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Archive for the tag “fascism”

Unfathomable, Unacceptable!

Good day readers, I have been busy and away from this blog for a while, but today I was compelled to write about something I saw, thanks to twitter. Before I get started, thanks for following my blog, even when I don’t post for a while. Now on to the topic of the day.

UNTHINKABLE

The Yomiuri Shinbun (Shinbun means newspaper in Japanese) is a right-wing newspaper that is known for its far right stance. However, the latest editorial from that fascist rag takes the cake in terms of insensitivity, historical revisionism, and blatant misogyny. In an editorial on August 2nd titled

“Refute recent moves in U.S. to distort comfort women issue”

the newspaper issued the opinion that Korean-Americans who have set up monuments to the victims of Japan’s war time sex slavery system administered by their armed forces is “distorting” the “comfort women” issue. First the paper ridiculously refers to those trying to honor the memory of those victims as “anti-Japanese” as if to be honest about history and mourn the oppressed is to hate Japan. Of course that doesn’t say much for the moral character of Japan, but leaving that alone for the moment; the newspaper is once again, like many right-wing fascists in Japan have done for decades, is trying to revise history to be one that fits their agenda, and fits with their nationalist myth making. Let’s go through some of these ridiculous claims, and see if they hold any water. Just because I’m fair like that.

They point out that the monument erected in California reads “In memory of more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were removed from their homes…to be coerced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945.” The newspaper refutes this with “The distorted and exaggerated phrases “sexual slavery” and “more than 200,000” are enough to significantly degrade the honor of Japan.”

Let’s examine those two claims. One, they are asserting that the so-called “comfort women” system was not sexual slavery. Is that true? Well, what is the definition of slavery? According to Merriam-Webster online the definition of slavery is:

slav·ery

noun \ˈslā-v(ə-)rē\

1 : drudgerytoil
2: submission to a dominating influence
3
: the state of a person who is a chattel of another
: the practice of slaveholding
Now take that definition and read this testimony of a Korean woman about her servitude:

“[…] it was not out of our own will, we were forced into it. I was beaten until I lost hearing. I was tortured. They didn’t see us as people, but as objects.” –Lee Ok-sun, comfort woman (as cited in Wabnitz, 2007)

Well, that certainly sounds like slavery to me. There is a colossal mountain of historical documentation that shows that these women were forced into sexual slavery in service to the Japanese Imperial Army.  There are journal articles upon newspaper articles upon photos and government papers and reports and on and on and on that verifies the reality of the sexual slavery of these women. Yet apparently the Yomiuri doesn’t let a little history deflect them from “upholding the honor of Japan,” Those honoring the victims of that horrible fascist government aren’t dishonoring Japan, those who built the “comfort women” system of sex slavery are the ones who dishonored Japan. That’s like claiming the witnesses of a murder are more guilty of killing because they reported it. It’s cognitive dissonance on crack.

Ok, so let’s examine the second claim, that being that 200,000 sex slaves is an exaggeration. Let’s turn again to an academic source for that.

“It was not until 1993 that the Japanese government stopped denying its involvement in the creation of comfort stations—establishments that saw the systematic rape, torture, and in some cases murder, of approximately 200 000 so-called comfort women.”
and another
“Comfort women” is the bitterly ironic euphemism for the approximately 200,000 women, mostly Korean (about 90%) that the Japanese Imperial Army tricked or abducted into military brothels, called “comfort stations” and forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Although most of the comfort women were Korean, women from Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, the Netherlands, and the Philippines were also forced into this sexual slavery. The comfort women system was a sweeping network that existed throughout Japan and its growing empire in China, Hong Kong, Indochina, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, the East Indies, Burma, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Saipan, Guam, and the Coral Sea Island Islands (Factbox: Disputes, 2007).” ()
Sorry, seems like a pretty established fact. I could pull out hundreds of articles of evidence that shows that the sex slavery system of Imperial Japan was that extensive, but I figure these idiots would ignore the evidence, or just claim that it’s a vast “anti-Japanese” conspiracy like they always do. Un-fucking-believable.
The end the article by claiming there is no evidence for that which the rest of the goddamn world knows there is a mountain of evidence for, and claim that the famous “Kono statement” of 1993 needs to be changed, or redacted. At the same time they try to appear humanitarian by writing “It is true there were actions by the Japanese government in wartime that injured the honor and dignity of many women. If the comfort women issue were to be judged under the standards of human rights awareness that exist today, there would be no chance for Japan to politically win the issue.”
No fucking sir, nice try you weasel fascist fucking ratfink, whoever you are. They were crimes against humanity by the standard of human rights OF THAT ERA, which is why so many of your leaders were hung like the fascist fucking rats they were. You can’t on one hand say that the Japanese government committed atrocities, and on the other hand say that they weren’t that bad of atrocities and so Koreans have no right to be angry about Japan’s continued idiocy, and stubborn historical revisionism.
Dear Japan, stop trying to weasel out of the horrible history of your imperialist expansionism. Stop trying to wiggle out of the responsibility your government still holds for the deaths, tortures, and rapes of millions of people. Stop trying to prop up your bullshit national myth on the backs of the victims of your imperialist fascist aggressions. Take responsibility for your history, and establish a future where no one will ever again be afraid that that horrible history would ever repeat itself. Take a note from Germany, that has to its credit, largely owned up to the sins of the past, and has criminalized the denial of the holocaust, and Nazi symbolism. Those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it.
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on Japan, and SHAME on the Yomiuri Shinbun. You are not fit to print advertisements, let alone speak about serious issues. Either stop distorting history, drop your projections, and own up to the past, or just at least do the world a favor, and shut the fuck up.
Postscript
Inb4 “you hate Japan”: I live here, and my wife and children are Japanese citizens.
 Inb4 “What about America”: I have no great love for the fascist US government, and I fully acknowledge the crimes of the US state. No red herrings or diversions allowed here.
Sources:
Durham, Helen, and Bebe Loff. “Japan’s “comfort women”.” The Lancet357.9252 (2001): 302.
Heit, Shannon. “Waging sexual warfare: Case studies of rape warfare used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.” Women’s Studies International Forum. Vol. 32. No. 5. Pergamon, 2009.
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Tattoos, Japan, and Hashimoto

It may seem a bit frivolous to write on this rather political blog about tattoos in Japan. After all, this is a political blog, and most people would wonder (at least in the English speaking world) what the hell tattoos have to do with politics. In Japan though the issue of tattoos is currently a small manifestation of a much larger problem. Before we cover the political implications of this story, let’s cover briefly how tattoos are viewed in Japan, as it will be important to understanding this problem

Irezumi & Japan

Irezumi is Japanese for tattoo. It has a connotation of the flowery swirling artistic tattoos replete with crashing waves and jumping carp. Many people around the world will be familiar with this type of art, having seen it in one place or another before. The problem is that in Japan tattoos of any kind are associated with Yakuza, Japan’s famous mobsters. Yakuza are known in Japan for having extensive body tattoos that cover much of their bodies. Because of this connotation, different businesses ban anyone with tattoos altogether. Many public baths, hot springs, swimming pools and other businesses will deny entry to people who are tattooed. There is still a social stigma against the body art. The younger generations though, have a different view of tattoos. Like many old attitudes in Japan, the social stigma against tattoos is not as strong as it used to be. However, that doesn’t stop some old fashioned people from trying to use the old stigma to their advantage.

Enter Hashimoto

 

Toru Hashimoto (橋本徹)used to be the youngest governor of a prefecture in Japan, when he was Governor of Osaka Prefecture. In 2011 he was elected mayor of Osaka, leading his new local political party, the “Osaka Restoration Association.” A hardline nationalist, he has made huge waves ever since he entered politics by being a lot bolder compared to many of his older and more reserved colleagues. However, it’s not just his youthful demeanor that is catching the world’s attention.; it’s also his right wing policies.  While one thing he did was good (opposing the reactivation of nuclear power plants in Japan) many of his actions since being in politics makes one wonder. He recently forced all Osaka teachers to sing the national anthem “Kimi ga yo” that many have a problem with. Kimi Ga Yo is a remnant of the emperor worshiping past when Japan was attempting to colonize all of Asia. He is fighting to prevent municipal employees from engaging in any political activity, denying them their constitutional right to participate in their government and their communities. His most recent one though, is the most bizarre. He is making city employees take surveys, asking them if they have any tattoos in any place that might possibly be visible at any time. If the workers do have tattoos, they are to get the removed. He has threatened that all who refuse to answer the survey will not only be denied any promotions or raises, but may also be  suspended.

Why this Story?

You may be wondering why I’m blogging about this issue. Surely most of the world doesn’t care about tattoo policies for public servants in Osaka, Japan. This is important, because it is, I believe, very indicative of the problems that Japan faces.

Japan is facing a tough time of it, and the future is not looking too bright for many of its citizens. Due to one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Japan’s population is shrinking. This means that , along with their extraordinarily high life expectancy, that their society is rapidly ageing. With more people leaving the workforce, and not nearly as many people entering  it to replace them, Japan faces a monumental demographic problem. This could cause very dire problems for the Japanese not too far down the road.

Japan is littered with US military bases. From Sasebo, to Okinawa, to Yokosuka, to Misawa, thousands upon thousands of US military personnel are stationed there. The people of Japan want them gone, but the government continues to ignore the cries of the oppressed people such as the citizens of Okinawa who have put up with a heavy military presence since the end of World War II. Rapes, assaults and environmental disasters have marked the long visit of the Americans, and there is no end in sight.

Japan is facing energy problems left and right. The price of gasoline is going through the roof as Japan struggles to keep its lights on. All of its nuclear power plants deactivated, Japan is mostly surviving on the power of oil for its power. Even before the nuclear crisis, Japan was using far too much oil. They need to transition to clean, safe, affordable and renewable energy to meet the needs of the Japanese people.

I raised all these issues to make a point. Just like in other countries like the US or the UK, reactionary politicians are using trivial, unimportant hullabaloos to gain popular support, all while the country sinks further into trouble. While the Japanese people are facing terribly important decisions, the Japanese government, with nationalists like Hashimoto play the fiddle while Osaka burns. Instead of focusing on really addressing the problems that Japan faces, he prefers to attack innocent city workers for the non-crime of having tattoos. I hope the Japanese people reject this idiocy, and demand substance from their politicians. They need to rise up and tell the likes of Hashimoto that they will not be bullied, they will not be intimidated, and they want results from their government. He is restricting civil and human rights with these policies and he must be stopped. He is not good for Japan, he is another self-serving careerist who wants nothing more than to stroke his own narcissistic ego and hold more power. Unless Japan starts demanding a change in their useless government, they may not like the changes that are coming. When you keep putting off your problems instead of facing them, you’re just making things worse.

 

 

Mayday!

If a plane is going down, its crew will sound the call for help. The international sign of distress is “Mayday.” It comes from the French phrase “m’aider” meaning “help me”. Looking forward to Tuesday’s Mayday actions that are expected to happen around the globe, it dawned on me how fitting that coincidence is. We’re in trouble, not just the US, not just Europe, but the world.

International Worker’s Day, held on May 1st of every year is not a recent tradition. It has its roots in the dark days of the industrial revolution, and was born out of struggle, oppression and class warfare. The tradition started in The 1880s, as a commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre, where police opened fire, killing several striking workers, and a few of their own policemen as well. It was a wake up call for workers around the world, as they recoiled in disgust at the harsh brutality of the capitalist machine against workers. Since then, we have commemorated their struggle, and ours, by going out into the streets and making ourselves heard.

This year is a bit different. Capitalism has dug itself into a hole that it can’t seem to find it way out of. Decades of imperialist war, erosion of worker’s rights, the diluting of democracy, the killing of our environment, and other issues to many to list here at once have capitalism on its knees. Europe struggles to recover from its years of corruption, and an angry populace who are standing up against austerity. While the 1% lived high off the hog, amassing huge amounts of wealth and power, the working classes of the world have been pressed harder and harder by the day. Less working, harder, for less pay. They tell us that there just isn’t any money, not enough to go around. All the while corporations like Apple, GE, BP, and others post record profits. They expand and build more wealth, while hiring less and less. This is not a sustainable economy, in any way, shape, or form. Someone told us this was going to happen. He wasn’t a prophet or a priest. He wasn’t a fortune teller. He was a philosopher, and a political scientist. He knew this would happen, because this is the logical end for capitalism. This is what unrestrained greed leads to. It leads to imperialism, corruption, massive economic inequality, and a crumbling country and world. His name was Karl Marx, and he was right. Capitalism is acting out the theories he put forth in the 19th century. The question, is not if, but when this system will fall. What the most important question is, is what will replace it. Do we let the fascists take over? Do we just let the world fall into a state of disarray and chaos? No. We fight for a new, better world, where workers are in control. We fight for real democracy, economic equality and social justice. We fight for a socialist future, where instead of wealth being concentrated, and most people left out in the cold, we work together to build a better society, and a better world. Inequality will be destroyed. Which side will you be on?

Join us in the streets on Mayday.  The class war is real, and if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Join us.

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