A few quick links before a brief absence

As of today, February 14th, I have exactly two weeks before I fly from Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek airport back to New Jersey’s Newark. With that deadline pressing on me, I’ve decided to take a week and head to see some places in the south (and maybe East?) of the island that I haven’t yet gotten around to. I’ll hop a bus this evening to Taizhong, look around that area during the day tomorrow, and then meet up with a former classmate from Ritsumeikan in the evening. That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I’ve got my Lonely Planet Taiwan to look over on the bus ride.

First up is one that I’m amazed hasn’t gotten more attention.

Japanese sue over disputed history textbook
TOKYO (Reuters) – A group of Japanese sued over a history textbook that critics say whitewashes Japan’s wartime aggression and has angered Asian neighbors, demanding on Thursday that a local government cancel its adoption of the text.

Japan’s Education Ministry approved the new edition of “The New History Textbook,” written by nationalist scholars, last April, prompting outrage in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s aggression until 1945 persist.

The lawsuit was filed by eight residents of Suginami, a residential district in western Tokyo that attracted media attention last year when it became one of the few school districts to adopt the junior high school textbook.

“As a resident, I can’t keep silent over the choice of an unwanted textbook for growing children,” Eriko Maruhama, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told a news conference.
Read full article.

This sounds like a reasonable course of action for local residents to take, since they allege that the school board chose the textbook for political reasons, despite it having been given a poor quality assessment by local teachers. Perhaps this lawsuit will have a similar effect to that of the Dover, Pennsylvania lawsuit which blocked that schoolboard from teaching intelligent design.

Next is something that I briefly mentioned on in this rather silly post the other day. As reported by the prolific Norimitsu Onishi in the New York Times, Tsuneo Watanabe, the publisher of Japan’s conservative Yomiuri newspaper, has recently been reconsidering the long term impact of some of the right wing policies he had promoted, particularly in regards to the international relations, miltarism, and the Yasukuni issue.

The Yomiuri is the world’s single best-selling daily newspaper, and its impact should not be underestimated. Of particular interest is the fact that Watanabe has actually joined with the Asahi Daily newspaper, Japan’s major left-leaning daily, and the Yomiuri’s chief rival, in calling for a national, religiously neutral, and internationally respectul memorial to replace Yasukuni for official purposes.

As rivals, it is not surprising that The Asahi Shimbun and The Yomiuri Shimbun often adopt different editorial viewpoints. Even so, a recent exchange between the heads of the editorial boards of the two major dailies found some common ground, especially regarding Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

The following is the abridged version of a discussion between Yoshibumi Wakamiya, chairman of The Asahi Shimbun’s editorial board, and Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of The Yomiuri Shimbun group, that originally appeared in the February issue of Ronza, the monthly commentary magazine published by The Asahi Shimbun.

Time Europe has an interesting article about how Olympic wannabes are opportunistically changing their citizenship, often based on tenuous third generation bloodline connections, to qualify for elegibility to participate in that country’s national Olympic team. While I have no interest whatsoever in the Olympic games themselves, I do always like to hear about new twists in conceptions of citizenship.

hockey’s crossover nationals are hardly anomalies in Torino, where plenty of athletes are competing under the flags of second or adopted homelands. The practice is so common in both Winter and Summer games that International Olympic Committee ( i.o.c.) President Jacques Rogge blasted some of them as “mercenaries” last November.

And last, but not least, more tragic news regarding our slimy brethren.

he mountain yellow-legged frog has survived for thousands of years in lakes and streams carved by glaciers, living up to nine months under snow and ice and then emerging to issue its raspy chorus across the Sierra Nevada range.

But the frog’s call is going silent as a mysterious fungus pushes it toward extinction.

“It’s very dramatic,” said Yosemite biologist Lara Rachowicz. “One year, you visit a lake and the population will seem fine. The next year you go back, you see a lot of dead frogs scattered along the bottom of the pond. In a couple years the population is gone.”
The frog population has dropped by 10 percent a year for five years, Rachowicz said at a gathering last month of 24 experts trying to save the frog.

4 thoughts on “A few quick links before a brief absence”

  1. Ahh, Yasukuni, everyone’s favorite non-issue. I kinda hope Aso becomes prime minister so all the debate over Yasukuni becomes pretty much irrelevant.

  2. No Joe, it has hit papers worldwide and was an issue of discussion with Bush and Koizumi. It is one of the reasons that Japan getting a seat on the security council in the UN was opposed so ferociously. It will continue to be an issue until the Japanese government resolves it once and for all.

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