keysHolder's blog

Japan in two weeks (2) Senior agency

I was in Japan for two weeks or so. Over this short period, there were so many things: American presidential election, Japan’s TPP push, flu season, Professor Nussbaum’s winning the Kyoto Prize, etc. I have written a few blog articles on some issues. This piece is about my comments on recent media reports on older drivers reported as dangerous.

Languages in Luxembourg

This blog is about Luxembourg’s linguistic situation.

One of the big differences between my native Japan and Luxembourg is that the latter has three official languages (French, German, and Luxembourgish), plus English in academic/EU institutions.  Another one is that Luxembourg invests far more in education than Japan.  The implications are far-reaching, I think.

日本礼賛 と 星の王子様のうぬぼれ男(2)

This is again about my English essay Superb Japan!? - Superb Japan!? ― 日本礼賛の幻想

In my Japanese blog (1), I write on Japan’s recent self-praise claims in connection with the conceited man in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, though of course I did not mention it in my English essay. That’s why you see the cute Little Prince.

Credits: Le Petit Prince Collection by AmiAmaLilium on DeviantArt
under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License

日本礼賛 と 星の王子様のうぬぼれ男

I have just started my own site and posted my English essay. Please visit the site!

「敗北を抱きしめて」(Embracing Defeat)雑感

This blog is about my thoughts on John W. Dower’s book Embracing Defeat in Japanese. Several years ago, I read the conclusion chapter only (yes, shame on me). I thought that we Japanese already know this stuff, so the book had been sitting on my bookshelf for years.

But somehow I thought of this book and started reading it. And, once I started reading, I could not stop… and I kept murmuring to myself or growling “Omoshiroiiiii (interesting).” It was an immense pleasure to read.

Contrary to the lyrics of the Southern All Stars (the school textbooks run out of time before getting that part), the book starts with “the part we most want to know.”

It is said that Japan has changed remarkably for the last seven decades. Yet, seemingly there are so many things unchanged: low status of women, their legal and social oppression, poverty, younger women’s resorting to sex work, the gap between the rich and the poor, the inept government, and the like.

I find the chapters on politics most fascinating. Also, I like the chapters on how the image campaign successfully transformed the emperor of war responsibility into an almost saintly figure.

When I started school, the emperor was already a transformed character. But, as a child, I could sense his discomfort: something painfully awkward, stolid, and severe. (Although kids do not have a wide vocabulary, we could feel and judge things.) I was intrigued by his past and character (e.g. what happened to him?). Perhaps, that was the part that even the successful campaign could not change. And, the book provides us some important answers to “the part we most want to know” in our history.

Remembering Eizaburo Okuizumi(奥泉栄三郎)1940 – 2013

Remembering Okuizumi Eizaburo: "Purposeful serendipity"

I have known Mr. Okuizumi Eizaburo for over 20 years. He has been my friend, personal librarian, a sort-of father figure, and above all, a super senpai and sensei.

His help was too natural to notice. As Professor Norma Field wrote for his memorial service: "And I'm so very glad to be with so many of you who are feeling the loss that we could not have calculated because he was so always there, always helping before we even knew that we needed the help."

Okuizumi-san gave me the opportunity to work with him as a translator. His interests included: World War II, Japan's defeat, censored publications in occupied Japan, nationalism, militarism, the freedom of press, history of Japanese newspapers, etc. I was curious enough to translate the materials, but I was absolutely uninterested in these topics. In my ignorance, I thought they were things all lost to history.

I have suddenly come to appreciate all of them, which seem to have gained new relevancy and urgency in the long wake of Fukushima 3.11.

As Professor Field wrote, he was not only a librarian, but also "a scholar in his own right." Her account is especially insightful with regard to his helpfulness, "his own quiet learnedness," and “purposeful serendipity."

"And so that kind of purposeful serendipity, that seems to characterize his life, I think has affected and benefited us all. … So I felt again here a very purposeful serendipity, if it is true that it was accidental that he got into this field. That purposeful serendipity, I felt in some ways explains the mystery I felt about him and the mystery that is not. That is to say, he was that extremely unusual person in our line of business, who was very, very capable, learned, and just went about doing his business quietly, in his understated way without calling attention to it."

His "purposeful serendipity" continues to this day and beyond, and therefore can keep his works alive.

Illegal drone flights and iodine pills

Concerning two images of Abe's political methods: dirty tricks and war horses

Stolen Bride blinkers - Courtesy:

Picture by Chabata_k (Japan). Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license

The political methods adopted by Abe Shinzo and his LDP make me think of two images. One is a sort of dirty magic where they trick the Japanese people into a horrible life situation (e.g., poverty, without much livelihood protection, more and more taxes or burdens for the ordinary people, neoliberal pro-corporate policies, the TPP, strengthening the existing secrecy regime, the Japanese version of NSC, tons of US bases, collective self-defense, etc). This reminds me of the second image: war horses. Reasonably, horses must wear blinders if they are taken to a war, otherwise they may sense and question if there is something wrong. If we see “war horses” as Japanese people, the new secrecy law serves as a “blinder” so that people would not know that a war may be approaching and people would not ask if there is no reason to go to a war (e.g., tanaage agreement Senkaku).

Since some foreign newspapers use the relevant terms in their articles, I guess I am not the only person who thinks of these images.

(For example, “his reinterpretation sleight of hand”)

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