Saddam’s last novel published in Japanese

Reuters is reporting that Saddam Hussein’s last novel, entitled “Get Out of Here, Curse You” in it’s original edition, has just been published in Japan by a minor publishing company.

The book, believed to have been written on the eve of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and titled “Devil’s Dance” in its Japanese translation, hit stores around the nation Friday.

Jordan banned the book on the grounds it could damage ties with Iraq, but pirated copies of the tale of an Arab tribesman who defeats foreign invaders became a bestseller in Amman.

The original manuscript was smuggled out of Iraq by one of Saddam Hussein’s daughters, Raghad, and a copy given to Japanese journalist and translator Itsuko Hirata.

“The novel is dated to the times of ancient tribal society but the tribal warfare depicted in the novel is strikingly similar to what happened and is happening in the Iraqi war — totally,” Hirata told Reuters before the book’s release.

“He (Saddam) knew he was heading into a war he couldn’t win, so I think with this book he was trying to make his position clear and send a message to the Iraqi people.”

The book jacket text reads:

Worldwide first edition!
This is an indictment, and a warning.

That Hussein wrote a novel.

Anyone interested in ordering the book can get it from Amazon Japan here. I expect that the English translation that has most likely already been prepared by CIA analysts will not be published, so this may be your best shot.

Education Law: our issue this Sunday

A bill to revise the Education Law made it down to the floor of the Diet last week, and the LDP looks set to push it through by the end of next month. The bill has three basic goals:

  1. Take the 9-year compulsory education period out of the law (it’s already provided for in another law, and may be revised in the near future anyway)
  2. Add provisions for life education, private schools, and home schooling.
  3. Make instilling patriotism one of the formal goals of the education system.

The last point is what has held up the rest of the bill in committee, since some fear that too much nationalism would be a Bad Thing. The language that finally made it to the floor is 我が国と郷土を愛する態度を養う – “instill an attitude of love of our country and homeland.” Even if the few remaining left-wingers in the Diet don’t have problems with that, you can bet that a lot of the teachers will, especially in the major cities where schools are dominated by more “liberal” (in the American sense) types. Should be fun to watch the bickering.

Oh crap

I finally got my passport back on Friday from the Japanese Consulate in New York with my new working visa plastered in and I’m finally ready to book a flight over, and the New York Times has to go and run THIS story!

Brace yourself for a summer of miserable air travel.

Planes are expected to be packed fuller than at anytime since World War II, when the airlines helped transport troops. Fares are rising. Service frills are disappearing.

Logjams at airport security checkpoints loom as the federal government strains to keep screener jobs filled. The usual violent summer storms are expected to send the air traffic control system into chaos at times, with flight delays and cancellations cascading across the country.

ALC to the translation rescue

One of the better dictionarial resources on the Internet for English/Japanese translation is Eijiro, accessed through the ALC search engine. Here are a few prime examples that we’ve stumbled across, to show just how far ranging it is. In fact, if you get lucky you may even locate an entire bilingual text such as this one, which is always a good study tool.

Fuck is the most direct way of saying ‘having sexual intercourse.’

It’s all about the benjamins◆アメリカの百ドル札の表にベンジャミン・フランクリンの顔が描いてある。◆〈語源〉ラッパーのパフ・ダディの歌のセリフ(1997 年)より。◆This phrase refers to the portrait of Benjamin Franklin on the American hundred-dollar bill. Popularized by the line in a Puff Daddy rap song (1997).


Kodocha rulez!

as gay as pink ink

Fujimori free?

We’ve posted on the confusing case of Alberto Fujimori before, particularly this post by Joe, and mine on whether his Japanese citizenship seems to be legal or not, but I am a little surprised to see him free on bail within Chile.

Here’s the brief AP story:

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A Chilean Supreme Court panel freed former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori on bail Thursday while he fights extradition on corruption and human right charges.

The president of the court panel, Enrique Curi, said the justices voted 4-1 to allow the former authoritarian leader to go free, but they prohibited him from leaving Chile.

Fujimori had been under arrest here since November 2005 after the Peruvian government requested his extradition. Fujimori arrived here after living in exile in Japan for five years.

Curi said the bail amount would be determined by the judge handling the extradition trial. Fujimori could be free later Thursday.

According to Asahi, he is also restricted from making political statements and appears to have also been decided that he will remain within the Santiago house that a supporter has lent to him. The extradition trial deciding whether he will be sent to Peru continues.

Thailand Report Part 1: Reasons why Korean Air Rules

I just got to Thailand on a trip to visit Mrs. Adamu. The flight over on Korean Air was awesome. Let me tell you why:

  • Flight attendants that are beautiful, attentive, yet creepily identical – same height, same skin tone, same body proportions, similar facial features, same voice – think Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” video meets Kim Jong Il’s personal cabaret troupe. They seem to be extremely weak – I was asked to help load a slightly heavy carry-on bag, and then someone else had to help another flight attendant close a storage hatch. Plus there must have been 5 costume changes over the course of the flight – aprons for the food service, plain white shirts during downtimes, and brown jackets for no discernible reason other than perhaps they look smart.
  • 3 words – BIBIMBAP FOR LUNCH! And not just any bibimbap, this was actually fresh and good. Not the best Ive ever had, but it’s for damn sure the best airline food I’ve ever had. The rest of the fare was only above-average, but the frequent drink services and little perks like ice cream for dessert were nice touches.
  • Personal entertainment centers at each seat – even in coach! In the course of the trip, I caught up on the latest hits in Japan, learned that the US was continuing humanitarian aid to Hamas, saw some movies ranging from the awesome Glory Road and Syriana to this tepid Japanese movie about a boy who becomes an elephant trainer. Also saw this insane Korean music variety show in which a) a member of the infamous DJ DOC sang a crappy R&B song with a 60-year-old man; b) Another performer suddenly busted out a line and c) An interview in which an older female singer scolded the younger host for using the Japanese word for “pants” (zubon).
  • Ignorant passengers – As we were about to land, an older Korean couple got out from their seats, piled their numerous carry-on bags in front of an emergency exit, and started staring out the window. It took a minute for the flight crew to notice in time to smack them upside the head verbally and send them back to their seats.
  • All in all a great ride and I highly recommend it – they don’t seem to have a restriction on carry-on bags either.

    Johnson: A President for all Americans

    An old campaign flyer I found at a garage sale yesterday. Particularly amusing in light of the current immigration debate and the stupidity over that Spanish recording of the Star Spangled Banner. (BTW, here’s a nice collection of political cartoons related to this most idiotic of issues.)

    This flyer found in the same folder is in Polish and also contains several interior pages I didn’t bother to scan. The only English on the entire thing is the name of the organization, visible on the bottom of the back page.


    Awesome stuff from the National Diet Library – Part 1

    Today I was poking around Japan’s National Diet Library (more or less equivalent to the US’ Library of Congress) website, and the amount of amazing material that’s available to anyone who can read Japanese and navigate their search engines is simply breathtaking. I’ll be bringing you highlights from time to time:

    Imperial Diet archives – Way back in 1889, when Japan was actively aping Western culture in a mad scramble to avoid colonization, a legislature called the Imperial Diet, based on the Prussian and British systems, was established. While the body had only limited powers and was only briefly considered to serve its purpose, to this day the Japanese government claims bragging rights as “Asia’s oldest democracy.”

    Anyway, as part of its (exhaustive) Birth of the Constitution of Japan online exhibit, the National Diet Library has made public the Imperial Diet records from September 1945 (after the Allied forces first landed in Japan) until March 1947 (when it was shut down leading up to Japan’s new constitution). I certainly hope they’ll release the rest of the records going back to 1889. Incidentally, the entirety of Japan’s laws dating back to the Meiji constitution is available here in case you were wondering.

    The records (written in old-style Japanese) are a rather difficult read, but here’s a random sample from Japan’s first postwar prime minister, Shigeru Yoshida:

    November 29, 1945 (When Yoshida was Foreign Minister):

    State Minister Shigeru Yoshida: As to Mr. Fuke‘s question, I regret that there was a problem with my answer, I apologize… so I will answer once again. The whereabouts of our compatriots in Manchuria and North Korea is extremely important, I worry on it night and day, and we are making all possible efforts by various means, but while it is truly regrettable, we have not as of yet been able to acquire accurate information. We do receive bits of lopsided information from time to time. According to what we’ve received, depending on the region, conditions are better than imagined in some places and cause us concern in others. In other words, in Southern Manchuria and other areas, it seems that even order has been gradually restored, and there are even those who are calmly attending to their work in some parts. However, we cannot definitively know the actual conditions, so it is truly regrettable that we are not at a stage where we can give satisfactory explanations to our citizens who have families in the various areas. When we are there, we will report such through the Diet, and as we receive information, we will report it in an appropriate manner. (applause)

    Hm, not the best random sampling, but believe me this is a good thing.

    Little-known fact: The word “baka” (idiot) was uttered 173 times in the Imperial Diet’s final year and a half, often (based on a cursory glance at the results) in reference to dangerous left-wing elements such as labor unions. Compare that to the 7 times the word’s been said in the modern-day National Diet in the past 5 years.