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There have been a lot of news stories recently about Japan’s disputes with Russia and China over the ownership of both the Kuril Islands, which are off the north-east coast of Hokkaido, and also the Senkaku Islands, which I think are somewhere near Okinawa. I have known about the dispute over the Kuril Islands since I first came to Japan, because I lived in Hokkaido and regularly visited Shiretoko. Around that part of the island, there are posters everywhere saying, “Give us back our islands!” I have to admit, however, that I was not aware about the problem regarding the Senkaku Islands until quite recently.

I did some background reading on the history of these islands, and it is very complicated. In the case of the Kuril Islands, a peace treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan signed in 1951 states that Japan has to give up its claims to the Kuril Islands. However, the same treaty does not give the Soviet Union sovereignty over them, and Japan claims that at least some of the disputed islands are not part of the Kurils at all, and are therefore not covered by the treaty (link).

In the case of the Senkaku Islands, China and Taiwan apparently both agree that the islands belong to Taiwan, which is a bit surprising given that they cannot even agree who Taiwan belongs to! Anyway, the islands were under the control of the US from 1945 to 1972, and they have since been a part of Ishigaki, although the mayor has been prohibited from actually doing anything with them (link).

As I’m sure you all know, the Kuril Islands have been in the news recently because of visits by Russian politicians, and the Senkaku Islands have been in the news because of clashes between Japanese and Chinese boats, not to mention Governor Ishihara’s campaign to raise money to buy them from the Japanese family that currently owns them. Also, I think a Japanese politician landed there for an hour last week even though the government tried to stop him.

I do not know enough about these disputes to have an opinion, but it seems to me that going out of your way to provoke countries like China and Russia is not a very good idea. In particular, China is now stronger than Japan economically, as well as being far, far stronger militarily. In any kind of battle between Japan and China, there is not much doubt who would win.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write about this topic is that I am interested to know what regular Japanese people think. Do you think the nationalist politicians are doing the right thing and defending Japanese interests, or do you think they are damaging Japan just for the sake of pursuing their own political agendas?

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

50 Comments

  1. David Barker on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 01:04 PM

    By the way, I forgot to tell you something last week – I saw my first bear! Even though I lived in Hokkaido for nine years and spent a lot of time in the mountains, I never actually saw a bear. Last week, I drove up to Takayama, and as I was driving through a small town on the way back, I saw a black bear walking at the top of a big grassy slope next to the road. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was not very big, so I don’t think it was a fully-grown adult, but it was still very exciting to see it.

    It is ironic (not sarcastic!) that after spending so much time worrying about meeting bears in places like Shiretoko, I actually end up seeing one while driving my car through a town in Gifu! Since I’ve been living in Gifu, I have seen monkeys, snakes, deer, and now a bear! I wonder what will be next…



  2. YU on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 03:37 PM

    Hi David,

    You mean you saw your first “wild” bear??
    You have seen a bear at the zoo, haven’t you?

    This week’s topic is very difficult!!
    I don’t know much about those problems…
    Do you aim to reduce the number of comments!?
    I’m joking!!

    > In the case of the Senkaku Islands, China and Taiwan apparently both agree that the islands belong to Taiwan, which is a bit surprising given that they cannot even agree who Taiwan belongs to!

    Indeed !
    Taiwan says they are an independent state, while China insists that Taiwan is a part of China.
    Maybe China agrees that the islands belong to Taiwan, because they believe that Taiwan belongs to China. I mean, China thinks that Taiwan’s property is China’s property!??

    > the Kuril Islands have been in the news recently because of visits by Russian politicians,

    Just by chance this morning I saw the news on TV that Russian President Medvedev landed one of the Kuril Islands last week. Hearing his unofficial comments, I realized again that he looked down on the weak-kneed foreign policy of current Japanese government. Unfortunately, I have to admit that he is right. I’m very skeptical about the negotiation ability of Japanese government. I don’t think Russia would return the Kuril islands to Japan even if the two countries sat down at the negotiating table.

    > Do you think the nationalist politicians are doing the right thing and defending Japanese interests, or do you think they are damaging Japan just for the sake of pursuing their own political agendas?

    I don’t think that those individual activities by Japanese politicians will have any effect on issues at national level like territorial problems. In worse case, they will only complicate things.
    So, they all look just their performances to win the next election to me.



  3. David Barker on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 04:40 PM

    Hi YU,

    I realise that a lot of people might not know much about this topic, but Japanese people’s attitude of “I’m not interested in politics” and “It’s nothing to do with me” is one of the biggest dangers that Japan currently faces. People like Governor Ishihara and the boss of TEPCO are interested in politics, and they are being allowed to get away with anything they want.

    There was an interesting advert on the BBC recently that addressed this problem of a lack of interest. It went something like this:

    If you think you are not interested in politics, look around you. The money that gets deducted from your pay cheque every month – that’s politics. The bill you pay when you go to the hospital – that’s politics. The tax you pay on your weekly shop and where the goods come from – that’s politics. The “eat by” date on your food – that’s politics. The cost of filling up your car with gasoline – that’s politics. The things your child is taught in school – that’s politics. How you put your rubbish out and where it goes – that’s politics. The ingredients that go into your washing powder – that’s politics. The amount of chemicals that companies are allowed to put into the air that you breathe and the water that you drink – that’s politics.

    I think you get the picture!

    So many of the problems that Japan faces exist because of decades of regular Japanese people “not caring about politics.” Meanwhile, the greedy old men have been stealing your country and destroying your children’s future just so that they can make more money for themselves and their cronies. It’s happening again now with the power companies and the nuclear reactors.

    I know this blog is not really important, but if I can make just one or two Japanese people start to think more seriously about stopping these old men from carrying on as usual, then it will be worth trying.

    I hope that this is not the final comment of the week!



  4. YU on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 08:02 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for letting us know about the interesting advert on the BBC. I think what the advert says is very true.

    It’s not that I’m not interested in politics at all, but just it’s not very easy to connect island problems with my everyday life. For example, I can’t imagine how my daily life would change if the Kuril islands returned to Japan. And I have no idea what I should comment on this topic. Island problems were already there when I was born, but still the back and forth continues.

    In contrast to island problems, I’m very much interested in problems directly related to our daily lives such as energy, consumer tax or education problems. Actually, I like watching TV debate programs by politicians and well-informed people. As I mentioned before, I often object to them in the TV screen when they say something impossible.

    I know I should have an interest in more various issues. Some Japanese say “Japanese people are not interested in politics, because Japan is peaceful”, but I wonder if that is really true. I don’t think people who are interested in politcs are always intelligent, and vice versa, but as you say, most Japanese people are too indifferent to the problems around them.
    Do you have any idea why we are like this?

    By the way, the advert on the BBC has been made because British (young) people are losing interest in politics as well?



  5. YU on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 09:07 PM

    Hi David,

    I just wanted to tell you that you haven’t posted a new entry on ALC’s blog.



  6. rinko on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 09:37 PM

    Hi David and everyone.

    The issue of territory has a long history which is very complicated between Japan and other countries such as Russia,China and Korea(about Takeshima). Althogh I studied them while at school I’d never taken them seriously until the incident of clashes between Japanese and Chinese boats occured in 2010.
    And also I saw the news of another trouble of Japanese and Taiwanese boats some days ago, I’m worried about this problem more than ever.

    >Do you think the nationalist politicians are doing the right thing and defending Japanese interests, or do you think they are damaging Japan just for the sake of pursuing their own political agendas?

    When I heard Govenor Ishihara saying he(Tokyo)would buy the Senkaku Islands, I couldn’t take it a realistic story.Because that one city of Japan,not Japanese government, was goingto get the islands which had trouble with another country was beyond my expectation!
    I can respect for his action out of the box,and hearing there has been a donation in the amount of 1.3billion to his campain to buy them,I feel it’s going to be realistic.
    Having said that, I sometimes think his statement is too provokative to other countries especially China.As you know, he suggested the names “Sensen” and “Kakukaku”(it means Senkaku) for new baby of a giant panda at Ueno zoo.It’s very sarcastic, isn’t it?

    And I’ve just heard that tne Prime Minister Noda announced he was thinking about nationalization of Senkaku Islands.I’m wondering why he did it at this time…If he carries out this,what about a donation to Tokyo??

    >China is now stronger than Japan economically, as well as being far, far stronger militarily. In any kind of battle between Japan and China, there is not much doubt who would win.

    Well…I’m not sure how much these recent actions of Japan provoke China.But I’m worried that someting trouble like clashes of boats would happen again.

    Woo…my son is disturbing me so I’m leaving…

    See you soon.

    rinko



  7. YU on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 11:13 PM

    Hi rinko,

    >And I’ve just heard that tne Prime Minister Noda announced he was thinking about nationalization of Senkaku Islands.I’m wondering why he did it at this time…If he carries out this,what about a donation to Tokyo??

    About a month ago I saw a political commentator mentioning about that. There are two kinds(or more) of forms in donations. One is used for only a single designated purpose, the other one could be used for anything.
    The one Tokyo is collecting now is the latter one, but Tokyo citizens just don’t know the fact.
    At that time he already mentioned like this, “If Tokyo failed to buy the Senkaku Islands, it would be nearly impossible to refund the money to each of the donors, because the number of the donors is
    too high”.
    (自信が無いので日本語で補足します。募金には2つの形式がある。一つは使用目的が唯一で指定されているもの、もう一つは指定がなく、何に使用しても法的には何の問題もないもの。今東京都が集めているのは後者の方だから東京都が尖閣諸島購入に失敗した場合も寄付者に返還する必要はなく、他の目的に使える。ただ本当に失敗した場合、寄付者の数が多すぎて一人一人に返金するのはほぼ不可能、と1ヶ月くらい前に政治記者のような人がコメントしているのを聞きました。何か現実味を帯びてきましたね。)

    I don’t know if this is true or not, but China has started to claim their territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands first after knowing that there might be enormous natural resorces(I think it was natural gas) around the islands in the 1970’s.
    Or am I brainwashed by Japanese government and media??

    RE baby panda’s name, Ishihara is really thoughtless.



  8. David Barker on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 11:24 PM

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for reminding me. I have just uploaded the entry onto the ALC blog.

    > but as you say, most Japanese people are too indifferent to the problems around them.
    Do you have any idea why we are like this?

    I would say that there are two reasons: 1) Life in Japan improved a lot through the 70s, 80s, and 90s. People had lifelong employment and plenty of money and security. There was no need to complain. 2) An education system that puts great emphasis on not complaining, not asking questions, and trusting people in authority.

    >I don’t know if this is true or not, but China has started to claim their territorial sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands first after knowing that there might be enormous natural resorces(I think it was natural gas) around the islands in the 1970′s.
    Or am I brainwashed by Japanese government and media??

    I don’t think you are brainwashed. When I read the Wikipedia article, it seemed that way to me as well.

    >Well…I’m not sure how much these recent actions of Japan provoke China.

    I’m thinking of Ishihara’s ridiculous plan to buy the islands. If they are already owned by a Japanese family, there is no need for the government to buy them. And as for the idea of calling the pandas “sen” and “kaku,” that is just plain stupid. I don’t think that China is in the right in this debate, but I do think that Japan needs to be diplomatically clever. These nationalist politicians are the exact opposite of that.



  9. Tomo on Monday July 9th, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Hi David,

    You saw a bear while you were driving through a town?! Wow! Monkeys, snakes, deer, and a bear… It sounds like you live in a exciting place! And you love it, right?

    I read your second comment, and I get the picture, but still, it is so difficult that I don’t know what to write on this topic. I learned about the problem of the northern territories in school, but I have to admit that I haven’t given much thought to it. I was taught in school that those islands have been occupied illegally by Soviet, so I think Russia should return them to Japan.(Russia may have a different thing to say, though.) Territorial problems are everywhere in the world, but how can we solve the problem if one says, “It’s mine” and the other says, “No, it’s mine”? I have no ideas.

    >it seems to me that going out of your way to provoke countries like China and Russia is not a very good idea.

    I agree, but just letting them have their ways because they are strong is not a very nice idea either. Like you said, I also think Japan needs to be diplomatically clever.

    >Do you think the nationalist politicians are doing the right thing and defending Japanese interests, or do you think they are damaging Japan just for the sake of pursuing their own political agendas?

    It seems to me that they only care about their own interests and political career.

    Tomo

    PS Thanks for the example of “ironic”!



  10. YU on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 07:13 AM

    Hi everyone,

    It doesn’t have much to do with the topic, but
    did you watch this CM?

    http://neta.smart-ness.net/saku_neta/4806.html

    I’ve been to China, I learned Chinese language a little, and I like China, but I can’t accept their ribald humor sometimes….



  11. Tomo on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Hi YU,

    I just saw the video, and I don’t understand what they are getting at with that CM… It’s not funny at all.

    My son has a friend who is from China, and he often comes to my house. He is a nice boy, so I don’t want to say anything bad about his country, but…

    I don’t like the way of their business because they often copy other companies’ products. Those are not just “similar” to the original but almost “the same.” I just can’t understand why they can do that openly, without being ashamed… Is it just cultural differences??

    Have a nice day, everyone!

    Tomo



  12. David Barker on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Hi Tomo

    >I just saw the video, and I don’t understand what they are getting at with that CM… It’s not funny at all.
    I agree 100%, but then again, some Japanese TV commercials are not all that great either! Many foreign celebrities who make commercials for Japanese companies include a clause in the contract that the commercial can only ever be shown in Japan. This is because it would be too embarrassing for them for it to be seen in their own countries.

    > I don’t like the way of their business because they often copy other companies’ products.
    I had a discussion about this with some Japanese friends recently. It seems ironic (not sarcastic) to me to hear Japanese people complain about China copying their products because when I was a child, all the older people in my country used to say exactly the same thing about Japan. Of course, I am not defending China’s illegal copying of Japanese technology, but I sometimes wonder if it is part of a natural cycle. Maybe thirty years from now, Chinese people will be complaining about Indonesia or Thailand stealing their technology.

    > I learned about the problem of the northern territories in school, but I have to admit that I haven’t given much thought to it.
    I don’t really know much about it either, but if there is a possibility of it causing serious problems between Japan and other countries, then maybe we all need to do some studying. I hope that when I introduce a topic that people don’t know much about, it will encourage them to do some checking on the Internet. I think the Japanese attitude has always been to trust the politicians and bureaucrats, but we are starting to see now just how incompetent and self-serving most of them are. The only way forward for Japan is for the general public to become better educated.

    One topic that always causes problems is the way Japanese history is taught in Japanese schools. I don’t know what is right and what is wrong, but what people in Japan learn is quite different from what people learn in China and Korea. Many years ago, I had a young Japanese student called Momoko in one of my classes in Singapore. There was an older man in the same class who had been in the Korean navy in his younger days. In one discussion, he got very angry with her about things that he claimed Japan had done in the past. The sad thing was that she couldn’t argue with him because she had no idea what he was talking about or why he was angry. Wouldn’t it be great if students had lessons along the lines of “Now, let’s look at this from the other side’s point of view. What do they believe? What do they think?” Even if you don’t think your country has done anything wrong, it is still important to learn about why other people think it has. And that is just as true for my country as it is for Japan, by the way.



  13. Tomo on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    Hi David,

    >I agree 100%, but then again, some Japanese TV commercials are not all that great either! Many foreign celebrities who make commercials for Japanese companies include a clause in the contract that the commercial can only ever be shown in Japan. This is because it would be too embarrassing for them for it to be seen in their own countries.

    OK, I accept that we all have different tastes in humor.

    > It seems ironic (not sarcastic) to me to hear Japanese people complain about China copying their products because when I was a child, all the older people in my country used to say exactly the same thing about Japan.

    I just meant China’s illegal copying of products here. I understand 良いものは真似される, and that’s how we have improved technology, but I think they should find nicer ways.

    >Maybe thirty years from now, Chinese people will be complaining about Indonesia or Thailand stealing their technology.

    Yes, indeed.

    >I hope that when I introduce a topic that people don’t know much about, it will encourage them to do some checking on the Internet.

    Your hope(aim?) is working. I look on the Internet when you introduce a topic that I don’t know much about(even if I’m not interested! 笑), and I think about it.

    >Wouldn’t it be great if students had lessons along the lines of “Now, let’s look at this from the other side’s point of view. What do they believe? What do they think?”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    >Even if you don’t think your country has done anything wrong, it is still important to learn about why other people think it has.

    I do think my country has done terrible things, and I think we should admit it. I don’t want to fight with them anymore. I want to build a good relationship with them.

    Tomo



  14. David Barker on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    Sorry, I don’t understand:

    >I just meant China’s illegal copying of products here.

    Is China producing fake copies of Japanese products to sell here?



  15. Tomo on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Hi David,

    Sorry, I meant “I was just talking about China’s illegal copying of products in my previous comment.”

    >Is China producing fake copies of Japanese products to sell here?

    I’m not sure about this.



  16. rinko on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 01:24 PM

    Hi David.

    >If they are already owned by a Japanese family, there is no need for the government to buy them.

    I don’t think China will stop putting puressure on Japan if the Ilands keep to be owned by the Japanese family. To tell the truth, I have no idea if the Govenor Ishihara’s plan is the best way or not but I think if no one does anything for this, nothing will change at all like other issues of territory.

    >Many foreign celebrities who make commercials for Japanese companies include a clause in the contract that the commercial can only ever be shown in Japan.

    Whenever I see some commercials that foreign celebrities are on,like Jean Reno acting Doraemon, I wonder what people think about them in their countries. So this story of the contract is really understandable!

    >The sad thing was that she couldn’t argue with him because she had no idea what he was talking
    about or why he was angry.

    Some years after of graduating from university, I had a chance to see a video of Nanking Massacre. I had known the word but never known about the story in detail.As far as I remember, there was no detail in textbooks of schools because there was censorship of them in old days in Japan,as you know.Actually the content of the video was too horrible to see and I was so shocked that I couldn’t sleep at that night. And I felt very strange to know we had never taught about that while at schools.

    Hi YU.
    Thank you for your information of the donation!
    and
    >I’ve been to China, I learned Chinese language a little, and I like China, but I can’t accept their ribald humor sometimes….

    I watched it and I can’t accept their humor either…By the way, how many languages do you speak !?!?

    rinko



  17. David Barker on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 01:46 PM

    I came across this article in the Daily Yomiuri.

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120709003704.htm



  18. YU on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 02:35 PM

    Hi David,

    > I don’t think you are brainwashed. When I read the Wikipedia article, it seemed that way to me as well.

    Sorry, I didn’t read the Wikipedia article before posting my comment. I learned it from 報道ステーション some months ago.

    >I would say that there are two reasons: 1) Life in Japan improved a lot through the 70s, 80s, and 90s. People had lifelong employment and plenty of money and security. There was no need to complain.
    2) An education system that puts great emphasis on not complaining, not asking questions, and trusting people in authority.

    I agree with you.
    After the bubble economy period, Japan’s economy slowed its pace, and now it’s been shrinking year by year. However, we don’t know how to complain about it, because we didn’t learn it in school.

    Seeing Chinese people or Korean people answering TV interviews in their countries, I always realise that everyone has a strong opinion on each issue.
    I think that is one of the biggest differences between them and Japanese people. I think it is very important to know the “true” history of your own country. I don’t think Japanese schools give direct anti-Korean/Chinese educations to children, but as you say, it’s said that what we learn at school and what they learn at school are completely different. I assume that one of the reasons why Korean people or Chinese people still have strong anti-Japanese feeling might be because most regular Japanese people swallow whatever we learned in school and as a result, we know nearly nothing about what we had done against them in reality. No doubt, our ignorance jangles their nerves.



  19. YU on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 03:14 PM

    Hi rinko,

    I learned Chinese language only a little when I was in German uni. Sinology was my minor subject, but my Chinese is worse than terrible, I simply can’t say I speak Chinese language!! 😉

    Hi David,

    > However, the central government could purchase them simply through negotiations with the owner. These are factors Noda was likely well aware of.

    I read in another article the opposite.
    According to Ishihara, the owner is not selling the islands to the central government, but to only Tokyo(Ishihara).

    > Many believe Noda’s decision to have the government purchase the Senkakus was triggered by Ishihara’s indication that an on-the-spot survey of the islands would be conducted as early as this month.

    Huummmm, Japanese government prohibits someone from landing and doing something there for years, but Ishihara breaks the rules very easily. “An on-the spot survey”?? What does Ishihara want to examine?

    By the way, I don’t really think who buys or who owns(Tokyo? or Japan?) the Senkakus does matter, but which country they belong to does matter….



  20. Kyon on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 03:54 PM

    Hello David and everyone,

    It’s been a long time since I posted the last comment in February.

    This week’s topic is really the one we should be interested in and discuss about it lively.

    “Japanese people’s attitude of “I’m not interested in politics” and “It’s nothing to do with me” is one of the biggest dangers that Japan currently faces. “

    I strongly agree with your opinion. Most Japanese innocently take peace for granted.

    Japanese people need to know the fact that Senkaku Islands belong to Japan. China had recognized it in their map in 1958 and Taiwan had the same in 1965 but changed their attitudes after the oil was found near those islands. There is no territorial issue between Japan and other countries because these islands have belonged to Japan since 1895.

    I checked the Internet and learned a bit about the history related to the topic as follows.
     
    Japan was the first country in Asia that introduced the international law and established a modern sovereign nation. According to the procedures of that law, our country possessed the Senkaku islands and incorporated them into Okinawa in 1895. At that time China and Taiwan didn’t make any arguments.
     
    Since then, many Japanese lived in these islands and engaged in dry-bonito production. In 1940, the dry bonito factory was closed and people left the islands. Since then, they have been personally owned by a family who trust only Governor Ishihara.
    After the Second World War, these islands were put under the U.S. control and then in 1972 they were returned to Japan without any protests from other countries. It is so strange that China and Taiwan started to claim their rights to possess these islands just after the natural resources were found.

    There are some reasons that the Senkaku Islands don’t belong to China.
    ①Chinese people were not the first discoverers of these islands.
    ②There are no historical facts that China had effective control over the Senkaku islands.
    ③China had approved that the Senkaku islands belonged to Japan for 76 years until 1971.

    I’m thinking of Ishihara’s ridiculous plan to buy the islands. If they are already owned by a Japanese family, there is no need for the government to buy them.

    I don’t agree with this .
    Tibet, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Manchuria were not originally possessed by China, but invaded and incorporated into China. China’s next targets would be Taiwan, the Senkaku islands and Okinawa. In order to protect Japan’s sovereignty, these islands should be purchased by Tokyo and then be nationalized by the Japanese government. Actually China is purchasing lands in Hokkaido , Niigata and other cities.

    We need a strong political leader who love this country and can say clear No to any countries when necessary. Personally I want Ms. Tomomi Inada to be the first female prime minister of Japan. She has an idea of what the state should be. I like her very much, though China hates her.

    Well, I have to prepare for tomorrow’s study tour.

    See you soon,
    Kyon



  21. Kyon on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 04:01 PM

    Hello David and everyone,

    It’s been a long time since I posted the last comment in February.

    This week’s topic is really the one we should be interested in and discuss about it lively.

    “Japanese people’s attitude of “I’m not interested in politics” and “It’s nothing to do with me” is one of the biggest dangers that Japan currently faces. “

    I strongly agree with your opinion. Most Japanese innocently take peace for granted.

    Japanese people need to know the fact that Senkaku Islands belong to Japan. China had recognized it in their map in 1958 and Taiwan had the same in 1965 but changed their attitudes after the oil was found near those islands. There is no territorial issue between Japan and other countries because these islands have belonged to Japan since 1895.

    I checked the Internet and learned a bit about the history related to the topic as follows.
     
    Japan was the first country in Asia that introduced the international law and established a modern sovereign nation. According to the procedures of that law, our country possessed the Senkaku islands and incorporated them into Okinawa in 1895. At that time China and Taiwan didn’t make any arguments.
     
    Since then, many Japanese lived in these islands and engaged in dry-bonito production. In 1940, the dry bonito factory was closed and people left the islands. Since then, they have been personally owned by a family who trust only Governor Ishihara.
    After the Second World War, these islands were put under the U.S. control and then in 1972 they were returned to Japan without any protests from other countries. It is so strange that China and Taiwan started to claim their rights to possess these islands just after the natural resources were found.

    There are some reasons that the Senkaku Islands don’t belong to China.
    ①Chinese people were not the first discoverers of these islands.
    ②There are no historical facts that China had effective control over the Senkaku islands.
    ③China had approved that the Senkaku islands belonged to Japan for 76 years until 1971.

    I’m thinking of Ishihara’s ridiculous plan to buy the islands. If they are already owned by a Japanese family, there is no need for the government to buy them.

    I don’t agree with this .
    Tibet, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Manchuria were not originally possessed by China, but invaded and incorporated into China. China’s next targets would be Taiwan, the Senkaku islands and Okinawa. In order to protect Japan’s sovereignty, these islands should be purchased by Tokyo and then be nationalized by the Japanese government. Actually China is purchasing lands in Hokkaido , Niigata and other cities.

    We need a strong political leader who strongly love this country and can say clear No to any countries when necessary. Personally I want Ms. Tomomi Inada to be the first female prime minister of Japan. She has an idea of what the state should be. I like her very much, though China hates her.

    Well, I have to prepare for tomorrow’s study tour.

    See you soon,
    Kyon



  22. YU on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 05:02 PM

    Hi David, Tomo and everyone,

    >I agree 100%, but then again, some Japanese TV commercials are not all that great either! Many foreign celebrities who make commercials for Japanese companies include a clause in the contract that the commercial can only ever be shown in Japan. This is because it would be too embarrassing for them for it to be seen in their own countries.

    I wonder why they receive job offers like that in the first place? Why do they sign the contract? Are they just blinded by money?
    If so, I don’t think they are not all that great either!



  23. YU on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 06:58 PM

    Hi Kyon,

    Nice to hear from you again! 🙂

    Hi everyone,

    > If they are already owned by a Japanese family, there is no need for the government to buy them.

    I think this is David’s comment.
    Anyway, I don’t agree with him.
    Because individual landowners could sell their lands to foreign people at any time they like.

    > Actually China is purchasing lands in Hokkaido , Niigata and other cities.

    As Kyon mentioned above, I hear China is trying to buy up land surrounding US military and Japanese self-defense force bases across Japan.

    > We need a strong political leader who love this country and can say clear No to any countries when necessary.

    I also think we need a strong political leader who loves this country. However, we must choose the leader very carefully. I don’t think that to love your own country and national chauvinism are the same. If this country was governed by a nationalist politician, Japan might go back to the imperial period, which is very dangerous for us and other countries.
    So, I think the leader should love this country, of course, but at the same time, he or she shouldn’t be a person affected by biased thoughts.



  24. Anne on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 08:23 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    >Japanese people’s attitude of “I’m not interested in politics” and “It’s nothing to do with me” is one of the biggest dangers that Japan currently faces—I totally agree with you. First thing we have to do is to be interested in politics. Nothing could be produced from indifference.

    > Around that part of the island, there are posters everywhere saying, “Give us back our islands!”
    —Of course I have known about this issue: I’ve sometimes seen the news on TV that politicians visited the island, and that the disputes between Japan and Russia. Having said that, I noticed that there was a difference between my understanding or feeling and people who visit or live there.

    I don’t get the right reason why China claimed the possession of the islands because Japan had possessed them before the first Sino-Japanese war.
    As YU mentioned, China started claiming after gas and minerals were found,right?
    I agree with the points that Kyon picked up. (Hi, kyon,nice to see your comment here again! I guess I saw the same article as you.)
    The relationship between China(and Taiwan) and Japan been tense. Japan has continued looking for the islands as a private but Japanese territory for many years. Governor Ishihara is sometimes notorious for his provocative remarks and they would sound stupid. Gov.Ishihara’s idea might look ridiculous and sudden , but without his decision, how long will this dispute remain the same? Are there any possibilities that Japan reach a solution(or a goal)? Gov.Ishihara might push the button, but there are times that we need a real and strong politician. I hope the negotiation will turn out to finish successfully by using the donation. PM Noda mentioned that Gov.Ishihara and he reached the agreement: Tokyo gifts them for free to the Japan government. I don’t know whether or not PM Noda is campaigning for the next election because he first reacted to Ishihara’s remark with discomfort.
    I happened to see the news this morning on TV and it says that a Taiwanese activist claimed for this and the Chinese Government officially supported his claim.
    At the moment, the relationship between China and Taiwan is friendly. I hope recent situation in Japan will not cause further discord between China and Japan.

    Bye for now,

    Anne



  25. Anne on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 08:37 PM

    Hi again!
    > I wonder what will be next…
    —David, well… it will be “a wild boar”.”(Nothing new!) Or, fox? By the way, when I went on a trip to Alaska last month, I heard that Alaska has the highest number of moose-vehicle collisions in North America. Don’t worry, this will not happen there in Gifu!

    Anne



  26. Neko on Tuesday July 10th, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Hello David and everyone,

    This is Neko, who has posted comments several times on this blog in ALC website before. It’s been a long time since I visited here last time. Actually, I’ve been a bit busy with a lot of things to do relating to moving to new place. I left Bangkok and now start a life in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

    Although now I don’t have enough time to write a comment about today’s topic, or rather I should say, I have no idea about the TRUE history of the Senkaku Island and the Kuril Island, I’ll pass on today’s topic.

    As you may know, now in Phnom Penh, ASEAN+8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is being held. And the biggest issue is the territorial disputes between China and Vietnam / the Philipines, which is also controversial and will affect the issue that Japan faces now. I’m really interested in how these ASEAN countries depending heavily on China resolve it by the end of the Meeting.

    Anyway, I’ll come by every now and then again. Bye for now 🙂



  27. David Barker on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 02:55 PM

    Hi Neko and Kyon,

    Nice to hear from you again.

    I found another interesting article on this topic. Although it seems that most Japanese people are not really interested in this problem, it is certainly making headlines in other countries.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/07/10/uk-japan-china-islands-idUKBRE86907820120710

    Actually, I found out two interesting facts about Governor Ishihara from this article that I didn’t know:

    1) He is 79 years old! Why is someone of this age still involved in politics?!
    2) His support levels are now lower than 30% among the population of Tokyo. I felt quite relieved when I read that.

    In the article, the writer says that one of the biggest dangers is growing feelings of nationalism in both China and Japan. The last thing Japan needs is to be led by a group of narrow-minded old men. Actually, that is probably the last thing China needs as well, but unfortunately, the Chinese people do not have the ability to choose their leaders. Japanese people do have that ability, so I hope you will do a good job at the next elections.



  28. YU on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 06:29 PM

    Hi David,

    I had a busy day today. 珍しく。。。。

    > 2) His support levels are now lower than 30%
    among the population of Tokyo. I felt quite relieved when I read that.

    I skimmed through the article, but I couldn’t find the paragraph. Isn’t it PM Noda’s approval rating??

    I’ll write a ccomment later.



  29. David Barker on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 06:32 PM

    Hi YU,

    I just read it again, and you are right. Wishful thinking on my part, maybe…



  30. YU on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 09:00 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    As you all know, Tokyo Governor Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Hashimoto are good friends these days. They keep in close contact with each other, officially and unofficially.
    They are both “the hawks” and nationalists.
    I have a feeling that trouble is brewing.

    However, a large majority of the citizens of Tokyo and Osaka support them and vote them. I think that is because people have been starving for the strong leadership for many years. The two look like “good leaders”, as they are outspoken and energetic, but we must make sure of their political ideologies very carefully. I’m not saying that conservative politicians are better, though…

    Adolf Hitler had such a smooth tongue that everyone including the media were intoxicated by his speech. And it led the country to ruin after all.
    Hitler is an extreme example, but I have a feeling that Hashimoto creates a similar atmosphere as Hitler. Hashimoto uses the media very cleverly.

    I hear that people in the media are losing their courage to object to Ishihara and Hashimoto nowadays. I think that is a dangerous sign.



  31. Anne on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 09:37 PM

    Hi David,

    I read the article you had showed us.
    >it is certainly making headlines in other countries—yes, indeed.
    Just shown as the title “Analysis…”, this article is really good to know the situation standing on both sides of the countries.

    >Intentions aside, experts said the plan could end up precipitating rather than easing tensions.
    (This is an excerpt from the article, and I think so.)

    As you mentioned, you’ll come across lots of articles related to this issue on the web.
    Let me share another article from “The American Interest.”
    http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/06/29/the-quiet-resurgence-of-japanese-nationalism/

    Both Japan and China have their own standpoints and claims, and I read an article from China Daily. It’s kind of interesting to think this issue from different side.
    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2012-07/05/content_15550072.htm

    >1) He is 79 years old! Why is someone of this age still involved in politics?!
    2) His support levels are now lower than 30% among the population of Tokyo. I felt quite relieved when I read that.

    –Yes, he is old. Last year’s election for Tokyo governor, he first said he were not going to stand as a candidate, but changed his mind later.

    I’m not sure about his support level, but he is the second most popular politician in Japan after mayor Hashimoto in Osaka according to the poll this Jan.

    Bye for now,

    Anne



  32. YU on Wednesday July 11th, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Hi Anne,

    I read both articles.
    When I read the first half of the article on China Daily, I felt “Again, it’s their usual ways of talking about Japan, because the articles are always censored by the authorities”.
    However, the last 10-15 lines are quite normal and proper.

    As the article says, maybe Ishihara wants to make his name in the world once again before he dies!?



  33. Fumie on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 06:34 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I have been busy with my work and mothering. There were no any energy left when I got home from work and finished housework. I nearly fell asleep while reading your comments. I can’t write comments on the spot after I read your comments. I don’t have enough English knowledge and my brain is dull. I’m glad that I find some time to write comment finally.

    I do not know enough about Kuril Islands problem and Senkaku Islands problem to have an opinion. It’s embarrassing to say this as a Japanese, though. Anyway territorial disputes among countries are delicate and complicate matters so politicians should act carefully and they should be careful about their remarks. Even one politician’s act or remark might affect relationship between countries.

    I am not used to give my opinions or think about difficult matters. I think that’s because our education were mainly rote memorization and we were not given much opportunities to think ourselves and give our opinions.
    I have been helping with my eldest son with his study and I noticed that current education doesn’t change at all. It still requires students tons of memorization. I don’t think memorizing those difficult words will be useful at all when they grow up. I think if education was shifted to debate style, students would start to be interested in politics and give their opinions actively.息子はテスト期間、すごい量の難しい言葉の暗記をしてました。手伝いながら、こんなん覚えても社会に出て何の役にもならないのに~と感じました。授業もきっと、ただ先生の説明を聞くだけなんだろうなぁ~。新聞を使った授業や、debateなど、自分で考え、自分の意見を述べる授業なら、学生たちも社会問題や、政治に関心を持つようになるだろうし、政府が国民にとって良くない政策を決めようとした時、それに反対する行動を起こすようになると思う。日本の教育がそのように変われば、これからの若者が政治をも動かしてくれると思うのですが。

    I used to have an attitude of “I’m not interested in politics” and “It’s nothing to do with me” but I’m changing little by little. That is because David bring these matters here. I want to join you and exchange thoughts with you so I study and think about these matters. I really appreciate David about this. It opened my eyes to be interested in politics and serious matters. Thank you David! 🙂

    Fumie



  34. YU on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 09:24 AM

    Hi Fumie and everyone,

    > I have been helping with my eldest son with his study and I noticed that current education doesn’t change at all. It still requires students tons of memorization.

    Only those who have a good memory are allowed to enter “the best universities” and they are eventually appointed to an important post, such as a high-ranking official in Japan. No wonder they are blind to the problems around us and are unable to improve the situation themselves at all.

    > I don’t think memorizing those difficult words will be useful at all when they grow up. I think if education was shifted to debate style, students would start to be interested in politics and give their opinions actively.

    You know the case of bullying in junior high school in Ohtsu city, don’t you?
    When I saw a member of the Boad Education talking at the press conference about the case, I felt it was an accident(suicide) that was waiting to happen. He talked nothing but something justify themselves.
    It is nonsense that teachers try to cover up the problems of bullying, because they reflect poorly on their personnel performance evaluation.
    And who set up the stupid evaluation systems!?
    Answer : Board of education !!
    They do by the principle of “peace-at-any-price” in everything. Unless they change, nothing in Japanese education would change, I think.



  35. Tomo on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I’m a bit confused. After reading your comments, I decided that Senkaku Islands belong to Japan and China is just claiming that these islands belong to them because they want the natural resources, but… I read some articles you guys put on the blog, and I’m confused. I can’t tell who is telling the truth, and the article on China Daily scared me a little. Do they really believe Senkaku Islands(Diaoyu Islands) are theirs?(I didn’t know it has a Chinese name!) Or are they trying to brainwash people using media? YU mentioned the other day that she heard a brain scientist say, “When human being are told the same things(untruths) about 1500 times repeatedly, then they start to believe them to be true” in a TV program, and I think it’s true though it’s very scary. If Chinese people really believed what their media says, what would happen next? It seems to me that they are very aggressive sometimes… Don’t we need a third party who can judge fairly? By the way, is Japanese media telling the truth?? The more I read, the more I get confused…

    Tomo



  36. David Barker on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    I have been reading a lot about this problem all week, and it seems to me as an independent observer (i.e. I’m not Chinese or Japanese) that China does not really have any claim to these islands at all. As a lot of people have pointed out, they never even expressed an interest in them until mineral reserves were discovered there in the 70s.

    The problem is that China does not see it like that, and China is now a very powerful country. Japanese politicians constantly annoy both the Chinese and the Koreans by doing things like visiting the Yasukuni Shrine and censoring school history textbooks. Did you know that a group of Japanese politicians recently visited an American town where the Korean population have made a memorial to women who were forced to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers? The politicians offered to give the town money if they removed the memorial. Of course, the Americans told the Japanese politicians to get lost. All of these things are connected, and put together, they create a very negative image of Japan.

    Chinese people are definitely brainwashed because the government controls all the information they get, and I have no doubt that the problem of the Senkaku Islands is being explained to the Chinese public like this: “Look at these terrible Japanese coming to steal our land again like they did before. This time, though, we are much stronger, and we will stop them!” You can see how that would get Chinese people fired up even if it is not true.

    The same thing is happening in Europe now. The right-wing political groups are getting stronger because of the economic crisis. Some people are even saying “The Germans are coming to conquer us again, but this time they are going to do it economically.” This is scary talk.

    Anyway, the more the Japanese public take an interest in these kinds of topics, the less power the nationalist politicians will have. Japan definitely needs strong leadership, but “strong” does not necessarily mean “good.” Some of the strongest political leaders in history have been the most evil people the world has ever seen. I worry about the fact that nationalist politicians like Ishihara and Hashimoto are so popular with the Japanese people. Hashimoto’s policy of forcing people to sing the national anthem sounded to me like something from North Korea. I can’t believe that this man is so popular.



  37. YU on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 02:21 PM

    Hi Tomo,

    As you know, a number of A-class war criminals are enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine. And every year some Japanese politicians go and worship there. Their typical excuse for their visit is, “I’m here today as an individual, not as a politician”, but still it is to me controversial, even if they visit there as an individual.
    To go and worship there means that you respect those war criminals and refuse to adimit our war crimes and mistakes.
    And Ishihara is one of the representative right-wing politicians. He insists, for example, that the Nanjing massacre is made up by Chinese people. Actually he is a very ヤバい politician, but I wonder how many percentage of the residents of Tokyo know the fact and vote him…

    Information control by the authorities is very scary.
    North Korean people are not allowed to receive information from other countries. And they have no choice but respecting their weird boss and living their lives as his slaves. In the case of China, things are not that terrible, but what you say and do are always censored so that people can’t say what they believe freely.
    Can you imagine to live in a country where you can’t object to the government? That’s horrible… We shouldn’t go back to the time like that.



  38. Kyon on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 02:53 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    Thank you for introducing interesting articles, Anne. Especially the second article from China Daily was so funny.

    Since I went to Okinawa last year, I have taken interest in the relationship between Japan and China.

    In short, the country of China look down on other Asian countries. This is because of the old system “Sappou system=冊封さっぽう”, which was “the tribute system”. Kings or rulers of other Asian countries gave tributes and bent their knees to Chinese emperors . Chinese emperors approved them to be kings of those countries. In the 3rd and 4th century Japan often sent missionaries to China every time a new emperor ascended to the throne. Imoko Ono(小野妹子) was the most famous of this kind .

    This system was based on the 中華思想=Sinocentrism which can be translated as “China is in the center of the world and its culture and ideology are the most valuable. The Han race is the most superior to other races .’

    Ryukyu (present Okinawa) maintained the Sappou system for 500 years from 1372 to 1867.
    Each king of Ryukyu sent Sappou missionaries(冊封史=さっぽうし) to China more than 580 times, while those from China to Ryukyu(Okinawa) numbered only 23 times.That’s why I said China was not the first discoverer of the Senkaku islands in the last comment.Please consider the difference of the number, 580 to 23.

    The Sappou is the past system and very dead now, however, China’s mindset dies hard.
    I think this is the big reason China is aiming at completely taking over Tibet, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and then Okinawa by way of the Senkaku Islands.

    I think China has been jealous about the success of Japan they considered low in rank. China probably thinks the time has come finally to become the center of the world again as an economic super power.

    It is true Governor Ishihara sometimes goes too far as far as China and Korea concerns. However, this time I understand his anxiety about the Senkaku issues and support his remarks mentioned bellows.

    “Who is going to defend the islands? I want the (central) government to do so. It is absurd for Tokyo to step in, but we have to… What kind of country leaves the door unlocked when another country has already declared its intention to commit robbery?”

    [And P.M. Noda announced he was thinking about nationalization of Senkaku Islands.]

    He is trying to put out a fire ignited by Ishihara as much as possible as a top leader of Japan. He is doing a good job, slowly and steadily.

    Goodbye everyone(^^)
    Kyon



  39. YU on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 04:14 PM

    Hi Kyon and everyone,

    Thank you for your explanation about “Sappou system”.

    A few years ago, a Japanese female politician mentioned, “Is there anything wrong with being ranked No.2 in the world!?” and it generated controversy.
    Of course, she just meant about computer technology, though….

    If China is only aiming for the world leader’s chair, and shows a series of their agressive actions, it is a bit too vulgar, isn’t it? The ways of negotiation by China are often uncivilized. And I wonder if they really have a grounding in leading the world, but at least I have to admit that their ambition is far stronger than ours.

    When I lived in Germany, I realised that people looked down on the US, because American people believe THEY move the world and act as if they were the police of the whole world. Actually, I sometimes feel so as well, though…

    As a wife of a foreigner and as a mother of a mixed child, I just hope the world peace.



  40. trmr on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 09:36 PM

    Hi David and everyone

    I haven’t read all of your comments yet.
    I have felt “日本はなめられている” for a long time. China, Russia and other countries around Japan seem to think Japan can do nothing.
    Do you know that China is exclusively developing a gas field in Japan’s EEZ, although they agreed with joint development with Japan?
    http://www.asahi.com/international/update/0202/TKY201202020117.html?ref=reca
    It’s similar case.
    They do anything to take economic advantage.

    Many people in Japan doesn’t realize what losing island means. They doesn’t realize what China has power means.
    The media should broadcast such a important thing, what’s going on, what’s going to happen.

    trmr



  41. Kyon on Thursday July 12th, 2012 at 10:06 PM

    I enjoyed dinner with my relatives today, and they returned home. I’m free and writing a message again.

    Hi Tomo,

    >I’m a bit confused. After reading your comments, I decided that Senkaku Islands belong to Japan and China is just claiming that these islands belong to them because they want the natural resources, ?>

    It is very true. China is facing the big problems of energy crisis and the scarce marine products for the increasing number of rich people. They desperately need the ocean.

    >but… I read some articles you guys put on the blog, and I’m confused. I can’t tell who is telling the truth, and the article on China Daily scared me a little >

    It’s easy. If the real claim over the Senkaku islands comes from China, Japan should just leave it to an international court and wait for the ruling. History can tell the truth. The problem is that there have been no strong top leaders in Japan who actually did it so far. I want young Japanese like you to know the right history.

    Hi Yu,
    >As you know, a number of A-class war criminals are enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine. And every year some Japanese politicians go and worship there. Their typical excuse for their visit is, “I’m here today as an individual, not as a politician”, but still it is to me controversial, even if they visit there as an individual>

    Probably you know that a large number of ordinary Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and other victims enshrined as war heroes there. I visited this shrine and the adjacent museum called “Yushukan 遊就館“before.

    In Yushukan、 a lot of farewell notes and mementoes are displayed. They belonged to deceased soldiers enshrined in Yasukuni. I also visited 特攻平和会館Tokko Heiwa Kaikan in Chiran(知覧) city in Kagoshima a few years ago. “Tokkotai” is nicknamed “Kamikaze pilots”. They took off from the Chiran airport with a little fuel only for one way. There are 4500 items (pictures, farewell notes to families, and etc) and 1036 portraits of deceased Kamikaze pilots. I couldn’t stop crying when I saw them at both places.

    Today we live in the peace made on the sacrifice of those people who fought for the country. As politicians working for the country, I think it is natural for them to visit Yasukuni and worship their spirits as politicians, not individuals.

    I respect politicians who visit Yasukuni with firm will. They visit there to console the spirits of the majority of ordinary soldiers and show their determination not to make the same mistake again in front of the spirits of war criminals.

    It’s the time to think over the separation between war criminals and other soldiers. As the shrine refuses to do so, it might be difficult to separate them. It is better to construct a special cemetery like Arlington National Cemetery and worship all victims beyond nations and past careers.

    Bye for now,
    Kyon



  42. amo on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 01:21 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I am a bit busy this week so I thought that I wouldn’t have time to write a comment this week. Finally I was able to find a time:)

    You know, Okinawa used to be a kingdom called 琉球王国. When I was a child, I would think that what it would have been like if Okinawa had remained as a kingdom. I can’t remember why I would think something like that, though.

    I don’t think that China have a right to possess these islands. But some Chinese believe that Okinawa should belong to China so it is natural for them to claim their right to possess the islands.

    >Chinese people are definitely brainwashed because the government controls all the information they get,….

    I totally agree with you, and I am a bit of scared of this. Because I think that their ambition is far stronger than ours like YU said.

    Hi Kyon,

    Nice to hear from you again.
    >I respect politicians who visit Yasukuni with firm will. They visit there to console the spirits of the majority of ordinary soldiers and show their determination not to make the same mistake again in front of the spirits of war criminals.
    I used to think that it was not a good idea to visiting Yasukuni if you were politicians. I watched a movie about Tokkotai several years ago, I can’t remember its title though. In the movie, When they fly, they say “See you at Yasukuni” or something like that. So now I see what you mean.

    Oh! I should be in bed.
    Good night and sleep tight,
    amo



  43. Fumie on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 06:29 AM

    Hi YU,

    Regarding the case of bullying in Ohtsu city, that bullying was so cruel. The victim student must have had forcing himself to choose suicide. Having said that, if teachers and school had helped him, he could have avoided killing himself. Their attitude of covering up the bullying was unforgivable. I really feel so sorry for the student and his family.

    Fumie



  44. YU on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 08:35 AM

    Hi Kyon,

    >Probably you know that a large number of ordinary Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and other victims enshrined as war heroes there.

    I’ve never visited Yasukuni Shrine.
    Korean and Taiwanese people ershrined there were drafted into the Japanese army when the both countries used to be colonized by Japan. Yasukuni Shrine ershrines those people without the approval of their bereaved families. And I hear some of the families are now suing against Yasukuni Shrine(or the Japanese government!?)for stopping to ershrine them there.
    It’s natural that they should be indignant. If I were the family, I could not be calm given that war criminals are also ershrined at the same shrine, even if they are displayed separetely.

    > Today we live in the peace made on the sacrifice of those people who fought for the country.

    That’s very true.

    > As politicians working for the country, I think it is natural for them to visit Yasukuni and worship their spirits as politicians, not individuals.
    I respect politicians who visit Yasukuni with firm will. They visit there to console the spirits of the majority of ordinary soldiers and show their determination not to make the same mistake again in front of the spirits of war criminals.

    I can’t agree with this.
    The problem is that our neighboring countries(China, Korea, Taiwan, etc…) don’t see it like that. As Yasukini Shrine used to be administrated by Japanese army, it is still considered to be a symbolic facility of the Japanese militarism by those countries.
    So, I think it is problematic for politicians(especially PM) to visit Yasukuni shrine, even if they just want to console the spirits of the war dead.
    Politicians(incl. the Prime Minister) should try to maintain good relations not to lose national interests.

    At last, thank you for making me think.
    It seems that we have again very different opinions!!(笑), but it was a great opportunity for me to exchange views on this issue with you !

    I’ve gotta go!



  45. trmr on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 08:35 AM

    Hi Tomo and David
    If you imitate something, you have to try creating a better one than original one. It’s innovation.
    I can’t see this attitude from the copycats which Tomo mentioned.
    I hope it’s a bad part of them. If China really has this attitude, they will become a leading country in industry.

    >Is China producing fake copies of Japanese products to sell here?
    I also don’t know whether they are sold in Japan. But they prevent to sell Japanese original in China.

    bye for now
    trmr



  46. YU on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 08:39 AM

    Sorry!

    >Politicians(incl. the Prime Minister) should try to maintain good relations not to lose national interests.

    ….maintain good relations with other countries not to…



  47. Kyon on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 08:48 AM

    Hi Yu,

    Many minds,many colors. Exchanging opinions are better than indifference.

    I also enjoyed talking(?) with you,Yu(笑)。

    Bye
    Kyon



  48. David Barker on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 09:01 AM

    Hi Kyon,

    Thanks for your comments, but I’m afraid I’m with YU on this one. I think it is highly inappropriate and extremely insensitive for Japanese politicians to visit the Yasukuni Shrine. I also think it is stretching the truth to say that “Today we live in the peace made on the sacrifice of those people who fought for the country.” We live in peace now in spite of what the Japanese army did, not because of it. Even if that is not how Japanese people want to see it, I guarantee you that is how the rest of the world sees it, including China, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and all the other neighboring countries who lived in terror of the Japanese.

    As you say, though, it is much better to discuss these issues than to be indifferent to them.

    By the way, I didn’t realize that China is currently having disputes with other Asian countries over land as well. There was a complaint about China’s behavior from the Philippines at the ASEAN summit.



  49. Anne on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 09:44 AM

    Hi Kyon and everyone,
    Thank you for your detailed information about “Sappou system” and for sharing your thought about Yasukuni shrine.
    I’ve never visited there, but I read articles or books about “Tokkotai.” I visited the war place in Saipan and saw the places where (young)soldiers fought and survived. I also heard about the story how they fought. It was really heartbreaking, so I think I understand what you mean, but I have a different view concerning Yasukuni issue.
    Each country has its own history concerning war , and each deceased soldiers has his own story. Japan should build another memorial where everyone can visit without worrying about any dispute. Is it too diplomatic?

    >Many minds,many colors Exchanging opinions are better than indifference.—Yes, indeed!

    Hi David,
    >Japan definitely needs strong leadership, but “strong” does not necessarily mean “good
    —I totally agree with you, but I also think it is dangerous to brand politicians as nationalist or some other type and not to check each policy or remark. The most important thing is that you keep a closer eye on what politicians are doing regardless whether he/she is a nationalist or not.

    My concern at the moment is about self study meeting tomorrow. I’m going to be in charge of the meeting and have to prepare articles or materials. It’s a good study but very tough to prepare something for two and a half hour meeting. Wish me luck!

    Bye for now,

    Anne



  50. Tomo on Friday July 13th, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Hi David, YU, and Kyon,

    Thank you for your explanations. It seems that things are much more complicated than I thought, but I understand the situation.

    >Chinese people are definitely brainwashed because…..You can see how that would get Chinese people fired up even if it is not true.

    This is very scary. What I’m scared of most is people who believe in something so blindly and lost themselves.

    >We shouldn’t go back to the time like that.
    > I just hope the world peace.

    I totally, wholeheartedly agree with you.

    >I want young Japanese like you to know the right history.

    I want to know the truth, and we should be taught the true history in school.

    >They visit there to console the spirits of the majority of ordinary soldiers and show their determination not to make the same mistake again in front of the spirits of war criminals.

    Is this really what they are doing? If so, that’s understandable, but the fact remains that their visits make Chinese and Korean people very angry, and it doesn’t seem to me that they are diplomatically clever.

    > It is better to construct a special cemetery like Arlington National Cemetery and worship all victims beyond nations and past careers.

    This sounds a better idea.

    Hi trmr,

    I didn’t know that China is developing a gas field in Japan’s EEZ. Is it legal?? I realized again that I should learn more about these kinds of topics. Thank you!

    Hi Anne,

    >Each country has its own history concerning war , and each deceased soldiers has his own story. Japan should build another memorial where everyone can visit without worrying about any dispute. Is it too diplomatic?

    I don’t think it’s too diplomatic. We need a solution.

    Anyway, good luck with the meeting!

    Tomo



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