• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post


    Posted by Sean at 12:21, May 24th, 2009

    Not only are the two Japan Post subsidiaries related to the mails less profitable than the bank and the insurance company, but they also, according to the Yomiuri, owe back-taxes for Japanese fiscal year 2008, halfway through which the system was privatized:

    Following investigations by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau into the two companies, the bureau notified the firms of their unreported earnings for the business year ending March 2008, according to sources.

    The companies are expected to be levied about 9.2 billion yen in back taxes, including penalty, corporate and local taxes, the sources said.

    The total undeclared income reportedly is more than 20 billion yen.

    It also said Japan Post Service and Japan Post Network logged 3.53 billion yen and 5.69 billion yen, respectively, to pay for taxes, on the assumption that the two companies would likely have to pay back taxes.

    Although Japan Post Group said it had a “difference in understanding” with the bureau, the group said it would abide by the notification.

    Well, you know, in Japan, these things are all about perspective.

    Japan Post update

    Posted by Sean at 14:50, May 23rd, 2009

    The Japan Post family of companies released its first financial statements for a full fiscal year since privatization–well, more like partial governmental divestiture, but in today’s climate, anything that even resembles a shift in the direction of less federal control of a major industry feels like a refreshing change–and the numbers are mixed:

    In the consolidated financial statements for J-FY 2008 Q4 that Japan Post released on 22 May, current income (corresponding to sales revenues) was JPY 19.9617 trillion, current profits were JPY 830.5 billion, and net profits (for the quarter) were JPY 422.7 billion. Since privatization in October 2007, this round is the first release of financial statements for a full fiscal year, and while all four companies operating under the Japan Post umbrella ultimately secured balances in the black, the three remaining companies when Japan Post Insurance is excluded fell short of standing projections. CEO Yoshifumi Nishikawa indicated in an interview that he intends to stay on the pitcher’s mound until the two financial subsidiaries [the insurance companies and the savings bank] are in a condition to list their stock, which is planned for as early as J-FY 2010.

    It’s the two finance-related arms that are making most of the profits; the holding company wants to jack up the contribution from the remaining two companies, one of which runs the post offices and the other of which runs the shipping and courier logistics of the old postal system. The Mainichi has an English version here, which scrambles the order of the original Japanese article but doesn’t omit much of the information.

    Is it true I’m an eagle?

    Posted by Sean at 16:40, May 22nd, 2009

    The lead editorial in the Nikkei this morning is headlined “How should Japan contribute to ‘demand within Asia’?”

    In getting the global economic crisis under control, Asia, which is called the growth center of the 21st Century, looms large. In a 21 May lecture, Prime Minister Taro Aso called for the expansion of “demand within Asia”; how can Japan fulfill a leading role in doing so? The challenges posed and responsibilities thrust upon it are weighty.

    The prime minister took as his topic “Toward an Asia that surmounts the economic crisis and soars again,” and he stressed that there is a need to shift the Asian economy from the export-driven structure it’s had up to now into a structure driven by internal demand. Where that is concerned, the diverse nations and territories of Asia are not likely to dissent.

    A supplementary-budget proposal for FY 2009 that undertakes additional economic measures on a scale that exceeds the previous maximum of JPY 15 trillion is not under deliberation in the House of Councillors. It’s necessary to start taking financial action, but annual expenditures that it’s not unrealistic to expect to be tied to money politics will not contribute to an increase in Japan’s ability to grow. There’s a need to move forward in parallel with structural reforms, such as deregulation, as well.

    On the other hand, we will have to accept more from Asian nations and territories–not just imports but also human resources. Pain will accompany the opening of agricultural markets and things, but there’s no way to get around it.

    In connection with the stability and expansion of Asian financial markets, the prime minister stated, “we want to make the ‘yen’ something that different countries can use for financing in times of crisis.” The idea is to provide emergency loans of Japanese yen to countries that have insufficient foreign currency, but it can also be considered an intention to “internationalize the yen.”

    In Asia, China has pushed for an economy built on the yuan with trade negotiations with neighboring nations and territories such as ASEAN. These are activities with a view toward a “yuan currency sphere.”

    China is the 3rd-largest economy in GDP after the United States and Japan. There’s a high probability that it will pull ahead of Japan in one or two years. Still, the hurdles to internationalization for the yuan are higher than for the yen.

    The prime minister has issued invitations to heads of state of five nations in the Mekong River Basin, such as Thailand and Vietnam, and also announced that he will hold the first “Japan-Mekong Summit” within the year. The nations of the Mekong Basin, which border China, are of major geographic importance.

    It is important for Japan to strengthen its tie-ups with and trust from Asian nations and territories and to show some ability to develop a concept for the expansion of demand within Asia. That will also have an effect on the renaissance of the Japanese economy.

    I quote the editorial at some length not because it says anything new but because it doesn’t. Take away the figures specific to the budget and to China, and this sounds like just about every editorial on the Japanese economy in the last fifteen years: Asia is becoming more important, we need to liberalize our markets and make nice with the neighbors, and that means not being so closed off. The current crisis does change things, and it will be interesting, if that’s the word, to follow possible damage to the dollar as the world currency.

    But I’m not so sure the yen is a good candidate for a replacement, even in Asia. I’ve always found it interesting that we in the West are so bent on explaining Japan; in my experience, people from other places in Asia are far more willing to conclude that Japan is just plain weird and leave it at that. Perhaps part of the reason is that they already understand Buddhism and Confucianism and therefore don’t get hung up on trying out novel ways of applying them to the Japanese–I don’t know. In any case, countries in Asia know they need Japan and have a lot to gain from tapping into its industrial capacity, but they seem to recognize the Japanese political and economic systems as real headaches for outsiders beyond a certain point. And the Nikkei can wag its finger about the necessary but difficult process of making Japan more open to foreigners, but to this point, somehow talk of “internationalization” has rarely resulted in meaningful action. If nothing else, it should be interesting to see how Beijing reacts to Aso’s Mekong Basin thing.

    Should I laugh or cry?

    Posted by Sean at 22:04, May 20th, 2009

    Eric links to a piece by Thomas Frank at the WSJ, in which he accuses conservatives of being too suspicious of Washington bureaucrats. Frank writes:

    Mr. Issa’s suspicions may be grotesque but they are also typical of the conservative movement. The government and its bureaucrats are, to the right, ever a malign force — jealous, power-hungry and greedy. But it’s hard to blame someone for failing after you’ve worked so hard to make them fail.

    But back in 2008, he insisted that “the problem starts and ends with the federal government.” Among other things, he charged, its regulators “weren’t just asleep at the switch but in many ways . . . gave the green light for these practices,” meaning the trading of mortgage-backed securities.

    On this point, at least, Mr. Issa got it right. The regulators did fail us. They were too cozy with industry and too blinkered by the free-market faith to see the reality unfolding under their noses.

    I’m not a particular fan of Issa’s, but I’m getting really sick of hearing about how economic policy governed by unbridled “free-market faith” is the cause of our current problems. What meaningful deregulation of anything has there been in the last decade–especially related to the housing market, where one of the big problems was insulation from feedback? And I don’t know that the problem with regulators is that they were too “cozy with industry”; rather, to hear the language they used and use, they seemed to think that pushing through their decision-distorting policies justified bringing in the private sector as “partners” when it was useful to do so.

    At least, my sense of mischief compels me to point out, Thomas Frank is an apt person to be counseling against being too suspicious. Those of us who subscribed to Harper’s a decade ago remember his piece on the soon-defunct band Yum-yum, in which…well, I’ll let the Reason piece that ran at the time tell it, since it’s online:

    In February, a new buzz about Yum-Yum started on e-mail listservs and phone lines among people who both knew the band and read Harper’s Magazine. The March issue of Harper’s contained a 10-page feature story about Yum-Yum, written by Chris Holmes’s childhood pal and former roommate Thomas Frank. Frank is a rising leftist intellectual star who edits The Baffler, a magazine of cultural criticism, and writes critiques of advertising and big business.

    What made this obscure failed rock band of interest to Harper’s? Frank had a theory about the band, one with which almost everyone who had independent knowledge about Yum-Yum disagreed. The Yum-Yum record, Frank postulated, was not intended as a sincere work of popular music. It was instead an ironic gesture, an attempt to “fake fake itself” (his italics). Pop music was the “fake” being “faked.” The album was, Frank asserted, a “critique” of “the pop-music industry” even as it was a product of it. Thus, the story fit well with the main mission of Harper’s: helping middle- to highbrow intellectuals confirm their inchoate contempt for the modern market order.

    By the time I got my copy of the March Harper’s, I had already heard, via e-mail lists or phone calls, complaints about the story’s dubious premise from about a dozen Yum-Yum-conscious Harper’s readers. The executive editor of Spin magazine, Craig Marks, was peeved enough to write in The Village Voice that he found Frank’s account “bafflingly misguided.” Marks suggested the real story was probably that “Holmes, too embarrassed to admit to his hard-ass buddy that…he actually liked girly-pop…fed Frank a steaming plate of cred-saving b******t. And Frank bought it….Now that‘s ironic.”

    If memory serves, the Harper’s article was even more obnoxiously smug than Brian Doherty’s excerpts would lead you to believe; nevertheless, Frank’s impulses are very easy to empathize with. (If you’d backed yourself into profiling your friend in a national magazine, wouldn’t you be looking for some way…any way…not to admit, in your head and on paper, that you’d discovered in the course of doing your research that he was failing in his ambitions?) But that didn’t make his view of things accurate then, and in a strikingly similar way, it doesn’t now.

    Frank tries to personalize the animus against Washington: “The government and its bureaucrats are, to the right, ever a malign force–jealous, power-hungry and greedy.” Okay, sure, there are some small-government types who seem to be fueled by resentment or uncharitableness; but I think it’s fair to say that most of us just think that expecting big government to work well (the way most of us mean when we say “work well”) goes against what we know about human nature. Which is to say, when you get a bunch of people–anyone–together where they’re mostly removed from scrutiny, then encourage them to think it’s their job to queen it over a population of 300 million, it’s not all that surprising that they start to think largesse is theirs to give and take at their own discretion.

    Or as Eric says:

    But if I may say a few words in defense of conservatives here, it would be that the government was never actually being run by conservatives, but by untouchable, unaccountable, and above all unelected bureaucrats. It matters very little who is supposedly in charge of them, as they can’t be fired and they often have more power than their purported superiors who have to run for office, and who dare not offend the movers and shakers in the bureaucracy.

    Even if through some bizarre miracle there were a libertarian majority in Congress, I doubt they’d be able to do much. Government would still fail to fix problems, and problems that government tries to solve invariably demand more government to fix. It’s part of the design.

    Added on 22 May: Thanks to Eric for the link back. In case I haven’t already linked to Classical Values enough this week, Eric put up a related post about whether it’s possible to define the “Republican base” usefully. I sincerely think it’s worth a read.

    You’ve heard me saying that smoking was my only vice

    Posted by Sean at 19:40, May 18th, 2009

    Reason.tv has a hilarious conversation posted between Katherine Mangu-Ward and Greg Gutfeld, who hosts Red Eye on Fox News and apparently used to be editor of Men’s Health magazine. (I grew up a stone’s throw from Rodale Press HQ.) The Hit & Run link makes it sound as if the clip were full of raunch, but I don’t think Gutfeld says anything you couldn’t get away with on network TV after 10 p.m. or so. (You may still think that’s vulgar, but it doesn’t seem like a degree of naughtiness worth playing up.) Anyway, he has a lot to say about health-related nanny-state-ism, tiresome moralizing, and keeping your toaster away from meth addicts. A good listen.

    Summer night city

    Posted by Sean at 00:04, May 18th, 2009

    Japan has ream upon ream of exquisite poems about spring and autumn; by contrast, there are comparatively few about summer, possibly because the prevailing feeling during that season in most of the archipelago (“how the hell am I going to keep from dying in this heat?!”) does not exactly lend itself to sublimeness of expression. However, one of the early summer tropes–and summer according to the lunar calendar begins during the first week of May–is the return of the cuckoo as certain seasonal flowers begin to bloom.



    natsu kusa ha/shigerinikeredo/hototogisu/nado waga yado ni/hitokoe mo senu

    engi no oon’uta

    The summer grasses
    have come up in abundance,
    but why, O cuckoo,
    do you not favor my home
    with even a single cry?

    Engi no Oon’uta

    Ick. That translation came out very precious. On the bright side, I was able to go pretty much line by line without having to shuffle things around much; the Japanese for “cuckoo” is five syllables in and of itself, so in a 5-7-5-7-7 verse it takes up a lot of real estate and tends to force you to use filler if you want to try to adhere to the original as much as you can when translating.

    The return of the cuckoo when the grasses grow lush and the orange blossoms and deutzia bloom is considered very moving. The poet sees the thickened grass and purports to wonder whether the cuckoo is somehow shunning him. (If it has any sense, it’s probably just decided to summer in Alaska this year.)

    In my dreams, I have a plan

    Posted by Sean at 09:52, May 15th, 2009

    John at 21st-Century Schizoid Man has been writing a lot about the way we’re getting rubber-hosed by the current administration’s forays into business and trade engineering.

    The second point is how markets were distorted by government regulation in such a way that market-clearing economic activity led to the results that the critics are now calling market failures: the markets didn’t fail. They just punished those who followed government-mandated development that no market could sustain.

    This is the great tragedy of the recent crisis: that government, which got us into the situation, is actively making things worse. The markets obey the Gods of the Copybook Headings, the unavoidable effects of cause and effect, the inexorable meeting of demand and supply in clearing the market of available goods, what we economists call equilibrium. Politicians sincerely believe that they can manipulate markets to give them the politically desired effects: that works only for a relatively short period of time, as markets will ruthlessly punish those who mess with them. The invisible hand of Adam Smith doesn’t care about political goals and will destroy, in the long run, anyone trying to game the markets for political effects.

    The Japanese have spent the last two decades finding that out, too.

    If you’re not depressed enough, Eric links to a piece by Jim Geraghty that argues, fascinatingly if not surprisingly, that Washington is now following the Alinsky model of governance. (Yes, Saul Alinsky, of course.) Eric adds:

    Bear in mind that from the voters’ standpoint, both sides always say they care more about principle than power, and they always say that the other side has no principles. I think voters tend to be more cynical than is customarily believed, and certainly they’re smart enough to realize that to most politicians, “principles” are all about talk. Something the chattering classes and political junkies might debate, but nothing for which any rational politician would risk losing his seat. Besides, how are ordinary people supposed to evaluate the legitimacy of rival politicians’ claims to having “principles”? I think it’s more likely that in the end, voters will do what the politicians do, and conclude that it’s all about power.

    There’s certainly plenty of evidence to back that up.

    I always find it funny when my more liberal friends get all enthusiastic about government as this wonderful vehicle for us as The People to pool our power and realize our Visions. That sounds nice, but in practice it runs smack up against the fact that Americans disagree in good faith over a lot of policy principles, and not everyone can win. Most government officials have narrow experience and expertise just like the rest of us, and asking them to butt in on all kinds of issues they can’t possibly have the knowledge to adjudicate is just asking for trouble. It forces voters to monitor what their congresspersons and senators think about anything and everything. It gives Washington officials a broad range of influence to peddle. (Or, if you prefer to believe venality originates with the private sector, it gives lobbyists of every stripe a reason to come calling.) And it gets those officials addicted to the (heady, one can only imagine) feeling that they have not only the authority but also the know-how to drive the economy and engineer society. And this is what we get.

    Added after a few more sips of coffee: I pushed “Submit” before remembering to add this back in: I realize it’s not just liberals who openly romanticize government who vote for meddlesome nanny-state policies and distortionary entitlements. There are as many on the right as on the left who could stand to bear in mind the old libertarian saw that it’s dangerous to increase the powers of the state under the assumption that your friends are always going to be those enforcing them.


    Posted by Sean at 11:33, May 13th, 2009

    Redundancy of the week goes to Camille Paglia’s Salon.com editor, who summarizes her column thus: “The assassination jokes and ‘liberal’ conspiracy theories on talk radio could be an ominous sign of things to come.”

    Paglia herself says that her worries stem from listening to talk radio:

    With the national Republican party in disarray, an argument is solidifying among grass-roots conservatives: Liberals, who are now in power in Washington, hate America and want to dismantle its foundational institutions and liberties, including capitalism and private property. Liberals are rootless internationalists who cravenly appease those who want to kill us. The primary principle of conservatives, on the other hand, is love of country, for which they are willing to sacrifice and die. America’s identity was forged by Christian faith and our Founding Fathers, to whose prudent and unerring 18th-century worldview we must return.

    In a harried, fragmented, media-addled time, there is an invigorating simplicity to this political fundamentalism. It is comforting to hold fast to hallowed values, to defend tradition against the slackness of relativism and hedonism. But when the tone darkens toward a rhetoric of purgation and annihilation, there is reason for alarm.

    I’ve never been a talk radio listener, so I can’t really determine whether Paglia is accurately perceiving what she hears there. But the read I’ve gotten–from the Tea Party demonstrations, from my working-class relatives, from news sources, from blogs–is less aimed specifically at “liberals,” who have always been in the cross-hairs of much of the American public, than at insider politicians and their hangers-on, who any sensible person knows are on both sides of the aisle. Of course liberals and Democrats are taking most of the heat right now; they are, in fact, in power. They control the presidency and both houses of congress, and they got there by campaigning on pharisaical displays of outrage at conservative and Republican nastiness and making promises that they would change the way things are done. Now that they’re in power, of course, it’s still politics as usual, only more so: favoritism (whether bestowed on an individual tax evader who happens to be in line for a cabinet post or on a labor union), fantastical levels of spending, and a war policy that has changed very little (despite all the rhetorical arabesques). Paglia baffles me by continuing to insist “what a fresh new breeze Obama represents in Washington.” We all saw her susceptibility to charisma in the Clinton era, but at least then she had a rueful sense of self-awareness about it.

    Speaking of people who get Camille exercised, Julie Burchill is interviewed in the Guardian–hilarious and well worth reading as always:

    Bindel: You describe yourself as a “militant feminist”. What does that mean to you?

    Burchill: “A girl who likes to have fun” … and a lot of other stuff obviously. Someone who realises that women’s human rights are more important than cultural “sensitivity”. Like it’s sensitive to cut someone’s clitoris off! Someone who doesn’t give a toss about the approval of others – men and women.

    A woman that cheeks and insults men, righteously and politically, but also for kicks and fun. I like men and get on much better with them one to one than I do women, who can be a bit emotional. But part of what makes a man a man is that he never takes offence! When you see sad-sacks like, what was his name, Neil something [Lyndon, author of No More Sex War: the Failures of Feminism]. “Men’s Lib” – that’s the opposite of a man, to me. Just shut up and take your lumps. And then we can all have a laugh.

    Obviously, having had the father I had I have very high expectations of men. On the whole, in the west, where feminism has made its mark, I think they’ve done great. It’s so lovely that even in prison, men who aren’t touchy-feely have to be stopped from beating up rapists – not just child molesters, but rapists of grown women. It’s a shame that educated middle-class leftwing men can’t take feminism on board so effectively.

    Bindel: I much prefer women to men. A lot of them are emotional cripples. Have you not found that? Are we such different feminists do you think?

    Burchill: I don’t want to hear about every last thing someone is feeling. I think most men have it about right. All men should be like my dad!

    Bindel: Is your Christian faith still important?

    Burchill: I would rather be a Jew. I find it hard to think of myself as an Anglican while the head of the church is a cowardly suck-up like Rowan Williams. I’m hoping that Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, will get the gig next. He’s my absolute hero.

    Bindel: Why would you want to be a Jew?

    Burchill: I love everything about the Jews. But I probably won’t become one, as I like the view from the outside. I will probably just remain a Christian Zionist; it’s a long and honourable tradition.

    Via Alice.

    Don’t look too deep into those angeleyes

    Posted by Sean at 18:13, May 11th, 2009

    Bruce Bawer writes that he’s received a number of responses to his most recent City Journal piece, which says in part:

    More and more Western Europeans, recognizing the threat to their safety and way of life, have turned their backs on the establishment, which has done little or nothing to address these problems, and begun voting for parties—some relatively new, and all considered right-wing—that have dared to speak up about them. One measure of the dimensions of this shift: Owing to the rise in gay-bashings by Muslim youths, Dutch gays—who 10 years ago constituted a reliable left-wing voting bloc—now support conservative parties by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

    The other major reason for the turn against the left is economic. Western Europeans have long paid sky-high taxes for a social safety net that seems increasingly not worth the price. These taxes have slowed economic growth. Timbro’s Johnny Munkhammar noted in 2005 that Sweden, for instance, which in the first half of the 20th century had the world’s second-highest growth rate, had since fallen to No. 14, owing to enormous tax hikes.

    The past few decades in Europe have made three things crystal-clear. First, social-democratic welfare systems work best, to the extent they do work, in ethnically and culturally homogeneous (and preferably small) nations whose citizens, viewing one another as members of an extended family, are loath to exploit government provisions for the needy. Second, the best way to destroy such welfare systems is to take in large numbers of immigrants from poor, oppressive and corruption-ridden societies, whose rule of the road is to grab everything you can get your hands on. And third, the system will be wiped out even faster if many of those immigrants are fundamentalist Muslims who view bankrupting the West as a contribution to jihad. Add to all this the growing power of an unelected European Union bureaucracy that has encouraged Muslim immigration and taken steps to punish criticism of it—criminalizing “incitement of racism, xenophobia or hatred against a racial, ethnic or religious group” in 2007, for example—and you can start to understand why Western Europeans who prize their freedoms are resisting the so-called leadership of their see-no-evil elites.

    If the Danes have affirmed individual liberty, human rights, sexual equality, the rule of law, and freedom of speech and religion, some Western Europeans have reacted to the mindless multiculturalism of their socialist leaders by embracing alternatives that seem uncomfortably close to fascism. Consider Austria’s recently deceased Jörg Haider, who belittled the Holocaust, honored Waffen-SS veterans, and found things to praise about Nazism. In 2000, his Freedom Party became part of a coalition government, leading the rest of the EU to isolate Austria diplomatically for a time, and last September his new party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, won 11% of the vote in parliamentary elections. Or take Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has called the Holocaust “a detail in the history of World War II” and advocated the forced quarantining of people who test HIV-positive—and whose far-right National Front came out on top in the first round of voting for the French presidency in 2002. The British National Party (BNP), which has a whites-only membership policy and has flatly denied the Holocaust, won more than 5% of the vote in London’s last mayoral election. Then there’s Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), formerly Vlaams Bloc, whose leaders have a regrettable tendency to be caught on film singing Nazi songs and buying Nazi books. In 2007, it won 5 out of 40 seats in the Belgian Senate.

    He’s posted an update on his blog–there are no links to individual posts but this is the one timestamped “Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 9:28 P.M. CET”:

    The other day, in the wake of my City Journal piece “Heirs to Fortuyn?”, a couple of anti-jihad writers who had not yet rebuked me for my stance on Vlaams Belang finally got around to doing so. Not only did they send me e-mails taking me to task for criticizing VB in that article; one of them also took it upon himself to chew me out for, in his view, admiring Pim Fortuyn too much and Geert Wilders too little. (Never mind that I’ve defended Wilders frequently and that Wilders has blurbed my new book, Surrender.) Wilders, this individual felt compelled to lecture me, is a far greater figure than Fortuyn ever was. Why? Because, he explained, Wilders stands for “Western values,” while Fortuyn stood only for – get ready for this – “Dutch libertinism.”

    Yes, “Dutch libertinism.” The words took my breath away. During the last few days (while, as it happened, I was visiting Amsterdam) I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. For a self-styled anti-jihadist – who, by the way, I first met three years ago at the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in The Hague – to refer in this way to a man who sacrificed his life for human liberty is, in my view, not only incomprehensible but profoundly despicable. This is, after all, precisely the sort of language that Dutch Muslim leaders hurled at Fortuyn during his lifetime. And in the present case the words were plainly aimed not only at Fortuyn but at me – a writer who, like Fortuyn, that great martyr for freedom, is gay.

    Some of these people probably had contempt for Fortuyn all along but were willing not to repudiate him as long as he was one of the few high-profile advocates of classical liberalism. It doesn’t take a major leap to see their becoming fans of the Vlaams Belang (which from everything I’ve ever heard is seriously wacko), either.

    What’s more worrisome is the number of sensible, rank-and-file Western European citizens who may be figuring that the emerging alternatives to the left establishment are the only useful corrective and pushback available at this point, and that the unpalatable fascist undercurrents can be dealt with later. It seems a dangerous game to play in light of history.

    Added at 20:44: Oh, and speaking of people with Norway connections who don’t swim with the social-democratic current around them, Rondi Adamson was profiled last week on Normblog, and it’s an interesting read.

    Added on 12 May: Thanks to Eric for the link.

    Come to think of it, he’s got Norwegian blood, too.


    Posted by Sean at 17:48, May 3rd, 2009

    You’ve already been told to watch this, haven’t you? I think Jon Stewart’s often very funny, but on this particular topic, what Bill Whittle says in response to his statements–which are not only not funny but positively monstrous–cannot be repeated enough. Note that, unless I missed it, he was able to make his case without even mentioning Unit 731 or anything else about the kempeitai, either. He also doesn’t mention, regarding the charge that America was just trying to show the Soviet Union who’s boss, that it was Japan that had decided it was a good idea to start playing the Soviets off the United States in the first place. (I’m not saying his argument is therefore flawed, only that he hasn’t exhausted the material he could have used to support it.)

    I adore Japan. I happily took a degree in Japanese literature, and I loved every minute of the eleven years I lived in Tokyo; while I’m very happy to be home, there are many things I miss about it. I work in an all-Japanese office (except for me, obviously). I’m glad we’re strategic and military partners now.

    But now is not then. War with an implacable enemy requires tough choices, and I’m glad our grandfathers made saving their own people the top priority.

    Added later: Whittle also has a blog post with quite a few good comments, including one by Connie du Toit that recommends an episode from the documentary The World at War, which you may remember from when it was broadcast on television.