With the sad news that a top English-language political blogger (one of the few who reads the weeklies and their more scurrilous political articles) and unapologetic apologist has passed away at an all-too-young age, let me tackle a recent Light Gist on the Japan Times, an article billed as 25 quotes that defined the year, but which reads more like lots of reasons why the LDP and JRP suck.
1. "I want to make sure that Japan does not become another Tibet," said then-Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara in April
OK, that’s fine.
2. In November, Ishihara said it was "high time" that Japan considered possessing nuclear arms as a deterrent against China, a country he repeatedly called "Shina," a term widely considered derogatory, if not racist.
This usage was prohibited in Japan in 1946 through a notification from a deputy foreign minister. At that time, Japan was occupied by the U.S. and the other Allied powers. News reports were submitted for screening prior to publication, and the publication of printed matter was suspended. With this as a backdrop, this unusual restriction on speech was issued requiring that the country be called Chugoku. The notification also included the frightening phrase that Shina was not to be used, “with no argument”.
3. "I have said (repeatedly) that there was no Nanjing Massacre," Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura told reporters
Yup, denying Nanjing is offensive.
4. It was another rich year for whitewashers of history. In August, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto tweeted at length about the "comfort women" issue, urging the "Korean side to produce proof" they actually existed.
Furthermore, Hashimoto asked for proof that "the comfort women were assaulted by the army, threatened, and led away."
6. Ishihara led the calls for Niwa’s head, saying he failed to make clear the islands are "an integral part of Japanese territory." Before heading into the diplomatic sunset, Niwa made another stab at speaking truth to power
Is Mr McNeill implying that they aren’t part of Japan? Or is he just assuming everything Ishihara says is false by default?
9. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan ended the year losing his Tokyo constituency seat, a humiliating turnaround for a politician feted by some for saving Tokyo.
Feted mostly by foreigners.
10. But Kan’s decision to confront Tepco amid rumors on March 15, 2011, that it was preparing to abandon the Fukushima No. 1 plant was "critical," Shiozaki acknowledged. "The worst would have happened, for sure. Fukushima would totally have gone out of control. Six power plants exploding. Four spent fuels evaporating. And east Japan would probably have been a disaster."
A recovery for Saint Kan, but I wonder if these two quotes are out of context?
15. In a September editorial, The Yomiuri Shimbun called Seoul’s claims to the Senkaku/Dokdo Islands "far-fetched" and sniffed that South Korean President Lee Myung Bak had gone "beyond acceptable limits" by visiting them the month before. Lee then infuriated the Yomiuri and conservative Japanese when he reportedly said the Emperor would have to "apologize to victims of Japan’s colonial rule" before he could visit the country. (It wasn’t clear if this is what he actually said.)
This is my favourite of these far-fetched claims from Ampontan:
One is a relief map at the entrance that claims Usan = Dokdo. The relative positions of Ulleong and Usan are shown based on the oldest surviving map of the Korean Peninsula, Paldo Jido (or Chongdo) (1530). To the left (west) is Ulleong, and to the right (east) is Usan, with a distance between them of 87.4 kilometers. But the actual map itself shows Usan to the left and Ulleong to the right. It is intentionally falsified material to show that Usan = Dokdo.
And "it wasn’t clear […] what he actually said" because he claims he was misquoted (although this was a videotaped speech), and it wasn’t the Emperor, but the "King of Japan" that Lee talked about, a term that is offensive to Japanese of both right and left, barring republicans, I would guess.
16. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda lamented that Lee’s hardline stance against Japan was "regrettable and hard to understand," though it was in fact perfectly understandable: Lee was playing domestic politics after three meetings with Noda failed to produce any further Japanese apology or compensation for Korea’s wartime sex slaves, known euphemistically as "comfort women."
22. In December, Japan’s electorate trudged to the polls again for what has become a grim annual rite of passage.
What? It’s been three years since the last lower house election. And what is a "rite of passage" in this sense? I suppose it’s supposed to mean picking a new Prime Minister, but that is not done by the public either every year or this year.