30 thoughts on “MEXT Minister Bunmei Ibuki should know he’s said something really dumb when…”

  1. He should have just run with the butter thing. “If the atmosphere for human rights is cold, spreading the butter too quickly will only scrape up all kinds of crumbs or even break the bread of our nation apart.

    “If we heat the atmosphere, thus melting the human rights butter, it will soak down deeply into the bread of our nation, tasting nice at first, but ultimately making the nation-bread soggy and unhealthy.

    “And just how unpleasant the nation-bread will be once it cools off and is all saturated with human rights butter. Not tasty.”

    Perhaps MEXT is going to focus on “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Human Rights Butter” or “Human Rights Egg Beaters.” For a healthier society.

  2. The quote reminded me of the classic WWII propaganda film My Japan, specifically the (supposedly) Japanese narrator’s quote:

    You say you can destroy us by starving us out. You forget that we are not like you. We have no soft bellies crying for beefsteaks and butter and candy. We live well on simple food, easy to get. Starve us? It is easier to starve a fish in the ocean.

    Naturally, it’s un-Japanese to have human rights, because then you wouldn’t be suffering for everyone else’s benefit.

  3. At least compare it to happoshu, golf or hostess clubs, something they’re actually experts in…

    Jeez, this guy is just plain dumb. Inarticulate and dumb, that’s all there is to it. There are a million better ways to communicate what he’s trying to say, that society needs to communicate better and be more interwoven. “Human rights” has nothing to do with that, and I’m sure he knows it.

    That said, I haven’t seen the comment in Japanese and I’m not sure how many nonsense katakana words were in there – they tend to get used quite a bit without the speaker actually knowing what they even mean, so I’ll have to see the original.

  4.  さらに、同法改正を説明する中で人権をバターに例え、「毎日バターばかり食べていればメタボリック症候群になる。人権は大切なものだが食べ過ぎれば日本社会は『人権メタボリック症候群』になる」と述べた。

    Here you go. Two katakana words, “butter” and “metabolic.”

  5. Thanks, Roy.

    Is it just me, or does “metabolic syndrome” seem to be most often used as a euphemism for “fat for the usual reasons.”

  6. That’s definitely the sense I get from 90% of the times I hear the word used. It’s the flavor of the week on all the usual suspect health-related TV shows.

  7. Ah, I have no idea what people talk about on TV here because I haven’t got one. I guess my intuition that it was something like diabetes was off.

  8. I read that article already, but I wanted to check a longer version of Abe’s statement in Japanese before I said anything. Do you know where I can find it?

  9. Yahoo politics used to have an awesome video podcast of Koizumi’s entire “burasagari” (he held 2 per day, one filmed one not, Abe only has one filmed), but they stopped it because I was probably the only one who watched.

    Anyway the major news sites all carry a day in the life of Abe feature. Here’s what Nikkei’s has:





    The Japan Times for its seemed to get what he said pretty much on the ball, but that AP article is pretty inflammatory. I hate getting into this topic because neither side really seems to be debating in good faith.

  10. Also posted as a comment on Coming Anarchy, so forgive the repetition, but this tidbit from the NYT is too good to avoid reposting:

    Dozens of people also rallied outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mark the anniversary, lining up dead dogs’ heads on the ground with pieces of paper in their mouths listing names of Koreans who allegedly collaborated with the Japanese during its 1910-45 colonial rule. Protest organizers said the animals were slaughtered at a restaurant; dogs are regularly consumed as food in Korea.

    Somebody think of the puppies!

  11. I got freaked out when I was reading NYT and found the article.But it was AP(lame institution)and dispatched from Seoul.Hence I was at night shift I checked my company’s news on it.And it was mostly on problematic Kono statement.Problematic is for this statement was made by Youhei Kono and apologized for enforcing sexual labor to comfort women and commitment of the military.but the statement was made without any new document to back up the claim. without no concrete evidence Kono made the statement at his responsiblity.And other LDP and media asked what was the basis of the statement and bureaucrats and other cabinet member gave don’t-ask-me responses.The deputy cabinet minister Ishihara confessed pressure from Korean government was the reason

    140-参-予算委員会-8号 平成09年03月12日
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    ○政府委員(加藤良三君) 九七年三月から使用される韓国の中学校それから高校用の国定歴史教科書、いわゆる従軍慰安婦に関しまして、これは日本語の翻訳でございますけれども、次のような記述があると承知いたしております。
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    ○小山孝雄君 今御答弁ありましたように全く別のものでありまして、こういったことが混同して韓国の少国民に教えられるということは、これは問題だと思います。外務大臣、この訂正方を申し入れいたしますか。
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    ○政府委員(平林博君) 今、先生のお持ちの資料の中には、日本の関係省庁、それから国立国会図
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    ○小山孝雄君 そうしますと、我が日本国の各行政機関、それから国立国会図書館、国立公文書館、そして米国国立公文書館から出たものは全部公開されている。そこには強制連行を直接示す資料はなかったということが確認された。
    ○政府委員(平林博君) そのとおりでございます。
    ○小山孝雄君 その証言集の裏づけはとっておりますか。
    ○政府委員(平林博君) お答え申し上げます。
    ○小山孝雄君 そうしますと、公開されていない資料、そして個々の裏づけ調査をしていない資料で政府は平成五年八月四日の決定を行った、こういうことになりますか。
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    ○小山孝雄君 そういうことですから、当時この調査に当たった、政府の方針に携わった方々が今いろんなところで疑問を呈しておられる、こういうことだと思います。既に公表されているものでも研究者が、例えば秦郁彦千葉大教授だとか西岡力東京基督教大学助教授の詳細な調査、検証が行われていて、既に公にされている証言集等についてはほとんど信憲性がないということが立証されているわけであります。
    ○国務大臣(梶山静六君) いわゆる従軍慰安婦問題に関する官房長官談話につきましては、当時政府として全力を挙げて誠実に調査した結果を全体的に取りまとめたものと認識をいたしておりますし、その判断をもととし、それを踏襲して現在に至っているわけであります。










    And Kono said
    .There are a lot of vague point on the subject but all I can say is at this stage of time,no historian either right or left believe neither the involvment of the military of running the brohtel nor forcing women to be comfort women.The guru of conservative historian venerable Hata Ikuhiko criticized Kono statement as “a hoax”.Hata maybe a conservative but he is reknowned to be an accurate in records and datas.

    This is something liberals who supported Asia Women Fund try to forget about ,and expecting fund would end the dispute with the victims and have all’s-well-that-ends-well.But it turns out Kono statement tricked both the victim and Japanese public

  12. Very interesting. But honestly reading all the english blogs, it seem most of them are buying the 200,000 Korean comfort women story, that they were abducted and forced by the military.

    And honestly said, I thought that Abe would say things like that anyway. Somewhere in the history, Japan needed (and still is in need maybe) a government run by a liberal but realistic party.

    But who are liberal and realistic politician in Japan? None.

  13. While we’re in the habit of pasting very long things, here’s an article on the topic at hand by Norimitsu Onishi:

    Abe Rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex

    Published: March 2, 2007

    TOKYO, March 1 — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Thursday that Japan’s military had forced foreign women into sexual slavery during World War II, contradicting the Japanese government’s longtime official position.

    Mr. Abe’s statement was the clearest so far that the government was preparing to reject a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military’s role in setting up brothels and forcing, either directly or indirectly, women into sexual slavery. That declaration also offered an apology to the women, euphemistically called “comfort women.”

    “There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”

    The United States House of Representatives has begun debating a resolution that would call on Tokyo to “apologize for and acknowledge” the military’s role in wartime sex slavery.

    But at the same time, in keeping with a recent trend to revise Japan’s wartime history, a group of conservatives in the governing Liberal Democratic Party is stepping up calls to rescind the 1993 declaration. Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have been plummeting over a series of scandals and perceived weak leadership, seemed to side with this group. A nationalist who has led efforts to revise wartime history, Mr. Abe softened his tone after becoming prime minister last fall. In fact, he first said he recognized the validity of the declaration, angering his conservative base.

    “Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs and set prices,” Nariaki Nakayama, the leader of 120 lawmakers who want to revise the declaration, said Thursday.

    “Where there’s demand, business crops up,” Mr. Nakayama said, according to The Associated Press. “But to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark. This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth, for the sake of Japanese honor.”

    Historians believe some 200,000 women — Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipinos, as well as Japanese, Dutch and other European women — served in Japanese military brothels. For decades, Japan denied that its military had been involved, calling the brothels private enterprises and the women prostitutes.

    But in 1992, a Japanese historian, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, outraged by government denials, went to the Self-Defense Agency’s library and unearthed, after two days of searching, documents revealing military involvement in establishing brothels. One was titled “Regarding the Recruitment of Women for Military Brothels.” Faced with this evidence, the government acknowledged its role and issued the declaration.

    But the response angered people across the political spectrum. The women and their supporters said that the government was not fully acknowledging its responsibility because the declaration was issued by Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, and not adopted by Parliament. It is known inside Japan simply as the “Kono Statement.”

    What is more, supporters accused the government of evading direct responsibility by establishing a private, nongovernment fund to compensate the women. Many former sex slaves have refused to accept compensation from this fund.

    But conservatives said the declaration went too far in acknowledging the military’s role in recruiting the women. While the documents showed that the military established the facilities, Mr. Yoshimi did not find documentation that the military had forcibly recruited the women. Conservatives have seized on this distinction to attack the declaration.

    Supporters of the women say that the Japanese authorities famously burned incriminating documents or kept them hidden.

    At the same time, many former sex slaves have stepped forward in recent years with their stories. Three testified in the United States Congress recently, saying that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped them and forced them to have sex with dozens of soldiers a day.

  14. Looks like 200000 for confort women has become magic number like 300000 casualities in Nanjing.Journalists will use this number mechanically without any consideration from now on,I guess.

    I just checked all the paper in my office.
    Yomiuri has biggest coverage,then Sankei,Tokyo,Mainicho,Nikkei.And most interesting of all Asahi,no coverage of the issue at all.Considering the Kono statement was the major weakpoint of comfort women debate it was natural for conservative paper to cover this more and liberals less.

  15. だから、ヨーロッパはだめなんだよな。EUがいくらアメリカのことを批判したってアメリカの代わりには、これではなれないよな~。

  16. トモジロー君





  17. ル・モンド、ひどいですね。






  18. Is it just me, or is the original Japanese in Abe’s second sentence really quite ambiguous?

    「強制性については従来から議論があったところだ。当初、定義されてた強制性を裏付けるものがなかったのは事実ではないか」と述べ、同議連の主張に一定の理 解を示した。ただ、河野談話の見直しに関しては、「(強制性の)定義が変わったことを前提に考えなければならない」と語った。

    Onishi, whose translation is completely innacurate, writes [“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”]

    Japan Times, which is a little better, says [“the fact is, there was no evidence to prove there was coercion as initially suggested,” Abe told reporters Thursday. “That largely changes what constitutes the definition of coercion, and we have to take it from there.”]

    Am I incorrect in assuming that a somewhat less elegant, but more accurate translation of Abe’s second sentence might be “Isn’t it true that there is nothing to corroborate coercion *as originally defined*.”?

    You could play around with the 当初 to generate a slightly different meaning, but the key term here is 定義, badly translated by the JT and not translated at all by Onishi. There are also problems with the term 裏付ける but we won’t go there because I think its a trifle.

    Anyhoo, this changes the meaning of what he said altogether, does it not? Could it be that the Nikkei, quoting Abe directly in Japanese, misheard, and the Onishi and the JT’s translations are more faithful to Abe’s original meaning?

    Unlikely, particularly when you consider how it fits with the third sentence (again inelegantly, but directly, translated):


    [Regarding revision of the the Kono diologue, he said, “We must consider (revision)* under the premise that the definition (of coercion)** has changed.”]

    *my addition
    ** original text

    I’d be the first to criticise Abe, but it seems pretty clear to me that he is reminding his mates that the definition of evidence is now broader than Kono’s detractors held it to be. He is saying that what used to require corroboration (裏付けるもの) is now considered evidence in its own right. In other words, he is doing exactly the opposite of what Onishi claims.

  19. What can I say Bryce,You just ruined my loong intended post.congrats.
    Just reading 和解のために 朴裕河著 平凡社刊.Everything you need to know about Comfort women,Yasukini,Takeshima/Dokto and text book disputes are all in one book of161 pages written by this Korean female professor.Highly recommended.

  20. Aceface

    I am happy to know that you read it. I have also read this book and found it really amazing. As you said, all is in. Kudos for this woman!! She is a really a fair person and wonderfuly managed to avoid to be apologetic for both korean nationalism and Japanese nationalism.

    I highly recomend her first book 反日ナショナリズムを超えて 河出書房新社刊 but the second book is her best.

    Bryce you are right on the money. But it is too late. All media around the world seems to buy rather the Ohnishi story. Whatever Abe says, it would be sound apologetic.

    Aceface, I have to appoligize to you that I have introduced your post about the national discussion, 1997 to another site”Japundit” without your consent. I thought that your post clears many controversial things surrounding the comfort women problem. I am sorry. But still, I want to introduce your post to other site. what do you think?

    If politician from korea and japan could even a little bit see the world in her eyes, I really believe then reconciliation is not so far away from us.

    Really suberb book.

  21. Tomo:

    I’ve already read the first in by Park.That’s why I pick up her second book.
    Be free with my copipe since I also picked it up by googling.

    “Could it be that the Nikkei, quoting Abe directly in Japanese, misheard, and the Onishi and the JT’s translations are more faithful to Abe’s original meaning?”
    Not much coverage on this from Nikkei.I think it was pure prediction by Onishi.To be fair to Onishi,it was natural to guess what Abe would do to show his true colors,considering everyone is wondering his move after the diet passed the budget plan and remaining days to the election.
    Unfortunately Abe seems to be following the line of Kono statement but Onishi and AP(the institution that originally dicided to use the term”sex slaves”back in 92)misunderstood this and made it in to sensational scoop.

  22. You realise that question was rhetorical, Ace. I think, by the way, that Abe should respect the Kono statement, but lets continue this over at the new post.

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