AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

The New World Disorder

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sekimon Forest on Hahajima, the second-largest of the Ogasawara Islands

Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a “world order” in which “the principles of justice and fair play … protect the weak against the strong …” A world where the United Nations, freed from cold war stalemate, is poised to fulfil the historic vision of its founders. A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.

– George H.W. Bush, 6 March 1991

IF the new world described by Bush the Elder ever came into view, it just as quickly receded from sight and was swallowed up by the darkness as the train of events sped through the night. Today’s new disordered world is the outward manifestation of disordered minds. Here’s a brief look at three disordered mindsets fixated on Japan that appeared in the East Asian media recently.

Tsushima

The Chosun Ilbo of South Korea earlier this month interviewed a Col. Kim (name not provided in Chinese characters) about his campaign claiming that the Japanese island of Tsushima should be part of South Korea. Even some Koreans think this is over the top, and the interviewer started the piece by quoting Prime Minister Kim Huang-shik:

“Even if there are historical grounds, claiming at this point that Tsushima is Korean territory lacks persuasiveness.”

Col. Kim is undeterred, however. Here’s the interview.

*****
Q: Are you intentionally focusing on Tsushima as a way to resolve the Dokdo issue?

K: I am arguing from the premise that there is objective information verifying Tsushima as Korean territory. Japan knows this fact. They are being more firm than necessary about Dokdo to hide Tsushima.

Q: There are probably many historical documents that say Tsushima is South Korean territory. But there are also many documents and maps that are just as legitimate stating it is Japanese territory.

K: That’s right…Tsushima county appears on a governmental map of Gyeongnam Province from the 19th century. But the basis of my assertion is not these old maps or documents.

Q: What do you think is the decisive material?

K: Immediately after Japan’s opening to the outside world, the United States discovered the uninhabited island of Ogasawara (part of what are called the Bonin Islands in English) in the Pacific about 1,000 kilometers from the Japanese mainland. A dispute broke out between the two countries because the United States attempted to incorporate it as its own territory. At that time, the Japanese produced a map they had made of their country (1785) showing the islands.

Q: Japan had already prepared such a map?

K: It was made by Hayashi Shihei, who became aware of Japanese sovereignty issues early on. He wrote that Japan should incorporate into its own territory the uninhabited islands around the country with a view to maritime defense. He also wrote that Japan should conquer Korea and expand its territory as a means of national defense. He was the originator of the idea of conquering Korea. Hayashi surveyed Japan and the surrounding area and made five maps.

Q: During the discussions over territory, did the US give up its claim after seeing the maps?

K: The American government insisted that the Japanese version of Hayashi’s map was not objective proof. The Shogunate, in a bind, knew there was a translated French version of Hayashi’s map. They were able to conclude the negotiations successfully using this map as evidence. That map lists Tsushima as Korean territory. That was on the map that Japan used to for its territorial negotiations with the United States.

Q: Have you seen this map?

K: On the hand-drawn maps discovered until now, Dokdo was shown as Korean territory and Tsushima as Japanese territory. Prof. Hosaka Yuji, a naturalized Korean citizen (and head of Sejong University’s Dokdo Research Center) says that because this information appears on an internationally recognized map, it is decisive proof that Dokdo is Korean territory. But what we have overlooked is that (the French) map also shows Tsushima as Korean territory.

Q: This is a contradiction. Didn’t you just say that the hand-drawn maps show Tsushima as Japanese territory?

K: That’s right. But it’s very likely that all the hand-drawn maps are phony. Several years ago, a search at the special Dokdo display area in Room 2006 of the National Assembly library turned up an original copy of the French map. The color for Tsushima was the same color used for Korea. I believe that is the original map.

Q: I do not think it is logical to unilaterally claim that a map showing Tsushima as Korean territory is the original and maps showing otherwise are forgeries.

K: According to the records, a Dutchman brought one copy of the Hayashi map back to Europe in 1806. A European scholar of the Far East (name unidentifiable due to the Japanese spelling) used the map to survey the area, and after he returned, made the French map in 1832. The French map in the National Assembly library is indeed that map. An old document collector donated it to the library.

The interviewer followed up that conversation by speaking to the collector, named Han, over the phone. Han said the map was published in 1832, and he bought it in Australia in the early 1980s. But the interviewer also included his statement: “There are doubts that Tsushima can be claimed to be Korean territory just because it is the same yellow color as Korea.”

N.B.:

1. Col. Kim is not the first Korean to enjoy using the story about Ogasawara and the Hayashi maps for territorial claims. Unfortunately for them, as this source indicates, the American government was never interested in the Bonin Islands. Commodore Perry of Black Ship fame wanted his country to incorporate them, but they ignored him. The British were more keen, but backed off. The Japanese government says they have no records that the Shogunate ever negotiated with the Americans about the islands.

2. The Hayashi maps have never been “internationally recognized”, other than to the extent that they are internationally recognized for containing many inaccuracies regarding territory other than the four main Japanese islands.

3. Prof. Hosaka was born and raised in a zainichi neighborhood in Japan, and may or may not have been one himself. He married a Korean woman, became a naturalized citizen, and is often quoted in Korean newspapers for his support of the Korean side in territorial issues. His MO seems to be to speculate about the real meaning of documents and maps that are unclear, draw conclusions based on those speculations, and then cite the documents and maps as “definite proof”.

Okinawa and Japan itself

An article appeared in the 12 October edition of the weekly Shukan Post about the Chinese application of Sinocentric Culturalism to Okinawa and the rest of Japan. It starts with this excerpt from a paid advertisement in the Apple Daily of Hong Kong:

“During our time of powerlessness, we of the Chinese race heard the sorrow of our Ryukyu compatriots across the distant sea. But now, the Chinese race has become your powerful allies. These are the tears of the mother who gave you birth. O, Chinese Ryukyus!”

Explains an unidentified journalist in China:

“Chinese youth in recent years have passionately supported the idea of a restoration of the Ryukyu kingdom. Many Chinese think the Ryukyus are part of China. For them, the concept of the Chinese race denotes those people who live in places influenced by Chinese civilization. Okinawa was once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom, and after the Satsuma attack of 1609, paid tribute to the Qing Dynasty. They bring out that historical fact to claim that the Ryukyus are part of China…

“…Not only that, the Chinese who support Ryukyu independence go so far as to assert that the earliest ancestors of the Japanese are the Chinese who traveled to the Japanese archipelago from the continent in search of the elixir of eternal life as ordered by the first Qin emperor (second century BC).”

The magazine says that the idea of supporting Ryukyu independence spread on the net in China after the incident in 2010 in which the Chinese fishing boat captain rammed two Japanese coast guard ships. They then offer another excerpt from the advertisement:

“The Yamato race is part of the Chinese race, and Japanese are originally of Chinese blood…Until Japan is restored as part of the “China – Great Peace Family” (中華一大平和家族), entrust to Taiwan Province the maintenance of security and the development of the Diaoyutai and the Ryukyus, which are part of China.”

The name of the group that paid for the ad roughly translates to The Preparatory Committee for the Ryukyu Special Administrative Region of the Chinese Race. (Hong Kong is also classified as a special administrative region.) The group was formed late in 2010 after the incident. That’s one of their ads in the photo above. “Liuqiu” is the Romanization for what the Chinese call the Ryukyus.

Jackie Chan

The political opinions and statements of East Asian film stars can be just as disordered as those of their Western counterparts. The Record China website (a Japanese-language site offering news about China) quoted excerpts from a news conference with Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan on 2 October. Here’s some of what he said.

* “The Senkaku islands were Chinese, historically…judging from my perspective, we should ask the country that snatched someone else’s property to return it.”

* ”If I were Superman, I would pull the islands nearer China.“

* “Vladivostok should be returned to China and the Northern Territories (four Russian-held islands) to Japan.”

The Superman comment didn’t impress everyone in China. Retorted one person on the Net:

“The Senkakus are over there, which enables us to obtain territorial waters and undersea resources. They wouldn’t have any meaning if they were closer to the coast.”

It appears that someone in China understands the point of the Chinese claim better than Jackie Chan.

Chan’s stuck his foot in his mouth before. He once made a reference to Taiwan and Hong Kong as being out of control because they had too much freedom, so they needed to be managed by Chinese people. And this one didn’t please his Chinese fans:

“If you want to buy a TV, buy a Japanese product. Chinese TVs blow up.”

N.B.:

The Chinese knew Vladivostok as Haishenwei when it was part of some of their dynastic empires. Russia snatched it in 1860 in the Treaty of Beijing because the Qing Dynasty couldn’t defend itself. The two countries later fought over it.

*******
Those with the eyes to see should now have sufficient evidence to be aware that we live in a state of New World Disorder that the presumed ruling elites are incapable of reordering. Indeed, they’re contributing to the disorder.

People are marching with swastika armbands in Greece, youth unemployment in Spain is approaching 50%, some are speculating that the French economy will be the next to blow, and the Eurocrats have congratulated themselves on their success by awarding themselves the Nobel Peace Prize. Daniel Hannan explains what they don’t want to see:

“Jamming peoples into a single state against their will is rarely conducive to either democracy or goodwill. It didn’t work for the Habsburgs, the Ottomans or the Soviets. Those polities survived only when they were police states. The moment their constituent peoples were free to choose, they opted for independence.”

The Russians have announced they will withdraw from an agreement with the United States to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons. Known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in the US, it had twice been renewed by both parties. But here’s Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov:

“The agreement doesn’t satisfy us, especially considering new realities.”

One of the new realities of the New World Disorder is that the Chinese no longer feel the need to disguise their intention to carve off some, or all, of Japan for themselves, and that some South Koreans are interested in snatching the scraps off the table while warily eyeing the Chinese.

The Japanese Constitution that the Americans so thoughtfully wrote for them long ago and far away in a world that no longer exists entrusts national security to “the peace-loving peoples of the world”. It effectively outsources national defense to the U.S.

That doesn’t look like a viable proposition right now. The U.S. is itself outsourcing the defense of its own installations located in a more disordered part of the world:

“The State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and Commonwealth Special Forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company’s very name comes from the poem “The Golden Journey To Samarkand,” whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain’s Special Air Service in Hereford. Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 – or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can’t really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who’s available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17th Martyrs’ Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons…There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of Sept. 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift…So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales.”

Perhaps one reason the United States is cutting corners on defense expenditures is that it’s as broke as a country has ever been. Meanwhile, the man who did most of the heavy lifting to make it that broke is running for reelection.

The U.S. is faced with a worldwide reset inimical to its interests and skyrocketing debt at home, but it has yet to demonstrate the capability for dealing with either problem. It will have a presidential election in a little more than three weeks, and the principals are holding televised debates. The current president behaved like the empty chair of his caricature during the first one. In the next one, the current vice-president thought the proper way to discuss pressing issues with the American public was to conduct himself like a barroom buffoon. A not-insignificant number of Americans thought that was exactly what he needed to do.

Those with the eyes to see now know that the United States has been in a state of low-level civil war for some years, and that the civil war will continue to occupy the country for the foreseeable future. If the current government receives another four-year term, the world disorder will become more severe. If it is replaced, the party now in government will devote its primary energies as the opposition to preventing the new government from addressing the disorderliness, assuming that the new government is capable of it.

Japan can also see the new realities that the Russians see. They will increasingly wonder if a bankrupt and disorderly America will uphold an agreement it signed in a long-dead era to defend Japan from external aggression. We all know what conclusions they will draw — everyone one else is drawing the same ones.

It might be a lot sooner than anyone thinks that Japan gets wise, realizes that it’s on its own, and takes the steps required to defend itself.

The noise level from people outside the country opposing those steps will be in direct proportion to the level of the need for those steps to begin with.

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14 Responses to “The New World Disorder”

  1. toadold said

    Well the good news in the US it looks like the Obama administration is going to be blown out of the water. There is strong evidence that with Obama care gone and a reduction in regulation by federal agencies a lot of money (in the trillions of dollars) that private industry has been sitting on will be released into the “private” US economy and interest rates will be raised. Thus manufacturing will rebound and we’ll be able to afford stuff from Germany and Japan again, stop the hemorrhaging of our military strength, and till the Chinese Communist Party to get stuffed. There will be a lag of course and that will be a dangerous time.

  2. Yuge said

    I wonder what people in Okinawa think of this. I know there is small independence movement, but I believe most people in Okinawa see themselves as Japanese, or at least really do preffer being part of Japan rather than China.
    —————
    Y: Thanks for the note.

    There’s a post on this site from the first year I was writing that talks about a then-recent poll. People interested in independence were at the 20% level overall, but the younger they were, the less likely they were to be interested. I teach two college courses every spring semester, and there are always some Okinawans in the classes. The impression I get is similar somewhat to American southerners before there was more movement in the country. They have a strong regional identification, but consider themselves just as much a part of the nation as anyone else. Perhaps its more pronounced in Okinawa because they’re islands apart from the rest of the country.

    -A.

  3. Harry said

    Those Chinese netizens seem to see Okinawa as another Taiwan, a maritime Tibet or something. They apparently don’t realize that the citizens in Okinawa Prefecture identify with the clear seawater, which they have forgotten to preserve. Given its growing economy and geographical advantage (proximity to our trading partners), I expect the ties between Okinawa and the mainland will only get stronger.

    Putin reportedly said in Vladivostok that his country would like to “resolve all problems” with us. I may be wrong, but the Russians appear to consider some kind of a compromise on the territorial issue. Does this have anything to with the Chinese territorial ambition in the Russian Far East?

  4. toadold said

    Things change over time but the US military’s perception of Okinawa during and after the invasion of WW II was that the Okinawa civilian population was Japanese due to the language and culture they found there among the survivors. Several tragic incidents reinforced that view. One of the most famous was civilians including women and children leaping off cliffs to their deaths rather than submitting to US occupation forces.

  5. patfla said

    My understanding from when I lived in Japan is that the non-Okinawan Japanese look upon Okinawans as bumpkins – which is to put it mildly. Not as bad as burakumin but, well, down there underneath somewhere.

    Your description Ampontan of the sources of the US budget deficit floors me. 2009 is when the bottom dropped out of the economy (and tax receipts plummeted). Prior to that, the Bush bone-headed-or-worse role call includes

    – the Bush tax cuts (2001 and 2003)
    – the Bush Medicare drug additions (2003)
    – primary beneficiary: the pharmaceutical industry.
    – two unpaid-for foreign wars.
    – policies dating back to Reagan (and supported even by the likes of Clinton) that financialized the economy, although policies that were greatly exacerbated by Bush’s choking off regulatory agencies (which affected off-shore drilling as well – leading to Deepwater Horizon).

    It’s not that I’m all that thrilled about the Obama administration. Obama is no less in the pocket of Wall St than the majority of the Washington political establishment. It’s just that 8 years under the Schrub did deep damage to the US.

    Yet no country in the developed world is even close to Japan’s government debt. For a long time people said the case of Japan was OK but Japanese domestic savings were high. However Japanese savings have now dropped considerably in the last decade and continue to head down. Of course, non-government (private) debt is much higher in the US and Europe than Japan. None of the developed countries have their houses in good fiscal order which is a part of the world disorder. One assumes China will avoid any leadership role for as long as possible since a) it costs money and b) it impedes flexibility.

    Many people say that a multipolar world is very desirable – certainly it’s politically correct and wealth is now flowing to a large portion of humanity that used to be poor. The problem is, to judge by the historical record, multipolar worlds are less stable. Add to that the fact that population of the world has more than doubled in the last 50 years. Not a good combination.
    —————-
    P: Thanks for the note.

    My understanding from when I lived in Japan is that the non-Okinawan Japanese look upon Okinawans as bumpkins – which is to put it mildly.

    My understanding from many years of actually watching non-Okinawans and Okinawans interact is that they get along fine, with no condescension. To put it strongly. An Okinawan girl in one of my classes this spring was extremely popular, for example, and she didn’t do it on looks.

    There might be some of what you describe in Tokyo or Osaka, but that happens in other places too. “Flyover country”. “Inbreeds”. But I’ve seen nothing here of the attitude some New Yorkers have for people who live east of the Hudson River, or Berkeleyites have for people who don’t live in college towns, especially theirs.

    Yet no country in the developed world is even close to Japan’s government debt.

    In percentage terms. Yet it is mostly held internally. A much higher percentage of the American debt is held externally. Within the next year or two, if it doesn’t already, American interest payments to China on the debt that country holds will roughly fund the entire People’s Liberation Army.

    And then there’s this.

    -A.

  6. Tony said

    I strongly suspect the graph may be wrong in that link you provided to Patfla. The main reason has to do with the last sentence underneath it which says, “That record of futility can never have been approached in American history.”
    ———-
    T: Why yes, what better way to point out the inaccuracy of the numbers than by spitballing the syntax of one of the people presenting them.

    -A.

  7. Tony said

    Exactly, nobody has ever done that here before have they. (wink wink)
    ———-
    The guy who was responsible for the syntax at the link wasn’t responsible for the numbers. There are no criticisms here of the sort saying that the “primary reason” the information is wrong because the syntax is wrong. There is the occasional mention of syntax in the course of a deconstruction for entertainment purposes.

    -A.

  8. You think America will be stronger and the world safer with Romney? The man who makes his money firing American workers and outsourcing their jobs to China. If Obama is responsible for the Ambassador’s death then why aren’t you blaming George W. Bush for 9/11? He even allowed his friends the Bin Laden’s to fly out of America the day after. And the Taliban would be proud of the Tea Party’s views of women!

    Love the blog

  9. yankdownunder said

    I strongly suspect the graph may be wrong in that link you provided to Patfla.

    The source of the graph is
    Jeff Sessions’ Republican staff calculations of …. data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Why did his staff have to do “calculations”? Why not just give the facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and let the facts speak for themselves. I don’t trust “calculated facts”.

    Did Jack Welch help with the calculations?
    ———
    Is Jack Welch on Jeff Sessions staff?

    Could the reason for the graph have been that the BLS didn’t aggregate the statistics over a four year period, but only year-by-year? Could it have been that the average person doesn’t read columns of statistical tables but will look at a bar graph instead?

    -A.

  10. patfla said

    “Yet it [Japanese govt debt] is mostly held internally.”

    Ampontan, I addressed that already. The Japanese savings rate has plummeted and financial markets (where I worked as a software developer for 20 years and learned a good deal about finance) expect that it’s only a matter of time (short) before Japan will have to sell larger amounts of its debt to foreigners.

    I worked for a 合弁会社 between Nomura Securities and a SF Bay Area 1980s style (not, say, HFT) quantitative investment management firm. Our office was across the street from Nomura’s 本館 and a stone’s throw from Nihonbashi. I’d wanted to go to Japan (I’d lived in Europe earlier) and had gotten degrees in both Japanese and Computer Science and the opportunity to live and work in Japan came, unexpectedly, from a finance.firm.

    Here’s an interesting development in the US debt market:

    “Japan closes on China in US bond holdings”
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2dc61718-1796-11e2-8ebe-00144feabdc0.html#axzz29V7rig7C

    That a) the Chinese are ‘on strike’ as the press likes to call it and b) the Japanese are willing to step into the breach are both significant.

    I don’t know about Japan but I do know that China starting trying to diversify towards the Euro several years ago. It looks like the Chinese bought into the top of the market and have since gotten burned. Gee, where’s a mercantilist trading country (which imo includes both China and Japan [and South Korea, etc]) to put their well-earned money? Such an unreliable world.

    Here’s a good (US) finance-related site as well as some interesting graphs in regards to US debt. And it’s current.

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/09/foreign-holdings-of-united-states-debt/
    ————–

    Ampontan, I addressed that already. The Japanese savings rate has plummeted and financial markets…expect that it’s only a matter of time (short) before Japan will have to sell larger amounts of its debt to foreigners.

    I wasn’t talking about the future. I was talking about now. Japanese debt is held internally now. American debt is held externally now.

    Financial companies aren’t the only ones to buy JGBs, either.

    -A.

  11. Harry said

    There is another buyer of JGBs. It’s BOJ, the buyer of last resort. Right now domestic financial institutions such as Japan Post hold the bulk of JGBs in the market. However, I think BOJ will step in to buy the securities sold by them as they shift to stocks and properties with higher yields. After all, the interest rate is just too low.

    The reason why the Japanese saving rate decreased (but stabilized after the 2008 Euro-American financial crisis) is that the older generations have been spending money. As a result, consumption now accounts for more than 60% of GDP.

    Patfla, there is a better explanation as to why the Chinese are buying less American debt than before. It’s because of capital outflow from China since last year. There is less need to intervene into the forex market and accumulate foreign assets. I suspect this is another sign of the Chinese economic bust.
    China remains a top foreign holder of US Treasurys, but the size of holding shrinks
    http://www.alsosprachanalyst.com/economy/china-remains-a-top-foreign-holder-of-us-treasurys-but-the-size-of-holding-shrinks.html

  12. patfla said

    Harry – thanks for the China-buying-debt info. I didn’t buy (so to speak) the ‘China is on strike’ argument which is why I put it in quotes.

    Here’s a question. I’ve never assumed that all of China’s foreign reserves are primarily from the repatriation of profits. My guess is that a very large portion of the ‘reserves’ were dollars acquired in the process of selling freshly-mined yuan as part of fixing the price of the yuan. The problem with that of course is ‘sterilizing’ all the new yuan creation.

  13. patfla said

    The alsosprachtanalyst article says as much in this paragraph:

    “So long as China wanted to keep its currency relatively stable despite huge trade surplus and massive capital inflow, the central bank needs to keep buying foreign assets, mostly US Treasury securities.”

    I think that, in its time, we can assume the same of Japan. And it’s the sterilization process (or rather the difficulty of it) that was key to the extraordinary price levels that Japan reached and which even now have only come down some.

  14. Harry said

    Japan’s US Treasury holdings were:
    *decreasing during the Izanami Boom as export and investment were strong and yen was depreciating.
    *increasing after 2008 due to higher yields than JGBs and currency appreciation.

    China did fix the yuan-dollar exchange rate in 2008 to offset fall in exports and prevent currency appreciation, which means that they printed too much money.
    It’s this policy that caused economic imbalances:
    * 1% versus 99%
    * Regional gaps
    * Industrial overcapacity
    * Food and energy inflation
    * Real estate overheating
    * Overdependence on investment and construction rather than consumption
    * Overdependence on export manufacturing rather than domestic services
    * Favoritism toward big SOEs rather than small private ones
    * Shadow banking
    While these are not new, the last fiscal and monetary stimulus really exacerbated them.

    The authorities no longer have options to counter the European crisis and their own crisis. That’s the problem now.

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