Japan from the inside out

Japan’s cosplaying Wiki-diplomats

Posted by ampontan on Friday, July 24, 2009

“Embassies are relics of the days of sailing ships. At one time, when you had no world communications, your ambassador spoke for you in that country. But now, with instantaneous communications around the world, the ambassador is primarily in a social role…I would recommend we redo the whole embassy structure.”
– Ross Perot

A FEW WEEKS AGO, reader NB sent this message with a link to a Kyodo article:

“(Here’s) an item I’d like to see in another post.
What do you think about the Japanese government harnessing stereotypes about the Japanese and using “pop culture diplomacy” to sell themselves around the world as “cute” manga-reading girls in short skirts?”

Here’s the story in brief: The Japanese Foreign Ministry has appointed three people known officially as “pop culture ambassadors”, but known casually as “ambassadors of kawaii (cute), to promote the Japanese version of chewing gum culture to people in other countries. Their appointments will last for one year.

L-R: Misako-chan, Yu-chan, Shizuka-chan

L-R: Misako-chan, Yu-chan, Shizuka-chan

The three are Aoki Misako, a model associated with the magazine Lolita Fashion; singer Kimura Yu, referred to by some Japanese as a “fashion leader” of the Harajuku type, and Fujioka Shizuka, an actress known for wearing designer brand high school uniforms.

Ms. Fujioka appeared at an event called the Kawaii Festa in Thailand in March to offer fashion advice. Japanese-language Internet sources suggest that the word kawaii has become part of the international lingua franca. A photo at the link shows a banner at the event bearing that title.

There’s a reason she was sent to Bangkok. School uniform-type outfits are now the rage among college-age Thai girls (the phrase “college women” no longer seems applicable) due in part to the local success of a Japanese anime.

The article quotes one young Thai (boy or girl, we don’t know; the article is sloppily written):

“You look very pretty in the uniform. I would like to go to Japan.”

The other two envoys to Global Youth Land visited the Japan Expo in Paris earlier this month, an event that drew more than 100,000 people last year. The Kyodo article says that cosplay has intrigued young people in France.

The word “cosplay” is derived from the Japanese kosupure, which itself is derived from the English words costume and play. It involves people dressing up in costumes as characters from comic books or animated cartoons and acting out those roles.

That the Japanese government has become involved with cosplay—there’s no better way to describe older females wearing high school uniforms as a fashion statement—should tell us that we’re dealing with a serious international phenomenon here.

Epictetus, a Greek philosopher born in the first century AD, had it right when he said, “Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent.” That applies just as well to a person’s taste in the arts and his leisure time activities. As long as they’re not breaking any laws, how people to choose to spend their time and money is their own business.

The fashion aspect is not so difficult to understand. Women have always spent an enormous amount of time trying to guild the lily in ways unfathomable to men ever since there have been men and women, so this is just the latest chapter in a never-ending story.

Cosplay is not as easy for me to get my head around, however, particularly when males are involved. I’m one of those people who think that most people on the planet wake up every morning, put on a costume, and pretend to be the person whose name is on their birth certificate. Is that not a form of cosplay to begin with? But then esoteric philosophy is not a theme of this website.

On the other hand, reader Mac commented:

“What “better” or more commonly used PR is there in the world than using beautiful young women?”

Eat as becomes you…

An international phenomenon

I’d rather the Japanese had chosen other parts of their culture to present to the rest of the world—festivals, for example—but might there be a bigger picture that we’re missing?

Plug the word kawaii in English into Google and you’ll get 7,590,000 hits. Do the same with cosplay and you’ll get 24,200,000. Yes, I was astonished too. When the words kawaii and cosplay are so commonly known and accepted around the world, I think it’s safe to say we’re dealing with a phenomenon that transcends Japan.

Is this infantile? Yes, and that’s inescapably the truth. (That’s not preaching, that’s just an observation.) But infantilism seems to be the default position for a lot of people these days. Witness the global reaction to the recent death of the mega-infantile, Michael Jackson. Should we be shocked that every American television network chose to cover his funeral live, or should we just note that that’s how the modern world turns?

A few years back, an American comedian joked that Michael Jackson was the only example he’d seen of a poor black boy growing up to become a wealthy white woman. Jacko was so wealthy, in fact, that he could go beyond clothes and cosplay for years with his pigmentation and facial structure.

But even that does not tell the full story of conditions in the United States. Try this account from a Detroit newspaper:

“Two hearses jammed with stuffed animals left in memory of Michael Jackson were given a two-car police escort Friday to the toys’ burial at Woodlawn Cemetery…
Detroit Police officials said they couldn’t say how much the escort cost the city. The escort guided the hearses from the funeral procession through red lights.
Mourners had left the toys and other items at the Motown Historical Museum on West Grand Boulevard since the singer died June 25 at age 50. After sitting outside for three weeks, the toys were not safe to donate to a children’s museum or orphanage, museum Chief Operating Officer Audley Smith said.
“We have now concluded that it would be best to bury the items,” Smith said Friday morning…
At the cemetery, the toys were unloaded from the tops of the hearses and from boxes inside the vehicles. They were then placed into clear plastic bags and then inside donated vaults…”

The article reports that senior officers of the Detroit police are upset, but let’s not forget that someone in authority thought it was a good idea and executed the decision to provide a police escort to a hearse full of ruined toys given to a dead 50-year-old child, including the right of way through stoplights, to be buried in a cemetery.

This infantile reordering of priorities might be closer to the norm than we think. Consider baseball fans in the United States, who have morphed into something their parents and grandparents would have found unimaginable. Once upon a time, the priority for young American men in their 20s was to get married and get started on a career and a family. Those who were interested in the sport followed it by watching the occasional game on TV (most games weren’t televised) or listening on the radio, reading accounts in the newspaper the next day, and perhaps attending a handful of games a year.

The harder guys joined softball leagues—fast pitch—for summertime recreation.

Now, however, there are websites for baseball fans in which they analyze every play of every game with game threads during the action, and argue about player evaluations using such newly created statistics as VORP and OPS+. Those evaluations not only include the players on the major league team, but also every last player on each of a team’s seven minor league affiliates, with occasional examinations of the players in the Dominican summer league. The U.S. major leagues hold their annual draft of amateur players in early June; these fans already began talking about the June 2010 draft before the June 2009 page was torn off the calendar. Many are members of fantasy leagues, in which they create their own teams from scratch and play simulated games on a computer. When the lads actually do attend a real baseball game to watch real players in real time, they often wear the jersey bearing their favorite player’s name and number and a team hat. Some even paint their bodies and faces.

Is that whole subculture not a type of cosplay too?

Perhaps it’s time to draw conclusions from these facts, and one of the conclusions we may safely draw is that society everywhere—Thailand, Tokyo, or Toronto—has become more infantile. To say that 40 is the new 20 is already a commonplace observation.

Since things are thus, who among us would dare single out young Japanese females as somehow being a goofy exception? Suddenly, a magazine named Lolita Fashion doesn’t seem all that strange any more.

There comes a point when you realize there are only two choices—either live it or live with it.

Foreign Ministry involvement

But there is one aspect to this whole business I do find inappropriate. To wit: I can understand that the private sector would be anxious to leverage the zeitgeist for national PR, or to boost tourism. It’s good for business, after all.

But why is the Foreign Ministry wasting its time and our money on this?

One of the Japanese-language links sent in by reader Ponta contained this explanation, though it sounds more like an excuse to me:

(These projects select) people to serve in PR roles for the country or a region…Today, with the spread of the Internet, anyone can express their opinion to the world. The ideas of the general citizen have a much greater impact on relations between two countries. Rather than improve relations between Japan and other countries by limiting discussions and contact to diplomats, it is important to further mutual understanding based on a mutual interest between citizens.

The same entry reminds us that the cartoon character Doraemon was designated an “anime cultural ambassador”, and in that role, the feature-length movies in which the cartoon character appeared were screened in 65 countries around the world in five languages.

While Ross Perot’s 1992 suggestion that the concept of diplomacy be reworked has been shown to be prescient despite the initial ridicule it received, even Mr. Perot might be astonished to see that less than a generation later, the conduct of relations among nations has degenerated into a kind of Wiki-diplomacy.

The goldbricks of international diplomacy

The only response to the infantilization of culture throughout the world might be to sigh and shrug the shoulders, but the Japanese foreign ministry, like its counterparts elsewhere, still has serious business to attend to.

Unfortunately, the Japanese equivalent of Foggy Bottom doesn’t seem to be doing much in the way of attending to those issues.

* When the Japanese government donated $11 million to restore the Mesopotamian marshlands in Iraq that Saddam Hussein had purposely drained, then-Prime Minister Koizumi asked the Foreign Ministry to conduct a survey of local residents. The ministry said it would take a year to complete.

Not wanting to wait that long, the government turned to the Self-Defense Forces already in Iraq and asked them. The SDF personnel conducted the survey in their spare time and finished in a week.

* The story of the five Japanese citizens forcibly abducted and finally returned by North Korea more than two decades later is fading from public memory, but it’s worth remembering that Pyeongyang at first allowed the abductees to return only temporarily. The abductees didn’t see it that way, however. After having been captured while minding their own business in their own country and held prisoner in another, it was natural that they wouldn’t want to go back.

Yet the people responsible in the Japanese Foreign Ministry were upset by their decision and publicly criticized it. They insisted that Japan throw its own innocent citizens into the hellhole once again. Their justification was that Japan had to uphold its part of the deal with a country that’s welshed on every important international agreement it’s signed during its existence–and who were holding those people unlawfully to begin with.

Could they have been more wrong? The five abductees stayed and their family members followed later, demonstrating yet again that the hard line does work in diplomacy, especially with tinhorn bullies.

* One capability the Foreign Ministry does have is setting public policy without conducting public debates about that policy. Try this from a recent article in a Canadian newspaper:

“A Japanese diplomat once told me that his assignment in Canada was to acquire lessons on the merits of multiculturalism in an effort to convince the Japanese people that, for them also, immigration will fix the problem of an aging society.”

“For them, also”? Immigration without assimilation has never fixed any problem anywhere, much less “the problem of an aging society”. The problem they’re really talking about is finding a tax source to fund the social welfare services for an aging society when the birthrate is far south of the replacement rate and isn’t going rise in the foreseeable future—particularly when those of prime breeding age are adult kiddies in a cosplay world.

As the article points out, however, even the Canadians are realizing that immigration isn’t a solution to that problem. The result of that policy, as the Europeans are also starting to understand, is that the problem will cease to exist because the country as they have known it will cease to exist. Japanese like to cite the proverb, go ni ireba, go ni shitagae (in other words, when in Rome, do as the Romans do) as the model for behavior when living overseas.

What the dwindling native European population is discovering, however, is that their Muslim immigrants aren’t in the least interested in go ni ireba. To them one part of Europe is a lost area of the ummah, the Community of Believers, that once was theirs. As for the rest, the immigrants’ fertility rates will eventually incorporate that into the ummah too, while the Europeans fade out by cosplaying everything except traditional family life.

One phrase some Japanese use in public debates is the charge that if a certain person is allowed to continue in office, or certain policies are maintained/not adopted, then kuni ga horobiru, or the country will cease to exist. Often the use of this phrase is language inflation of the same type used in debates in other countries, too.

Except in this case Japan’s foreign ministry has apparently decided on its own, without telling anyone else, that the country must adopt a policy by which it really will cease to exist.

Try this instead

While Mr. Perot might have had a point when he said that embassies are obsolete, the foreign service does have a role to play overseas by speaking up for its country. Japan’s foreign ministry, however, is too often tongue-tied instead of calmly but forcefully making the government’s case, whether the issue is Takeshima with South Korea, undersea natural gas rights with China, whaling with Australia, or the comfort women issue with the United States.

The point here is not about agreement or disagreement with any of those policies. Instead, Japan’s Foreign Ministry does little or nothing to promote the stated policies of its own government overseas–and that is their job. It chooses instead to cosplay as diplomats in international conferences using the obsolete postwar paradigm of presenting the country as a responsible international citizen reborn. Sign up for everything, pay for a lot of it, and smile and say nothing.

But since 1945, Japan has been a more responsible international citizen than any other country whose name could be drawn from a hat. It’s time for the Foreign Ministry to draw that conclusion and take the initiative to make that point abroad.

Instead, they spend their time promoting Misako-chan, Yu-chan, and Shizuka-chan as the face of their country to that part of the world inhabited by childish spirits in adult bodies.

When are they going to stop cosplaying the role of foreign service officers, knock off the Wiki-diplomacy, and speak for Japan in the world?

Or have they become so integrated in the global infantile culture that we should forgive them, for they know not what they do?


* The Canadian newspaper article is worth reading for several reasons, chiefly about how immigration won’t work. It also contains this classic bit of journalistic stupidity about Japan:

It’s true, for example, that by working insanely hard, the Japanese are able to maintain high productivity despite their low fertility rate. But a 17-hour work day in a Tokyo cubicle, where you feel guilty taking bathroom breaks, is hardly a family-friendly environment.

45 words, five mistakes resulting from sheer ignorance masquerading as knowledge.

* When I have occasion to mention Nakagawa Hidenao here, it’s usually in a positive light. But Mr. Nakagawa is one of the most prominent politicians to have taken a clear public stand in favor of large-scale immigration. We disagree. Perhaps I should start sending his office e-mails.

* Anyone is free to disagree with me about multiculturalism without assimilation, but I suggest to put your socks on first. I grew up in the United States speaking only English. My father’s father was born in what is now Belarus and was not a native speaker of English. My father’s mother was not exactly sure where she was born, but the family thinks it might have been that part of Romania held for a while by Russia. She too was not a native speaker of English. (She used to joke that she was Austrian; her birth certification said Austria-Hungary.)

Meanwhile, of my four great-grandparents on my mother’s side, one each came from Poland, Lithuania, and Bremen, Germany; none of them were native speakers of English either. The fourth, however, was from Canada.

I’ve been multicultural since I was zero years old.

* Why is it that Japan shies away from talking about the Europeans’ experience with immigration? Not all the immigrants are going to come from China or The Philippines. As someone who occasionally is called by public prosecutors in Saga and Fukuoka to interpret for illegal aliens apprehended when they were being smuggled into the country, I know that many of the people who would come to take the unskilled labor jobs will be from Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, statistics show that the most frequently used name now for male babies born in Brussels–the capital of the EU–is Mohammed. And in Amsterdam. And in Rotterdam. It’s creeping up the charts in England. Sometime around 2025, there will be more Muslim babies born in The Netherlands every year than ethnic Dutch. Huis ten Bosch in Sasebo might wind up being more Dutch than the European country in another generation.

It’s time for the Japanese media to start talking about this openly.

Thanks to NB and Ponta for the links!

38 Responses to “Japan’s cosplaying Wiki-diplomats”

  1. mac said

    Whew …

    Given the surfeit of girl bands and para-para dancers in Japan – all of whom I reckon must be paid sweatshop labor rates during their 15 minutes of paid employment never mind fame – I should imagine 3 totty ambassadors are costing Japan very little. Less in total than one Tokyo University educated diplomat.

    In a sense, they are representative of the large part of Japanese culture which is not just infantilized but also hyper-feminized. And I am talking of men here just as much as women.

    It cracks me up when I cannot find a single teashop but I can find 20 hairdressers. Sometimes the only way to be served a proper cup of coffee that does not come out of a tin is to go and pay for a haircut! If Starbuck would only offer head and shoulder massages they would be onto a winner …

    There is an interesting symmetry, that might make for someone’s dissertation between the hyper-feminized Japan and the hyper-masculinized Korean neighbours. Japan appears to me to be crippled both within, and from without, at having to struggle NOT to appear assertive or nationalist in any way whatsoever.

    It should brag loudest in the world about its 64 years of peace.

    I recently blew out a business relationship for suggesting a Japanese organization used a reference to the Japanese flag in part of its representation because the members were too freak out by the thought there might be nationalist connotations. It was a national organization that want to look outwards.

    The funny thing is, I showed them kitsch “Rising Sun” cosplay handbags, and Hinamaru-ed Ralph Lauren polos as evidence at how loved and respected Japan was overseas; and how little WWII associations it held any more. It did not work. They traumatized and wanted someone/something far more limp, obscure or kawaii.

    I mean, look at the official Yokoso! tourism drive of last year … who noticed … who got it at all?

    As for festivals … the world has no idea. And I don’t want to tell them because I don’t want them here. Lumpen behemoths gumming the place up with their rucsacks, dirty clothing, looking a mess and forgetting to take their shoes off in temples … or the shellsuits and 50+ haircuts mob. Japan? Nah, its too difficult, too expensive, they are all fascists and hate foreigners … stay at home and watch it on the TB folks. And they concreted over all the beaches.

    Some of the traditional events that go on out here are almost as wild as India. Kind of like Hinduism but without all the flies, human excrement and haggling over prices. If I wanted to seek enlightenment, I would want to do it in Japan. And the food wont give you the runs.

    As for the supra-nationally decided policies of immigration … it will destroy Japan. It has already started. Token Muslims are being moved up from Indonesia to test the waters and given special dispensations like “mosque rooms” and kitchens in institutions. I wonder if I invent my own religion, can I have similar privileges … or it is just for foreigners that the Japanese are potentially afraid of?

    I do wish they would chose incomers from similarly developed, or at least secular and pluralistic societies, but fear they will make the same mistakes as many Western countries have done. And how to find young Thais, Chinese and Filipinos that are not hookers?

    Anyone that does want to come in ought to made to through a 6 month bootcamp quarantine before they are released into the wild … and not allowed to breed!!! For the “tourists”, we can build a mock-Japan on an island next to Kansai airport with all they need to see and do.

    Seriously, there is nothing here to do folks. The people are all crazy and none of the girls in school girl outfits want to sleep with you.

  2. bender said

    Japan isn’t the destiny spot for Middle-westerners.

  3. bender said

    And I equally find the rise of neo-Nazism/white-supremacists in Europe/Russia alarming.

  4. mac said

    Its gets worse … Miss Universe Japan 2009.

    OK Miss Universe was always bad but this is not just obscene but sickly tacky. The saddest thing is, it was done by a Japanese designer, Yoshiyuki. The “half-kimono” is made out of deer and cow leather.


  5. ampontan said

    And I equally find the rise of neo-Nazism/white-supremacists in Europe/Russia alarming.

    Equally? It’s entirely a reaction to Muslim immigration and the refusal/disallowance of assimilation, and it was entirely predictable. The old flag of England had the Cross of St. George, but that had to be taken down from Heathrow Airport because it reminds too many English residents of the Crusades…entire towns in England occupied by Middle Eastern/Asian folks who believe in genital mutilation for women, cousin marriage, and honor killings…and insist on carrying out the practice…and have the multiculti death spiral left defending them for it.

    You choose values, and if they’re worth having, you defend them, and insist everyone else live by them while they’re in that place, too. Rather than the other way around, which is the real problem.

    Then again, neo-Nazism is not much of a threat when places like Malmo Sweden, large parts of France, are now 30% Muslim, with people who might as well be living in Asia for as much of Western civilization as they’ve adopted.

    Think of Fortuyn in the Netherlands, wasn’t it? He was a social democrat in political terms, but anti-immigration. For that, the media called him “far-right”. He was openly gay and walked around with his live-in boyfriend. During a political campaign, he debated on TV with a local Dutch imam, and goaded him into admitting that when Muslims got more power, they would execute him.

    You know, by having a brick wall fall on him. Like it says in the Koran.

    Japan really needs to talk about this, and not leave things up to the d*ckless wonders in the foreign ministry.

  6. bender said

    Well, if you think the gentlemen/ladies at the Foreign Ministry have real power in Japan, you’re mistaken. They never had. I wouldn’t really worry about them foiling the country.

    Anyways, as a non-white, I don’t like the looks of those people who scream “white power” and beat up “black people”. Gives me the creeps all over.

    I see racial/ethnic hatred spreading around the globe. Hope it won’t engulf the human race into chaos and turmoil the likes of which was seen at the end of the Roman Empire.

  7. ampontan said

    Some flawed assumptions there:

    1. Racial/ethnic hatred isn’t spreading around the globe. It’s always been there because it never went away. If anything, it’s lessening now.

    2. Here’s the important one for Japan. If you and I are sitting in Starbuck’s having a coffee, and a crazy Muslim terrorist walks by, sees me, and decides this is his chance to take out a non-believer, pulls out a gun, his finger slips, and kills YOU instead of ME…

    He’s just as happy because he still thinks he’s going to heaven and meet the 47 virgins.

    Why? Because he killed a heathen: you. Doesn’t make any difference how non-white or non-Jewish you are; in his worldview, you’re just as much a subhuman to be killed as I am.

    And he’ll be able to quote specific verses from the Koran to back up that belief.

    When they go to a non-Muslim country, there’s none of this go ni ireba stuff. They think they’re superior to you by right of religion even when they’re in the minority in someone else’s country. They will expect you to adapt to them, rather than the other way around.

    60% of Muslims in Britain want to live by shari’a law. Get caught stealing? Your hand gets cut off. Woman gets raped? She’s executed for being a slut unless four non-related men testify it wasn’t her fault.

    Unfortunately, Japan as a country is not psychologically ready to deal with that today.

    Allow large-scale Muslim immigration to Japan, and be prepared to get the creeps 24/7.

  8. St John said

    Not too sure where you get your figures from about British Muslims. The vast majority here are very peaceful and don’t bother me. Of course there’s always a lunatic fringe and they’re a big worry. But quite honestly I’m far more troubled by the millions of white trash we have here. Most don’t have the brains they were born with and get their ‘facts’ from the front page headlines of the gutter press. These people are never slow to blame their stupidity on others, usually people who are ‘different’. Their only talent is to breed like rabbits..

    Being married to a Japanese woman and having visited the country several times in recent years it seems to be so much more civilised than Britain. But I don’t think that can all be put down to immigration in Britain.

  9. ampontan said

    Thanks for pointing out my error, SJ, the figure is 40% for support of shari’a as of three years ago.

    “Last night, Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July attacks, said the findings were “alarming”. He added: “Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society.””

    But there you go. It is not the obligation of mainstream British society to adapt for the sake of Muslims. It is the other way around if people choose to emigrate.

    Then there’s this:

    “What I had not noticed, and people like Hanif Kureishi and Nadim Aslam and to an extent, Salman Rushdie, started pointing out, was that the guys who are coming from the backlands of Pakistan, these people would be considered very, very reactionary in Pakistan. And they’re colonizing cities in Yorkshire. A lot of people captured in arms, with Taliban uniforms in Pakistan, have Bradford Yorkshire accents. We didn’t see this coming, and it’s not going to get any better. It’s getting certainly much worse. And you think it’s not going to happen to you? Think again, it is going to happen to you. And it will be smuggled through your customs by multiculturalism.”

    Christopher Hitchens speaking; by you he means the Canadians.

    Except that he already may have been too late:

    Seven women died by drowning near Kingston, Canada in the past few weeks (two incidents). People now suspect honor killings.

  10. mac said

    Wow … we are a long way from cosplay. There I was just about to slip into my French Maid costume, and here you are off talking about migration and fascist reactionaries.

    If Japan ‘has’ to accept Indonesian immigrants which, let’s face it, will be the first wave of Islamic invaders, then it really ought to put its thinking cap on and target the Hindu Balinese. On one hand, in that Archipelago, you have some of the more rigid, corrupt and racist Islamic tendencies. On the other, some of the most impoverished and abused.

    Looking at that nation, this leads to such facts as nearly all of the prostitutes, most of the crime and all of the terrorism on Bali coming from neighboring Islamic islands, and vast amount of wealth being subverted into the pockets of a ruthless few. Do they really think that the cash based, open and trusting society of Japan will not become the target of all that?

    In 2007, 100,000 Islamists, ideologically close to Jihadists, met in Jakarta to discuss the idea of a Caliphate (single state for Muslims) across the entire Muslim areas of Southeast Asia. Most of the audience were actually veil wearing women but the apparently “peaceful” revolution is being seen by some merely as a strategic move in a greater political play. Of course, it is Islamic women “carers” who are being moved in first to Japan.

    Secular (not racist) France is about the only authority tackling these people head on.

    Bill, you are absolutely correct to state Japan, as a people, are not psychologically ready to deal with this either on an individual or collective level. But let’s not exclude Judaism from being yet another Middle Eastern supremacist religion which believes in genital mutilation (albeit for boys). Regardless of how non-Christian or non-Middle Eastern you are, in its world view, the Japanese is just as much a subhuman goyim … for which it too is able to quote specific verses from the Torah to back up that belief.

    I state this NOT to make an anti-semite statement. NOR EVEN an anti- ‘Judeo-Christo-Islamic’ statement. But merely to point out that all of the most serious madness that is driving the world today to destruction … has nothing to do with Japanese culture. It is emanating from these constantly head butting and arm wrestling mono-theistic Middle Eastern desert tribal cultures and their despot of a God.

    What adds to this bizarre tapestry though is, on one hand, Japan’s inarguably direct relationship, and empowerment via training and so on, of what became the Indonesian Independence movement which threw out the Whiteman Protestants from Indonesia when the British sought to restore the Dutch; and, on the other, Japan’s admirably good relationships with Judaism, even during the dark hours of WWII.

    (Example, history reminds us that the Yeshiva of Mir was the only European institute of Talmudic learning to remain intact throughout the Holocaust thanks to the Japanese. The Yeshiva not only received “clearance” from the government but its members regarded as “holy idealists”. The mainly Middle Eastern Jews were protected in Harbin, Shanghai, Kobe and elsewhere.)

    The Jewish population of Japan is only about 1,000 and these are surely not the same people of the ‘London, Washington, Tel Aviv versus Mecca’ debacle who are igniting seemingly unstoppable fires which are spreading all over the world and now to Japan’s borders. A society every bit the vulnerable tinderbox it was before WWII, and made vulnerable by its submissive position as a vassal state of America.

    Can you image what the Jihadists make of all the young Japanese woman wearing ‘micro’ (or even ‘no’) skirts and suspender belts like the Miss Universe paraded in front of the world above and Japan’s following of American into mass pornography?

    A local told me just last weekend, that as part of Japan’s re-education after the war was the replacement of its own religion and culture with the Three SSS’s … the religion of Screen, Sex and Sport.

    Political debate and leadership schools were not on the agenda.

  11. John G. said

    Aside from the problems of assimilating immigrants from another culture, just from a demographic standpoint, immigration cannot solve Japan’s greying society.
    (As touched on in the Canadian newspaper article), as most immigrants have already lived 1/3 to half their lives, they just get old and add to the problem. You would essentially need millions of 4-year-old immigrants who come to Japan without their parents. Not gonna happen.

  12. Bender said

    Well, how many years has gone past since the last white supremacist ritual killing of a colored person in America?

  13. Bender said

    Now can anyone find recent racist killings/beatings in Japan?

  14. Bender said

    Oops. Posted lots of links about racist crimes in Europe/russia. Didn’t get thru.
    Found it in the spam catcher and restored it. I think you know that’s what happens with a lot of links in one post. Next time send me an e-mail and I’ll take care of it. I usually look at the spam catcher once a day anyway to see if anything got caught by mistake.

    – A.

  15. Bender said


  16. mac said

    Of course, another of the problem with immigration is that the individuals whose interests are best served by emigration are not likely to be the best examples of which ever race, creed or color you are talking about.

    There are many perfectly educated and highly refined Arabs and Muslims (the two are not the same thing). I suspect migrants are far more likely to be the poor, dispossessed, uneducated and restless, the image or financial migrants risking all to seeking the gold paved roads of developed nations. One of the causes of the problems the UK created for itself was encouraging migrants from the poorest and most uneducated part of Bangladesh and Pakistan. It was the lack of education, not race or creed, that was the problem.

    If any of what I have written sound harsh or racist towards “noble human beings with equal human rights”, I have seen the other side … recent Turkish immigrants spitting in the face of nationalized black women and order them out of their newly occupied shops, the rise of racial conflicts between various immigrant groups, the importing of vicious racial conflicts from other continents, e.g. the Somalians. Or had the results of utterly primitive practises dumped, literally, in my neighbourhood (African churches practising human sacrifice of children … try Googling it).

    Either Japan starts building robots NOW … or it develops systems of short term, clearly defined, contract work. “You come, you work, you go, that is it”.

    I would not even encourage Japan to accept its ratio of immigration on humanitarian bases because, in Europe, that is one of the most abused immigration set ups I have seen. Whereas Europe has an unpaid debt to Africa and elsewhere, Japan really does not. If it wants to have a conscience, let it pay to support refugees in their own local environment not import them and their problems into a social that cannot digest them. It makes far more sense socially and economically.

  17. St John said

    Here in England our health service would grind to a halt were it not for doctors from India, China, Africa etc. Of course they want a better life (don’t we all?) but many are far better educated than the local population, a large minority of whom have no interest in anything other than where their next fix (be in nicotine, alcohol or hard drugs) will come from.

  18. […] what do people think of Japan promoting “chewing gum culture” around the […]

  19. ampontan said

    …the importing of vicious racial conflicts from other continents, e.g. the Somalians.

    That can happen anywhere, though. Some years ago I was waiting in a government office for something and started talking to a woman working there about my mother’s age…she might or might not still be alive today…the conversation started out casually, but then she told me an odd story considering that I was a stranger.

    She was the daughter of Polish immigrants. In high school she took a liking to a particular boy and started ingratiating herself, hanging around on the edges of his group, being friendly, smiling and laughing…she was a sweet person, and it’s a universal story.

    Her efforts paid off and he finally asked her out for a date. He came to the door and was met by her father, as was traditional in those days. He introduced himself and her father immediately picked up a broom from the front porch, starting swinging it at him, and chased him off the property, yelling, “No daughter of mine is going on a date with a Hungarian!”

    Assimilation, not multiculturalism, takes care of those problems.

    My mother’s parents had similar problems, but they got married anyway.

    That’s the problem with Muslim immigration–no assimilation without conversion, and no respect for local custom/laws/etc.

    Catholics, Jews, and the Chinese were just as hard-headed in the US for a while, but it took about two generations, more or less, after immigration to break that down.

    When I lived in California, there was a girl named Yasmin who I had a serious hankering to jump in the melting pot and assimiliate with–sweet, pretty, intelligent, and unbelievably curvilinear–and I was even on good terms with her parents (they ran a small restaurant I used to frequent for lunch), but no go. She was tempted, but not ready to cross her parents, and she also had plenty of Muslim options, some of whom were from wealthy families, so that was that.

  20. mac said

    Who remembers the interracial melting pots of New York City … running pitched battles between different precincts. Sure, it can take a generation or two for the barriers – and underwear – to come down but, on the other hand, England in the last few years has shown how it can take a generation or two for the problems to rise to the surface as sufficient youth become assertive enough in sufficient numbers. I have no idea how it is now but I found the USA to be by far the most racially divide nation that I have even lived in.

    Yes, we need a “get Japan pregnant” campaign … call it a “Yokoso-ho-ho-ho!” campaign. But how to introduce new genes in to improve the breeding stock without introducing new memes that will break down society?

    Perhaps the Japanese government just need to offer more travel grants to young Japanese women to go abroad to widen their experiences of life?

    This “no welfare, small government” concept is also a very American thing. I am not convinced that if one does the figures it would ever make that much difference. In Japan it faces the inertia of an even more well entrenched and unaccountable bureaucracy that has its planter wart like roots embedded into the feet of modern Japan.

    Such an idea reneges on a certain amount of responsibility and overlooks a sensible amount of investment any government should make into its primary resource. When ‘the people are going to suffer the idiocy and misfortune of macro-policies, which might even include total war and annihilation, why should they not receive some fruit from it?

    I cant imagine the bucolic bliss of a Proudhonist anarchy until the great oil economy collapses. And I am sure it wont be bliss. So what are we talking about here? Isn’t the problem all the stuff that is outside of actual “government”? The quangos, associations, amakudari, the greedy forces of capital and so on?

  21. ampontan said

    This “no welfare, small government” concept is also a very American thing.

    Does the name “Margaret Thatcher” ring a bell? (g)

    As in “socialism’s fine until you run out of other people’s money”?

    And there are others:

    Or Koizumi’s “Leave to the private sector what the private sector can do”?

    We’re up to three continents already!

    “why should they not receive some fruit from it?”

    OK, let them keep the money to begin with and make their own fruit. Most people can, you know.

    The DPJ wants to pay a stipend to parents. Here’s a better idea: Downsize government, cut taxes, and let the parents keep the money to begin with.

    The phrase “safety net” is also a problem. Life isn’t an acrobatic high-wire act. Just about everyone can do fine just about all the time.

    As that famous American president, Calvin Coolidge once said:

    “The normal must look after themselves.”

    This also germane: “Why I Am Not A Conservative”

    But here I am talking about this stuff in the Comments section, which I made a rule never to do!

  22. ampontan said

    Perhaps the Japanese government just need to offer more travel grants to young Japanese women to go abroad to widen their experiences of life?

    That tendency is already hardwired into the system, starting with apes. People are created with the inborn desire to widen the gene pool. There’s scientific research that backs this up, but I got to get back to work.

  23. St John said

    Funny how some people still revere Margaret Thatcher, who refused to impose sanctions against apartheid South Africa because that’s where her hubby made all the family riches. She also cut her idiot son in on arms deals with the Arabs to make him a multi-millionaire in his ‘own’ right. A prime minister who divided British citizens into ‘Our kind of people’ and ‘Not our kind of people’. Citizens who were ‘Not our kind of people’ cut go starve for all she cared. Now they’re talking about a state funeral for her. Believe me, when she finally goes there will be street parties all over the country! Just don’t expect the press to cover them as the newspaper barons will be mourning. You see, they were ‘Our kind of people’.

  24. ampontan said

    1. I don’t “revere” politicans and never have.

    2. The discussion with Mac and I was about small government, not about her son’s arms deals with the Arabs. He thought the small government phenomenon was strictly American; it isn’t.

    3. Her views on small government / socialism have nothing to do with apartheid and cushy arms deals. They are mutually exclusive. That’s partly what the Hayek article is about–the need for classical liberals to sometimes ally with conservatives to achieve their ends.

    4. I don’t know if it’s run by barons, but if you want some links about Guardian readers looking forward to her demise, you can try this:

  25. Mac said

    Let me go on record that I would rather be discussing the nation’s hemline, or lack of one, the gushing idiocy of the Donald Trump funded Inés Ligron, a women who looks to me like a cross between Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno character and a skeleton, and her debauched reduction of 1,000s years of Japanese culture to a fluorescent pink camel toe.

    A women so vacant of shame that she has a picture of herself, apparently kissing herself in the mirror at the top of her blog (, Ines’s last claim to fame was a g-string and suspendered samurai costume in 2006 …

    Talking of women vacant of shame, I think Thatcher – and possibly Koizumi – are two of the worst examples you could have chosen, Bill. Thatcher’s infatuation with Regan and Reganite policies were stuff of national embarrassment in the British Isles. And talking of cosplaying diplomats, I suspect Presley impersonator Koizumi was a lapdog to the same Yankee masters.

    Personally, I have never read a book on socialism in my life but old age has taught me one things about politics, that neither party can really change anything more than a few degrees as all the rest is already pre-decided outside of and above the democratic process.

    Generally, the difference is not worth the effort of involving oneself in the debate. If one is really wound up by the though of that 2c in the dollar up or down … then there is much more easy satisfaction in just going out and earning it, and more, rather than spending one’s life trying to change the either masses or the robber barons.

    One big problem is Japan is that the people have never really had to “fight for its rights”. I think its people lack the appreciate that pretty much every “right” they were delivered was fought and died for by someone, some class in the West. Japan’s structure was shattered and then it was given a “package”, for good or bad, by McArthur that they take for granted.

    There is an indigenous history of a democratic movement in Japan going back to the early 20th C but, largely, it was screwed over by the same people that are still in power now and, to be honest, it has still not fully developed.

  26. Mac said

    Sorry … that last bracket ‘)’ on needs deleted or spaced for the link to work.


  27. […] the rest here, and you may also be interested in the Korean government’s recent efforts to promote itself […]

  28. ampontan said

    If one is really wound up by the though of that 2c in the dollar up or down

    1. Not really the primary point, but it is a factor.

    2. It doesn’t amount to 2 cents on the dollar. For some people in the US, we’re now talking about a lot more on the dollar. Studies have shown that people are willing to put up with a tax burden (overall) of up to about 40%. (I start a lot lower.) They start screaming at that point. It’s moving past 60% in some US states now, particularly those with paternalistic governments, which have become dysfunctional and seriously in debt.

    3. The root factor determing economic conditions is, and people will misunderstand this, spirituality, with a small s.

    4. Why should Mr. A spend the time in employment earning money, when the government confiscates it and gives it to someone who didn’t earn it?

    5. Redistribution of income to people who didn’t earn it creates spiritual maladjustments (again not religion) in the people who receive it, distorting their behavior and the behavior of society at large.

    6. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Once people start getting paid for having children, for example, the state will usurp decisions about children from parents. Expect it. It always happens. Are you interested in the state indoctrination of children?

    Incidentally, I favor the elimination of public schools altogether, and giving all the money used for taxation for that purpose back to parents. There would likely be more real education (and social progress) happening under that system than is happening now.

    You know how large corporations are falling over themselves to promote themselves as green now? Watch them do the same by setting up schools for those who can’t afford them. Especially if corporate taxes are cut or eliminated. (They are essentially an additional tax on individuals. Companies just hike their prices.)

    7. As happens now in the UK and Canada, and as some are trying to do in the US now, having the state be financially responsible for healthcare means rationing of services in several different ways. One way is–you’re too old (past retirement age, and so an outflow unit rather than an input unit) and not likely to live all that long to justify that expensive operation, so you can’t have it. Life is tough, chum, so you’ll just have to put up with it.


    The two American hospitals mentioned are near the Canadian border with billboards facing north that say, “We take Canadian checks”.

    9. It is ultimately a question of who gets to make the important decisions in your life. Statism eventually and inevitably means ceding those decisions to some bureaucrat drone with a degree in the social sciences in some faceless building somewhere overcompensating for an inferiority complex.

    10. As for Mr. Koizumi, well, they all imitate someone (Mr. Obama is imitating himself, but the curtain is being peeled back on that Oz right now). Except the Japanese Elvis created the environment for the lay juror system–power to the people, dude–privatized the Post Office, whose savings accounts provided the funds the bureaucracy used to buy off the construction industry, pushed the state/province system–power to people in local jurisdictions to make their own decisions–and several more.

    Who is in charge of your life? You?

    Not under a statist government, you aren’t.

  29. Mac said

    And then you have Denmark, the happiest nation on earth, which regularly comes out at the top of quality of life, human satisfaction surveys … 52% tax but free healthcare, free schooling and university education, child care, job training, generous unemployment benefits (90% of pay if a person is laid off), 4% unemployment and minimum wages of around $18 against the US’s, $4 to $8.

    I have spent time in Scandinavia (it is called the Nordic Model) and the US. I can tell you which is the more civilised, more educated, healthier environment … and I am not even Mexican or colored.

    “No new taxes” mantra is a con that has basically no meaning whatsoever to the ordinary family. At the heart of the con (apart from the appeal to petty greed and racism that was at the heart of Thatcher’s “There is no such thing as society” regime), is most of the capital, and the power it buys, was stolen in the first place from the societies that shared it as a commonwealth through violence and aggression. Much of the rest of it was accrued through the exploitation of individuals displaced by those changes.

    The Robber Barons who tore the world apart during the Imperial Age, did not stop there. Of course, their laws forbid us from using the same tools of violence and aggression to take it back. And now they operate, at great loss, the newspapers and magazines which create our opinions.

    Corporations are legal bound to make profits not serve society or protect the environment … do you REALLY believe they are lining up to protect the environment, and at whose cost? What are you talking about, replacing corporate “greenwash” with “corporate educationwash” … a return to the Industrial Revolution where the factory owners owned the workers, their houses, the shops they bought food from, the schools and churches they were educated in? You have more faith in the robber barons than I.

    Corporate sponsorship in education … what do you mean? Coca cola machines, McDonalds in the lunch halls and brainwash logos on all the books? That is the USA today.

    Perhaps you just have a romantic desire to return to the days of backwoods men, killing off the injuns and carving out a life from virgin forests? Life is far more complex now. Welfare is indeed part having to pay off the “injuns” to stop them coming back to “kill you” because it is cheaper way to deal with the problem upfront rather than after the case.

    The shame of what you are calling “statism” or “socialism” isn’t in the idea of shared commonwealths themselves. Its the failure of individual human beings, other national tendencies such as corruption and our weaknesses towards shortsighted selfishness and greed.

    And, as we see in the images above, if the Robber Baron or Donald Trumps of this world, and their cheap kapos, can make a buck or two by selling “Japan” and young Japanese women as skirtless fluorescent vaginas to the world … then they will without a thought to how it might effect the ordinary person.

    The nationalization of the Japanese Post Office was about making Robber Barons a buck or two and further opening up Japan’s legs to Yankee capital. If you want to play the “life is tough” game, abolition gun control and capital offences, all the hard earned developments of civil society and let me go help myself to their land and capital as their forebearers did to my forebearers.

    No idea about these folks politics but this caught my eye …

  30. St John said

    I wouldn’t want to live in America, where millions of working people are terrified of becoming ill because on top of everything else they’ll lose their homes to pay for medical expenses. Not to mention their crazy neighbours who all have guns! No system is perfect but I prefer those which at least attempt some basic humanity and don’t judge everyone by their ability to pay. But that’s just me. Some people wouldn’t care if we went back to the days of stepping over the ill and starving in the streets so long as they are rich.

  31. ampontan said

    I wouldn’t want to live in America, where millions of working people are terrified of becoming ill because on top of everything else they’ll lose their homes to pay for medical expenses.

    I can guarentee you they aren’t, because most people already are insured, especially homeowners.

    (Except for the homeowners the government coerced Fannie Mae into loans they couldn’t afford to begin with.) The uninsured in America are largely young people who don’t own homes, and they already get free emergency room care.

    Your misunderstanding might be because of poor media reporting in Europe. I read not long ago that a rather large percentage of people in Britain somehow have the mistaken impression there is no free public education in the U.S.

    At any rate, you’re behind the curve. Support for the Obama plan is now well under 50%, and more people are opposed.

  32. St John said

    I’m fully aware they have public schools in America. I’ve been to that country many times and have relatives who have lived there for over thirty years. What about the homeowners who are losing their homes now? Does that affect their insurance? How much is this cover worth anyway? Can they afford to be somewhat ill? And what about people who don’t own their homes? Don’t they matter?

    As for the Obama plan it may well fail as many Americans get far more worked up about their right to own automatic weapons than the poverty of their fellow citizens in the richest country on earth. What would you suggest? Sarah Palin in 2012?

    Thanks again for the site. I’m really here to learn about Japanese politics not go on about Britain/America!

  33. bender said

    Sarah Palin in 2012?

    Now that would be a disaster. The American conservative theory about the economy is more like a belief rather than a theory. Kind of like creationism vs evolutionary theory.

  34. Mac said

    As a contrast to the Japanese ‘school disco’ ambassadors and Miss Universe contestants … a Sudanese woman is due to appear in court in Khartoum for wearing trousers in public facing up to 40 lashes for wearing “indecent” clothing. 10 women, including non-Muslims, arrested. Can you imagine how busy these guys’ right arms would be if they were to emigrate to the fashionably undressed Japan? Presuming, that is, the Sharia court beaters are right-handed.

    Over 45 million Americans lack health insurance coverage. 25 percent of mortgage foreclosures result from high medical bills. Insurance premiums for a family of four averaged more than the net annual salary of a full-time employee who earns the minimum $8 per hour. And then there is every dirty trick in the book for them not to pay out … perhaps a comparison between the US and Japan on these matters would make for a interesting topic?

  35. ampontan said

    Over 45 million Americans lack health insurance coverage.


    Examination of Census Bureau and Health and Human Service stats shows:

    1. One-fifth aren’t Americans

    2. One-fifth are covered by Medicare, so they’re not uninsured.

    3. Two-fifths are young (under thirty), and also have no life insurance or home insurance either, and in any event, get emergency room treatment.

    4. One-fifth (19% to be precise) according to the 2006 Census, have household incomes above the average of $75,000 annually. (And the incomes are probably much higher than that) Statistical trends reveal they’ve chosen to opt out of the system entirely and decided to pay for themselves.

    Sorry, but you’ll have to do much better than quote DNC talking points.

    As for Ms. Palin’s economic creationism, she somehow managed to produce budget surpluses during her entire term in Alaska, while Mr. Obama will never produce a surplus during his political career. Indeed, in his maiden effort, he wound up increasing the budget deficit by an amount cumulatively larger than every president before him, starting with Washington.

    I’ve sometimes wondered what it was like to live in a comic book world…

  36. Mac said

    The statistic came from, US Census figures:

    I echo St John. I am interested in all this as long as it relates immediately and directly to Japan, of which I keep try to doing so.

  37. bender said

    One of the thing that I felt relief coming back to Japan is the medical bills. My private health insurance in America was more expensive than the one I’m eligible in Japan, and it covered less. Check the OECD site and you’ll see that Americans medical bills are the highest in the world.

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