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25 May 2017

Film "Race" Surprising facts in 1936 Olympic game

The film "Race" features life of Jessie Owens, an Afro-American truck and field athlete who won 4 gold medals in 1936 Berlin Olympic game. It was a time that segregation was legal in US and Nazis ruled Germany.

What surprised me was at that time, there was a boycott movement for joining the game. Jessie Owens was asked to boycott the game by NAACP, prominent advocate group for Black people.

But he went to Berlin to participate in the game along with two Jewish athletes, whom Nazis were reluctant to welcome. AOC, American Olympic Committee decided to let US team participate in although opinion among committee members were split. The film implies it was due to the committee leader who collaborated with Nazi-Germany in exchange of big business deal.

Then in the game, two notorious events occurred. In the long jump competition, Owens fouled the jumping in first two of the 3 tries in qualification match. But his German competitior, Luz Long advised him to step back a foot behind the measurement start point. The he did and passed the qualification to the final. Then he won the gold medal marking the Olympic record. After the awarding ceremony, Owens and Long walked on the truck together holding arms looking like good friends. It was very much anti-Nazis action. A white man and a Black man holding arms together walking. Long stood on the podium raising his right hand in the form of Hitler salute. In addition, in that competition, in the third place, bronze medalist was Japanese, Tajima. Actually Japan had medalists in truck and field competition in 1930's. That is far different from what Japanese truck and field society has been lately.

The other thing was two Jewish American athletes in relay competition was removed from the team just in advance of actual competition. It was due to Nazis demand to promote their anti-semitism ideology in the game. AOC leader who collaborated with Nazis was blackmailed to do so, otherwise, the collaboration would be exposed to the public.

Then Owens became a replacement for one of the two atheletes. Then his team won the relay competition.  

After he got home, he was welcomed in a parade by a million of people on the street in New York. But he was not allowed to enter to a hotel in which a celebration party was held, so he had to go through back door of the hotel.

Kind of surprising stories in that era. 3 years after the Olympic game, Germany started the 2nd world war. Japan became an ally with Germany. 3 years after the war started, Long, who became Owens' friend died in the war, leaving the message to Owen that he wanted Owen to take care of his son.

How dramatic the stories were! How ugly and beautiful the things were!

 

20 February 2017

German film "Er ist wieder da" (Look who's back)

The German title means "He is back again." In Japan it was titled "Hitler Returns."

The story is based on a novel of the same title. Adolf Hitler time slipped to 21st century Berlin and became a popular comedian. His comments were provocative but come with humor. People considered him imposter of Hitler, but he was a real figure.

At first it seems revival of his appearance looked comical, but in the end, it was found very serious matter. A lot of innocent people were killed by his action. Not a laughing matter.

But this reflected current trend of the world.

The very example is US President, Donald Trump who took office last month.

He is anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, racist, sexist and America First, especially white men First. Kind of horrific figure after first Afro-American President retired.

But that was a reality of America. America has been that way from the past. He said he wanted to build the wall on Mexican border. No more Hispaics. But until 1965, America had accepted mostly white immigrants from Europe.

Liberal and cosmopolitan America is very recent phenomenon which now started to fade by this man.

In 1960's America was very rich, and countering Russian communism so liberal policy prevailed.

Today America is no longer a rich nation. Cannot afford generousity and diversity.

Like Hitler's slogan, "One Nation in One State." Americans, especially whites want to go back to White Anglo Sacson Protestant America.

Just like America, other nations follow suit. Europeans have become anti-Muslim. They are basically predominantly Christian people. Why should they accept non-Christian immigrants or refugees for humanitarian purpose? Immigrants bring different culture and language and do not easily adopt to traditional community.

In every nation, priority is traditional majority. Race, culture, and language surely matter.

Society cannot be easily changed.  When things change too quickly, it is natural that backlash comes.

Change should have been done at appropriate speed.

Whether it is good or evil, it is the law of human nature. Japan accepts very small number of immigrants or refugees compared to US or European nations. We are really natural and honest nation. But cannot be proud of that.

As for the film, I like the ending scene that Hitler waved his hand to the crowd with the song of the same title. It was 1960's German ballard song. That was really nice. I was lucky to know this song. I am studying German by this song. 

 

05 January 2017

Film "A Geisha" Feminist study movie

1st time I watch this film was more than 20 years ago. When I was attending US university. I took a course titled "History of Japanese and Chinese women." During the 4 month-long semester, the attending students had to see the old Japanese film as part of course requirement and the students all discussed matter related to the theme of the film. The film was of course, played with subtitle.

The film was released in 1953, 8 years after Japan's surrender to the war. Japan regained sovereignty and new constitution that ensures basic human rights and women's suffrage became effective. The story took in Gion district, famous Geisha town in Kyoto.

So women including Geisha girls should have basic human rights as other people. The two geisha got in trouble with their clients. One younger apprentice geisha (called Maiko) was about to be raped by her client so she fought back and hurt him. That aggrevated the client. Then the older geisha who ran Geisha house and hired the apprentice had to compensate by sleeping with the client's big client so that both can reach a big business agreement.

She was used as a prostitute and a tool for the business. The apprentice was shocked to know that because she thought that is not what a Geisha does.

In the last scene, the older Geisha says "You are living in a new era. I want you to keep your body clean."

A sad fact of Geisha life.

Nowadays, such thing should not be done so often, I believe.

A lot of people seem to misunderstand job of Geisha. Geisha literally means "Artist" or "Entertainer."

Geisha is after all, entertainer. Just showing dances, and singing songs in the party room. Of course they escort guests by pouring sake and chatting with them. They do not sleep with guests.  

They are not prostitutes. They have never been like that even in the very old days. But what happened to them is sometimes Geisha needed a big money to make a debut buying expensive kimono. So easiest way to get that is have patrons. Geisha agencies preferred that way so that the agencies could get back the debut fund they owed their hired geishas. Some popular ones did not have patrons because she could payback the debut fund only by entertaining guests in party rooms.  

Geisha not only entertain adult men but they entertain families including children. No alcohol, and nasty or obscure talk in the room. Just enjoying shows, meals, casual talk and views from the window. Independent and decent women's occupation.

That should be the tradition we have to preserve.

15:46 Posted in Film, Society | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: history, women, feminism, geisha, kyoto

30 December 2016

US Marine Osprey crashed in Okinawa, Japan! Finally!

An osprey (helo-plane type flying vehicle) crashed on the coast of Nago city, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, Dec 13. A major accident finally occurred 4 years after deployment in Okinawa. That was in fact, anticipated 4 years ago. Read this post.

military,okinawa

The crash site was near the US Marine Camp Schwab. The osprey seemed trying to land there after its propeller was damaged while inflight refueling training and had lost control of it. The accident was classified as Class A, highest rank, loss amount was more than 80 million US $. The osprey was torn apart to more than 4 pieces.

Top ranking official of US military stationed in Okinawa, named Nicolson, said Okinawans should appreciate pilots had avoided landing on nearby ground so no civilian casualty was caused. That comment outraged Okinawans who have been opposed to osprey deployment for a long time because of defective structure of the vehicle. Osprey cause accidents 3 times more frequent than other helicoptors. That rate has not changed since it was first introduced in US Marine more than 10 years ago.   

The news was reported and broadcasted nationwide. Not only Okinawa locals but Japanese citizens in general felt very distrustful of the U.S. army and the U.S government.

This crash accident is related to ongoing construction of new runways in U.S. Marine Camp Schwab site. A hundred ospreys will be deployed there after completion of the runways by landfilling the sea.

Okinawa governor, Onaga once cancelled landfill permit which was signed by a former governor but this month a week after the accident, Japan's Supreme Court made a ruling that Onaga's cancellation was illegal. Then he revived landfill permit but insists on his firm determination of stopping the construction by whatever method he could use. He still holds many authorities to do that.

Japan's central government and U.S. government do not mind local protest and proceed construction.

What will happen next year? The construction will never be done but distrutst and grudge will grow.

More news related to this construction and osprey will come up. US government might think it is a small matter in the far east. Actually this news is not widely reported in US.  

As I described in this blog, more Japanese are learning US military stationed in Japan no longer functions as defense. It is just for two nations' political or military establishment who want to maintain US-Japan defense treaty system.

At Japan's considerate citizen and Okinawa local level, US is just losing trust and friends by this issue.

US seemed very near-sighted. Maybe Japan is not very important any longer since China has become bigger economic power. But China cannot share the same democratic values with US like Japan does in East Asian region. Japan is necessary as bypass between US and China in many occasions.

But it is time that Japan diverts from friendship with America.

Okinawa might turn to be another Pearl Harbor between two nations.

Things might change if newly elected President Donald Trump alters the course. He may do so since he insisted on withdrawing US troops from Japan during the election campaign. He may find Okinawa bases are nothing but budget wasting place.

I am not very sure but he seems to know Japan very well since he has been to Japan many times as a businessman. One time he claimed Japan can defend itself like it did in the past like occupying China and ruled Korean peninsular. He looked not so intelligent but very clever and somehow very knowledgeable.

As for this Okinawa matter, Trump might be able to handle more wisely than Obama and Clinton (as Secretary of State) has done up to this point.

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