Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ozawa Ichiro, Japan"shadow shogun" : a stone for your shoe!

Damaged by alleged money politics scandal, Ozawa's expertise in
campaigning for Hatoyama overestimated or is the powerful man
playing new tricks in tune with Japan's Nagatacho bad habits?

"I have no intention of resigning from the post of secretary
general by being put through such things," he told reporters
after attending the party's annual convention held in Tokyo.

Here is a sample of Japanese televisions hunting for Ozawa on
Tokyo DPJ annual convention day.

Ichiro Ozawa, the powerful politician, secretary general of the
ruling Democratic Party of Japan, says he will keep his post
despite the arrests of three aides in connection with a shady
land purchase, while directing his anger at investigative
authorities. Does the Tokyo Prosecutor think so too?

This afternoon, Tokyo town center was the theater of massive
demonstration around Kasumigaseki and Hibiya Park, "haut-lieu" of
the Japanese administration. On the same day, the DPJ held its
national convention. Ozawa, a one-time protege of Kakuei Tanaka,
known for Japan's modern pork-barrel politics and the Lockheed
scandal, was a rising star in the LDP until 1993, when he divided
with dozens of other lawmakers. Using the campaigning skills he
practiced in the LDP, he has since worked to create a viable rival
party to the LDP.

Ozawa, 67-years old, the political kingpin who is believed to
have been the architect behind prime minister Hatoyama and the
party's landslide victory in the House of Representatives
election last August, renewed his determination to lead DPJ to
another victory in the House of Councillors race set to take
place this summer.

"I have no intention of resigning from the post of secretary
general by being put through such things," he told reporters
after attending the party's annual convention held in Tokyo.

He reiterated that no dubious money was involved in the land
purchase in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward as prosecutors suspect and he
added that he has fully explained this to them: "I don't know if
they did it intentionally, but the arrests took place in step
with our party's convention, and I cannot by any means accept
such a way (of investigation)," he said. "If this way is
accepted, it would cast a shadow over the nation's democracy."

No media strategy from the current government

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told reporters,
"The secretary general has told me that he has no intention of
resigning, so I told him that I trust him and would like him to
continue to stay on." Hatoyama, 62, who also doubles as DPJ
president, held talks with Ozawa at the prime minister's office
Saturday morning. But he also said, "It is extremely regrettable
that the case has caused inconvenience to people," referring to
Friday's arrest of Tomohiro Ishikawa, a DPJ lawmaker in
connection with the land purchase in Tokyo by Ozawa's fund
management body involving an unregistered 400 million yen.
Ishikawa formerly worked as a privately hired secretary for Ozawa
and was in charge of clerical work at the fund management body

At the DPJ's annual convention, Ozawa also indicated that he may
have Acting Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi take over part of
his job on an increasing number of occasions in the months to
come, suggesting that he wants to devote more time to his fight
with the authorities to clear his name. Meanwhile, Hatoyama
reiterated his hopes that Ozawa would prove his innocence and do
his best to perform his duty as secretary general, while urging
the party members to help run the government for the next four
years on a united front. The premier also said the party will
seek to secure a majority in the upcoming election.

In addition to Ishikawa, Mitsutomo Ikeda, who also worked for
Ozawa as a privately hired secretary, and Takanori Okubo, an
incumbent state- funded secretary of Ozawa, were arrested in
connection with the case over two days from Friday night. The
arrests of Ozawa's three close aides are expected to deliver a
heavy blow to the government of Hatoyama, who has been under fire
over a funding scandal of his own. The opposition camp is set to
step up its attack against both Hatoyama and Ozawa in an ordinary
Diet session slated to convene Monday. At the convention,
Hatoyama also offered a renewed apology to the public over his
own funding scandal.

Ozawa, a man of too much influence on Hatoyama?

Ozawa's presence has hurt Hatoyama's image, with public support
for the leader now about 50 percent, down from initial highs
above 70 percent due to a perceived lack of leadership. While
some analysts say speculation about Ozawa's influence over policy
is exaggerated, Japanese media have been rife with reports that
Hatoyama has been catering to Ozawa's demands on matters from
personnel to the budget for the next fiscal year.

Ozawa and his image as a back-room wheeler dealer could also hurt
the Democrats' popularity with voters who have pinned hopes on
the party to make policy formation more efficient and
transparent. Ozawa's clout has raised concern about a rival
power centre to the cabinet, that would undermine a Democratic
pledge to centralize decisions in the cabinet. Media have
portrayed Ozawa as the man behind the throne, with TV programs
repeatedly showing lobby groups ranging from labour unions to
nutritionists heading into Ozawa's office for meetings.

Japan US relation damaged by Ozawa and Hatoyama

The review of Japan USA Alliance, the difficulties in adopting
the plan elaborated about the relocation of the Futenma base,
added chili on the top of a not very attractive position of the
two countries while China uses a higher hand to assert her
influence in Asia.

Still Mr Ozawa might have provoked Washington and Beijing with
full knowledge and tension strategy. A strategy that the shadow
shogun now has to defuse if he wants to save his political scalp
and the ruling party.

Memory please

Looking back at Mr Ozawa's spicy statements, Japan getting the

April 6 2002, the then leader of Japan's opposition Liberal
Party, Ichiro Ozawa, said it would be a simple matter for Japan
to produce nuclear weapons and surpass the military might of
China if its neighbor got "too inflated." Inviting a sharp
response from Beijing, which is sensitive to any signs of
militarism in Japan, Ozawa told a seminar in the southern city of
Fukuoka that "China is applying itself to expansion of military
power." Ozawa's latest comments came while Japanese Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited China and when Li Peng,
chairman of China's parliament, was in Japan on a week-long

Japan has the technology and the plutonium to make thousands of
nuclear weapons, one of the country's most influential
politicians declared this weekend in comments that are likely to
stir up the ire of both China and survivors of the wartime atomic

Ichiro Ozawa, the leader of the opposition Liberal party, made
the comments against a backdrop of increasing Japanese concern
about the economic and military rise of its Asian neighbor.
"China is applying itself to expand its military power in the
hope of becoming a superpower," he said. "If China gets too
inflated, the Japanese people will get hysterical."

April 7th 2002 Ozawa said at a press conference in Naha,
Okinawa's prefectural capital, ''I told a deputy chief of staff
of China's People's Liberation Army that Japan could become a
nuclear power with its technology and economic might but that it
would be tragic if such a thing occurs and we must not let it
happen.'' He said the Chinese military officer told him China's
nuclear armament and buildup of military forces is for
self-defense. ''That's why I told him that such a view could
apply to any nation including Japan and prompt some Japanese to
insist on a further buildup for self-defense and nuclear
armament,'' he said. ''You may well be surprised, but I'm
against nuclear armament. There's nothing beneficial to Japan
politically,'' Ozawa told reporters.

April 9th 2002 The Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute
(NCI) said Ozawa's statement that Japan could easily produce
nuclear warheads using plutonium recovered from spent fuel from
its commercial nuclear power reactors is technically accurate.

"Ozawa's nuclear threat would be an extraordinary dangerous
policy for Japan, abandoning Japanese rejection of nuclear
weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it could
destabilize all of Northeast Asia," Edwin Lyman, an NCI
scientific director who is soon to be its president, said in a

"A Japanese nuclear bomb is no longer unthinkable, Ozawa isn't a
flame-thrower by nature. He's a pretty serious thinker about the
future of Japan, the Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute
wrote. "His 1994 political manifesto, Blueprint For A New Japan,
called for a more proactive foreign policy that would enable
Japan to break out of its post-war passivity. This was bold
stuff at the time. Even the CIA thought it worthy of translation
before the English version was published. And foreign-policy
bigwigs such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sang
its praises."

"The Japanese Establishment has always been loath to openly
question its post-war pacifism, enshrined in the country's
war-renouncing constitution... Japanese leaders and the public
at large are increasingly cognizant that they live in a far more
dangerous world than that of the last decade. China is an
ascendant power in the region, and its motives on the military
front aren't entirely clear... Already, Japan has a formidable
navy and a defense budget of about $37 billion. It's investing
in spy satellites and has the kind of high-tech finesse to
jointly research missile-defense systems with the U.S. It surely
has the capability of defending itself fully, should it chose to
follow that route..."

"...If Japan beefs up its security, it would probably become much
harder for Tokyo to justify having 45,000-odd American troops
based on Japanese soil. The hassles of hosting such a contingent
of soldiers and equipment make the U.S. presence highly
unpopular with the Japanese public, especially after a string of
criminal allegations against U.S. soldiers involving local
civilians. A stronger Japan would also likely oblige the
Pentagon to find other bases, perhaps fall back to Guam, for its
forward deployment in Asia. Will the day come when Japan decides
to join the nuclear club? That would be a historic step for a
nation that suffered two nuclear attacks from the U.S. during
World War II."

Yesterday China, today the USA...

Playing with symbols and people confidence might get Ozawa the
kingpin to do a symbolic "Seppuku" (stomach cutting in ritual
suicide of the Samurais) if things get even sourer, and it
could...Ozawa, a man with constant policy, it does not make the
LDP and the rightist happy. Japan in spite of the economic
miracle we see in Asia after the Great Recession of 2009 still
lives in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood, and confronting
that reality is far healthier than ignoring it. A reality that
has a political price and everyone opposing the Shadow shogun is
ready to make him pay the price and... no debt allowed!

Sources (agencies, ann tv, blogs, reporter notes)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake: "Our country is destroyed, we have nothing left."

Jean-Claude Bordes at FCCJ Tokyo: "Some friends told me: Forget it, you don't have a country any more."

✍ Haiti or a fatality.

Haiti is one of the poorest country in the world. 80% of Haiti population lives with less than 2 $ a day 50% with less than 1 $ a day in extreme poverty. What does the world wait for not only helping Haiti but also to develop the nation. Today' s emotion requires a lot of mobilization. Policies, national and international, have failed about Haiti and it is time to show responsibilities. Since 2006, Haiti is living under a democratic power after the revolution liberating from dictators as the Duvalier and Aristide. In spite of colonialism and dictators, the situation in Haiti remains one of the most crucial challenge to world "bonne conscience". The issue now is: will Haiti people able to manage the aid, massive, provided by international aid. Haiti is a country where rules seem not existing and where corruption is pandemic. About the seism: everyone knew that Haiti is on a seismic fault but nothing had been respected for construction to protect lives and the nations citizens. Corruption here too killed people. Haiti policies making is not independent because there reigns a lack of trust and Port au prince has to take her destiny in her hands as her neighboring nations did. The major question about Haiti now is to know what will happen after the "aid circus", how will Haiti be reborn if ever and what will new governance be?

Haiti's actin Ambassador in Japan Jean-Claude Bordes mourned for a city he learned had been "totally destroyed" by the quake. "The conversations I had on the phone were not too long. I just heard screams. Our country is destroyed, we have nothing left. It's God will, we have to accept it," he told us today at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Haitian acting Ambassador to Japan Jean-Claude Bordes told reporters at the FCCJ press conference in Tokyo that there is a need for relief supplies and emergency aid from Japan to help the Caribbean country. Bordes said while he has not gotten any official information from the Haiti government, relief supplies are urgently needed, such as medicine, medical assistance, rescuers and above all clean water. "It's like when a bomb is's flattened," Bordes said, describing the situation in Haiti where electricity and telephone communications have broken down, and the severity of the disaster has yet to be fully measured while expressing hope the nation will be able to rebuild, and that something will be born from the debris.

The Hatoyama government dispatched a team the same day to examine the local situation with an eye toward offering further medical support. Tokyo will immediately implement the $5 million relief in cooperation with international organizations such as the U.N. Children's Fund and the U.N. World Food Program, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said at a press conference.

Speaking to reporters in the evening, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama offered his condolences to the victims and expressed hope that missing people would be rescued quickly. Japan sent the inspection team "to determine as soon as possible what Japan can do to help the country," he said. "We will make utmost efforts to help save the lives of people in Haiti in cooperation with other countries worldwide." The team is being led by Japanese acting Ambassador to Haiti Nobutaka Shinomiya and comprises officials from the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency among other entities.

Also from the Asia-Pacific region, Australia pledged $9m while Taiwan, whose ambassador to Haiti was hurt, South Korea and New Zealand also offered aid. Japan, well used to quakes, pledged five million dollars and offered tents and rescuers. (Sources Reporter's notes, agencies)

✍ I moderated this event at FCCJ and as I had noticed in Kobe 15 years ago it is obvious and urgent to understand that the main issue, as the acting Ambassador JC Bordes confirmed, is about the logistics and the coordination with a duty of a very quick reaction within 48 hours to save as much people as possible, then to handle the tragic gathering of dead victims to avoid epidemic. Needless to say that JC Bordes often had tears in the eyes while addressing today the press who offers their condolences to the Haiti 40 years experienced diplomat. Jlk

World mobilization after Haiti Earthquake

Emergency information : if you need to contact Haiti,
advise is to use mobile phone.

For help, Haiti is a francophone nation, contact
Fondation de France Solidarite Haiti BP 22 75008 Paris

Haiti Major Earthquake, 2 millions without home. The most
violent seism in Haiti since a 100 years.

15 years after similar strength Japan Kobe earthquake
(6.000 deaths), the Earth tectonic plate strikes again and
targets urban terrorized population.

A powerful earthquake of 7.0 magnitude (USGS) on the
Richter Scale affected Haiti on 12 January, at 16.53hrs
local time (GMT 21.53hrs, Tokyo 07.53hrs January 13th).
The earthquake happened 17km south-west of Port-au-Prince,
the capital of Haiti. Tens of thousands of victims feared dead
by the United Nations Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the spot issued an urgent
call to the international community to assist Haiti
following yesterday’s catastrophic earthquake that has
devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation’s capital.

TV Report

Initial reports suggest a high number of casualties
and widespread damage, with an urgent need for Search
and Rescue. Aftershocks have been felt measuring 5.9
and 5.5 respectively. More aftershocks are expected
in the coming hours and days.

The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, has been
severely affected including critical city
infrastructure components such as, electricity, water
and phone services. Electricity is not available and
communications are difficult.

There is still very limited access because of debris
and other obstacles on the roads. The airport of
Port-au-Prince is reported to be closed. According to
preliminary reports, several UN and well as other
national buildings have collapsed or have been
damaged. Populations may also be affected in
Carrefour and Jacmel.

Haiti , officially known as the Republic of Haiti or
in French, République d'Haïti, is a nation in the
Caribbean dominated by Creole and French speaking
people. The name means “ Mountainous Land” and
derives from the Taino word Ayti. The capital is
Port-au-Prince and it is the chief Francophone nation
in the Caribbean with French being one of its official
languages and Haitian Creole. The most educated and
professional use French to conduct business and
amongst their social circles but the entire population
can speak Haitian Creole. The majority of the
population follows Christianity with Catholicism being
the state religion.

Haiti is unique in many ways – firstly it resides in
the island of Hispaniola along with the Dominican
Republic. It was not only the first independent
nation in the Caribbean; it was also the first
post-colonial independent nation in the world that was
led by blacks and due to a successful slave rebellion,
it is the only nation that gained independence due to
this revolution. The country is rich with culture
with a mixture of French, African, Taino, Spanish,
European and Portuguese elements infused in the
history, painting, sculptures, cuisine and people.

Plate tectonics

"In Nago-Henoko, Okinawa island, the Marine Corps are welcome" Japan daily reports

Unusual report in the Japanese press, with the Sankei paper (conservative) by writer Masashi Miyamoto on the issue of Marine Corps relocation based on a Japan USA plan elaborated last century... Now, what is really interesting -if the report could quote more names, it would be even more relevant- is about the Nago Henoko population mixed views, challenges and real interest, into acquiring the added US forces installation according to the newspaper January 11th edition. (Media Group FujiSankei) Maybe the best information would also be to report with the US Command and the Japanese alter-ego what exactly the Marine Corps will do there.

Local economy in need of base work and dollars...

Quotes: "About 13 years have passed since Nago City emerged as a relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture). The Nago mayoral election on Jan. 24 will be the city's fourth poll to ask residents whether to accept the government plan to relocate the Futenma base to the city. Candidates favoring the government plan won the past three elections, but the outcome of the upcoming election will likely have a great impact on the Hatoyama administration's review of the existing relocation plan. The feelings of Nago residents, who will be forced to make a decision, are complicated.

Nago City, located in the northern part of Okinawa Prefecture, has a population of about 60,000. Since 1996, when the Henoko district in the city emerged as the relocation site for the Futenma heliport facility, residents have been split into two groups: one in favor of the plan, the other against it.

The government injected a total of 60 billion yen in economic measures to promote the north of Okinawa for eight years from 2000 through 2008 in return for Nago City's acceptance of the relocation plan. As a result, Henoko and other place succeeded in attracting Okinawa National College of Technology and a call center. A seven-story industry support center building was erected in the center of the city. The emotional strains among Nago residents had been gradually reduced because the city succeeded in inviting industries to an information and financial special regulatory zone, providing about 950 jobs.

However, the city's residents were divided again because the Hatoyama administration advocated a review of the existing Futenma relocation plan. Many residents are fed up with the Futenma issue. They have gotten weary of mayoral elections focusing on the base issue.

Nago residents have an "allergy to U.S. bases." Yet, they have made preparations psychologically and physically to accept the Futenma relocation plan. It could be said that their concern that their efforts might come to naught in the upcoming election exceed their allergy to U.S. bases.

"We cannot help accepting the base because Henoko has been picked (as the relocation site for Futenma). There is no problem because the acceptance of the relocation plan will better promote the region," said a 65-year old restaurant owner, expressing anxiety about an election to put the plan to relocate Futenma to Henoko to the test again.

"If incumbent Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, who favors the existing plan, is reelected, the Hatoyama government won't be able to say anything. In case Susumu Inamine, the former head of the board of education, wins the election, those who have opposed the plan to relocate Futenma to Henoko will be left out, because economic assistance will be discontinued," the restaurant owner said.

90% of residents accept existing relocation plan

Nago residents have strong hopes that if the city accepts the relocation plan, jobs and consumption will increase. If the base is built in Henoko, located about 8 kilometers from Nago proper, noise from it will not affect the city. However, the city's main shopping street is noticeably quiet. According to a private research firm, more than 20 construction firms have gone bankrupt in the city since 2006. As a result, the city has no choice but to accept the plan.

A 58-year-old self-employed worker stressed: "Some forget that we have received economic assistance from the government in return for our acceptance of its plan to relocate Futenma to Henoko. We are required to overcome the economic slump. Nothing can be resolved by only opposing U.S. bases." That Henoko resident appears to be taking the Futenma relocation seriously.

One city council member clearly said: "In the Henoko district, there are growing calls for the government to decide on the Futenma relocation as quickly as possible. It is only natural for Henoko residents to feel that way because the city accepted the plan after spending 13 years to consider it."

Yasuhide Miyagi, 54, chairman of a volunteer group for the promotion of a replacement facility in the Henoko district, composed of the commerce and industry association in the city and about 40 volunteers, said: "About 90 percent of the residents favor the acceptance of the plan conditioned on compensation and improvement of infrastructure. Okinawa, which has no basic industries, has no other choice but to rely on the base industry."

He continued: "Forces preventing the relocation plan are opposing it on ideological grounds alone. Although they have cited environmental protection, including dugongs, I haven't met anyone who said, 'I saw a dugong.' " End of quotes.

An other view on this issue in last December 23rd edition of the WSJ

(press review, blog, tartlime, own reporter's notes)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Tora doshi": a spirit of rebellion guiding Tokyo

"2010 Year of the Tiger" started and after the economic crisis of 2009, people are hoping for a much better luck. Politics, business, society. The year of Tiger is to show lots of combative spirit. Japanese society is known to look inward to find answers to life's challenging questions, traditions, inner strength, leading to modernization, sacrifices eventually...

The year started as all the others, wishful prayers flocked to local religion (Shintoism) shrines for the first business day of the New Year. One of the most praised is Tokyo's Kanda Myojin Shrine. Why? It is dedicated to the country's god of business! Kanda-Myojin is located in Soto-Kanda, in one of the most expensive estate areas of Tokyo. It's packed in early days of the year by Japanese (and vdocam' foreigners) who pay a ritual visit to ask for business prosperity and good health. People gathered by thousands in the first hours of O-Shogatsu (the 3 first New Year days) as seen on this vdo.

Battling against their own fear, some good-luck-wishers wearing white gowns threw freezing water to themselves in a typical "shamanist" purification rite, the rites of passage to the new year. Under 7 degrees temperature, needless to say that only a few volunteers (around 30) practiced and many roared as Tigers!

History repeats itself

Kanda Shrine (神田明神) was built 1,270 years ago what is present Otemachi (大手町) areas in Tokyo. It was moved to Kanda-dai (神田台) at the beginning of the Edo era, early 17th century. Kanda Myojin shrine was much revered in old days by the warrior class of people. Especially in the Edo period, the general Tokugawa paid high respect to this shrine, and later it proved to be the object of cult and respect from Japanese.

The three major Kami enshrined are Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Taira no Masakado. As Daikokuten and Ebisu both belong to the Seven Gods of Fortune, Kanda Shrine finds itself as a popular place for businessmen and entrepreneurs who come to to pray for wealth and prosperity.

Kanda festival (Kanda matsuri) is one of the three major Shinto festivals in Tokyo, started in 1600 by Tokugawa Ieyasu to celebrate his decisive victory at the battle of Sekigahara. At the time, the festival was important enough to be named a state festival, and its highly decorated mikoshi were paraded down the main streets and into Edo castle so that even the shogun could observe the celebrations. Today it is held in honor of the enshrined kami, and celebrated around May 15.

A society of right and wrong

Japan as a "society says" cutural relativism.

On the gate of the Kanda Myojin Shrine there’s a tethered horse and this is Taira no Masakado’s family crest (Heike no Monogatari).

Taira no Masakado (平将門), a powerful landowner in the Kanto (Tokyo) region, was a Samurai in the Heian period of Japan, he led one of the largest insurgent forces in the period against the central government of Kyoto. In 939, Masakado led a rebellion, the "Jōhei Tengyo no ran". In December of that year, he conquered Shimotsuke (Tochigi prefecture) and Kozuke (Gunma prefecture) provinces; Taira claimed the title of "Shinno"(New Emperor). The central government in Kyoto responded by putting a reward on his head, and fifty-nine days later his cousin Sadamori, whose father Masakado had attacked and killed, killed Taira at the Battle of Kojima (Shimosa Province) and took his head to the capital.


After his death, the head of Taira no Masakado was separated from his body and moved somewhere near the Kanda Myojin shrine’s current location and later was enshrined in the Kanda Shrine. Today indeed, Taira no Masakado is one of the three kami enshrined in Kanda Myojin Shrine, together with Daikokuten and Ebisu. It is believed that his spirit watches over the surrounding area.

Over the centuries, Taira no Masakado became a demi-God (as the Greek Mythology Heracles, the ultimate hero) to the Japanese locals who kept impressed by his stand against the central government (or any major authority). His life can be regarded as a feature of rebellion, a fact known in the archipelago Middle Ages. In contemporary Japan a comparative may exist with the fight of the nation, in politics, diplomacy, business, societal issues concerning the whole community. Needless to mention that the legendary final resting place of Taira no Masakado's head is buried nearby the Tokyo Imperial Palace. (quotes of agencies, Fujisankei, Wikipedia, Shrine asso. Muza. Mackinnon. Asian Art. Notes)

Taira no Masakado as seen here at the peak time of his life, strength and conquest, described as the archetype for bravery and living proof that might-makes-right...