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19 November 2005

Swing Back, Ameica!

Democrat Congressman J. Murtha, who is Vietnam veteran and voted for invasion of Iraq spoke out on PBS and said the US troops should withdraw from Iraq in 6 months. He claimed the war was wrong.

He looked so desperate and passionate about this issue.

One Japanese video journalist named Jimbo Tetsuo, who got Master's degree of Journalism at Columbia University said that America always has the power to swing back even when things go wrong too far. Mr. Murtha proved that.

In contrary, our society is less powerful to swing back because we don't have so many people who have courage to do the right thing no matter how opposition is strong. Unlike America, Japanese are group oriented and do not respect other's individualism.

Please swing back, America. You can do that.


12:55 Posted in Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: war

11 November 2005

Controversy over Article 9 amendment

More than half of Japanese citizens disagree with amendment of article 9 of the constitution, which prohibites State's possesion of arms. Even among youngsters who never exprienced or know the stories about the war there exists strong opposition.

Even after 60 years, people's opinion about the Pacifist constitution is not greatly changed. No one wants the war. But some politicians want to change it.

Well, my opinion is since I am realist I agree with constitutional amendment.  But not now, in the future. One of the reason many people oppose the amendment is they fear that if the constitution is amended, our troops would be easily sent to anywhere by stupid politics. Recently Japan sent troops to Iraq to follow the order of Bush. Our country lacks civilian control functions in the politics. That means our country's democracy is not functioning well.

We have yet to review the mistakes we made in the past. Older generations never reflected how they were wrong in the past. We've been suffering the traumas of the past and have yet overcome it. One example is denying of Masscre of Nanking. We always regret the consequences of the war, not the cause of the war we provoked. We rarely talk about Manchuria and Pearl Harbor.

We have to study the cause of the past mistakes.

That is what we have to do to get ready for the amendment.

Some oppose it simply because they are passionate pacifist. They say they want to make their country completely non military state like CostaRica. But that is totally impossible taking current situation Japan is in into account.

We have the troops so called "Self-Defense Force" and foreign mercenaries mainly stationed in Okinawa island already. That means we need military force to protect our national interests. Also it is not good for our country to heavily rely on US military presence. US is our most reliable ally but the foreign troops who always prioritize their own national interest ahead of others after all.   

01:12 Posted in Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: Japanese

04 November 2005

Japanese media's role in supporting atrocities of WW2

60 years have passed after Japan’s surrender in World War II, the citizens of Japan are able to speak about how much pain and suffering that they experienced as a result of the war, yet we are unable to discuss how much pain and suffering that Japan caused the citizens of other nations. To discuss such things one runs the risk of being labeled masochistic. Those in mass media willing to report upon the country’s responsibility for the atrocities that occurred during the war are also few and far between. Why do they not wish to cover such stories? One might reason that this is because the media reflects public opinion, but this is not the entire explanation. Rather it is also because the media itself bears a portion of blame.

 The photo shows an article in the August 5, 1937 edition of the Asashi Newspaper.

The headline reads, “3.5 Million Yen! A Glorious Monument to Patriotism”. The article contains a report on the collection of 3.5 million yen in donations and introduces some of the donors following the Asahi Newspaper’s collection of donations for the production of military aircraft. Even a mother and her child in elementary school are featured among the donors. However, the reality is that the military aircraft produced from these donations was flown to China and used to bomb such cities as Chongqing resulting in the slaughter of innocent civilians. Many people would probably be surprised to hear that the Asahi Newspaper collected donations for production of military aircraft. Considering that the newspaper is known for being a large liberal media outlet which often covers Japan’s accountability for war crimes such as the issue with so-called “comfort women” and the Nan king Massacre. The Asahi Newspaper may now even seem pacifist with its recent critical position towards the Japanese Self Defense Forces participation in Iraq, but this was not the case just prior to World War II. In fact, it may be more accurate to say that this was not the case for the period between the Manchurian Incident and the end of the war. Prior to the Manchurian Incident, which thrust Japan into the messy quagmire of the 15 year war to follow, the Asahi Newspaper objected to the dispatch of troops to Siberia during the Taisho Period (1911-1926) and further took the position of moderates who were in favor of a peaceful resolution without the use of military force to protect Japan’s interests in Manchuria.

Why then did this position change? It is generally understood that this change was due to the boycotts that occurred after the outbreak of the Manchurian incident in 1931. As a public weary of the economic recession leaned towards military fervor, Asahi found that it’s stance contrary to other media and not in sync with military views resulted in a drop in its sales. After this, the Asahi Newspaper editorial policy changed drastically. 


Prior to the war, it is generally said that newspapers, magazines, and other media could not criticize the military because they were subject to intense scrutiny by authorities and laws limited their freedom of speech. However, this was not the only reason. Mass media of this era not only failed to criticize, it became a backer in a sense fanning the flames of war. It chose to support the war in an effort to increase circulation and sales. In other words, it did so in tune with the public opinion of the time which was in favor of war. This same phenomenon is at work today. Great example is US media's reports on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Frankfurt School, established by Jewish Scholars who defected from Nazi Germany, is critical of mass media which takes this position. It says that the press and mass media should above all take a neutral and impartial position and should not curry favor with emotional public opinion. It is thought that the spread of Nazism in Nazi Germany was due to the bolster support provided by mass media. At that time it appeared that the papers’ sales grew and stimulated national opinion, but in fact mass media lost sight of the all important truth and dragged society in an utterly inane direction Germany, a defeated nation like Japan, chose to abolish all of the newspapers which bolstered the Nazi regime. Yet in Japan, the mass media of the prewar period survived. Moreover, it has yet to apologize to the public for the role that it played in World War II, and to this day the press club system symbolic of the cozy relationship between mass media and government officials still thrives. In fact, this may be why none of the Japanese newspapers are willing to own up to the past. It is for this reason that we, along with mass media, are unable to fully own up to our accountability and the circumstances of Japan’s defeat in the war.

On this, the sixtieth year after the end of the war, shouldn’t the media take this chance to recognize its past role in the tragedies of World War II to and apologize to the Japanese public? Moreover, shouldn’t it use this as an opportunity to apologize to the citizens of all of the countries in Asia which suffered as a result of invasions by Japan?
In addition, it is imperative that we, as the passive readers and the consumers of mass media, use this opportunity to reflect on history and reexamine ourselves. We are now in the age of the internet in which media is not just limited to newspaper, television, and radio. It is time to broaden our intellect to fight back against the prevailing mass media that contorts the truth to cater to the masses. Furthermore, it is essential that we endeavor to promote the advancement of media that no matter the circumstances always meets the truth head on.

21:10 Posted in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | Tags: political issues, history, Japan