Go West

archive6

Osaka is much nicer than I remember. I regret that I may have fallen prey to the stereotypes of gaudy excess and tacky foods. But within the gravity of the exquisite graf gallery, everything is pleasant and romantic. Although the “Osaka = Chicago” parallel always struck me as forced — basically a way of finding Osaka an American city of its own after Tokyo automatically takes NYC, LA, and DC — the strong stone buildings and patina roofs of the business area around the Tosabori River reminds me of my vague memories of the area of Chicago near the art museum.

Osaka fashion is supposed to be more “individualistic” than Tokyo, but it just seems to be less obsessive and more subdued than what you see in Edo.

Visited a very neighborhood-y sento (public bathhouse) in Fukushima on Sunday night and was worried that perhaps there was going to be some odd resistance to my foreignness — perhaps enforced discretely in an anti-tattoo policy or something. (I do not have a tattoo. Big surprise.) I found myself, however, bathing with four enormously-fat yakuza thugs who sported massive tats of ghost warriors on the entire expanse of their backs. They hogged the baths. I kept clear, but once they went off to the faucets to soap it up (no, they didn’t properly clean themselves before getting into the baths — see, “rules” only apply to us katagi), I finally took to the shared facilities. There was a bath with some kind of mild electric current. Unless you like the sensation of your alarm clock falling into the tub, I do not recommend it. This particular sento’s proud feature was a “Radon steam bath” which I entered for a few minutes and will regret when I die of some terrible cancer in a few weeks time.

Kobe is fantastic. The “Ijinkan” foreigner district up at the top of the mountain is quite nice. There is an outstanding mosque down the hill a bit, and in its orbit, there are three or four import food stores featuring products that I had long assumed could never be smuggled into Japan. At one location, we wanted to buy a ¥100 pack of coriander, a ¥90 pack of fennel seeds, and a ¥80 pack of Juicy Fruit gum, but the store was completely abandoned for at least ten minutes. Finally, an Arab gentleman came in and helped us complete our big purchase of the day. When we left, he too walked down the street, again abandoning the store to fate and patient customers.

Down by the river, there was some kind of festival with food stalls from around the world. Not always accurate, but delicious nonetheless. (My “tacos” contained hot dogs, and my “gyro” sandwich was at least 1/2 french fries).

Under the train tracks from Sannomiya to Kobe Station, there are hundreds of little stores and stalls selling various items. The first two or three of these arcades have streetwear stores, respectable eyeglass vendors, leather shoes for men, pet stores, waffle cafes, etc. As you start hitting Arcade #3, however, things get a little more interesting: stores dedicated to old Famicon games, purveyors of ¥100 yen 邦楽 7″s, booksellers who have accumulated just enough literature in the front to justify the thousands of old pornographic magazines in the back. Arcade #5 & #6 are a descent into the debris of the 20th century — a cruel junkyard parody of commercial endeavor — tired old hags selling broken Betamaxes, ribbon-less typewriters, imperial military garb, grab bags of unloved old vinyl. Some of the last stores in this arcade can be hardly distinguished from the storage facilities of refugee communities, piles of extension cords, soiled and crumpled papers, vibrators piled up to the top. If you want to buy a full-size towel with an image of Iijima Naoko from the early ’90s for ¥240, this is your place.

Nara is always fun. The deer are just so adorable. The female deer very literally bow to you, and the male deer will put you between their antlers in a slightly frightening, yet overall endearing way. Everyone tends to buy the deer senbei thinking that this is the way to deer friendship. Not the case. When you have food in your hands, you are just another mark in their con games. When you go to them sans snacks, you go on an equal level and they respect that. A nice site: a family of deer galloping away, followed by a chihuahua in hot pursuit, followed by a bumbling old Japanese man with a leash, followed by his resigned family in slow paces.

Todaiji is big and all, but we went off the beaten track to check out a kofun which just looked like a chunk of forest that the Kunaicho doesn’t want you digging into.

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

84 Responses

  1. porandojin Says:

    interesting observations … i think gyros with much french fries is quite popular in Greece, at least at tourist areas like the Cyklades …

  2. Carl Says:

    I often saw tatoo’d yakuza dudes at my sento back in the day. They didn’t seem any more or less rude than anyone else.

  3. marxy Says:

    They just exploit the weak and use violence in their line of work – just like the rest of us!

  4. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    but I bet they would have been friendly to you in the bath.

  5. pamutron Says:

    o man, are you still in kansai? if you’re around 任天堂 hq during business hours, stop by and say hallo!

  6. Jrim Says:

    The deer in Nara struck me as being more like incredibly big pigeons.

  7. Chris_B Says:

    I liked Kobe and the arcade markets alot. I didnt find the junk shops though, have to look out for them next time, I tend to enjoy those alot. The Ijinkan was nice but too much of a hill climb to do twice, specially on a hot summer day.

    You havent gone to many sentos have you marxy? About 40% of the patrons at particular sentos soak then wash as opposed to the “normal” wash then soak. As far as bathing with the Yakuza goes, I also used to see lots of them and became decent aquiantances with one old guy after about a year of being eye to eye with each other in the sauna.

    You may have mentioned the denkiburo and radon baths as a titilation to overseas readers, but they are very common by my experience. I tried the denkiburo once by accident. Damn near lept out of the thing. You are a braver man than I for having tried the radon bath.

  8. Laotree Says:

    Welcome to the western end of the Niigata-Kobe tectonic zone! When you said graf gallery I was expecting a South Bronx schoolyard; What is that Kiiiiiii (7 i’s right?) exhibition all about? I read the description but it was more about their attitude than the actual show. Maybe I’ll try to check it out next time I’m down there.
    “Radon steam bath”
    Whenever I hear people talking about going to something like that I try to tell them that in most parts of the world we try to avoid radioactive gases, but ラドン岩盤浴 continues to be touted as a health-giving practice. I’ve heard that snorting baby-arm sized lines of asbestos dust can be pretty fun too. I do kinda enjoy the 電気風呂, feeling your muscles contract independent of you, but I’m not hardcore enough for the 強 side. (I’ve seen old dudes just loungin in there though, makes me feel like my organs are gonna Electric Boogaloo right out of my mouth.)
    Any other locations planned on your Kansai adventure?
    I doubt that anything here in Otsu would tickle your cultural fancy, but the lake is pretty nice…

  9. Ryan Cousineau Says:

    Fries in a gyro is 100% Greece-authentic.

    No, seriously. My little niece in Greece lived for these when I was last there. This was on one of the Cycladic islands (Greek cuisine isn’t France-regional, but it is a bit regional).

    Basically, anywhere you see roast potatoes as a side in a Greek restaurant in the US, you’re likely to see fries at the Greek tavernas in Greece.

  10. Ryan Cousineau Says:

    …and if I’d read the comments, I would have seen that porandojin called you on the fries thing in the first comment. Okay, second correction: “Famicom.”

    I know, nobody cares. The travel report is lovely.

  11. alin Says:

    > Fries in a gyro is 100% Greece-authentic.

    yes, and best when fried in olive oil.
    very nice to see marxy chilling out, though the perpetual encounter with evil yakuza seems to be something he takes with him wherever he goes. (good chris b came to set things clear).
    the sweetest chubby yakuza i’ve encountered were on kamakura beach (arguably a pocket of kansai in the heart of tokyo), about 7 of them, their kalavinka and fudou tatoos in various stages of completion, all splashing in the waves riding various floating devices. metchakutcha kawaikatta.

  12. marxy Says:

    I think there’s a hypocrisy that we find chubby yakuza “cute” but if you met a nice guy from Halliburton you’d all be justifiably outraged.

  13. alin Says:

    no no, no hypocrisy, i have met rude or downright disgusting chubby yakuza as well, sometimes in onsen, but these guys were supercute by pretty much any standards and not because they were yakuza, and not necessarily bacause they were chubby, those were just small elements adding to the whole picture.

  14. hidarinoji Says:

    The ‘international district’ in Kobe is pretty funny to me, it being chock-full of the Disney World-esque interpretations of European architecture that make it so quintessentially Japanese. Glad you found the import stores and Motomachi’s hidden treasures. Certainly two of my favorite aspects of this city. If only I could afford to shop at either with any regularity…

    We were just in Tokyo, where we got stuck on the Shinkansen platform for seven hours because of the typhoon. Not such fond memories.

  15. hidarinoji Says:

    I just recalled that when we went to the sento in Shimokitazawa, my friend told me about the first time he’d ever been to the public baths in the city. He didn’t know you had to bring or buy your own soap, etc. and ended up using a yakuza’s shampoo. I’m sure that was an awkward encounter.

  16. Aceface Says:

    “I think there’s a hypocrisy that we find chubby yakuza “cute” but if you met a nice guy from Halliburton you’d all be justifiably outraged.”

    I was in Sannomiya for my assignment back in 1995,a week after the big shake.The place was a mess and all the life lines were dead.
    Who were the good samatarians in the city at the time?Yakuza!They steamed tons of rice and gave away thousand bottles of mineral waters to the passer-bys.Guard the local arcades,so there were no vandalism.They may have their hidden intensions for all the do-goods,but that was needed and I thought that was cool.

  17. marxy Says:

    Yes, the yakuza was nice to people in Kobe after the earthquake. And they gave the world Misora Hibari!

    I guess they should just get rid of the Red Cross and install the Yamaguchi-gumi instead since those guys have such hearts of gold. I mean, maybe they killed the mayor of Nagasaki because he was “mean” to the people.

    Such mensch!

  18. marxy Says:

    “The deer in Nara struck me as being more like incredibly big pigeons.”

    There seems to be this backlash against the deer as “mangy animals,” but they all seems relatively healthy to me. You people all hate bambi, apparently. And these shika are basically shinto gods, so watch your language.

    “You are a braver man than I for having tried the radon bath.”

    I just got in before I knew what I had gotten into.

    “Fries in a gyro is 100% Greece-authentic.”

    Interesting. I guess I was looking for “NY-authentic.”

    “What is that Kiiiiiii (7 i’s right?) exhibition all about?”

    I like it a lot and suggest any Osaka people to go check it out – especially if you like animal puppets and colorful felt.

    ”Famicom”

    Well, yes and no. In Japanese, it’s ファミコン since the “con” is from コンピューター (not コムピューター). In English though, they may use the “m” since the “n” is approximating the “m” in computer.

    ”The ‘international district’ in Kobe is pretty funny to me, it being chock-full of the Disney World-esque interpretations of European architecture that make it so quintessentially Japanese.”

    Exactly.

  19. Aceface Says:

    ”guess they should just get rid of the Red Cross and install the Yamaguchi-gumi instead since those guys have such hearts of gold. I mean, maybe they killed the mayor of Nagasaki because he was “mean” to the people.”

    Well,I don’t know about heart of gold part,But at least their blood that runs through the veins are red unlike that of Halliburton!

  20. alin Says:

    >I guess they should just get rid of the Red Cross and install the Yamaguchi-gumi instead ..

    man, why do you always get so angry when someone shows a slightly different angle ?

  21. marxy Says:

    Why does one good deed make up for a fundamental disregard for the law and human decency?

    I am sure there was some positive thing that happened in this Iraq War – some soldier somewhere gave starving children some food – but it is disgusting to say that this one action would JUSTIFY the invasion, occupation, and loss of lives on both sides.

    It is dangerous to buy into any heroic myths about any criminals and charlatans – whether in Japan or the U.S. or elsewhere – and if you want to penalize me for “disliking institutional murderers and crooks too much,” go ahead.

  22. KokuRyu Says:

    The fact that some people never washed off before taking a bath used to bug me, too, until I went to the sento with a Japanese colleague who stopped me from lathering up before getting in the bath.

    “All you have to do is rinse yourself off first,” he said. He dumped a couple of buckets of water over his head, and stepped into the bath.

    It sort of seemed to explain things, because I had noticed that 3/4 of people do this – at least in Western Japan.

    As for tattooed guys, I remember once a chinpira guy looked at me at the bath and said, “Boy, you sure have a nice body!”

    I like to think he was complimenting me on my physique.

  23. clh Says:

    Hier bin ich Mensch, hier darf ich’ sein.

  24. alin Says:

    > Why does one good deed make up for a fundamental disregard for the law and human decency?

    my point was that aceface’s comment was more than welcome, absolutlely necessary, here where the consensus about the 893 is clear and the only further possibility would be to shift from one-dimensional to a more complex kind of discussion.

    //as for decency and calling people names, surely say the multi-national corporates you are (however marginally) involved with, or at least not as bothered by, can be referred to as crooks or whatever, beyond any borders of decency by many people’s standards.

    fascism is a despicable thing, even the ‘good’ kind.

  25. marxy Says:

    “//as for decency and calling people names, surely say the multi-national corporates you are (however marginally) involved with, or at least not as bothered by, can be referred to as crooks or whatever, beyond any borders of decency by many people’s standards.”

    Like who? And how?

  26. Aceface Says:

    “It is dangerous to buy into any heroic myths about any criminals and charlatans”

    But not the student revolutionaries killing their fellow students at the campus,as you are using them as cover of your album….Kidding.
    Well,I’ve been thinking Halliburton participates in the venture that cost more casualities in just 9 days than 90 years of history of Yamaguchi-gumi…But you are correct about Yakuza’s no Robin Hood.

    Interesting that many here have been to sento in the city.I,living in this country for 33years have never been to.

  27. alin Says:

    eh,
    this is embarrassing but i recommend you that film then, the corporation.

  28. marxy Says:

    “But not the student revolutionaries killing their fellow students at the campus,as you are using them as cover of your album….Kidding.”

    Is there not a difference between tragedy and intentional malice? The leftist kids wanted to help but it turned violent and counterproductive quite quickly. I don’t think the uyoku and yakuza have ever had any goals besides greed and power.

    “Well,I’ve been thinking Halliburton participates in the venture that cost more casualities in just 9 days than 90 years of history of Yamaguchi-gumi”

    Yes, maybe that is true.

  29. alin Says:

    > I don’t think the uyoku and yakuza have ever had any goals besides greed and power.

    so you really don’t believe there’s anything even resembling ideology involved, do you ?

  30. Aceface Says:

    “Is there not a difference between tragedy and intentional malice?”

    Very obviously,You’ve never seen any of those Takakura Ken Yakuza flick.

  31. alin Says:

    question for marxy:

    you’re in kobe in 95, nathans and everything else is down, do you take the yakuza rice or hunger strike ?

  32. marxy Says:

    You take yakuza rice, but you don’t take it again when you have an option.

    “so you really don’t believe there’s anything even resembling ideology involved, do you?”

    Do leeches have an ideology? Or a self-justification?

  33. Brad Says:

    I was in Nishinomiya during the quake and my host family received bottled water and rice from some of the Yamaguchi-gumi. My host father was a doctor and one of the higher ranking members was a patient of his. I met him and some of his underlings several times. They were always nice to me and friendly. They helped us out quite a bit.

    I was happy they were there to help, not only me, but everyone. However, this does not erase the fact that they are, on a very basic level, criminals who make a living intimidating and hurting others. They were nice guys but I wouldn’t want to be on their bad side. There is certainly nothing romantic about them.

  34. Brown Says:

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n07/zize01_.html

    Thank you, Mr. Gates, for the “free” medicine! Thank you Yamaguchi-gumi, for the “free” food! Now you can go back about your usual business of exploiting us, and not only do we have to tolerate it, we have to respect you too.

    PS: Everyone has an ideology, *especially* those who seem or claim not to.

  35. Brown Says:

    Let’s give actual leeches a break- presumably capitalists and yakuza are self-aware (and thus self-justifying) to a degree that leeches aren’t.

  36. Aceface Says:

    The basis of the argument here is whether Yakuza has any use for society.And I have to say “Yes”.

    If they are not bound in organized body組,then they can be thugs hunting down on others solely,and how would they act in that kind of situation of anarchy like Kobe in’95?Probably the equivalent of LA riot in ’92 and that’s what happened in Tokyo during the Great Kanto earthquake of’23.Thousand of citizens vandalized shops and some took the agitation of bigots seriously and started to hunt down on Koreans.Killed thousand of innocents who were living among Japanese only yesterday.

    Sannomiya is known for one of the largest concentration of the Zainichi Koreans in the country and some did worry about the violence may occur.Anchor man,Chikushi Tetsuya actually warned about this on national televised News23 that citizens must act calmly especially to their Korean neighbors.Kobe also has other ethnic community like Chinese and Vietnamese and they too needed help.Nothing happened during the earthquake and I was very impressed by the people there.
    But that could have only be achieved by the social order of the community was restored at the very early stage,and it is undeniable that yakuza chose to act for the mutual benefit of the community.They could’ve been making money for selling a bottle of evian for 500 yen.

    Now there are ways to interprete yakuza’s motivations behind their actions,all I can say is it was possible for yakuzas were organized and because they were organized they were socialized and have to consider their reputation among the citizens after the quake and because they were socialzed they have to act civilized to certain degree.Thus I coclude Yakuza has it’s use to the society in a way.Although I agree with Brad’s comment that there is nothing romantic about them….

  37. marxy Says:

    Interesting that Zizek suggests an immorality in monopoly power.

  38. Mulboyne Says:

    I lived in an area of London where local criminals were often regarded as “salt of the earth” types by residents. Food rationing in Britain, beginning in 1940, did not officially end until 1954; it actually got stricter after the war was over because Europe needed the food too. You were fine if you lived near the farms or the coast but most city dwellers relied on the black market and there were plenty of stories about Auntie Mary getting an extra joint of ham from some thug who had only gained access to resources through intimidation and violence. The local population seemed like no more than an abused wife who’ll take the punches from her man but stand by him because “he loves me really”. The yakuza are cut from the same cloth so I don’t feel any need to give them a pass on account of a few jokes in the local sento.

  39. marxy Says:

    “Thus I coclude Yakuza has it’s use to the society in a way.”

    Well, it may just show how much government FAILS to provide emergency services and order in a time of crisis.

    I can see the yakuza also being necessary for selling dope, sex, and other vices, but the better solution is to legalize these activities so that you can get rid of the underground economy. Why we would want entertainment, art galleries, stock holding, and real estate all subsumed under the dark touch of well-armed underground economic factions completely baffles me…

  40. Aceface Says:

    “Well, it may just show how much government FAILS to provide emergency services and order in a time of crisis.”

    And city of Kobe had liberal mayor at the time and PM was socialist.They’d rather let citizens suffer instead of dispatching SDF immediately.(Changed the policy few days later after thousand died.)US Navy asked support of sending aircraft career for the relief mission and left wing dock workers unions refused.

    In a way the whole nation of Japan has been in the status of Kobe citizen since 1945.Under the custody of global equivalent of Yamaguchi-Gumi called The United States.

    “I can see the yakuza also being necessary for selling dope, sex, and other vices, but the better solution is to legalize these activities so that you can get rid of the underground economy. ”

    And let the free market do all of that?
    Wait until I get a 38 special of my own and fortify my house.

    “Why we would want entertainment, art galleries, stock holding, and real estate all subsumed under the dark touch of well-armed underground economic factions completely baffles me…”

    I don’t know about art galleries,stock holding and real estates.But entertainment芸能was always connected with mobs and marginals for about 1000 years in this country.Probably wiil stay that way for sometime.

  41. marxy Says:

    “But entertainment芸能was always connected with mobs and marginals for about 1000 years in this country.”

    Entertainment was a mob thing in the US too. Just the government decided to intervene at some point.

  42. neogeisha Says:

    marxy would best benefit from his time in kansai by doing a stint at a minami host bar. there, all his althusserian fantasies will come true.

  43. marxy Says:

    I am not sure if my wife would go for that.

  44. Chris_B Says:

    “Is there not a difference between tragedy and intentional malice? The leftist kids wanted to help but it turned violent and counterproductive quite quickly. I don’t think the uyoku and yakuza have ever had any goals besides greed and power.”

    Now who is deluded by ideology? Seriously marxy, if you attribute the leaders of any movement to anything but a raw desire for power covered by a thin veneer of ideology, you got another think coming.

    I grew up in a mafia neighborhood in NY in the 70s. Streets were totally peaceful after dark, no problems at all, even during the summer of the Son of Sam when the news was claiming the killer was now in Jersey. The heroin trade, theft and extortion kept our streets safe so my mom could park six blocks away at 10 at night when she was late coming home from work and not have to worry at all walking down dimly lit streets to get home. Not saying the end justified the means, but again, to the people in the neighborhood, the wiseguys were hardworking family men.

    After all the RICO busts of the early 80s, the whole town went down hill. Crime was rampant and things were just as crappy as across the Hudson, especially during the Dinkins years.

    The lesson I take away from that is hate the game, not the player.

  45. hidarinoji Says:

    “…because they were organized they were socialized and have to consider their reputation among the citizens after the quake and because they were socialzed they have to act civilized to certain degree.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankh-Morpork_Thieves%27_Guild

  46. alin Says:

    wow Laotree, (just realize) you’re in Ootsu , it’s been a while but for some reason that giant parco (i think it was) and the lake will always stay my mind.

  47. Mulboyne Says:

    Chris B wrote “The lesson I take away from that is hate the game, not the player.”

    I have no idea what that means to you. Are you arguing that organized crime is the best way to keep order? I’ve always thought, perhaps wrongly, that you are something of a libertarian where the state should keep out of interfering with most individual activity but is available, at the very least, to enforce contracts which are the basis of all business activity and exactly what organized crime seeks to subvert. Maybe protection rackets are your thing.

  48. an apologist? Says:

    my favorite is 「ヤクザもいる、明るい世界」

    I would also say that there is a lot more to *some* uyoku ideologically and morally than you might care to acknowledge.

    Most of the uyoku I know are polite and formal to a fault in inter personal relations. The wild yelling and violent poses are reserved for activism….

  49. marxy Says:

    “I would also say that there is a lot more to *some* uyoku ideologically and morally than you might care to acknowledge.”

    The good Nathanial Smith at Yale’s research is dealing with these “ideological uyoku,” who are intentionally not tied to the mob and have formed for ideological reasons. I am sure they are not in it for the money.

    I do not want to deny these uyoku groups’ existence, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Nihon Seinensha – which I believe is the biggest uyoku group – founded by the founder of the Sumiyoshi-kai’s Kobayashi-kai faction or that the Sasakawa Ryoichi-Moonie rightist factions have long-standing ties to the mob.

  50. Chris_B Says:

    Mulboyne,

    Hardly. An illustration of how the functions of the state are at times performed by organized crime does not make me an advocate of protection rackets.

    Its a bit dissapointing that you drew that conclusion. If anything the simplistic conclusion would have been that organized crime is a shadow mirror of the official state. Both enforce taxation upon business activities in return for protection, are regimentally organized, have internal rules which are followed to various degrees of consistancy and a means to enforce their rules and power structure and in the end are made up of individuals who outside of their power structure may be perfectly “regular” people.

    Now with that bit of seeming (but not actual) moral relativism aside, your assesment of my stance was fairly accurate. I dont like any power structure interfering too much in individual activities. Nonetheless my personal observations have been more limited to the direct actions of mafia activity at a certain place and time whereas I have not personally known any politicians of the civill state.

    You could then understand the closing sentance as something to the effect that, though in person both Don Vito and Mayor Smith may be hard working, religious men devoted to their families and the success of their organizations, both may personally perform or order done in their name reprihensible acts which do interfere in the lives of individuals. In either case, I have a problem with power structures which enforce without the concent of those governed rather than with the actual enforcers.

    And before anyone comes back with the playground logic retort of “does that mean those who commit foul acts shouldnt face consequences”, the answer is no. At least with civil government the goverened have some form of recourse to address grievances with those in power whereas under rule by organized crime, short of direct physical challenge to those in power, there is no recourse.

  51. Chris_B Says:

    Mulboyne,

    Hardly. An illustration of how the functions of the state are at times performed by organized crime does not make me an advocate of protection rackets.

    Its a bit dissapointing that you drew that conclusion. If anything the simplistic conclusion would have been that organized crime is a shadow mirror of the official state. Both enforce taxation upon business activities in return for protection, are regimentally organized, have internal rules which are followed to various degrees of consistancy and a means to enforce their rules and power structure and in the end are made up of individuals who outside of their power structure may be perfectly “regular” people.

    Now with that bit of seeming (but not actual) moral relativism aside, your assesment of my stance was fairly accurate. I dont like any power structure interfering too much in individual activities. Nonetheless my personal observations have been more limited to the direct actions of mafia activity at a certain place and time whereas I have not personally known any politicians of the civill state.

    You could then understand the closing sentance as something to the effect that, though in person both Don Vito and Mayor Smith may be hard working, religious men devoted to their families and the success of their organizations, both may personally perform or order done in their name reprihensible acts which do interfere in the lives of individuals. In either case, I have a problem with power structures which enforce without the concent of those governed rather than with the actual enforcers.

    And before anyone comes back with the playground logic retort of “does that mean those who commit foul acts shouldnt face consequences”, the answer is no. At least with civil government the goverened have some form of recourse to address grievances with those in power whereas under rule by organized crime, short of direct physical challenge to those in power, there is no recourse.

  52. Laotree Says:

    “wow Laotree, (just realize) you’re in Ootsu , it’s been a while but for some reason that giant parco (i think it was) and the lake will always stay my mind.”
    Yeah, Mr. Utsukushi Nihon himself was at that very same Parco today drumming up support for his local toadies and familiars. It occurred to me the other day the strangeness of having to see Abe’s mug on posters everywhere, emblazoned as they are with vague and flaccid statements i.e.“守りたい日本がある”I think I’d rather see the Hinomaru flying everywhere than to have the temptation to count this dynastic greaseball’s pores…
    I do find it fascinating, the Triforce of Right Wing Politics, the Yakuza, and cults/religions. Have you guys ever come across anything by Tom Bearden? He’s a retired US army Lt. Colonel and “a leading conceptualist in alternate energy technology, mind/matter interaction, EM bioeffects, paranormal phenomena, parapsychology, psychotronics, Tesla technology, and unified field theory concepts”. He claims that after the fall of the Soviet Union, a partnership between Aum Shinrikyo and the Yakuza gained access to advanced Tesla weapons for a song from the cash-strapped Russian bureacracy, and can induce earthquakes and weather phenomena from their Cobra Terrordrome in Siberia. http://www.cheniere.org/aum/index.htm
    The graphics on this slide show are great…MORTAL KOMBAT!

  53. Mulboyne Says:

    Chris B, I drew my conclusion because you wrote:

    “The heroin trade, theft and extortion kept our streets safe”

    If that’s a defence of Don Vito, which streets do you think saw the effects of that same heroin trade, theft and extortion?

  54. pamu Says:

    Laotree:

    I haven’t seen those 守りたい日本がある posters, and actually I don’t see many Abe posters in Osaka/Kyoto, but “vague and flaccid” hit the sentiment dead-on and made me actually laugh-out-loud.

    For those of you who may frequent 京阪 and environs, have any of you noticed posters for 井脇ノブ子? When the boyfriend and I first spotted the smiley pink posters, I proffered that maybe the given name was supposed to be pronounced “のぶし” Anyway, you can make your own assessment:

    http://www.yaruki-genki-iwaki.com/

  55. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    “induce earthquakes and weather phenomena from their Cobra Terrordrome in Siberia. ”

    FUCKING RADICAL

  56. Chris_B Says:

    Mulboyne,

    Its a raw statement of fact. At that period, the civil governments of the north eastern US were unable to perform the functions of maintaining law and order. Don Vito didnt do it out of the goodness of his heart or duty to the civilians, the streets were safe and quiet because he didnt want Auntie Rosa and Grandma Marie to be disturbed or bothered. The statement of fact regarding safe streets is not a justification. Dont be confused, I prefer a functional light touch civil government.

  57. j Says:

    And let the free market do all of that?
    Wait until I get a 38 special of my own and fortify my house.

    Funniest comment on here.

    Aceface, who is the closest equivalent in Japanese history to Bobby Kennedy, greatest crime fighter of the 20th century?

  58. Aceface Says:

    j:
    Ikeda Hayato池田勇人 Prime Minister from’60 to’64 for it was his government for leading operation”Mountain Top第一次頂上作戦”right before Tokyo Olympic,It was intended to strike Yamaguchi-Gumi.The boss,Taoka Kazuo narrowly escaped prosecution for he had heart failure.

  59. Laotree Says:

    Pamu
    “Copyright Nobuko Iwaki All Rights Reserved”
    from the bottom of the page. Rather mannish though.
    Yeah, I guess the Abe posters are more prevalent in Shiga than Kyoto; suited better to the side of someone’s toolshed than Kawaramachi-dori. Yesterday I saw a bunch of posters of Sato Masahisa, aka ヒゲの隊長、formerly of the GSDF, back from Iraq and sporting a Saddam-classic beret. Of course there are lots of 民主党、and 共産党 posters around too, but the 自民党 seem to outweigh the others by far. And lest I forget the 公明党 posters that go up late at night by the hands of Soka Gakkai families. I’ve seen a mother/daughter street team trying to decide which ones to post where, after 1 am on a schoolnight!

  60. Aceface Says:

    In response to Mulboyne-Chris B debate.

    I should make a distinction of acknowlement of the existence of organized crime and acknowledgement of the institutionalization of organized crime in the politico-economic structure. I acknowledge the former and reject the latter.

    What I thought Chris was trying to say is organized crime is “useful”on street level.One thing you find as the stark contrast in busy street around 11pm in Japan and the U.S is the existence of many drunken white colors in the street,some of them even sleeping.That can only be happening because wise guys are watching the turfs all night.
    And about protection blankets,I’m pretty sure that papa-mama owned karaoke bars find it as “necesssary evil”for nobody would come if the neighborhood would be too risky for drunken salarymen.The Yakuzas are also useful in trouble shooting.While Cops would only help carry away drunken salarymen,Yakuza help you all the assorted troubles with drunken customers,such as nonpayment.So in a way,the protection racket match the expence.

    About Mulboyne’s claim on beaten wife and domestic violence husband metaphor on neighborhood and organized crime,I think it only shows one side of the argument.Surely the poor woman can always go to the lawyer or cops or shelters for protection if she wants it.Moving out can also be a choice.Same with mobs in the street.
    In Mulboyne’s UK,the authority had introduced hundreds of surveillance camera to fight the street crime(and also to counter riots and terrorism).That is one way of the solution,however may bring problems of different kinds…..

  61. Chris_B Says:

    Laotree,

    I saw a Sato Masahisa poster and for a minute or two thought it was Sadam himself.

    Aceface,

    Something like that yeah. “Useful” when the police can not or will not perform their duties for some areas or some of the population. Though I’d prefer there were no “need” (opportunity?) for the local protection rackets since it represents a failure of the civil state. Or rather, is may represent tacit acknowledgement by the civil state of organized crime which brings us back to the institutionalization of such.

    The other problem being the economic drain created by the double taxation of the civil state and organized crime. If Mama & Papa have already paid protection money, I’m sure they resent the taxation of the civil state as more extortion and vice versa.

  62. Laotree Says:

    “I saw a Sato Masahisa poster and for a minute or two thought it was Sadam himself.”
    That’s exactly the reaction it elicited from me too. Japan’s newest public Baath. It’s the beret…the wall I saw had two posters with the beret, and two without, the rough and the smooth.
    “the authority had introduced hundreds of surveillance camera to fight the street crime(and also to counter riots and terrorism)”
    NYC is going in this direction too, apparently.
    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    Benjamin Franklin

  63. Mulboyne Says:

    Any claim that organized crime can provide services which make up for failures of the state ought to recognize that gangsters are often a direct cause of those failures. Local people might be suckered into believing that local criminals are a necessary evil but it is notable that this opinion usually changes when a different ethnic group moves in to provide identical “services”. The abused wife might take punches from her husband but wouldn’t think twice about going to the police if another man hit her.

    Chris B has already noted the problem of double taxation, another problem is that mainstream companies usually choose not to invest in areas where intimidation and protection rackets are rife and that reinforces the dependency of those places on crime.

    It is interesting to look at Kabukicho these days. There used to be no convenience store chains active in the middle of the love hotel district between Shokuan Dori and Hanamichi because no-one wanted to deal with the gangs. There was a Lawson next to Seibu Shinjuku station and a couple of stores on Shokuan Dori itself but then an am/pm popped up on the ground floor of the Furin Kaikan and now Lawson, Sunkus and Family Mart all have shops in the heart of that area. That is entirely down to the clean-up. Just this month, Yoshimoto Kogyo announced that they have agreed to relocate head office functions to the site of a disused school next to Hanazono Jinja. Even with that company’s familiarity with organized crime, they would not have countenanced such a move even five years ago.

  64. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    A mosque in Kobe… now that’s interesting. Japan has a very small Muslim minority of about 100,000. And at least they don’t get sent fro questioning when they pray in an airport or get the words “jihad” and “sha’ria” twisted by the media to make Islam look bad.

    Anymore interesting info on Muslims living in Japan? As a Muslims myself who wants to visit Japan someday and not for anime and shit, I’m interested.

  65. Aceface Says:

    “but it is notable that this opinion usually changes when a different ethnic group moves in to provide identical “services”. ”

    That reminds me of Takayama Tokutaro of Yakuza clan,Aizukotetsu of Kyoto.Mulboyne,Were you in Japan when the diet passed Violent Gang counter Law in ’92?

    Takayama invited lots of foreign press to have joint press session at the time to stop the law getting active and his pictures appeared in half a dozen foreign media.He even went to the Ministry of justice for lobbying.One of his argument was if Yakuzas are wiped out from the streets,it would be occupied by foreign gangs.
    “We are protecting the very foundation of this country”said the Aizukotetsu boss.

    Hilarious thing of all was Takayama’s real name is Kang and he had been the holder of the nationality of Republic of Korea until his death in 2003……

    On Clean-up:
    I don’t have hard facts for the counterargument of the current gentrification of Shokuan-dori,but is it really to do with “clean-up”of the street mobs.(or perhaps you’ve used the word literally?)

    Most of the place has been deserted because many inhabitants had left the neighborhood during the bubble days,because of the 地上げ.
    The street lights came back because the bubble had bursted and the real estate companies(which have connections with Yakuza)started to rent and the influx of Korean immigrants settled to the neighborhood and formed sort of Korean town.
    Convenience stores are there for these new comer populations,or so is my understanding.

    The other clean-up:
    I do indeed have some info on Mosques in Japan for I’ve done the research and intereviews,Kim Jong Il Hater.
    I would be happy to tell you(for I have long night to spend in my office all alone)if only you check the website of the office of the cabinet and acknowledge that GoJ has been working on clean-up of chemical weapons stockpile in China.They’ve been spending 172million dollars in six years and willing to pay more.

  66. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    They have been sending money, but they hid A LOT of chemical and biological weapons up in Manchuria. It would take plenty of more money to clean up all of those weapons dumping places.

  67. Mulboyne Says:

    There’s a long way to go before you could call Shokuan-dori gentrified. A 24-hour Korean supermarket called Kmart (not K-Mart) opened there in December last year with a great fanfare and visits from celebrities, claiming to be the largest such place in Japan. They shut for “remodelling” four months later and never reopened. Their website now says they are permanently closed.

    The cash disappeared from Kabukicho when the bubble burst but the gangs still occupied or controlled most of the real estate. Things really changed in 2005 when the police began to punish landlords who rented out space to “fashion health” operators and the like, combined with regular raids by immigration. In December last year, there was a major meeting of 1,300 people representing restaurants, bars and shops in the area to discuss ways of halting protection money payments completely. A lot of places simply can’t afford it anymore.

    Since Marxy mentioned it earlier, it’s maybe worth mentioning that the LA Times has just run a piece on the murderer of the Major of Nagasaki (apologies for the long URL).

    http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/world/la-fg-gangster23jul23,0,2965637.story?page=1&track=mostviewed-storylevel

  68. Aceface Says:

    KJI:
    You wrote
    “Japan won’t even pay for the clean up of a stockpile of biological weapons they left in Manchuria.”
    So this proved to be wrong and now you know it.

    “but they hid A LOT of chemical and biological weapons up in Manchuria.”
    The politically correct way of calling the area now is “The North East”mind you.I never heard about this”biological weapon” being hidden.
    Care to enlighten me about this hidden fact of Japanese wrong doing more?A few scoop might do well for getting me out of this nightshifts…

    and also:
    “Last time I checked, we paid reperations to the Japanese we put in internment camps”
    Not a single Japanese national were put in internment camps.They were all deported right after the pearl harbor.Perhaps it is about time to acknowledge the citizen of Japanese origin as “Americans”.Afterall they too fought the war as American GI’s,You know.

    and also:
    “German have been giving billions of dollars to Israel”.
    I understand that German paid billions to the Jews,but Japan also paid billions of compensations to The Phillipines,Republic of Vietnam,Burma,Cambodia Indonesia,Singapore,Malaysia,Laos,Cambodia,Micronesia,The Netherland and South Korea.I know it is not just the money that counts here,but facts are facts.

    “It would take plenty of more money to clean up all of those weapons dumping places. ”
    Perhaps,But we are willing to pay for it and clean up the remains at all cost.That I can safely guarantee.

    I’ll post about the mosque later,Better get some sleep for now.

    Mulboyne:
    What exactly do you do for living?I’m impressed.
    Very impressed!
    About Kmart…I think there is another supermarket either run by Korean or intending Korean centric marchandizing,Perhaps the over competiton for a niche market is the reason of the early shut down?

  69. Chris_B Says:

    wow, looks like Aceface has discovered someone who has fallen for the Communit Party’s propaganda hook, line and sinker.

    Big up to you Aceface for dealing with things clearly.

  70. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    China was complaining after Japan wasn’t giving money to clean up a stockpile that was found in the Northeast.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/japan/cw.htm

    This site has information on it. The fact that it wasn’t until 1990 that Japan started to help locate stockpiles of abandoned chemical weapons is just plain sad.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/21/asia/AS_GEN_Japan_China_Chemical_Weapons.php

    Japan and China on Thursday agreed to set up a joint group to clear an estimated 660,000 chemical weapons abandoned in China by Japan’s Imperial Army at the end of World War II.”

    “Japan has earmarked 93 billion yen (US$787 million; €598 million) to clear weapons from the area, and has so far recovered 38,000. But the arms are stored in Chinese warehouses and have yet to be disposed of, and disposal costs are expected to top those incurred in removing them, Michigami said.”

    Now can I get that information on Muslims in Japan? Japan hasn’t been giving enough oney for the disposal of those weapons.

  71. Mulboyne Says:

    Aceface wrote: “What exactly do you do for living?”

    I thought it was well known that all Japan hands over a certain age are professional drunkards. Or as Marie Tukuda wrote in her “Memoirs of A Stripper”:

    “I always thought the reason I drank so much was because I was stuck in Japan. It never dawned on me the reason I was stuck in Japan was because I drank so much.”

    Fortunately, I spend only half a year in Japan so I can convince myself that doesn’t apply to me.

  72. Aceface Says:

    KJIH;
    The site you showed is not updated and based on second hand info.Try 内閣府遺棄化学兵器室(somehow beyond me,this site is not linkable)

    “The fact that it wasn’t until 1990 that Japan started to help locate stockpiles of abandoned chemical weapons is just plain sad.”

    True,But while I think Japan is to be blamed for manuafacturing of these weapons,should not to be solely blamed for the delay.

    Under the Potsudam declaration the allied had insisted Japanese government to follow this order.
    “The Japanese military forces, AFTER COMPLETELY DISARMED, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives.”

    By IGoJ accepting this declaration on August 15,1945.All of the equipment that belong to Imperial Japanese troops in China were handed over to either the Soviet forces,Kuomingtang or the Chinese communists,including the amnuitions with chemical warhead which is now becoming our mutual concern.But in theory,both the rights and the responsibility of GoJ to the chemical weapon had vanished at this point.

    As you may know,after the war no GoJ representetives could work officialy in the mainland Chinese territoty before 1974.And Japan-China friendship treaty signed in 1978 was pointed that two nations will respect the territory and the soverignity and will not interfere the domestic politics of each other.
    By this treaty,sending Japanese government research team was only possible at the invitation from Beijing and we’ve heard no information of abandoned chemical weapons are causing human casualities.
    This was a shame,because Japanese NGO has been informed about Vietnamese victims of agent orange
    used by U.S troops during the Vietnam wars and financially supporting them from the 70’s(I’ve done the donations when I was in elemetary school).The GoJ joined in and government aid is provided to these detoxification projects of Mekong Delta from the 90’s.It is not difficult to imagine that help would be provided to the Chinese victim of ACW before any government actions,but that was just not the case.

    Now,for historical reasons,GoJ was one of the leading nation that promoted abolishment of the chemical weapons in the form of international treaty.But this was not possible until Mikhail Gorbachev appears and when he did start working on global disarmament,action for the Chemical Weapons Convention had started.

    You may want to check your Global Security web pages over Chinese chemical weapon program,but offically to this day,China do not possess any BC weapons but showed reluctance over CWC deals especially the plan Japan was proposing that includes the assessment to the military facility.
    It seemed Beijing had their reasons not welcoming CWC.

    And here Beijing suddenly came up to the table with Abandoned Chemical Weapons in the North East in 1987.

    There were no country that has huge stock piles of ACW,but China at the time.
    (Nazi had left many chemical weapons in concentration camps in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union,but these as I heard,were cleaned by the government of these nations.)
    And naturally the working process was delayed because Beijing insisted Tokyo for the responsibility of cleaning up of ACW and also demanded watering down the CWC restrictions.

    Chemical weapon convention was signed only in 1993.It became active in Japan in 95 and in China in 97,and only from 1997 Tokyo could start working on the chemical stock pile within China.

    “Japan hasn’t been giving enough oney for the disposal of those weapons.”

    There are lots of horror stories looming around this budget issue.
    I hear People’s Liberation Army demanded building a helicopter pads which has nothing to do with the ACW or demanding equal wages for Japanese and Chinese personnel.Can’t trust all the rumours and I can’t give you any links nor English article on these. but one thing is certain that this have become pork barrel project for the generals of PLA and there are zero financial accountability.Little wonder that the budget had skyrocketed beyond anybody’s prediction.
    But like I said,Japanese are willing to pay the expense.Eventually there will be enough money for
    the disposable of these weapons.

    What’s more troublesome is while Beijing demanding the acceleration of the project to Tokyo,they are not so helpful and seemingly in no rush.
    Tokyo established Office of ACW in the office of diet which is under the direct command of the Prime Minister’s office in 1997.It took Beijing 3 more years to establish the counterpart in 2000 and during this time the project has been delayed.

    This commenting took me more than 30 minuites of my time and I need to go to bed.Write about the Mosque,but later.No hard feelings.

  73. Aceface Says:

    Mulboyne:
    “Fortunately, I spend only half a year in Japan so I can convince myself that doesn’t apply to me.”
    International man of mystery,eh?
    Now,YOU should start a blog,Sir!

    But then again you should not,because I’m wasting
    frightening amount of time by the PC this week.
    Better get back to the real world…..

  74. Brown Says:

    Wait, there’s a REAL world?!

  75. Chris_B Says:

    Aceface,

    Said it before but it deserves saying again: thanks for presenting things which are beyond the reading ability of some of us.

  76. Aceface Says:

    Yep,Brown.There is a real world outside of the net and I really should stop typing these craps….

    KJIH:

    The Mosques in Kobe is the oldest mosque in the country and it was made by the Indians who came to Kobe as textile and spice marchants.This one is purely built by the good money of Muslim.

    However the one in Tokyo’s Yoyogi has more complex history.

    Tartar and Bashikirs are Turkic ethnic groups living in Volga region of Russia and Stalin had oppressed them for being Pan Turkic.So they start to immigrate eastward by the Chinese Eastern Railways selling daily goods such as cloth to the railway workers and built community in Russian built Chinese city of Harbin which was under heavy Japanese presence at the time.Some came to Japan to expand their business,others came to have political links with the Japanese for support of Pan Turkism.

    One of them ,a Tartar Mullah and nationalistic journalist named Abdurresid Ibrahim who had close connection with Japanese military and pan Asian poiticians had organized and launched Islamic Society in Tokyo.He was helped by likes of Touyama Mitsuru,the founder of pan asianist and extreme right wing political society called Kokuryuu-Kai and Ookawa Shumei,the scholar and ideologue of East Asian Proliferation Sphere who also happens to be the director of Institute of Islamic Studies and tranlator of Koran.For the record,Ibrahim had also asked support from liberal pan-Asianist and then Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi who will later got assasinated by a fanatic Naval officer in May 15,1932.
    Anyway with the helps from ragtag band of these political figures(and money from Military and Mitsubishi),Ibrahim had become the mullah of the first mosque built in Tokyo.

    The presence of the mosque and Tartar mullah brought band of Tartar and Bashikir immigrants from Harbin to Japan and built a small community in Tokyo.
    After the war,they remained in Japan as political exiles with no nationalities.And then the Korean war started.Japan become the logistic base for the UN troops fighting in Korea and among them,there were hundreds of Turkish soldiers.The wounded Turkish soldiers were hospitalized in red cross hospitals in Tokyo and Tartar and bashikir exiles helped these soldiers faithfully which would eventually let the Turkish Emabssy in Tokyo giving all of those among the exiles who wants Turkish passoports.Thus made them into Turkish national.
    The current mosque in Yoyogi is rebuilt in the late 90’s by the financial support from the Turkish government.

    Muslims in Japan:
    There are other mosques built by other nationals and Saudi Arabia has Islamic institute in diplomatic residential area of Azabu and a mosque in the suburb in Hachiouji.

    The main group of the muslim groups now in Japan are Pakistani and Bangladeshis who started settling here in the late 80’s.
    There are many Pakistanis who had success especially in used car trading and they start to make donations to built mosques in Saitama area.

    Iranians had also started to immigrate in Japan from the early 90’s and consisting third largest group of the muslims.Baseball player and pitcher Ali Darbish of Hokkaido Ham Fighters is probably the most popular pitcher after Matsuzaka fled for Boston Red Sox.
    Iranian presence in Japan is partly due to the fact that Tokyo has been keeping close relation with Teheran for years.But thay tend to stay away from mosques.I actually never saw single one of them there.Which is understandable because the reason they choose to live in Japan is to get away from the islamic repulic or so says my Iranian friends and informants.

    There are about roughly estimated about 1000 Kurds living around the city of Warabi,Saitama and they are jokingly call the city as “Warabistan”.But most of them are here as either in exile status(mostly from Iran)and illegal workers(mostly from Turkey) so they are not financially wealthy.But they still built mosques in the apartment rooms.

    Indonesians do live in Japan by the number of couple thousand.But thay are not particulary religious.Most of them are either exchange students or factory workers living in Japan for temporary.

    and you may realize that there are no description of Arabs in this post.There are very small Arab community here in Japan.Mostly diplomatic and business people.
    There are two notable “Arab” celebrity in Japan is Lebanese Brazillian Carlos Ghosn,the CEO of NISSAN and actress and singer Sawajiri Erika(mother is French Algerian).

    If there is any more question I’ll be happy to answer.

  77. marxy Says:

    I think I can say for most of us that Aceface greatly contributes to our knowing things.

  78. Brown Says:

    Absolutely!

    “Yep,Brown.There is a real world outside of the net and I really should stop typing these craps….”

    No, please don’t, because then we have to go back to the real world too! But seriously, your tremendous contributions here on the net give us perspective that we can use to engage with the real world. You’re awesome- even if you don’t like Ride.

    PS: Sorry to end this comment on a downer, but the situation of Kurdish refugees (or rather, those attempting to be recognized as refugees) in Japan is quite disgraceful, isn’t it?

  79. Brown Says:

    I mean, not as disgraceful as the Iraqi refugees the US won’t let into the country, but still…

  80. Mulboyne Says:

    Aceface wrote: “Iranian presence in Japan is partly due to the fact that Tokyo has been keeping close relation with Tehran for years.”

    I always assumed that relationship was oil just as Nigeria’s reserves explain how their nationals also have a relatively smooth entry to Japan.

  81. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    Thanks Aceface. It’s surprising to see practicing Muslims in a nation like Japan.

    I also totally forgot that mainland China and Japan didn’t normalise relations until 1978. But the part about the CWC I didn’t know about and I’m dissapointed in the corrupt kuffar government of China for not cooperating enough on this matter seeing how it is a huge public safety concern! And now with the upcoming elections, I wouldn’t be surprised if more money would be put in by the opposition parties if they win.

  82. Aceface Says:

    Brown:
    “the situation of Kurdish refugees (or rather, those attempting to be recognized as refugees) in Japan is quite disgraceful, isn’t it?”

    Can’t agree more.There is not a single Kurd accepted in Japan as refugee to this day.
    There was an exiled Turkish Kurd family doing strike in front of UN university in Aoyama last year and I went there to interview,Last month they left for Canada for good.

    Mulboyne:
    “I always assumed that relationship was oil just as Nigeria’s reserves explain how their nationals also have a relatively smooth entry to Japan.”

    Yes.But remember that Ayatollah Khomeini viewed the U.S and the USSR as great satan and had trouble with Europeans and Arabs.That leaves Teheran but few choices and Tokyo could fill the diplomatic and economic vacuum.Saito Kunihiko,former JICA president was ambassador to Teheran during the gulf wars.It was his men who got the info that Sadam Hussein had send squadrons of his airforce to seek haven from American airstrike.Iranians let the Japanese taking videos of captured Iraqi jets and promised that they will not return the jets to Baghdad and this message was sent to the Washington.Saito became ambassador to Washington even though he has poor English ability in the mid 90’s.

    Did you read Asahi’s Matsumoto Jinichi’s series of article”Africans in Kabukicho”.Lots of Nigerian connections,but still Japan don’t import that much of oil from there and we have as much Ghanian as Nigerians and Ghana only produce cacao…

    KJIH:
    “now with the upcoming elections, I wouldn’t be surprised if more money would be put in by the opposition parties if they win.”

    Not to repeat the cliche that “we are consensus based people”.but there is bipartisan consensus on clean-up in both side of the aisles in Nagatacho and sadly LDP will stay in power even after they lose in upcoming election.

    “It’s surprising to see practicing Muslims in a nation like Japan,”
    Well,why not.Islam is a global religion expanding with the wave of globalization and our country too is part of it.I am rather more surprised to see so many practicing Mormon in Japan….

    We’ve derailed waaay beyond from Marxy’s trip to Kansai and I feel waves of guilt for usual topic hijcaking.But I want show some effort of putting things back in track.
    To-daiji東大寺 in Nara which is said to be the oldest wooden building in the world and probably where marxy fed the galloping deer,is also known with the connection with Islam.The current supreme monk of To-daiji,Bettou別当in their title,is a man named Morimoto Kousei and he is also known as one of the leading Islamist of the country and also a gradute of University of Cairo.

    and with this the topic is now back in circle….

  83. Andy Says:

    I thought Todaiji was the largest free-standing wooden structure in the world, not necessarily the oldest..?

    Sorry for diverting the conversation back a bit but one thing that has always puzzled me about the yakuza in Japan (throw a stone in Sannomiya late at night and you’ll hit 3 of them) is that they seem to be pretty much the be-all and end-all of Japanese crime. I mean, yakuza crime probably accounts for a great majority of “real” crime in the country and yet, despite the fact that they are everywhere, Japan has a lower crime rate than pretty much any western or westernised country you care to mention.

    How much of this directly stems from their involvement in policing? I’m not trying to make them out as being benevolent benefactors but it’s almost impossible to become involved in any form of crime that isn’t one-off and opportunistic without at least paying your dues to them. They make sure there’s no big market for drugs by cutting off supply by force; same with organised robbery, gang crime, and all forms of corruption. Crime seems to pretty much stop with them.

    Compare this with England, London especially, where it seems that virtually everyone makes the odd illegal pound (even if it’s only buying and selling cheap imported tobacco). In both cases, the police are pretty much useless; in the Japanese example there’s an extra-judicial force there threatening people who try to make money through crime; in England we have nothing similar and as a result crime is pretty rampant.

    The Krays are an excellent example; during their ‘reign of terror’ all crime was controlled through them. The result for the average person was that muggers and petty dealers were too scared to operate within their “turf” and, hackneyed Daily Mail style cliche that it might be, the streets were safer. Worse if you were a criminal, owned a shop or were involved in local government, but definitely safer for Joe Bloggs.

    Now that the Krays are not a viable force in East London there are hundreds of “firms” and gangs taking a slice of what used to be under their control, without any kind of social responsibility (the yakuza always seem to be semi-legitimate in that respect) or centralised control and the net result is that gun crime, drug crime and assaults are way way up.

    No-one ever thinks they are going to get caught before they join gangs; PC Plod on his bicycle doesn’t seem much of a deterrent in the face of the perceived gains of crime. The yakuza on the other hand, and more importantly the threat of death that goes with going against their wishes, present a much more powerful deterrent for potential criminals.

    Aspiring crooks in England join together with their mates, form a “crew” (or the equally ridiculous “massive”, depending on how many mates they have) and go out and start mugging little old ladies on pension day. Depending on how succesful they are (read: whether they get stabbed or arrested or not) they might eventually graduate to being part of a “firm”.

    If you took the same people and transplanted everything to Japan, there is a structured system in place that means street crime is discouraged (apart from between other gangs in order to impress higher-ups) and that rewards patience and obediance to authority as the way to becoming rich through crime.

    Sorry for hijacking the comments with this post, but does anyone genuinely think that if the yakuza were completely removed from Japan overnight that it would stay the same safe place that it is?

  84. Aceface Says:

    Andy:
    You are right.Houryuji was the oldest.Todaiji,the biggest.My bad.Apology for everyone.

    Yakuza:
    The security of the society in Japan is definitely secured by the joint work of yakuza and police.

    Despite Yamaguchi-gumi has history lasting 90 years,it’s rapid growth as nation wide crime syndicate started during the reign of Taoka Kazuo,the third boss of YG.Before him,YG was just one of many Kobe yakuzas.Taoka become the boss of YG in 1946.Underground empire rise from the ashes of the imperial Japan.Coincidence?
    I don’t think so.

    Then what is lacking from the Japanese society after 1945 that had existed before?
    The all powerful Ministry of Interior.One of the two political organs of the Japanese fascism that Macarthur had dismantled.
    During the rough early post-war years,the authority needed someone to fill the shoes of MoI.Not only they need to fight the crime,they also need to fight the new face,the communists.
    So,there you have it.The unholy alliance between cops and Yakuza….