Uncontent with barking up trees, Chinese plaintiffs switch to pissing in wind

Since Japanese courts will not award them compensation, Chinese plaintiffs are now suing the Japanese government in Chinese courts to claim damages for Japanese actions during World War II.

None of the more than 20 cases since the early 1990s had ended in success, Tong Zeng, a campaigner for the cause and chairman of the non-government Chinese Association for Claiming Compensation from Japan, was quoted on Monday as saying.

“The likelihood of us winning the cases in the Japanese courts, influenced by right-wing forces who show no remorse at all, is very small” the Beijing Times quoted Tong as saying.

The Japanese government insists that the issue of war reparations was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, that formally ended the war, and by later bilateral treaties. It says all wartime compensation issues concerning China were settled by a 1972 joint statement establishing diplomatic ties.

But Chinese courts also had jurisdiction over the claims and could hand down more fair verdicts — by trial in absentia if necessary, Tong was quoted as saying, adding the number of the lawsuits might jump due to the lower cost.

Now, I’m sure a Chinese court can get around Paragraph 5 of the Joint Communique of 1972:

The Government of the People’s Republic of China declares that in the interest of the friendship between the Chinese and the Japanese peoples, it renounces its demand for war reparation from Japan.

‘Cuz, after all, it isn’t the government asking for reparations. But that’s besides the point.

Unfortunately for these plaintiffs, they’re obviously wasting their time, because you can’t effectively sue the Japanese government in China. This badly formatted but still useful summary details how foreign judgments are enforced in Japan. You have to go to Japanese court, and they have to make the following analysis before giving an injunction to enforce the foreign judgment.

Article 118 of the Code of Civil Procedure

A foreign judgment which has become final and conclusive shall have effect only if it satisfies the following conditions:

i. the foreign court has jurisdiction according to laws or treaties;

ii. where the defendant has lost the case, he was notified of the litigation by service of documents (except service by publication) or he had entered appearance before the foreign court;

iii. neither the judgment nor the procedure of the foreign court is contrary to the ordre public of Japan; and

iv. there exists reciprocity.

Japanese courts refuse to enforce foreign judgments on “public policy” grounds all the time. For instance, if a Japanese defendant is ordered to pay punitive damages by a U.S. court, no Japanese court will enforce that part of the verdict, because punitive damages are against “public policy” under Japanese law.

Given that these “right-wing” Japanese courts have already dismissed many claims for reparations, who’s to think that they’ll change their mind just because the case was tried in a different forum?

I’ll grant you that these new lawsuits in China will be a PR field day for the Chinese government. A verdict might come down; Chinese police might try to seize Japanese assets in China, or something crazy like that, and will probably make governments the world over scratch their heads about whether they really want to do business in the Middle Kingdom.

But that’s all they’ll be good for. Aside from having their issue publicized, the plaintiffs are not going to benefit. Meanwhile, watch as Sino-Japanese relations become even more screwed up. I’m glad to be living in Japan, where most people don’t subscribe to this lunacy (they have much more interesting lunacies here).

News to Me: Brooklyn native elected to Inuyama, Aichi Pref. City Council in 2003

It seems I am a bit late to the ball, but as a follow up to my bit on the expanding role of foreigners in Japan in my “Japan apologists” post, I’d like to introduce you to the first American elected official in Japan, Anthony Bianchi, who was voted into the city council of Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture in April 2003. The best way for you to learn about him is to listen to this 2003 NPR interview (Requires Windows Media Player). The native Brooklynite came to Japan as an English teacher in 1989, married a Japanese woman and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2002 after 3 years of paperwork. It’s great to hear him explain in his thick Brooklyn accent how he managed to get more votes (3,000) than any native-born Japanese candidate in the election.

He explains that the keys to his huge success were: a) His years of teaching produced a large contingent of people of voting age who knew him from being his student; and b) Dissenting voters appreciated his promises to bring a more open style of politics to the city. In Inuyama, a suburb of Nagoya with a population of 73,000, he was able to ride his close relations with the citizens and a populist platform (given all the more relevance by his status as an experienced outsider) to victory in a low-turnout election.

Bianchi speaks in an earnest, convincing manner and uses American-style aggressive political tactics to push populist causes. His first initiative was easy: he demanded that the mayor carry out a plan to broadcast city council proceedings on the Internet, something that many other cities had done already but that Inuyama had been dragging its feet on. But it made for great press when he demanded the change in his first question after being elected. Thankfully, he did it, so now the world can watch him spout off about fascinating topics like government procurement and public comment systems here (requires Internet Explorer).

Bianchi’s story is a fascinating example of how a Western foreigner can successfully assimilate in Japan. He campaigned on a platform of “Protect traditions together and make the future bright for the sake of Inuyama,” and his homepage exclaims, “Progress over precedent, common sense over ordinances!” He also looks to be very involved in the Japanese vision of “internationalization” meaning lots of cultural exchanges and eikaiwa classes.

Bianchi’s political style stands in stark juxtaposition with that of a better-known Western-born activist in Japan, Debito Arudo (Pictured below). Debito, also a naturalized Japanese citizen who was born and raised in the US (California), is much more confrontational, divisive, and preoccupied with identity politics. Continue reading News to Me: Brooklyn native elected to Inuyama, Aichi Pref. City Council in 2003

Bazooms go boom

In the news:

[Virgin Galactic] spokesman Will Whitehorn told The Sun safety concerns have come to light for those who want to be launched in groups of eight to an altitude of more than 60 miles for 7 minutes of weightlessness.

“We’ve discovered there may well be issues with breast augmentation,” he said. “We’re not sure whether they could stand the trip — they could well explode.”

Now there’s something all those anime artists didn’t foresee.

FUNNY: Fake “The Office” PSAs on NBC

Apparently, this is an April Fool’s Day stunt: fake PSAs are being aired on NBC, featuring the cast of “The Office.” For example:

You might be out with your friends on the weekend in a cool part of town, and someone offers you a beer for nine dollars. Don’t do it. Nine dollars is way too much to pay for a beer. Just walk away.

In a feat of true generosity, NBC put all of them online. Enjoy.