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    SDF deployment to be extended

    The deployment of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in a non-combat capacity in Iraq will be extended. The New Komei Party, which is the LDP’s partner in the ruling coalition, is pacifist and balked for a while at approving the extension; things haven’t gotten any easier since the hostage was beheaded. Things were resolved earlier this week, but the posting of the English summary at the Yomiuri is nice to see on Veteran’s Day.

    14 Responses to “SDF deployment to be extended”

    1. John says:

      Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Japan came a long way after WWII, but the hair on the back of my neck still stands up whan I think about Japan re-militarizing.

    2. Simon World says:

      Asia by Blog

      Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature, posted on Monday and Thursday, providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Previous editions can be found

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, I don’t think the alternatives are any better. Do we want to keep a country of 125 million people, with its own milennia-old civilization, our military ward? Especially when it’s surrounded by ancient enemies several of whom aren’t fond of us, either?
      Japan could obviously do more to avoid nettling its neighbors. It could also do more to give its citizens an honest picture of the good and the bad of its military history. But even now, Japan’s non-aggression depends on its having leaders that respect that part of the constitution and don’t find a convenient excuse to declare some kind of emergency that requires more territory, or a section of ocean that has oil fields, or what have you. I don’t think that such a regime is likely to come to power. My point is just that a better way of maintaining Japan’s post-War policy of not invading anyone and everyone within striking distance is for its self-aggrandizing tendencies to be satisfied through continuing prosperity and economic influence. Having Japan clearly recognize that it’s largely responsible for its own defense would ease some of the chafing that comes with feeling like a protectorate, too. It’s not a policy without risks, but I don’t see a better way.
      BTW, if John (or anyone else) is really interested, I post pretty frequently on the ongoing negotiations over Japan’s military status. Pretty much every third entry in the category i live in japan is on that topic.

    4. John says:

      Sean, I sort of tossed that one out there tounge-in-cheek to see if anyone else (aside from you and me) would chime in. I’m a pretty traditional American in my views of personal and national responsibility – you do for yourself unless you are unable. Japan has not been stepping up to the plate for 59 years. Re-arming and shouldering the burden of containing China and N. Korea would be a nice start, in my opinion.
      However, given the abysmal state of history instruction in the schools, and the dehumanizing effects of large chunks of the culture, I can see where, in a generation or two, a ghost of the old Japan could come back, especially after demographic weakening threatens their culture with immigration, giving rise to an extreme Nationalist political movement. My own, uninformed, guess is that China will re-dissolve into regional spheres of influence much like the warlord period as the country de-Communizes. Japan may step in to fill the void again. I’m not saying the cult of the Emperor will revive, but there is a strong authoritarian / fascist / Stalinist streak in Japanese corporate and educational culture that could be used to serve another Tojo. I’m not sure I agree with all the points in “Straightjacket Society”, but Miyamoto does score some hits there.
      I love Japan, but one of the reasons I love it is that I’m a white guy – I can get away with ignoring what I consider to be distasteful, social norms, and then I’m just another weird Gaijin. Or, when I want to, I can be as Japanese as my white skin and shaky grasp of the language allow and get the “nihongo jyouzu ne” results.
      On the other hand, that semi-fascist system is part of what makes Japan so nice for me – the relentless customer service, the cleanliness, the politeness on all levels, whether it is sincere or not (many times not). Too many Americans have forgotten one of Lazarus Long’s dictums:
      “Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as ’empty’, ‘meaningless,’ or ‘dishonest,’ and scorn to use them. No matter how ‘pure’ their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best.”
      I’ve often thought that the system that might create a better, freer man would be to use the rigid Japanese-style education until about age 12, then gradually switch to the free-for-all American system through high school.
      Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to clarify my off-the-cuff remarks, because I often come across as pithy when I don’t mean to be.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Oh, don’t apologize. I agree with everything you say. Regarding the etiquette part, I haven’t posted much about that here lately, but it’s an interest of mine. I’ve been a Miss Manners devotee since childhood, and of course, living in Japan makes for all kinds of challenges to received American ideas about the value of “niceness” in all encounters.
      You’re right about how easy it is to live in Japan and enjoy it as Westerners, since we aren’t in the position of having to identify ourselves with its flaws. The same is probably true of almost any expat experience. One nerve-jangling flipside to your point is that Japanese people often assume that if you’re American, everything you say is your unmodulated opinion. Politely refusing a request the way you were brought up (“I wish I could help, but I’m afraid work keeps me very busy right now”) often gets pushier and pushier responses from people (“Oh, well, I’m perfectly happy to work around your schedule”) in ways that they would never in a million years pull with other Japanese.

    6. Sean Kinsell says:

      I was once given a dressing-down by a resident Chinese about how much differently we’re treated from Asians.
      A side issue: people are always telling me they’re surprised to hear I’m American. I get told I look French or Italian. I used to think they were just being flirtatious, but it doesn’t seem realistic that every gay man in Japan uses the same pick-up line. And it’s nuts, because I’m about as American-looking as they get. I dress and act like an American, too. Certainly more than I do like a European.

    7. John says:

      Sean, draw your breath through your teeth and intone: “muzukashii, nee”. Hah.

    8. Sean says:

      “The same is probably true of almost any expat experience.”
      Yes and no. The race thing immediately lowers expectations for us, in terms of following the strict code of formality. My wife is Chinese, and she had a somewhat different experience in Japan than I did (although on the whole very positive – we both want to go back).
      When I was in the USSR and dressed like a Westerner, I got the “ne nash” – “not ours” remarks. I grew some stubble (razors were rationed, and my dorm mates thought my electric was straight out of Buck Rogers) and dressed like a Soviet, and then when I made a mistake in Russian I got the “are you a Pole?” response. People related very differently to me thinking I was Polish rather than American. That was good and bad, depending on the situation.

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      “I don’t wear black suits because they make me look like an SS officer.”
      You could try it out here to see if you could work the Axis Powers mutual-sympathy angle.
      Uh, anyway. I will never, ever understand how it is that being a foreigner triples the potency of your natural charms to the point that clear warning signs of loserdom become undetectable to a lot of gaisen Japanese people. (This is not a comment on your friend, who I’m sure is a great guy–but I trust you’ve seen the type I mean.) I’ve been here eight years, and it still bewilders me. Not that I can pretend never to have taken advantage of it.

    10. John says:

      I’m about as teutonic-looking as you get (although a little on the short side). I don’t wear black suits because they make me look like an SS officer. The whole time I was in Prague in 1990 (3 weeks), I got greeted with “Deutch, Deutch?” before I even opened my mouth. When I replied in English, they looked surprised. Eventually the speaker and I would settle on the Lingua Franca of Eastern Europe: Russian (although it was also paradoxically the Lingua Non Grata).
      In Japan I was never taken for anyone but an American. Odd how cultural expectations of how people should look differ from country to country.
      I have a Sansei friend in Tokyo. He gets girls like a Gajin, but only after they hear him speak.

    11. John says:

      Charisma Man! Zero to hero withinin 60 seconds of stepping off of the plane! Man it must be great to be a single Gaijin in Japan.
      Believe me, my friend is not too much of a geek, and he’s a nice guy, but he gets girls in Japan that are a whole order of magnitude more attractive than he is.

    12. Simon’s China and East Asia Briefing: 30th Nov 2004

      The following is a digest of highlights from the past month’s Asia by Blog series over at simonworld.mu.nu. The round-up has four key areas of focus: China, Taiwan & Hong Kong (Politics, Economy & lifestyle, History sport & culture, Information), Korea…

    13. Simon’s China and East Asia Highlights: 30th Nov 2004

      The following is a digest of highlights from the past month’s Asia by Blog series over at simonworld.mu.nu. The round-up has four key areas of focus: China, Taiwan & Hong Kong (Politics, Economy & lifestyle, History sport & culture, Information), Korea…

    14. Simon’s China and East Asia Highlights: 30th Nov 2004

      The following is a digest of highlights from the past month’s Asia by Blog series over at simonworld.mu.nu. The round-up has four key areas of focus: China, Taiwan & Hong Kong (Politics, Economy & lifestyle, History sport & culture, Information), Korea…