Gaimusho fires back

This is a bit out of date, but I thought it was worth posting anyway.

Gaimusho’s response to the NYT 02/13/05 editorial (click here to read) criticizing Foreign Minister Aso Taro:

To the Editor:
Re “Japan’s Offensive Foreign Minister” (editorial, Feb. 13):

Foreign Minister Taro Aso has neither justified nor denied Japan’s past history of colonial rule or wartime aggression. His recent speech on Asia made this crystal-clear, and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s statements on the subject on numerous occasions have reflected this notion. History classes in Japan do as well.

Nor did Mr. Aso say the emperor ought to visit Yasukuni Shrine in the present circumstances. He simply pointed out the need to consider a way that government representatives, as well as the emperor, could naturally honor the Japanese war dead without causing discomfort to neighboring countries.

Japan, by adhering to strictly defensive security policy, has never posed any threat to any other countries, including China, for the past 60 years. Mr. Aso welcomes China as a responsible partner, and its rise as an opportunity. He simply referred to international concerns over China’s consistent and nontransparent military activities and buildup. Given the regrettable incident of the trespass of a submerged nuclear submarine into Japan’s territorial waters, China must strive to meet your criterion of “no recent record of threatening Japan.”

Japan continues to encourage China to improve transparency in its military affairs in accordance with the Japan-United States Joint Statement issued by our countries’ foreign and defense ministers in February 2005.

Hiroshi Sato
Acting Consul General of Japan
New York, Feb. 18, 2006

Asian History Carnival approaching – submissions needed!

The Frog in a Well group Asian history blog (unaffiliated, but good name) is hosting the third Asian History Carnival on March 5rd and is still short on good submissions. If you are a blogger who has written anything since the previous carnival on December 12th or a blog reader who has spotted something that they think would make a good submission, either email it directly to Jonathan Dresner or use this handy web form for submission. Interested bloggers are also invited to pass along this request to their own readers.

What sort of material is Jonathan looking for? I’ll just quote his description.

When recommending postings for inclusion in the carnival you may submit your own work or suggest good posts by someone else. You may submit multiple posts, but not by the same blogger. The host, of course, is not bound by such restrictions, though we will attempt to provide as much geographical and chronological coverage as possible. Carnivals will be limited to posts written since the previous installment. As with most such carnivals, each host has final, absolute, and arbitrary authority with regard to inclusion, exclusion, scope, scale, format and presentation.

You do not have to be Asian, an historian, or a carny (you do have to be a blogger, at least once); all you have to do is blog about Asian history. Our definition of Asia, for the purposes of this carnival, is pretty much the same as that of the Association for Asian Studies: East Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Asia, Southeast Asia, Far East, Middle East, Near East, all regions are welcome.

Those who are still unsure about what sort of material is appropriate, or just want to read something about history (Nice thing about history posts-unlike current events commentary, they don’t go out of date!) should check out the previous two roundups.

Carnival #2 – Muninn, Decmeber 12, 2005
Carnival #1 – Frog in a Well – Japan, October 10th, 2005

Please try and send in submissions by March 4 so that Jonathan has time to collate them and organize the post.

Koizumi vs. the idiot box

The next target of Koizumi’s Deadly Big Government Assassination Squad?

Domo-kun, of course.

NHK “has too many stations. If NHK is to focus on overseas broadcasting, it will have to reduce some of the existing” channels, Koizumi said of a request he made to Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka during their meeting earlier in the day.

Some background on this: NHK is currently contemplating setting up an English-language channel, an idea that Koizumi has been pushing. This channel would serve honkies living in Japan, and also be available on cable and satellite overseas, like a backwards version of CNN or the BBC. There are some obvious problems with the concept: not many people overseas are likely to need a Japanese channel in English, and the channel doesn’t address the growing number of non-English-speaking foreigners in Japan, but the idea has something of a cool factor going for it.

Of course, another problem is paying for this through the existing license fee system. Many Japanese people are likely to object to subsidizing the new Gaijin Channel, so NHK may actually end up funding its overseas programming through the demons of advertising.

Japan’s “travel deficit”

If you follow Japan, you probably know about the “Yokoso! Japan” tourism promotion campaign. There are awesome TV spots featuring Koizumi and posters of creepy-looking foreign people. Japan is desperate to get tourist dollars.

Why? Japan might have a big trade surplus, but in terms of tourism, it exports much, much more than it imports. In 2004, for instance, travel from Japan accounted for $38.3bn in expenditures, while travel to Japan accounted for just $11.3bn, a 3.4:1 ratio. A recent JETRO report characterized this as a “travel deficit.”

Travel to Japan has been increasing over the last few years, while travel from Japan has been stable or slightly decreasing. Deflation in Japan probably has much to do with this; also, Japan has been more permissive about visas in recent years, while other countries have gotten stingier. I wonder if we’ll actually see results from this promotion campaign. My guess is: probably not really.

Codependent OPEC?

“Opec accuses Bush of threatening energy security”

So reads a headline in the Financial Times. One might (wrongly) expect the story to be about the latest barrage of criticism of Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East. So if it’s not about Iraq, Afghanistan or the Palestinians, what the heck is Opec so upset about?

The Opec oil cartel on Tuesday hit back at President George W. Bush, criticising the US and other consuming countries for pursuing energy policies that threatened energy security and the global economy.

Energy policies that threatened energy security, what?

Here’s an excerpt from the actual Opec statement:

“Alas, uncertainties are compounded by consumer government policies aimed at moving away from oil – moreover, oil from specific global regions – principally, as expressed by such consumers, for security of supply reasons.”

The group argues that the only way to ensure security of supply is by ensuring security of demand.

Is your head spinning yet?

They do have a point. Less demand leads to falling prices and falling revenues for producers, which means there’s less money to invest in new exploration or extraction activities.

Fair enough, but do these people honestly think that more money in the pockets of a few rich oil magnates is going to increase the security of the region? They’ve had plenty of time (during which demand has been rather high, one might add) to stabilze things and the only thing many have managed to accomplish is to worsen domestic inequalities by poorly managing massive oil revenues.

FDI Addendum

This is exactly what I was talking about.

From today’s FT:

Yesterday Italian politicians called for French takeover bids for Italian groups to be blocked, in retaliation for France’s efforts to protect its energy sector.

“There is a risk that over time this dynamic triggers a series of tit-for-tat reactions,” said Mr Casey [of the Centre for European Policy Studies]. “That is precisely how the great depression started: one country after the other erected barriers and finally free trade just ground to a halt.”

I don’t expect a new great depression anytime soon, but let’s hope everyone will soon calm down and come to their senses.

Aso on the non-offensive

Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who has no problem offending Koreans and Chinese on a regular basis, apparently doesn’t like to offend Muslims.

Aso criticized some European publications Monday for printing contentious cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, calling such action “shallow.”

“Even people like us who are not Muslims know the fact that idolatry is absolutely impossible (in Islam),” Aso told a Diet committee. “If someone familiar with that kind of thing did so, I say, from my personal feelings, it could have been shallow.”

Now I’m imagining the Saturday Night Live version of Chris Matthews interviewing Aso on “Hardball.”

MATTHEWS: This is great! Say something even more contradictory!
ASO: The U.S. government should stop glorifying war by building monuments to dead soldiers.
MATTHEWS: Keep it coming!
ASO: Asia should open up its markets to Japanese rice exports.
MATTHEWS: Wow! You’re unstoppable!
ASO: And the UK should give up its royal family…
MATTHEWS: (head explodes)

Ah, if only he weren’t #6 in the post-Koizumi opinion polling, he would make one hilarious Prime Minister.

Takara, Tomy Merge, Force Creepy Flagship Characters to Fight to the Death in Thunderdome-like Battle for Supremacy

Just kidding about the fighting part, but get a load of that walking nightmare on the left! I can feel her extracting my soul with her plastic eyes.

(Link on picture goes to Japanese story. English press release here. Takara makes the Game of Life and Tomy specializes in licensed baby toys like Teletubbies and Thomas the Tank Engine)

Harry Potter and the Filler of Big

A couple of years ago the fact that a fake sequel to Harry Potter was illegally published in China made headlines and drew large amounts of attention online. And yet, despite the huge numbers of blogs that linked to the story at the time, nobody had any decent visual evidence, or any details beyond that in the short BBC article I linked to above.

When I went to China for the first time in 2003, one of my main goals was to locate a copy of one of these fake Harry Potter novels. As I was utterly unable to speak Chinese at that time, when I and my travel companion passed a movie theatre showing the film I noted down the Chinese title in the little notebook I carried in my pocket. (哈利 波特) so that I could show it to a bookstore clerk in the hope of finding my very own fake Harry Potter novel, nestled alongside the real ones.

After trying a couple of different bookstores, I met with success! There were actually two different fake Harry Potter novels alongside the real four that had already been published at that time. While neither one of them was the famous Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon (see an English translation of a few paragraphs of that novel here), but they were still gloriously, authentically fake, and of course I bought them both.

Here, for your pleasure, are scans of the front and rear cover of the first of my amazing purchases, which for various reasons have not been presented until now. As you can see, the English title is “Harry Potter and the Filler of Big.” The Chinese title is literally “Harry Potter and the Great Funnel,” which goes at least 35% of the way towards explaining the English translation.

Later on I will post some scans of the interior, lovingly illustrated using bad clip-art, and very possibly type-set using dramatically out of date software. I’ll also post some scans of my second fake Harry Potter novel, which according to what one could ironically call the copyright information page, is entitled “Harry Potter and beaker snd burn.” And as a special bonus, some sample art from a Harry Potter dojinshi from Japan.

Harry Potter and the Filler of Big (Front Cover)

Harry Potter and the Filler of Big (Back Cover)

Tell spyware to get off your property

One of the coolest technology law developments I’ve seen lately is based on a really, really old idea.

In the very recent case of Thomas Kerrins v. Intermix Media, Inc., a federal court in Los Angeles just held that trespass was a viable legal theory to address the alleged distribution of spyware and adware programs.

…The plaintiff raised various claims, including the ancient claim of trespass to chattels. Traditionally, trespass to chattels refers to the interference with or taking of another’s personal property. It now is being applied by the courts to address the improper access to and interference with computers, networks and servers.

In this case, the defendant moved to dismiss the trespass claim, arguing that the plaintiff had not alleged sufficient interference with his computer. The court disagreed, as the showing of interference or harm required is not stringent. Because the plaintiff had asserted that the defendant’s spyware and adware damaged his existing software, reduced the efficiency of his computer system, and that the removal of the spyware and adware required the time and expense of a computer specialist, the plaintiff had more than adequately stated his claim.

It totally makes sense, and I hope more courts adopt this doctrine in the future. Now I want a firewall that says TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED.