Gyoza Ohsho opens in Shanghai to surprisingly warm reception

From TBS (video available at the site):

In Shanghai, where anti-Japanese demonstrations have been occurring for weeks, the recently-opened Japanese-style ramen (the Japanese name for Chinese noodle soup) stores are enjoying healthy business. One, a ramen store , specializing in Japanese flavors such as tonkotsu (hogbone) and salt flavor, opened very close to the Japanese Consul General in Shanghai. The store, owned by Osaka Ohsho Co., owners and operators of the famous Gyoza No Ohsho chain, is their first expansion into China.

However, the infamous anti-Japanese protests occurred when they tentatively opened their doors preceding their Grand Opening festivities.

“After hearing that some other Japanese restaurants had been damaged, we hurried to postpone our Grand Opening,” said Mr. Fujioka Hisashi, a manager at the restaurant.

Since then, they have been doing business while avoiding promotional activities, but the curious people of Shanghai, always craving new things, have made the new restaurant busy through word of mouth.

“The only trouble was on the day of the demonstration, and it’s disarmingly normal ever since,”Said Fujioka.

The youth of Shanghai display their anti-Japanese feelings at the demostrations April 16, but at the same time you can’t deny the reality that people in Shanghai are strongly enamored of Japanese fashion and food, showing that you can’t just look at one side to explain the complicated Sino-Japanese relationship.

Why does Koizumi really visit Yasukuni?

I noticed that we were being linked to by this slightly curious post on a forum devoted to the Chinese Military.

Full of Japanese insisting that Jap nats are as much lunatic fringe as certain members on this forum.

I sincerely do not believe that Koizumi, if he did not have to do it for the political advantage in the Japanese representative democracy, would go to that particular shrine if he had the choice. It’s not worth ruining relations with China and Korea, and if Japan wants to become a normal country it has to at least stop it with the shrine visits: it can argue that it has given sufficient reparations for its abuses during WW2 and its occupation of China and Korea, but certainly there is no sense in the war criminal shrine.

First of all, why in hell would he think that we’re Japanese? I can’t imagine anything that would suggest that even remotely.

Second, in response to the idea that Koizumi is forced to engage in the Yasukuni shrine visits because of domestic political concerns and not his own beliefs. I agree that this is the case, but not in the way that the poster suggests.

The important thing to remember is that while Japan is a country with a democratically elected parliament, their head of government is a prime minister chose by the elected parliament, and not directly chosen by the people. What this means is that Koizumi does not have to appeal directly to any voters outside of his home territory of Kanagawa prefecture district 11 (Yokosuka and Miura Cities). He is prime minister due to the fact that he is the president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and when he engages in activity best described as ‘pandering to his base’, i.e. the Yasukuni visits, he is pandering not to the general electorate of Japan as say a US President must, but to the LDP Diet members that actually selected him as Prime Minister.

Let me clarify some more. The LDP, despite the name, is in fact the most conservative of all the major political parties in Japan. Koizumi is actually a member of the most liberal faction of the LDP (the LDP is divided into formally organized factions, something like sub-parties that band together for political strength). Ever since he rose to prominence in the party he has been a controversial figure, a driving force for economic structural reform and various significant liberalizations in Japan’s domestic policy. How exactly did a young, divorced geisha-dating, liberal reformer get to be the president of the conservative right-wing virtually unchallenged for half a century Liberal Democratic Party? Yasukuni.

The visits to Yasukuni are Koizumi’s deal with the devil. To secure the support of enough of the arch-conservative power bosses within the party, to get himself into the position from which he would have a chance to even attempt to reform the stagnant and sometimes corrupt Japanese economic machine he had to give them something in return. When he won the presidency of the LDP, he had already lost twice before and it probably looked to him as if he would never be able to succeed without making a concession. What he promised them was that in exchange for cooperation, he would make annual pilgrimages to Yasukuni.

He may very well have been morally opposed to the visits, and he was probably smart enough to realize the potential damage to diplocatic ties with former colonies, but as a politician he decided that domestic reform was a higher priority. Having made that promise, his only choices are to continue the visits or all his entire career to self-distruct. After a significantly weaker showing in the most recent major Diet election the LDP is getting worried, his massively important postal privatization plan almost stalled completely, and time is running out for him to make his mark.

Something that is implicit from all I’ve said above, but I have not yet quite stated explicitly, is that although Prime Minister Koizumi’s annual visits to Yasukuni are required by domestic political concerns, they still do not necessarily reflect any widespread demand for him to do so. He was forced into it to secure the support of a minority faction of his own party, to give him the majority within the party that he needed to become president of the party and then Prime Minister.

I don’t honestly know how much support there is within Japan for the Yasukuni visits, or how strong the nationalist right-wingers have become. From what I have seen, and from what I have heard from people who were in Japan long before I was even born, it does seem that the nationalists have gotten more vocal recently, but are still very, very far from having anything that you could call a popular mandate. I believe that it would be a tragedy for radicals to rise to power again in Japan, and I hope that ultimately the more sensible moderates will prevail. Some people seem to think the radical right-wingers have already won, but I am just trying to explain that this is far from the case. They are only becoming more organized and more vocal, and hopefully the quiet opposition is nothing but a slow response.

Koizumi and pals offer olive branch to China

Koizumi apologizes once again to former colonies at an Asia/Africa development and aid summit in Jakarta BBC report

Addressing delegates, Mr Koizumi said: “In the past Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations.

Yomiuri also reports quotes him as saying

Despite becoming an economic superpower, Japan will not become a military superpower, and whatever problems arise will adhere to the position of peaceful resolution without calling upon violence.

Perhaps Mister Koizumi will be able to make peace with China with the help of his new friends.

Here is Prime Minister Koizumi with Japan’s twin mascots for human rights. The characters are ‘cleverly’ given names that both sound like real Japanese names and appropriate words. Mamoru Jinken (translates to ‘protecting human rights’) on the left and Ayumi Jinken (steps towards human rights)on the right.

Fascist wannabes in Japan fight back against Chinese protests

Japan Times report:

These fascist wannabes are the same guys who hire yakuza wannabes to drive around in silly trucks and forced a manga publisher to withdraw a piece of historical fiction that depicted the Nanjing Massacre. I really hope that the far more reasonable majority has the guts to stop paying attention to these morons.

On April 12, a man called a broadcasting company in Fukuoka saying there would be an explosion at the Chinese Consulate General in the city later in the day, Fukuoka police said.

The caller said he had planted 10 kg of explosives that would go off at 7 p.m., police said.

The consulate the same day also received a razor along with a letter of protest over the anti-Japan demonstrations in China, and a razor blade was also sent to another consulate in the city of Nagasaki, the Chinese Embassy said.

Police searched the consulate’s premises and found no explosives, and are investigating the case as a malicious hoax.

On Friday, an envelope containing harmless starch-like white powder was sent to the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo in an apparent anthrax threat, police said over the weekend.

Also that day, a mailbox doorplate and intercom at the Tokyo residence of Chinese Ambassador Wang Yi were found sprayed with red paint.

274 Municipalities pay officials who walk to work “commuting benefits”

This man is from Hokkaido. He definitely didn't cheat the government.
It is customary in Japan for employers to pay transportation fees for their workers. Don’t tell anyone, but it is equally customary for workers to use this system to scam their oppressors, with the most popular method being to lie about one’s route (e.g.: Claim to take the expensive JR but in fact commute by a cheap private railway. Combine this with the 50% children’s discount for maximum damage). Now, it seems like even local governments are in on the act:

(4/19/05) The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the results of a special survey on April 19 thats finds 274 municipalities in 31 prefectures are paying commuting benefits to city workers who walk to their jobs. National public servants do not receive such stipends for walking to work, and must commute at least more than 2km one way if they do use some mode of transportation. 244 of the municipalities were paying benefits to people living within 2km of their workplace as well (WTF alert: but 30 weren’t?!).
This Saitama man commented on the condition of anonymity.
The Ministry stated, “We demand that the payment of local public servants conforms to the standards of their national counterparts, and paying commuting benefits for people who walk is improper,” seeking speedy review from local governments.

The survey results are current as of Jan. 1 of this year, and were taken after the “hospitality” scandals (fraudulent overtime etc.) among Osaka’s public servants. Aichi Prefecture was the worst, with 38 municipalities. Fukuoka followed with 28, and Saitaima was 3rd with 23. As a whole, there were most in Western Japan, and there were no such incidents found in Hokkaido or the Tohoku (Northeast) region.

The highest monthly benefit payment (for workers living within 2km of their workplaces) was in Hekinan, Aichi, with 5750 yen. Most payments were 1000-4000 yen, and the smallest was Kitakyushu city with 100 yen per month.

In Hekinan, workers received commuting benefits on 8 levels based on distance without regard to mode of transportation, with workers living within 1km receiving 4950 yen per month and those within 2km receiving 5750 yen. Only 14 people actually walk to work in Hekinan, with most employees electing to drive (as of April 1). The city explained, “We based our system on our surrounding areas and the way we’ve done things up to now,” but in response to the criticism has reduced its payments to 2500 yen for workers within 1km and 5000 yen for those within 2km.

Quotes from the Tsukurukai text

A quick look at my last posts made me realize I forgot why I was posting: to show excerpts from the new textbooks!

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the protesters in China and Korea have not read them for themselves. The Tsukurukai realizes this and plans to post free Chinese and Korean translations online in the near future.

Recent arguments I’ve seen characterize these textbooks as “not glorifying war but merely deviating from leftist doctrine that Japan invaded other nations just for the sake of invading.” However, these aren’t scholarly texts, they’re meant to be read by 14-year-olds who have to be told what to think. The fact that Tsukurukai has made texts for such an impressionable audience guarantees controversy and makes it difficult to deny that they are tools of persuasion. And picking battles such as the Nanjing massacre, comfort women, et cetera is like kicking someone when they’re down and belies the more extremist beliefs of the authors.

Anyway, trying to analyze all this is making my head spin. Let’s take a look at some excerpts. I got these from the online newsletter of The Marxist Faction of the Revolutionary Communist Union of Japan (so take it with a grain of salt!):

These “history” textbooks erase both the comfort women and the forced march of Koreans from history, and treats the Nanjing Massacre, the gravest sin of the “imperial army”, as if it substantively didn’t happen with such lines as “There were several killed and wounded among the Chinese army and civilians,” “There is disagreement on the actual number killed” et cetera. Throughout it regards The Japanese Empire’s invasion of Asia as the “Emancipation of Asia”, and makes claims that “Japan’s actions bolstered the people’s of Asia” to “quicken the pace of independence movements” in Asian countries. This text seems to know no bounds for scandal. What’s more, in the “Civics” textbook, the “Constitutional Reform” section romanticizes the Constitution of the Japanese Empire (the Meiji Constitution), comparing it favorably to the “imposition of the GHQ” as our current constitution is characterized. It goes on to rationalize worsening the constitution, emphasizing the rationalization of “the right to self defense” and “the duty of national security”.

↑Seems to repeat the same problems from 2001.

Ministry of Education Instructs revision to say “Takeshima (Dokdo) is illegally occupied by Korea”

They didn’t stop there. The Ministry of Education instructed the textbook publishers to revise the caption “Takeshima, the island over which We are in territorial confrontation with South Korea” under a picture of Takeshima/Dokdo, explaining that “there is a fear that there would be misunderstanding over territorial rights”. As a result, the publishers revised it to say, “This is Japan’s exclusive territory, but South Korea is illegally occupying it.”

That’s all for now. Coming up: choice quotes from Japanese editorials on the subject and the right wing’s reaction. Also I might take a look at Wiki Japan, not sure. Stay tuned!

Looking at “Tsukuru-kai”

It looks like Japan-China tensions just might become a dominant theme of 2005. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse after Foreign Minister Machimura returned to Japan empty-handed, a Tokyo court rejected claims for compensation of Chinese victims of Japan’s chemical warfare in WW2. Although China has offered to pay for damage to the Japanese embassy caused by hands-off approach to security, it has no plans to let up pressure on Japan to give as-yet unspecified concessions. While there was a message on Chinese TV calling on Chinese not to take part in “illegal” demonstrations, there’s no guarantee that China won’t authorize a new round of legal protests.

On the Japanese side, Machimura’s visit has been described as Japan’s “last card” and the government wants the textbook issue to be seen as a domestic problem, off limits to negotiation. Here’s how I see it: China and Japan are not foolish enough to let this affect their economic relationship, let alone place sanctions each other or God forbid fire on each other (Of course I could be wrong, the CCP is unpredictable and I know very little about it — comments welcome). China simply sees the run-up to the September vote on UNSC expansion as perhaps the weakest point in postwar Japanese diplomatic history. Japan will likely the support of 90 Why miss the opportunity to shake a few concessions out of Japan while you’ve got them by the balls? And of course it is very much in Japan’s interest to make a compromise because a permanent UNSC seat will give Japan a much stronger diplomatic position in the future. (Although with the new developments it looks like many nations want to stall for time, citing contempt for “artificial deadlines”).

But enough about that — I’m here to talk about the current sticking point in Japan-China relations, the 新しい歴史教科書を作る会 (the “Make new history textbooks association”, or “Tsukurukai” for short). These are the people making the offending textbooks (Published by Fusosha) that have caused thousands in China to protest and some people in Korea to cut their fingers off. Their tenets:

1. Assert — renew Japan’s history textbook to give an appreciation for Japan’s traditions and history to the children.

2. Fight “masochism” — Don’t let outside countries influence our textbook inspection system (citing the first instance of such, in 1986 as being the result of “misreporting”), get rid of “foreign pressure” and make textbooks for JAPAN, not other countries.

3. Action — call for public support to “fix” an unjust history such as the uncritical acceptance of the idea that the comfort women were forced into service. On a side note, much of action they take to gain support is actually pressure on those who disagree with them. The recent lawsuit against a Chiba library that refused to accept the textbooks brought by the Tsukurukai is just one example of this. Another is the pulling of a manga depicting the Nanjing Massacre.

4. Passing inspection — Making the necessary changes to get the textbooks approved for use in classrooms. The site, from 2001, says that it will make the necessary changes to help “achieve a balance in the quality of Japan’s self-image”. Again, the Tsukurukai places a huge amount of pressure on the inspectors, which I cannot document presently but would like to.

5. Implementation — Get the textbooks used. It’s been noted that they haven’t been too successful in this regard, but as other have commented it has had an effect as well.

6.Agreement — This is, I believe, the main goal of this Association. That is, make enough noise to create a “fair and balanced” textbook industry. No textbooks refer to a Nanjing “Massacre” but instead a Nanjing “Incident”, which is a pretty clear-cut win for Tsukurukai.

A lot of people (especially the protesters in China and Korea) are saying: why the hell doesn’t Japan change its textbooks? Japan’s government does guarantee free speech, so it is somewhat defensible for them to avoid stepping in themselves. However, there is a recent precedent for holding people accountable for causing “meiwaku” (a nuisance) to the Japanese government because of stupid things they were doing — the Iraqi hostages. There was even talk by one government official (Koizumi, I think) of making them pay for their own ride home, a sentiment shared by probably a majority of people.

But where is the popular movement condemning the bothersome actions of Tsukurukai? Aside from the obvious bullying and pressure that would come from reproaching the rightists, one of the reasons I don’t expect to see many cries of ‘meiwaku’ is the way the issue is being formed as a ‘domestic’ issue that Japan should be defensive about. Japan is asking CHINA to apologize (although Koizumi said he’d stop that at the summit next week) not the publishers.

I hate to say it, but the fact that the govt and media are giving the rightists a free pass on this one might have something to do with the fact that their ideas resonate with a large part of the government and the people themselves. Criticism by the Chinese only seems to back up
the validity of the textbooks’ claims. And as much sense as it makes to compare this to the Iraq hostage situation, sentiments like that are strictly a one way street — when some leftist wackos embarrass the govt (Iraq) they are stupid, when some rightist wackos stand up for Japan, they’re all but heroes.

Anti-Japan Protests Spread to Vietnam

From Reuters Japan:

Anti-Japanese Protests Held at Japanese Embassy in Vietnam
Apr. 17, 2005 7:03pm JST

HANOI (4/17, Reuters) Anti-Japanese protests were held in front of the Japanese embassy in Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi.

Wearing headbands, the participants shouted anti-Japanese slogans into bullhorns and waved banners written in English and Chinese characters. One of the banners read “Japan get out!”

The demonstrators are said to be expatriate Chinese living in Vietnam.

日本語の原稿を読むにはREAD THE REST をクリックしてください。
Continue reading Anti-Japan Protests Spread to Vietnam

攻撃を受けた日本総領事館、中国国旗に換えられる More lame protests in China UPDATED

UPDATE 2: JANJAN has good coverage with lots of links to video (Japanese).

UPDATE: Chinese protestors attack Shanghai Japanese Consulate, put up a Chinese flag:

Detailed video of Shanghai demonstrations (Japanese)

More pictures of the demonstration (With a nice Engrish wording of the Japanese reaction: “Holding the Beijing Olympics is impossible.”)

Saru, all bets are off: the protests went ahead on Saturday despite claims by the CCP that they would keep them in check. From Japan Today:

Thousands protest in China; Japan’s consulate, restaurants in Shanghai attacked

Thousands of Chinese marched on the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai on Saturday, hurling bottles and other objects as they accused Japan of distorting its aggression against China before and during World War II, and calling for a boycott of Japanese goods. Protesters vandalized three Japanese-themed restaurants before breaking at least nine windows at the consulate. They also broke the cash register at a “shabu-shabu” restaurant in Shanghai’s prime shopping district.

Unless they get out of hand, the protests don’t seem to mean much by themselves. I am interested to see what Japan’s reaction to all this will be.