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Is blunt-speaking Aso next act after Abe?
Japan Times July 27, 2007

Foreign Minister Taro Aso looked satisfied on the evening of Sept. 20, 2006 — right after the results of the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election came in.

The day happened to be his 66th birthday, and he got an unexpected gift — winning 136 votes — far more than earlier forecast. Although Aso ended a distant runnerup, he emerged as a likely successor to the winner, Shinzo Abe, who got 464 votes and went on to become prime minister.

"I will work harder to (become LDP president) someday," said a beaming Aso, blowing out candles on his birthday cake.

Now 10 months on, Abe's hold on power appears shaky. Heading into Sunday's House of Councilors election, media forecasts show his ruling coalition will lose its majority in the chamber, an eventuality that could bring Aso a step closer to succeeding to the prime ministership.

Aso is widely considered one of the leading post-Abe LDP candidates for the post. While serving the key position in Abe's Cabinet, Aso has published three books this year — a move seen as a demonstration of his readiness to become prime minister. One book is about his vision for Japan; another is about his grandfather, the late Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida.

The latest poll by Kyodo News indicated the LDP may fail to win 40 seats — falling close to the party's worst-ever performance in 1989, when it won only 36 in that Upper House election.

If the LDP fails to win at least 37, Abe may have no choice but to step down to take responsibility for such a historic setback, said Takao Toshikawa, political commentator and editor of the newsletter Tokyo Insideline.

"Even if Abe stays in power, (Abe) would appoint Aso as the secretary general of the LDP" to replace Hidenao Nakagawa, who as the party's No. 2 leader would be held responsible for election results, Toshikawa predicted, echoing many other political watchers.

"Aso will remain a key player in any case," he said.

Described variously as an outspoken right-leaning conservative, an adept speaker and an avid fan of "manga" comics, Aso was born on Sept. 20, 1940, the oldest son of Takakichi Aso, who headed a zaibatsu conglomerate centered on coal mining in Kyushu.

People who have known Aso long say he was the blue-blood family's "naughty boy" who was not afraid of saying what he pleased.

And he still is. Aso is known for haughty, sometimes disparaging rhetoric, as well as gaffes.

He drew attention last October when he defended LDP policy chief Shoichi Nakagawa, who openly called for policy debate on whether Japan should develop nuclear weapons.

Aso argued that "various discussions" on the issue should be encouraged, sparking speculation that the foreign minister favors the nuclear option. He later emphasized that going nuclear is not an option being considered by the government.

Aso had, however, described China as a growing military threat, and got Beijing's dander up last year when he described Taiwan as a "law-abiding country," a remark that came not long after he said colonial ruler Japan's compulsory education was a good thing for Taiwan.

Last week, Aso caused a stir when talking about the price of Japanese rice sold in China, saying "even people with Alzheimer's disease can understand" that the price marked on Japanese rise is higher in China than in Japan. He apologized after drawing flak over the remark.

According to Toshikawa, Aso often uses blunt language to pass himself off as a common man, not gentry. This has become part of his personality, Toshikawa added.

Aso comes from an elite family — his grandfather, Yoshida, led Japan's postwar reconstruction. Aso's sister, Nobuko, is married to Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, a cousin of Emperor Akihito. His own wife, Chikako, is the daughter of the late conservative Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki.

"He was different. He was stylish," said Mikiya Watanabe, vice chairman of the Japan Clay Target Shooting Association and a longtime friend of Aso's.

"He hasn't changed," said Watanabe, who first met Aso in the 1960s, when Watanabe was around 20 and Aso was 18.

Watanabe came to know Aso as they both were skeet shooters. Around that time in Japan, most skeet shooting was the realm of rich, blue-bloods, especially the Imperial family, Watanabe said.

Aso was always among the top three skeet shooters in Japan. He won a number of national competitions and went on to represent Japan in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, where he finished 41st out of 68 contestants. He gave up shooting after that.

Watanabe recalled how Aso, wearing a dapper three-piece suit, came to an earlier skeet shoot in western Tokyo in a chauffeured car, accompanied by a coach.

Not just a spoiled rich kid, Aso was already a senior executive of his family business.

Aso kept busy restructuring the struggling coal mining company that he inherited from his father. He laid off thousands of miners and later successfully converted the ailing business into a cement company, which now boasts around 80 group firms in various fields.

"I think he had a tough time then, although I haven't directly talked with him about it," Watanabe said.

Aso has kept silent, however, about the widespread media reports, especially overseas, that his family's mines used wartime forced laborers, including Allied POWs.

Aso was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1979. Given his background as a corporate executive, he is a serious advocate of competitive market mechanisms, commentator Toshikawa pointed out.

His remarks supporting debate on going nuclear is taken as further evidence of his right-leaning bent. Although not in his current capacity, he has also in the past visited and spoken support for officials visiting Tokyo's contentious war-related Yasukuni Shrine.

But if he succeeds Abe, Aso would have to dilute much of his conservatism, Toshikawa pointed out.

As head of a small intraparty faction, Aso lacks powerful clout within the LDP. He would have to run for the party presidency, and hence prime ministership, only if Abe exits following a crushing ruling bloc defeat in Sunday's election, he said.

Without a majority in the Upper House for the coalition, the next prime minister would be forced to make a series of political compromises if the government wants to enact legislation.

For example, it would be difficult for Aso to push for changing the war-renouncing Constitution as strongly as Abe has advocated, Toshikawa said.

"An administration (led by Aso) would be, in a sense, a caretaker Cabinet until the next election of the Lower House," he said.

Junsuke Fukamachi, 82, was an employee at Aso's conglomerate who has known him for more than 50 years. He has mixed feelings over an Aso prime ministership.

"Of course we want (Aso) to be a prime minister. We can fully understand that he wants this, as his grandfather was Shigeru Yoshida and his father-in-law was Zenko Suzuki," said Fukamachi, who as secretary aided Aso's comeback to the Diet in 1986 after he lost his seat once.

"But it's very clear he would face great difficulties if he ever becomes a prime minister after Mr. Abe. In that sense, we don't want him to be prime minister now," he said.

Japanese shooting association stirred over possible embezzlement
People's Daily Online July 22, 2006

Japan Clay Target Shooting Association, with Foreign Minister Taro Aso listed as its chairman, is under internal investigation over charges of embezzlement, Kyodo News reported Saturday.

An internal investigative report by the association said that a fund of 5 million yen (about 43,000 U.S. dollar) was processed in an irregular way in February, which is "a problem that raises the possibility of professional embezzlement," Kyodo quoted association sources as saying.

The association is under the umbrella of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

However, an executive member of the association in charge of accounting denied the allegations. The foreign minister's office also declined to comment on the issue.

The 5 million yen in question was posted as a reserve fund in a bank account of the association on Feb. 27 by a local chapter. It was withdrawn the next day but was repaid in May, according to the report. The investigative panel of the association suspects there may have been irregularities in the process.

The association is expected to reply to the investigative report late next month, the report said.

The Japan Skating Federation, another Olympic sports group, made changes on its leadership earlier this year after the report of irregularities in its accounting process.

FARSHORES.org Jan 7, 2006


The report recommended that the Justice Department should continue the investigation, because they had found evidence of a conspiracy in which elements of the Italian-American mafia had participated and Cuban-American Mafiosi groups. It was not stated that these had historically been handled by the CIA, but it was insinuated. It confirmed that it was not possible to reach definitive conclusions as the CIA had refused to decode certain information. At the same time the CIA was criticized for not having rigorously investigated these groups of Cuban origin resident in Miami.

The decision to ask the Justice Department to investigate further also took into account the fact that the filmed and acoustic evidence analyzed demonstrated the possibility of a second individual on the floor from which Oswald supposedly fired and that there was probably more than one sniper.

The report also emphasized that neither did the FBI investigate the possibility of a conspiracy after the assassination and that the CIA was deficient, both before and after the killing.


Against high odds, masses chase luck

What would you do if you won ¥400 million? Would you buy a convertible, a new house, start a business? All of the above?

The dream of winning big is the lottery's lure, and as the economy turns bleaker, inflation kicks in, the pension system turns cloudy and the future looks uncertain, the lottery becomes all the more attractive.

The lottery under its current form has been popular for decades, but such gambling actually goes back centuries. Today's Summer Jumbo and Yearend Jumbo seasons are habitual crowd draws.

Following are questions and answers about lotteries in Japan:

What is the extent of sales and what lottery options are available?

In fiscal 2007, which ended in March, lottery sales came to ¥1.04 trillion, down 4.5 percent from the previous year. But it is still a big leap from ¥780 billion in fiscal 1997, thanks to the rise in prize money and the 2000 debut of the popular Loto 6, which accounts for a fourth of total ticket sales.

Japan ranked eighth in lottery sales worldwide in fiscal 2006. The United States topped the list with the equivalent of ¥6.34 trillion, followed by Italy with ¥2.1 trillion and Spain with ¥1.9 trillion, according to a local government brochure.

Lottery tickets in Japan are mainly of three types.

The oldest and most popular are those bearing five- or six-digit numbers that purchasers check against the winning numbers when they are announced. These include the Jumbo series, whose grand prize is ¥200 million. Jumbo tickets are offered several times a year.

There are also instant-winner tickets whose buyer uses a coin to scratch the covering off the number to see if it is a winner. These debuted in 1984.

Newcomers to the market include tickets based on number selection, including Numbers, Miniloto and Loto 6, which quickly became popular with younger people.

Loto 6 players for example can choose six numbers from 1 to 43. Wins are determined on how many numbers match the winning numbers with the possibility of the total take reaching ¥400 million.

Is it true that horse racing and speedboat races pay greater winnings than the lotteries?

Yes. Of total lottery sales, about 46 percent is used for prize money. The lottery law prohibits prize money from exceeding 50 percent of sales.

Meanwhile, 75 percent of horse and speedboat racing sales are spent on prize money.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, which oversees the lotteries nationwide, says the purpose of organizing such gambling is to secure financial resources for local governments for public works projects.

"We don't want to stir up a person's gambling spirit too much by offering a big amount of prize money," said Naoaki Hashimoto, an official at the ministry.

About 40 percent of total sales are spent by local governments on projects like building schools, roads and bridges.

When did the lottery debut in Japan?

Although the first known lottery worldwide is said to have originated during the Roman Empire more than 2,000 years ago, the concept did not occur in Japan until the 1630s during the Tokugawa shogunate.

Temples and shrines were the first to introduce lotteries.

For example, during the first week of the year at Ryoanji Temple in Osaka, visitors wrote their names on a wooden tablet and put them in a box.

On Jan. 7, monks picked three tablets by hurling a spear into the box and gave out amulets to the three lucky winners.

But after people increasingly squandered money beyond their means, the shogunate banned lotteries.

When was the lottery reintroduced?

The government reintroduced the lottery right before the end of World War II in an effort to obtain much-needed cash to cover skyrocketing military spending.

The Imperial government faced a major dilemma before making the decision to run the lottery, wrote Mahito Oyama in his book "Takarakuji Senso" ("Lottery War").

"(Influential politicians and top government officials) argued that because (Japan was waging) a holy war, the country must use untainted money," Oyama said. "But as time went by, their voices grew silent as the nation faced a desperate situation."

In July 1945, the government, consigning sales to state-affiliated Nihon Kangyo Bank, the predecessor of Mizuho Bank, organized the "kachifuda" (victory card) lottery for ¥10 per ticket. The grand prize was ¥100,000.

Tired of the prolonged war and hungry for hope, people thronged to buy the tickets. By Aug. 15, the last day of lottery sales, the bank had sold ¥200 million worth of tickets, as planned.

Ironically, this was also the day Japan surrendered to the Allies, and "victory card" lotteries became "defeated cards," Oyama said.

After the war, the government continued selling lottery tickets to gather funds to rebuild the nation.

It is true that organizers offer advice to big winners?

Yes. Winners of ¥10 million or more are given "The Book You Read from the Day."

The booklet tells winners to remain calm and advises against doing anything rash.

"You want to be careful not to take careless actions such as talking to people about winning the lottery, making big and meaningless purchases, making promises to give away prize money and quitting your job," the brochure says.

After the initial excitement eases, winners tend to become anxious, suspicious and even distrustful of those around them, it says.

"If people around you suddenly change toward you, you may feel a sense of distrust," the brochure says. "If you can't do away with your anxieties, you may want to consult a psychologist."

Nobel Peace Prize Project Initiated by Indie Group of MJ Fans
MJEOL.COM 08 October 2007

An independent, international group of Michael Jackson fans have taken the initiative to get the superstar nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for a third time. The group of volunteers is also planning to include signatures from supporters around the world when they contact important persons to try to help make the nomination a reality.

The founder and president of the project is also a member of the MJEOL forums: member "Shannon" aka Veronica. She became interested in this type of project after witnessing what she calls the "unfairness and painful turmoil" that Jackson went through during the 2005 trial where Jackson was falsely accused of molestation. Jackson was later acquitted of all charges.

It's quite interesting to note the way the media has all but totally ignored any of Jackson's humanitarian works in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of negative (or what they think is negative) Jackson news.

It is never breaking news that he's been cited by some organization for his humanitarian efforts. The collective media never cut regular programming for wall-to-wall coverage featuring a slew of people talking about how much money he's given to various charities around the world, or about how much he deserves a {tag Nobel Peace Prize}.

According to Veronica, Jackson deserves a Nobel Peace Prize nomination because he has used his life to "spread the message of world peace" and "make the world a better place". Jackson has donated 300 million dollars to charity, she says, and has been involved in numerous charity events around the world.

"Michael Jackson is a serious candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and I wish more people would realize that. No, he's not a politician in a grey, pin-striped suit, but he is a messenger of peace, and has been an inspiration of love and to make the world a better place for millions of people for decades," she says.

When asked if Jackson or his team were aware of the group's efforts, she reports that they have received some feedback from Jackson family spokesperson Angel Howansky and Michael Jackson's spokesperson Raymone Bain thanking them for their voluntary effort.

Though the group has info about Jackson's good deeds, they are currently looking for more information regarding his numerous humanitarian efforts.

The Nobel Peace Prize Project has set up an online petition for interested people to sign here: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/mjfornobelpeaceprize .

Information about the Nobel project can be found at the Nobel Project's myspace page (www.myspace.com/thenobelproject ). Among the data, the site notes that the group has been working on the project for two years.

The Nobel Prize awards arose from the wealth of Alfred Nobel who left most of his money to the establishment of the Nobel Prize to honor men and women for "outstanding achievements" around the world in the areas of medicine, literature, chemistry, physics and humanitarian works.

Every year, invitations from the Nobel Committee are sent to professors, scientists and members of academies all over the world asking them to submit candidates for the Nobel Prize. Thus, a nomination is nothing to take lightly.

Jackson was previously nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 and in 2003. He has also been presented with various humanitarian awards including one in Washington, DC in 2004 for his efforts in fighting AIDS in Africa.

But, of course there were not 2,000 reporters falling all over themselves to cover it, though, in the same way they covered the trial when prosecutors were presenting ridiculous allegations in court against him.

Probably the only reason why anyone outside of Jackson fans knew about the Washington event was because it happened right in the midst of the most recent false molestation allegations scandal.

Ex-Chinese leader may be on train involved in collision

As this centre has learned, at 0240 this morning [1840 gmt 28 June], train number K9017 going from Changsha to Shenzhen collided with another train, leaving three dead and more than 60 injured. As former state leader Jiang Zemin and his wife Wang Yeping may be on board train K9017, relevant departments in Hunan province are on high alert today. Report stated that Jiang Zemin and his wife were inspecting Hunan's Changsha on 28 June, and leaving by train for Shenzhen in the evening. As K9017 was the only train leaving Changsha for Shenzhen last night, therefore, it cannot be ruled out that Jiang Zemin's special coach may be hitching on to K9017.

Many sources from Changsha confirmed to our centre that Jiang Zemin and his wife Wang Yeping were in Changsha on 28 June, and were leaving Changsha for Shenzhen by train. The sources said, due to Wang Yeping's health, Jiang Zemin and Wang Yeping used mostly land transport for their recent trips, instead of taking a plane. As both Jiang Zemin and Wang Yeping are suffering from heart disease - Wang's condition being more serious - land trip will facilitate rescue in case of a heart attack.

After the train accident in Chenzhou, many key departments in Hunan, such as the 126 Motorized Division of the People's Armed Police Corp stationed in Hunan's Lai Yang, have been put on high alert.

Jiang Zemin is already 83 years old and Wang Yeping 81. Both are suffering from heart disease and need support from other when walking. However, compared to other former state leaders such as Zhu Rongji, they conduct many more inspections, especially in recent period.

Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun was disciplined for the accident involving train T195 going from Beijing to Qingdao on 28 April 2008. His brother Liu Zhixiang, who was promoted by him, was sentenced to death for engaging a killer to commit murder. Therefore, it is predicted that Liu Zhijun will tender his resignation after the Chenzhou accident.

Communique of the Sixth Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
Adopted on June 29, 1981

Resolution On CPC History

The Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China held its Sixth Plenary Session in Beijing from June 27 to 29, 1981. It was attended by 195 members and 114 alternate members of the Central Committee and 53 non-voting participants. Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, Comrades Hu Yaobang, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang, Li Xiannian, Chen Yun and Hua Guofeng, presided at the session.

Items on the agenda of the plenary session were: 1) Discussion and approval of the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China; 2) Re-election of principal leading members of the Central Committee and election of new ones. The above-mentioned agenda was thoroughly deliberated and conscientiously discussed at a preparatory meeting held before the plenary session. This session is another meeting of great significance in the history of our Party following the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee, a meeting for summing up experience and closing the ranks to press forward. This session will go down in history for fulfilling the historic mission of setting to rights things which have been thrown into disorder in the guiding ideology of the Party.

Applying Marxist dialectical materialism and historical materialism, the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People’s Republic of China unanimously adopted by the plenary session correctly sums up the major historical events of the Party in the 32 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, particularly the “cultural revolution”. The resolution scientifically analyses the rights and wrongs in the Party’s guiding ideology during these events, analyses the subjective factors and social causes that gave rise to mistakes, realistically evaluates the historical role played by Comrade Mao Zedong, the great leader and teacher, in the Chinese revolution and fully elaborates the great significance of Mao Zedong Thought as the guiding ideology of our Party. The resolution affirms the correct path for building a modern and powerful socialist country, a path which has been gradually established since the Third Plenary Session and which conforms to the realities in China, and further points out the orientation for the continued advance of our country’s socialist cause and the work of our Party. The plenary session believes that the adoption and publication of the resolution will exert great and far-reaching influence on unifying the thinking and understanding of the Party, the army and the people of all nationalities throughout the country so that they will strive with one heart and one mind to carry out our new, historical task.

The plenary session unanimously approved Comrade Hua Guofeng’s request to resign his posts as Chairman of the Central Committee and Chairman of its Military Commission. The plenary session re-elected the principal leading members of the Central Committee and elected new ones by secret ballot. The results of the elections are:

1) Comrade Hu Yaobang—Chairman of the Central Committee;

2) Comrade Zhao Ziyang—Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee;

3) Comrade Hua Guofeng—Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee;

4) Comrade Dong Xiaoping—Chairman of the Military Commission of the Central Committee;

5) A Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee made up of the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of the Central Committee. They are Hu Yaobang, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Zhao Ziyang, Li Xiannian, Chen Yun and Hua Guofeng;

6) Comrade Xi Zhongxun—Member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee.

The plenary session holds that the election and re-election of the principal leading members of the Central Committee will play an important part in strengthening the Central Committee’s collective leadership and unity on the basis of Marxism and ensuring the full implementation of the Party’s correct line and policies formulated since the Third Plenary Session.

The plenary session gave full play to democracy. All comrades present spoke out freely, adopted the scientific approach of seeking truth from facts and displayed the spirit of criticism and self-criticism in summing up historical experience and discussing and deciding the choice of persons as leading members of the Central Committee. This restored and carried forward the fine tradition formed by our Party during the Yan’an rectification period. The session vividly demonstrates our Party’s strong unity and fully reflects the growth and flourishing of our cause.

The plenary session believes that, just as the Party’s correct summing up of historical experience in the period of the democratic revolution brought great revolutionary victories, the correct summing up of the Party’s historical experience since the founding of the People’s Republic of China will help bring about new great victories in our future socialist construction. The plenary session calls on the Party, the army and the people of all nationalities throughout the country to hold high the banner of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, rally more closely around the Party Central Committee, carry forward the spirit of the legendary Foolish Old Man who removed mountains, be resolute, surmount all difficulties and work hard to turn China step by step into a modern and powerful socialist country with a high degree of democracy and civilization.

Socialists say Sarkozy has "small man syndrome"
Reuters Sep 21, 2007

France's Socialist party on Friday accused Nicolas Sarkozy of suffering from "small man syndrome", saying this explained why the shorter-than-average president had proclaimed his reforms the biggest in decades. The Socialists, who are still trying to recover from their double defeat in presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, have sharply criticized pension, social and civil service reforms Sarkozy announced this week.

Referring to Sarkozy's comments on Thursday that he was preparing "the biggest reform of the social model since the Liberation (of France)", Socialist spokesman Benoit Hamon said:

"In psychoanalysis, this is what you call the syndrome of the small man who considers that everything he does is bigger than anything that has ever happened," he told reporters.

"With Nicolas Sarkozy, all he does, all he touches, he considers it to be the greatest. In reality, we have never witnessed such a step backwards since the Liberation. On the social issue, as well as on immigration," Hamon said.

French media say Sarkozy is around 1.65 meters tall (5 feet 5 inches), some 20 centimeters shorter than his predecessor Jacques Chirac.

He wears shoes with particularly high heels, and popular satirical television show Les Guignols de l'Info has frequently poked fun at him for being very short and trying to seem taller.

Hamon told Reuters later on Friday he had not wanted to refer to Sarkozy's height, but to the president's way of communicating and "his obsession to always wanting to explain what he does is the biggest, most beautiful done in 50 years".

In a television interview on Thursday, Sarkozy defended his reform plans, saying he would not let union protests deter him from ending pension privileges awarded to many state workers.

He sparked union anger earlier this week by announcing that he would phase out the so-called "special regimes", which allow rail, electricity and gas workers, among others, to retire earlier than their peers in other industries.

France's Socialists have said the proposed reforms only helped employers but would hurt workers. They have also criticized Sarkozy's proposal to introduce immigration quotas.

Sarkozy, who won the presidential election against Socialist candidate Segolene Royal in May, has portrayed himself as a hyperactive hands-on president.

He is popular with many voters, with 64 percent of French people saying they trust him in being able to resolve France's problems, according to a recent survey by TNS Sofres.

But some analysts say the president's honeymoon might be nearing an end, and that divisions have started to emerge inside his government, which he dominates leaving ministers little room for maneuver.

Giving corruption the boot
Japan Times July 11, 2008

Some people regard corruption as a victimless crime. It is nothing of the kind. Corrupt practices lead to the granting of favors not available to those unwilling or unable to offer bribes, increase costs, and limit competition.

In Russia and China the media report that corruption is deeply rooted in society. In many places in both countries the police are underpaid and expect or demand cash from anyone accused of a petty offense. If the bribe is large enough, the offense will be overlooked or at least a lesser charge may be made against the offender. The planning process provides many opportunities for bribery.

The bribes that must be paid to officials at different levels add significantly to costs and ensure that fair competition is impossible. Corrupt practices are particularly prevalent in countries without a tradition of an independent judiciary and a long-standing rule of law.

In Russia the legal system has been perverted to ensure that the oligarchs who made huge fortunes in the Yeltsin years are able to keep their ill-gotten gains so long as they do not do anything to undermine the power of Vladimir Putin, now prime minister.

In China there is much talk of cracking down on corruption and occasionally a high-profile, anti-corruption case is reported, but the practices are so prevalent and the salaries of petty officials so inadequate that it would require a much more determined drive by the authorities in Beijing to root out the corruption that is undermining Chinese society.

Moreover, the Chinese judiciary has long been regarded as an arm of government, and Chinese law has yet to develop adequate codes and guiding principles.

Corruption is just as prevalent in most developing countries including India and Indonesia. Corruption in these countries has a long history and has become endemic. Democratic institutions should act as a safeguard against corruption while a free press should be able to ensure that cases of corruption are exposed, but democratic politicians in India are often just as venial as those in authoritarian countries. And the press can often be muzzled or discouraged even in democratic states.

Corruption in Africa thrives on poverty and deprivation. Foreign aid often does not reach its intended beneficiaries as it is siphoned off into the pockets of politicians, officials and corrupt local firms. While many people starve or are forced to exist in penury the corrupt get wealthier, live in luxury and stuff their secret bank accounts.

President Robert Mugabe, surrounded by his brutal henchmen in Zimbabwe, is an outstanding example of autocratic corruption in Africa. Anyone who opposes him is ground down. There are no jobs, inflation is at millions percent per year, the shops are empty and millions have fled to neighboring countries.

We who live in advanced economies with established legal traditions and independent judiciaries cannot, however, afford to be complacent. The construction industry in Japan and the planning process has produced some bad examples of corruption leading to the building of bridges from nowhere to nowhere for the benefit of construction companies and the erection of buildings that have proved dangerous in natural disasters.

Japan's highly educated civil servants were generally thought to be incorruptible; unfortunately, this has not always been the case and the records of many Japanese politicians raise real doubts about their worthiness to represent Japanese electors.

The British think their society is largely immune from corruption, but the decision of the former Blair government to call off an investigation — in response to blatant threats from Saudi authorities — of BAe's efforts to win a major defense contract has left real suspicions. Defense contracts in which payments are often made on a cost-plus basis inevitably suggest opportunity for backhanders.

The European Union needs to be more watchful to prevent corruption and waste. The accounts especially of payments under the Common Agricultural Policy have been qualified by accountants. Members of the European Parliament are generally regarded as belonging to "a gravy train" because of their ability to make spurious expense claims. Some EU payments to Romania and Bulgaria appear to have been misappropriated.

Within the EU, Italy has a particularly dubious reputation. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been described by the London Economist as unfit to head an EU government.

Not all U.S. agencies are guiltless. U.S. politicians may blame the United Nations for the way in which humanitarian aid for Iraq was siphoned off and contracts allocated in ways that benefited a limited number of companies, but some dirt undoubtedly stuck to U.S. fingers.

There is no simple panacea to eradicate corruption, but there are a number of measures that can be effective if the will for reform exists.

Official accounts should be audited by independent agencies and published. Media efforts to expose corrupt practices should be encouraged by openness in government. (In Britain the freedom of information act has been invoked to good effect to expose dubious payments).

There needs to be more transparency in the granting of and accounting for aid. This means a much tougher line with African dictators. Policemen and petty officials must be paid a living wage.

None of these measures will be sufficient in themselves. The drive against corruption must come from the top and leaders need to be seen as free from personal corruption. Sadly power corrupts and temptations increase as time passes for those in power. A little example of corruption soon leads to more.

In this context readers may recollect that in "Mr. Midshipman Easy," by 19th-century novelist Captain Marryat, the nurse excusing her illegitimate baby said, "If you please, Ma-am, it was a very little one."

The Group of Eight heads of government cannot afford to overlook the problems caused for the world economy by corrupt practices.

List of organizations in which Shinji Fukugawa landed cushy jobs

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

President of Toshiba International Foundation

Director of the Nomura Cultural Foundation

Director of the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts

Director of the Japan Evaluation Society

Director of Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition

President of Japan Association for the Promotion of Creative Events

Director of Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development

Director of NHK International Inc.

President of the Machine Industry Memorial Foundation

Director of het Japan-Nederland Institute

Director of the Association for Promotion of Satellite Education

Director of Kajima Institute of International Peace

President of Japan-China Organization for Business, Academia & Government Partnership

Director of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Vice-president of the Inamori Foundation

Director of International Civil and Commercial Law Centre Foundation

Director of Earth Water & Green Foundation

Adviser of the Japan-Netherlands Society

Advisor of Japan Institute of Design

Director of the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Foundation

Vice-president of the Tokyo Club Foundation for Global Studies

President of Japan Japan-China Relations Academy

Director of the Mori Memorial Foundation

Director of the Institute for New Era Strategy

Director of Okinawa Culture association

Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
Profile of Prime Minister Aso

Profile of Prime Minister Aso in Japanese

Problems and Perils of a Prime Minister
Bert Edstrom

The Sarkozy Effect
Manolo’s Shoe Blog

Manolo says, the recent appearance in England of the tiny little president of France, M. Sarkozy, has started the mania for the high heels shoes for the mens.

The male heel has risen to the top of the footwear charts. And all because of ‘The Sarkozy Effect’. In the wake of the State visit by the vertically-challenged, 5ft 5in French President - whose towering, 5ft 9in, ex-model wife, Carla Bruni, wears flatties to try and minimise the height discrepancy - some British males are turning to heels to avoid similar embarrassment when out with their partners.

The department store chain Selfridges has noted a surge in sales of men’s shoes with ‘stack’ heels of up to 5 cm or two inches. The store’s head of menswear, David Walker-Smith said, in the past, Cuban heels or cowboy boots were favoured as casual wear with jeans.

‘‘Now the pinstriped businessman wants to up his game by adding to his height.” Shoe brands such as Jeffrey West and Patrick Cox now provide heels of up to 5cm instead of the customary one and a half cm.

Trust the Manolo, the mythical man of business who wishes to “up his game” by wearing the stacked heel shoes, will indeed not only look taller, but also ridiculous. Few things indicate male insecurity as forcefully and as humorously as tacky elevator shoes. One might as well resort to the Ron Popeil hair-in-the-can as the cure for baldness as stacked heels as the cure for shortness.

Worst of all, the head of state who wears the platform shoes risks unflattering comparison to this shorty tyrant.

Berlusconi says he world's most popular leader
Reuters May 1, 2009

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has compared himself to Jesus Christ and Napoleon, boasted on Friday that he was the world's most popular leader. The conservative premier, in his third term in office, said opinion poll findings in his possession showed his popularity at just over 75 percent, making him far more popular than U.S. President Barack Obama -- or any other head of government.

"The opinion polls I know say that he (Obama) is at 59 percent. Only (Brazilian President Luiz Inacio) Lula tops 60 percent -- he is at 64 percent. So mine is a record high," he told reporters in Naples where he attended a May Day concert.

On his way out of the concert hall, the 72-year-old Berlusconi -- who has proclaimed himself the Jesus Christ of Italian politics and once said he was second only to Napoleon, except taller -- was heckled by protesters who shouted "Go Away!."

Commentators agree Berlusconi enjoys high popularity ratings despite the economic crisis -- the International Monetary Fund expects Italy's economy to contract by 4.4 percent this year -- although perhaps not as high as he claims.

A poll published last month by left-leaning La Repubblica daily said support for Berlusconi stood at 56 percent and had risen in April for the first time since October thanks to his hands-on response to a deadly earthquake.

Berlusconi, who regularly complains of unfair treatment by the media despite directly or indirectly controlling 90 percent of Italy's television, put his own popularity at 75.1 percent.

"These are independent surveys, but they are not promptly published," he said.

New envoy says he is not too soft on China
Japan Times March 24, 2006

Tokyo's next ambassador to Beijing on Thursday played down concerns he might be too soft on China and said he will continue to put Japan's interests first when he takes up his post April 10.

One reason for the attention on Yuji Miyamoto, 60, is his background as a member of the so-called China School -- a group of Foreign Ministry officials who underwent Chinese language training to become specialists on the country.

Those officials have often been criticized for being soft on Japan's biggest Asian rival, but Miyamoto said such criticism does not apply to him.

"I always keep in mind what is best for Japan. That's my criteria" in diplomacy, he said in an interview with The Japan Times.

Miyamoto said he had always leveled with China, stressing he had never pulled his punches with Beijing in his long diplomatic career. The former head of the ministry's China and Mongolia Division, he was named ambassador to Beijing on Feb. 24, an appointment that comes at a time when bilateral ties are at their worst in decades.

When asked about Beijing's fury over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, Miyamoto said both sides needed to deepen their understanding of the issue.

He said the leaders of Japan and China should both "thoroughly examine" the cultural, religious and historical background of the issue and make efforts to explain it to their citizens.

Recently many lawmakers have criticized Japan's official development assistance to China, given its rapidly growing economic and military might.

But Miyamoto argued that the ODA, which began in 1979, has been designed to "integrate" China into the international community by helping nurture a market economy, and to that end, he claimed, it has been a success.

"I think Japan's ODA to China has basically played a positive role toward (strengthening) peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.

But at the same time, a rethink of the assistance after the Chinese economy "took off" may have come late, Miyamoto admitted. Tokyo and Beijing have agreed to end new yen loans in 2008, when China hosts the Olympics.

Miyamoto also stressed he would like to strengthen Tokyo's ability to deliver information and messages on Japan directly to the Chinese people by using the Internet and other new media.

"There has been a mechanism that has made it difficult for Japan to directly send messages to Chinese people," said Miyamoto, obliquely referring to China's state-controlled media. "I'd like to ask for cooperation from the Chinese authorities, too."

Preserving the Constitution
Japan Times April 28, 2008

Signs of shakiness have begun to appear in the alliance between Japan and the United States, which seemed to get increasingly strong under the coalition government of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, especially after the enactment of two laws that removed some of the obstacles to actions to be taken by the Self-Defense Forces in case of emergency.

The change has been triggered by the resounding victory scored by the Democratic Party of Japan in the Upper House election in July last year, giving the opposition camp a majority in the Upper House.

The governing coalition had to wait until Feb. 21 to resume fuel supply by Maritime Self-Defense Force ships to American and other naval vessels engaged in antiterrorist operations in the Indian Ocean, because the special law authorizing such supply expired at the end of October and the opposition parties in the Upper House blocked its renewal.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government's disbursement of funds to help finance part of the costs of maintaining U.S. military bases in Japan was suspended at the end of March when the bilateral agreement for that purpose expired. The new accord to replace it was approved by the Lower House on April 3, but was rejected on April 25 by the Upper House controlled by the opposition. Under a constitutional provision, the Lower House voting takes precedence over the Upper House voting. Thus the new accord goes into effect after an about month's delay.

To make matters worse for the government, the Nagoya High Court ruled April 17 that certain aspects of the operations by the Air Self-Defense Force troops dispatched to Iraq violated the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. The ruling in effect endorsed the DPJ's campaign slogan in last year's Upper House election that the SDF troops must be withdrawn from Iraq immediately.

The government has ignored this on grounds that the plaintifffs' demand for solatia payments and troop withdrawal had been rejected and that the ruling on the constitutionality issue was contained in a side opinion.

Traditionally, Japanese courts have been reluctant in passing judgment on constitutionality questions, and it has been customary for them to make a ruling containing such judgments only in relation to specific isolated issues.

That is why the plaintiffs demanded solatia payments of the symbolically small sum of ¥10,000 per person, and from the outset they had expected it to be rejected.

They boast a substantive victory, however, because some of the ASDF activities were ruled unconstitutional even if the decision was expressed in a side opinion. Earlier, the Osaka High Court ruled, also in a side opinion, that former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Shrine, where war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead, was unconstitutional, causing much social repercussion.

In July 2009, the special law for assisting reconstruction of Iraq, which is the basis on which the SDF troops are sent to that country, is scheduled to expire.

Any attempt on the part of the government to extend the law will certainly be met with even stronger resistance from the opposition camp, which was the case with the resumption of supplying fuel in the Indian Ocean, because the position of the opposition parties has been strengthened by the recent high court ruling.

In order to avoid the trouble of having the Diet pass a law every time troops are to be sent abroad, the government and the ruling coalition are contemplating enacting a "permanent" law under which troops may be sent overseas at the discretion of the government. But that would be no easy task as an increasing number of Komeito and DPJ lawmakers have become cautious following the court ruling.

Although Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda claims that Japan is making an international contribution by sending its troops abroad, that contribution appears to be aimed at helping only the U.S. After all, Japan in effect is faithfully performing what it regards as its duty to Washington by helping it in the American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Has Fukuda forgotten the time when Japan adopted the Constitution, which proclaimed not to have any means of conducting war, be they troops, naval ships or warplanes, let alone sending troops abroad? At that time, the whole nation was proud to be totally demilitarized — it was an ideal place to live. The citizens interpreted in a literal sense the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, which reads, "land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

The start of the Korean war in June 1950, however, triggered a total change in the occupation policy of the U.S., which had played the principal role in drafting the war-renouncing clause. A month later, the quasi-military "National Police Reserve" was created under the order of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander of the occupation forces. It was so named because expressions like "military" and "forces" could not be used because of the constitutional provisions.

The Japanese government fell in line with the commander by agreeing that rearmament could be permitted if only for self-defense. This marked the beginning of the de facto amendment of the nation's supreme statute through interpretation.

The National Police Reserve subsequently changed its name to "National Safety Force," and then to its present "Self-Defense Forces" in 1954.

Former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida came up with a strange definition of the SDF as "military forces with no war potential." The government's efforts to mislead citizens were represented by invention of new words like "special vehicle" for a tank, "escort ship" for a destroyer, "ordinary man" for a foot soldier, and "special man" for an artillery man.

Today, Japan's defense budget is the fifth largest in the world. Except for a ban on overseas military activities, the nation now has military power that is virtually no different from that of the prewar days. Article 9 of the Constitution has thus lost much of its meaning.

Political parties in the opposition camp and a large number of citizens fear that the last boundary of the no-war clause has been crossed when troops to Iraq were dispatched.

The Nagoya High Court ruled that the operations of the Air Self-Defense Force in Iraq violated not only the special law that prohibited the use of force and restricted its activities to no-combat zones but also Article 9 of the Constitution because (1) the ASDF airlifts of armed soldiers of the multinational force were acts that could be identified as an involvement with the use of force by other nations, and (2) the airlift destination of Baghdad was part of a combat zone.

This was an eloquent expression of the fears among Japanese citizens, and represented a judgment most appropriate for the tribunal charged with the responsibility of protecting the Constitution.

In recent years, Japan has been aggressive in promoting military cooperation with the U.S. both at home and abroad. But the American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been drawn into a quagmire, the strong U.S. ally of Pakistan now faces insecurity and political instability, and there is mounting criticism even within the U.S. of a strategic fiasco committed by Washington.

All these have led two leading Democratic presidential aspirants, Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, to call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

There is no reason for Japan to continue supporting the miscalculated policies of the Bush administration at the risk of violating its own Constitution. The ruling of the Nagoya High Court should serve to start discussions among both governing coalition and opposition parties on withdrawing the SDF troops from Iraq.

Yokohama mayor quits but rules out Diet run
Japan Times July 29, 2009

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday to cut short his second term with less than a year to go, but the former Democratic Party of Japan Lower House member does not plan to run in the Aug. 30 national election, sources close to him said.

The election to replace Nakada, 44, will likely be held the same day as the general election.

"The new mayor will be able to design next year's city budget from scratch," Nakada told a news conference after submitting his resignation letter.

Nakada said he wants to launch a political group around autumn and then plan his entry on the national stage after the Aug. 30 election.

"From now on, I will work to renew the country's politics as one citizen," Nakada said, adding that he is thinking of forming a political alliance with Matsuyama Mayor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture and Suginami Ward Mayor Hiroshi Yamada of Tokyo.

Nakada had told a meeting of his supporters Sunday evening that he wouldn't run for re-election when his term ends next spring, according to the sources.

Explaining why he would not seek a third term, Nakada cited his achievements in office, including handling the events related to the 150th anniversary of the opening of Yokohama port to foreign ships this year, the sources said.

He also helped Yokohama win the bid to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year.

After working as secretary to Morihiro Hosokawa, a former prime minister, and Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister, Nakada was first elected to the Lower House in 1993, serving three terms overall.

He was first elected Yokoyama mayor in 2002 at age 37.

China ramps up pressure on Japan
China Daily July 30, 2009

China Wednesday renewed its opposition to Japan's accommodation of Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of the separatist World Uyghur Congress (WUC).

Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei summoned Japan's ambassador to China, Yuji Miyamoto, and called upon the Japanese government to prevent Kadeer from engaging in anti-Chinese separatist activities while visiting the country, said the Foreign Ministry.

Kadeer is believed to be the mastermind behind the July 5 riot in Urumqi and responsible for a series of protests at Chinese embassies worldwide.

The riot in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region left nearly 200 dead and 1,600 injured.

Kadeer Wednesday denied any role in the riot and urged the United Nations to investigate the incident in what Beijing-based experts said was a move intended to distort the facts and push the blame on the government.

"I was not involved in the incident," AFP quoted Kadeer as saying at a press conference in Japan.

The 62-year-old said: "The responsibility lies with the authorities who changed what was a peaceful demonstration into a violent riot."

Kadeer met members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo Wednesday despite the fact that the Japanese government said on Tuesday Kadeer's visit would not affect China-Japan relations because she would not meet government officials.

"We examined her visa application, approved it and issued the visa based on the usual procedure," AP quoted Japanese Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama as saying.

However, Chinese ambassador to Japan Cui Tiankai said on Monday that Kadeer's separatist activities in Japan will impact relations.

"Evidence showed the well-orchestrated riot was instigated and masterminded by the WUC led by Kadeer," he said.

The WUC called for massive bloodshed "at any cost" before the riot. On July 5, the WUC sent out a stream of messages via landlines and mobile phones and Kadeer herself reminded her family to stay safe in case anything should happen, Cui said.

Wednesday, fresh claims surfaced, alleging the WUC spread a fake video online to instigate the riot.

A netizen, believed to be a key member of the WUC in Germany, circulated the video claiming that "an Uygur girl was beaten to death" on an Uygur Internet group two days before the riot, Chinese authorities said Wednesday.

The video, showing a girl in red being beaten to death by a mob wielding stones, was in fact filmed in Mosul in Iraq and first broadcast by CNN in May 2007, Xinhua reported.

The netizen named "Mukadaisi" also used extreme words to encourage Uygur people to "fight back with violence".

Chinese netizens Wednesday criticized Kadeer's visit and called on the government to take a hard line.

"We should stand up for our point of view firmly," Web user "Jerry" wrote on China Daily's website.

Japanese media and the public there seemed largely disinterested in Kadeer's visit. One Japanese person called her the "god of plague", according to Chinese newspaper International Herald Leader.

Kadeer is on a global tour, seeking to win support for her separatist move, said analysts.

Liu Jiangyong, an Asian studies scholar at Tsinghua University, said: "She intends to pressure the government and sabotage China's peace and stability. Countries receiving Kadeer run the risk of affecting their ties with Beijing."

After Japan, Kadeer intends to travel to Melbourne next Wednesday and she is scheduled to address the National Press Club in Canberra on Aug 11, AP reported.

Turkey may be her destination after that, reported the International Herald Leader.

Ambassador cited in China leak of secrets
Asahi Shimbun. com May 15,2009

A court ruling here against a former Chinese journalist said Japan's ambassador to China provided about 3 million yen to the accused in exchange for state secrets.

Japanese Ambassador Yuji Miyamoto was identified in the indictment against Yu Jiafu, 62, who headed the foreign affairs bureau of the state-run Xinhua News Agency. But the ruling at the Beijing second intermediate court referred only to an "embassy employee."

"Although I cannot comment on individual dealings in diplomatic activities, I respect local laws and I think there is no problem," Miyamoto said in a statement released by the embassy in Beijing.

Yu was found guilty of passing state secrets and was sentenced on May 5 to 18 years in prison.

The Xinhua News Agency is not only the official press agency of the Chinese government, it also handles internal information for government leaders.

While Chinese authorities are increasingly cracking down on information leaks, it is rare for intelligence-gathering activities by diplomats, particularly an ambassador, to be revealed.

Although Chinese trials concerning state secrets are not open to the public, details of Yu's trial were uncovered through interviews with sources familiar with the case.

According to the ruling, Yu received 207,000 yuan (about 3 million yen) for information on China's foreign policies from around September 2006 to July 2007. Miyamoto became ambassador to China in April 2006.

On Nov. 8, 2006, Yu told the "embassy employee" about Beijing's reaction to North Korea's nuclear test the previous month, including suspension of remittances to that country, the court said.

In addition, the court ruled Yu accepted $3,000 (about 295,000 yen), 3,000 yuan (about 43,000 yen) and a set of golf clubs from a then senior South Korean diplomat based in China in exchange for secret information from July 2003 to August 2005.

The information included details on the schedule of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to North Korea and secret contacts between the North Korean and U.S. governments over the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, according to the Chinese court.

Yu, who has extensive experience in foreign affairs and participated in a symposium in Japan, was questioned by the Chinese authorities in July 2007 and arrested in December that year.

He has appealed the ruling, arguing that all the information he provided had been reported by the foreign media. He also insists that the money and the gift were simply presents from friends.

He is being held in a detention house of the Beijing state security bureau.

Corporate Japan's War Stories
Far eastern Economic Review November 26, 2008

Since the end of World War II, businesses in Japan have seemed intent on fighting a rear-guard action to rewrite the wartime history of their country. This recurring tendency has a pernicious effect on Japan’s postwar relationships and undermines its corporate citizenship efforts.

The latest example of rewriting is the “True Modern Japan” essay contest, sponsored by the hotel and condominium developer APA Group. Gen. Toshio Tamogami, Japan’s air force chief of staff, won the contest with a paper asserting that Imperial Japan fought a just war that was forced upon it by a Soviet-manipulated American president.

Although Gen. Tamogami was promptly dismissed, his public writing is not an isolated incident. Many Japanese companies, including the successor to Prime Minister Taro Aso’s family firm, have promoted their own idealized versions of the Asia Pacific War.

In 1975, to mark the centennial of the family business empire, Taro Aso as president and CEO of Aso Cement Company oversaw the publication of its history. The resulting 1,500-page book glorifies Aso Mining’s role in the Japanese war effort and suggests, like the winning APA Group essay, that Japan was tricked into attacking the United States.

The “Aso Fights” section of the book states that top U.S. leaders had detailed knowledge of Japanese military plans prior to Dec. 7, 1941. Japan was purposely allowed to strike the first blow, in this telling, so that “Remember Pearl Harbor” could become a rallying cry for Americans. Like Gen. Tamogami, the Aso historians conclude that “this cleverly united American opinion for war against Japan.”

Aso Mining then became a "kamikaze special attack production unit," according to the book. “People like Korean laborers and Chinese prisoners of war filled the void" in Kyushu’s coalfields as Japanese miners left for military service.

The history, however, omits all mention of the 300 Allied prisoners of war (197 Australians, 101 British, and two Dutch) who were also forced to dig coal without pay for Aso Mining. This fact became widely reported in 2006, but Japan’s Foreign Ministry disputed the media accounts and insisted that “our government has not received any information the company has used forced laborers.” Mr. Aso was foreign minister at the time.

Yet, in early 1946, the Japanese government presented Allied war crimes investigators with the Aso Company Report, detailing living and working conditions for the 300 prisoners. Written on Aso Mining stationery and bearing company seals, the report can be found in the U.S. National Archives. It is not too different from the reports submitted to Occupation authorities by over 50 Japanese companies who profited from POW labor.

An opposition party lawmaker, using a blow-up of the Aso Company Report as a prop, directly questioned the prime minister about his family’s use of forced labor in parliament earlier this month. Prime Minister Aso noted he was only five years old when the war ended and defiantly insisted that “no facts have been confirmed.”

The problem with these airbrushed histories is that they have allowed corporate Japan to avoid taking steps toward reconciliation with its Allied POW, Korean or Chinese victims of forced labor. This resistance to confronting past conduct is no longer due to fear of legal responsibility, since courts in Japan and elsewhere have consistently ruled that postwar treaties waived the right to file private lawsuits against the Japanese state and industry. Only moral responsibility remains.

The British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Dutch and Norwegian governments have responded to Japan’s failure to act by compensating their own surviving POWs. They consider it a debt of honor. South Korea’s government also has begun national payments to its victims of Japanese labor conscription.

Although all suits in Japanese courts by Asian and Western forced laborers have been rejected, the courts have acknowledged their suffering and the lack of compensation. Some Japanese judges have recommended that either the government or the Japanese firms involved voluntarily provide redress.

Sadly, corporate Japan fends off these solutions, relying on the same faulty history as Gen. Tamogami and Mr. Aso. In a 2005 defense strategy, lawyers for Mitsubishi Materials Corporation lambasted the “victor’s justice” of the Tokyo Trials and questioned whether Japan ever “invaded” China at all. They warned the Fukuoka judges that compensating the elderly Chinese forced labor survivors would saddle Japan with a “mistaken burden of the soul.”

“Was Japan an Aggressor Nation?”, the title of Gen. Tamogami’s polemic, was neither an aberration nor original. The essay and Japanese industry’s evasion of its wartime past form a pattern that continues to damage Japan’s international credibility as a responsible partner.

World Uyghur Congress behind Xinjiang violence
Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2009

Evidence showed that World Uyghur Congress had masterminded Sunday's deadly violence in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a Chinese counter-terrorism expert told Xinhua Tuesday.

"Judging from what Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the World Uyghur Congress, had said and done, it is fair to say the organization masterminded the incident," said Li Wei, director of the Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

"After the March 14 unrest in Tibet last year, Kadeer said in public that something similar should happen in Xinjiang. The riot in Urumqi bore some similarities with the March 14 incident."

Kadeer had been in close relations to the Dalai Lama, Li said, noting that the Xinjiang riot was regarded by experts as an "intentional imitation" of what happened in Lhasa.

"The riot was by no means incidental and spontaneous," he noted. "It was well organized as riots, targeting civilians, occurred at several locations at the same time."

Xinjiang police said Monday they had evidence that Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the Sunday riot, and had obtained recordings of calls between overseas Eastern Turkestan groups and their accomplices inside the country.

In the recorded calls, Kadeer said, "Something will happen in Urumqi." She also called her younger brother in Urumqi, saying, "We know a lot of things have happened," referring to the June 26 brawl involving workers from Xinjiang in a toy factory in Guangdong Province.

"This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China," Li said. "The World Uyghur Congress has chosen this specific time to do damage."

People relared to the Nobel Peace Prize


Dalai Lama
Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination
Aung San Suu Kyi


Michael Jackson
Rebiya Kadeer

Ambitious Persons

Ryoichi Sasakawa
Daisaku Ikeda peace activity

China releases Xinjiang 'most wanted' list
AFP July 31, 2009

Police in China's Urumqi city have issued a list with photos of 15 suspects wanted in connection with ethnic unrest this month that the government says left 197 dead, state media said Thursday.

Police in the city, capital of the remote northwestern Xinjiang region, said those who turned themselves in would be treated leniently while those who did not would be "punished severely", Xinhua news agency said.

Members of the Uighur ethnic group say the unrest was touched off when Urumqi police responded violently to peaceful protests over an earlier brawl at a factory in southern China that state media said left two Uighurs dead.

However, the government says Uighurs, most of whom are Muslim, went on a rampage in Urumqi against members of China's dominant Han ethnic group.

Xinhua reported on Wednesday that authorities had arrested a further 253 suspects in connection with the violence, in addition to more than 1,400 the government said were detained earlier.

Exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer however said in Tokyo on Wednesday that nearly 10,000 people had "disappeared in one night" after the violent clashes.

Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin dismissed that claim, calling it "not even worth a counterreaction", according to Thursday's English-language Global Times.

China poured thousands of troops into the city after the initial July 5 unrest and subsequent protest marches by thousands of angry Han armed with makeshift weapons.

The Chinese government accuses Kadeer of orchestrating the violence, but has offered no evidence. It has acknowledged police shot and killed 12 "mobsters" amid the riots.

Kadeer, head of the US-based World Uighur Congress, has denied any involvement in the unrest.

Kadeer left Japan Thursday for the United States, supporters said.

The exiled US resident pre-recorded a video address that was due to be screened at 0930 GMT at the Japan Policy Institute, a think-tank in Tokyo.

She had planned to give the speech in person, but cut short her stay to head home to Washington for a meeting Friday with members of the US House of Representatives, the policy institute and supporters said.

Next week Kadeer is scheduled to head back to the Asia-Pacific region to visit Australia and attend the August 8 launch of a documentary about her life called "10 Conditions of Love".

First lay judge trial kicks off in Tokyo
Japan Times Aug. 4, 2009

The first trial involving lay judges kicked off Monday in the Tokyo District Court with Katsuyoshi Fujii, 72, pleading guilty to murdering his neighbor, Mun Chun Ja, 66, in May.

Before introduction of the lay judge system, which entails six citizens sitting with three professional judges to try serious criminal trials, Japan was the only Group of Eight nation whose public did not participate in criminal trials, according to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. Japan had a jury system between 1928 and 1943, but only on a limited basis.

Many people remain reluctant to participate in the new system, in which they will have to reach verdicts and hand down sentences, including the death penalty, opinion polls show.

Fujii's trial is scheduled to last three days, followed by closed-door deliberations by the lay and professional judges, who are to decide the verdict based on evidence, and the possible sentence.

The verdict must be decided by a conditional majority vote where at least one professional judge must be included in the majority decision. The ruling is expected Thursday.

At about 1:20 p.m., the three professional judges first entered the courtroom and took their seats, followed by Fujii, who was escorted by guards to his seat next to his lawyers. The presiding judge, Yasuhiro Akiba, ordered them to remove his handcuffs and the rope around his waist.

Once Fujii was seated, two of the professional judges went out again to invite the six lay judges in. Five women and one man entered and took their seats on each side of the professional judges, who wore their traditional gowns. Three alternate lay judges, all men, followed the six lay judges in and sat behind them.

Previously, defendants entered the courtroom after all the judges took their seats. The change in the process was a compromise made by the Justice Ministry after the Japan Federation of Bar Associations argued that seeing defendants in handcuffs could have a negative influence on the lay judges. Defendants also used to sit in front of the lawyers.

According to the indictment, Fujii on May 1 stabbed Mun with a survival knife several times, causing her to die from loss of blood.

Mun was of Korean descent who also went by the name Haruko Bun and whose Japanese name was Chie Kojima.

In their opening statement, the prosecutors used a PowerPoint presentation to argue that Fujii, who had been on bad terms with Mun for a long time, took a knife out of his tool box during a verbal altercation to scare her.

They said Fujii has a criminal record, had a strong intent to kill Mun and chased her around with a knife, shouting he was going to kill her.

The defense, also using PowerPoint, said that although they will not deny that Fujii was the culprit, they will argue that he did not mean to murder her, did not chase her or shout that he was going to kill her.

They added that his previous criminal record had nothing to do with this incident.

Both parties tried to use plain language by elaborating on certain legal jargon. The lay judges appeared to listen intently as they used documents distributed by both parties to follow along with the presentations.

The prosecutors and defense are both expected to introduce four witnesses, including Mun's son.

Earlier in the day, the court selected the lay judges — a process closed to the public to protect their privacy.

According to the court, 47 prospective lay judges showed up at the courthouse in Chiyoda Ward as of 9:10 a.m. out of 49 who were summoned.

The law sets a maximum ¥100,000 fine for people who fail to show up to be a lay judge candidate on the designated date "without due reasons."

The candidates were given an orientation session. After a DVD presentation explaining what they were expected to do as lay judges, the candidates were briefed on the case by a court official and were asked to respond to a questionnaire asking whether they knew the defendant, the victim or their families, or if any serious hardship prevented them from serving through Thursday.

Afterward, presiding Judge Akiba greeted the candidates. In the presence of the two other judges and the prosecution and defense, Akiba directed a few questions to the group. Three people were asked to be interviewed privately.

After the interview, the judges, prosecutors and lawyers discussed whether any of the candidates should be dismissed due to questions of impartiality. The prosecution and defense are each entitled to excuse up to four people without giving reasons. It was not disclosed Monday how many were actually dismissed.

Nakagawa resigns after G7 disgrace
Japan Times Feb. 18, 2009

Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa abruptly resigned Tuesday evening amid rapidly growing calls to quit over his sloppy and allegedly drunken appearance at a Group of Seven press briefing in Rome on Saturday.

Prime Minister Taro Aso accepted Nakagawa's resignation letter immediately and said he would appoint economic and fiscal policy minister Kaoru Yosano, 70, to succeed Nakagawa in both posts, giving him a total of three portfolios and leaving the fate of Japan's deteriorating economy and finances to one man.

"It's very regrettable," Aso said of Nakagawa, one of his closest political allies.

Earlier the day, the finance minister, who was also in charge of the financial services portfolio, said he would resign after the fiscal 2009 budget and related bills cleared the Lower House. But that timetable threatened to delay the critical legislation as calls grew louder from both sides of the Diet for him to quit over the debacle. The voices included those of New Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's junior partner in the coalition government.

Nakagawa told reporters that he changed his mind after the opposition parties began boycotting Diet sessions over the issue.

"Once this budget (and) budget-related bills clear the Lower House, I am thinking of immediately submitting my resignation letter," Nakagawa, 55, said at a hastily called news conference held in the ministry in Tokyo. "I deeply apologize for immensely having troubled the prime minister, the people and other related parties due to my carelessness of health management."

At the Rome G7 news conference, Nakagawa slurred his speech, at times appeared half asleep and had trouble answering questions from reporters. His behavior sparked speculation that he may have been drunk, as it has long been rumored he is a heavy drinker.

Nakagawa, however, denied this and claimed he had taken too much cold medicine.

Even though Nakagawa said he would step down, calls from the opposition camp and even within the ruling bloc had mounted for him to do so immediately, not after the budget bills are passed.

The opposition parties had planned to grill Nakagawa in the Diet and submit a nonbinding censure motion to the Upper House, which they control.

Although nonbinding, a similar resolution in 1998 prompted Fukushiro Nukaga to step down as Defense Agency chief.

Susumu Yanase, Diet affairs chief of the DPJ's Upper House caucus, told reporters after the censure motion was submitted that Nakagawa should resign as soon as possible.

"It goes without saying that the global economy is in an emergency state and that the G-7 meeting in Rome was extremely important financially," Yanase said.

But after Nakagawa's "disgraceful behavior at a news conference, in which Japan was supposed to send the world a message, it is natural to decide that the nation cannot wait for the finance minister" to resign, he said.

During Tuesday's news conference, Nakagawa said a medical examination conducted the same day diagnosed he was suffering from back pain, a cold and exhaustion.

Although Nakagawa said he does not require emergency medical treatment, he said he may admit himself into a hospital later Tuesday.

"It is not that I need an operation or have a condition that is rapidly worsening," Nakagawa said. "Being hospitalized would instead help me maintain my physical strength so I can concentrate on this job."

Nakagawa had stressed that he would remain at his post until the budget and its related bills clear the Lower House.

"I am determined to make full efforts in my duties in the remaining days," Nakagawa said earlier Tuesday. "I will strive to help achieve an economic recovery as soon as possible."

Nakagawa's resignation came only a day after the Cabinet Office said the economy plummeted at an annualized pace of 12.7 percent in the three months through December, its worst fall in 35 years.

It also came amid plummeting public support for Aso — below 10 percent in one survey published Sunday — and in an economy that is sinking deeper into recession ahead of an election that must be held no later than October.

Nakagawa's resignation followed that of Nariaki Nakayama, who exited as transport minister in September following a series of verbal gaffes after only five days in office.

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