Kikko Misjudges English “Nuance”

Japanese uber-blogger Kikko scoffs in her most recent post at what she terms lame and unpatriotic promises that certain celebrities have made “if Japan beats Brazil” in the upcoming World Cup match. Kaori Manabe, for her part, has reportedly promised to “hold a Carnival in a bikini” in the off chance Japan can topple the current World Cup defenders. Sure, maybe they shouldn’t be prematurely predicting Japan’s elimination in the first round, but to me it makes perfect sense to make wild wagers when the odds are stacked in your favor.

In the (as always, too long) intro to her post, however, Kikko-san makes some interesting claims about the English meaning of the word “cop”:

Speaking of Croatia (NOTE: the team Japan recently tied against in the World Cup), that’s the homeland of (PRIDE kickboxer) Mirco Crocop. Since I heard it a while ago, I know that Mirco, who worked as a police officer, took that ring name from the “Cro” in “Croatia” and the English “Cop” meaning “police officer” to make his ring name “Cro-Cop” meaning “Croatian Police Officer.” In other words, since a robot police officer is “RoboCop,” then a Croatian police officer would be “Crocop.” But “cop” has the sense of “beat cop” (NOTE: omawari in Japanese) or “po-po” (NOTE: pori-ko in Japanese) or “the fuzz” (NOTE: mappo in Japanese), doesn’t it? “Police officer” (NOTE: keisatsukan in Japanese) means “police” or “policeman” [in English], as in “strange police officer” or “a policeman with his nipples in the wrong place,” so “cop” has more of an informal (NOTE: kudaketa in Japanese) connotation. Then, if you pronounce it “cop” (NOTE: as it is normally pronounce in English; “cop” in Japanese is normally pronounced COPE-poo), then it has an even more informal connotation. So if someone says “Cops are coming!” then it’s like “The fuzz are here!”

Um, no? First of all it’s always pronounced cop (i.e. カップ; it would be different in British English, I guess, but that doesn’t change the meaning at all). And another thing: “cop” is something of a colloquial term, but it has none of the pejorative connotation contained in the Japanese satsu, pori-ko, or mappo (unless I misread these terms), or even the English slang “po-po” or “fuzz.” Any lame-o on the street will “call the cops” on someone if they’re acting like a douchebag. Your posts are always enlightening, Kikko, but you might want to stay away from analyzing the “nuance” (a Japanism meaning “connotative meaning”)of the English language.

UPDATE: In related/parallel lives “news“: Home Depot Criticized For Pledging $10 Billion To American Cancer Society For Every Padres Home Run

More Wrestlers in Politics: Nikolai Volkoff for MD State Assembly!

Remember Nikolai Volkoff, the “Soviet” wrestler everyone loved to hate? Well turns out he was actually from the former Yugoslavia. And he’s most recently been spotted following in the footsteps of greats such as Jesse “the Body” Ventura, Antonio Inoki, the Great Sasuke, and Hulk Hogan (ran for president of course) and run for office. But this time, his opponents seem to be playing the role of the heel. The Washington City Paper has a great story on it. Highlights:

(Reacting to leaflets distributed claiming he used to spit on the American flag in his wrestling persona) “Spitting on a flag, that’s cheap heat,” he says. “I was a professional. I didn’t work for cheap heat.”

Volkoff truly believes that the anti-Commie mood he helped foment in the West through his un-American activities in the ring hastened the fall of the Wall.

(Opponents) Impallaria and McDonough both deny any connection to the fliers. But they don’t mind echoing the message.

“He was the Tokyo Rose of the 1980s,” says Impallaria. “He made his living spitting on the American flag and singing the Russian national anthem. Now he can say he was just doing a job. Tokyo Rose was just doing a job, too.”

Adds McDonough: “He did spit on the flag. I consider that reprehensible. Anybody can run for office. You can’t go around saying your wrestling career doesn’t matter. Volkoff isn’t even the name on his birth certificate. People need to know everything.”

As any good wrestler would when given a platform, Volkoff leveled some smack of his own at his antagonists. “Impallaria—that guy has 27 arrests,” he says. “How do you get arrested that much?”

Asked to respond to Volkoff’s blast, Impallaria says, “A lot of people are charged with a lot of things, but the real question is: Have you ever been convicted of anything?”

OK, OK, OK. Have you ever been convicted of anything?

“Anybody can look that up,” Impallaria says, declining to answer “the real question” any further. “I’m going to stick to the issues. I’m not going to lower myself to dirty politics.”

The Republican primary will be held in September. Vineberg says that despite his adversaries’ tactics, Volkoff has no intention of hiding his wrestling past as the campaign progresses. In fact, the press secretary has been contacting former ring colleagues to ask them to come to Maryland.

“We’ve been talking to the Iron Sheik,” says Vineberg. “Nikolai and the Sheik made a great tag team. America really hated them. I’m sure he’ll be up here to help.”

What is it about wrestlers that makes them such appealing political candidates in Japan and the US? Is it their masculinity? Giant authoritative boots (If so, Condee Rice might be considering running for office!)?

Perhaps it’s easy for the wrestlers to adapt to the campaigning process’s similarities to the carnival sideshow aspects of pro wrestling. I mean, pro wrestling and politics have a lot in common – head to head confrontation, tag teams, battle royales (battles royale?), playing to the crowd, constant touring, factionism. One difference – the winners aren’t decided beforehand in politics (we hope).

I wonder – do pro wrestlers enter politics in Mexico? The most famous luchador of all, El Santo, seems not to have made that career decision. Have there been any politicians from the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling?

Iron Sheik: In Japan they call you Khosrow Vaziri

I was intrigued to note that the classic WWF’s own Iron Sheik is actually known by his real name, Khosrow Vaziri, in Japan. Apparently, the former bodyguard for the Shah did not get the same villainous characterization in Japan.

Of course, the Iron Sheik has popped back into the public eye with the release of some amazing interviews with him:

  • Where he calls Brian Blair “a fag worse than Michael Jordan… I mean Michael Jackson.”
  • And where he expounds his hatred for “loss-bians
  • ↑ This shit is CLASSIC, people.

    Where are they Now? Nasubi edition

    A commenter asked us whatever happened to Nasubi, the aspiring comedian who allowed Japanese TV to kidnap him and force him to survive by entering sweepstakes in 1998.

    Well, as usual, Wikipedia has the answer (paraphrased):

    Nasubi’s feature is, as noted by his stage name (Nasubi means “eggplant” in Japanese), his 30cm-long face. He has sought a dramatic acting career since he started, and is currently active mostly in stage productions. In 2002 he founded the “Eggplant Way” and serves as its chief.

    Recently most of his television appearances have been on local programs in his native Fukushima, but in 2005 he appeared in national TV dramas “Train Man” and “Trick New Special.”

    Looks like he survived his near-starvation experience to go on to moderate success as an actor. Good for him! Check Nasubi’s official website (Japanese only) for appearances. He also keeps a pretty regular diary (latest entry):

    So, so strong!!

    The World Baseball Classic semifinals… The overall game made me numb, but the third time’s the charm! This game showed us Japan’s sticktuitiveness? or its latent energy, it was 110% worth seeing (*^_^*)

    Both teams…had very fine plays, also plays where they had to make up for mistakes, and I got the deep impression that we can be proud of Asia’s high level of baseball throughout the world!!

    But truthfully? Don’t you feel kind of bad for Korea?

    3/19/2006 (Sunday)

    Umm, not really! I was just watching Japan trounce Cuba in the finals (right now it’s 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th). Once, when Ichiro was running home, he actually stopped the 3rd baseman from throwing home by intentionally blocking his line of vision. That’s some superhero shit, my man.

    Akebono to Diet? – it’s not what you think

    Atsushi Onita, ex-wrestler and member of Japan’s Upper House of parliament (Liberal Democratic Party, Proportional Representation) has publicly encouraged Taro Akebono, Sumo wrestling’s first non-Japanese Yokozuna, to make a run for a seat in next year’s Upper House election. Since retiring from Sumo entirely in 2003 to take up a career as a professional wrestler/kickboxer, Akebono (born Chad Rowan and raised in Hawaii) has seen his respectability drop quite a bit, not least because he keeps losing his big matches. However, it’s certainly possible that enough people will vote LDP to make him the first American Diet member. Daily Sports reports:

    Akebono: Run in the Election!
    Onita Calls on Akebono to Run in Next Year’s Upper House Election at LDP Headquarters in Nagata-cho

    “Let’s light a fire under Nagata-cho!” (NOTE: Nagata-cho = Japan’s version of Capitol Hill) — Atsushi Onita (48), LDP Upper House member and self-described professional wrestling/fighting sport analyst, held an emergency press conference in Tokyo on Feb. 14 at the LDP Headquarters in Tokyo to make a “love call” for Akebono (36), the former Sumo Yokozuna and [naturalized] Japanese citizen, to run in the Upper House election next July. Onita elevated Akebono to the level of “the savior of professional wrestling” and even unilaterally offered to initiate him with a no-rope barbed-wire electric-explosive death match (Onita’s trademark). A national crisis may arise if a grand battle unfolds in a Diet-floor-turned-wrestling ring.

    Onita, at a press conference the same day announcing the release of his new single, “FIRE!!” (released Feb. 15), started off, “The savior of professional wrestling is Akebono. I would like to hand over the catch phrase ‘FIRE’ that the pro wrestling world gave birth to and have him become the momentum for wrestling’s development and revival.” (NOTE: Listen to Onita’s band here by clicking the music note. “FIRE!!” does not seem to be up on the site yet. His music is surprisingly mellow for a guy who made a living throwing people into exploding barbwire!)

    Certainly expectations are high for Akebono, who is taking the major wrestling groups All-Japan Pro Wrestling, NOAH, and New Japan Pro Wrestling by storm, but by “momentum for development and revitalization” Onita is referring to entering politics.

    Onita (who is known as “the charisma of tears“) explained, “While enlisting the aid of politics, I would like him to carry out ambitious reform of professional wrestling. If Onita, Hiroshi Hase (Lower House, Ishikawa 1st District, another wrestler-cum-LDP Dietman), and Akebono come together then [we could put our heads together]” He then bluntly stated, “I want him to run in next year’s Upper House election. Only through overcoming that battle can he become the savior.”

    The retired wrestler had scathing remarks for Akebono’s wrestling partner, Riki Choshu, “He’s training him normally, but normal just isn’t good enough. I want to initiate him with an Onita-Akebono no-rope barbed-wire electric-explosive death match,” proposing a subversive method of training.

    Onita expressed full confidence in the recommendation, saying, “It’s OK, I don’t select people the way Takebe does,” referring to the controversy over LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe’s strong endorsement of (now reviled) Takafumi Horie in the 2005 election. Onita says he wants to take Akebono to the Diet member meeting house to negotiate as early as next week.

    Go for it, Akebono! I’ll get Mrs. Adamu to vote LDP if you run. Or better yet, run on a DPJ ticket!

    Some background:

    Japan has something of a tradition of professional wrestlers, actors, authors, athletes, and so on, in politics. Wrestling legend Antonio Inoki (who once fought Muhammad Ali and got knocked out and hospitalized by Hulk Hogan) formed the Sports & Peace Party in 1989 and became the first wrestler Diet member (PR). Recently, the Great Sasuke (JT, reg. req’d) made international headlines when he ran (and won) a seat in the Iwate prefectural assembly despite refusing to take off his wrestling mask.
    Continue reading Akebono to Diet? – it’s not what you think

    Illegal Bookies’ Influence Waning in Govt-sponsored Horse racing

    Horse racing in Japan (Keiba) is a government-sponsored gambling powerhouse. Other lucrative state-owned gambling venues in Japan include Keirin (bike racing, “Welcome to sports cycle race “KEIRIN” in the world to which Japan gave birth.” < - THANK YOU, machine translation!) and Kyotei (boat racing, the brainchild of war criminal and would-be Nobel laureate Ryoichi Sasakawa).

    When I was going to high school in Japan, I often spent Saturdays with my host father as he played the horses. He’d read the horse racing newspaper, call in his choice to a bookie on his cell phone, instantly fall asleep, and then wake up just as the race came on TV only to lose every time. He never seemed to mind though — every time he lost he’d just make a kind of Japanese sighing noise and look at the paper again for the next race.

    He was a hard drinking, hard smoking gambler who wheeled and dealed in local politics – all attributes that I would normally consider sleazy if he were not also one of the most warm and kindly people that I’ve ever met.

    Anyway, back to the point of this post: the Internet seems to be changing this (apparently illegal) bookie system. ZAKZAK reports (and I paraphrase):

    Bookies Disappearing as Online Horse Bets Gain in Popularity
    Raison d’etre Lost Upon Institution of High-Payout 1st-2nd-3rd Bets

    The Japan Racing Authority (which runs Japan’s horse races for the national govt) will hold the first GI race of the year, “Febuary S,” at the Tokyo Race Track. As the races are run, [yakuza-connected] “bookies,” who are officially banned by the Horse Racing Law [but nevertheless prevalent] are quickly shrinking in number. In addition to an aggressive clampdown by police, the benefits of making bets through a bookie are disappearing due to the popularity of purchasing racing tickets on the Internet (on mobile phones etc) as well as the institution of “1st-2nd-3rd” bets with high payouts.

    According to a report (PDF) by the National Police Agency, incidents for bookie activities, after peaking in 1992, have decreased 90% since then.

    The benefits of bookies were: (1) Most tickets can be bought at low prices starting at 90 yen since management expenses etc are not deducted from sales; and (2) On top of being able to gamble away from the official ticket counters by placing bets on the phone, one can pay after the fact, making it possible to bet without having any money on you at the time.

    However, as the authorities strengthened their enforcement of the law, the JRA expanded its services to allow customers to buy tickets on the internet or mobile phones. By 2005, Internet purchases had come to make up 43% of sales. In 2004, the “1st-2nd-3rd” bets were instituted, removing bookies’ raison d’etre.

    A senior detective of the Hyogo Prefectural police, who must deal with the [infamous yakuza family] Yamaguchi-gumi in its jurisdiction, comments, “Many bookies made maximum odds of 100:1. Recently 1st-2nd and 1st-2nd-3rd bets have been instituted, and even 100,000 yen tickets. The recognition spread that even buying from the illegal bookies, it was a ‘high-risk, low return’ bet.”

    As demand disappears, bookies have started to go out of business. The senior detective notes, “In Hyogo Prefecture, a certain group directly connected to Yamaguchi-gumi that had provided the source of funds for bookie activity has seen its debt skyrocketing currently due to a lack of revenue, placing it in a state of destruction. I guess there’s no longer a role for bookies.”

    ZAKZAK 2006/02/15

    The comfortable and semi-legal relationship between the government and organized crime in Japan never ceases to amaze me. Well, it’s not just that it’s so comfortable, but also that it’s so open and obvious, and not just in the realm of horse racing (see links).

    I mean, the JRA could easily have offered (pre-paid) telephone bets and high-odds betting options long ago, which would have eliminated the need for yakuza bookies.

    A few quick links before a brief absence

    As of today, February 14th, I have exactly two weeks before I fly from Taipei’s Chiang Kai Shek airport back to New Jersey’s Newark. With that deadline pressing on me, I’ve decided to take a week and head to see some places in the south (and maybe East?) of the island that I haven’t yet gotten around to. I’ll hop a bus this evening to Taizhong, look around that area during the day tomorrow, and then meet up with a former classmate from Ritsumeikan in the evening. That’s as far as I’ve planned, but I’ve got my Lonely Planet Taiwan to look over on the bus ride.

    First up is one that I’m amazed hasn’t gotten more attention.

    Japanese sue over disputed history textbook
    TOKYO (Reuters) – A group of Japanese sued over a history textbook that critics say whitewashes Japan’s wartime aggression and has angered Asian neighbors, demanding on Thursday that a local government cancel its adoption of the text.

    Japan’s Education Ministry approved the new edition of “The New History Textbook,” written by nationalist scholars, last April, prompting outrage in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s aggression until 1945 persist.

    The lawsuit was filed by eight residents of Suginami, a residential district in western Tokyo that attracted media attention last year when it became one of the few school districts to adopt the junior high school textbook.

    “As a resident, I can’t keep silent over the choice of an unwanted textbook for growing children,” Eriko Maruhama, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told a news conference.
    Read full article.

    This sounds like a reasonable course of action for local residents to take, since they allege that the school board chose the textbook for political reasons, despite it having been given a poor quality assessment by local teachers. Perhaps this lawsuit will have a similar effect to that of the Dover, Pennsylvania lawsuit which blocked that schoolboard from teaching intelligent design.

    Next is something that I briefly mentioned on in this rather silly post the other day. As reported by the prolific Norimitsu Onishi in the New York Times, Tsuneo Watanabe, the publisher of Japan’s conservative Yomiuri newspaper, has recently been reconsidering the long term impact of some of the right wing policies he had promoted, particularly in regards to the international relations, miltarism, and the Yasukuni issue.

    The Yomiuri is the world’s single best-selling daily newspaper, and its impact should not be underestimated. Of particular interest is the fact that Watanabe has actually joined with the Asahi Daily newspaper, Japan’s major left-leaning daily, and the Yomiuri’s chief rival, in calling for a national, religiously neutral, and internationally respectul memorial to replace Yasukuni for official purposes.

    As rivals, it is not surprising that The Asahi Shimbun and The Yomiuri Shimbun often adopt different editorial viewpoints. Even so, a recent exchange between the heads of the editorial boards of the two major dailies found some common ground, especially regarding Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s controversial visits to Yasukuni Shrine.

    The following is the abridged version of a discussion between Yoshibumi Wakamiya, chairman of The Asahi Shimbun’s editorial board, and Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of The Yomiuri Shimbun group, that originally appeared in the February issue of Ronza, the monthly commentary magazine published by The Asahi Shimbun.

    Time Europe has an interesting article about how Olympic wannabes are opportunistically changing their citizenship, often based on tenuous third generation bloodline connections, to qualify for elegibility to participate in that country’s national Olympic team. While I have no interest whatsoever in the Olympic games themselves, I do always like to hear about new twists in conceptions of citizenship.

    hockey’s crossover nationals are hardly anomalies in Torino, where plenty of athletes are competing under the flags of second or adopted homelands. The practice is so common in both Winter and Summer games that International Olympic Committee ( i.o.c.) President Jacques Rogge blasted some of them as “mercenaries” last November.

    And last, but not least, more tragic news regarding our slimy brethren.

    he mountain yellow-legged frog has survived for thousands of years in lakes and streams carved by glaciers, living up to nine months under snow and ice and then emerging to issue its raspy chorus across the Sierra Nevada range.

    But the frog’s call is going silent as a mysterious fungus pushes it toward extinction.

    “It’s very dramatic,” said Yosemite biologist Lara Rachowicz. “One year, you visit a lake and the population will seem fine. The next year you go back, you see a lot of dead frogs scattered along the bottom of the pond. In a couple years the population is gone.”
    The frog population has dropped by 10 percent a year for five years, Rachowicz said at a gathering last month of 24 experts trying to save the frog.

    Adam Richards “can knock people out”

    I start my new career on February 19, so watch your ass:


    It goes without saying that in 2005, boxing needs some new blood to rejuvenate the heavyweight division. Prize Fight Promotions believes it has just the fighter to do the job, and is pleased to present the triumphant return of up and coming prospect Adam Richards on February 19 at the Isle of Capri Casino in Lula, Mississippi.

    “I’m looking forward to seeing Adam Richards back in the ring on our February 19 show, and I believe he is just what the heavyweight division needs to get it back to where it used to be in the minds and hearts of the public,” said Brian Young, President of Prize Fight Promotions. “Adam has a stellar amateur background, he’s a personable young man, and maybe most importantly, he can knock people out.” Continue reading Adam Richards “can knock people out”

    Sports Authority Japan: “We want to memorize player in your heat.”

    Engrish,” as it is affectionately known, is the phenomenon of advertisements and other products from Japan featuring English slogans/instructions that make no sense yet maintain a definite corporate-ese feel to them. If you ever go to Japan, you will be able to see many examples of this ever-present, often hilarious reminder that in general the Japanese can’t seem to get their brains around the English language. But coming from an American company there is simply no excuse for this:

    The player brings great shopping experience to each customer.
    Talented staff with abundant products afford of full-line and knowledge.
    TSA, large-size full-line sporting goods retailer,
    offers service synthetic from a hard side to a soft side.
    TSA is most loved by all people that enjoy a sports,
    and wants to become the existence trusted most from them.
    We will play game with our originally to become successful player.

    What happened? Their “organism plan” offers no immediate clues.

    I decided to run a test:
    Continue reading Sports Authority Japan: “We want to memorize player in your heat.”

    I really like this photo

    BV(Source: Washington Post)

    For those of you who don’t know, that’s Chiba Lotte Marines Manager Bobby Valentine following his team’s first victory in the Japan Series for 31 years. For some reason, footage of the Japan Series after-celebration always makes me smile.

    I love that the players are so happy. I love that the cameramen always come prepared, wearing rain slickers and having wrapped their cameras in plastic. I love that the players actually put on goggles to keep the beer out of their eyes. And I love that no one whines about the fact that they actually use real beer instead of Gatorade.