and minds of new peoples. Like Bill. Without immigration, Japan might face decline and stagnation.”

    Actually,I do.But then again,we are already facing decline and stagnation and under such circumstance,immigrants of large scale would have difficulty finding jobs.That’s the problem.

  230. Bender said

    America has lots of egg-heads immigrating, and causing brain-drain all over the world. I was thinking about this type of immigration.

  231. Aceface said

    Because America has finest higher education in the world.And it’s language,English,the global official language.Japan don’t have neither of such advantage.
    Sure.We want Japanese Silicon valley.But our employment practice and various difficulties to start business makes that difficult.Probably the best way is to allow foreign investors to buyout Japanese firm and let the foreign managers to hold executive position,like happened in NISSAN.

  232. Lana said

    “By the way, just why is Japan being singled out here? Ten percent of the population of India—90 million people–is capable of handling English, yet Bollywood movies and their musical spinoffs are much more popular there than Hollywood films and Western pop music.” -ampontan

    India can handle English. And the problem is that Japan cannot.

    “But you still have to admit the fact that Mr.Blair(and many foreigners who write on Japan)don’t give any chance to the Japanese to defend themselves.” -Aceface

    -Same issue. Many (non-travelled) Japanese people cannot defend themselves because the article is in English, and while they may be able to read it, they couldn’t piece together a coherent argument using English.

    Pretty much, they have succeeded for so long because they have done everything collectively. I live and work in Japan, and I see how little English is taken seriously. Many Japanese people I have met believe that they only need Japanese to survive and anything beyond is just a hassle. Most of the kids don’t understand why they have to learn English when their friends and family don’t speak any. In my opinion, the language they chose to learn shouldn’t have to be English. But it is difficult for a country/society to stay at the top of the economic chain by speaking a language that isn’t used hardly anywhere else to such a degree as English, Arabic, Chinese, etc. Learning another language is good for everyone, so their negative feelings towards languages is somewhat detrimental. I am not a ‘Yay America’ type person. There are so many issues with the lack of knowledge about international things in America that I could go on forever, but this article was about Japan. So, that is what I am talking about.

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