Japan from the inside out

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Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 4 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part Four.


In August 2011, the Constitutional Court of Korea handed down a surprising ruling that the failure of the South Korean government to demand compensation from Japan for the comfort women (in the 1965 treaty) was a violation of the country’s Constitution.

The backdrop to this decision was a statement prepared in 2006 by the leftist, North Korean-friendly administration of then-President Roh Moo-hyun. It referred to “the continued demand made to the Japanese government about inhumane and illegal acts, including the Japanese military comfort women, which were not dealt with in the Korean-Japanese agreement on the right of claim”. As I have already noted, the South Korean government made no claims about the comfort woman issue during the negotiations to normalize relations. The persistent efforts of anti-Japan Japanese, however, ignited this issue. That led to the South Korean government’s far-fetched view that the right to seek compensation remained because they didn’t exercise it during the original negotiations.

Using that as a basis, the former comfort women claimed it was unconstitutional for the South Korean government to have not sought compensation from Japan, in opposition to the government’s view. The court’s decision quoted from the report of the UN Commission on Human Rights and the US House of Representatives’ resolution to state as fact the idea that the comfort women were sex slaves. It asked the South Korean government to conduct negotiations with Japan based on that perspective. The placement of a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, the placement of similar statues in locations throughout the United States, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s forceful claims on the issue during the summit meeting in December last year with Prime Minister Noda are all well known.

An organizational response is indispensable to defend Japan’s honor against this international plot. The Foreign Ministry will not deal with this issue. As with the issue of North Korean abductions, a special section directly under the prime minister and a ministerial portfolio should be created. An advisory panel with specialists should also be established. The government’s administrative investigation rights should be exercised to determine why the 1996 rebuttal to the UN report was withdrawn. A new declaration by the chief cabinet secretary about the comfort woman issue should be issued to replace the Kono Declaration. It is urgent that the idea equating comfort women with sex slaves be clearly repudiated.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 3 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 17, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part Three.

The second great uproar began when Japanese left-wing academics, encouraged by the Kono doctrine, wrote about the coercion of comfort women in junior high school textbooks. Other scholars, intellectuals, and many citizens formed the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. In addition, the late Nakagawa Shoichi, Abe Shinzo, and other conservative politicians with a conscience joined the ranks of those who argued there was no coercion.

At the start of a live, late-night television program on the comfort women broadcast in 1997, I asked Prof. Yoshimi Yoshiaki of Chuo University if it had been proven that comfort women were forcibly seized under government authority on the Korean Peninsula. He answered that it had not. At this point, even the leftwing scholars could no longer quote the testimony of Yoshida or Kim Hak-sun.

In 2006, however, soon after the Abe Shinzo Cabinet was inaugurated, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Japanese government to give a formal apology to the comfort women and compensate them for sexual slavery. During a debate in the Diet, Prime Minister Abe explained there was no coercion of the comfort woman, based on the results of the domestic debate. He was harshly criticized by the American media, and bilateral relations began to grow strained. The backdrop to these developments was that an anti-Japan Japanese took the comfort woman as sex slave theory to the UN and spread the lie internationally.

It was Japanese lawyer Totsuka Etsuro who conceived of the international scheme to equate comfort women with sex slaves. He wrote rather self-importantly about his idea in War and Sex, Vol. 25, May 2006.

As a representative of the IED NGO, I first brought up the military comfort woman issue of the forced recruitment of North and South Koreans during the war at the UN Commission on Human Rights in February 1992. We demanded that the Japanese government take responsibility, and asked the UN to respond…

…Until then, there had never been a consideration of the military comfort woman issue on the basis of international law. A new investigation was necessary to determine how to evaluate the issue. As a result, I defined (the women) as sex slaves of Japan’s Imperial Army.

Totsuka’s definition was the start of the anti-Japan plot in the international community. A Japanese went to the UN and continued to slander his nation in contravention of the facts, so it was relatively easy for the diplomats of many countries to get caught up in the plot. The activities of his UN lobby included 18 trips overseas during the four-year period from 1992 to 1995. Of these, 14 were made to Europe, two to the U.S., and one each to South Korea and China. As a result of this relentless, abnormal activity, Totsuka’s sex slave theory was adopted in an official UN document in 1996.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, a special rapporteur on violence against women, submitted a report to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1996 titled, “Report on the mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Japan on the issue of the military sexual slavery in wartime”. She wrote:

The Special Rapporteur would like to clarify at the outset of this report that she considers the case of women forced to render sexual services in wartime by and/or for the use of armed forces a practice of military sexual slavery.

This document is based on the testimony of Yoshida Seiji and the idea that comfort women were forcibly recruited as part of the volunteer corps. This recognition of the facts is in error. Before this report was adopted, the Foreign Ministry submitted a 40-page report in rebuttal to the Human Rights Commission. This rebuttal was suddenly withdrawn, however, and replaced with a document stating that Japan had already apologized. It made no reference to the facts of the matter. The prime minister of Japan at the time was Murayama Tomi’ichi of the Socialist Party. Since then, the Foreign Ministry has issued no rebuttal with a discussion of the facts. This was the spark for the resolution in U.S. House of Representatives.


The Yoshida book had already been discredited both in Japan and South Korea by the time it was cited in the Coomaraswamy report.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, December 16, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Part One was published yesterday. Here is Part Two.

Eight years after Yoshida’s testimony, on 11 August 1991, the first great uproar over the comfort women began when the Asahi Shimbun published a newspaper article filled with falsehoods. The article was accompanied by a large headline that read, A Korean Comfort Woman Reluctantly Speaks a Half-Century after the War. The lede read:

Korean comfort women were taken to the battlefield during the Japan-China War and the Second World War as the “volunteer corps” and forced to prostitute themselves to Japanese soldiers. We discovered one of them still living in Seoul. The Council for Dealing with the Problem of the South Korean Volunteer Corps began the work of interviewing her.

The mistaken report took up the malevolent claims of Yoshida’s testimony by saying that the women were taken to the front under the name of the “volunteer corps”. Kim Hak-sun, the comfort woman who spoke out, did not say that she was taken to the battlefield as part of the “volunteer corps”. Her mother sold her as a gisaeng for 40 yen because the family was poor. The Asahi Shimbun has yet to correct its mistake to this day.

The article was written by Uemura Takashi, who was married to the daughter of an executive in the group known as the (South Korean) Association for Bereaved Families of the Pacific War victims. They brought suit against the Japanese government seeking compensation. It is difficult to forgive someone who used the pages of the Asahi to write a lie, giving his mother-in-law’s suit more credibility.

When then-Prime Minister Miyazawa Ki’ichi visited South Korea in January 1992, he apologized to President Roh Tae-woo eight times. That year in February, I asked a senior member of the Northeast Asia section of the Foreign Ministry whether the prime minister had apologized because he recognized that the women had been taken forcibly under government authority, or whether he apologized for the damage down by prostitution caused by poverty. I was surprised by the answer I received: We’re going to start investigating that now.

I wrote an article with the above content for the April issue of the Bungei Shunju that year. Right after that article appeared, Prof. Jin Uk-eon, whose field of specialty is modern history, went to Jeju to conduct a survey about Yoshida’s testimony. He discovered the previously mentioned article in the Jeju newspaper and revealed that Yoshida had lied.

An Byeong-jik, a professor emeritus at Seoul University, conducted an academic study of the testimony of the comfort women who had come forward other than Kim Hak-sun. He concluded that it was not possible to verify the claim that they had been forcibly taken under government authority. Starting in January 1992, the Japanese government thoroughly examined official documents. They found that the volunteer corps system and the comfort women were completely separate, and there were no official documents that indicated the women had been forcibly taken under government authority. Thus, the first dispute ended with the determination of the actual facts.

The Japanese government, however, did not present a rebuttal based on the facts. They conducted the cowardly diplomacy of continuing to apologize while putting off the resolution of the problem. This shouldn’t have been an issue to begin with, but it became a serious issue in Japan-Korean relations.

In confidential discussions, the South Korean government asked the Japanese government to recognize coercion. If Japan did so, they suggested, it would end the problem in bilateral relations. Pandering to the South Koreans, the Foreign Ministry bureaucrats and Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono turned their backs on Japan. The bureaucrats employed the sophistry that there was coercion because the women didn’t want to become comfort women. The government issued the Kono Declaration in August 1993 as a representation of the government’s apology.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Nishioka Tsutomu on the comfort women (Part 1 of 4)

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, December 15, 2012

NISHIOKA Tsutomu, a researcher associated with Tokyo Christian University, has been conducting research into the comfort women for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year he published an article on the subject in the biweekly Sapio magazine. He split it up into four parts on his website. Here is Part One.


THE furor over the comfort women erupted again last year. This is the fourth time. The first started in 1991, when the Asahi Shimbun printed the error-filled report that a Korean woman who sold her body as a gisaeng was compelled to join the volunteer corps. It ended in 1994 with the issuance of the Kono Declaration. The second occurred during the turmoil in 1996 in Japan, when intellectuals and Diet members raised the issue. They claimed information included in junior high school textbooks whose screening was complete contained erroneous documentation about the forcible recruitment of comfort women. The adoption in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives of a resolution censuring Japan for forcing women to become sex slaves was the third. I have been involved in this debate since 1991, more than 20 years.

Initially, I took the stand that while the comfort women existed, there was no comfort woman problem. First, I did not recognize that comfort women were captured through the exercise of public power, and that they were victims of the sex trade due to poverty. Second, I held that the 1965 treaty between Japan and South Korea had completely and finally resolved the issue of postwar reparations to South Korea. Therefore, my claim was that nothing remained to be resolved.

My thinking changed with the fourth eruption last year, however. As a result of the activities of some professional anti-Japan Japanese and anti-Japanese South Korean activists whose aim was to destroy Japan-Korean relations, the falsehood that the Japanese army made South Korean and other women sex slaves began to spread overseas. Many foreigners, including young South Koreans, believed this to be a fact, and this problem should be resolved. I began to rigorously think of the comfort woman problem as an issue of how to clear away the falsehood of the sex slave theory.

Therefore, I wanted to confirm the identity of the first person to expound the sex slave theory. That was Yoshida Seiji, a professional anti-Japanese Japanese. The idea did not come from South Korea.

The first president after the Korean nation was established in 1948 was independence activist Yi Seung-man. The Yi administration conducted negotiations with Japan for the normalization of relations. At that time, the Koreans demanded money from Japan for a variety of reasons to extract the maximum amount of postwar reparations. The 1951 list included eight different categories. One of them was compensation to the people impressed into service because of the war. The comfort women were not part of this category. At that time, most South Koreans knew of the circumstances of the colonial period. Though the Yi Seung-man administration pursued anti-Japanese policies, they did not ask for money for the comfort women in the diplomatic negotiations.

The sex slave theory was not brought up during the 1965 negotiations, either. That arose with the publication of Yoshida Seiji’s 1983 book, My War Crimes. Yoshida said the army ordered him in 1943 to mobilize Korean women for the volunteer corps. He also said he led a group of Japanese soldiers on Jeju to round up young, unmarried women and mothers with infants, take them away in trucks, and rape them.

Yoshida’s book was published in Japanese in 1989. A female reporter with the local newspaper on Jeju covered the story, and all the residents told her nothing like that had happened. An article was published in that newspaper on 14 August 1989 that said Yoshida lied. That newspaper article attracted little attention, however. The sex slave theory began to spread from among Japanese and Korean scholars and anti-Japanese activists.

That is the preliminary history.

Posted in International relations, Sex, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »


Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 14, 2012


Foreigners are making a big commotion about how Japan is moving to the right, but that’s all those people have been saying for the past 60 years. We’re not on some clock, and even if we are moving rightward, militarism is not going to return. So, just how far to the right is Japan moving then?

– The Tweeter known as Aceface

JAPAN will go to the polls on Sunday to select 480 members of the lower house of the Diet, and, as a consequence, a new government. This will be an important election for several reasons. One is that it will be the first election after the Democratic Party of Japan betrayed the public’s trust in the same way the Liberal-Democratic Party did post-Koizumi, while demonstrating unspeakable incompetence in the bargain. Thus, the politicians are facing an electorate who does not want to get fooled again.

Another is that it will be the expression of the political will of a younger generation of Japanese for whom debate of events several decades ago in a world long dead and gone has no meaning. Why should they? Their parents were born after the war. It is as of little interest to them as America’s victory in that war is for the Millennials in the United States, many of whom don’t know the difference between Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt.

Regardless of who wins — and it looks now as if a negotiated coalition could result — there will be more people in the Diet representing ideas that make some people outside the country uncomfortable. There is growing interest in amending the Japanese Constitution to remove the indignity of Article 9, the peace clause. Everyone has the right to defend themselves, including the Japanese. Americans once thought, and many still do, that self-defense is a natural and inalienable right. Events over the years have shown the Japanese are no more likely to become involved in malevolent adventures abroad than any other country. Events in recent years have shown they are a lot less likely to become involved in those adventures than some of their neighbors.

Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru isn’t running for the Diet, but he —- and Chinese behavior — has made constitutional reform a legitimate issue for public discussion. Some detractors label him a dictator and use the word Hashism as a code word for his movement. That reaction to what he represents shares much in common with those in America who tar with the racist brush those who criticize Barack Obama for spending too much time on the golf course or employing the poison ball brand of Chicago politics he was schooled in.

Dictatorial? Mr. Hashimoto wants a national referendum on the question. What could be more democratic?

The Osaka mayor also said:

We must create the defensive capabilities and policies for Japan to defend its sovereignty and land by itself.

He and many like him would draw the line with China which needs to be drawn and continue cooperation with the United States. He’s written:

China has become a great power with responsibility, so it also has to behave responsibly. Demonstrations are one thing, but they have to stop the violence. It would also be a good idea to end the childish threats to cut off all relations whenever disputes occur. The international community jeers at them behind their back….

…Japan should be proud of the path it has taken in the postwar period. It should be proud of the more than JPY 3 trillion in ODA they’ve given to China. It should say what needs to be said to China. But we should also be aware that it won’t be so easy to wash away our past behavior.

As for other territorial disputes:

We cannot change South Korea’s effective control of Takeshima with military force.

He therefore proposed joint management of the islets while taking the case to the International Court of Justice. (Prime Minister Noda’s government is backing off their threat to do so. They’re waiting to see who wins the South Korean presidential election and thought sub-ministerial discussions with the Koreans have gone well lately. All of that is pointless considering the hard-wired Korean intransigence.)

He’s also in favor of downsizing government, rethinking the government’s social welfare responsibilities, decentralizing government authority, and controlling the out-of-control public sector unions.

Another result of the election is that Abe Shinzo, who also wants to amend the Constitution, and who passed the legislation enabling national referendums during his term as prime minister, might be serving a second term.

That the Chinese, the South Koreans, and some in the United States throw up their hands as if they were maidens threatened with violation and exclaim “extreme right wing!” or “nationalism!” says more about them than it does about the Japanese. Ending the renunciation of warfare and enforced pacifism is not right-wing, nationalistic, hawkish, or abnormal. The abnormality lies with those who object because they might lose their favorite diplomatic weapon. Are Japanese born with some geopolitical original sin that afflicts no one else?

The real complaint is that Japan is moving to end the postwar regime. That would inconvenience too many people not only in China and South Korea, but also the United States. Who knows? If they keep going down this road, Japan might actually start to tell the Americans no. Can’t have that, can we?

William Choong in the Straits Times of Singapore understands. He discusses both Mr. Hashimoto and Mr. Abe in this article, and says:

(I)t is important to see things in perspective. Japan’s rightward shift does not mean that it will go all the way right and revert to its odious World War II-era aggression. Instead, Japan is moving right to the centre.

In the long run, Japan will become a “normal” country – it will retain the right to wage war, assemble a standing army (as opposed to self-defence forces), and contribute substantially to the provision of regional and global security.

(Forgive him the “all the way to the right” line. Pre-war Japan had fascist political tendencies, and those are always statist — and therefore of the left.)

Mr. Choong also quotes University of Macau Prof. Wang Jianwei on China’s proper response:

Japan should sign a formal statement of apology for its wartime crimes, ban visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by its prime ministers, relinquish its bid to control the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands and resolve the dispute through negotiation.

If Japan were to agree to such conditions, China could, writes Prof Wang, recognize Japan’s “normal” country status and even support Tokyo’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

Why the Chinese need another apology from the Japanese government after having received more than 20 already, JPY 3 trillion in ODA as de facto reparations, and signed a treaty normalizing relations that pledged to let bygones be bygones is not explained. In any event, China would be no more likely to keep its promise about supporting a Security Council seat than the South Koreans have kept their promises in bilateral negotiations over the years.

In a larger sense that few people outside the country can understand, Sunday’s election is not about government. Japan has all the government it needs, and like everyone else, needs a lot less of what it has.

Rather, the vote on Sunday will be another step in Japan’s reclamation of its nationhood. When that reclamation is complete, then it will be normal again.

It’s been a long and winding road.

Posted in China, Government, International relations, Military affairs, Politics, Social trends, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Letter bombs (25): Chugoku or Shina?

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ishihara Shintaro (top) and Miishima Yukio in Tokyo, 1956

Ishihara Shintaro (top) and Miishima Yukio in Tokyo, 1956

READER Avery Morrow submitted a comment related to Chinese sinocentric culturalism with a link to an academic paper titled Shina as a toponym for China.

The Chinese call their nation 中国, or the country in the center (of the world), and also refer to China adjectivally as 中華, the flower in the center of the world. The standard name for the country in Japan is Chugoku, which is the Japanese reading of the characters that the Chinese use.

Some Japanese, however, prefer to use the term Shina. Avery quotes the paper:

The term Shina (支那) was originally popularized as an alternative to Chugoku 中国 because Japanese Rangaku scholars realized China was not actually the center of the world, but there are seven continents and over a hundred countries scattered around it.

The paper also points out that the term China was not standardized as the name for the country in English until the 20th century. The author adds:

As arguably China’s keenest observer and, on occasion, mercurial assessor, Japan had nothing to gain or lose — toponymically speaking — from which of the various names for China would carry on and which would be swept into the dustbin.

The Japanese who most often use Shina for China today are the sort of people that the self-anointed enlightened ones consider extreme right-wingers. The most well-known of these people is Ishihara Shintaro.

This upsets the Chinese, because it means that the upstart inferiors of Little Japan do not render them the proper deference due the flower in the center of creation.

Everyone, however, still refers to the East China Sea as the Higashi Shina Kai, and no one gets upset about that.

Last month, Hosono Goshi, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Policy Research Committee and one of the party’s boy wonderfuls, complained about Mr. Ishihara’s word choice during an appearance on a television program. (The former Tokyo Metro District governor has published roughly 35 fiction and non-fiction books. Three have won awards, and his first novel, Season of the Sun, was the Novel of its Generation.)

Said Mr. Hosono:

It is a mistake for Ishihara Shintaro to call China Shina. China should also not call Japan “Little Japan”.

As if anyone in China cared what Mr. Hosono thinks. His statement was reported in China, and here are some of the Internet comments:

* That government official doesn’t seem to know that the use of the word Japan itself constitutes denigration. Big or little has nothing to do with it.

* I’ve never used little Japan. I’ve always used riben guizi or Japanese beasts myself. (Riben guizi is 日本鬼子, or very roughly, Japanese demon, but it packs a lot of history and negative associations.)

* How about if we use Little Japan Guizi?

* Let’s use Japanese devils.

* What’s the difference between Little Japan and Japan?

* What difference does it make? They’re just one of our provinces anyway.

No, Mr. Hosono is not ready for prime time, but then neither was his party.

Author and critic Kure Tomofusa explained the reason for the Japanese switch from Shina to Chugoku in the 19 November 2010 edition of the weekly Shukan Post. Here it is in English.

For more than 60 years after the war, Japan has associated with the country across the sea by muddling the examination of right and wrong. I write “the country across the sea”, and that country is known throughout the world as Shina or something of similar pronunciation. But only Japan and the countries on the Korean Peninsula have been compelled to call this country Chugoku. Both the government and the public have contributed to the muddling of right and wrong through this irrational control of speech.

I first pointed out this irrationality during the days of the Zenkyoto student protests. I insisted that the country should be called Shina. I have not wavered from that position even after becoming a commentator, though that position has been to my detriment several times. Right is right, and wrong is wrong.

Shina is derived from 秦 (Shin, or Manchu Dynasty), and it became the internationally accepted term for the country. In English it is China, and in France it is Chine, both of which are similar to the Japanese Shina.

This usage was prohibited in Japan in 1946 through a notification from a deputy foreign minister. At that time, Japan was occupied by the U.S. and the other Allied powers. News reports were submitted for screening prior to publication, and the publication of printed matter was suspended. With this as a backdrop, this unusual restriction on speech was issued requiring that the country be called Chugoku. The notification also included the frightening phrase that Shina was not to be used, “with no argument”.

Japan regained its sovereignty in 1952 with the peace treaty, yet both the mass media and educational institutions still use this unusual notification by a deputy minister. Have they not noticed that Chugoku was used through compulsion? Instead, many people believe in good conscience that Shina should naturally be prohibited because it is discriminatory and symbolic of the invasion.

Great Britain ended its invasion of China with the return of Hong Kong in 1997. Portugal ended its invasion of China with the return of Macau two years later in 1999. Both Great Britain and Portugal use the China/Shina terms, so where is the problem?

The meaning of Chugoku is “the country in the center of the world”. It is an arrogant word that denotes contempt for other countries. Shina is trying to force this on the surrounding countries that were once in its sphere of influence. The subject of discrimination is Japan. We must clearly differentiate right from wrong. Saying what should be said is the most basic of basics.


Posted in China, History, International relations, Legal system, Letter bombs, World War II | Tagged: | 8 Comments »


Posted by ampontan on Monday, November 19, 2012

The following is testimony from an unnamed former soldier that appeared in the October 2007 issue of the monthly Seiron.

As the chief quartermaster of the army’s 17th division, I had the opportunity to hear from a former army captain of the circumstances in which the division set up a comfort woman station. In May 1941, the 17th division was headquartered in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province. A non-commissioned officer in one of the units assigned to a nearby farming village raped a local woman. The division commander insisted that we had to be on good relations with the Chinese, but also realized that incidents of this type would sometimes occur. In his heart, the commander did not want to do it, but decided to establish a comfort woman station as a necessary evil.

In June or July, not long after the incident occurred, an officer called a Japanese broker to headquarters on the instructions of the commander. They selected the building to be used as the comfort woman station and established various rules. These included the prohibition of alcohol on the premises, the fees, and the requirement that the women be examined by a military doctor once a week.

The broker brought in about 10 women and began operations. There were about six or seven Japanese women and three or four Korean women. The Japanese women and the Korean women got along well with each other. None of them contracted a bronchial disease or tried to run away. They were well-fed and had good, clear complexions. There was no exploitation at all. The Korean women were the ones to most frequently send money home from the post office in the field. The examinations by the medical doctors were strict, and they were not allowed to work if they had a cold.

I was single at the time, and understood that the existence of the comfort women stations was unavoidable. They were established to prevent sexual crimes against the good Chinese citizens and STDs among the soldiers. They were a necessary evil in the system of licensed prostitution that existed at the time.

These stations were established as a very difficult option to prevent rape and other crimes. It is not possible that sexual crimes occurred there.

Posted in China, History, Military affairs, Sex, World War II | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

War memorial

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, November 4, 2012

SOME people memorialize wars by prolonging the anger as long as possible, all the better to infect the innocent of younger generations with the same poison. Within that sickness, there is one benefit: It provides an artificial sense of meaning and life to people unable to find it in more productive activities.

But there are better memorials, and one of them was demonstrated in Itoman, Okinawa, on Saturday last week. The prefectural branch of Mindan, the South Korea-affiliated organization for Japanese-born Korean citizens, and the prefecture’s Japan-Korea Friendship Association held a commemorative ceremony at the Mabuni War Memorial for those Koreans who died in Okinawa during the Second World War. About 100 people attended.

Said the Mindan representative: “It is our responsibility to prevent the memories from fading and to never again wage war.” The chairman of the friendship association expressed similar sentiments: “It is our wish that the lessons of war be conveyed forever to the future, and for lasting peace to extend from Okinawa to the world.”

The event featured three performances of music and dance. One performer was Terukina Choichi, a national living treasure (an official designation) who played Nakafu-bushi on the sanshin. Here is his recording of it with Kinjo Kumiko singing.

Matsuda Akane performed the Karaya-bushi dance with a short song. The reports say the dance has Korean elements, but they weren’t specified. Also called the Moon Viewing Dance, the 450-year-old song-and-dance originates in a story told about a Chinese man who came to Okinawa and began to make roof tiles. This was a new technology for the Okinawans, and they were so impressed the King asked him to stay. He agreed on the condition that he be allowed to marry a woman who had caught his fancy.

She was already married, but when a king speaks, commoners listen, so she had no choice in the matter. The lyrics of the song are about climbing to the top of the roof, standing on the tiles, and looking to the south. The singer can see the inlet, but she cannot see her town; i.e., her husband.

This seems to have been a true story. They know where the Chinese man built his kiln on top of a hill. This hill:

Here’s the dance:

Finally, Kim Sun-ja performed the traditional salpuri dance. That’s her in the photo at the top of the post. Salpuri originated in the southwest part of the Korean Peninsula, and was performed to send the spirits of the deceased who can’t let go of this world to the world beyond. It has shamanistic aspects.

Here’s an idea: Apply that sentiment to those memories of the war which keep the poison circulating.

And here’s the salpuri:

Posted in South Korea, Traditions, World War II | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Ichigen koji (207)

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

– A person who has something to say about everything

A similar story is the mistaken reporting done about school textbooks, when articles claimed that the Ministry of Education had forced the publishers to change the word “invasion” (into Asia) to “advance”. Even though this was not true, it was reported by all the newspapers. As a result, it gained currency internationally as a “fact”, and had a negative impact on the textbook screening system and textbook content itself. Had there been an environment of oversight as there is now with the Net, this misunderstanding might have been corrected more quickly.

– Abiru Rui

Posted in Education, International relations, Mass media, Quotations, World War II | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

New Japan-related controversies in South Korea

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A controversy has erupted in South Korea regarding the certification of junior high school history textbooks to be adopted for use next year by a panel from the National Institute of Korean History.

The Institute’s panel asked the nine publishing companies submitting textbooks for certification to remove the term “sexual slavery” in regard to the wartime comfort women. They also recommended that the term “King of Japan” be replaced by Tenno, the Japanese term for the Emperor.

Jeong Jin-hu, a member of the National Assembly’s Education, Science, and Technology Committee, said he had obtained the recommended revisions and analyzed them. The certification process was completed on 31 August. Declared Mr. Jeong, who is unaffiliated with a party and a PR member:

“In contrast to President Lee’s sudden visit to Dokdo and reference to the “South Korean-Japan History War”, the institute has adopted a Japan-friendly stance in the history textbooks junior high school students use…I cannot understand why the term “sexual slavery” used by the government is being omitted from the books”.

The table shown in the above photograph is a request submitted to one of the publishers to amend their text containing the expression “military comfort women (sexual slaves)” in two places. The screening committee asked that they remove the words “sexual slaves”. The phrase was initially removed, according to the Korean report.

But the group who wrote the textbook said that leaving only the expression “comfort women” prevents the inclusion of language that the Japanese military at the time subjected the women to immoral violence. They objected to the revision, and pointed out that the term “sexual slavery” has already been accepted internationally.

The institute compromised with the textbook authors and allowed them to use the phrase “forced to live a daily life of sexual slavery”. Some people objected to this phrase, too:

“The behavior of the Institute’s committee recommending the removal of the phrase “sexual slavery”, which is officially used in history textbooks both internationally and in South Korea, is a grave error.”

One publishing company made the requested changes to the expression “King of Japan” in three locations of its textbook. Another was asked to remove the word “protective” in The Eulsa Protective Treaty of 1905 in five places.

This is fascinating for several reasons.

* Those who objected to the changes did not cite historical accuracy as the reason. One of their concerns was that they had gotten sources overseas to buy into the concept of sexual slavery. Removing that phrase from the textbook undercuts their position.

* There is now recognition that the “King of Japan” expression is a petty indulgence they can no longer afford, and is an obstacle to restoring normal Japan-Korean relations. (It seems to have first come into common use 15-20 years ago.)

* The National Institute of Korean History is no longer willing to support the charge of sexual slavery compelled by the Japanese military. The historians at the institute evidently think this charge cannot be justified.

* The phrase they compromised on is very similar to the phrase now used by one of the original Japanese comfort woman historians, Yoshimi Yoshiaki. Mr. Yoshimi first said he had evidence that the Japanese military forcibly abducted women. His evidence was shown to be nothing of the sort. He has now modified his position to say that social conditions at the time forced the women to sign up.

* Tracking the future career path of the people on the panel who recommended the change might be educational in itself.

* Mr. Jeung referred to the “South Korea-Japan History War”. Those are his exact words. His attitude speaks for itself.

* The report in South Korea was immediately translated into Japanese. It’s all over the Internet now. This could mean the eventual end for the Kono Declaration.

In short, the toothpaste is out of the tube.

Meanwhile, another controversy has emerged regarding the repair and restoration of National Treasure #1 in South Korea. That’s the Sungnyemun, one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. It surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty, and dates from the 14th century.

People are complaining that the adhesives used in the restoration are Japanese products. Supervising the work is the Cultural Heritage Administration. They said the use of Japanese adhesives couldn’t be helped because they were of superior quality. Much of the gate was destroyed by fire in 2008, and the reconstruction work began in 2010. Japanese paint is also being used.

The agency said they would have preferred to use Korean products, but they were of inferior quality, and they could not “experiment” with a cultural treasure. The manufacturing process for traditional Korean adhesives was lost by 1980. A university professor tried to recreate it, but the agency said it was too weak.

This report is also on the Japanese Internet.

Posted in History, International relations, South Korea, Traditions, World War II | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Letter bombs (24): 21st century schizoid man

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, October 6, 2012

SOME opinions expressed by readers have prompted another reader, who uses the name 21st Century Schizoid Man, to send in a comment of his own. He wrote it in Japanese (though his other notes have been in English) and asked someone to translate it. Here it is:

The first thing I want to say is that American Kim is being reasonable without running anybody down. Therefore, what I write in the following about the South Koreans and Chinese whom I dislike does not overlap with AK precisely.

There is no difference, however, when it comes to continually bringing up the past. The Japanese have experienced deadly air raids on Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo, as well as the land battle in Okinawa, but we seldom bring that up with Americans. Even when we do, we seldom say that the Americans committed atrocities. I think that’s because it’s meaningless to endlessly raise the subject.

But the foreigners who bring this up (other than Americans) dispose of that objection by saying that we are obsequious to Americans, or that the Japanese invasions were the cause of it all and we brought it on ourselves. But then most of the people who died in those attacks weren’t military personnel, either.

The South Koreans and Chinese I dislike are those who give me the sense that they are saying, “You are the son or grandson of thieves,”, even though I myself did nothing. I’m about fed up with that. If they claim that’s not what they’re saying, that might be true as far as it goes. But that’s what it feels like to me.

That also causes me to think those people believe themselves to be spiritually superior. It’s as if they think they naturally have the right, and are superior, because they were the “invaded” people.

If it were only once or twice, I could forget about it. But this has been going on for as long as I can remember during my life, and it has continued until the present.

If I myself were a thief, then I should be the one to repent. But do these people even sense that they’re saying I should repent because my father and grandfather were thieves? Does anyone sincerely say, “I’m sorry because my father and grandfather were thieves”? Quite a few Japanese seem as if they do, but then I might not be a typical Japanese person. Or it might be that the Japanese are inwardly fed up with it all without coming out and saying so.

At any rate, with these experiences, it’s my honest belief that it isn’t possible to associate on an equal basis with Chinese and South Koreans to start with. Therefore, I’m living my life by not unreasonably trying to do something that’s not within reason. I should probably remain satisfied with small things, to the extent that mutual understanding is possible. It isn’t possible to ask for a lot. But that might be how it is for interaction with people from foreign countries, to a greater or lesser degree. To extend that, the differences between people of the same country are essentially not as large.

My opinion: 2 says “my father and grandfather”, but the reality of it is “my grandfather and great-grandfather’s generation”. It is also the reality that the bad faith of the Chinese and South Koreans — and the juvenile petulance of the South Koreans in particular as expressed by their new Time Square billboard — have completely turned off generations of Japanese who weren’t alive when the events that are the subject of the grievances occurred, and continually brought up by people who weren’t alive at the time either.

The responsibility for any ill will in 21st century Northeast Asia lies with them.

The core members of the group are Japanese, I think. I like this version better than the original.

Posted in China, History, International relations, Letter bombs, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | 44 Comments »


Posted by ampontan on Thursday, October 4, 2012

IT’S possible to see some academics and think tankers still offering a certain kind of helpful advice to the Japanese about how to resolve the lingering animosities in Northeast Asia . That advice is now decades out of date, and its expression alone demonstrates that those who offer it aren’t paying attention.

This is the third time in a week I’ve presented excerpts from Prof. Furuta Hiroshi, but that’s because he had the foresight to write the following in 2005.

The great cacophony in East Asia, past, present, and future, is obvious to everyone. For many years, it has been believed that the primary cause of that cacophony is Japan’s history of colonial policies on the Korean Peninsula and the invasion and warfare in China. That Japan’s everlasting atonement to them will contribute to reconciliation and cooperation in the region has been induced as a conclusion, enveloped in a sense of ethics.

Now, however, we have at last begun to understand the immaturity of that logic. The present cacophony of East Asia is rather a result of their nationalist melody. The sheet music is inscribed with the first movement of Sinocentric Culturalism, which hasn’t been reorchestrated for centuries. The timber of the music has swelled from the initial faint strains and gradually become a great noise that has drowned out the voices of reconciliation, cooperation, and atonement. Under the baton of their moral propensities, they unendingly chant an anti-Japanese liturgy. This quashes the spirit of compliance with international law that we have created in recent years, as well as our verified historical research and even our rational thought. Their compatriots strike us in the face and impose on us their mistaken “correct history”.

The results of the peace so assiduously built up in the sixty years after the war have been branded as militarism by those with nuclear weapons who would pillage our islands. The “intellectuals of good conscience” who are not aware of that outrageousness are unworthy of being attributed with the quality of good conscience.

The time has now come in which we will have to fight through and survive the never-ending anti-Japan symphony.

Posted in China, History, International relations, Photographs and videos, South Korea, World War II | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

China demos: The rest of the story

Posted by ampontan on Sunday, September 16, 2012

A photograph was taken of a police officer in civilian clothes holding a megaphone and giving instructions, after which a car was destroyed. They’ve turned into a mob. A police officer does something like this, and the security police are providing protection. Amazing, a country capable of such theater.

– A Tweet from Masumitsu Koz, referring to the above photo from Chinese sources

YOU’VE read the news from China on the government-inspired and –supported anti-Japanese demonstrations that have turned into rioting and looting. Now, to paraphrase Paul Harvey, here’s the rest of the story.

The Japanese public was appalled at the incompetence with which the Kan Naoto Cabinet mishandled the incident in September 2010 when a Chinese fishing boat captain rammed into two Japanese Coast Guard vessels near the Senkaku islets. Their misfeasance and negligence included lying about the responsibility of the Okinawa prosecutors, concealing the video of the incident (until a Coast Guard officer released it on Youtube), and charges that government officials had resigned themselves to vassalage to the Chinese. It was one of several factors that would have bounced Kan Naoto from office after only six months on the job, until the Tohoku disaster prolonged his term for another six months.

A direct result of that incompetence was the fund-raising drive started by Tokyo Metro District Gov. Ishihara Shintaro to purchase the islets for Tokyo from their Japanese owners. Widely dismissed, and therefore unwisely disregarded, as an ultranationalist, Mr. Ishihara read the national mood that demanded the government uphold its prime directive to defend the country. The Tokyo government received enough money through the drive to make the purchase.

But he would not have stopped with the title transfer. Under his direction, the Tokyo government would likely have built docks for fishing boats and emergency rescue squads, and conducted surveys to determine the extent of the undersea resources in the area.

That would have upset the Chinese, who manufactured their own claim to the islets in the early 70s to glom the resources for themselves. Therefore, the government of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko stepped in to have the national government buy them. It was an attempt to seize the middle ground — they would satisfy the public by upholding Japanese sovereignty without antagonizing the Chinese by developing the islets.

Tang Jiazhuan, the head of a China-Japan Friendship Association, sent a back-channel message to the Japanese government that the Chinese would accept the purchase (while publicly complaining about it) if Japan did not erect permanent buildings, conducted no surveys, and recognized that the sovereignty of the territory was in dispute.

The first two already were the policy of the Noda government, but the third was and is not. Mr. Noda informed President Hu Jintao that his government would purchase the islets when both men were in Vladivostok for the APEC summit. Here is the Epoch Times description of Mr. Hu’s response:

Hu Jintao admonished Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Russia Sunday, stating that Japan’s attempts to “interfere” in the Senkaku Islands dispute were “illegal and futile.”


Hu’s remarks, however, were published for less than an hour before they were purged from Party websites and others affiliated with Beijing. No explanation was presented for the deletions.

The article had said, “Hu Jintao solemnly pointed out that recently China and Japan’s conflicts over the Senkaku Islands have been grim. On the Senkaku Islands matter, the Chinese position is consistent and clear. Any means taken by Japan to ‘interfere with the islands’ are illegal, futile, and firmly opposed by China. The Chinese government’s stance on protecting territory and sovereignty is unwavering.”

The Epoch Times reported that Mr. Hu was said to have told the Japanese prime minister, “The Japanese must fully realize the seriousness of the current situation, not make a wrong decision, and protect the development of China-Japan relations.”

They added that the article was deleted from the Chinese Web portal NetEase, Google News, and the Xinhua news agency. Phoenix TV in Hong Kong also ran the article, but later modified it to make it less harsh.

And then it was uploaded again. That is unusual, even for China. It suggests, at a minimum, serious disagreement among the country’s rulers over how to proceed.

The same day, the Chinese Foreign Ministry sent a message to the Japanese government declaring their strong opposition to the purchase. They didn’t make it public until later that night.

The following day, Mr. Noda announced the purchase and ignored the Chinese demands. The Chinese knew that would strengthen Japanese control of the islets and were disturbed because it caused Mr. Hu to lose face. The Chinese president was criticized at home for foreign policy weakness.

The day after that, Prime Minister Wen Jibao and Deputy Prime Minister Li Keqiang issued anti-Japanese statements. Both they and Mr. Hu are viewed as relatively friendly toward Japan (unlike the presumed presidential successor, Xi Jinping). Said Mr. Li:

“Japan’s position on the islands issue is the greatest threat to the postwar international order.”

The Japanese assume that these statements were required to fend off criticism from the hardliners.

In addition, Wu Bangguo, the chairman of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress and therefore technically the Number 2 man in government, declared during his visit to Iran that the Japanese purchase was “illegal and invalid”.

The Chinese government then decided that the Japanese must be taught a lesson. Though Mr. Noda said his Cabinet would not build facilities on the Senkakus, the Chinese know his government is unlikely to last much longer. What they don’t know is the intention of whatever new government will replace it. Therefore, they gave de facto permission to the people to hold public demonstrations as an object lesson to whoever would form the next government.

First, they allowed the publication of lurid front pages on the nation’s newspapers, as we’ve seen here. Government sources also said publicly that they would not be able to prevent the people’s expressions of patriotism and anti-Japanese sentiment. “We must be even more firm in our position on the East and South China Sea after seeing the dissatisfaction of the people on the Net.” Wednesday’s newspapers featured photos of anti-Japanese demonstrations, another signal of the government’s approach.

Further permission was granted when a foreign ministry spokesman declared:

“We can understand the people’s strong sense of righteous indignation.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Sugiyama Shinsuke, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanic Affairs Bureau, was in China to meet Luo Zhaohui, the director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of Asian Affairs. Mr. Luo made three demands:

1. Cancel the purchase

2. Japan must “immediately correct its error, return to the shared understanding the two countries had achieved, and seek resolution through discussion.”

3. Maintain existing channels of communication.

Mr. Sugiyama’s response was not made public, but the Chinese do not seem to have liked it.

On Thursday the 13th, Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei was asked at a news conference about a possible boycott of Japanese goods:

“The Chinese government will understand if China’s consumers express their position with rational methods in opposition to Japan’s infringement of Chinese sovereignty.”

The Chinese have also been cancelling visits that are part of citizen exchange programs, but one Chinese source said:

“That’s not a full-scale response. We know the Japanese government is not going to cancel its purchase, but this is a strategy to achieve some sort of compromise.”

What they want is the recognition from Japan that a territorial dispute exists and a pledge that they will settle it through discussion. They aren’t going to get it.

Student and youth groups in China sent out a call for action by mobilizing for demonstrations this weekend. The government backed them up, but included a veiled warning:

“The government will staunchly protect all the required actions and proper behavior taken by the students and young people to defend our nation’s sovereignty. The party, the government, and all the people will stand together from start to finish.”

In other words: Go ahead and scare the Japanese, but don’t do anything stupid and get carried away with yourselves. But as we will see, they were unable to prevent that.

There is no question the government coordinated this weekend’s demonstrations.

Mark Mackinnon of the Globe and Mail in Canada posted this photo on Twitter and said, “Red armband gents in last pic are guiding, not preventing demonstrators headed to Japanese Embassy in Beijing.”

The on-call protesters were given transportation to and from the site in Beijing and a box lunch. Here’s a photo of the buses taken yesterday.

The schedules for the demonstrations were announced on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) for 19 Japanese consulates throughout the country yesterday and 18 today. They ensured there would be sufficient police on hand.

But they didn’t anticipate that the Rude Boys would be so disorderly, and serious clashes between the police and demonstrators began right away. In addition to the signs calling for the recovery of Okinawa (not just the Senkakus) and for the “elimination” of the Japanese, many people carried placards with photos of Chairman Mao. The destruction, particularly in Qingdao, demonstrated that events were moving beyond their control. In addition to the factories and sales outlets of Japanese companies, the mob also looted shops belonging to Rolex and Christian Dior.

The government tried to dial back on the demonstrations today. Here’s a message from the State Council Information Office as presented by China Digital Times:

“ All websites are requested to inspect and clear every forum, blog, Weibo post and other form of interactive content of material concerning “mobilizing anti-Japan demonstrations, stirring up excitement, rioting and looting” and “the U.S. history of purchasing territory.” (September 15, 2012)”

By rioting and looting, they mean the estimated 2.4 billion yen in damage to the Qingdao Aeon store alone. The company says they will need at least two months to reopen.

Unlike the newspapers earlier in the week, the front pages this morning carried no reports of the demonstrations at all. They ran typical Sunday features instead. (Clicking on the picture enlarges it somewhat.)

The newspaper coverage was also designed to calm the turbulence. Here are some headlines from this morning’s papers:

Beijing News: Patriotism must not exceed the minimum standard of the law

Beijing Youth Daily (editorial): We must not inject criminality into patriotic passion

People’s Daily (opinion piece by a student): Prevent extreme ethnocentrism from snatching China away from us

Good luck with that last one.

Good luck with all of them, in fact. More than 10,000 people demonstrated today at the Japanese embassy in Beijing, and police had to use pepper spray to drive them back. But more serious was what happened in Shenzhen. Here’s a Reuters report:

“In the biggest flare-up in protests over East China Sea islands claimed by China and Japan, police fired tear gas and used water cannon to repel thousands of protesters occupying a street in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.”

Now here’s what Reuters couldn’t bring themselves to tell their consumers, for reasons known only to them: The thousands of protesters that were “occupying a street” and had to be driven back with tear gas and water cannon were not anywhere near a Japanese public or private sector facility.

They were demonstrating at the local Communist Party headquarters. Here:

And here:

And here:

The placards they carried bore ominous slogans:

* ”Japan get out, Bo Xilai come back soon, down with genetically modified foods, punish the hanjian (traitors to the Han Chinese) and quislings”

* “Freedom, democracy, human rights, constitutionalism”

It is most interesting that the AP couldn’t even bring themselves to mention the tear gas and water cannon. Their account quoted a woman saying it was a “peaceful protest”.

Because this has now become a mob, and the manufactured anti-Japanese sentiment has now become an excuse, police in Shenzhen closed the four subway stops closest to Huaqiang Road. That is sometimes called China’s Akihabara because it is filled with malls selling consumer electronics and fashions.

The Investing in Chinese Stocks website also notes that this is a manifestation of the social mood :

Reclaim Sheung Shui! Protect our homes!” they chanted, echoing slogans written on the placards they were waving. They said the numbers of parallel traders buying goods in the neighbourhood and travelling through the station had been creating a nuisance for years. Parallel traders buy goods in one market to smuggle into another, where they sell them without authorisation.

The protests also drew about 300 onlookers – including some parallel traders – who stood around the station and on a footbridge.

It did not take long for clashes to break out after two young protesters held up a sign reading: “Chinese people eat s***!”, together with a modified colonial-era Hong Kong flag.

The English-language industrial media is offering a narrative of anti-Japanese hatred fueled by a Chinese-created territorial dispute. Most Japanese see the demonstrations as an extreme version of what they call gasu nuki, in which the Chinese government uses Japan to “let the gas out”. That alleviates social tensions and the dissatisfaction which would ordinarily be directed against them. Japan has seen it many times before and is accustomed to it.

This time, however, something more serious might be happening. A Communist Party congress is due to be held soon, with more turnover in party positions than normal. That suggests an internal power struggle is underway, presumably between the more “liberal” Hu faction and the Old Guard of former President Jiang Zemin, the discredited Bo, and Xi Jinping. Mr. Xi has so far been sitting on the fence. When he was forced to jump before, after the Bo Xilai scandal erupted, he jumped to the Hu side. His two-week vacation from public view has now taken on more disturbing overtones, and his first public appearance came on the first day of the demonstrations. He has yet to make a public statement about all of this.

People still remember Chairman Mao’s use of the Red Guards to eliminate opposition, and his subsequent abandonment of them after they had served his purpose. Are today’s demonstrators their 21st century reincarnation? One Weibo user Weiboed: “My father looked at the photos and videos of the demonstrations and said, that’s just how it was during the Cultural Revolution.”

The single largest interest group in the country the politicians must please is the People’s Liberation Army. Not only does the military have the guns and the numbers, but they also have substantial business interests. They are a major presence, for example, in Huawei Technologies, the China Poly Group (a large trading company also involved in real estate), and the China National Offshore Oil Corp., which focuses on developing crude oil and natural gas resources offshore.

In places like the Senkaku islets.

In other words, China’s military-industrial complex doesn’t have a dash between the first two words.

As the post at the link above explains, there are also concerns of Tiananmen V.2, driven by extreme public dissatisfaction with the corrupt ruling class and a non-responsive government.

The Chinese government itself avers that despite having the world’s second largest economy, they are still a “developing nation”. Perhaps it would be more accurate to use an unfashionable retro term: They’re still a Third World country. Do they not manifest all the symptoms of those dysfunctional regimes? They are nominally Communist, but closer in practice to the national socialism first expressed in Italian fascism. There is a free market of sorts, but it must operate at the discretion of the state: “Everything within the state, and nothing outside the state.”

The people in Third World countries often became ungovernable when they became fed up with a corrupt oligarchy. The usual pattern was for the military to step in with a firm hand and make things right, while making sure they got a piece of the action themselves.

As reader Aoumigamera suggested in a comment this morning, there are similarities between today’s China and pre-war Japan in the 1930s. He compared the hardliners in the Chinese military to the Japanese Imperial Way Faction. That was an element in the Imperial Japanese Army intent on reducing the social turmoil caused by a sharp economic downturn, the polarization of society created by the wealthy growing wealthier through governmental connections (what they now call the income gap), and social unrest. They eventually attempted a coup d’etat in the famous February 26 incident of 1936, the failure of which broke them.

That did not stop Japanese expansion overseas, as a relatively more moderate military faction stepped in to take charge. One of its members was Tojo Hideki. Social conditions at the time were formed in part by the extreme dislocations caused by the rapid modernization of the country. Those dislocations are more extreme in today’s China, which has modernized much more rapidly and covered much more ground. There is a street paved with gold and people living in caves.

While this is not to suggest there will be a coup attempt, it is not out of the question that the military will come to dominate the political class. Chinese television today reported that a large-scale military training exercise in the East China Sea had been conducted with several dozen ships and many aircraft and submarines. There were also simulations of missile attacks and anti-submarine warfare. The report said they “simulated conditions on an actual battlefield”.

This is China today. Tomorrow, the rest of the world may find themselves to be somehow part of Chinaworld whether they like it or not. Four thousand ethnic Chinese held an anti-Japanese demonstration in San Francisco today.

In the meantime, watch how the government responds by next Tuesday, the 81st anniversary of the Mukden Incident with Japan. That’s when the demonstrations were expected to peak. The country’s leaders might now think that’s not such a good idea.

What they do think is a good idea, however, is to send as many as many as 10,000 fishing boats, accompanied by fishery patrol boats, to the East China Sea when fishing season begins tomorrow. They’re getting ready now and waiting for the typhoon to pass, according to a report in the Nikkei Shimbun.

UPDATE: The Yomiuri Shimbun talked to one of the Chinese managers at the now-destroyed Panasonic plant in Qingdao. He told them:

“We won’t be able to resume operations. Counting the other plants, tens of thousands of people will be unemployed. The Chinese did this.”


Here’s another aspect to public demonstrations. This Dazhou marcher carried a placard with a photo of Aoi Sora, a Japanese porno actress and nude model (who is now trying to make the transition to more respectable show business). I’d rather carry that than a red flag.

Posted in China, International relations, World War II | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

All you have to do is look, 15 September China edition

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Chinese are very interesting. While they’re alive, they won’t protect their own land, their own home, their own assets, their own freedom, their own jobs, or even their own children. They won’t even protect their own bodies — they’ll sell them to someone. But when it comes to defending the country’s territory, their blood runs hot and they’ll fly into a rage.

– A Chinese blogger writing at a site called Zaishui Yifang

CHINA’S national political establishment and news media have been sowing poisoned seeds for years. The harvest for this year’s crop started today in 29 cities:

Prior to a clash with armed police in Beijing, before an attempt to storm the Japanese embassy. (Asahi Shimbun photo)

The remains of a Panasonic plant in Qinqdao:

The supermarket of a Japanese-owned company in Changsha:

At a hotel in Xian. The mob demanded that the hotel send out any Japanese guests.

At a Qingdao Aeon store, a Japanese-owned company. (Owned by the family of the ruling Democratic Party bigwig Okada Katsuya, in fact. His brother is the president.)

At a Toyota dealer in Qingdao:

At another auto dealer in Hengyang:

This is how the young and the restless in China will spend the weekend, until Tuesday. That’s the 81st anniversary of the Mukden Incident, which the Japanese Imperial Army used as a pretext for invading northern China.

They’re Japanese hunting. We’ve seen the Chinese do this before. Three years ago, it was Uighur hunting in Xinjiang.

There’s video:

And this report from French television, dubbed into Japanese:

One of the Chinese tough guys says they will not accept the Uighur independence movement under any circumstances.

If you’re sitting in a different part of the world and think the Chinese will behave this way only with Asians who displease the new hegemons, you’d better think again. They want revenge on everyone they think wronged them, and they want it now. That includes the West.

It doesn’t take much to get them in the mood. A Chinese man on their Internet this week wrote that his brother-in-law, who works for a state-run company, was told that he would be fined if he didn’t participate in an anti-Japanese demonstration in Guangdong Province last month.

Video from the Qingdao Aeon store.

Posted in China, International relations, World War II | Tagged: , | 18 Comments »

Missing the forest for the tree

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where’s Xi Jinping?

AS I write, the world is wondering what in the world has happened to Xi Jinping, China’s vice-president and soon-to-be president (perhaps next year) and head of the Communist Party, perhaps as soon as the CCP gets around to scheduling its party congress. Mr. Xi hasn’t been seen in public for a fortnight and has skipped several meetings with foreign leaders. That’s prompted speculation reminiscent of the photo analysis of the relative positions of Soviet officials reviewing parades in Red Square during a previous age. Rumors have ranged from a pulled muscle caused by swimming to a heart attack, the failure of an assassination attempt by staged automobile accident, and most recently, a stroke. Hong Kong’s iSun Affairs website says he’s just busy with work.

Some media-designated cognoscenti think it’s only that the Chinese love to keep secrets:

The party simply “does not think that the public has a right to know about the affairs of leading personnel unless the message is carefully controlled and positive,” said Harvard University China expert Anthony Saich.

The self-appointed cognoscenti think everyone else should chill:

“I think people are getting themselves excessively excited by this,” former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg Television from the Chinese city of Tianjin, where he was attending a World Economic Forum gathering. “I think people frankly need to take a long, strong, hot cup of tea and just calm down a bit.”

“I’ve been following Chinese politics for about 30 years,” said Rudd, a Mandarin-speaker who served as a diplomat in Beijing in the 1980’s.

No, he doesn’t know what’s going on either.

The Associated Press thinks this is typical behavior for a health-related problem:

If Xi’s absence is indeed health-related, he would join some of his forebears among the ruling elite who suddenly vanished for health reasons with no explanation. The party barred all discussion about the frequent absences of Politburo Standing Committee member Huang Ju, who died of illness in 2007. And then-Premier Li Peng also disappeared for several weeks in 1993 after what was believed to have been a heart attack.

But Bloomberg thinks it’s atypical:

China’s silence on Vice President Xi Jinping’s 12-day absence from public view contrasts with past rebuttals of speculation about top officials and is escalating concern over the nation’s leadership succession.

The official Xinhua News Agency took less than a day in July 2011 to deny former President Jiang Zemin had died. Earlier this year, Xinhua published accounts of China’s top security official within days of a Financial Times report that he was under investigation. By comparison, state media haven’t reported on Xi for a week, or mentioned that he canceled meetings with foreign officials on Sept. 5

The AP presents an on-call academic to say the silence is an echo of the past:

Richard Rigby, a former Australian diplomat and China expert at the Australian National University, said the Communist Party has become more sensitive to public opinion on certain issues, such as nationalism and social unrest. “But when it comes to the leadership, the old conspiratorial instincts of an underground party come to the fore,” he said.

But Bloomberg presents another to say they’re a part of the 21st century:

“In a relatively closed system, Chinese society is driven by rumors and conspiracy theories and the government does recognize the need to release some explanation,” said John Lee, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Sydney and author of the book “Will China Fail?” “The fact that you have not had a definitive explanation from state media suggests that there is internal disagreement as to how to release the truth, whatever that may be.”

They still haven’t made up their minds on the story they want to tell. Japan’s quasi-public network NHK has an international news broadcast that’s carried in China. Last night they reported on Chinese opposition to the government’s purchase of the Senkaku islets from their owners. The story then segued into a segment about the speculation over Mr. Xi’s whereabouts, but the only people in China to see it were the censors. The screen suddenly went black and the sound was cut off.

That something serious is happening is obvious. But whatever the truth may be, whether it’s a slipped disc from dancing with his celebrity wife or recovering from 12 hours of surgery after a shootout in the Politburo chambers, the danger is that people are missing the forest by focusing on one tree. More important than what is happening with Mr. Xi is what is happening with the country. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who usually writes about the global economy and finance, presents an expert of his own:

We all know by now about the simmering leadership crisis in China. The Bo Xilai affair has lifted the lid on a hornet’s nest. I had not realised quite how serious the situation has become until listening to China expert Cheng Li here at the Ambrosetti forum of the world policy elites on Lake Como…Nor had anybody else in the room at Villa d’Este. There were audible gasps.

The rifts within the upper echelons of Chinese Communist Party are worse than they were during the build-up to Tiananmen Square, he said, and risks spiralling into “revolution”. Dr Cheng — a Shanghai native — is research director of the Brookings Institution in Washington and a director of the National Committee on US-China Relations. He argues that China’s economic hard-landing is intertwined with a leadership crisis as the ten-year power approaches this autumn. The two are feeding on each other. “You cannot forecast the Chinese economy unless you have a sophisticated view of the political landscape and the current succession crisis,” he said.


Dr Cheng said fears of a disintegrating political model are now eating in economic confidence. “This legitimacy crisis is worse than in 1989, and may be the worst in the history of the Communist Party. People are afraid that it could lead to revolution if it is not handled well.”

One reason people are smelling revolution in the air is that Chinese leaders treat their country as the mobsters used to treat Las Vegas casinos: As a cover for skimming the profits.

The worry is that the transition could go badly awry as 70pc of top cadres and the military are replaced, the biggest changeover since the party came to power in the late 1940s. “That is what is causing capital flight. All the top officials are trying to get their money out of the country,” he said.

Dr Cheng grew up during the Cultural Revolution. That makes one very sensitive to the risks of sudden lurches in the Chinese ruling system, not always for the better. He said the scandal around Bo Xilai and the party machine in Chongqing – and the fight-back by Mao nostalgics – is a symptom of a much broader crisis. The word in Beijing is that Bo Xilai alone has squirreled away $1.3 billion, but there are other even worse cases. Mr Cheng said a former railway minister – known as Mr 4pc — had amassed $2.8 billion. “This level of corruption is unprecedented in the history of China and unparalled in the world,” he said.

But not even mandarins can fool all the people all the time, and all the natives in China are getting so restless they’ve become explosive. The 19 September issue of the biweekly Sapio in Japan contains a report on that restlessness. Here are the highlights.

* There are an average of 500 public disturbances a day in China, and up to 180,000 a year. They aren’t reported unless they’re very big, many people are injured, or are directed at Japanese corporations.

* When the author of the report arrived at the Shanghai Airport in May, a sit-in was underway complaining about runway noise. One of the many signs read, “What is this country’s government doing?” One thing the police weren’t doing was to stop it, which is a change from their past practice.

* On 23 May prosecutors, a committee to prevent party corruption, police, and officials from the foreign ministry and those supervising international financial institutes formed a study group to stop corruption. They were supposed to come up with solutions, but only identified the means employed — skillful book cooking and money laundering, Hong Kong subsidiaries, and paper companies in the Virgin Islands.

Public dissatisfaction is growing, and there was a sharp increase in disturbances last year.

* In May 2011, students demonstrated in support of livestock herders in inner Mongolia protested mining operations whose discharges had caused serious pollution and killed livestock. It involved several thousand students and several deaths.

* In the same month, down south in Fuzhou, there were three synchronized explosions at government buildings. The perpetrator also died, leading the government to declare that it was a suicide bombing. The events occurred around nine in the morning and were reported by the Xinhua news agency, but the report was scrubbed from their website by 1:00 p.m. Though an effort was made to characterize the bomber as a terrorist, the Chinese Internet viewed him as a hero. People were sympathetic to his case because he was victimized by authorities and had no means of redress.

* In June, there were more bombings in Dezhou, Zhengzhou, and Laiyang at Public Security bureaus (national police) and other government institutions.

* The heavy rains this July caused extensive flooding in Beijing, but not the part of town where government officials live and work. The drainage was excellent there. That led to violent demonstrations in August.

* Also this year, there was a pitched battle in Caishi in the Xicheng district of Beijing between gangsters and local residents. The mob tried to evict residents for a new building development, but the residents didn’t want to move. The gang started up bulldozers and cranes to tear down the homes on the site with the people still inside. They fought back with iron bars.

Most remarkable is that the district is the location for many government, party, and military offices, and should have plenty of security.

* A report from a different source describes how the residents of Qidong took to the streets after the denial of their formal application for a protest a few months ago. They were concerned that the construction of a paper mill would result in water pollution. They rolled police cars, broke into government buildings, and dragged Mayor Sun Jianhua into the street, where he was stripped and made to wear a protest shirt.

And then there’s the shadow banking:

Private-lending victims nationwide filed more than 600,000 lawsuits valued at 110 billion yuan in 2011, an increase of 38 percent from the previous year. In the first half of 2012, the number of filings rose 25 percent to 376,000, according to People’s Court, a newspaper run by China’s Supreme Court.

The loans include off-balance sheet financial engineering conducted by legitimate institutions.

Imagine the news coverage in the West if this was happening in their part of the world. China is beginning to look as if it is in a pre-revolutionary state, but the media is more interested in playing Where’s Xi Jinpin.

If the Red Tongs sitting atop the money machine want to keep the funds flowing, they’ll have to find some way to distract the other 1.2999 billion people in the country. Here’s one way:

That’s the front page of Xianyang Today, which doesn’t seem to like Japanese flags either. The headline reads: In Illegal Island Purchase, You’re to Blame for Consequences.

They found their solution when the Japanese government finalized the deal to purchase the Senkaku Islets from the private owners. Here’s another one:

That’s the front page of a newspaper in Shenyang with the statement from China’s Foreign Ministry surrounded by 56 blood red fingerprints. The text near the bottom says: “The days when the Chinese people let themselves be bullied are gone forever.”

And there are a lot more where that came from.

There are curious aspects to this development. There were scattered demonstrations in a few Chinese cities when the Japanese purchase was announced, and the Chinese government called for “rational expressions of patriotism”.

The conventional wisdom is that they’re afraid anti-Japanese demonstrations will quickly morph into anti-government demonstrations.

But how can they expect rational displays of patriotism when the state-controlled media deliberately whips the 1.2999 billion into a frenzy with front page pictures of fists and bloody fingerprints? Of course there’s more.

* The People’s Liberation Army newspaper declared in an editorial, “This is not the China of the first Sino-Japanese War, nor the China that Japan later invaded. It is the most naked challenge to Chinese sovereignty since the Second World War…Japan should not be playing with fire.”

* State-run TV broadcast the military’s amphibious landing and combat training exercise on “an uninhabited island” in the Jinan Military Region.

The state-operated China Daily is the country’s largest English-language newspaper. They have a reputation as being slightly more liberal than the rest of the media. Some excerpts from one article in China’s liberal voice make it clear they’ve got more than the Senkakus on their mind:

Islands Stolen by Japan

Japan took the Liu Chiu Islands, which Japan calls Okinawa, by force from China in 1874, when the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was at war with several countries. The Diaoyu Islands, though, remained under the administration of Taiwan. Following China’s defeat in the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95, the Qing government ceded Taiwan, including its subsidiary islands, to Japan.

Other than the fact that the Qing Dynasty was fighting the Europeans, everything in this article is a deliberate falsehood. In fact, the government’s official position is that the 1943 Cairo Declaration limited Japan’s territory to only the four islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, and Kyushu. But China was jobbed!

As stated above, it’s perfectly logical to conclude that the Diaoyu Islands, being part of the Taiwan territories, have been returned to China.

So where do the claims to the contrary come from?

In part from an illegal treaty the United States and Japan signed in San Francisco in 1951 in the absence of China, one of the victors in the war. Article 3 of the treaty wrongly assigned the Diaoyu Islands and other islets to the Liu Chiu Islands, which was then under the US’ control.

This is what people mean when they say the Chinese Communist Party has tried to legitimize itself with the public by promising to make everyone else in the world pay for what they did to the country for the past century and a half.

Given the rampant rightist tendency seen in Japanese politics and the potential dangers Japan poses to its neighbours and the region at large, there is an imperative need to set the record straight.

Once they set the record straight, the China Daily started saber rattling:

The Chinese military said yesterday it “reserves the right” to take action on the Diaoyu Islands (known in Japan as Senkaku Islands) after the Japanese government ignored warnings from Beijing and “purchased” three of the islands, which belong to China.

Two China Marine Surveillance patrol ships reached waters around the islands, in the East China Sea, after Beijing announced on Monday territorial coordinates for waters off the islands. Beijing also announced plans to implement normal surveillance and monitoring of the islands.

Here’s what that could mean:

Given China’s territorial definition, through the coordinates, entry into waters around the islands by the Japanese Coast Guard or Japan’s Self-Defence Force troops will be regarded as an intrusion into China’s territorial waters, said Feng Wei, a specialist on Japanese studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

“And it is the duty and obligation of Chinese government vessels, and even warships, to guard China’s territorial sovereignty,” Feng said.

There was more today. Notice the use of qualifiers and quotation marks:

Beijing on Wednesday urged Tokyo to immediately cancel its “purchase” of the Diaoyu Islands as senior diplomats from both countries met.

“China will never acknowledge Japan’s illegal grab and so-called actual control of the Diaoyu Islands,” Luo Zhaohui, director of the Foreign Ministry’s department of Asian affairs, told Shinsuke Sugiyama, director-general of the Asian and Oceania Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, during their meeting in Beijing.
Japanese Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said on Wednesday that the purchase of the islands from “private owners” was completed on Tuesday, a move that sparked protests and countermeasures from Beijing.

They have experts of their own:

Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies, said Japan’s farcical “purchase” is aimed at extending its reach and projecting an image of so-called actual control over the islands in a bid to mislead the international community that it “owns” the islands.

They know all about political cartoons too. Here’s one from today’s edition:

Kevin Rudd thinks we should take a long strong hot cup of tea and everything will be tickety-boo. Were he paying closer attention, he might be heading to the liquor cabinet instead for a few stiff drinks:

Beijing Evening News Says “Nuke Japan”

Japan’s purchase of three of the Diaoyu (Senkaku) Islands has pushed anti-Japanese rhetoric in China to a fever pitch. Yesterday on Weibo, the Beijing Evening News posted a link to an article comparing weaponry for a potential (conflict) with Japan, claiming that China should use the atomic bomb. Chatter mounted around this post before all mention of “advocating war” was deleted. (It is unclear whether Beijing Evening News or Sina deleted the material.)


Meanwhile, the Japanese political establishment is calm but firm. No one wants to be seen as behaving like Kan Naoto in the fall of 2010 when the first Senkakus crisis arose.

Prime Minister Noda has made it clear where he stands, and he is likely to be reelected as Democratic Party president this month.

The next prime minister might well come from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, however. The top three candidates are former President Abe Shinzo, former Defense Minister Ishiba Shigeru, and current Secretary-General Ishihara Nobuteru. Everyone knows that Mr. Abe is unlikely to bend over for China. Here’s what Mr. Ishiba said when asked about the government’s purchase of the islets:

“The government’s purchase was proper, but the status quo is not a “peaceful and stable” possession (a reference to Mr. Noda’s statement). We should build docks there, and a base for environmental studies and the utilization of maritime resources. The Coast Guard also needs to be involved.”

A pier and heliport would be of use in any event to facilitate the rescue of fishermen in trouble.

The weakest of the three is Ishihara Nobuteru, the son of Tokyo Metro District Gov. Ishihara Shintaro. Though he’s conservative, he isn’t as Pat Buchanan-ish as his father. He’s thought to be the choice of the Old Guard, perhaps because he’d be a good boy and follow their instructions.

But Mr. Ishihara isn’t making a convincing case for himself in the LDP presidential campaign. He has a tendency to say peculiar things. The most recent peculiarity arose at a news conference when he said he thought the Chinese wouldn’t invade the Senkakus because “they’re not inhabited”.

There is little point in Western government officials, think tankers, and editorialists helpfully suggesting from the sidelines that everyone should stay calm. Too many people aren’t interested in staying calm.

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