Real facts about Shinzo Abe: His favorite foods

Rather than blog about more substantive issues (like the massive fraud perpetrated by the Koizumi and Abe administrations with their faked “town meetings” in which the government paid people 5000 yen apiece to ask the right questions), I’ll use this time during a break from translation to look at the latest “live talk” from PM Shinzo Abe, intended as his modern-day version of FDR’s fireside chats.

shokuiku no hi poster3.jpgAbridged and edited from a video interview (mp4) with Japan’s prime minister on the occasion of the upcoming “Food Education Day” that occurs on the 19th of every month:

Q: What is your favorite food?

Abe: Well, it hasn’t changed since I was a child. I still like Korean BBQ, ramen, ice cream, and watermelon!

Q: Do you eat breakfast every day?

Abe: Well, I was asked at the Diet this soon after I became prime minister. Sometimes I eat light, just tree kale juice, carrots, and apple juice, but since becoming prime minister, I have been making sure to eat rice, miso soup with clams, and fermented soy beans with lots of leeks.

Continue reading Real facts about Shinzo Abe: His favorite foods

Watch Muhammend Ali vs. Antonio Inoki

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can now watch highlights from the historic Muhammad Ali fight with Japanese pro wrestling legend Antonio Inoki (read more about the fight here):

It’s a sports documentary in Japanese, but anyone should be able to get a picture of what the fight looked like. And what does it look like? A boring mess! This description of the fight put it well:

Inoki spent much of the fight on the ground trying to damage Ali’s legs. Ali spent most of the fight dodging the kicks by stepping out of the way or staying on the ropes. Occasionally, Inoki’s boot would connect. By the third round, a wound had appeared on Ali’s left knee.

I guess that’s what happens when you put a boxer and a wrestler together and then try and mix-match the rules of each sport.

Inventor of Cool Biz Rewarded with WSJ Picture


This, like my recent translation of the Soka Gakkai-Japan Times article, is from July, but I thought Wall Street Journal’s portrait of the mayor of Yokohama and inventor of Cool Biz made him look especially dignified. You can read the WSJ’s interview with him here. An excerpt:

WSJ: What was your first job and what was the biggest lesson you learned from it?

Mr. Nakada: My first real paid job was as a staffer for the Japan New Party , but I experienced different jobs while I was at the Matsushita Institute. I first worked for three months at a suit factory in the countryside. Then I worked in the seafood section of a supermarket in Singapore for three months. I spent the longest time in waste management, collecting garbage and working at a factory that sorts and prepares garbage for recycling. I learned different things from each job. At the suit factory, I learned what small-to-medium-size businesses are about — their organizational structure and way of thinking. Working in garbage management, I learned about people’s irresponsibility: Sellers only care about selling products and consumers only care about using them. No one cares about what happens to waste. I learned that different players act out of their own interests.

Hastert tipped as next Tokyo ambassador

Breaking: Steve Clemons reports that outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert is tipped by insiders to be the next US ambassador to Japan, thus continuing a fairly consistent tradition of appointing powerful people irrespective of their connections to Japan. Must be the food and the women.

UPDATE: Looks like Da Curzon Code was right.

American public still shows questionable taste in foreign relations

When Americans were asked whether “the following countries or regions share generally common values with the U.S.” the responses went like this:

            General     Opinion
Country     public      leaders

Japan         78%         96%
Taiwan        57%         83%
China         48%         55%
North Korea   20%         14%

How in God’s name did North Korea get 20%?! Where was this poll taken, at a Workers World conference?

Blog spam update

After getting a few reports of glitches related to comments improperly flagged as spam over the past few days, I have replaced the Spam Karma plugin with Akismet, which I have heard good things about. If anyone has had trouble posting comments, please try again and if anyway posts a real comment which does not appear as it should, then please email me about it.

Shanghai and Tokyo: I wanted some comparisons, but could only come up with contrasts

I came back last night from a weekend office trip to Shanghai, my first visit to China. Curzon, who has far more China experience than I do, gave me some words of warning before I left for Narita Airport: “Just remember, you’re visiting the nicest part of China, and it’s still the world’s biggest shithole.”

Shithole? Yes. Nice? Certainly. It’s a huge cow pie with flowers growing out of it. I always figured that China and Japan would have a lot in common, but it’s almost impossible to see: I returned from Shanghai with the impression that I had just been to Mirror Universe Japan, where the only commonalities are superficial, and deep down everything is exactly the opposite.

Come to mention it, they don’t even look that much alike.

Buildings in the haze
A representative image: smog and gazillions of tall buildings.

Continue reading Shanghai and Tokyo: I wanted some comparisons, but could only come up with contrasts

War of the prophets

While we are on the subject of Soka Gakkai, let us not forget that while they may be the largest creepy somewhat religious organization in Japan, they are far from the creepiest. That honor, naturally, goes to our old friends Aum Shinrikyo. Now, Soka Gakkai and Aum Shinrikyo may be rivals in terms of how much they creep us out, but did you ever know that they actually had some more direct rivalry? More specifically, that Shoko Asahara, the Guru of Aum, actually attempted to assassinate Daisaku Ikeda.

Here are a few relevant passages from Aum & I, by former Aum conspirator Ikuo Hayashi MD.

At the same time, Asahara was in that story blatantly attacking Daisaku Ikeda, the honorary chairman of Soka Gakkai, Morihiro Hosokawa, and Ichiro Ozawa as immediate enemies, saying that they were being controlled by the shadow organization that was controlling America and selling out Japan.

For more of Asahara’s enemies list, see this earlier post.

Later in the book is a section entitled The Daisaku Ikeda Poa Incident. I will explain Poa in detail in another post, but basically it is is a Tibetan term for reincarnation that Asahara used to mean ritual assassination.

Although Dr. Hayashi would eventually be one of the perpetrators of the Sarin attack in the subway, he only learned about the assassination attempt on Ikeda after the fact. As he explains it:

On December 18th, one of the final remaining days of 1993, a situation occurred where Nakamura came into AHI carrying Tomomitsu Niimi, who was experiencing difficulty breathing.

Later, the event known as the Daisaku Ikeda Poa Incident became the trigger for me to actually learn the religious group’s shadowy operations, which I had not been aware of until that time. This incident would also become the trigger for my getting involved in the “secret work” that would lead to the execution of the sarin incident on the subway.

“What in the world is the cause of this? I can’t properly treat him if I don’t know what the cause is!” I said.


“Actually, it’s sarin. Would you mind coming with me for a minute?” Nakagawa requested.


Nakagawa opened the door and stuck his head inside the car. After saying something [to the person inside] he immediately turned toward me and motioned for me to get in the backseat. It was the first time I had ever ridden in Asahara’s car and I was nervous as I sat down in the rear. As soon as the door was closed, Asahara, who was sitting in the front left passenger’s seat, said without even turning around, “We tried to perform Poa on Daisaku Ikeda with sarin but failed.”

There are a few pages here describing the symptoms and treatment for sarin poisoning and so on. Interesting stuff, but let’s skip ahead to Ikeda.

Limiting the assumptions to my personal feelings towards Daisaku Ikeda and the judgment expressed by the guru to whom I devoted myself, Daisaku Ikeda was an object that we must fight. Since this was so, and Asahara could fully see this karma, the act of having Poa performed upon oneself was something that would be a “happy” outcome for the person.

The main thing was about karma: that since Ikeda was a mastermind secretly trying to kill Asahara, by preventing the disaster of his carrying out this evil act of assassination, which would lead him to the Avici Hell [Buddhism’s Limbo], Aum was just trying to save him.

So there you have it. Asahara was convinced that Ikeda was plotting to kill him, and so sent his agents to kill Ikeda through Sarin poisoning. This was not just as an act of self-defense, but by killing Ikeda they would prevent him from committing awful crimes and he would therefore avoid punishment in the next life. Everybody wins! Murder as altruism- don’t you love religion?.