Japan's Conspiracy (2) Reference List 026

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Aso family's 'slave' link under scrutiny
Japan Times April 25, 2006

Family link to forced labor increases pressure on Japan's foreign minister

While Taro Aso's public statements as foreign minister have done little to help ease tensions between Tokyo and the rest of Asia, a family connection to wartime forced labor has raised further questions over his ability to oversee good relations with Japan's neighbors.

During World War II, the Aso family's mining company used thousands of Koreans as forced laborers.

The legacy of Koreans, Chinese and other Asians being forced into slave-like working conditions across the region during the war, has become an issue in Tokyo's maintenance of normal diplomatic relations with its neighbors.

Aso's family background has led some to suggest that his position as foreign minister is untenable.

Meanwhile, a recent study by a group of historians in Kyushu has shed new light on the role of the Aso family in using Korean labor before and during the war.

The Korean pit workers, according to the historians, were systematically underpaid, underfed, overworked, and confined in penury. The workers were under 24-hour watch and released only with Japan's 1945 defeat.

Aso himself ran the Fukuoka company from 1973-79, when he entered politics. During that time he did not address its history of using forced labor, nor has he since. The Foreign Ministry did not respond to inquiries on the issue.

According to one German Embassy official in Tokyo, speaking on the understanding of anonymity, while family lineage on its own would not be held against an individual, the foreign minister's actions make him an unsuitable foreign minister.

"Because Aso's family connection gave him the opportunity to address wrongs in the firm, and he did not do so," as well as comments that "seem to defend criminal policies of the past," Aso would "not be acceptable" for a post such as foreign minister. "He might get into Parliament," said the official, "but not the government."

Japanese media scholars have expressed concern at the the lack of detailed reporting on Japan's corporate forced labor, and Aso's family's role in particular.

"As Aso is a candidate for prime minister in September his attitudes and his behavior are political issues," says Tatsuro Hanada of Tokyo University. "The question of his qualifications is an important subject that should be opened to the Japanese public."

Takesato Watanabe, of Doshisha University in Kyoto, finds it alarming that Japan has kept in office a minister with links, however distant, to such a contentious issue. "He should be replaced," he says.

Hanada, Watanabe, as well as Ofer Feldman, an author and Japan political scholar, blame Japan's kisha club system for media silence on the issue.

The Aso family coal mining business dates back to the 19th century in Kyushu's rich Chikuho coal fields in Fukuoka. Aso's great-grandfather, Takakichi, founded the Aso mining firm in 1872. At one time it owned over half a dozen pits in Kyushu and was the biggest of three family corporations mining an area producing half of Japan's "black diamonds."

The Aso Group has changed names more than once and in 2001 entered a joint venture with Lafarge Cement of France, the world's largest cement maker. Aso's younger brother Yutaka remained president of what became Lafarge Aso Cement Co. Last December, the French ambassador in Tokyo awarded Yutaka the Legion d'Honneur at a champagne reception. Guests of honor were Taro Aso and his wife, Chikako.

The issue of the foreign minister's family links to Korean wartime slave labor has already arisen in meetings between Japan and South Korea.

Choi Bong Tae, a member of a bilateral commission studying the issue of forced labor, told reporters in November that the Japanese side had provided no information on the Aso company and others it had named. A spokesman for the Aso Cement Co., a successor company of Aso Mining, said that it would be difficult to provide such data since records aren't available from that long ago.

However, the study conducted by the Kyushu historians has documented new information on the role of the Aso family in using Korean labor before and during the war. Eidai Hayashi, Takashi Ono, and Noriaki Fukudome have used official and local library resources to gather contemporaneous statistics and reports on the conduct of the Aso family's mining operation.

According to the company's own statistics, by March 1944, Aso mines had a total of 7,996 Korean laborers, of whom 56 had recently died. Some 4,919 had managed to escape. Across Fukuoka, the total fugitive figure amounted to 51.3 percent. At Aso Mines, the figure was 61.5 percent.

According to data seen by the historians in Kyushu, Korean workers at Aso Mines were paid a third less than equivalent Japanese laborers to dig coal. It amounted to 50 yen a month, but less than 10 yen after mandatory confiscations for food, clothes, housing and enforced savings (to discourage attempts at escape, though which often remained unpaid) were deducted. Workers toiled for 15-hour days, seven days a week, with no holidays.

A three-meter high wooden fence topped with electrified barbed wire ringed the perimeter. Workers were guarded.

In 1939, the Japanese government passed the National General Mobilization law, which forced all colonial subjects, including Koreans, and those in Taiwan and Manchuria, to work wherever needed by Tokyo. According to the historians, however, Aso mines was shipping Korean laborers to Kyushu as early as the mid-1930s, before the law was passed.

Although precise numbers are unknown, an estimated 12,000 laborers passed through the company, some necessitated by a strike of 400 miners in 1932. After 1939, the historians calculate, the number of Asians kept in forced labor in the Chikuho region swelled to over a million.

Aso has hit the headlines of late with a string of comments that have enraged Japan's neighbors. In January, he said that Emperor Akihito should visit Yasukuni Shrine.

He has also been seen to espouse rightwing tenets of Japanese racial supremacy.

Speaking at the opening of the Kyushu National Museum in Fukuoka last October, he described Japan as "one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, and one race, the like of which there is no other on earth."

Osaka pref. gov't put off redemption of 293 billion yen in bonds.
BREITBART.COM December 30, 2008

The Osaka prefectural government put off the redemption of bonds worth 293 billion yen for three years through fiscal 2006 in a bid to avoid the dishonor of seeking fiscal reconstruction under control of the central government, prefectural officials said Sunday. Although the local government has not fully explained the measure to the assembly, the officials in its finance division claimed it has no intention of concealing the deficit and that the postponement is not illegal and is inevitable.

In order to reduce its deficit, the government of the major western Japan prefecture has borrowed 50 billion to 100 billion yen a year for its general account since fiscal 2001 from a fund amassed for its debt repayment, according to the officials.

But an increase in the redemption of 10-year bonds from fiscal 2004 has raised fears it would have to seek state aid for fiscal reconstruction as the fund, if used for redemption, would have run out in fiscal 2007, the officials said.

The Osaka government has hence increased refunding of bonds due for redemption and put off actual redemption for the total of 293 billion yen, they said.

Although the central government told local governments in 1992 to repay 42 percent of the principal in 10 years and refinance the rest in bond redemption, the Osaka government has been refinancing all the debts.

The outstanding balance of Osaka prefectural government bonds was about 4.3 trillion yen in fiscal 2006, which ended in March 2007.

Although it aims to return to the black on a single-year basis in fiscal 2010 through administrative and fiscal reform efforts, it is still uncertain if it will manage to trim the refinancing, the officials said.

Top Osaka candidates target education, debt, Kansai airport
Japan Times Jan. 11, 2008

The three main candidates in the race for the Jan. 27 Osaka gubernatorial election, which officially kicked off Thursday, have different positions on various policy issues, particularly on education, financial reform and the future of Kansai airport.

On education, Toru Hashimoto, a 38-year-old lawyer and TV celebrity backed by the Osaka chapters of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, favors emphasizing interpersonal relationships between students and teachers, and the importance of respecting group norms. He supports specialized education for students interested in sports or the arts, and indicated he favors establishing classes for academically gifted students.

Sadatoshi Kumagai, 63, a former Osaka University engineering professor with the backing of the Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties, has a "back to basics" approach to education, with an emphasis on making reading, writing and arithmetic more interesting and pleasurable. He believes this is needed to create a future workforce capable of supporting Japanese society. Kumagai favors more cooperation between schools and the business community.

Shoji Umeda, a local attorney recommended by the Japanese Communist Party, opposes privatization of schools or bringing in managers from the private sector to run them. He feels too much media and political fuss is being made over the central government report on Osaka students' worsening academic performance. He proposes that class sizes be limited to 35 students, that the integration of high schools, which is causing class sizes to swell, be stopped, and that the number of day-care centers be increased.

On Osaka's massive debt, Hashimoto favors selling off to private industry and towns and villages those prefectural projects that are in the red. He has pledged to cut the salaries and bonuses of prefectural employees and review the entire structure of third-sector funding.

Kumagai would cut the number of bureaucrats by 20 percent over the next two years. He vows to introduce a more efficient management system and to consult with the business community on ways to cut costs. He has promised to leave a social safety net for the elderly and children.

Umeda says the prefecture is in deep trouble because corporate taxes were cut too much, too much money has been spent on wasteful public works projects and there is unnecessary financing for "dowa" assimilation projects for the "buraku" (former outcast class) community. He would raise taxes on small and medium-size businesses, and seek state support while making prefectural finances more transparent.

As for Kansai airport, Hashimoto wants to move all flights connecting Itami airport with Tokyo and Fukuoka to Kansai airport, although he admits this would be politically difficult. He wants more Kansai flights to Europe and North America. He has proposed reducing highway tolls for freight firms using the airport.

Kumagai agrees with Kansai Economic Federation plans to make the entire Osaka and Kobe bay area, including the airport, into a vast, global cargo hub. Umeda says he would conduct a review of airport-related projects and take a look at current airport usage and projected demand, and, after consulting voters, adopt a more "realistic" view of what airport projects the prefecture should fund.

School of corruption
Asahi Shimbun July 1, 2008

Money talks. This is also true, it seems, when it comes to passing exams to become teachers or being promoted to managerial positions at schools. We are appalled at the corrupt nature of the educational community in Oita Prefecture revealed by a string of scandals.

Allegedly, an elementary school principal and others sent cash and gift certificates to senior officials on the prefectural board of education to ensure their children passed examinations to gain teaching jobs. In response, the board officials gave those students extra marks, according to police.

Even more appalling, a former official who was No. 2 on the prefectural board pointed out the names of about 10 applicants to a subordinate and ordered him to ensure they passed the exam, police said. If that is true, it appears the prefectural board systematically engaged in dishonest practices.

The corruption not only involved employment examinations. An elementary school principal and two vice principals turned themselves in to police, admitting they had handed gift certificates to a senior prefectural board official to gain managerial promotions. This widespread dishonesty is disgusting.

All of those arrested, including the former top official suspected of taking gift certificates worth 1 million yen, are teachers. How can they explain their actions to students?

We urge the Oita prefectural police to conduct a thorough investigation to identify and expose all those involved in the alleged bribery. Otherwise, students will never regain trust in teachers. The applicants who would have passed if others' scores had not been padded must find this situation intolerable. And those who did well and passed the test on their own will likely be viewed with suspicion, too.

The latest scandal has infected the entire educational system, and it appears the dishonesty in Oita Prefecture was not an isolated case.

In fact, a bribery scandal in connection with teachers' employment was exposed in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1990. Two years ago, a former education board official received a suspended sentence in Osaka Prefecture. We also often hear stories about applicants or others asking veteran teachers to act as go-betweens to obtain teaching positions, although it is not always clear if money changes hands.

One reason for this unhealthy situation is that prefectural boards of education are closed organizations in which teachers handle all the administrative matters, including hiring and personnel appointments. The system was adopted to preserve "independence of education." However, it also appears to be a way for educational officials to do whatever they wish, dishonest or otherwise.

In response, the Oita prefectural education board decided to conduct employment tests for teachers in conjunction with the prefectural personnel commission. Why not take this opportunity to leave the hiring of teachers in the hands of the commission, as is done for prefectural government employees and police? Furthermore, to improve transparency in employment and personnel appointments, the board should also consider using third parties, such as the Oita citizens ombudsman, a nonprofit organization that has pointed out past allegations of cases of unfairness in teacher hirings.

It is impossible to verify the rigging of exam scores because the Oita prefectural board only retains applicants' exam answer sheets until the end of the school year, and so has already discarded the sheets of applicants hired for the 2008 school year, which started this April. Answer sheets should be kept for at least several years.

To recruit good teachers and enhance the quality of education, teaching personnel appointments and recruiting must be carried out fairly. Instead of thinking of the Oita scandal as someone else's problem, boards of education across the nation must take a hard look at themselves and take steps to improve education.

Showdown at Budokan
Japan Times July 2, 2006

It was 40 years ago today, and The Beatles were rocking Japan

The rightwing reactionaries were arriving in their menacing black-and-white trucks, blasting military music. The politicians were shaking their fists and telling people to go to a garbage dump. The police had locked down all entrances to the Imperial Palace grounds. Riot police lined the road leading to Tokyo's Haneda Airport. Girls stood in the streets crying.

The fight for political control centered on Nippon Budokan, the two-year-old martial arts hall beside the Imperial Palace grounds. The political stakes were high. There were 35,000 police deployed over the course of the four-day struggle.

Military coup? No. The Beatles in concert.

The year was 1966, and Budokan was a marvel of Japanese architecture that symbolized the rebirth of the capital and the whole country from the ashes of war.

Just 19 years after its abject capitulation, Japan proclaimed its resurrection with three events: The inauguration ceremony of the first shinkansen (bullet train) line, which sliced the tedious 10-hour journey between Tokyo and Osaka to a jaw-dropping 4 hours. That quantum leap came just in time for the second of those three epoch-making events, Tokyo's hosting of the 1964 Summer Olympics -- the first occasion the international competition had been held in Asia.

The third of those landmark events was the opening of the Budokan, a stadium in the city's heart dedicated to the martial arts of kyudo, kendo, judo, karate and all disciplines associated with honor and the Shinto spirit. Sited between Yasukuni Shrine and the Imperial Palace, it was reportedly built on the site where soldiers pledged their lives to the Emperor before joining their wartime units.

Following a request from Japan, judo had been included at the Tokyo Olympics for the first time as an official Olympic sport -- a move that proclaimed to the world that Asian culture was standing on the world stage along with European and Anglo-Saxon cultures.

Japanese xenophobia But if Japanese culture was to make its way onto the world stage, then wouldn't other cultures inevitably show themselves on the Japanese stage?

Two years after the Tokyo Olympics, four young men landed in Haneda Airport. Delayed by a typhoon, they were several hours late. The newspapers declared that as one typhoon had left, another had just arrived. It was the first test of what the post-Olympic future of the Budokan Hall would be. Would it remain a sacred venue on hallowed land, or simply become another concert hall?

On one side were the four most popular musicians on earth at the time; on the other, four Japanese opinion leaders, including the prime minister.

The Fab Four of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- none of whom knew the intricacies of Japanese xenophobia -- were criticized by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, who declared that The Beatles were not an appropriate act to perform at such a respected venue.

As media coverage built up and rightwing groups opined that rock music made young people crazy and would break down social order, Sato was joined by Tatsuji Nagashima, the promoter who had arranged the five Budokan concerts with The Beatles' management, but then changed sides and protested against them; Hosokawa Ryugen, an influential Asahi Shimbun journalist; and octogenarian Matsutaro Shoriki, founder of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and the Tokyo Giants baseball club. As first president of Budokan Hall, Shoriki had originally agreed to host The Beatles but later changed his mind after hearing alarming reports of long hair and girls screaming uncontrollably. He was told that the contract could not be torn up.

With The Beatles on one side, and four pillars of the Establishment on the other, you could call it a faceoff between the Fab Four and the Drab Four.

The Beatles themselves first sensed trouble while they were still touring Germany. There, they were shown a news report saying that Japanese rightwing groups wanted to capture them on their arrival in Tokyo and cut their Mop Top locks.

Fearing trouble from rightists at Budokan, the Metropolitan Police Department met with fire department officials 10 day before The Beatles' arrival to coordinate crowd control and disaster response. They even arranged for some 40 armored personnel carriers to be brought in to overpower any rightwing trucks in the area.

When it became clear there was to be no stopping the concerts, and that they might even become a turning point for Japan's culture, the war of words intensified.

Hosokawa and other critics appeared on television talk shows, both criticizing the concert plan and highlighting their ignorance by on occasion referring to the Liverpool quartet as "The Peatle." In other debates, critics began calling for the band to play not at Budokan but at Yume no Shima (Dream Island), an ironically named garbage landfill zone.

For Budokan Director Matsutaro Shoriki, this was no mere trifling debate: he had faced political pressures from nationalists before -- and had the scars to prove it. Decades before he had founded a Japanese baseball league and invited U.S. teams to play in Japan. Rightwingers saw this as a sellout to Americans and a form of cultural pollution. As a result, Shiroki was ambushed by sword-wielding would-be assassins and was lucky to survive being stabbed.

Next came pressure on the Japanese youth: Tokyo schools began ordering their students not to attend the concerts, even though most of them were on the weekend. This snowballed into a move to stop students playing electric guitars, based on the fear that rock music would turn young people into delinquents and hooligans.

At a preconcert press conference, a reporter asked The Beatles if they thought their behavior might have a negative influence on Japanese culture. Paul responded by asking if it should be considered a cultural invasion if a Japanese group were to appear in England. John, making an oblique reference to World War II and the expanding Vietnam War, quipped that singing was much better than fighting.

Ringo commented, "It's amazing security, you know. I've never seen so many people guarding us." To this, a reporter responded, "Well, we want to make sure that you're not hurt while you're here." Ringo replied: "But we don't want the security to hurt the fans. Don't be too rough with them."

Meanwhile, police were ripping banners out of the hands of rightwing squads outside the Budokan as the rightists berated them through megaphones.

Scheduled to give one concert on June 30, and two each on July 1 and 2, the Fab Four thought they would get a chance to see the sights on the morning of the 30th. But the Tokyo police said their officers would not take responsibility for their security on a slated sightseeing trip to the nearby ancient capital of Kamakura.

Plainclothes police That official decision was tantamount to grounding the band in their hotel, and George and Ringo obliged by staying there giving interviews and waving at fans through closed windows. Resenting their confinement, John and Paul each came up with their own plans for escaping from the Capital Tokyo Hotel (now the Tokyo Hilton).

With a member of the tour entourage in the lead, Paul tried to sneak out of the main lobby but was stopped by guards. After a great deal of haggling, he was placed in a car with plainclothes police officers and given a short tour of Meiji Jingu Shrine and a portion of the Imperial Palace grounds. They briefly got out of the car to have a walk around, but when photographers spotted Paul he was quickly shuffled back into the car and returned to the hotel. One news source later noted that The Beatle had been spotted in the palace grounds "no-neku-tai" (without a necktie).

John fared much better. Borrowing the ID badge and camera of a photographer on their team, he posed as a member of the press corps and used the badge to walk past the lobby security guards and into the street. From there he made his way to the Omotesando boulevard running away from Meiji Shrine, where he is reported to have bought souvenirs at the famous Oriental Bazaar shop. Then he went to the swish Azabu district nearby, where he was fitted for a new pair of glasses before returning to the hotel. He is said to have purchased on the outing a ceramic figure that was included in Peter Blake's collage design for the cover of 1967's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Apparently, back at the hotel Paul complained that he had only managed a few minutes out in the open air -- while John had gone on a shopping spree and returned with trophies to prove it.

The Beatles played the five concerts with little incident inside the hall. The authorities had braced for two main threats: that the kids in the audience would go crazy, and that rightwing nationalists would get violent outside. Neither happened.

The main floor area was kept empty to stop anyone approaching the stage, and the fans were confined to the mezzanine and balcony areas from where they watched the shows from over a sea of police hats. In the aisles, security guards stood at the end of each row, while another security ring of white-gloved officers stood between the stage and the seats, and another security ring sealed off the venue. Ambulance teams were at the ready.

In an effort to downplay the presence of a Western band with long hair, promoters arranged for several Japanese bands to perform as opening acts.

Elsewhere, because of the limitations of amplifiers at that time, The Beatles were often frustrated that the screaming and wailing of hysterical female fans elsewhere drowned out the sound of their instruments. At the Budokan, though, security was so suffocating that fans didn't even dare to stand up. In fact, the police announced over megaphones before the concert that anyone who did stand up and make any disturbance would be arrested. Consequently, the crowd noise during the meager half-hour they were allowed to play -- enough for just 11 songs -- was among the lowest The Beatles had experienced.

Photos from the concerts show the four playing against giant billboards for Lion toothpaste, with the audience barely visible in the distance. At the end of each concert, the authorities left no chance for an embarrassing mob scene by fans, or a violent incident by demonstrators in their trucks. The Fab Four were bundled into a police-escorted convoy and returned to the hotel within 10 minutes of taking their last bows.

Afterward, the Asahi Shimbun reported that the fans, many of them "haiteen" (late teenagers), were treated like children by the condescending authorities. Then, as The Beatles waved goodbye to Tokyo on their way to Manila, newspapers ran headlines such as "The Beatles typhoon has passed." Photos showed George on the stairs to the plane carrying a suitcase in each hand, and Paul with a camera, taking photos of the crowd.

Absence of disturbances Reports in The Japan Times and elsewhere not only pointed out the absence of disturbances during the Budokan concerts, but felt it worth noting that fans did not cause any trouble at the airport farewell.

The "Sgt. Pepper's" album cover with the Japanese figurine on the ground near John went on to be voted one of the most memorable design images of the 20th century, and The Beatles sold more than 1 billion records in their careers. Since then Budokan -- whose flip-flopping founder Shoriki Matsutaro died in 1969 -- has remained a popular stop for rock bands touring Asia. Deep Purple and Bob Dylan recorded live albums there, and the full-on likes of Kiss and Ozzy Osbourne have performed in the hall. It will even host the Black-Eyed Peas in July this year.

I’m going to stop wearing underpants.
AMPONTAN December 18, 2008

- Katsu Shintaro

Mr. Katsu was a leading force in the Japanese entertainment industry as an actor, producer, and director. The son of a kabuki actor, he starred in 26 films as Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, as well as a spin-off television series.

He also had too much of a taste for drink and drugs, and the above comment came during a press conference with Japanese reporters after his arrest at the Honolulu Airport on 16 January 1990 for carrying pot and cocaine in his underwear.

At the same press conference, he joked that he intended to start a new business as a haberdasher and sell Katsu pants in which anything could be hidden.

Now, now, no wise guy comments from the back row!

The actor was supposed to have played the lead in Kurosawa’s Kagemusha mentioned above, but he left without finishing the first day of filming after a serious disagreement with the director.

Okinawa / Cultural background
Okinawa Time

The people of Okinawa are racially and linguistically the same as the rest of Japan. However, the culture has developed differently because of isolation from the main islands. Taiwan, China, and the South Sea islands are close neighbors. Okinawa has suffered many historic tragedies. They were under a dynasty control from the 12th century, then the isolation policy by the Edo government, dual control by the Satsuma clan, the Ming Dynasty of China, and the policies of the Meiji government. Governmental discrimination continued, followed by the fierce battles World War 2(Apr, 1945).

Over third of the island’s population died during World War 2. The Battle of Okinawa was one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. The battle ended on September 7, 1945 and Okinawa was occupied by the U.S. After Japan was given its independence in 1952, Okinawa remained under U.S. control. In 1969, President Nixon and Prime Minister Sato agreed that Okinawa should be returned to Japan, and May 15, 1972, President Johnson ratified the return.

Read more information from Okinawa Prefecture’s “OKINAWA TODAY“

Operation ICEBERG, as the plan for the Okinawa campaign was officially called, marked the entrance of the United States upon an advanced stage in the long execution of its strategy in the Pacific.

Looking for facts of past and new Okinawa today? Take a look!!

Gazprom strikes a deal with Total
Economist Jul 13, 2007

ON THE eve of Bastille Day Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, handed a royal present to the newly elected president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, by allowing a national French company into Russia’s mightily tempting energy sector. After years of deliberations, Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled energy behemoth that doubles up as the Kremlin’s foreign-policy arm, has chosen France's Total to develop a giant offshore gas field in the Arctic.…



エコノミスト 2007年7月13日



Beheadings, Shoot-outs and Baby Dumping: Where is Japan heading?
Global Voices

Moreover, in Okinawa, to put pressure on the citizens opposed to construction of the military base at Henoko Bay, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is being “deployed”. You never know when the SDF will point their guns at the citizens. Even if, tomorrow morning, news comes out that North Korea has fired a nuclear missile, I would not be surprised. Japan's suppression of speech has advanced this far… no, actually it's been like this from the beginning.

Chiba's governor may soon be whisked away to his home planet
Japan Times April 19, 2009

In the latest installment of Suntory's series of TV commericals for Boss canned coffee, the extraterrestrial Tommy Lee Jones, who has been sent to Earth to study the human race, runs for governor of an unnamed prefecture and wins by a landslide. The excitement is short-lived, though, as his inappropriate response to questions in the prefectural assembly results in a steep drop in his support rate. He is forced to resign and later reports to his superiors, "Popularity on Earth is brief."

Actually, that scenario sounds more like the one we've seen lately for prime ministers. Some current governors are enjoying solid support. Osaka's Toru Hashimoto has impressed the people he represents by standing up to imperious bureaucrats. Two weeks ago, he slammed the central government for sending Osaka a bill for construction projects without any detailed breakdown, comparing the ministry's procedures to those of a bar that serves a customer a drink and later charges him an extortionate sum.

Hashimoto is admired nationwide as an exceptionally bold leader, but he really has no choice. Osaka is on the verge of bankruptcy, as are many other prefectures. The media can always be counted on to cover people like Hashimoto, Miyazaki's Hideo Higashikokubaru, and former Nagano Governor Yasuo Tanaka because they were TV celebrities before they were politicians. Now, though, they're also paying close attention to the noncelebrity governors of Shiga and Niigata, who are working hard to solve their prefectures' money problems.

Kensaku Morita, who won the governorship of Chiba on March 29 by a wide margin, used to be a popular actor, as well as a Diet member. Morita's outgoing personality and background guarantee he'll be noticed, but since the election, he's come under scrutiny for something different.

Though Morita was a staunch member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party during his stint in national politics from 1992 to 2004 and ran under the party banner with his unsuccessful bid for the Chiba governorship in 2005, this time he chose to run as a "completely unaffiliated" candidate to promote his independent stance. However, it has been discovered that Morita is still the head of a Tokyo-based LDP election committee, and a citizens group has filed a lawsuit saying he violated election rules by not declaring this position when he submitted his application to run.
The reason no one noticed is that the position is registered under Morita's real name, Eiji Suzuki. Kensaku Morita is his geimei (stage name). Moreover, ¥100 million was transferred from this committee to Morita's account without being reported to election authorities. Some of this money came from discount chain Don Quijote, whose foreign ownership exceeded the 50 percent maximum allowed by law for donations at the time they were made.

These accusations are at least as serious as those leveled against Japan Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa, but all legal questions aside, Morita's vision for Chiba is pretty fuzzy. The prefecture is just as financially strapped as others, but he didn't say much about that during the campaign. He promoted flashy, implausible ideas, like building a Maglev train between Narita and Haneda airports, or promising to reduce the toll on the Aqua Line bridge-and-tunnel route linking Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures to ¥800 at all times, which sounds nice but doesn't significantly affect most Chiba residents.

Otherwise, Morita doesn't seem interested in the fiscal challenges that other prefectural governors are actively struggling with. He is a values man. His manifesto is filled with pledges to make children "stronger and more beautiful" and "educate parents" so that they can "rebuild Japan's family power." These have always been Morita's pet themes, even when he was an actor. He is best known for the early 1970s TV series, "Ore wa Otoko da" ("I Am a Man"), in which he played a high-school kendo enthusiast whose moral rectitude and love of yamato-damashii (the spirit of Japan) was so intense as to be comical. As a politician, he has made traditional values his platform. He supports testable "moral education" classes in schools and is against sex education and the so-called gender-free curricula.

These sorts of goals are difficult to realize as a member of an assembly, which is why Morita left his Diet seat to pursue the Chiba governorship. Like his hero, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, he wants to change Japan and believes he can only do so from an executive position, even if it's at the head of a prefectural government. It's no coincidence that he shares Ishihara's nationalist credo, but so do Hashimoto and Higashikokubaru. The difference is that they approach their jobs as servants of the people who elected them, not ideological crusaders.

Normally, after a politician wins office he thanks those who supported him and assures those who didn't that he will represent them, too. But, since his victory, Morita has been busy cultivating powerful people outside of Chiba in his own "friendly" way — gesturing a little too dramatically, laughing a little too loudly, touching a little too intimately. He has appeared on network variety shows and paid visits to Prime Minister Taro Aso (the head of the LDP, thus bolstering some people's suspicion that Morita's unaffiliated status was a temporary convenience) and Ishihara. He even tried to give Ishihara a hug, but the Tokyo governor managed to avoid full contact.

Eventually, Morita will have to address Chiba's financial problems, and it will be interesting to see what happens. If more hospitals and public services in the prefecture start shutting down, residents may wonder why their celebrity governor isn't as effective as Osaka's is. Morita's fame is what won him office, but as the extraterrestrial Jones discovered, popularity is fleeting.

LDP's Nikaido dies of heart failure
Japan Times Feb. 3, 2000

Susumu Nikaido, a former vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, died at a Tokyo hospital Thursday due to heart failure, his family said. He was 90. Born in Kagoshima Prefecture, Nikaido graduated from the University of Southern California in 1941. He was elected to the Diet's House of Representatives from the then-Kagoshima No. 3 constituency in the nation's first general election after World War II, in 1946. He was elected to the chamber 16 consecutive times until he decided to retire from politics by refusing to run in the 1996 general election. Nikaido was a close aide to late former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, who was convicted in the Lockheed payoff scandal of the 1970s, and was famous for saying, "My hobby is Kakuei Tanaka."Nikaido played a key role in restoring diplomatic ties between Japan and China in 1972. 1984, former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki, in behind-the-scenes cooperation with some opposition leaders, made an unsuccessful attempt to back Nikaido to topple then LDP head and Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Nikaido served as LDP secretary general from 1981 to 1983 and was the LDP's vice president from 1984 to 1986. After Noboru Takeshita formed his own group within the Tanaka faction in a revolt against the faction boss in 1985, Nikaido tried to unite pro-Tanaka members.

Mr. Obasanjo, President of Nigeria, to Visit Japan
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan September 4, 2006

  1. Chief. Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, will visit Japan from September 14 (Thu) to September 16 (Sat).

  2. During his stay, President Obasanjo will have talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and important figures of Japan and exchange views on such matters as the bilateral relationship including economic cooperation, Japan-Africa relations including cooperation in the international arena, and the regional affairs.

  3. This visit has been set up due to President Obasanjo's strong wish to express his sincere appreciation for cooperation from the Government of Japan to Nigeria directly to Prime Minster Koizumi before he resigns. The last Japan-Nigeria summit meeting was held about two years ago when President Obasanjo visited Japan in November 2004 to attend the TICAD Asia-Africa Trade Investment Conference (AATIC).

  4. President Obasanjo is a Japano-phile who has visited Japan for more than 10 times, including the official visit in 2001, visits in 2003 to attend the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), and in 2004 to attend the AATIC.

Koji's Column Oshogatsu
discovernikkei January 3, 2008

Besides Groundhog’s day, my favorite holiday is New Year’s. I look forward to it every year. I always forget though that most people just think it’s a day to watch football. For those who don’t know, New Year’s or “Oshogatsu” in Japan is the most important and elaborate holiday of the year.

When Japanese Americans talk about New Year’s, they usually just mention the “osechi” (New Year’s food). Things like: “soba” (buck wheat noodles) on New Year’s Eve for a long life, the zoni (soup) on New Year’s morning with kurikinton (mashed sweet potato with sweet chestnuts) and kinpira gobo (simmered burdock root) and of course the shot of sake.

But when I think of New Year’s, I think about the Japanese superstition that everything you do on that day is a reflection of the way the rest of the year is going to turn out. To me, this is better than the resolution system because I get to actively shape what’s going to happen to me in the coming year.

I want a good/calm year so I spent my New Year’s day relaxing and hanging out with my wife and my doggie. I also did some writing, took a long walk and made sure to stay happy and positive all day.

Planning the day can be stressful but with the right prep it tends not to be a problem. For example, I can’t spend any money since I don’t want to be spending money all year. So I have to make sure to buy everything I need the day before. I can’t clean or work or do things that can be construed in any way as negative since the last thing I want to be doing this year is any/all of those things.

This tradition has always comforted me because it means that no matter how bad my previous year was, I can shape how the coming year will be.

Are you worried about what you did on New Year’s now? Don’t. You have one year to prepare.

The Aesthetic of Transience

In modern times, some haiku poets have rejected the convention of the kigo and advocated “seasonless haiku,” but to this day a huge number of people in Japan continue to enjoy haiku following the traditional form. In fact, attesting to the continued importance of kigo is the number of kigo dictionaries, known as saijiki. The kigo compiled in these saijiki are by no means limited to terms that have been around for centuries. In modern times, as lifestyles have grown increasingly complex and objects associated with particular seasons have proliferated, poets have actively embraced words like senpûki (electric fan) and denki sutôbu (electric heater) as kigo, along with such nontraditional events as Pari-sai (Bastille Day, July 14) and Shûsen kinenbi (the anniversary of the end of World War II, August 15). One recent saijiki contains some 2,500 kigo, testifying to the multitude of seasonal associations that continue to play a part in Japanese life.

Ogata to plead innocent in Chongryon fraud trial
Jaoan Times Oct. 26, 2007

Former intelligence chief Shigetake Ogata will plead innocent when he stands trial over his alleged involvement in fraud involving Chongryon's headquarters property, retracting his earlier admission during questioning by prosecutors, sources said.

The move will lead to a showdown between the prosecutors and defense as both camps investigate the motives and criminal intent behind an unusual case in which the supposed victim, the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, has rebutted allegations that it was defrauded, believing Ogata was sincere in buying the site to keep the group running.

When Ogata, 73, will stand trial has yet to be decided.

His alleged accomplice, Tadao Mitsui, the 73-year-old former president of a real estate company, is also expected to categorically deny the charges against him, the sources said. Mitsui has also been indicted.

The fraud came to light in June when it was revealed that registration of the ownership of Chongryon's land and building had been transferred to Ogata's side.

Prosecutors arrested Ogata, a prosecutor-turned-lawyer who formerly headed the government's Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Mitsui on June 28 on suspicion of fraud connected to an alleged bogus ¥3.5 billion deal to acquire the premises of the group's head office without any intention of making a payment.

Chongryon at the time was looking for a buyer for the building and premises of its headquarters in Tokyo in an attempt to prevent them from being seized as part of the state-run Resolution and Collection Corp.'s debt-recovery efforts.

On July 18, prosecutors served fresh warrants against Ogata and Mitsui for allegedly defrauding Chongryon of ¥484 million.

Ogata denied the charges when he was first arrested in June but later owned up to them just before the prosecutors filed an additional criminal charge against him in August.

However, having apparently reviewed the facts and circumstances, Ogata has decided to plead innocent and tell the court that he had no intention of deceiving others, according to the sources.

Ogata is now being held at the Tokyo Detention House.

After the dubious transfer registration came to light on June 12, Ogata told reporters he had concluded the deal so that he could help maintain the operations of Chongryon to guarantee the protection of its affiliates' rights.

Ogata has denied that the deal was fake and claimed he intended to secure funds for it. Sources said Ogata is likely to argue along these lines in court.

HQ sale broke no laws, Chongryun lawyer says
Japan Times June 15, 2007

A lawyer representing the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryun, said Thursday no crime was involved in a deal to sell its Tokyo headquarters to an investment advisory firm headed by a former chief of the Public Security Intelligence Agency.

The comments by Koken Tsuchiya, 84, came just before police raided his office in Tokyo's Chuo Ward and a day after prosecutors raided the home and office of the agency's former director general, Shigetake Ogata, 73, on suspicion he registered the ownership transfer without paying for the building.

"It was not a disguised transfer, as we were serious about the transaction," Tsuchiya said Thursday. "Our action had nothing to do with any crime."

He also said he had been questioned by the special investigative squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office over the matter.

Ogata, now president of investment advisory company Harvest, was a prosecutor and chief of the Public Security Intelligence Agency, a body under the Justice Ministry. One of the main tasks of the agency is to monitor the moves of North Korea, including those of Chongryun.

The prosecutors also questioned Ogata, who is now a practicing lawyer, on a voluntary basis over the deal, sources said.

"The deal with Chongryun is real and anything but a disguised transaction," Ogata said after the prosecutors' raid. "The deal is still ongoing, and I intend to try hard to secure funds. I can't help but think the search is politically motivated to destroy the deal."

Ogata told reporters Wednesday the deal was meant to prevent the Tokyo District Court from seizing the head office and evicting Chongryun from the premises in the event the group loses a suit in which the state-backed Resolution and Collection Corp. has sought a debt repayment of 62.8 billion yen.

According to Ogata, he was first approached by Tsuchiya, a former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, about the deal in April. Tsuchiya represents Chongryun in the lawsuit involving the RCC.

Kunimatsu ambush remains a mystery
Japan Times March 30, 1998

Three years ago Monday, Takaji Kunimatsu, then chief of the National Police Agency, was shot by an unidentified gunman and seriously wounded as he left his condominium in Tokyo's Arakawa Ward for work.

The unprecedented assault on the highest national police authority remains a mystery, although investigators still believe Aum Shinrikyo was behind it. The ambush took place only 10 days after police launched a nationwide raid on the doomsday cult in connection with the nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that killed 12 people and injured thousands of others.

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, people closely resembling senior Aum members were witnessed near the scene before and after the shooting. The cult members in question do not have solid alibis to rule out their involvement, MPD sources said.

Several former Aum leaders and rank-and-file cultists have also recently hinted the cult was involved, a ranking MPD official said. Since January, the MPD has increased the number of investigators covering the case by 20 to 130.

Still, police have been unable to obtain concrete evidence that could lead to a breakthrough in the case. A former MPD sergeant and ex-cultist later confessed to the shooting and told police he dumped the pistol used in the attack in Tokyo's Arakawa River, but police divers combed the murky riverbed in vain, and the officer was never charged.

"Unless this incident is resolved, we cannot fully regain the public's trust in the police organization," an MPD official said. "Our investigation is not moving backward. It is making progress."

Kunimatsu, 60, suffered three bullet wounds in the attack, and at one time was in critical condition. He recovered and returned to his job as NPA chief until he retired.

Toru Hasuike Talks about Abduction Issue - Negotiation As the Only Way Out
Labornet Japan February 11, 2009

On Jan. 24, Asia Press Club held a lecture by Toru Hasuike(former deputy director of abductees’ families network/ photo). About 250 people packed the venue at Bunkyo Kumin Center. They listened attentively as if trying not to miss a word of the stories behind the scenes of negotiations on the abductees. Hasuike severely criticized former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi for settling the negotiation with returns of the five abductees and the deaths of eight others upon visiting North Korea on Sept. 17, 2002. Attempts to resolve through political channel have failed three times there after. “The current government and mass media have completely failed to think. We can’t resolve this issue just by blaming the North for being evil. I was considered a hardliner, but I didn’t have enough time to think about it, but now I believe negotiations are the only way out,” Hasuike said. The lecture has made audience think about the abduction issue.

Parental love versus Kim Jong-il
Asia Times Apr 28, 2009

Until that fateful day, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota had enjoyed a happy family life, just like any other. Then, on the evening of November 15, 1977, their 13-year-old daughter Megumi disappeared on her way home from school in Niigata city, which is about 200 kilometers northwest of Tokyo.

Shigeru Yokota, Megumi's father and then a Bank of Japan official, had loved to take snapshots of Megumi to record her growth and use in prayers for her health. Sakie Yokota, Megumi's mother, had made her skirts and embroidered blouses from the clothes Sakie wore when she was young.

Megumi was a cheerful, bright and active girl who liked music, books and paintings. She loved her twin younger brothers Takuya and Tetsuya, now 40. At 13, she gave her father a turtle-shell comb on his 45th birthday, telling him to pay more attention to his looks. The next morning, she left for school and never returned.

So began the anguish of the Yokota family and their desperate efforts to search for their daughter - said to have been the largest in the history of the prefecture's police department.

RCC plans to purchase bad loans in June
Japan Times May 27, 1999

The Resolution and Collection Corp. hopes to start buying bad loans from healthy banks in late June or July, its president said Thursday.

Kohei Nakabo said at a regular news conference that the state-backed debt collection body is now consulting with Deposit Insurance Corp., which wholly owns the RCC, on ground rules regarding how and at what price the RCC will purchase sour loans from banks.

Officials from the Finance Ministry and the Financial Supervisory Agency are also involved in the rule-making process, he said.

Nakabo said the RCC will hold a seminar in June for banks interested in selling it bad loans, adding that some banks have already shown interest.

The outstanding bad loans of the nation's 17 major banks topped 20 trillion yen in fiscal 1998, according to earnings reports. Nakabo has said the RCC wants to buy at least 10 trillion yen worth of the bad loans.

The RCC, created in April through the merger of two state-backed collection firms, plans to specialize in the recovery of loans that are the hardest to collect. Such loans include those connected to gangsters or those in which debtors have hidden their assets to avoid confiscation.

In such cases, the RCC is believed to have an edge over other collectors, because it can use the special investigative power given to the DIC.

Nakabo also announced that the RCC's loan collection target for fiscal 1999 will be 710 billion yen. This includes 425 billion yen in loans formerly held by the Housing Loan Administration Corp. and 285 billion yen formerly owed to Resolution Collection Bank, which took over loans from failed banks and credit unions before it was merged with the HLAC into the RCC.

Kohei Nakabo, President, Resolution & Collection Corp.
BusinessWeek June 14, 1999

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE IN JAPANESE bankers is at an all-time low. No wonder. They're responsible for stacking up an estimated $1 trillion in bad loans. So the government has turned to Kohei Nakabo. Although he has no background in finance, the feisty 69-year-old lawyer has proved to be Japan's most talented debt collector and one of the country's most trusted public figures.

Since 1996, Nakabo has tackled the debt problem of the failed jusen, or housing-loan firms, recovering $13 billion in dud loans. On Apr. 1, he became head of the Resolution & Collection Corp. Formed through the merger of two public collection agencies, the RCC is charged with taking over outstanding bank loans and collecting on them. Nakabo will continue to use his proven tactics--filing lawsuits and directly confronting renegade borrowers.

Honest and conscientious, Nakabo has refused to accept payment for his public work for the past three years. But his debt-collecting days are drawing to a close. He plans to resign in August on his 70th birthday. His legacy is proof of how a piece of Japan's bank problem can be solved.

Bomb by bomb, Japan sheds military restraints
New York Times July 22, 2007


To take part in its annual exercises with the United States Air Force here last month, Japan practiced dropping 500-pound live bombs on Farallon de Medinilla, a tiny island in the western Pacific's turquoise waters more than 150 miles north of here.

The pilots described dropping a live bomb for the first time — shouting "shack!" to signal a direct hit — and seeing the fireball from aloft.

"The level of tension was just different," said Captain Tetsuya Nagata, 35, stepping down from his cockpit onto the sunbaked tarmac.

The exercise would have been unremarkable for almost any other military, but it was highly significant for Japan, a country still restrained by a Constitution that renounces war and allows forces only for its defense. Dropping live bombs on land had long been considered too offensive, so much so that Japan does not have a single live-bombing range.

Flying directly from Japan and practicing live-bombing runs on distant foreign soil would have been regarded as unacceptably provocative because the implicit message was clear: these fighter jets could perhaps fly to North Korea and take out some targets before returning home safely.

But from here in Micronesia to Iraq, Japan's military has been rapidly crossing out items from its list of can't-dos. The incremental changes, especially since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, amount to the most significant transformation in Japan's military since World War II, one that has brought it ever closer operationally to America's military while rattling nerves throughout northeast Asia.

In a little over half a decade, Japan's military has carried out changes considered unthinkable a few years back. In the Indian Ocean, Japanese destroyers and refueling ships are helping American and other militaries fight in Afghanistan. In Iraq, Japanese planes are transporting cargo and American troops to Baghdad from Kuwait.

Japan is acquiring weapons that blur the lines between defensive and offensive. For the Guam bombing run, Japan deployed its newest fighter jets, the F-2's, the first developed jointly by Japan and the United States, on their maiden trip here. Unlike its older jets, the F-2's were able to fly the 1,700 miles from northern Japan to Guam without refueling — a "straight shot," as the Japanese said with unconcealed pride.

Japan recently indicated strongly its desire to buy the F-22 Raptor, a stealth fighter known mainly for its offensive abilities such as penetrating contested airspace and destroying enemy targets, whose export is prohibited by United States law.

At home, the Defense Agency, whose profile had been intentionally kept low, became a full ministry this year. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used the parliamentary majority he inherited from his wildly popular predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, to ram through a law that could lead to a revision of the pacifist Constitution.

Japan's 241,000-member military, though smaller than those of its neighbors, is considered Asia's most sophisticated. Though flat, its $40 billion military budget has ranked among the world's top five in recent years. Japan has also tapped nonmilitary budgets to launch spy satellites and strengthen its coast guard recently.

Japanese politicians like Abe have justified the military's transformation by seizing on the threat from North Korea; the rise of China, whose annual military budget has been growing by double digits; and the Sept. 11 attacks — even fanning those threats, critics say. At the same time, Abe has tried to rehabilitate the reputation of Japan's imperial forces by whitewashing their crimes, including wartime sexual slavery.

Japanese critics say the changes under way — whose details the government has tried to hide from public view, especially the missions in Iraq — have already violated the Constitution and other defense restrictions.

"The reality has already moved ahead, so they will now talk about the need to catch up and revise the Constitution," said Yukio Hatoyama, the secretary general of the main opposition Democratic Party.

Humpback hunt stirs protest

As far as media in this country were concerned, the Nov. 18 departure of Japan's whaling fleet to hunt humpback and minke whales in the Antarctic was hardly news.

Few newspapers or TV news shows bothered to mention the story.

In sharp contrast, the fleet's departure from Shimonoseki Port in Yamaguchi Prefecture made headlines the world over, sparking outcries in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe. The reactions thrust Japan's near-isolated stand on whaling into sharp focus.

Protest abroad is especially strong because Japan is hunting leviathan humpbacks for the first time in decades. The fleet hopes to harvest about 1,000 whales, including humpbacks, minkes and fin whales, before returning home in the spring.

The International Whaling Commission passed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.

A year later, Japan returned to the seas to harvest Antarctic minke whales for "research purposes," allowed under IWC rules.

Since then, Japan's hunt has expanded to other waters and types of whales.

Whale meat is sold to cover the costs of the expeditions. While domestic consumption of whale is not rising--due to the high price of the meat--critics say the "research" is simply a guise for the profit-making sales.

Worldwide conservation and citizen group protests have spurred governments to make clear their anger toward Japan.

In Australia, a staunch foe of whaling, criticism mounted ahead of the overwhelming Labor Party victory in Saturday's general election.

Labor Party member Robert McClelland said earlier that when in power, he plans to push hard for Tokyo to end the whaling.

The issue gained heat in the run-up to the vote. Outgoing Foreign Minister Alexander Downer issued a statement Nov. 19 calling for a stop to whaling--despite the Howard administration's earlier soft stance on whaling, which was out of consideration of Australia's ties to Japan.

Argument until now has centered on scientific issues, such as how to estimate whale populations and how to protect them.

This time, feelings are stirred because the humpback whale, a favorite sight of whale watchers, is targeted.

Whale watchers can easily identify individual humpbacks by their long pectoral fins, bumpy heads and wide tails. When a humpback dramatically breaches the surface, it is a sight to behold.

Animal rights activists in Australia, meanwhile, question whether Japan is really engaged in science when it sends vessels great distances to hunt and kill whales.

Also, some note that such activities also affect coastal economies where whale watching is popular.

According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, whale watching is profitable, netting income equivalent to about 3.8 billion yen in Oceania and the Antarctic region in 1998. Adding related businesses, the industry brought in an estimated 13.2 billion yen in income that year for the region.

Washington also joined in the criticism.

"We call on Japan to refrain from conducting this year's hunt, especially with respect to humpback and fin whales," U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said Nov. 19.

Japan plans to hunt 850 minke, 50 humpback and 50 fin whales and others on this expedition.

Britain's Independent newspaper in its Nov. 19 editorial wrote: "To many, it is hard to comprehend how a country that helped initiate the Kyoto treaty and has been in the vanguard of the environmental movement could have so little sympathy for the whale."

The government's Fisheries Agency decided to return to hunting humpbacks, it said, because surveys of the minke whale population do not give the whole picture in the Antarctic.

Humpback hunting was halted in the 1960s after the population plummeted. Currently, estimates put the number of humpbacks in the Antarctic at between 35,000 and 40,000.

The IWC estimates that humpback numbers have risen 10 percent or more annually in recent years.

The agency contends that whales eat huge amounts of fish--which in turn lowers fishing catches worldwide.

Agency officials maintain that food shortages will increase due to dwindling fish hauls if humpbacks are not controlled as are minke whales.

Other nations don't accept that position. The IWC voted at the end of May to support a moratorium on commercial whaling.

Sea Shepherd Requests the Australian Navy to Keep the Peace in Antarctica
Sea Shepherd December 25, 2005

It is time for the government of Australia to act responsibly in the Australian Antarctic Territory.

Australia needs to send a naval ship to keep the peace and to observe for themselves what is going on down in the Southern Ocean instead of believing every lie that Japan fabricates to defend their bogus research commercial whaling operations.

The Japanese whaling fleet is in flagrant violation of numerous international and Australian laws by killing whales off the coast of Antarctica in waters claimed by Australia.

The Japanese have rammed a Greenpeace ship and attempted to ram my ship the Farley Mowat on Christmas day.

Prime Minister John Howard said that at a recent meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that, "I do not support action which endangers lives or breaks the law."

He was referring to those of us defending the whales when in reality it is the Japanese breaking the laws and endangering human life and inhumanely killing whales.

When I warned that the Japanese were armed and were planning to damage our ship, Environment Minister Ian Campbell spun the story to suggest that it was the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that were the bad guys and said, "There appears to be a prima facie case that they may be setting out to break the law."

He has asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate Sea Shepherd yet Japan is openly breaking Australian law without any action by Australia.

What is curious about this is that Campbell is acknowledging that Australia has the right to investigate and lay charges against a Canadian flag vessel and non-Australian citizens over a Japanese complaint coming from the Australia Antarctic Territory. Yet he claims that Australian has no right to enforce conservation laws against Japan.

Australia must send a Naval vessel down here to see what is going on and to keep the peace. What if the Japanese kill or injure one or more of the whale defenders? Will Australia intervene then or will they intervene to appease Japan by arresting those defending the whalers?

This is a highly dangerous situation down here. Volunteers from around the world are here to do the job that the world's governments should be doing. The Japanese are aggressive, violent, and arrogant. The whale defenders are determined, courageous, and bold. This is a recipe for disaster, Mr. John Howard and Mr. Ian Campbell.

You will not be very popular if the Japanese kill one of us because Australia did nothing to keep the peace. The government says that the Japanese do not recognize the Australian claim to the Antarctic treaty. In 1942, they did not recognize Australia's claim to Australia. Australians fought them and won, yet today's leaders bow and surrender to Japan.

Japanese money has succeeded today, where Japanese military might failed in the past.

We, who Howard and Campbell consider the bad guys, are asking for the Navy to sail south to protect the lives of whales and people. If our intentions were criminal, would we be requesting the Navy?

Send the Navy to keep the peace. That is the responsible thing to do. If Australia has eyes down here, Australia will have the facts and then the Australian government can stop acting like a public relations firm hired by Tokyo.

Prison sought for ex-minister's sister
Japan Times Dec. 1, 1997

Prosecutors demanded a three-year prison term Monday for Yoshie Yamaguchi for allegedly receiving two credit union loans totaling 2.7 billion yen without sufficient collateral.

Appearing before the Tokyo District Court, prosecutors claimed that her brother, former Labor Minister Toshio Yamaguchi, was also involved in the illegal loan operation. According to prosecutors, Yoshie Yamaguchi, 61, in collaboration with Harunori Takahashi, 52, former president of the Tokyo Kyowa Credit Union, had his credit union and the Anzen Credit Union extend the loans to her company, Musashi Kosei Bunka Corp., which operated golf courses.

They said the loans, made from June to December 1994, drove the credit unions into bankruptcy and undermined public trust in the national financial system. The prosecutors said the certificates of golf club membership provided as collateral were worthless.

Tenchō setsu
Encyclopedia of Shinto

"Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth."

The old name for the emperor’s birthday deriving from a similar observance in Tang China. It was a religious holiday from the early Meiji era to just after World War II. The ceremony performed at the Three Sacred Halls (kyūchū sanden) is called the tenchōsai, or Rite for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth (though in the Prescriptions of the Imperial House Rituals the rite itself ranks among the shōsai, or Minor Rites) while the holiday (shukujitsu) is called the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth.

The first known observance celebrating the birth of the emperor was a banquet held by the many court officials in 775 in honor of the Kōnin Emperor. The first actual Tenchō setsu was instituted during the Meiji restoration and occurred on September 22, 1868 (by the corrected calendar November 3) and has continued henceforth pattered on it. On the day of the celebration, the tenchōsai is performed in the Three Sacred Halls, and the Rituals for the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth (tenchōsetsu no gi) are performed at the palace. The emperor receives felicitations from the imperial family then goes to the Toyo-no-akari Hall where he receives felicitations from high-level ministers and ambassadors or representatives from each country. Following this, there is a celebratory banquet. This celebration, together with New Year’s and the Observance of Era Change (Kigen setsu), comprise the Three Great Observances, or sandaisetsu (In 1927, Meiji setsu was also included, thus becoming the "Four Great Observances," or shi dai setsu).

Anniversary celebrations are held throughout the country’s elementary schools and by various groups. Emperor Taishō’s Tenchō setsu was August 31 (though it had been fixed as October 31 since the original date fell during the summer holiday season).

Emperor Shōwa’s Tenchō setsu was April 29. In 1948, in compliance with the "Laws of Religious Days for the Citizenry," the Day of Celebration for the Longevity of Heaven and Earth was renamed the Emperor’s Birthday. The current Heisei emperor’s birthday is December 23. Emperor Shōwa’s birthday was renamed "Green Day" and has been a national holiday since 1990.


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