Regain and Orthopraxical Labor Goals

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Like many Japanese commercials, the new TV spot for the Regain energy drink reinforces product message with a playful sense of hyperbole. But note the presuppositions about labor goals inherent in the narrative. A train is delayed, so the salaryman army hauls it over land and sea and air in order to…. make it to work on time. And we know that this is the ultimate goal, because our hero checks his watch, says “Yes!” and does that fisted arm pull, which at some point became the universal symbol for “Yes!”

Now, some bosses may have said, “I would rather you have been 15 minutes late and charged us for a cab than broken all of the windows of our meeting room,” but this commercial pretty much supports the idea that being an “ideal worker” in Japan is not about attaining pragmatic goals, increasing profitability, nailing a presentation, or closing deals, but rather punctuality. When the former actions are targets, being a bit late for work isn’t a problem, and hell, a more enterprising worker would have found a local wifi’d Starbucks and done his morning calls until train service starts back up. I mean, there’s no way every single member of this black-suit labor army had a morning meeting. Most of them just probably felt the need to get to the office on time so that they could grab the sole copy of Nikkei’s Marketing Journal and have enough time to take the normal morning’s two to three cigarette breaks.

Again, we see an example of Japanese orthopraxical conceptions of identity and membership: i.e., it is less about what you do at work and more about being punctual, properly suited, showing ambition and effort through strict adherence to rules like punch-in time. I can’t imagine an energy drink commercial showing a suave, rebellious salaryman wearing a light gray suit (with those orange loafers!), showing up late, flouting company policy, but then closing a huge deal to buffer his managers’ chagrin. This guy can’t be a hero in an orthopraxical environment: He’s just an asshole. Labor excellence is all about punctuality and a very simplified expression of dedication.

Cultures are free to choose their own routes to salvation and judgment criteria on individual performance, but I do wonder how this kind of process-oriented conception of work holds up in a more globalized world. The international capitalist view of the workforce is increasingly less concerned with creating a loyal regiment of young men with shiny shoes and polished brass accouterments who properly salute and say, “Sir, yes, sir!” and more concerned with, I don’t know, worker productivity and profitability. Do Japanese companies have a global advantage in promoting this sort of performance evaluation based on minor rule-adherence as the fundamental management strategy?

The other question is “work/life balance,” which Japanese people claim to desire, but is never going to happen when you get bonus points for staying in the office as long as possible regardless of actual work. How would this hypothetical TV commercial play in Japan: A guy drinks Regain and is able to do eight hours of work in five hours, thus letting him go home early, beat the commuter rush, and spend quality time with his wife and children? Seems like a stinker to me.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
August 6, 2007

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

73 Responses

  1. alin Says:

    beyond duality. it shall be that
    legal/illegal , rational/irrational are all synonims

  2. Duffy Says:

    That’s just plain irresponsible, Alin.

  3. marxy Says:

    Alin is above reality.

  4. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    seems like a perfectly cromulent word to me.

  5. Captain Says:

    Following the blizzard that hit Tokyo in early Jan. 1998 I remember an op/ed (in the Yomiuri, I think) saying basically the same thing. The author worked for a Japanese company and he had been listening to all the stories his co-workers were telling about the difficulties they went through to indeed get to the office in spite of public transportation being severely limited. So in other words they went to the office and merely discussed the great effort they made to get to the office.

  6. bryce Says:

    beyond duality. it shall be that
    flammable/inflammable are synonims

  7. Kim Jong-il Hater Says:

    Man, I should work in Japan! Just make it on time, take some breaks, don’t do shit, maybe occasionally, and just sit around for 12 hours.

  8. Aceface Says:

    Yeah,but some gaijins can’t even do that.That’s why our Mongolian yokozuna is now on fire.

  9. marxy Says:

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/06/asia/06equal.php

    Note that this Regain commercial has no women workers. I guess they are too worried about breaking a nail to jump through windows. No promotions for you, Miss! You do not adequately ganbaru!

  10. Aceface Says:

    The song they had for Regain commercials back in the bubble days were
    24時間戦えますか。ビジネスマーン!ビジネスマーン!ジャパニーズ・ビジネスマーン!!
    so it was men’s world from the very beginning…

  11. Aceface Says:

    The whole american media including IHT is stinker to me for bashing Japan for running the economy too good that may eclipse the west in the last century and bashing Japan for running the economy too bad that may get eclipsed by the shadow of China in this century.Damned if we do damned if we don’t.

  12. marxy Says:

    “Damned if we do damned if we don’t.”

    I agree with that.

    Same time, I am pretty much convinced that this unproductive “long hour” regimen is the sole reason behind 75% of all Japanese social problems.

  13. Don Says:

    And the Koreans. Don’t forget the Koreans.

  14. Aceface Says:

    Yeah,but 75% of all the Korean social problems solely come from the Japanese,or so think the Koreans…..

  15. additup Says:

    Assuming you live in Japan, because you like the culture…

    How do you change the “long hour regimen”, without changing Japan’s cultural fundamentals (ie; wa, giri, honne/tatemae, etc.) that combine to create said long work hours?

  16. alin Says:

    how could everyone fail to mention that it’s ripping off so many R.E.M. videoclips ?

  17. marxy Says:

    “changing Japan’s cultural fundamentals (ie; wa, giri, honne/tatemae, etc.) that combine to create said long work hours?”

    This may verge into more extreme Leftist theory, but there is an important debate about whether there isn’t inherently Confucian/elitist/Statist ideology contained within these concepts that serves those with power. Is “giri” “fundamental” to Japanese society like the importance of legal slavery in the South? Who sets the tone that “giri” to your employer is vastly more important than “giri” to your family and offspring?

    Regardless of that Pandora’s box, some companies in Japan are now forcing their workers to go home on time (this may be mostly service industry workers, but I am unclear on specifics), and this looks to help build worker morale and profitability/productivity. If top management decides that “going home on time” is a key priority, and thus a “duty” for employees, then they would be disobeying their company by staying late. This whole top-down thing makes it easy for change, but why would those at the top choose to relinquish power or dissolve tradition that they themselves suffered through?

  18. additup Says:

    “Who sets the tone that “giri” to your employer is vastly more important than “giri” to your family and offspring?”

    I believe the expected standard for “giri” in Japan is largely defined by gender – with men beholden to their companies, and women beholden to their families. So, for men, giri to the family is not necessary because this role is already managed by the woman.

    “Some companies in Japan are now forcing their workers to go home on time.”

    I understand your general point, but let’s be careful using words like “forcing”, when it may be more accurate to label the process “gently recommending”.

    “This whole top-down thing makes it easy for change, but why would those at the top choose to relinquish power or dissolve tradition that they themselves suffered through?”

    While I understand some workers are seeking extra face-time – there are other factors contributing to the long work hours, such as the over-abundance of meetings to ensure group harmony (“wa”), the tremendously long communication rituals between meeting participants (“honne/taetamae”), the even longer communication rituals between separate companies (“shagai/shanai”), the lengthy need to always lay groundwork, to avoid offending the corporate hierarchy (“nemawashi”), etc.

    In general, I think it’s somewhat disingenuous to purport that Japanese work hours can be reduced, simply because most folks are slacking after-hours. There are many other factors in play, and a change to work hours would probably mean a fundamental change to Japanese culture – not just to the notion of “giri”.

  19. marxy Says:

    In general, I find it hard to accept terms like “wa”, “honne/taetamae”, “shagai/shanai”,”nemawashi” as ideologically-neutral, democratically-formed, floating in the air, natural or fundamental to Japanese culture. They come from specific agendas and specific historical circumstances. I am not sure they are dogmatic principles without breathing room either.

    “I believe the expected standard for “giri” in Japan is largely defined by gender – with men beholden to their companies, and women beholden to their families.”

    Except that we are now at a point that women DO work (and MUST work to keep employment moving) and yet they are forced to choose one side in this binary (which is hard not to see as anything but patriarchal in nature). Japanese society loses in either choice of this binary: women either continue with their jobs and do not have children, or they quit their jobs and Japanese firms lose real talent.

    “There are many other factors in play, and a change to work hours would probably mean a fundamental change to Japanese culture”

    Japanese cultures changes. Long work hours etc. are all part of a post-war reformation of the concept of work – not part of “Ancient Shinto Japanese Labor Policy Decided by Amaterasu.” Lifetime employment is not a “fundamental” part of Japanese culture: it is a central part of 20th century WHITE-COLLAR labor policy as a management response to a specific labor crisis. If they could “fundamentally” change labor policy then, they can do it now. And they are! And the changes they are making are generally those that benefit management, not workers.

    Management policy isn’t a slave to cultural concerns. How does the hiring of low-paid non-regular works emphasize “wa”? When the government and management finally accept that long hours and low productivity are actually getting in the way of economic progress and directly contributing to the shrinking population, they may find the need to reform the concept of labor for the 21st century. Despite all those cliches of “Japanese culture,” workers polled overwhelmingly want a better work/life balance. But if the top still requires a certain level of “dedication” that goes above and beyond results/merit and success at this criteria determines promotions, workers of course will find it in their interest to keep putting in long hours.

  20. alin Says:

    that’s really nicely put marxy.

  21. additup Says:

    So, your average Japanese cannot change the system, and Japan’s decision-making bodies are pretty slow to support social change. Speaking practically, this seems to condemn today’s youth to an extensive tenure within a lousy work environment, which demands a soul-hollowing amount of commitment.

    A bit of hyperbole aside, why does anyone stay, when they could have it so much better in Australia/Europe/North America?

    Heck, why do you stay?

  22. ::G Says:

    I think you’re reading WAY too far into that commercial. While it’s true that “CMs” are a reflection of the pop culture and society’s tastes, it’s also so much marketing BS.

    Punctuality is important in the Japanese mind because keeping someone else waiting is inconsiderate, and therefore rude and to be avoided. The guy who flouts company policy that everyone else is bound by just so he himself can get ahead IS an asshole in Japanese society. They’re still not free to “think outside the box,” and some might argue that, in light of the U.S.’s recent malaise, it’s overrated. (First, one has to know what the box is before one tries to get outside it. That’s not something the brash corporate cowboy is likely to master before he goes shooting his mouth off.)

    Even if a dude could hammer out eight hours of work in five, eight-hour days are for slackers! You gotta stay till the boss leaves, man. Besides, spending time with family sucks just like work — it’s not your time, it’s someone elses, and you need time to spend on you.

    Work/life balance is a myth in the U.S. corporate world, too. One’s always going to be shorting something. I guess the point is to quit feeling guilty about it.

    My opinion, as an American who’s worked at a large corporation in Japan and in the U.S., is that in general Japanese work too hard (their labor’s too cheap) and Americans don’t work enough (they’re more talk than action). We’re full of ourselves because we have cheap gasoline.

    And though “irregardless” may be a word, it’s an etymologically bankrupt one. Wikipedia says: “The descriptive approach to ‘irregardless’ is to note that it is considered nonstandard by educated people.” ^_-

  23. marxy Says:

    “The guy who flouts company policy that everyone else is bound by just so he himself can get ahead IS an asshole in Japanese society.”

    He’s call “the Boss,” because if you are on top of the food chain, you can do whatever you want with your suboordinates.

  24. j Says:

    “Even if a dude could hammer out eight hours of work in five, eight-hour days are for slackers! You gotta stay till the boss leaves, man. Besides, spending time with family sucks just like work — it’s not your time, it’s someone elses, and you need time to spend on you.”

    It’s not just until the boss leaves, but your fellow co-workers. When I’ve asked Japanese people over the years why they stay so late if they don’t really have any work to do, they say because they feel bad about leaving their genuinely busy co-workers behind (while Westerners shout “I’m outta here!”).

    And Marxy, I’d say there are a considerable percentage who don’t Want to go home to the wife and kid(s). They’re happy to hang out at work and go out for a late drink, come home to find their old lady and brat fast asleep. Not nice, but true.

    “it is a central part of 20th century WHITE-COLLAR labor policy as a management response to a specific labor crisis.”

    Yes. Massively out of date thinking now.

  25. Duffy Says:

    But you guys, all this jibber jabber about jobs and wa and orthopraxy is meaningless now that Bonds has broken the home run record.

  26. hidarinoji Says:

    But he’s not Japanese, and he’s a cheater, so it doesn’t really count.

    Tangentially, according to my friend’s dad, the reason modern Japanese athletes (sumo wrestlers in particular) perform so poorly is that the switch to western-style toilets have made everyone’s legs weaker.

  27. marxy Says:

    I knew it.

    I also have heard that Japanese people need more oxygen in their daily lives because of reading kanji.

  28. alin Says:

    > they could have it so much better in Australia/Europe/North America?

    really, mate?

    > a considerable percentage who don’t Want to go hom

    marxy, i feel you’re always, in whatever respect, over-estimating the top->bottom thing. probably more stuff is kept in place in a bottom->top kind of way.

    also consider the fact that most play actually has the structure of work anyway. (eg. if the dude at the wonderful komazawa outdoors swimming pool tells people they must get out of the water for ten minutes to relax every hour or so it’s not because he or his boss have fascist tendencies but because the people are happy that way.

    then think of the classic scenario where in case of big fuck-up (no corruption) it’s “the boss” who has to jump off the top of the building. etc etc

  29. marxy Says:

    “marxy, i feel you’re always, in whatever respect, over-estimating the top->bottom thing. probably more stuff is kept in place in a bottom->top kind of way.”

    I agree that sometimes the policing is either self-policing or horizontal policing, so that the top levels never need to get their hands dirty. I have to wonder though whether the top has not ultimately created this ideology – at least we can say that it’s EXTREMELY convenient for the top to have their minions punishing deviance without even ordering to do so.

  30. Mulboyne Says:

    Aceface wrote: “The whole american media including IHT is stinker to me for bashing Japan for running the economy too good that may eclipse the west in the last century and bashing Japan for running the economy too bad that may get eclipsed by the shadow of China in this century.Damned if we do damned if we don’t.”

    That’s a nice revisionist theory. The overseas media never spoke with one voice on Japan and doesn’t today. There were many accusations aimed at Japanese policy makers during the bubble, some justified and others misinformed. How you classify them depends in large part on how you believe an economy ought to be run.

    Whatever your ideology, it is still possible to be consistent with criticism over time. For instance, you can argue that one factor behind the imbalances generated by the bubble was a failure to stimulate the domestic market through a combination of channelling funds to industry while operating protectionist trade policies to keep out imports. The current economic expansion is the longest period of postwar growth and yet consumption remains weak. which threatens the overall recovery.

    Marxy wrote: “Japanese society loses in either choice of this binary: women either continue with their jobs and do not have children, or they quit their jobs and Japanese firms lose real talent.”

    A 2003 OECD paper noted a positive correlation between better working conditions for women and fertility (long URL follows:)

    http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2003doc.nsf/43bb6130e5e86e5fc12569fa005d004c/b7c9b45202b081b1c1256e0000317f04/$FILE/JT00155820.PDF

    Female participation in the workforce is already pretty high. For instance, more single mothers work in Japan than any other OECD country. As you hint, working women aren’t a problem; it is the lack of opportunities and decent working conditions.

  31. marxy Says:

    “The current economic expansion is the longest period of postwar growth and yet consumption remains weak. which threatens the overall recovery.”

    No wage increases means no consumption increases. The economy is better in the abstract, with no money really filtering down to people.

  32. alin Says:

    >>wonder though whether the top has not ultimately created this ideology

    valid, valid. counter that with the seemingly incredible idea that ‘the top’ itself might be an abstract concept created by ‘the bottom’ (rather than some dynasty of blood-thirsty despots) and it will come down to something like what are your basic views on human nature itself and different cultural/historical variations on that theme.

  33. alin Says:

    now by saying this i hope i’m not throwing a wet blanket over the revolutionary fire.

  34. marxy Says:

    I feel weird about this you-and-me-agreeing-thing, Alin. Although I realized that maybe we should step back sometime and figure out what we actually agree on, because there must be something there.

  35. additup Says:

    “really, mate?”

    Let’s see… most folks working a reasonable corporate job in the United States live in safe neighborhoods, have world-class health-care, enjoy a large, affordable home, a solid work/life balance, affordable food prices/selection, great cultural diversity, almost all varieties of modern convenience, and more progessive views on gender roles and race.

    So, moving beyond your personal opinion of current-day US political agenda, please tell me how life is objectively better for the average Japanese worker, who works all day to support a family he doesn’t see?

    Oh man, and here I am being pro-US, when it’s so uncool these days…

  36. Haikara Says:

    “an abstract concept created by ‘the bottom'”

    Whether or not ideology-creating roles are the product of a bottom-up process, those roles are filled with actual people (someone has to write those pontificating shasetsu, textbooks, etc).

    How much of a “ruling class” exists depends on how difficult it is for an arbitrary individual to rise to such a position.

    In the case of Japan, how unlikely is it that mid-C20 culturally, ideologically influential people were by and large from the same group, sharing the same values, as the ones placed to profit from the resulting ideology? I think there’s some evidence of a postwar shachô class composed of both ex-peers and a small “gaku-reki elite”, so to me, the “top” is in this case at least not a virtual construct.

    “Top”, of course, themselves duty-bound by elements of the pre-war ideological frame which informed their actions and the wider “for the greater good” ambiance of postwar economic activity. It’s hard to argue that pre-war ideology was not a top-down imposition, so although I’d discount the idea of wilful “engineering” of culture to favour worker exploitation, I see no evidence of Japanese people producing contemporary coercive systems (wa, giri, honne/tatemae) by some kind of innate, democratic emergent process.

  37. alin Says:

    >what we actually agree on, because there must be something there

    marxy, that’s obviously largely because i don’t ideologically quite hold a fixed position as such. i doubt you do actually although you’re trying to appear like you do. on some level at least, i agree with most things you’re saying it’s just when you’re trying to present it as the whole/big picture and the discourse is geting too one-sided i feel compelled to express contradictory oppinions either i or others who i feel i understand and/or sympathize with enough hold. i guess you could call this fence-sitting.

    >>I see no evidence of Japanese people producing contemporary coercive systems (wa, giri, honne/tatemae) by some kind of innate, democratic emergent process.

    that is seriously shortsighted or hung-up-on-some-great-past-syndrome or whatever it is, i don’t really get it it’s too weird – like it puts the pride of the nation guy to shame in the search for a great narrative – it is severe mate.

    it’s embarresing , why does talk on japan always have to find its hooks at the extremes ?

    >>most folks working a reasonable corporate job in the United States live in safe neighborhoods,

    you’re joking , right ?

  38. alin Says:

    at the risk of doing exactly what i accuse ‘you people’ of doing i should say that i think the creation and support of power from ‘below’, often strategically for personal gain and power (from the domestic sphere to the emperor) is somehow more of a factor to be seriously considered in japan than in most other places.

  39. additup Says:

    alin, I suggest you read a little more about how crime statistics/school districts/real estate intertwine. At the moment, I gather these things are largely foreign to you.

  40. Haikara Says:

    “shortsighted … the search for a great narrative”

    I’m just expressing reserve. Positing some kind of essential national character or whatisit to explain phenomena that are essentially new to the last half-century or so (or aren’t they?) would be groping for larger narratives. You know, hypothetically.

    “creation and support of power from ‘below'”

    That the seat of legitimacy is usually not the seat of power (in Japan) is well-known.

  41. marxy Says:

    Even if the power is the hands of Kodama Yoshio and not Kishi Nobusuke, for example, we are stil talking Ura-Top vs. Top, not Top vs. Bottom.

  42. Richard Says:

    >>most folks working a reasonable corporate job in the United States live in safe neighborhoods,

    >you’re joking , right ?

    I was going to retort that I personally don’t see what’s so unsafe about Naperville,IL or Darien, CT (or, as Aceface can attest to, Hartsdale, NY), but then I reckoned you probably aren’t American.

  43. alin Says:

    no, i thought talking about the safety of the corporate job holder in the US itself was the joke. i don’t doubt that.

  44. Aceface Says:

    It’s Scarsdale,NY,Richard.

  45. Richard Says:

    Close enough.

  46. Laotree Says:

    Yes, I prefer the playful hyperbole of Lipovitan* D commercials: rescuing your mountain-climbing buddy from certain death with one arm, simultaneously cracking the tamper-seal and sending the bottle-cap twirling off with only thumb-strength!
    *(Actual English spelling, I found my fav energy drink in a Waikiki ABC store last year. No Regain though, because nobody needs to show up for work on time in the islands…)

  47. Chuckles Says:

    Spot on Aceface but ssshhhh – dont let the Masters of Teh Whole Gaddem Freakin’ USniverse [TM] hear.

    Orthopraxy Schmotopraxy – show me the rigid and utterly unyielding Japanese underclass why dont you!

    I find this to be rather interesting and apropos, because Prospect had a review of Sicko up about 3 weeks ago:

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=why_we_dont_vacation_like_the_french

    The relevant excerpt is this:

    […One famous 1996 study asked associates at major law firms which world they’d prefer: The one they resided in, or one in which they took a 10% pay cut in return for a 10% reduction in hours worked. They overwhelmingly preferred the latter…]

    […He argues that the U.S. economy has set its incentives up so as to systematically underemphasize leisure and overemphasize consumption. Much of what we purchase are called “positional goods” — goods whose value is measured in relation to the purchases of others…]

    So much for productivity! It turns out capitalist hegemony over time isnt a unique feature of those damn orthopraxical societies!
    As for adherence to rules as opposed to dash, tumble and bumble qua management strategy:

    […Here in the sweltering D.C. summer, there’s nothing worse than wearing a necktie when the thermometer reads 95 and the humidity is so thick you could swim laps. But on your own, there’s not much you can do about this state of affairs. If you’re the only one who shows up dressed down, you’ll look bad for it. But if your office, or meeting, were to collectively decide to ease the dress code, all would be better off…]

    Damned you, Orange Loafers! Damned you to hell!!!

  48. Chuckles Says:

    And BTW – I know Ezra Klein isnt a scholar and that Prospect isnt peer reviewed.

  49. marxy Says:

    Peer review? We are all talking on a blog.

    “So much for productivity! It turns out capitalist hegemony over time isnt a unique feature of those damn orthopraxical societies!”

    Sure, but I would argue that Europe and the United States have (or at least HAD) a philosophical push-back against these purely capitalist tendencies for overwork/overconsumption in a sort of St. Paulian/Lutheran/Romantic view of the world. Japanese resistance has either internalized these capitalist demands or is too weak to have ever made a difference. Although maybe ineffective, I feel like the whole 60s rebellion in the U.S. had an anti-consumer, anti-technocratic component that lives on today as a key part of the (purely style-based?) counterculture. Japanese youth rebellion of this era was more interested in bringing its own form of socialist technocracy into power and didn’t know enough about buying teenage bubblegum crap to know to fight consumption.

  50. alin Says:

    >that Europe and the United States have (or at least HAD)

    historicaly sort of correct, but i’m really wondering if things havn’t literally turned the other way round now and japan who was building and becomming the total consumption template while others were smoking pot isn’t actually a breathier place now than those other places where Everything seems to be ‘captured’ – same as i wonder (with Marty, the guitarist) if j-pop might not actually be the more creative pop nowadays.

  51. Aceface Says:

    Mulboyne wrote:
    “That’s a nice revisionist theory. The overseas media never spoke with one voice on Japan and doesn’t today. ”

    Do they?I wonder sometimes,because when Abe took office last year(which seems a century ago)everysingle magazine in English wrote as he is the Darth Vader of Japanese politics and world must be aware of onslaught of the Japanese militarism.There are tendency among correspondents of reading each others pieces and eventually making all articles look alike.Negative side effect of spending all day in Gaijin Kisha club?I have to say there is a major hypocricy of foreign journalist accusing Japanese colleagues over kisha clubs for foreigners reside in the club with sushi bar attached.

    Also wrote:
    “There were many accusations aimed at Japanese policy makers during the bubble, some justified and others misinformed. How you classify them depends in large part on how you believe an economy ought to be run. ”

    The so called “gang of four”revisionists according to the article on Business Week by Robert Neff back in late 80’s,were Chalmers Johnson,Karel Van Wolfren,Clyde Prestowitz and James Fallows.I’ve been exensively following what they write(or what not) about Japan in the past 15years.But I must say their ideas on Japan has greatly changed.
    Now Fallows is living in China and thinks China’s rise is good for the U.S of A(at least so far).Some major change from his”containing Japan”approach of the 80’s.
    Prestowitz is writing something of equivalent in his “Three Billion New Capitalist”and enbraces “CHINDIA”‘s economic rise.Back in the day when SONY was buying Columbia pictures,he was screaming for “wake-up Ameirica”.
    Van Wolfren had switched his target of criticism from Japanese mercantilism to American foreign policy as the No1 enemy of world peace.
    And for Chalmers Johnson….Yesterday I was watching TV Asahi’s 銭金 variety show and Yamamoto Mona(would-be the broadcaster for TBS’s News23,but lost her chance because a paparazzi had pictured her kissing with married DPJ politicians in the street…)was throwing away things “she no longer needs”so she can give it away to have-nots.Among the trash was a copy of “BlowBack,The cost and consequence of American Empire”written by you know who….I dunno.Were these guys should’ve been taken at face value even in those days,Mulboyne?

    Marxy wrote:
    “Even if the power is the hands of Kodama Yoshio and not Kishi Nobusuke, for example, we are stil talking Ura-Top vs. Top, not Top vs. Bottom.”

    The power was always in the hand of Kishi and never in Kodama,especially in their personal relationship.Sources say Kodama always spoke up at the door”It’s Kodama,at your service.”andnever sat on a chair while Kishi was in the same room.

    Richard wrote:
    “I was going to retort that I personally don’t see what’s so unsafe about Naperville,IL or Darien, CT (or, as Aceface can attest to, Hartsdale, NY), but then I reckoned you probably aren’t American.”

    while I agree with Richard up to certain point,I must say that either Scarsdale nor Hartsdale of the 80’s that I knew was not exactly a typical all American town.My highschool in Scarsdale had only 4 black students in my grade of about 120.And 3 of them were foreigners(one from Kenya and two from Barbados).and there were approximately 30 Japanese students.

    And lastly additup wrote:
    “Let’s see… most folks working a reasonable corporate job in the United States live in safe neighborhoods, have world-class health-care, enjoy a large, affordable home, a solid work/life balance, affordable food prices/selection, great cultural diversity, almost all varieties of modern convenience, and more progessive views on gender roles and race.”
    “please tell me how life is objectively better for the average Japanese worker, who works all day to support a family he doesn’t see?”

    We also live in safe neighborhoods, have world-class health-care, affordable food prices/selection.While we don’t have solid work/life balance some of us insteadly have much more stable lifetime employment of which would enable us to enjoy a small,but affordable home,
    almost all varieties of modern convenience and great cultural diversity exists in the life of average Japanese workers.

    And when we say”great cultural diversity” we meant say nothing about cable Tv’s with 300 channels,but actually watching movies with subtitles.

  52. Richard Says:

    I think he meant cultural diversity as in meeting people and partaking in events, foods, etc. from all over the world for those so inclined.

    Anyway, the US is a little better now, but still is about as segregated as when you were here, Aceface (so I guess many people aren’t inclined to indulge in cultural diversity–those who are live downtown).

    Also, are you sure you aren’t setting up strawmen again? Which English-language magazines painted Abe as Darth Vader? None of the ones I read. Examples, please.

  53. alin Says:

    just one more thing. (i feel it should been the first). when marxy associates the ad with orthopraxy and so forth is he really still blissfuly unaware of the degree of irony, self-reflexivity and so forth it’s built on , still believing that the japanese are unable to generate those post-modern qualities. i’d like to think not but since the discussion never even approached that (hello, media studies 101), then evidently the object of his critique has to remain this one-dimensional ghost creation of his own mind.

  54. Aceface Says:

    “I think he meant cultural diversity as in meeting people and partaking in events, foods, etc. from all over the world for those so inclined.”
    Oh,Yes I got it.We have Roppongi and Kabukicho for that.

    “Which English-language magazines painted Abe as Darth Vader? None of the ones I read. Examples, please.”
    Time Magazine had a piece like “Abe enigma” and Newsweek Asia had “Asia’s mystery man”,the tone of the article was intended to give you the impression that Abe may not be a Darth Vader,but certainly a somekind of Anakin Skywalkeresque figure.(should’ve see the “1984”like cover art of the issue.They put Abe’s face all in black with red back screen ).
    Not a magazine but WaPo had a editorial like “Shinzo Abe’s double talk” and all of NYT’s article from Norimitsu Ohnishi is pretty biased.

    “Also, are you sure you aren’t setting up strawmen again?”
    It depends on what your ideas on strawmen is,Richard.But I thought that’s exactly what we all were doing to have some amusement here.

  55. Richard Says:

    I tend to get my kicks other ways.

    I’ve never been to Roppongi or Kabukicho, but there’s less cultural diversity in, say, Aichi than a similiar US metropolitan area like Chicagoland or SE Michigan (or even greater Cleveland). I imagine that’s true for most of Japan outside of some parts of Tokyo.

    BTW, are you actually an Abe supporter? Maybe I’m influenced by all the biased sources (or maybe it’s because the dude’s actually said some outrageous things that came completely unfiltered straight from his mouth), but there’s not a lot there for me to like about the guy. What exactly is so biased about that WaPo editorial, for example? (Here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301640.html)

  56. Aceface Says:

    “but there’s less cultural diversity in, say, Aichi than a similiar US metropolitan area like Chicagoland or SE Michigan (or even greater Cleveland)”

    Aha! Aichi is actually more cultural diverse nowadays than Tokyo,for we have lots of Brazillian workers there,thanks to Toyota.
    Still I don’t understand why you guys want make this all into competition between America vs Japan over numbers of immigrants.but I admit.Cleveland is more”cultural diverse”than Kyoto in that sense.Three cheers for Cleveland.

    “BTW, are you actually an Abe supporter?”

    No,and I didn’t even vote for his party in the election in July.Still I think he is a better PM than Koizumi,more so with would-be PM Aso Taro.

    What exactly so biased about WaPo editorial,you ask?
    1)
    “This single-note policy is portrayed as a matter of high moral principle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has used Japan’s victims — including a girl said to have been abducted when she was 13 — to rally his wilting domestic support.”

    No.I do not think Abe “used” victims to rally his wilting domestic support.
    Making long story short,we’ve been abandoning the abductee victims much too long because,it was a taboo to criticize Koreans in Japan,especially North Korea.for they were considered as victims in multiple ways.
    First as being colonized by Japanese imperialism,secondly by being discriminated as minority in japanese society,and thirdly cold war made Tokyo to choose Seoul over Pyongyang and NK could not get any compensation nor foreign aid from Japan while their security is being threatened by the U.S base in Japan.

    All these element had faded away one by one because we hear stories about zainichi Koreans who went back to NK had been sent to the gulags and NK start to develop nukes while totally denying it.We’ve also start to aware that millions are starving since mid 90’s.
    But the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the abuduction of Japanese national especially that was conducted when Japan’s pro-North sentiment was at all time high as Japan’s anti-junta sentiment in the south had risen due to the KCIA’s abduction of then president Kim Dae Jung who had been exile in Japan.
    So naturally people felt Pyongyang(and it’s political organ in japan Chongyron)had betrayed Japanese for years.

    So,after the abduction and Pyongyang’s participation became concrete fact after Koizumi’s 2002 NK visit(of which Abe went along as cabinet spokesman and was against to compromise with Kim Jong Il)rescuing abductee had become national agenda which is far beyond the single politicians petty election tactics of which the WaPo piece wanst to portray.

    2)
    “That the Japanese government has never fully accepted responsibility for their suffering or paid compensation is bad enough; that Mr. Abe would retreat from previous statements is a disgrace for a leader of a major democracy.”

    It depends on what exactly the meaning of “fully” here.But eight prime ministers had apologized over comfort women issues more than eight times officially.GoJ had not only reached to agreement with Seoul over compensation to victims in 1964,four Korean presidents officially announced to acknowledge this.Added to this GoJ had established Asian Women Fund to support livelihood of the victims with the letter of apology from the prime ministers.

    and for “retreating from previous statements”said to be come out from Abe’s mouth on March 2 is a complete misreport of AP and NYT,of which WaPo had joined them in this editorial.

    3)
    “Historians say that up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries were enslaved and that Japanese soldiers participated in abductions. ”

    This is not acculate.For it’s lacking the largest ethnic groups within the comfort women,the Japanese.The number 200000 is not exactly a historian’s number but first used by Pyongyang and then used extensively by South Korean NGO’s.There are no factual basis of this number that I know of.

    There is a clear evidence of Japanese soldiers abducted Dutch women in Indonesia for one comfrot station for the period of one month(trials were held after the war and soldiers in charge were hunged by the Dutch)and kidnapped women for enslaving at least in one comfort station in Shandong,China.But these are considered out of norm expertise.
    There is no evidence of Japanese soldiers abducteed girls in colonial Korea where comfort women were recruited by locals under contract.

    4)
    “If Mr. Abe seeks international support in learning the fate of Japan’s kidnapped citizens, he should straightforwardly accept responsibility for Japan’s own crimes — and apologize to the victims he has slandered.”

    The U.S support for Tokyo over this issue should be unconditional.Afterall why side with Pyongyang over comfort women and not with Tokyo?
    There is a twist in logic here.These two matters can never be a trade off.

    These are the reasons why I think WaPo piece is biased.Although I’ll be ready for any change if I learn some new knowledge on the matter.

  57. Richard Says:

    Well, what Abe was reported in English to have said certainly was a retreat from previous positions. So what did Abe say in Japanese about comfort women?

    Also, the WaPo is in no position to direct US foreign policy; it was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of Abe (blaming another country for engaging in immoral activities while trying to whitewash his own country’s immoral activities), and that neutral countries would be less willing to stand by Abe given the said hypocrisy.

    As for the cultural diversity competition, it’s because you first mentioned something about the Japanese seeing movies with subtitles (presumably because you felt that that meant that Japanese were more exposed to foreign cultures than Americans), when most Americans think of cultural diversity along different lines.

  58. Mulboyne Says:

    Aceface, you are spot on with your criticisms of the “Japan hand” journalist. Their excuse is often that editors are not interested in anything other than a one-dimensional portrait of but I have never found that argument convincing.

    However, you seemed to suggest that Japan’s economy was berated in the overseas media for being “too strong” and now for being “not strong enough”. Media commentators on the economy extend far beyond the country journos: I wouldn’t go for my main information about the French economy to the IHT France correspondent. Even if you restrict it to the FCCJ crowd, I’m not sure you’d find anyone saying “I was wrong! We should have helped Japan keep the bubble going” unless they were thinking only about their own expense account.

    I’m not going to defend individual foreign journalists but the idea that there has been some major U-turn in the overseas view of the Japanese economy which has gone unremarked seems like wishful thinking to me.

  59. Aceface Says:

    “Well, what Abe was reported in English to have said certainly was a retreat from previous positions. So what did Abe say in Japanese about comfort women?”

    I’m coping the comment of our fellow commenter Bryce,of which he had posted at Mutantfrog travelogue on March 4 without his authorisation(sorry Bryce).(It appeared on the comment section of the post on Feb 27″Mext Minister Bunmei Ibukishould know he’s said something really dumb when…”)

    starts quote:

    Is it just me, or is the original Japanese in Abe’s second sentence really quite ambiguous?

    「強制性については従来から議論があったところだ。当初、定義されてた強制性を裏付けるものがなかったのは事実ではないか」と述べ、同議連の主張に一定の理 解を示した。ただ、河野談話の見直しに関しては、「(強制性の)定義が変わったことを前提に考えなければならない」と語った。

    Onishi, whose translation is completely innacurate, writes [“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”]

    Japan Times, which is a little better, says [“the fact is, there was no evidence to prove there was coercion as initially suggested,” Abe told reporters Thursday. “That largely changes what constitutes the definition of coercion, and we have to take it from there.”]

    Am I incorrect in assuming that a somewhat less elegant, but more accurate translation of Abe’s second sentence might be “Isn’t it true that there is nothing to corroborate coercion as originally defined.”?

    You could play around with the 当初 to generate a slightly different meaning, but the key term here is 定義, badly translated by the JT and not translated at all by Onishi. There are also problems with the term 裏付ける but we won’t go there because I think its a trifle.

    Anyhoo, this changes the meaning of what he said altogether, does it not? Could it be that the Nikkei, quoting Abe directly in Japanese, misheard, and the Onishi and the JT’s translations are more faithful to Abe’s original meaning?

    Unlikely, particularly when you consider how it fits with the third sentence (again inelegantly, but directly, translated):

    ただ、河野談話の見直しに関しては、「(強制性の)定義が変わったことを前提に考えなければならない」と語った。

    [Regarding revision of the the Kono diologue, he said, “We must consider (revision)* under the premise that the definition (of coercion)** has changed.”]

    *my addition

    ** original text

    I’d be the first to criticise Abe, but it seems pretty clear to me that he is reminding his mates that the definition of evidence is now broader than Kono’s detractors held it to be. He is saying that what used to require corroboration (裏付けるもの) is now considered evidence in its own right. In other words, he is doing exactly the opposite of what Onishi claims.

    End quote.
    Bryce must have his own opinion that differs from mine.I’m using his post simply it is convenient for the case we are dealing at hand and his translation is far better than mine.

    “Also, the WaPo is in no position to direct US foreign policy;”

    But this editorial is seen here as the primal reason of the greenlight for house resolution at the U.S house representatives.

    “it was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of Abe (blaming another country for engaging in immoral activities while trying to whitewash his own country’s immoral activities), and that neutral countries would be less willing to stand by Abe given the said hypocrisy.”

    But you can stand by Kim Jong Il? I don’t get it.
    Beside all the “hypocrisy” argument is based on the misreport.Thus it can’t be a valid criticism on Abe,I think.

    “As for the cultural diversity competition, it’s because you first mentioned something about the Japanese seeing movies with subtitles (presumably because you felt that that meant that Japanese were more exposed to foreign cultures than Americans), when most Americans think of cultural diversity along different lines.”

    No.It was commenter additup first mentioned cultural diversity competition along with other things(or at least that was my take of his comment).He wrote;”Let’s see… most folks working a reasonable corporate job in the United States live in safe neighborhoods, have world-class health-care, enjoy a large, affordable home, a solid work/life balance, affordable food prices/selection, great cultural diversity, almost all varieties of modern convenience, and more progessive views on gender roles and race.”
    “please tell me how life is objectively better for the average Japanese worker, who works all day to support a family he doesn’t see?”
    I didn’t challenge him over “more progessive views on gender roles and race”,but I did tell him what I thought about life of Japanese workers are objectively better in the cultural diversity.And you joined my answer to his post.
    All too typical internet debate we are dealing with,aren’t we?
    Now I’ve got to go see my family,only god knows next time I can see them again…

  60. Adamu Says:

    I seem to be a latecomer here, but reporting from within a Japanese company, the attitude here is indeed mostly “lateral enforcement” of staying later than the appointed time (although getting to work on time is actually not such a big deal and I think the commercial kind of exaggerates) with a hint of the bosses overburdening some key staff due to neverending pressing deadlines.

    Another issue is that most of the time the company actually *does* pay overtime, which gives an incentive to stay late beyond mere politeness or pressure.

    It is still hard for me to really understand and accept why people stay late out of consideration for other workers, but I guess the thinking is something similar to what happens in jewelry stores (so says my jewelry saleslady sister in law):

    1. Older lady walks in
    2. Sister in law asks how much older lady wants to spend
    3. Older lady says “500,000 yen”
    4. Sister in law then must show older lady jewelry significantly MORE expensive than that, since the older lady is almost certainly being modest about her price range.

    My theory is that this is the sort of consideration that’s made when staying later than the official quitting time. Yes that’s the official number, but it would show disrespect to simply follow the official number.

    The issue of whether this thinking serves those in power (it does) is one issue, but there is little question that it is internalized. The only people I know who are willing to go against the grain are the foreign staff (though many of them have internalized this value themselves as I assume is part of their determination to nativize) or the more Westernized employees who aren’t that concerned with getting ahead here.

    This argument over whether Japanese culture inherently values corporation-as-family mentality is funny because the government just announced a policy of radically improving worker productivity by 50% in something like 5 years, in the name of — what else — economic growth, something that pretty much everyone in power on both sides of the spectrum has decided must continue even amid a shrinking population. If indeed the nation has a mission to fully mobilize for economic development, these supposedly rigid, natural practices will have to change. While Japanese people’s individual values of style as equal to if not greater than substance might not see all that much change, things like performance reviews, an end to generalist job rotation, and actually enforced working hours (especially when the Health & Labor Ministry starts enforcing its overtime restrictions), and the implementation of employment laws that edge closer to American style at will employment will definitely force people to adapt.

  61. Chuckles Says:

    I cannot agree with you.

    […St. Paulian/Lutheran/Romantic view of the world…]

    It is precisely this view of the world that encourages hegemony of capital over time. It was Paul after all who spoke of redeeming the time because the days are evil – and of he that provides not for his household being worse than an infidel. Indeed, the hegemony of capital over time was integral to the protestant ethic – Weber noted as much: Temporality and the notion of eternal treasures awaiting in an afterlife emphasizes a devotion to good works. This is quite clearly a prior foundation for such hegemony.

    […Japanese resistance has either internalized these capitalist demands or is too weak to have ever made a difference…]

    Not so: There is an effective Japanese resistance: During eroguronansensu we witnessed that the Japanese are quite capable of shaking off the shackles of the Langian machine – how exactly have the Japanese internalized demands in a way that Americans havent?

    […anti-consumer, anti-technocratic component that lives on today as a key part of the (purely style-based?) counterculture…]

    Yes, but death to the corporations only went so far with them also.

    […Japanese youth rebellion of this era was more interested in bringing its own form of socialist technocracy into power and didn’t know enough about buying teenage bubblegum crap to know to fight consumption…]

    Unlike their American peers who consumed copious amounts of hard drugs via cartels that were themselves intricately linked to the global capitalist structure. Just what did American youth of that era really know anyhow?

  62. bhauth Says:

    energy drink ads
    a hyperbole arms race
    tracks lead to dada

    oh no it’s a train
    heading straight for those orphans
    i shall suplex it

  63. Richard Says:

    “But this editorial is seen here as the primal reason of the greenlight for house resolution at the U.S house representatives.”

    Seen by whom? I can assure you that many Americans who have never read the WaPo editorial believe that Abe is in the wrong. Perhaps it is because of mistranslation, though, did Abe try to clarify his statements? Presumably, some of his staff can read English and translate foreign pieces, and if Abe disagreed with the translation, he could issue a statement saying so. That is certainly what would be expected from an American politician if he/she thought he was misrepresented.

    Also, here is what you said Abe said:
    “Isn’t it true that there is nothing to corroborate coercion as originally defined.”?
    “We must consider (revision)* under the premise that the definition (of coercion)** has changed.”]

    Whether it constitutes a retreat from previous positions depends on what Kono actually said about coercion. So what did Kono say about coercion? Did he say that it occurred, or that it did not occur? Certainly, Abe is mealy-mouthed in his tone with his “Isn’t it true” rhetorical device. He could easily have said “While there was nothing to corroborate coercion as originally defined, we must consider coercion to have occurred under the new definition of coercion.”, which is what you seem to think Abe meant and has little chance of being mistranlated. As it is, his statements can be interpreted various ways, and he sounds like a guy who is afraid to actually say that the Japanese government wronged various women from all over Asia.

    “But you can stand by Kim Jong Il? I don’t get it.
    Beside all the “hypocrisy” argument is based on the misreport.Thus it can’t be a valid criticism on Abe,I think.”

    There you are with your strawmen again. Did I say that I stand by Kim Jong Il? Did the WaPo say it agreed with Kim Jong Il? Is it impossible for you to grasp that a person can both 1. Reproach Abe for his hypocrisy AND 2. Reproach Kim for his kidnappings and be logically consistent (that is a person would be both against the kidnappings and the coercion of comfort women)? Also, Abe certainly seems to think that no coercion occurred by some definition of the word “coercion” when I doubt it was likely that a Korean comfort woman could have just upped and left and returned to Korea simply because she decided that she didn’t want to be a comfort woman any more. That looks hypocritical to me, considering that some North Koreans probably think that the Japanese nationals aren’t coerced to stay in North Korea either.

    Finally, yes, additup did first bring up the cultural diversity point, but I find it strange that you “don’t understand why you guys want (to) make this into (a) competition between America (and) Japan over (the) numbers of immigrants”.
    After all, I don’t believe that cultural diversity is measured by the number of subtitled movies people watch, but I can understand why you brought up that point. When you stated that the “life of Japanese workers are objectively better in (in terms of) cultural diversity”, did you expect someone who disagreed with you to just concede the point?

    BTW, I didn’t see a single Brazilian on the streets of Nagoya the days when I was there (while it is virtually impossible to wander through the downtown of any major American city these days without seeing non-native faces). Tokyo must be 99.9% Japanese if it has even less foreigners than Aichi.

  64. additup Says:

    Long and the short –

    As competition for cheap, skilled, foreign labor increases, places like Japan remain very unappealing because the actions of the Japanese indicate they do not value cultural diversity.

    This is where places like Canada (multiculturalism), America (melting pot), Australia, and the EU will continue to be more competitive in landing very talented foreign workers, who come from some good schools, but face poor job prospects.

    And for a country with an inefficient work system, a shrinking population, and a high standard of living, I am rather baffled that Japanese treatment towards the “the other” can continue to be so antiquated, without anyone seeing the potential repercussions.

    Or, as I stated more bluntly above –

    If you are a skilled worker who can pick between the US and Japan, why pick Japan? Objectively, I see no practical reasons for choosing Japan’s cocktail of miserable work hours and icy cultural apathy. So, the reasoning almost has to be irrational, and I think this explains why most westerns living in Japan are such misfits – because their very presence signifies an incoherent life decision, which is a screaming indicator they aren’t running on all cylinders.

    Or, as I stated more bluntly above –

    Why are you here?

  65. alin Says:

    > non-native faces)

    the only american native faces i’ve seen were in john ford movies when i was a kid.

    now it this ww2 ‘comfort women’ issue going to stay forever a freak jap phenomenon or are the stakes eventually going to be raised and start looking at behaviour of say american troups in the vietnam wars as the moral equivalents they are. (i can hear shouts, ‘it’s not the same’ but i’m talking exactly about the level where it is the same)

  66. Aceface Says:

    “Seen by whom?”

    Seen by GoJ which are cabinet,LDP,MoFA and Japanese embassy in Washington.
    And also by media.NHK,Asahi,Yomiuri,Mainichi,Sankei,Nikkei,TBS,TV ASAHI and NTV.

    “I can assure you that many Americans who have never read the WaPo editorial believe that Abe is in the wrong. Perhaps it is because of mistranslation, though, did Abe try to clarify his statements? Presumably, some of his staff can read English and translate foreign pieces, and if Abe disagreed with the translation, he could issue a statement saying so. That is certainly what would be expected from an American politician if he/she thought he was misrepresented.”

    He did.So did the embassy.

    “So what did Kono say about coercion? Did he say that it occurred, or that it did not occur?”

    Kono made a statement based on hearing from Korean NGO’s claim of which his staff was against since there are no factual evidence of coerion was found.Thus Kono statment was under atack as irresponsible.Anyway,Mr.Kono’s answer to the situation was additional set up of Asian Women Fund,for everything was dealt in 64 treaty and Seoul was supposed to be in charge of looking after the victims with the money Japan had sent them.And it turns out to be that Korean NGOs and their media rejected AWF and put the bar higher.

    “he sounds like a guy who is afraid to actually say that the Japanese government wronged various women from all over Asia”

    He didn’t go to Yasukini like Koizumi and instead chose to visit Beijing and Seoul as soon as he took office.Abe also apologized to comfort women in april.I’m not go in to whether your opinion on Abe is just or not for I’ve already become almost too supportive for Abe,but have you ever thought that your opinion is the product of the English media coverage that I’ve criticized before?

    “There you are with your strawmen again. Did I say that I stand by Kim Jong Il? Did the WaPo say it agreed with Kim Jong Il? Is it impossible for you to grasp that a person can both 1. Reproach Abe for his hypocrisy AND 2. ”

    No.I don’t think I’m making any strawmen this time and I don’t think Abe make no hypocrisy here either.WaPo piece is demanding Abe as if he wants to have international support for case A,He must do such and such for case B.And I said these two cases are are not trade off.

    “did you expect someone who disagreed with you to just concede the point?”
    No.Did you with the comment on additup?
    Personally I found strange he still thinks America is a “melting pot”(more of a salad bowl that doesn’t mix with one another to me) and putting the nation in the same league with Canada and EU.

    “Finally, yes, additup did first bring up the cultural diversity point”

    Then this case is over,for I didn’t draw the first shot.

    “BTW, I didn’t see a single Brazilian on the streets of Nagoya the days when I was there (while it is virtually impossible to wander through the downtown of any major American city these days without seeing non-native faces). ”

    Well,probably it is because most of the Brazillians are of Japanese origin and difficult to visualy differentiate them.

    “Tokyo must be 99.9% Japanese if it has even less foreigners than Aichi.”

    Most of the foreigners are East Asians in Tokyo.
    and I don’t have the exacgt stats in my hand,but it is a bit higher than 0.1%.

  67. Adamu Says:

    It’s about 3% in Tokyo:

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2007/04/19/japans-continuing-influx-of-foreigners-and-what-it-means-for-you/

  68. Aceface Says:

    additup said:
    “I think this explains why most westerns living in Japan are such misfits ”

    But I thought the very founding fathers of America were ostracized misfit westerners who have overcomed all the hostile environment and harsh working conditions…

    I hear all these stories of poor JET teachers who has no abilities of speaking/reading/writing Japanese suddenly screaming in the class like”There’s no cultural diversity in the room!,I need to go and get some more cultural diversity!!”and whack off all the windows.Scare the hell out of students who have no ideas of what’s going on…
    Could be an urban myth of some kind,but I hear this much too often,I’m starting to believe the existence of the symptoms.
    But I just have to wonder,If these guys can’t get over “a”culture,why would they want “multi”of them anyway?Maybe they should go to schools perhaps not there to teach,but to learn some more about the basic skills to live in non-anglosphere countries,just like the reverse of what I did in ESL class 26 years ago.

    but then again,living in a city like Tokyo,sometimes one naturally dream of moving to somewhere else better in the other parts of the world,somewhere like materialization of “American cultural diversity™” such as Cleveland,Ohio,especially at the time like putting yourself in the cattle carriage-like Yamanote line,being forced to smell the armpit of a salaryman standing right next to you.And then you imagine if there would be a generous Clevelander offerng you the propositon of exchanging your position in Tokyo over his.
    That would most certainly take me days of thinkings and hours of family discussions to finally turn down the offer,for there would be a huge language barrier there for me to overcome.

    And perhaps for that reason alone,we probably need more JET teachers in Japan.

  69. jg Says:

    “Or, as I stated more bluntly above – Why are you here?”

    You go first, or did you mean to write “Why are you there?”

    Nick Zappetti said “any guy who leaves his own country to live in another land is an asshole, and deserves everything that happens to him.”

    Perhaps true, but I take ‘deserves everything that happens’ to include good things, too.

  70. Aceface Says:

    Really is off-topic,Jason.But what ever happened to the said-to-be-filmed “Tokyo Underground”by Martin Scorsese?

  71. Richard Says:

    “Seen by GoJ which are cabinet,LDP,MoFA and Japanese embassy in Washington.
    And also by media.NHK,Asahi,Yomiuri,Mainichi,Sankei,Nikkei,TBS,TV ASAHI and NTV.”

    Not the fault of the WaPo if the whole Japanese establishment ascribes more power to the WaPo than it actually wields. Plenty of other non-Japanese have criticized Abe on this issue as well. Mike Honda still would have introduced his comfort woman resolution even if the WaPo didn’t exist. Many people would still think that Abe is trying to whitewash Japanese history even if the WaPo hadn’t printed an editorial, etc.

    “Kono made a statement based on hearing from Korean NGO’s claim of which his staff was against since there are no factual evidence of coerion was found.Thus Kono statment was under atack as irresponsible.Anyway,Mr.Kono’s answer to the situation was additional set up of Asian Women Fund,for everything was dealt in 64 treaty and Seoul was supposed to be in charge of looking after the victims with the money Japan had sent them.And it turns out to be that Korean NGOs and their media rejected AWF and put the bar higher.”

    Let’s try to not confuse issues here. We aren’t trying to establish whether Kono’s statement was irresponsible or not (which is subjective), but whether Abe is retreating from the previous Kono position (which we should be able to determine just be comparing what they said). I read your response twice and did find an answer to my question, so I’ll repeat it again: So what did Kono say about coercion? Did he say that it occurred, or that it did not occur?

    Also, you said “no factual evidence of coerion was found”. You’re kidding, right? Some of those women are still alive. Some of them have testified that they were coerced or tricked in to sexual slavery which they couldn’t voluntarily leave. Say, do you have a daughter? Let’s say that some guy tricks her in to serving in a brothel (and that she can’t leave). Would you say that she is coerced, or not?

    “He didn’t go to Yasukini like Koizumi and instead chose to visit Beijing and Seoul as soon as he took office.Abe also apologized to comfort women in april.I’m not go in to whether your opinion on Abe is just or not for I’ve already become almost too supportive for Abe,but have you ever thought that your opinion is the product of the English media coverage that I’ve criticized before?”

    Well, I’m reading this: http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2373. Maybe they mistranslated what Abe said as well, but according to them:
    On March 1 Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo responded to the Congress resolution by commenting that there was “no evidence” that the recruitment of “comfort women” had been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. Speaking during a Diet committee debate a few days later, he reiterated this statement, clarifying the fact that, to be “forcible in the narrow sense of the word” the system would have had to involve “officials forcing their way into houses like kidnappers and taking people away”. Abe, however, clearly has no problem with the proposition that the recruitment of “comfort women” was forcible “in the broad sense of the word”, and feels no historical responsibility for this, since he has made it clear that he and his government will not apologise whatever the outcome of the US Congressional resolution. His Foreign Minister Aso Taro, has also attacked the US resolution, saying that it is “not based on the facts”.
    Reading these remarks, I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour, on the grounds that this had not been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. I also found myself in particular imagining how the world might react if one of the German ministers most actively engaged in this denial happened (for example) to be called Krupp, and to be a direct descendant of the industrial dynasty of that name.
    The denial of responsibility for the fate of the “comfort women” is, of course, an extremely important issue for Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbours and regional partners, including Australia. Australian former “comfort woman” Jan Ruff O’Herne, together with two Korean women, is among those who gave moving first-hand testimony to the US Congress about her wartime experience of rape and abuse in a “comfort station”. Abe’s enthusiasm for close ties with Australia has been widely reported, and his Prime Ministership is seen by some as marking the start of a new phase of the Australia-Japan partnership. Yet the Japanese government seems unable to grasp the extent of the damage which comments such as Abe’s and Aso’s cause to Japan’s international image, not only in Korea and China but also in many other countries, particularly those (like Australia) where memories of the war remain an emotive issue. The fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea has aroused intense feeling in Japan in recent years, and Abe himself has been among those publicly moved to tears by their plight. One wonders, then, why Abe and his fellow ministers find it so hard to imagine that the stories of people like Jan Ruff O’Herne might stir similar emotions in Australia and other parts of our region.

    Ultimately, if Abe is mistranslated, his office should be putting out translations of what he said in English, because the stakes are much higher for the Japanese than the WaPo on this issue. Right now, the Japanese government (and some individual Japanese like yourself) are coming off as callous and quite unconcerned about the terrible wrongs that Japan has inflicted on her neighbors in the past by putting greater weight on nitpicky details than the immoralities that Japan engaged in. For example, you seem to be more anguished that Kono’s statement was “irresponsible” than that fact that the Japanese Armed Forces set up a system whereby (tens or hundreds) of thousands of women were placed under sexual servitude.

    “No.I don’t think I’m making any strawmen this time and I don’t think Abe make no hypocrisy here either.WaPo piece is demanding Abe as if he wants to have international support for case A,He must do such and such for case B.And I said these two cases are are not trade off.”

    You said “But you can stand by Kim Jong Il?” That’s a strawman, since you can both warn Abe (not demand; again, the WaPo doesn’t have the power to demand anything; something which for some reason you have trouble grasping) that his stance will decrease his international support and still not support Kim Il Jong. As for whether these 2 issues should be a trade-off, from the US point of view, no they should not be tied together. However, why should S. Korea, China, Australia, etc. care about the fate of a handful of Japanese when their own citizens were wronged by Japan and have not been recompensed for the offenses they suffered?

    “No.Did you with the comment on additup?
    Personally I found strange he still thinks America is a “melting pot”(more of a salad bowl that doesn’t mix with one another to me) and putting the nation in the same league with Canada and EU.”

    That’s your opinion.

    “Well,probably it is because most of the Brazillians are of Japanese origin and difficult to visualy differentiate them.”

    Point.

    “Most of the foreigners are East Asians in Tokyo.
    and I don’t have the exacgt stats in my hand,but it is a bit higher than 0.1%”

    Point.

  72. jg Says:

    “Really is off-topic,Jason.But what ever happened to the said-to-be-filmed “Tokyo Underground”by Martin Scorsese?”

    Tokyo Underworld? Good question! Scorsese is prolific, but he can’t keep up with all the projects associated with his name. Look at this list, which doesn’t even include stuff like “Gershwin” and older unrealized projects:

    http://www.hollywood.com/celebrity/Martin_Scorsese/196773

    “Silence,” “Drunken Angel” and “Tokyo Underworld” would form a nice Scorsese Japan trilogy of novel adaptation, remake and docudrama.

    Does Robert Whiting come on here (or any blog?) Maybe he could give us a status update.

  73. Aceface Says:

    “I read your response twice and did(not)find an answer to my question, so I’ll repeat it again: So what did Kono say about coercion? Did he say that it occurred, or that it did not occur?

    Next time if you want know something that are pure fact and not my opinion,I suggest you to take a research by yourself,instead of ordering someone in agressive manner.

    Kono’s statesment are:

    今次調査の結果、長期に、かつ広範な地域にわたって慰安所が設置され、数多くの慰安婦が存在したことが認められた。慰安所は、当時の軍当局の要請により設営されたものであり、慰安所の設置、管理及び慰安婦の移送については、旧日本軍が直接あるいは間接にこれに関与した。慰安婦の募集については、軍の要請を受けた業者が主としてこれに当たったが、その場合も、甘言、強圧による等、本人たちの意思に反して集められた事例が数多くあり、更に、官憲等が直接これに加担したこともあったことが明らかになった。また、慰安所における生活は、強制的な状況の下での痛ましいものであった。
     なお、戦地に移送された慰安婦の出身地については、日本を別とすれば、朝鮮半島が大きな比重を占めていたが、当時の朝鮮半島は我が国の統治下にあり、その募集、移送、管理等も、甘言、強圧による等、総じて本人たちの意思に反して行われた。

    While he admits that certain korean women were put to the station “against their will” he does not say it was coerced “directly by Japanese military”.

    “Also, you said “no factual evidence of coerion was found”. You’re kidding, right? ”

    No.I meant to say “no factual evidence of coercion by the Japanese military was found”for that is the focus point.

    “Some of those women are still alive. Some of them have testified that they were coerced or tricked in to sexual slavery which they couldn’t voluntarily leave. ”

    You still need evidence to back up the testify to make the case guilty in modern legal system,you know that.Richard.

    “Say, do you have a daughter? Let’s say that some guy tricks her in to serving in a brothel (and that she can’t leave). Would you say that she is coerced, or not?”

    No.I do not have any daughter,I have a son though.
    And most of the prostitutes at the time were sold by their kins,usually by their parents.
    But yes.They were coerced in a way.

    “Well, I’m reading this: http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2373. ”

    I don’t read Japan Focus.Maybe you should read something in Japanese directly.

    “I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour,”

    Nazi forced labour is a different event.Nazi did abducted them to work in the concentration camps.Besides,there were no financial compensations for these victims from German side.While Japanese government had paid money to Seoul and Seoul was in charge of handing the money to the victims directly.And you know what,Germans are always less misunderstood than Japanese both from American media and neighbors.And this is not because they did “better” in apologies.

    “Australian former “comfort woman” Jan Ruff O’Herne, together with two Korean women, is among those who gave moving first-hand testimony to the US Congress about her wartime experience of rape and abuse in a “comfort station”. Abe’s enthusiasm for close ties with Australia has been widely reported, and his Prime Ministership is seen by some as marking the start of a new phase of the Australia-Japan partnership.

    Jan Ruff O’Herne was the victim of the established comfrot station in Dutch Indonesia in 1944 for about 6 weeks.And as I’ve mentioned this in earlier post,Dutch authority held military trials after war and five military personnel and four civillian were either hunged or sentenced for 20 years in prison.Personally I think the justice was done to her abuser 60 years ago.and in moral side,GoJ and AWF had reached in agreement with Dutch government to send financial support to ex-Dutch comfort women with the letter of apology.Ms,O’Herne who gained Australian nationality should have known this all.If she chose to hate Japanese under any conditions,that’s her choice and we understand.
    But I still thinks there is something lucking in media coverage of her in English.
    And if Australian government chose to rethink the partnership with not just Abe,but Japan over this incident I think they are making mistakes.Anyway the decision is theirs.I’m not in for making any defence agreement with another country unless we have constitutional revision(which happens to be another pet project for Abe).

    “Ultimately, if Abe is mistranslated, his office should be putting out translations of what he said in English, because the stakes are much higher for the Japanese than the WaPo on this issue. Right now, the Japanese government (and some individual Japanese like yourself) are coming off as callous and quite unconcerned about the terrible wrongs that Japan has inflicted on her neighbors in the past by putting greater weight on nitpicky details than the immoralities that Japan engaged in. For example, you seem to be more anguished that Kono’s statement was “irresponsible” than that fact that the Japanese Armed Forces set up a system whereby (tens or hundreds) of thousands of women were placed under sexual servitude.”

    Probably what you’ve said is reperesenting the very reason why many of us think we should keep low profile over debate on fact.For simple reaosns.People don’t listen.
    Anyway we apologize for everything and that is something every Japanese prime ministers in the past 15 years have been saying.

    But I still think Kono was irresponsible.How could he put politics into the minefield only the historians can find ways to get out?In fact historians themselves can’t find their ways over this.He should plainly confirm what the politicians should’ve done.Apologize for the basic ongoing and let the detail solved by mutual work of hitorians in Japan and victim countries.

    “You said “But you can stand by Kim Jong Il?” That’s a strawman, since you can both warn Abe (not demand; again, the WaPo doesn’t have the power to demand anything; ”

    Legally and politically,yeah.But the tone is demanding.Anyway I appreciate you for telling me in every bit of tiny details of my misunderstanding of English language(including grammatical ones).Were you ever a JET teacher by any chance?

    “something which for some reason you have trouble grasping) that his stance will decrease his international support and still not support Kim Il Jong. As for whether these 2 issues should be a trade-off, from the US point of view, no they should not be tied together.”

    Good.2-issues-are-not-trade-off has been my opinion.Some reason you have trouble grasping.
    BTW I never denied the report over Abe would decrease the international support of rescuing the abductee.Which is a shame,for their only crime is being Japanese.

    “However, why should S. Korea, China, Australia, etc. care about the fate of a handful of Japanese when their own citizens were wronged by Japan and have not been recompensed for the offenses they suffered?”

    We never actually think China would raise any eyeblow over this or any human right related issues aside chinese killed in WW2.And I wrote about what I think of Australia.But S.Korean must be aware of the destiny of the abductees for their nationals are the one mostly abducted to the North and for this the family of Korean abductee always ask Japanese organization for help,because current government of Roh adminstration is more interested in the sunshine policy.

    “Personally I found strange he still thinks America is a “melting pot”(more of a salad bowl that doesn’t mix with one another to me) and putting the nation in the same league with Canada and EU”
    “That’s your opinion.”

    Not exactly.