Japan’s intestinal fortitude

Some of you may have heard the claim that Japanese intestines are longer, or in some other way, different from those of other people. This is of course just one part of the entire school of Nihonjinron (日本人論), or discussions on the uniqueness of the Japanese race/culture/nation/language. Unlike most of the nihongjinron pseudo-science (like Japanese use the opposite side of their brain to process language, etc.) this one sounds at least vaguely plausible. After all, there are all sorts of morpholigical differences between races; hair, skin, facial features, height, and so on. Could it be true?

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Makiko Tanaka is amusing

I’m binging on rotten.com tonight, and came across the following brief anecdote in their profile of President Bush (scroll to bottom):

17 Jun 2001 – Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka returns to German Town High School in Philadelphia, where she studied for two years as a high school student. During a conversation with her former classmates, Tanaka gives her concise assessment of President George W Bush: “He is totally an asshole.”

I offer a cash reward to anyone who can find audio or video of this.

The next Prime Minster? or, crazy rightwingers say the darndest things

For those who haven’t been keeping track of Japanese politics, a brief introduction courtesy of online Bloomberg news.

Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appointed Shinzo Abe, Taro Aso and Sadakazu Tanigaki as members of his final cabinet. All three are considered favorites to succeed him when he steps down in September.

“It is essentially a three-man race” to see who can replace Koizumi next year, said Noriko Hama, professor of economics at Doshisha University in Kyoto and former chief economist at Mitsubishi Research Institute. “The posts they’ve been given do harbor risks so any mistakes could be damaging. They will certainly jostle and compete with each other.”

Earlier today, Curzon emailed us a link to this brief news item on Yahoo Japan reporting a statement that Aso made on the 17th of October, at the opening of the Kysushu National Museum

Japan is one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, one race, none of which can be found in any other country.

This could be a surprise to the Ainu, Okinawans, Zainich Korean and Chinese minorities, and the hundreds of thousands of other foreigners legally residing in Japan, as well as the Japanese communities overseas. Come on, we have a Ninja restaurant in New York now, what more counter evidence do you need?

A couple of Aso’s other greatest hits, as translated from the Japanese Wikipedia entry by Adam:

* Claimed Koreans wished to change their names to Japanese names during colonial rule (an attempt to justify the Aso Zaibatsu’s colonial-era actions). Also claimed Japan helped spread the use of Hangul writing.
* When inaugurated as MIC Minister in 2003, made the bold prediction that office paperwork would disappear with the development of information technology and that everything would be done by magical new floppy disks in the future.

If only being this much of an idiot would disqualify him as a candidate for the Prime Ministership.