Monthly Archives: May 2009

Trans-Pacific Radio Live at the Pink Cow, this Thursday

To fellow bloggers and blog readers in Tokyo, Trans-Pacific Radio, which makes Japan-oriented podcasts, is holding a live edition of its political commentary series, Seijigiri, at the Pink Cow in Shibuya this Thursday at 7:30pm. To quote the men themselves:

The event will open with a presentation on Trans-Pacific Radio, followed by the live Seijigiri. After that, there will be a special announcement and demonstration of TPR’s most recent project.

The live show itself will involve Garrett, Ken and the audience. The essential concept is that Seijigiri and the audience will have no barrier between them, and the show will be an interactive event.

We hope to see all of our listeners on Thursday June 4 and look forward to doing the show with you!

The Pink Cow website is here. You can RSVP at meetup or facebook. I plan to attend.

Summer travel plans

I have just booked a trip home for the summer. I will be flying from Kansai to Newark on August 18, flying from Newark to San Francisco on September 10, and flying from San Francisco back to Kansai on September 15. While back home in Montclair, New Jersey (that’s the NYC end of the state) I may also take a brief trip down to DC at some point, so anyone in any of those areas who wants to meet up, please drop me a line.

Aside from that, I am also planning to take a trip over to Korea either before or after my visit back home to visit some friends there and do a bit of sight-seeing, so if any readers in Seoul want to meet up then, also feel free to get in touch.

Is Yukio Hatoyama a “9-11 Truth” believer? 鳩山民主党代表は9・11陰謀論者なのか

Since this message is partly intended for a Japanese audience, I’ll start in that language:

陰謀論者で知られるジャーナリストのベンジャミン・フルフォードは、最近のブログで「民主党代表の鳩山由紀夫氏は最近911真実追究イベントに出席をしていた。」と述べている。普通はお笑いとしてしか読まないベンさんだが、今回の主張が正しいとすれば、これは大変なことになると考え、調べることにした。すると何と本当に「911真実追究イベント」に出席していた! (当時も日本人のブログでこのイベントを取り上げた

そのイベントとは、今年4月に参議院の外交防衛委員会で延々と9・11陰謀説を語ったことで有名な開催者の藤田議員参院議員(民主党)の著書「9.11テロ疑惑国会追及―オバマ米国は変われるか」の出版記念イベントで、鳩山さん(当時は民主党幹事長)がただ出席しただけでなく、演説も行った上に、次のように藤田さんの活動にエールを送っている。

鳩山さんは、このテロとの戦いの原点の追求の意義を述べると共に、入り口で「身辺をくれぐれも注意して下さい」と私に訴えた青年に応えるように、「命をかけても取り組む覚悟はありますよね!」と私の決意を確認して下さいました。

ご存知のように、9・11陰謀論はトンデモナイ話である。アメリカ政府による陰謀だと主張するものはごく一部の人たちだし、もし陰謀だとすれば、被害者や研究者などありえないぐらい何千人もの人たちが加担していることになる。「歴史とは勝者が紡ぐものに過ぎない」や「歴史とは、合意の上に成り立つ作り話以外の何物でもない」などの名言があるが、今回はそういう主張は当てはまらない。なぜなら、ネットを通じて世界がつながっている今、「敗者」も歴史を書くことが可能になったからだ。もしこのような陰謀説が正しいとすれば、アメリカの敵国が大きく取り上げるに違いない。もっとも、被害者の遺族がこのような陰謀説を信じるなら、彼らが大きな力を持っているので、耳を傾けてくれる人も多いはず。しかし、被害者の遺族もほとんどアルカイダによるテロだったと信じている。また、このように9・11を利用して有名になろうとしている輩は実にみっともないと思う。

もちろん、このようなイベントに参加しただけで、鳩山さんが9・11陰謀論者になるわけではない。鳩山さんの他の発言で9・11陰謀論は見当たらないので、彼がどう考えているのか分からない。しかし、彼の考えが曖昧では、上記のような行動を陰謀論者を支援しているように見えても仕方がないと思う。しかも、もし鳩山さんが総理になったら、この問題で日米関係が一気にダメになってしまいそうと心配してならない。鳩山さんはできるだけ早くこのような陰謀説を否定し、現実を見てほしいと思うのは僕だけだろうか。

Normally I don’t believe a word that Benjamin Fulford says, but this statement made off-hand in his latest blog post caught my eye:

Yukio Hatoyama, the head of the Democratic Party of Japan and likely winner of the July election made it a point recently to appear at a 911 truth conference. So Mr. cult leader, you know which way the wind is blowing.

Turns out, the first part of what he said is kind of true. According to Yukihisa Fujita, a DPJ Upper House member and leading proponent of 9-11 Truthism in Japan, Hatoyama gave a speech “representing the DPJ” at an event commemorating the release of Fujita’s new book,  Seeking 9/11 Truth at Japan’s Parliament – Can Obama Really Change the United States? This was back in April when Hatoyama was still just Secretary General of the DPJ.

Hatoyama apparently encouraged Fujita’s campaign to open a new investigation into the attacks. According to Fujita’s report of the event, Hatoyama “remarked on the significance of  investigating the source of this war on terrorism,”  and directly quoted him telling Fujita during the speech, “You are ready to give your life for these efforts, aren’t you?”

I don’t think I need to remind my readers just how misguided and unhinged the 9-11 Truth movement is. But briefly, all the mountains of supposedly damning evidence can be toppled with just one simple fact – it’s only the small group of whackos in the 9-11 Truth movement who think there was a conspiracy. Of all the victims’ families, the firefighters, and the voluminous credible scientific studies of what happened, none of them have any motive to coordinate and join this so-called conspiracy.

It isn’t my intention to cast guilt by association. But if Fujita (and Ben) are claiming Hatoyama to be a fellow traveler I’d like to know where Hatoyama stands, considering how close he is to the premiership. As a potential representative of Japan on the world stage, I would recommend Hatoyama to forcefully renounce any connection to these dangerous fantasies.

Krauthammer on Japan nukes

When I checked the news sites this morning I noticed that Andrew Sullivan had linked to this clip of Krauthammer calling for Japan to “declare itself a nuclear state” in response to North Korea’s becoming a “nuclear power,” with the comment “yeah, China will go for that.” For me, the bigger question is whether Japan would go for that. Although the possibility of a nuclear-armed Japan is less taboo than it used to be thanks to repeated broaching of the topic by a loose coalition of right-wing political figures, the public at large is still strongly opposed. For example, a public opinion survey conducted in November 2006 shows 14% in favor, 78% against. Those numbers will likely be shown to have changed slightly in the inevitable followup surveys to come within the next week or two, but I would not expect a radical shift.

Incidentally, take note of Krauthammer’s phrasing: “negotiations with the Japanese to encourage them to declare themselves a nuclear power.” He seems to be working under the widely held assumption that Japan already holds all of the technology necessary to build a nuclear bomb (almost certainly true), and had secretly laid all of the necessary groundwork short of the final stops (possibly, but less certain) in such a way that they could have weapons ready within weeks should they suddenly become permissible.

But even if the technology is ready, I just don’t see it happening. Constitutional revision allowing a more conventional military is slowly becoming more and more possible, but decades of anti-nuclear education will not be overturned as easily, whatever the fantasies of American neo-cons.

1984 in Japanese pop: “Careless Whisper” gone horribly wrong

Our frequent commenter Peter alerted me to the following travesty to 80’s music, which appeared in the 1984 Kohaku (“Red Versus White” New Year’s Eve song battle on NHK).

The translated title, Dakishimete Jiruba, is a bit cryptic at first. “Dakishimete” means something like “Hold me tight,” and jiruba is the Japanese transliteration of “jitterbug.”

I do not know what was wrong with Japan in 1984. But as it turns out, the only way to screw up this classic song even more is to have Hide from L’Arc~en~Ciel sing it in English. You might as well ask a random drunk in a karaoke box to try it.

South Africa’s rand is the world’s best performing – and best looking – currency

This was some interesting news (via Bloomberg):

South Africa’s rand, the world’s best-performing major currency this year, may rally another 4 percent if it breaks through 8.23 per dollar and stays there, based on technical analysis by Barclays Plc-owned Absa Capital.

Candlestick charting shows the rand closed stronger than its opening levels everyday last week, suggesting it’s “fighting” to appreciate further, said Judy Padayachee, a technical analyst at Johannesburg-based Absa. Even so, it has yet to remain stronger than the so-called “resistance” level of 8.23 per dollar, according to Padayachee.


Good for them. But thanks to this news I was pleasantly surprised at how awesome the rand looks. Buffalo power!

rand

The notes were redesigned after the end of apartheid in 1994. Here is what the old notes looked like:

old-rand

You can find out more about South Africa’s currency (with similarly intense drawings of lions and rhinos) here.

Weekend J-Pop: Ayumi Nakamura, “Tsubasa no Oreta Angel” (Angels with Broken Wings)


【中村あゆみ】 翼の折れたエンジェル (Ayumi Nakajima Nakamura, “Tsubasa no Oreta Angel” (Angels with Broken Wings))

This song from the 80s has a definite “Japanese woman sings Bruce Springsteen” feel to it, right down to the E Street Band-style saxophone. For lack of anything better to do, I listened to this song about 20 times on the way back from the US recently. You might remember it was used in a recent beer commercial, though I forget which one.