Tag: Japan

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss the Trump administration’s new executive order temporarily banning travel from six nations with major terrorism problems.  They also react to North Korea announcing its latest missile tests were designed to strike U.S. bases in Japan.  And they slam teachers in Alexandria, Virginia, for forcing the cancellation of school because 300 of them plan to attend the anti-Trump women’s march.

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The Japanese haven’t forgotten. The place is my living room, the time is yesterday morning Japan time, or this morning U.S. time.  I’m reading the newspaper, specifically the Yomiuri Shimbun, which has the highest circulation of all newspapers in Japan, over 9 million.  As I’m flipping pages, I get to the centerfold, and am confronted […]

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An Impressive Engineering and Disaster-Response Effort

 

Imagine you wake one morning and find a huge sinkhole in the street passing in front of your house, measuring roughly 100 feet by 90 feet, and going down about 50 feet. The collapse has severed water, sewage and gas pipes, as well as cableways for electrical and telecommunications wires, leaving you in the dark with no way to flush. How long do you think it would take to fill the hole, open the street to traffic, and get your utilities working again? Several months might be an optimistic estimate for many.

Hakata Sinkhole, 8 November

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I was originally going to post this yesterday, as a means to temporarily escape the immanent approach of a new Clinton administration. That didn’t happen, so here’s the mix as a general escape, and as an opportunity to hear songs that you’ll recognize in terms of musical styles, but (unless you’re acquainted with Japanese popular […]

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The tanka is a form that comes from Japan. Courtiers were expected to not only be poets, but to compose poetry extemporaneously. The tanka was the basic building block of much of this style of court poetry. It is a five line form in two parts, and it was not unusual for the first courtier […]

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Since I’ve coughed up another $40, I might as well get something for it, so I’m going to ask for some advice.  Mr. Rand and I planned a trip to Japan for the first week in October and quickly realized that the only things we knew about Japan were that it lost World War II […]

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Why I’ve Changed My Mind On Trump

 

Early on, I was a bit seduced by Donald Trump, mostly because he has exquisite taste in enemies and because my political instincts incline me toward populist upstarts and against arrogant establishments. In the early 1990s, for example, I was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the Reform Party of Canada. At the time, the Canadian political establishment was at its most corrupt, arrogant, and insular and the Reform Party was the right antidote.

Trump’s Failure to Judge Risk: Why U.S. Security Can’t Be Run Like a Business

 

shutterstock_48936454Over the past week, Donald Trump has doubled-down on his pro-nuclear proliferation stance with regard to Japan and South Korea (or, at the very least, being very open to the idea of those countries arming). Trump’s reasoning is simple: he doesn’t believe the United States should foot the bill for others’ security without being better compensated for its efforts. For Trump’s supporters, this stance demonstrates his ability to think like a business man and to run the country like a business.

The problem with Trump’s thinking on this matter is that maintaining national security requires a different cost-benefit analysis than does running a hotel or casino. Simply put, Trump fails to apply the appropriate risk analysis to the situation. We spend our treasure protecting Japan and South Korea not so much for altruistic reasons, but because the risk of nuclear proliferation is so great that we can’t afford not to.

This election has shown the unpredictability of national opinion. If America can elect someone like Trump, what confidence can we have that a newly-rearmed Japan or South Korea won’t wind up with a leader who triggers a nuclear holocaust? If Trump’s gamble fails and that happens, there will be no bankruptcy court to run to; there will be no tangling Japan up in court until they give up; there will, however, be the real possibility of unparalleled death and destruction.

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Ricochet boasts men who have forgotten more about Sengoku Jidai Japan than I have ever learned, & we can all hope to hear again from them. Meanwhile, let me try to say a few things about what Kurosawa is doing in Seven samurai. Kurosawa is famous for two things that I want to recall to […]

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I hope everyone has seen this movie, the most impressive movie Kurosawa ever made. I hope, too, that whoever has not will find a reason to see it in this discussion. Please do not hesitate to ask questions or make comments, even to report hearsay or others’ opinions. Welcome all comers, I hope you will […]

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Seven Samurai is set at the end of the age of the country at war, which had started in the late fifteenth century. Whatever centralized rule in Japan endured up to that time collapsed in a long war between two major aristocratic alliances that destroyed the imperial capital Kyoto. That was the Onin War. Japan had been ruled […]

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A while back, in a completely unrelated discussion, I brought up the possibility of a Seven Samurai weekend. I think there are some takers–there are certainly more than a few Kurosawa fans. How about this weekend? Let’s have a preliminary talk or more. How do you want to do this? QUESTION 1. Would you like to […]

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This is the first of two essays of which I mean to deliver myself, concerning American Christians at war. I’m enough of a movie critic to raise an eyebrow when people start saying Christian things in stories. It’s pretty rare; it occurs usually in period pieces. I’ve a few things to say about this that you […]

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A North Korean Hydrogen Bomb?

 

maxresdefaultNorth Korea says it’s successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. It will take days or even weeks to confirm what it really was. Something certainly does seem to have blown up: There was a 5.1 seismic event near Punggye-ri, which is where the past three nuclear tests were conducted.

There’s good reason to be highly skeptical of DPRK propaganda. It’s more plausible, as Jeffrey Lewis pointed out a few weeks ago, to imagine they’re experimenting with fusion fuels to boost the yield of a fission explosion.

But whether it was a fourth fission bomb or a hydrogen bomb, no one’s treating this as a joke. South Korea is holding emergency meetings, as is the UN Security Council. Shinzo Abe’s comments suggest that Japan is certain that this was, at least, another nuclear test:

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I seem to recall that there are some Ricochetti who are knowledgeable about Japan and its history, but I don’t remember who they are.  I hope they find this note.   We’ve been cleaning house and our daughter, who graduated about 20 years ago, said we could get rid of those college textbooks she left […]

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Earlier this month, Japan’s Prime Minister once again expressed his thanks for U.S. support following the huge magnitude 9 earthquake near Japan in 2011. However, this time he did it in a very public way, becoming the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit a U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS RONALD REAGAN, which is now […]

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I really can’t improve on Jake Adelstein’s title for this — funny? horrifying? — story at The Daily Beast.  Each Oct. 31, the gangsters famous for their permanent costumes (tattoos, missing digits and the like) invited ordinary citizens, mostly small children in “scary” outfits, to have fun with extortion, demanding Japanese candies and snacks. Preview […]

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A Brief Primer on Japanese Politics

 

Tokyo skylineThere’s a deep sense of disillusionment and malaise here in Japan. Perhaps, rather than sleeping through politics, the country is just ignoring it. Remember the 80s, when this country was going to take over the world? Many people (including me) spent that decade learning Japanese in school, preparing for a future when we’d need language skills to impress our bosses.

As it happened, I did need it. But that’s just me. For the rest of the Western world, the takeover got lost in two decades of Japanese economic recession and general stagnation. The economy has been so sluggish — and for so long — that it’s hardly even a political issue any more. Successive governments have pulled so many levers, pumped so much new currency into the economy, that it’s like watching one of those movie scenes where a character continues to perform violent CPR on some lifeless unfortunate, with ever more desperation, while everyone stands around pitying them.

What Happened?

The Sun Rises in the East?

 

640px-Flag_of_Japan.svgSince its defeat in the Second World War and the adoption of its 1947 Constitution, Japan — the World’s third (formerly, second) largest economy, and a country with one of the longest and proudest warrior cultures in history — has essentially adopted the military policy of Switzerland. Apparently, no more:

[Prime Minister Shinzō] Abe’s coalition pushed through the legislation a day and a half after a wrestling match in a parliamentary committee, where burly ruling-coalition lawmakers warded off opposition members who swarmed around the committee chairman in an attempt to block passage. For the first time in the 70 years since World War II, the new laws will give the government power to use the military in overseas conflicts even if Japan itself isn’t under attack. Mr. Abe said that will make possible a closer alliance with the U.S. in cases such as a war on the Korean peninsula or a blockage of sea lanes that threatened Japan’s security.

A few things of note:

Meanwhile in Japan…

 

1072px-Flag_of_JSDF.svgFrom today’s New York Times, the world continues to be… interesting:

TOKYO — The lower house of Japan’s Parliament passed legislation on Thursday that would give the country’s military limited powers to fight in foreign conflicts. […] The bills represent a break from the strictly defensive stance maintained by Japan in the decades since the war, under which it would fight only if directly attacked. Critics, including a majority of Japanese constitutional specialists, say the legislation violates the country’s postwar charter, which renounces war.

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