AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Snowing in July

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 25, 2010

WHENEVER I do something like vacuum the floor on my own initiative, my wife enjoys pretending that it’s so unusual for me to do housework, it’s like a snowfall in July. (I’ve done all the ironing in the household in the 22 years we’ve been married, including her clothes, so I ignore the wise lips, but that’s another story.)

However, today it’s snowing on this website in July. I’m going to link to a New York Times article and commend the author–in this case–Martin Fackler, for getting it right.

Time to break out the mufflers and the mittens.

Here’s the lead sentence:

A diplomatic showdown between Japan and China that began two weeks ago with the arrest of the captain of a Chinese trawler near disputed islands ended Friday when Tokyo accepted Beijing’s demands for his immediate release, a concession that appeared to mark a humiliating retreat in a Pacific test of wills.

To be sure, anyone with knowledge of the events and the countries involved could have written this article as soon they heard the news of the Chinese captain’s release, but let’s not dim the luster of the New York Times’s deed. It happens so seldom.

It’s also informative: American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported to have told the Japanese that the U.S. would come to Japan’s assistance if the Chinese attacked the Senkakus. Someone should tell Nicholas Kristof to read his own newspaper.

It also has:

On Friday, members of his own governing Democratic Party joined opposition lawmakers in condemning the decision to release the captain.

True, but the initial DPJ criticism didn’t come from the party’s left, where Prime Minister Kan Naoto and Chief Cabinet Secretary Sengoku Yoshito perch. It won’t be long before the critics have a lot of company, however.

“I’m flabbergasted that this was resolved with such a clear diplomatic defeat for Japan,” said Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of the opposition Your Party.

Mr. Kan and Mr. Sengoku are going to be hearing a lot of this in the future, and I don’t think either one of them–much less anyone else in the party–has the skills to sell their decision.

Still, Fackler can’t be expected to get everything right:

The setback appears likely to raise new concerns about the leadership of the Democrats, who took power in a landslide election victory last year with promises to improve ties within Asia and reduce Japan’s dependence on the United States.

It already has raised new concerns about the DPJ, but their foreign policy had nothing to do with their election victory.

But at least he includes some comic relief:

“This was a move that Japan had to make or China would have taken further steps,” said Wang Xiangsui, a foreign policy analyst at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Now the two sides can discuss this more calmly.”

Now that the Kan administration has lain on its back and shown its belly, China will never discuss this calmly. They know they’ve found their weapon, and they’ll use it every chance they get. Heck, they’ll create their own opportunities to use it.

For example, the Chinese Foreign Ministry is already calmly demanding an apology and financial compensation. And what will Mr. Kan (or more likely Mr. Sengoku, if some reports are to be believed) do if the Chinese continue the big chill unless they satisfy the Foreign Ministry demand?

Do I need to mention that this didn’t go unnoticed elsewhere in the region? I haven’t looked at the South Korean press yet, but Pyon Jin-il has. He’s a Tokyo native of Korean ethnicity who runs a website examining issues and events on the Korean Peninsula. He wrote:

韓国のメディアは一斉に「中国、レアアース輸出禁止など原子爆弾級報復に日本一日で降伏」「日本中国に白旗?」「中国 レアアース対日輸出中断 資源武器化 紛争国圧迫?」との見出しで、韓国のどのメディアも日本が中国の報復、制裁、圧力に屈したと報じていた。

Or:

The headlines in the South Korean media were uniform: “Japan Surrenders in a Day to China’s Atomic Bomb-Class Retaliation, Including Prohibitions on Rare Earth Exports”, “Japan Raises the White Flag to China?”, “China Cuts off Rare Earth Exports to Japan; Uses Resources as a Weapon – Pressure on Other Countries in Disputes?” All the South Korean media reported that Japan had buckled under to Chinese retaliation, sanctions, and pressure.

The Kan administration didn’t roll over for just the Chinese. It rolled over for everyone in Northeast Asia, and no one will let them forget it.

Mr. Pyon makes the interesting suggestion that the Japanese should have modeled their behavior after the North Koreans. They never give in to outside pressure, even if they have to starve.

He adds:

「サムライ・ジャパン」ならば、「武士は食わねど高楊枝」で、中国の経済制裁に耐える、跳ね返す気概を持たなければ、所詮領土など守れるはずはない。おかずを1品、3食を2食に減らす覚悟がなければ、日本は中国や韓国との領土問題では勝てないだろう。

If this were the Japan of the samurai, (they would have followed the proverb) ‘A samurai uses a toothpick ostentatiously even when he doesn’t eat.’ If (Japan) does not have the mettle to withstand and bounce back from Chinese economic sanctions, they will never be able to defend their territory. If they do not have the resolve to reduce their servings by one and their meals from three to two, Japan will never be able to prevail in their territorial disputes with China and South Korea.

He’s right, of course.

Also drearily predictable is that the media in China, South Korea, and some of the Anglosphere will start Hoovering the Japanese media for similar quotes to get all enuretic about the resurgent Japanese nationalism that will be a threat to the region. They’ve been warning of that for, oh, a half-century now at least. The pasty-faced ghouls in the think tanks will get cracking on that, too. Lord knows it’s the only time some of them ever examine Japanese-language sources in detail.

But when an ethnic Korean in Japan, a zainichi, says it, it can’t be blamed on the guys running the sound trucks.

It’s never nationalistic to stand up for one’s country when it’s right, but they’re not the types to get that. Scratch that–the Chinese and South Koreans do. But they’ll even stand up for their country when it’s dead wrong. Ah, but it’s the Japanese who are the East Asian chauvinists.

How long will it be before someone tells the Japanese that already the Chinese netizens refer to the country as 小日本 (Little Japan), as in “I haven’t the slightest interest in Little Japan”?

Yeah, I know I keep saying I hate predictions, so to keep me from making one, perhaps someone can make the argument that Mr. Kan and Mr. Sengoku haven’t just pulled the plug on their political careers–and very likely the DPJ government too. It’s only a matter of time, is it not? It was only a matter of time before this element of the party kowtowed (叩頭) to the Chinese anyway, considering their historical awareness is based on the pride of being ashamed to be Japanese.

The only question now is when a group of politicians emerge who are willing to stand up for Japan even while knowing that many outside the country are just waiting for another excuse to get it wrong about them.

Why not? It’s already snowing in July.

Afterwords:

For those who read Japanese, here’s a link to Mr. Pyon’s website.

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20 Responses to “Snowing in July”

  1. Rick said

    I imagine we’d disagree about a lot of things, Ampontan, but on this issue and and the whole notion of “Japanese nationalism” I’m in pretty thorough agreement. Recent events have shown that current Japanese “leadership” has both a disgraceful lack of national pride and no sense whatsoever of how and when to defend Japan’s rights internationally. They’ve been given a second chance (re: China’s outlandish demands for an apology, etc.). Let’s hope they can handle this a bit more gracefully.

  2. Rick said

    Oh, and at my house it’s “is there a typhoon coming?”
    😉

  3. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Ampontan:

    If “a group of politicians emerge who are willing to stand up for Japan” “even while knowing that many outside the country are just waiting for another excuse to get it wrong about them”, it is more than snow in July.

    Remember 2005?

    We have been so accustomed to be scorned by Chinese, and the expression 小日本 was all over Chinese internet at that time – nothing new. And despite of lack of apology or anything from China when Chinese destructed Japanese embassy in China, we surrendered, and ceased making claims. Remember who was in charge of this country then? To say that this time is the issue at hand is much bigger is to undermine Japanese pitiful 事なかれ主義(I do not even want to translate, but “avoid-risk mindset”?).

    And you know this – politicians 事なかれ主義 is precisely reflective of that of Japanese people as sensed by politicians.

    Ask around your neighbor Japanese if they are prepared to withstand economic disaster plus substantial danger of food supply. Unless politicians feel that super
    majority of Japanese are prepared to fight that way, they have no incentive to act in that direction.

    And think about the people most hurt in Japan at this time – Japanese fishermen and coast guards. They said so. May be we let them go and physically hurt next time, and China will clearly say Japan is to be blamed since Japan INVADES CHINESE TERRITORY!

    I would try to sleep, but I cannot really…..
    ————
    事なかれ主義 – “peace at any price”

    But Mr. Koizumi also showed some guts with North Korea. The abductees didn’t go back even though they were supposed to, and even though their children were still there.

    To repeat myself: They could have held the captain for another few days, then released him because the video didn’t have enough evidence of malicious intent. But they were the chicken instead.

    Politicians with talent and skill can speak to the people and convince them that their plans are a good idea, and change their minds. They lead instead of follow. Mr. Koizumi could do that. This government can’t.

    – A.

  4. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Completely changing my policy of avoiding multiple posts at a time – I needed to say that I respect you Ampontan for your 22 years of ironing. That is one of most enduring and brave thing to do – I never can. Keeping on doing something good earns respect someday, except for Japanese 事なかれ主義 consisting of doing nothing combined with doing wrong thing, served with doing ineffective thing.

  5. bender said

    China reminds me of the 白色彗星帝国.

  6. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    @Bender Some says 白色彗星帝国 is based on USA….But I don’t know much about 宇宙戦艦ヤマト。

  7. M-Bone said

    China is making like Gamilus – fighting against their own interests in a state of sublime belligerence.

    They’ve given a huge boost to the US-Japan alliance (arguably at its shakiest since 1960 during the DPJ tenure, now likely to be coming on like gangbusters), spat on some of their best friends in Japan, and this time it isn’t just Fackler – everyone from The Economist to tea party trolls on Yahoo comments seem to be calling China the petulant child of current international relations – many of these are the same people who gave China a free pass in 2005 because of the emotive history issue. And for what? A petty domestic PR coup in a media enviornment that the Chinese government runs anyway? AND Japan gave them the perfect out by releasing the captain and they STILL found a way to screw the pooch by demanding apology and compensation doubling down on their domestic propaganda but leaving much of the rest of the world shaking their heads.

    How long before China pisses off Russia and India and finds itself surrounded on all sides by a FCL (F**k China League)?

  8. toadold said

    What I’ve been reading by the US technically bent bloggers is that this incident is going to push the ongoing research for rare earth substitutes even harder.
    I think that people on the whole are beginning to realize the difference between nationalism and the use of nationalism to gain power.
    I’m getting where I won’t even read stuff linked from the NY Times anymore unless it is totally non-political. Recently one of their writers said that Korea could serve as a model for building Iraq as a nation……My jaw hit the floor. Iraq was created by some Europeans drawing lines on a map after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century and consisted of Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Jews, Christians, and for all we know little green men from Mars. While Korea may have been invaded, occupied and has had conflict with China and Japan for a long time, it has been Korean for quite a few centuries. It was an apple to mixed bag of nuts comparison, at least in my opinion.

  9. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    @M-Bone

    Beautiful.

    But didn’t Russia shot down Chinese military ship or aircraft recently with several soldiers dead, AND without retaliation from China? Both Russia and India have nuclear weapons.

    “this time it isn’t just Fackler – everyone from The Economist to tea party trolls on Yahoo comments seem to be calling China the petulant child of current international relations.”

    I would very much like to see them so would appreciate give me a few links, just to see representative comments.

  10. M-Bone said

    China has not been anxious to get into scuffs with India and Russia yet and if you want to beat on a country for no good reason with no chance of retribution, Japan is probably the world’s best candidate. However, when you think about it, if ANY part of this latest Chinese show was designed to improve their geo-political position and to increase their chance of actually ending up with the Senkakus (instead of a rather banal ‘the captain came home’ moment) what transpired can only be considered a huge failure. China will now (likely) face a surging Japanese-American partnership where it was once waning and the greatest lasting legacy out of all of this will likely be the US’s unambiguous statement that the islands are covered by the security treaty. If the Chinese leaders were really dumb enough to catalyze this, who is to say that some colossal f%”k up with another neighbor won’t be coming down the line?

    Even the domestic Japan bashing to distract from Chinese government problems blah blah argument isn’t a good one in this case. If they had played it stern and waited, the Japanese would still have likely released the captain, giving them a victory without all of the hotheads taking to the streets. Then, if they really wanted to, they could have waited a bit and jumped on a random history issue a few weeks or months on.

    *just to see representative comments*

    The problem is – there are thousands. Go over to Yahoo, hit one of the world news tabs, and any story on the Japan-China thing should have lots of comments from Joe Sixpack getting his China ire on. My general feeling is that most people are more pissed at China than supportive of Japan, but it seems to me that China, obviously used to manipulating nationalism, doesn’t seem to grasp how quick and how powerful turns in American nationalism can be.

  11. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    @M-Bone

    Thanks. Let’s hope to see that tide sooner.

  12. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    I quote a comment from Yahoo Chiebukuro (Forum for volunteers using handle name to answer questions posed by public). I thought that it was sensible comment in general.

    今回のことは「日本が中国に屈した」のは間違いないですが、さりとて中国側のマイナスも決して小さくありません。中国脅威論が高まるのは必至で、日本も軍備増強の必要性が論じられ、対米関係強化と小泉時代のような状況になります。ましてやことが起こればまるで人質を取るかのごとき対応をとる国であることが世界に知られたわけで、中国に幻想を抱いていた人も目を覚ますことでしょう。、
    ようは、中国に対して幻想を抱かず、情緒的感情は排し、利用できる部分は利用する冷めた関係を築けばよいのです。
    尖閣は日本が実効支配しており、中国がそれを奪うのは対日関係の断絶と実質的な交戦を意味し、すぐには不可能でしょう。今のうちに粛々と軍備を拡張し有事に備えることです。二度と「日中友好」などという幻想に踊らされないことが重要です。

  13. bender said

    The “Comet Empire” gobbles up every planetary system that gets in its way. Don’t see how this can be the U.S. Japanese Anti-Americanism is like a Kansai person being anti-Hanshin Tigers.

  14. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    @Bender Me neither, but there are always Yomiuri Giants fan even in Kansai (I am not from that area and I do not watch baseball).

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/09/China-Japan-Confrontation-at-Sea-Senkaku-Islands-Issue-Wont-Go-Away

    In trying to find account by its members or fellows condemning Japan as defeated so easily, I picked up the above link in stead.
    —–
    Thanks for the link. If he were American, Mr. Koizumi would be friendly with the Heritage Foundation. Unfortunately, the author didn’t present much of the Japanese view–just the Chinese.

    – A.

  15. Rog said

    I don’t know who I hate more in this episode, China for basically being a bully and a b*tch, or the Japanese Govt for backing down, and “bending over” to China. The ruling party will really suffer for this, from the looks of how Japanese citizens are angered by this, or at least I want the DPJ to suffer for this ridiculous incident.

    And this might sound really mean and horrible, but I hope the CCCP and that trawler captain, Zhang, suffered severely for this. Be it economics, finances, political, or unfortunate disasters.

    I also hope Japan can increase its defenses and acquired the best (defensive) weapons. the 13,000 troops increase is a good start, as well as the Marines unit, but it need to do more and not stop there. Japan needs to “flex it’s muscle” in order to show that it’s serious to protect it’s territories and people. Even if it’s constitution forbid using force to resolved it’s dispute, It needs to be serious in protecting itself from threats.

    I noticed that Japan’s so-called military forces, or the Self-Defense Forces and revising it’s constitution, is a concern for it’s neighbors, china, and both NK and SK. Every time when a SDF topics comes up, they always seem afraid and wary, even when each of these three have about one million military personnel, while Japan have roughly 345,000.

  16. Aceface said

    You’ve been linked at the hell hole in the other side of the body of water between Japan and Korea,Mr”Japanophile”.

    QUOTE STARTS:

    yuna September 25, 2010 at 11:14 pm
    I brought this over from AMPONTAN’s post on it

    Also drearily predictable is that the media in China, South Korea, and some of the Anglosphere will start Hoovering the Japanese media for similar quotes to get all enuretic about the resurgent Japanese nationalism that will be a threat to the region.

    This is after he linked to some weird Japanese zainichi website which, again, does not at all represent any Korean feelings. Talk about hoovering. He must really hate the Koreans. We were just eating some popcorn, watching innocently, if a little bit apprehensive (of what the Chinese would do to us).
    God, bloody Japanophiles.

    QUOTE ENDS.

    The thread was “Japan “caves in” to Chinese pressures” and there you have it.

    One thing I like about Koreans is they are predictable.

    And regarding “But when an ethnic Korean in Japan, a zainichi, says it, it can’t be blamed on the guys running the sound trucks” things,it is no secret that there are many zainichi running the sound trucks.I was actually surprised Pyon said the above statement considering he was a reporter for Chosun Shimpo in the past.
    ———
    A.: Didn’t know that about the sound trucks. Learn something new every day. Then again, living in the provinces, I almost never see them. Five times or so in 26 years, and some of those were just driving down the street.

    It curious: If I’m a Japanophile, what does wearing traditional Korean clothing as a daily custom make the American who runs the website Yuna spouts off on?

    If he had any sack, he’d be complaining here, but he won’t, because he doesn’t.

    – A.

  17. Aceface said

    More from Marmot’s hole

    Commenter Jing says

    “Ugh, reading the comments at Ampontan was like watching a group of retards at a book circle whose primary arguments revolve around slack jawed stares and drooling.”

    Hell yeah.But what does that dude think about that book circle with one billion memberships whose primary argument revolve around that one tiny red book?
    —–
    A:

    So, Jing’s the kind of guy who hangs around book circles populated by drooling retards?

    Sounds like he’s got a real swinging social life going for himself.

    – A.

  18. M-Bone said

    Is it even possible to defend China’s behavior in this case, either as “justice” or “rational self interest”?

    Anybody want to try?

    Anyway, that’s the “randomly round up and kill members of uppity minorities” Jing, right? He’s not drooling, he’s frothing.

    People like me don’t want to be pissed at China, but with China friendly netizens casually calling for mass killings and acting like anyone who has a beef with China is ignorant or biased, not, say, shocked that China would respond to a dispute by refusing dialogue and going with a trade ban that was short enough to be meaningless, long enough to put much of the world on edge… pretty hard to think about China only in terms of “peaceful growth”.

  19. Aceface said

    “So, Jing’s the kind of guy who hangs around book circles populated by drooling retards?”

    I can see them murmuring “China Matters,China Matters”……

  20. M-Bone said

    “Brains, brains, we need brains”

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