Tag: Japan

Join Jim and Greg as they recoil at the horrific assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and discuss why he was such a valuable U.S. ally. They also welcome better than expected job growth in June. And they wonder if New York Democrats learned anything from the Supreme Court decision as they pass new hurdles for residents to get concealed carry permits – including submitting their social media accounts for an evaluation of their character and conduct.

‘Corregidor Used to Be a Nice Place; It’s Haunted Now’

 

The Allied command center on Corregidor.

The Japanese Imperial Navy began shelling Corregidor three weeks after their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The Philippine island was the strongest fort in the Pacific, nicknamed “the Gibraltar of the East” by the US troops stationed there. Corregidor was a two-square-mile tangle of tunnels, bunkers, and heavy guns preventing the Japanese from securing Manila Bay.

So the enemy kept bombarding. For four months, a valiant group of US Marines, Army, and Navy fighters — joined by Filipino soldiers — held out against the incessant Japanese aerial, naval, and artillery attacks. But they couldn’t hold out forever.

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Returns are starting to come in. Korean presidents serve one five-year term, after which they either go into exile, commit suicide or go to prison. (Rimshot.) Why should we care? Current President Moon’s Democratic Party is shifting the country more into appeasement mode with North Korea and China, and away from a close relationship with […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they are glad to see a poll definitively showing Americans are paying close attention to some of our nation’s biggest problems and concluding the Biden administration is handling them poorly.  They also fume as more evidence piles up, this time from Japan, that President Biden has no desire to assign responsibility for the outbreak of COVID-19 and made sure our intelligence review remained inconclusive.  And they discuss John Kerry saying that President Biden had no idea the French were furious about the recent nuclear submarine deal with the UK and Australia and White Press Secretary Jen Psaki claim Kerry didn’t mean that.

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The United States of America can take pride in a number of things, among them arguably the two greatest cultural and scientific achievements of human history: The moon landing and atomic power. It is the latter that we will focus on in the article, the unleashing of the power of the atom, for good and […]

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Does China Have a Japanese Economic Future? Overlearning and Underlearning from History.

 

A few years back, I attended a discussion on US economic competitiveness. Several of the experts had been to this rodeo before. Back in the 1980s, they had been pushing for America to mimic Japan’s obviously (it seemed then) successful industrial policy. If America failed to abandon its more laissez-faire approach, they warned, Japan would surely become the planet’s dominant economic superpower.

It was a view hardly limited to Washington wonks back then. “Japan takes over the world” was a popular theme in movies and television back then, so much so that it has an entry at the TV Tropes website. As the site describes it, Hollywood in the 1980s and early 1990s frequently portrayed a world where America was distracted by the Cold War, and “Japan was quietly taking over the business sector with a seemingly inhuman affinity for technology and a hive-like dedication to work. It seemed that, no matter what we did, we’d all soon wind up working for the Japanese.” This trope can be seen in many films of the era such as Alien, Back to the Future II, Black Rain, Blade Runner, Die Hard, and Rising Sun.

Of course, things didn’t work out as predicted. Japan didn’t take over the world economically or otherwise. The boomy 1980s were followed by decades of stagnation, something reflected in Japan’s stock market. The Nikkei index hit a record 38,957 at the end of 1989 and only returned to the 30,000 level a few weeks ago. “Today, the [Japan takes over the world] trope has been replaced in the Western world with a preoccupation over China taking over the world,” notes TV Tropes.

How the US Economy Can Counter Its Demographic Headwind

 

The excellent 2016 book The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon — a book I frequently write about — is often portrayed as a work of technological pessimism. But Gordon doesn’t see it that way. Tech progress and innovation, as eventually reflected in productivity growth, isn’t going to slow in his view. It will pretty much continue as it has for decades — just no acceleration to the boomy 1920-1970 productivity pace due to advances in AI or robots or medical miracles. The demise of rapid economic growth is due to various “headwinds,” he argues, not technology. Not only will those factors slow per capita GDP growth, but much of that growth will be captured by wealthier households. Indeed, inequality is one of Gordon’s headwinds.

Another growth constraint, according to the economist, is demographics. This is uncontroversial. All those baby boomers are heading into retirement, and Americans are having fewer kids. Labor-force growth used to be so rapid — especially with women entering the job market as never before —  that overall economic growth stayed fast even as productivity growth weakened. A San Francisco Fed analysis in 2018 noted the following:

In the 1970s, labor force growth alone contributed 2.7 percentage points to GDP growth, meaning that even if productivity growth had been zero, the economy would have expanded at 2.7%, slightly faster than the pace of our current expansion. Since that peak, labor force growth has come down substantially. As the forecast for 2025 shows, labor force growth is expected to remain stuck at 0.5% for the next decade. This means that, absent a surge in productivity, slow growth in the labor force will be a restraining factor on the U.S. economic speed limit.

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The cold is biting, even through layers of linen, chirimen, and silk. Vender’s cries fill the air, offering up soba noodles, natto, charred eel, and chazuke, an accent to the everpresent flow of the Sumida River. Down an alley in the artisan’s district, lantern flames illuminate a broad shoji paper door, allowing the tile and […]

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Harry Truman and the Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb

 

Harry Truman

Peter Robinson expressed his opinion on Twitter today that President Truman did not approve the use of the nuclear bomb. “Truman never approved the use of the bomb–or disapproved it,” He wrote. “The military considered it one more weapon, like a new submarine or aircraft. They kept Truman informed. But they did not ask his approval.”

Story Hour with Bridget Phetasy is a segment where Bridget reminisces with cousin Maggie and tells stories explaining who she is and how she got here. Full transcript available here: WiW78-StoryHour5-Transcript

Because Bridget’s globe-trotting wanderings are too much to cover in just one Story Hour, here’s part 1 of her international travels. Covering the first time she ever left the country and why she had to spend the whole trip with Desitin all over her face, traveling through Canada in the trunk of a car as a teenager, almost getting stranded in Mexico, and how she wound up in Tokyo and Barcelona. Frankly, it’s a miracle she’s still alive and she credits an acutely developed “spidey sense” for narrowly avoiding several dangerous situations.

I’d Like to Pass on the Corona

 

I haven’t seen a post on Ricochet talking specifically about the coronavirus, now known as 2019-nCoV or COVID-19, since Rodin’s post on the 7th. Let me take this opportunity to provide a short update from the other side of the world in Yokohama, Japan. While it’s not China, and not as bad off as China, the way this outbreak is progressing, Yokohama is now, as I’ll explain below, another front in the COVID-19 outbreak. Although I was in the Navy and spent time working in Emergency Management, now I’m just a plain ex-pat enjoying my retirement overseas, so most of what I’ll relate here comes from personal observations and local news sources.

Even with the occasional friction that occurs between China and Japan, Japan remains a favored destination for Chinese travelers. Before the outbreak kicked off, there were tons of Chinese tourists at popular locations across Japan every day. The last time I visited Kyoto a couple of years ago, the big tourist sites, buses, and sidewalks were packed as I had never seen them before. The famous shopping area in Tokyo called Ginza was crowded every day with tour buses and tourists, and while not all of them were Chinese, a vast majority appeared to be. However, starting at about the beginning of this month, Japan’s tourist locations saw traffic dry up. A store owner at Asakusa, one of the most popular sites in Tokyo, just mentioned on a news program that the number of tourists is way down, about 10 percent of normal, or a drop of 90 percent. One of the bigger duty-free stores called Laox, which sells electronics and electrical goods, is decreasing its workforce by 20 percent due to the outbreak.

Although it’s a different scale than China, the number of people in Japan infected with COVID-19 continues to slowly increase, as of today at 63, which I believe is the second highest after China. The first reported case of Japanese who tested positive with COVID-19, but had not visited Wuhan, was a bus driver who had driven a tour group of Chinese from Wuhan a few weeks ago. Soon afterward, a tour guide that had worked on one of his routes was also confirmed to have it. Whether the guide caught it from tourists from China or the driver hasn’t been reported, although this was a big question in the news a couple of weeks ago.

Is This Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

 

I was reading an article in the Wall Street Journal this week. Here are some sentences describing someone’s imprisonment.

  • Alone in his cell, he isn’t permitted to leave (on weekends) for the 30 minutes of fresh air he gets on weekdays.
  • The lights burn 24 hours a day.
  • He can’t wear a watch and sometimes finds himself disoriented.
  • Authorities state this is “normal treatment.”
  • He has been interrogated for up to five hours a day, with no lawyer present.
  • Prosecutors can sometimes harangue suspects who choose to remain silent for ten hours a day.
  • The person is forced to sign statements in a foreign language that he cannot read.
  • Family members are not allowed to visit.
  • The cell has a window, but it is very deep in the wall and the prisoner cannot see out.
  • Prisoner is allowed a shower twice a week (three times a week in summer). Cold water is all he gets from the tap in his cell.

So, what do you think of this punishment being meted out, to a person imprisoned for a non-violent, financial crime? It sounds cruel and unusual to me, especially for a person charged with a white-collar crime, who has not yet had his day in court. He has not been convicted, or even tried, for this crime. He is being treated like a violent criminal, subject to conditions often found in high-security prisons.

Ichiro Retires

 

A few years ago, Ichiro Suzuki said his goal was to play major league baseball until he was 50. Well, that’s one baseball goal Ichiro won’t attain. Yesterday, March 21, 2019, the 45-year-old told the Mariners that today’s game would be his last. It was a homecoming of sorts for Ichiro, as the Mariners started the season with a two-game set against the Oakland A’s in Tokyo, Japan. Although the Mariners swept the two games, Ichiro went hitless in both games but received a well-deserved standing ovation as he was removed from the second game in the bottom of the eighth. Thus ended one of the most unique careers of all time.

Ichiro, of course, came to the major leagues at age 27, joining the Seattle Mariners after playing nine years in Japan. He had owned the league in Japan winning batting titles in all seven seasons in which he had enough plate appearances to qualify for the honor. How he would do in the majors was an open question. He answered that question in a hurry winning a batting title, the Rookie of the Year and the MVP for a team that won 116 games in the regular season.

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American pop culture isn’t the only one infested with gay propaganda and imagery.  This video from BiSH, オーケストラ (“Orchestra”) features a storyline about a schoolgirl romance. It’s a beautifully done video. BiSH always does wonderful videos. (And sometimes devastating, heartbreaking, leave you crying videos {And you don’t need to speak a word of Japanese to be […]

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Dennis Prager on the Self-Righteously Suicidal West and False Morality

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had nationally syndicated radio host, columnist, author of numerous books, teacher, film producer and co-founder of PragerU, Dennis Prager, on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • How Dennis Prager ended up a conservative as an Ivy League-educated Jewish intellectual from Brooklyn, New York — contrary to so many of his peers
  • How perceptions of human nature divide Left and Right
  • Whether government has filled the void of religion for the increasingly secular and progressive American coasts
  • How the good intentions that underlie Leftist policy prescriptions lead to horrendous outcomes — and emotion versus reason on the Left and Right
  • The false morality underlying European immigration policy with respect to the Muslim world, and Prager’s criticism of Jewish support of mass immigration consisting disproportionately of Jew-haters
  • The self-righteous suicidalism of the West
  • The Leftist bias of social media platforms and PragerU’s legal battle with YouTube/Google

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

Understanding in a Foreign Language

 

When I first came to Japan, I could not speak the language. I came to the country in a job straight out of college, teaching conversational English in a juku, or cram school, in a town outside of Osaka, and my high school French and college German were of no use to me.

The first weeks were hard, trying to learn everything. I began copying the written kana daily in both forms, hiragana and katakana, so that I could be able to read signs, menus, and labels. I hired a teacher and attended lessons weekly. I talked with new friends most nights in a local bar and picked up Osaka-ben, or slang.

Why Not Proliferate?

 

I’ve been following the news about the Summit and the discussion on this thread, and there seems to be quite a difference of opinion. Not only about the wisdom and utility of the Summit and its outcome, but about our role in the region in the first place. Some of the Trumpier commenters say — and I have a certain amount of sympathy for this view — that keeping American troops in South Korea at this late date is both provocative and expensive.

It’s certainly the latter, and one of my great long-term fears is that like so many empires before us, keeping the Pax Americana over so much of the globe will eventually exhaust us financially. It is straining us now, and part of the “America first” theme on which Trump was elected was the notion that we should, first and foremost, take care of our own.