Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Monday, October 18, 2010

They are a bus without a destination sign.
– Tanaka Shusei, former director-general of the Economic Planning Agency, speaking at a forum in Nagoya on the 14th about the Kan Cabinet.

The word nameru in Japanese means to lick, but it’s also used in the sense of making light of a person, belittling a person, or holding a person in contempt. It’s often used in the passive voice: namerareru.

Accounts leaking out of the Kantei suggest that the Democratic Party-led government of Japan thought it had been the model of diplomatic expertise after deluding itself that it had worked out a rapprochement with the Chinese government and reset relations to the status quo ante of June. Why, didn’t Prime Minister Kan Naoto go all the way to Brussels just to tug on the sleeve of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in a hallway and get him to sit on a chair and chat for all of 25 minutes? Didn’t the Americans approve when they released the Chinese naval officer fishing boat captain after he had deliberately rammed accidentally collided with two Japanese Coast Guard vessels in the waters of Greater China Okinawa Prefecture? Didn’t they generously share their milk and cookies with them?

There are also reports that Mr. Kan was excited on the return flight from Brussels because he thought his government’s success at setting up the meeting (despite the risible assertion that it was just a chance encounter) would earn them plaudits as the marvels of the striped-pants set. After all, the initial response of the British public was favorable after Neville Chamberlain landed in London on the flight from Munich and emerged to show the crowd the piece of paper in his hand.

But their misreading of the situation has revealed them to be diplomatic illiterates instead. As a result, the Chinese government and its people can’t be bothered to hide their disdain as they treat the Japanese government as their favorite licking stick.

Last week, press spokesman Yao Jian of the PRC’s Ministry of Commerce declared at a regularly scheduled news conference that China would not use restrictions on rare earth exports as a weapon against countries with which it was involved in disputes.

Meanwhile, Japanese importers say that even though Chinese exports have returned to roughly 40% of the level before the Senkakus incident, there have been no shipments of rare earth metals.

Yao Jian also referred to Prime Minister Kan’s request of China and South Korea that the three countries coordinate currency exchange rate policies to prevent excessive appreciation. Said Yao:

“(because it is profiting with business with China) Japan is not qualified (to make such a request).

It didn’t take those perceptive Chinese long to spot the absence of qualifications, did it?

Why should anyone be surprised at what Japanese Beta Male behavior has wrought? The Coast Guard filmed a video of the incident in the Senkakus, but the government has locked it away. The word from people who have viewed the video is that the content would infuriate the Japanese public after they saw the deliberate ramming of the Japanese ships.

At first the government said that showing the video would delay the release of the last Fujita employee held hostage arrested by the Chinese for allegedly taking photos of military installations. But after the employee was released, the government then said that showing the video would set Japan-China relations back two or three years.

Wouldn’t want to do anything to impair the flowering Japan-China amity, now would we? Besides, if the Japanese public saw what really happened, the Cabinet would have to resign, there’d be a snap election, and we’d lose our Diet majority. Let’s not get carried away with ourselves!

Meanwhile, the Chinese keep on licking. The People’s Daily affiliate Global Times posted a diagram and an explanation claiming it was the Japanese Coast Guard vessel that rammed the Chinese fishing boat. They quoted Jiang Yu of the Foreign Ministry:

“Japanese patrol boats surrounded the Chinese fishing boat in Chinese waters, pursued it, cut it off, and rammed it.”

The Global Times took down the diagram sometime around the 1st, but the state-run Xinhua news agency still has it up, as do the large Xinlang Internet portal site (halfway down the page, for the full view) and other websites. See for yourself what the Chinese public now thinks happened. Chinese-language capability isn’t required to connect the dots:

The portal site also reportedly put up on the 9th a free online game called “Defending Daioyutai” (the Chinese name for the islets). The players operate a Chinese fishing boat, throw shoes at Japanese “military vessels” and steam for the islets. (Yes, the report said shoes.) If they successfully knock down a lighthouse flying the Japanese flag and raise the Chinese flag, a “Mission Accomplished” icon pops up.

The degree of difficulty shouldn’t be all that high. What would be the fun or propaganda value in making the game too hard?

The site invites people to play with this copy: “Obtain a sense of satisfaction and honor by achieving the mission! Experience the danger and challenge of national defense!”

Meanwhile, the Rainbow Unicorn Peace-At-Any-Price DPJ coalition government of Japan is hiding the video under its bed because it might harm relations with China.

On Saturday, more than 10,000 Chinese hit the streets in three Chinese cities demonstrating against the Japanese. Surely most of demonstrators have seen the above diagram of the incident. But they also received other encouragement.

The scoop from Hong Kong

Hong Kong newspapers reported on the 17th that the anti-Japanese demonstrations on the 16th were organized by university student associations affiliated with the government. The Chinese Foreign Ministry is saying that “some of the public is expressing their righteous indignation at the mistaken statements and actions of the Japanese”. That’s not the story the Hong Kong papers are telling.

The Wenhui quotes participants in the demonstration as saying that the student associations of universities in Chengdu, Szechuan, began preparing a month ago. Students also circulated petitions calling for a boycott of Japanese products. (There are similar calls for a boycott on the Chinese side of the Internet, with the encouragement that a year-long boycott would bankrupt Japan.)

According to Pingguo Ribao (Apple Daily), the participants clearly stated on the Internet that the student associations organized the demonstrations.

All student university associations in China are controlled by the government and the Communist Party, and independent political activity is not allowed.

There is no question of a return to the status quo ante now that the Kan government has lain on its back, tucked in its tail, and exposed the Japanese belly, demonstrating its recognition of the Chinese as the Alpha Male. The terms of this relationship have been defined and will not change as long as this government remains in office, and the international jungle community knows it. Their bungling will have made it that much more difficult for their successors to rebalance that relationship in the future.

No respite at home

In addition to the daily licking administered by the Chinese, the Kan Cabinet is now being thoroughly licked at home. They’ve backed down in the face of threats to national sovereignty, which is the most serious mistake any government can make. That the government thought it took the wise and prudent course of action demonstrates their lack of qualifications, as the Chinese themselves put it, and it seems to have awakened something in Japan. The opposition hammered the Cabinet during question time last week, and the government’s response of lies, evasions, and faux anger merely exposed their Beta maleness to a domestic audience. The news media is getting fat off the feeding frenzy.

Tanaka Shusei, who is quoted at the top of the post, isn’t the first to speculate that the Kan government won’t last beyond next spring, but he’s one of the first to speculate that it might not make it to the end of the year. If he’s right, it will be very difficult for the DPJ to avoid a Diet dissolution and a lower house election. They’ve already pushed their luck once by staying in office after their defeat in the July upper house election.

That may be the silver lining to this cloud. The sooner the impotent ones are cashiered, and the sooner the Rube Goldberg contraption that is the Democratic Party of Japan is dismantled and rebuilt with fewer parts, the sooner the nation can get a handle on its problems and reestablish the national sovereignty that was placed in a blind trust 65 years ago. After the events of the past six weeks, the public might now be ready for it.


Had the DPJ leadership studied actual history in their younger days instead of left-wing theory, they could have learned a valuable lesson from the actions of the American Democrats in 1962, when the American Democrats still had a spine. On 25 October that year, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin during a meeting of the Security Council about the missiles the Soviets had placed in Cuba. (It was broadcast live, which was rare in those days.) Stevenson said:

Let me ask you one simple question: Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the U.S.S.R. has placed and is placing medium- and intermediate-range missiles and sites in Cuba? Yes or no—don’t wait for the translation—yes or no?

A few minutes later, the Americans set up an easel in the Security Council chambers and showed the world intelligence photos taken of Soviet missile base construction in Cuba. They also allowed any of the delegates to view the photos themselves at close range later while Stevenson provided an explanation.

Had the Kan government been born with a spine, they would have done the same with the video taken by the Japanese Coast Guard. They could have shown the world what the Chinese did, just as the world saw what the Soviets were doing in 1962.

But that’s too much to hope for with this lot, I’m afraid. They’ve been licked in every sense of the word.

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9 Responses to “Licked”

  1. Chamberlain gained time.
    He oversold it and paid a political price, but war preparations were started nonetheless.

    You come across as quite the little warmonger! Way to go! Let us reduce the Japanese population further! Let’s weaken the Chinese by engaging in a successful war……

    Or do you think Japan will win?
    PD: Thanks for your note.

    I am neither little nor a warmonger. Establishing national sovereignty is not necessarily related to waging war.

    Since they held the captain for that long, they had to prosecute. There’s no excuse for not showing the video.

    Unless one is a “better Red than dead” type.

    The arrangement with Article 9 of the Constitution and American military bases in the country is long obsolete.

    – A.

  2. Robert said

    Your extreme right-wing bias becomes tiresome, and grossly distorts what would otherwise be well-researched and written pieces. Objectivity, please. Some of these issues (Chinese rise to power, global warming and environmental pollution) are too important to be needlessly spun into a simplistic “Right is right and the Left evil” dichotomy.

    Objectivity, please.

    Readers are always free to point out any specific opinions they think aren’t based on objective facts. I won’t delete the comments.

    You think I’m an extreme right winger. In fact, I’m a Liberal in the sense it was originally intended. Call me neo-liberal if you like.

    Every word of the following by John Stuart Mill is fine with me:

    The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

    If that’s being an extreme right-winger, so be it.

    – A.

  3. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Sengoku told his friend at LDP, responding to the friend’s claim that Japan becoming Chinese subject, “has it begun with this?” Happy, happy man.

  4. Joe Jones said

    You’re absolutely right. The Japanese government blew a golden opportunity to out the Chinese government for what it actually is. And to the above commenters, “extreme right wing” is not the right word for this attitude. “Realist” is more like it.

  5. PaxAmericana said

    I think most people who are not involved in the dispute would think that the logical guess is that the fisherman was trying to escape, not ram a much bigger vessel. He may have misjudged things or been drinking, of course, but the onus is on the Japanese government to show the video in any case. Leaks from a friend of a friend who saw it don’t cut it.

    As far as the Cuban Missile Crisis goes, didn’t the US secretly agree to pull out its missiles from Turkey? That was a big part of why the Joint Chiefs couldn’t stand Kennedy, or so the story goes. So a lot of the bravado was really for public consumption.

    Speaking of secret diplomacy, have you got any thoughts on the bit in Aera about the secret pact between China and Japan regarding how to handle incidents in that area? If true, it just shows more incompetence on the part of the DPJ, doesn’t it?
    PA: Thanks for the note.

    Cuban Missiles

    1. It wasn’t “secret”, because people knew about it at the time. The MSM didn’t want to talk about it much, though they did report the removal of the Polaris Subs (I think it was) from Turkey six months later.
    2. The JCS might have been angered at Kennedy, but the Politburo was just as angered at Khruschev. That’s one of the reasons he lost his job.
    3. It may have been for public consumption, but everyone also knew the US wasn’t blowing smoke, which was the point.

    The video

    If it were an accident, the DPJ would have rounded up some of the MSM and opposition Diet members, showed them the video in a private screening, and no one would be talking about it.

    – A.

  6. RMilner said

    Could the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force beat the People’s Liberation Army Navy in a war around the Senkaku islands?

    I know the Chinese have a lot more ships but they are probably lower tech and more vulnerable.

  7. PaxAmericana said


    You may have more faith in the Japanese Coast Guard and how clear videos are likely to be than I do. Also, if the fisherman was simply trying to get away to avoid the loss of income that being detained would lead to, he would make a run for it and hope that they wouldn’t cut in front of him or would back down. In any case, determining what is an accident would be awfully difficult. This was a policing situation, after all.

  8. […] the Chinese government and media have insisted that the Japanese ships were the ones doing the ramming, a video tape that proves otherwise could […]

  9. Tony said

    @ Joe Jones – I don’t think the Japanese government so much blew a golden opportunity to show what the Chinese gov’t is really like since there is very little doubt and it is no secret as to what the gov’t is like. Rather the DPJ showed again how utterly inept it is in dealing with foreign affairs and ultimately domestic affairs by not releasing the video.

    To release the video now is a lose/lose situation for them. If the video clearly shows the Chinese fishing boat ramming the Coast Guard ships then they not only forfeited the chance to greatly limit the rancor of the Chinese response but they also give themselves a black eye (they must be an 11 headed hydra to have that many black eyes) in the view of the Japanese public since they let the captain go. On the other hand, if the video doesn’t show clear intent to ram the Coast Guard ships then it raises the question as to why they arrested the captain in the first place. Thereby adding credence to Chinese claims and yet again giving themselves another black eye.

    Quoting Forrest Gump seems justified here, “stupid is as stupid does”.

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