Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Details, details

Yesterday, in the mailbox...

Japan's Comic Relief
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007 By Bryan Walsh


But Higashikokubaru's win may have less to do with entertainment than with public dissatisfaction over Japanese politics, increasingly seen as corrupt and ineffective. His predecessor, also an independent, resigned amid corruption allegations, and scandals have forced two of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's top ministers to resign.

Yesterday, on the web...

Support ratings for Abe's Cabinet fall over scandals: Polls

Tokyo, Jan. 29 : Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Government has fallen, hit by political funds scandals and concerns about his leadership ability, according to the results of two newspaper polls published on Monday.

The Mainichi, a nationwide newspaper, said 40 percent of the 1,044 respondents to its Jan. 27-28 poll supported the Cabinet, down 6 percentage point the previous poll in December. Those who disapproved rose to 36 percent from 30 percent.

The newspaper attributed the drop to the resignation of Cabinet ministers and their murky use of political funds.

Tomorrow, in the International Herald Tribune, Tokyo edition...

Why Abe Won't Be Japan's Answer to Ronald Reagan: William Pesek


Abe can only do as much as his party allows him, and his support is sliding. A Sankei newspaper survey this week showed Abe's approval rating (39.1 percent) fell below his disapproval rating (40.9 percent). Two members of his Cabinet have already resigned in separate scandals. Another, Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, has come under criticism for calling women ``baby- making machines'' in a Jan. 27 speech...

Uh, no.

Unless I am mistaken (And you frequently are - Ed.) the score is one cabinet minister, one head of the Tax Commission.

I must admit...when you see the same error three times in quick succession in media outlets of start to doubt yourself.

Birth of the Stupid

I do not even know what could possibly be going through the heads of these idiots.

Not one damn thing, it seems.

Japanese lawmakers to visit U.S. over resolution on "comfort women"

A group of Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers critical of the government's stand on Japan's wartime exploitation of Asian women for sexual servitude plans to visit the United States this spring, the LDP lawmakers said Friday.

The lawmakers said they will travel to the United States in anticipation of a likely move by U.S. lawmakers to introduce a draft resolution denouncing Japan for the act.

The visit could take place during Japan's holiday-studded Golden Week period around early May and the LDP members said they are hoping to exchange opinions with people concerned with the draft resolution.

The parliamentarian league is seeking to revisit a 1993 official statement in which then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged that the Imperial Japanese Army forced women into sexual servitude for its soldiers during World War II in places such as Korea and China, and apologized for their suffering.

The decision to make the visit was reached at a meeting of the league's subcommittee, which is scrutinizing Kono's statement, at the ruling LDP's headquarters in Tokyo on Friday.

Additionally, the league also decided to set up another subcommittee to review the facts of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. The parliamentary league is headed by Nariaki Nakayama, former minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology.

Nakayama is a former Finance Ministry bureaucrat who did a spell at the World Bank in Washington in 1975-78. That he used to be Monkadaijin is incredibly disheartening.

I can imagine--no, I can't, really--his meeting with Tom Lantos, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Nakayama - "Hello, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am a World War II revisionist."

Lantos - "Oh hi, I am Nazi death camp survivor."


Hattip to reader MK for alerting me to this absurdity.

Yes, yes, I am aware of the story that the GOJ has hired former Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley to lobby his former Democratic collegues in the House upon this issue.

Has anyone seen the contract?

Reality Starts to Bite

Stratfor has posted a negative outlook for the Japanese economy, echoing many of the concerns I have voiced in several posts over the last half year. It is much needed corrective for the happy talk that has been oozing out of the Kantei and the BOJ--happy talk that has been parroted by the great and good of the international financial system.

Ignore the summary. It is off-the-wall and does not in fact summarize the analysis:

Japan: Dangling on the Edge of Recession

January 30, 2007 19 14 GMT -

Summary - Currency manipulation is shaping up to be a major topic for debate at the upcoming G-7 summit. This time around, however, China will not be the only country facing anger –- so will Japan. Such attention could not come at a worse time for Tokyo.

Analysis - In separate announcements Jan. 29, both the German and Luxembourg finance ministers voiced dissatisfaction with Japan's currency policy. Germany's Peer Steinbrueck said the topic will be brought up at the G-7 summit Feb. 9-10 in his country, while Luxembourg's Jean Claude Junker (who also is the prime minister and the semi-official representative of the common European currency) spoke pointedly. "I want to say more forcefully that Japan's current recovery should be reflected in the yen's exchange rate," he said...

The bright spot in this morass? Stratfor is usually, inexplicably, spectacularly, laughably wrong in its assessments.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A sketch of an idea

Over at my very favorite international economics blog, blogmaster Dr. Brad Setser has started a conversation about a recent comment that former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers made at the recent World Economic Forum:

Making the intellectual case for free trade and then simply "paying off" some of the losers in globalization, Mr. Summers said, will not work for world leaders trying to sell the current round of global trade talks to a skeptical polity.

"That's the Davos lie," Mr. Summers said during a dinner Friday night.
Here is my interpretation of what "the Davos lie" might be, which I have cross posted in the comments section of Dr. Setser's blog:

In their advocacy of the benefits that would accrue from globalization, the Davos elite underestimated the extent that globalization's success would alter basic international economics parameters. They were particularly purblind about the effect that globalization would have upon their own behavior.

Under the paradigm, the transfer of work to lower-wage countries would "free up labor in advanced economies to move into emerging or non-tradable occupations." However, the speed at which this transfer took place exceeded estimates, removing work from the advanced economies, lowering the wages and benefits that labor could demand.

The elites also missed the syllogism that since multinational corporate labor costs were going to be so much lower, corporate profits were going to be so much higher--and that since corporate profits had increased, the corporate elite was going to reward itself for its probity--and the rest of the elite would see to it also was recognized as worthy of better remuneration as well.

Unless the corporate elites paid their remaining workers a higher wage and forewent paying themselves better, inequality within nations would skyrocket. No amount of retraining and goods price decreases was going to halt the relative decline in the economic status (note the wording: economic status, not the quality of life) of the numerical majority.

The elites, most of which hail from democratic societies, nevertheless failed to appreciate that globalization could not only erode the majority's economic status, it would erode its political status as well. When the elites amass vast fortunes that they can use to buy political influence or pay for deceptive political campaigns, the purportedly sovereign majority finds itself effectively disenfranchised.

Globalization has improved in the aggregate the physical welfare of the populations brought into contact with the new global market. The "Davos lie" was that the number of individuals suffering traumatic adjustment effects would be small and the price of remediation would be limited. The truth was that if the elites did not curb their avarice voluntarily, globalization was going to shift power from labor and government to capital, with unforeseen deleterious effects upon political and economic justice.

Later - For an illustration on how the "Davos lie" plays out in the Japanese context, the Financial Times has published a good article about Japan's stagnating personal consumption.

The Yanagisawa Report

A weekly wrapup of the news, brought to us by Health and Welfare Minister Yanagisawa Hakuo, exhibiting his unique perspective on events.

Gripping National Production

Courtesy: AP

President and double dinger sperm injector George W. Bush greets super productive baby machine Nancy Pelosi prior to a limp State of the Union address.

Ancient Get-ups

Courtesy: Embassy of Egypt

Former Prime Minister and near hat-trick (one shot went in after time had expired) sperm injector Koizumi Jun'ichiro celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Japan-Egypt Cultural Cooperation Agreement with Ambassador Hisham Al-Badr, who is such a nice guy I will say nothing even remotely naughty about him.

A Failed Marriage

Courtesy: Reuters

Prime Minister and presumably functioning sperm injector unit holds hands with his unsuccessful baby making machine as they descend the access stairs at Cebu International Airport.

In other words...Yanagisawa's meeting with the PM at the Kantei--after his reconceptualization of adult Japanese women as baby-making machines who need to improve their per capita production--must have been AWKWARD.

Holy Zhongnanhai Batman!

If the Political Bureau of the CCP had a MySpace page, Today's Mood would be: Exceptionally Friendly.

While life for the Abe Cabinet is otherwise going to hell in a handbasket the relationship with China is soaring:

CCTV to screen series on Japan
China Daily

By Li Xiaokun - Updated: 2007-01-30 As China-Japan relations thaw the national television network has announced plans for a series on Japanese society.

CCTV will launch the series in early March, the TV station said yesterday.

The 20-part series, called Yansong: Eyes on Japan, comes as details are finalised for Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan in April.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October.

"We thought we were familiar with Japan, but it's not the case," said well-known TV personality Bai Yansong, who will present the programs. "Actually it's a very strange country to many Chinese people.

"As the national and largest network, it's our duty to provide a comprehensive and objective view of Japan," he added.

CCTV will send its biggest ever team of journalists to Japan on March 4 to begin working on the series.

Their 15-20 day screening schedule will cover exclusive interviews with at least 10 Japanese figures in fields ranging from politics and economics to the arts.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, famous author Junichi Watanabe and actor Ken Takakura who are all well known in China, will be interviewed.

Several documentaries will also be produced, covering topics like Japanese history, the nation's animation industry, sumo wrestling, the young generation, and the aging society.

Well, I guess CCTV announcer Rui Chenggang's September 30 blog post was foreshadowing, not a wild anomaly.

Does anyone know which faction/grouping/ministries in the Chinese government or the CCP would end up profiting from a sudden rush to improve Japan's image in China? The approval for these attitude shifts must be coming from up on high.

Bringing myself back down to the muddy earth, I cannot wait to hear what Robyn Lim and the folks at Heritage, American Enterprise and CDI in Washington's environs will be offering as an explanations for this precipitous change.

No, really, I am serious.

Later - Here is the Jiji Tsushin report on the new television series.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Swamp By Any Other Name

Inba Marsh (印旛沼) is a depressing, trash-choked elbow of abused water just to the west of the city of Narita. The local "wild bird forest" (野鳥の森)abuts a toxic waste disposal site.

It is also the best preserved wetlands south of the Tonegawa.

If Abe Shinzō were the least bit serious about his "a beautiful country" schtick, he would stop mucking about with the constitution and instead focus on making sure that the tax revenues so painfully extracted from the core cities were no longer wasted on unused roadways, tunnels, al... and instead were consecrated to getting the underemployed clients of LDP politicians in the countryside to reve up their construction equipment and trucks in order to drag up, haul out and properly dispose of the trash that besmirches nearly every square kilometer of this country.

Yes, I was ticked off by the visible evidence of moral rot in the body politic on Sunday...and my mood was not in the best of shape to start off with after reading the Tokyo Shimbun's account of a suspiciously reactionary set of results from a recent government-sponsored poll on possible changes to the Family Law.

According to the report, poll results released by the Cabinet Office (内閣府)on Saturday (Warning! Warning!) found support eroding for a change in the Family Law that would allow spouses to retain their own birth names after marriage.

(Actually, such a change would extend to the entire population an exception to the current law which already exists for mixed nationality couples --but pointing out that inconsistency will get you uninvited from some rather remarkably well-catered events)

The survey found support for a revision--which it curiously defines as "Whether the law is changed or not, I do not care"--falling from 42.1% in 2001 to only 36.6% in 2006. It finds that opposition to the change--which again it curiously frames as "It is unnecessary to change the current law" (Somehow I am thinking that the question, "Even if it is 'unnecessary' would it be still be a neat thing to do?" was not the follow-up) rising from 29.8% to 35.0%

OK, let us say I have reason to be skeptical of anything that might cast a sharp light on the iniquities and traditionalist hogwash that stain the Family Law.

But even those with a far less acidic view of both the government and its goals have got to feel queasy about the Cabinet Office's November-December 2006 survey.

First of all, the damn thing's unreadable- formatted with seemingly no other purpose but to obscure information. Who can make sense of this kind of stuff?

Second, the manner of collecting the survey's results--door-to-door interviews--invites manipulation. Depending on what time of day the survey takers rang the doorbell or knocked on the door, they would have recorded damnably different results. Indeed, of the "5000 persons surveyed" it turns out that 2,234 did not answer the questions, either because they were not at home, had moved, were too ill or did not want to respond (1,116 "refused to participate").

Third, the survey was not carried out by Hōmushō personnel but a private contractor. This alone gives me the willies. Do you think the contractor might have had a clue beforehand as to what kind of results an Abe Cabinet Hōmushō might be looking to receive?


The day at Inba Marsh was not a total waste. In the space of a few hours, I saw:

Corvus corone
Carrion Crow
Hypsepetes amaurotis
Brown-Eared Bulbul
Sturmus cinerea
Gray Starling
Motacilla alba
Pied Wagtail
Streptopilia orientalis
Eatern Turtle Dove
Tachybaptus rufficollis
Little Grebe
Ardea alba
Great Egret
Ardea cinerea
Grey Heron
Egretta garzetta
Little Egret
Anas crecca
Common Teal
Fulica atra
Common Coot
Phalocrocorax capillatus
Japanese Cormorant
Gallinula chloropus
Lanius bucephalus
Bull-Headed Shrike
Anas platyrhynchos
Larus ridibundus
Black-Headed Gull
Larus canus
Common Gull
Carduelis sinica
Oriental Greenfinch
Alcedo atthis
Common Kingfisher
Emberiza spodocephala
Black-Faced Bunting
Emberiza schoeniclus
Reed Bunting
Turdus naumanni
Dusky Thrush
Turdus palidus
Pale Thrush
Turdus chrysolaus
Red-Bellied Thrush
Parus major
Great Tit
Phoenicurus auroreus
Daurian Redstart

Seeing fewer species of birds and no trash would have made me a lot happier, though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Give that man a hand

Over at Global Talk 21, the inimitable Jun Okumura puts the headlock on the British Broadcasting Corporation's overreach on the term taibatsu, and quite properly pleads for a revision.

This is how mistakes and lies take on a life of their own, folks.

Speaking of which, can someone please tell Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to keep her ideas about certain kanji to herself?

Hakuna Matata Sōridaijin

As noted earlier, our current prime minister never has a problem with anything his ministers say or do. As long as they keep their jaws moving until they sort of sound contrite, he's happy.

Nikkei Net


"I don't think that there's a problem," said the prime minister to assembled journalists.

I am way too aggressive in my use of the indicative...but does Prime Minister Abe really need to bracket his statement with "to omou" when he is talking about his own judgment?

Daytrips in February

From time to time I tease with photos of recent daytrips.

If the weather is clear on the Sundays of next month, here are some of the places I am thinking of visiting:

February 4 - Futagoyama - Across the Miura Peninsula from Zushi to Taura through a fairly unbroken stand of lowland broad-leafed evergreen forest, up over the ridge at Futagoyama and terminating in a visit to the plum groves (they should be in full bloom) on the hills above the Yokosuka naval bases.

February 11 - Nokogiriyama - Perhaps the Kantō Region's best one day trip. Down to the Miura Peninsula by train, across Tokyo Bay by ferry, then up the mountain, either on foot or by cable car to...

February 18 - Manazuru Peninsula / Shiroyama - A visit in the morning to the peninsula, its port and its religious sites, followed by a climb up in the afternoon up Shiroyama for the view. Hot water fanatics can find bathing opportunities around Yugawara. Birding should be good too--easy identification of 20-25 species.

February 25 - Takagawayama in Yamanashi Prefecture - a fairly brief, easy ascent to one of the most spectacular luncheon views around, followed by a visit to an early Meiji elementary school at the mountain's base.

If you are interested in joining me on any of these day trips, please email me.

As noted at the outset, weather permitting...

Straying slightly from the subject of this morning's symposium

"OK, your Excellencies. Rather than asking a question, I am going to try a little word association. I'll say a word or a phrase and you give me your first reactions."

"First phrase : 'China over the long-term'."

Courtesy: The Moscow Times

"Ooookay, maybe we'll try playing another game."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The China ASAT Test Shiryōkan - English language materials

I have put together a little collection of what I have found are the most relevant English-language online documents regarding the January 11 Chinese anti-satellite test.

What happened on January 11?

Bold move escalates space war debate

China's satellite shootdown has military, diplomatic implications
by James Oberg

One week ago, a major "space first" occurred high over west central China — and in total darkness. No fiery explosion or glowing clouds would have been seen. But an aging Chinese satellite was instantaneously converted into a 542-mile-high cloud of metallic confetti...

State of ASAT weapons programs up to the date of the Chinese test

A History of Anti-Satellite Weapons Programs
by Laura Grego

The last 40 years have seen the United States and Russia in a parallel and oftentimes mutually reinforcing path toward militarizing space. Space's initial military use was reconnaissance; the response of the United States and Russia/USSR to space reconnaissance missions has transitioned from the hostile days of 1960, when a US U-2 spy plane flying over the USSR was destroyed by anti-aircraft missiles, to the acceptance of imaging satellites used to verify arms control agreements as an essential component of national security...

Technical notes regarding the Chinese ASAT capabilities

"The Pillsbury Report"
by Michael D. Pillsbury

The first two parts of this study present the results of a survey of Chinese writings that discovered 30 proposals that China should acquire several types of anti satellite weapons. Many foreign observers have mistakenly claimed that China is a pacifistic nation and has no interest such weapons. The Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office Donald Kerr confirmed a Chinese laser had illuminated a US satellite in 2006. These skeptical observers dismissed that laser incident, but then appeared to be stunned by the reported Chinese destruction of a satellite January 11, 2007. China declined to confirm the event, but many foreign governments immediately protested,1 including Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Britain, while Russia’s defense minister suggested the report may not be fully accurate...


January 19th, 2007 - The Chinese anti-satellite shot on 12 January produced fireworks that are now branching into the non-celestial spheres of politics, national security, and space technology...

Foreign Sources of Chinese ASAT capabilities

by Richard D. Fisher, Jr.

While the most recent phase of the modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been a vast undertaking spanning two decades, a critical element feeding its success has been consistent access to foreign weapons and military technologies. Successful PLA modernization is also dependent upon ongoing reform of its doctrine, strategies, military-industrial policies, and training and personnel policies. But all of these ongoing reforms would be for naught if the PLA did not have the most modern and capable weapons.

To be sure, a reliance on foreign military technology by the PLA is not an asset, but a recognition on the PLA's part that its indigenous military-technical sector cannot meet the capability requirements being set by the PRC leadership. Over the 1990s, the PLA defense sector has had mixed to poor results in adopting and absorbing foreign military technologies. Ongoing reforms in the PRC defense industry sector that aim to strengthen market incentives and alliances are having some effect. But the failure of its own defense sector to make new indigenous systems is giving rise to a more popular half-step: importation of specific weapon components to fashion or to help complete new weapon systems of largely PLA design. However, the PLA is now the world’s largest buyer of foreign made arms; it is possible to see that these purchases are having some cumulative effects leading to potential new and threatening military capabilities...


Information from U.S. Assists New PLA Nuclear Warheads
Though a debate lingers, in 1999 a bi-partisan commission of the U.S. House of Representatives concluded that the PRC had used information it had obtained through espionage about modern U.S. nuclear weapons to aid the development of current PRC nuclear weapons being deployed on its new generation of solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)...

U.S. military "uses of space" doctrine

Counterspace Operations

Counterspace operations are critical to success in modern warfare. The rapid maturation of space capabilities and the evolution of contingency operations have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of air and space power. Combatant commanders leverage space capabilities such as communication; position, navigation, and timing; missile warning; environmental sensing; and reconnaissance to maintain a combat advantage over our adversaries...

A critical overview of U.S. Space Weapons

Big Intentions, Little Focus

by Theresa Hitchens, Michael Katz-Hyman and Jeffrey Lewis

Under the administration of President George W. Bush, Pentagon rhetoric has increasingly articulated a more robust vision of space as a future battlefield. This analysis details some of the ongoing spending for research and development programs identified in current U.S. Air Force, Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and Defense Advanced Research and Planning Agency (DARPA) planning and budget documents related to "space control" and "space force projection."...

Analyses of debris created

Preliminary Analysis of the FY-1C Breakup
Geoffrey Forden, MIT

Figure 1 shows the debris of the FY-1C as they are today. The split in orbits, with one group remaining in a fairly circular orbit and the other in a more eccentric group of orbits is characteristic of a highly energetic collision between two objects moving with speeds of at least several kilometers a second. We know this from some of the pictures the BMDO released after one of their early successful NMD intercepts. A group of debris, probably associated with satellite, leaves with velocities (both magnitude and direction of the speed) similar to the target's while another group leaves with velocities similar to the interceptor. Work is continuing on calculating what that means for the interceptor missile...

China's Asat Test Will Intensify U.S.-Chinese Faceoff in Space

China's successful test of an anti-satellite (Asat) weapon means that the country has mastered key space sensor, tracking and other technologies important for advanced military space operations. China can now also use "space control" as a policy weapon to help project its growing power regionally and globally.

Aviation Week & Space Technology first broke the news of the Chinese Asat test on Jan. 17.

China performed the test Jan. 11 by destroying the aging Chinese Feng Yun 1C (FY-1C) weather satellite target at 537 mi. altitude. The attack was carried out with a kinetic kill vehicle launched by a small ballistic missile...

On the consequences of space debris:

Analysis: Chinese Anti-Satellite Weapons Test in Space is Provocative and Irresponsible

At 5:28 p.m. EST on Jan. 11, 2007, China launched a medium-range ballistic missile at an old weather satellite in-orbit. The test destroyed the satellite and allowed China to pick up the reins of a space arms race that the United States officially dropped 20 years ago. This move is even more portentous now, as the United States is entirely dependent upon its space assets and has much to lose if it allows space to be weaponized...

Speculation on Chinese military thinking about the test:

China Wants a Piece of the Sky

Apparently the delicate sensors of the arms control fraternity picked up a frisson—a shudder of excitement—from the Forum on Space and Defense in Colorado Springs.

The rumor is that the Chinese government destroyed one of its own obsolete satellites, identified as FY-1C, in a test of an ASAT—anti-satellite weapon...

A View from Inside the PLA on China's Anti-Satellite Test

Though Chinese official media appears to be largely silent on the destruction of the FY-1c weather satellite, the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao did run a prominent story on the topic.

Most of it was recycled from western news services, but the final paragraph did say that the Global Daily (part of the People’s Daily media group) had a quote from Major General Peng Guangqian:...

On the Feng-Yun satellite:

Feng Yun FY-1 Earth Observation System

In 1988 and again in 1990 the PRC launched FY-1 (Feng Yun - Wind and Cloud) meteorological satellites into approximately 900-km, 99 degree inclination orbits by CZ-4 boosters from Taiyuan. The spacecraft were designed to be comparable to existing international LEO meteorological and remote sensing systems, including APT transmissions in the 137 MHz band. The satellite structure and support systems were created by the Shanghai Satellite Engineering and Research Center of the China Space Technology Institute, whereas the payload was developed by the Shanghai Technical Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences...

Expert saying the test was a blunder:

Chinese Anti-Satellite Weapon Experiment; What Now?

In a major foreign policy blunder, China reportedly has conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) test. First reported in Aviation Week and Space Technology, China allegedly used a medium-range ballistic missile to launch an unknown payload that slammed into the Feng Yun (FY-1C) polar-orbit weather satellite approximately 865 km (537 miles) above the earth on January 11...

Explanation of Russian ASAT systems:

Is China repeating the old Soviet and U.S. mistakes?

The anti-satellite test apparently conducted by China on January 12, 2007 immediately reminded everyone of the U.S. and Soviet cold-war ASAT programs. Some Russian commentators even suggested that the system tested by China is just a replica of the Soviet “IS” system. Well, not quite...

Sino-Russian proposals for a treaty on space-based weapons

Possible Elements for a Future International Legal Agreement on the Prevention of the Deployment of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects



Geneva, 1 February 2005

Mr. President,

It is well known that the issue of preventing of an arms race in outer space is the priority of the Russian Federation in the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament. Our common central task in this context is to prevent placement of weapons in outer space...

Other efforts to get folks thinking about control of space-based weapons

Space Weapons: Not Yet
By Richard L. Garwin

In this paper I attempt to sketch the utility of space weaponry, primarily from the point of view of the United States...

PAROS discussions at the 2004 UN First Committee

At the UN First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) in New York, a number of states have highlighted the importance of preventing the deployment of weapons in outer space. At a special session devoted to 'prevention of an arms race in outer space' on Tuesday October 19th, there were further more specific statements. Egypt and Sri Lanka have introduced their traditional Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) resolution....

China Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon
statement by David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

"China's Jan. 11 test of a kinetic energy anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon apparently destroyed a defunct Chinese satellite by slamming into it. UCS strongly opposes the development, testing, and deployment of such ASAT weapons by all countries. Space is uniquely well suited to a wide range of scientific, civilian, and military purposes. Debris produced by the testing or use of kinetic energy ASATs threatens the use of space for these purposes. China's test merely demonstrates what we already knew: satellites are by nature vulnerable to attack...

The August 2006 revision of America's national space policy:

U.S. National Space Policy

The President authorized a new national space policy on August 31, 2006 that establishes overarching national policy that governs the conduct of U.S. space activities. This policy supersedes Presidential Decision Directive/NSC-49/NSTC-8, National Space Policy, dated September 14, 1996...

Commentary on the new U.S. space policy:

Space Supremacy
It's the goal of America's new space policy.
by Michael Goldfarb

ON OCTOBER 18, the Washington Post reported on "the first revision of U.S. space policy in nearly 10 years." The specifics of that revision remain largely classified; however, the government did post an unclassified overview of the new policy which can be read here.

According to that document, "the President authorized a new national space policy on August 31, 2006 that establishes overarching national policy that governs the conduct of U.S. space activities." The document sets out a series of principles, goals, and guidelines that largely conform to the recommendations of the Commission to Assess United States National Security, Space Management, and Organization--otherwise known as the Rumsfeld Commission...

The Responsibilities of Space Faring Nations
by Michael Krepon and Michael Katz-Hyman

While NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was in China to discuss space cooperation, a story appeared in Defense News that China had illuminated a US reconnaissance satellite with a ground-based laser on at least one occasion. Reporters from Space News subsequently confirmed this report from no less a source than Donald Kerr, the Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office. Shortly thereafter, the Bush administration finally released an unclassified version of the US National Space Policy, which had been in the works for over two years. The Bush policy reaffirms the Pentagon’s option to "respond to interference; and deny, if necessary, adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests."...

The National Space Policy and space arms control
by Nader Elhefnawy
Monday, November 27, 2006

In October the White House released a ten-page summary of the new National Space Policy, the first such document in ten years. While the American media in general pays much less attention to US space policy than its foreign counterparts, the event registered even here, prompting stories in the major newspapers and commentary on the editorial pages. The reason for this was simple: the perception that "space supremacy is now the official policy of the United States government" as Weekly Standard writer Michael Goldfarb approvingly put it. (See "Not really lost in space: the new National Space Policy", The Space Review, November 13, 2006.)...

On the KT-1 and its successors from CASIC:

China’s Direct Ascent ASAT
by Richard Fisher, Jr.
January 20th, 2007

"China is believed to be conducting research and development on a direct-ascent ASAT [anti-satellite] system that could be fielded in the 2005-2010 timeframe."[1] This prediction from the 2003 Department of Defense annual report on Chinese military modernization became a reality on January 11, 2007 when a Chinese direct ascent ASAT intercepted and destroyed a Chinese weather satellite over China...

On the reasons why the three purported previous ASAT tests may have failed:

Does the DF-31 Suck or What?

In my forthcoming book, one of the little nagging questions I couldn’t answer was why the DF-31 solid-fueled ICBM (IRBM, harumph) was taking so damn long. I said: “In 1996, NAIC predicted CSS‐X‐10 (DF‐31) deployment ‘about the turn of the century.’ Since the missile remains to be deployed, the program may be under‐funded or experiencing technical problems.”...

Wrap-up on the Chinese ASAT test


I have a few parting thoughts about how this test fits into the strategic picture:

Out with the new, in with the old

According to Jamie MacIntyre, China's successful January 11th test wasn't its first using ground-based ballistic missiles. There were apparently three failed tests prior to this one using the unproven Kaitouzhe-1 space launch vehicle as the kill vehicle. The many of the key components for the Kaitouzhe are based on the new road-mobile DF-31 ICBM, which has had its share of problems, including some failed test launches back in 2002...

China is evil...or something like that

China's Space Attack Test
by Peter Brookes

January 24, 2007 - After several attempts, the People's Republic of China has successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon. The kinetic-energy "kill vehicle" destroyed its target - one of Beijing's own aging weather satellites - orbiting over 500 miles above Earth.

This is bad news. For starters, it calls into question China's mantra that its unprecedented military buildup is for self-defense, that its rise to world power will be peaceful. It's a threat to no one - and it will only use space for peaceful purposes...

Sputnik'd Again?
by Joe Buff

January 24, 2007 - On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first man-made object to achieve earth orbit. NASA's website labels this as a shock felt round the globe, the event that triggered the Cold War's long and dangerous U.S. versus Soviet Union space race. In an eerily parallel development one-half century later, on January 12, 2007 local time, the People's Republic of China successfully tested a kinetic-kill antisatellite (ASAT) ballistic missile, destroying one of their own aging weather satellites. Why care? Because once perfected and deployed, any operational ASAT system can hold at risk hundreds of assets vital to American network-centric intelligence, deterrence, and warfighting...

Lasers for attacking satellites

Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL)

The High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF) is located at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. HELSTF became operational on September 6, 1985 when the Air Force conducted the first Lethality and Target Hardening (LTH-l) program test for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO)...

Chinese Laser vs. U.S. Sats?

"China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in... a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft," Defense News is reporting. And, at least in theory, those lasers might be able temporarily take offline America's most powerful orbiting spies, like the giant electro-optical Keyhole spacecraft or radar-based satellites like the Lacrosse...

The one real controversy among the techies seems to over whether the ASAT booster is a derivative of a Dong Feng-21 IRBM or Dong Feng-31 ICBM.

Before attacking the coffee, appreciating the Japanese

Before writing a now infamous irate blog post lamenting the presence of a Starbucks in the Forbidden City, a beating of an aesthete's butterfly's wings that initiated an international typhoon of commentary (here, here and here) newscaster Rui Chenggang wrote an astonishingly brave post about what the Chinese people need to know about Japan.

Here is the English translation of the post, courtesy the great minds at

Rui appends a non-descript photo of the Gion district to illustrate just one of his many contrarian points:

"The most glorious period in Chinese history is the Tang dynasty. We are proud of that. But if you walk down the streets of Xian today, you will not be able to trace Chang'an city (note: the capital of the Tang dynasty) back then.

Do you want to see what Chang'an looked like approximately? Please proceed to the city of Kyoto in Japan. Kyoto was constructed according to the structure, architecture and city plan of Chang'an. Our Chang'an is fuzzy and vague today, but Kyoto is well-preserved in Japan. We must say that this is our sorrow."

So perhaps Prime Minister Abe's charm initiative is having a catalytic effect, giving the Chinese elites enough breathing room to open a national conversation on the Sino-Japanese relationship and helping them redirect the energies of Chinese hypernationalism.

Note particularly that Rui's post dates from September 30 last year ...

Oh, is it the 70th anniversary already?

You know what time it is?

It's time for dueling documentaries, boys and girls! Yeah!

Let's introduce the contestants:

'Nanking' Documentary Rights Sold at Sundance
The Washington Post

by Thomas Heath - AOL vice chairman Ted Leonsis announced today from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah that he has sold the international rights -- excluding China -- to his documentary film "Nanking" to Fortissimo Films.


Fortissimo has a record of distributing well-regarded documentaries, including "Supersize Me," "Capturing the Friedmans" and "Mad Hot Ballroom."

Nanking is told through interviews with Chinese survivors, archival footage and testimonies of Japanese soldiers, interwoven with filmed narrations of the Westerners' letters and diaries featuring Jurgen Prochnow, Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway.


Japanese director announces production of Nanjing film to deny massacre
Associated Press

TOKYO: When Japanese troops conquered the then-capital of China in 1937, historians agree they slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in an orgy of violence known since then as the Rape of Nanking.

A Japanese nationalist filmmaker announced on Wednesday he is working on a documentary with a very different message: the massacre never happened.

The film, to be called "The Truth about Nanking" and completed in August, will be based on testimony from Japanese veterans, archival footage and documents that proponents say prove accounts of the killing are nothing more than Chinese propaganda.

Gosh, all this and a feature film about the Nanjing Massacre based on Iris Chang's book coming out in 2008.

Stupid Query: how do you make a "feature film" out of a history book, at least one written after, let's say, 1850? History books tend to not be very, you know, filmable.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Well, that kind of makes it official, then...

...the government has no policies whatsoever.

Japan's defense minister calls U.S. invasion of Iraq a mistake

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was a mistake based on a faulty assumption, Japan's defense minister said Wednesday in a rare criticism from Washington's closest Asian ally.

Fumio Kyuma said he has expressed his understanding of the U.S. war in Iraq but never supported it, and "my opinion remains the same."

U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq "based on an assumption that weapons of mass destruction existed was a mistake," Kyuma told a news conference.

Kyuma made the comments hours after Bush implored the U.S. Congress in his annual State of the Union Address to back his unpopular plan to send more U.S. troops to Iraq, saying it represents the best chance in a war America must not lose.

Despite Bush's plan to boost troop numbers, Japan will not hastily decide whether to extend its airlifts in support of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, Kyuma said. The airlifts are to end in July.

Since we have only just finished reprinting all the relevant stationery and information packets, the likelihood that Kyūma will be canned for his continued freelance criticism of President Bush is nearly zero.

Now what as to what it all means when the Minister of Defense slaps around the White House on Iraq while Air Self Defense Forces C-130s are still flying in and out of Baghdad Airport, I do not know.

From the way Prime Minister Abe has handled all his other embarrassing moments, I guess it means...nothing.

Yikes this is scary!

If not at all plausible.

An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security

By Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall
October 2003
As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries' needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression in order to reclaim balance. Imagine eastern European countries, struggling to feed theirpopulations with a falling supply of food, water, and energy, eyeing Russia, whose population is already in decline, for access to its grain, minerals, and energy supply. Or, picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eying Russia's Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source to power desalination plants and energy-intensive agricultural processes. Envision Pakistan, India, and China – all armed with nuclear weapons –skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land. Spanish and Portuguese fishermen might fight over fishing rights – leading to conflicts at sea.

Imagine giant hyperpneumatic Edo Period octopi, with eyes as big as Nissan truck headlights, cavorting with female divers in ways that cannot possibly be posted to a family-oriented blog

(Wow, is that image ever not worksafe ...but oooh, it is ooh sooo very bakumatsu! And it's Katsushika Hokusai, which means it is Art with a capital "A")

Or, getting back to imagining the unthinkable, as the authors suggest, imagine awesome sabertoothed turtle-orca-venus flytrap hybrids with frickin' lasers on their heads!

Seriously, not even I can "picture Japan...eying Russia's Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source to power desalination plants and energy-intensive agricultural processes."

Energy-intensive agricultucal processes? What energy-intensive agricultural processes?

What are you talking about you strange little men?

"Time to pull out the old Karafuto maps boys; there's some serious desalination that needs getting done here!"

Ah c'mon, contamination of Japan's water sources? From where? From what? This is an bloody island chain you numbats! Our water comes to us in the form of rain, the condensation of water vapor created in the most part by the evaporation of seawater off the surface of the Eastern Pacific.

If anything, global warming will increase Japan's supply of freshwater, make the winters milder and the summers cooler and wetter.

Sakhalin's gas reserves don't enter into the equation.

I do not know what is worse about this:

1) that President Vice-President Cheney and his fellow travelers established a special branch inside the U.S. Pentagon to hand out contracts to "professional futurists" to write this kind of crap, when there are 1,000 climatologists around who could have done a better job.

2) that the "picture Japan..." segment was the preface to UK Conservative Party leader David Cameron's op-ed in my morning's Financial Times*.

Global warming is real. It is serious.

Even if the President of the United States cannot get himself to say the words "global warming".

Possibly (probably) it is too late to avoid catastrophe.

But Japanese lusting after the energy resources of Sakhalin as a consequence of global warming?

Look, if anyone will find an techno-architectonic wonder solution to coastal flooding resulting from global warning using a massive quantity of concrete and a cussed unwillingness to do the smart thing and move to higher ground, it will be a country that puts a 10 meter wall around an island to guard against tsunami after a tsunami has already leveled the island's one town, or one that excavates giant tunnels to reroute and even more giant holes to store the waters of flooding creeks.

All kidding aside, the Edogawa Underground Flood Control Project is probably the least-celebrated of the manmade wonders of the world. Here is an explanation on how to arrange a guided tour.

* Just to make it clear, the prefacing of the Op-Ed with the ridiculous Japan scenario is in no way the FT's fault. It is entirely the fault of the credulous Cameron.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Here we go again?

So we have an economy that's flatlining; an LDP led by a youngish botchan with a traditionalist, if supple, spine; a formerly puissant opposition party hellbent on auto-cancellation...
Can someone please enlighten me as to what this commercial is trying to teach me about the Democrats? "Our captain, who lacks even a modicum of dress sense, is too weak to guide the ship of state. He does, however, have friends" seems the Amaterasu-damned weirdest political message ever...and what about the home page that seems to erupt from out of the chest of DEVO's "New Traditionalists" era? And what the Hell is a "Seikatsu Ishin" supposed to be, anyway?
...and now a comedian prevails over the establishment candidate and a host of pretenders in a wide open election for a governorship:
Higashi wins Miyazaki governor race
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Former TV personality Sonomanma Higashi on Sunday won the gubernatorial race in Miyazaki Prefecture with 266,807 votes to fill the post vacated by former Gov. Tadahiro Ando, who was arrested after resigning over alleged bid-rigging.

In his first election, Higashi, 49, whose real name is Hideo Higashikokubaru, beat four first-time candidates, including former Forestry Agency Director General Hidesaburo Kawamura, 57, who placed second with 195,124 votes, becoming the first entertainer to win such an election since 1999 when Knock Yokoyama won the Osaka gubernatorial election.

Higashi's victory, achieved with support from a large number of unaffiliated voters, is likely to have an impact on the strategies of the major parties as they prepare for the unified local elections in spring and the House of Councillors election in summer.

With distrust of politics spreading in Miyazaki Prefecture due to Ando's alleged involvement in bid-rigging, Higashi, a well-known entertainer, announced his retirement from show business to run in the election.

He embarked on a grassroots campaign without backing from political parties and organizations, winning support from young people and women not affiliated with any political party.

He pledged to scrap the designated bidding system for public works projects and to dole out harsh punishment for prefectural government employees involved in rigging bids. He also proposed selling prefectural farm produce under the Sonomanma brand.

It's like 1995 all over again...and only a month after the passing of former Tokyo governor and sweet soul Aoshima Yukio...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Mademoiselle L'Ambassadrice

Have you seen the Kantei Home Page recently?

If it were any more subdued, tasteful, and, let's be frank, precious, it would have a little Mori Hanae butterfly in the corner.

Top story on the Kantei page: the Prime Minister encourages the Council of Related Ministers for the Realization of Japan as a Country Built on Tourism (Ugghhh! Here is the 日本語 original. Is it my Koizumi nostalgia, or are the government's translations really more stilted than they were only just a few months ago?) to promote--wait for it--"Beautiful Japan"--and just to make sure we all get a little queasy about the overassociation of Japan as a nation with demure, chaste feminine beauty, the PM chats up Japan's Goodwill Ambassador for the Visit Japan Campaign.

"Aw shucks Miss Kimura. You sure are purty!"

This may seem a silly question, but is being the "Goodwill Ambassador for the Visit Japan Campaign" such a crappy gig that Kimura Yoshino cannot find anyone else to dump it on? Or conversely, is it such a plum position that Kimura won't give it up? These kinds of honorary posts are usually annual or biennial ordeals. Kimura's been Japan's "Ambassador" since the program's inception in July 2004.

Granted, Kimura-san has clear skin and thick (very) black hair, looks stunning in kimono and possesses, I must assume, decent English language skills (she was born in London and attended middle school in the United States) I guess she's "perfect" for the part.

But is the sakura, temple and vermillion-kimono-clad okamisan (Miss Kimura is 30 years old) image really what modern Japan should be pushing, hard?

Because if that's the "Beautiful Japan" you are selling, you are going to disappoint a whole lot folks who actually make the trip.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Requiescat in Risus

Two weeks ago, in an exegesis upon aftermath of the most recent iteration of the Kaku-Fuku Wars, I quoted a bit of utterly, obviously, bilingually bogus dialogue between President Lyndon Johnson and Kennedy-era White House Chef Rene Verdon which can found only in the works of the great American humorist Art Buchwald.

In comments, I noted that, contrary to popular belief, Art Buchwald was not dead.

Popular belief need not enter into it now: Art Buchwald passed away, chortling all the way I expect, on Wednesday.

He was a very contented 81.

Elysian Fields

I must say, Tamiflu is one hell of a product...though I do note what seem like occasional random shifts in the time-space continuum despite and/or possibly due to my consumption of this wonder drug.

In the meantime, here is what I believe is the original article that started the ball rolling on the Chinese anti-satellite missile test.

The following two sites are doing a wizbang job of keeping abreast of the tale:

Arms Control Wonk

The Council on Foreign Relations news roundup is kind of weak, by comparison.

I shall have to see what Japanese news sources are saying. I am afraid the significance of this test shall escape most of the usual pontificators.

I tend to get ahead of myself on these things but the Chinese military's successful test of this weapon seems a transformative event, on par with Hizbullah's recent political victory in Lebanon.

The ball game is completely different now.

Later - It was going to happen sooner or later. It just happened sooner rather than later.

Here it is, Mike Green's take on the missile launch, courtesy of Time magazine.

As usual, he is shocked that an East Asian nation might have its own foreign policy agenda and action timetable.

And no, I have not forgotten this bit of harrumphing bluster.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Non compos mentes

I'll be out of commission and decidedly horizontal for a few more hours due to the combined effects of Type A Influenza and bronchitis.

While I have been away from my desk testing the waters of extreme discomfort and semi-consciousness, it seems the Chinese have been doing a little product demonstration.

Just as long as they keep taking out their own worries, mate.

Oh, except for the creation of a few hundred pieces of high velocity space debris that could wipe out a few other satellites...or a space walking astronaut...

Killing satellites with a kinetic kill vehicle is so dumb the U.S. military canned serious work on the technology after a single successful test.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

How do I know they are managing the news? Evidence, my dear Watson. Evidence.

Hiranuma Takeo, the former LDP stalwart and the negotiator of the return of the Dirty Eleven to the LDP in November-December, suffers a stroke two days after the LDP decides to refuse his readmission to the party--and we don't hear about it for 40 DAYS?

Hiranuma in hospital after stroke

OKAYAMA (January 17, 2007) Takeo Hiranuma, a former minister of economy, trade and industry, was hospitalized for a stroke in December, his supporters said Tuesday

Hiranuma, 67, fell ill Dec. 6 while dining with other lawmakers in Tokyo and was diagnosed with a mild stroke, the supporters said at a news conference in his Okayama Prefecture district.

He still has difficulty walking and eating, and will not return to politics before late March at the earliest, they said.
How could the family manage to hide this through New Years without collusion from journalists--and not even necessarily friendly journalists? How did folks in Okayama making their New Year rounds knock on the Hiranuma door, get told "Uh, Takeo-san's not in right now" and not ask when he would be in?

Now we know - a Diet member could expire when the Diet is not in session and no one would be the wiser until the Speaker called the House to order two months later.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I See Sepia

As Amaterasu is my witness, when I saw the following photo on page two of this evening's Yomiuri Shimbun:

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

I asked myself, "Why are all those people holding up posters of Natsume Sōseki?"

Monday, January 15, 2007

Coming Soon... Chinese-language and Japanese-language newspapers near you.

On Saturday night in Utah (Sunday morning in Tokyo and Nanjing) the documentary Nanking debuts at the Sundance Film Festival.

The producer started the project when he heard of Iris Chang's suicide.

Your Yen Being Put to Work... a typically embarrassing Sisyphean quest.

Japan struggles to raise abduction issue in Asian summit, official says

CEBU, Philippines - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was expected to raise the alleged abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea in a summit of 16 Asian leaders Monday, an official said.

Some leaders wanted a broader discussion on humanitarian concerns during the East Asian Summit but Japan has been lobbying to highlight the emotional issue, said Ong Keng Yong, secretary-general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Japanese diplomats also wanted the issue to be mentioned in a final communique to be issued at the end of the one-day meeting in the central Philippine city of Cebu, he said.

"We want to talk about a broader subject called 'humanitarian concern' which includes abduction, but the Japanese think that the abduction should be highlighted,'' Ong told reporters before the summit opened.

Asked if the abduction issue would be mentioned in a final communique, Ong replied: "They're lobbying us."


I'm sure the Myanmarese delegation was absolutely incensed at North Korea's heinous conduct and rushed to show its support for Japan's initiative.

Amaterasu, does anyone in the Cabinet know the meaning of the term "perverse"?

How about "obsessive"?

"Inappropriate to an extreme"?


Is there no one in the bureacracy capable of telling the Prime Minister:

"Abe-san, stop it. You're humiliating us. You're transforming the country into a laughingstock."

Because, you know, the current rulers don't do subtlety. At least they do not seem to understand it. They have no clue as to why so much damaging information has been leaking out into the public sphere recently.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Go kōi dake itadakimasu*

A tall, bald, self-assured and decidedly palid charmer is wending his way towards you.

No, it's not MTC...lucky you.

No, it is the world's second most difficult-to-locate** and least-sought-after hunting dinner companion.

米副大統領、訪日で調整 早ければ来月にも



"No problems with arranging the schedule."

Imagine that.

The actual president Vice President of the United States has no appointments lined up that could interfere with a trip to Japan even next month.

Like I said, imagine that.

For the Abe Cabinet, yet another feather in their cap. A coup. A smart, sassy move.

Photo courtesy:

* "Thanks but no thanks."

** After Osama Bin Laden.

When Wen Met Abe

Thanks to a RFID chip implanted last year in Wen Jiabao's brain and Google's new translation software, I was able to record and decipher Wen's thoughts on January 14 in Cebu:

"Whoa! Turtle eyes, aren't you supposed to be in Europe?"

"Crikeys! What teeth!"

"His touch! It burns! Help me!"

Still, a better experience than last time with that other guy.

Friday, January 12, 2007

File it under "Science Fiction", will you Watson?

Okumura Jun over at Global Talk 21 has bits of an interview of Jim Auer which appeared in the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Jim Auer states the obvious: that the Iraq deployment is all about securing Japan against the North Korean threat. He states another obvious point--that Washington thinks that loose lips in Japan about a Japanese nuclear breakout are an attempt to encourage the Chinese to lean hard on the North Koreans.

But I think Okumura-san goes to far in saying Japanese security specialists share Auer's and Washington's belief.

As evidence, I offer the Sankei Shimbun's front page article of December 25 disclosing the contents of a secret government report prepared this summer. That the article appeared on Christmas Day is the likely reason it has not been more widely discussed.

核弾頭試作に3年以上 費用2000~3000億円 政府内部文書





 政府内部文書では、日本が核武装するためには、結局、プルトニウム239を効率的に作り出すことができる黒鉛減速炉の建設と減速炉から生じる使用済み核燃料を再処理するラインを設置する必要があると結論づける。さらに小型核弾頭をつくるためには日本にとって未知の技術開発に挑戦しなければならない。(編集委員 田村秀男)


Government internal report says Japan over three years away from a miniaturized warhead at a cost of 200 to 300 billion yen

It became public knowledge on December 24 that an internal government document exists stating, “It will take at least 3 to 5 years until Japan can go into trial production of a miniaturized warhead.” According to the document, entitled, “As regards the possibility of national production of atomic weapons” while Japan does have uranium enrichment facilities and the technology and equipment for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, there are technical barriers that prevent the immediate conversion of these [capabilities]. Although a debate has emerged in one segment of Japanese society on the occasion of North Korea’s nuclear test regarding the need for nuclear armaments or a review of the “Three Non Nuclear Principles”, it has been confirmed that even if a decision were made to proceed with arming Japan with nuclear weapons, Japan will be basically starting from zero.

The internal government document was completed on September 20. Well before the October 9 nuclear test by North Korea, specialists within various branches of the government quietly conducted a survey and compiled [the report]. It says that to produce a prototype miniaturized warhead will take more than 3 years, a budget of 200 billion to 300 billion and several hundred technicians. If Japan were to declare itself a nuclear weapons state in the interim, Japan could not immediately by itself check the ‘nuclear threat’ posed by North Korea

As for the materials to be made into nuclear weapons, they will be either of two types, namely, HEU used in the Hiroshima atomic bomb or Nagasaki-type plutonium. There are nuclear fuel cycle processing facilities at Japan's nuclear fuels manufacturing center of Rokkasho (in Aomori Prefecture) and uranium enrichment and a nuclear power station spent fuel reprocessing plant at the Tokai civilian nuclear research group facility (in Ibaraki Prefecture).

However, neither is appropriate for production the nuclear materials out of the fuel designed for use in light water reactors. The uranium enrichment facility can produce 3% LEU. Operating the centrifuges in order to produce [HEU] would lead to constant breakdowns. It would essentially be impossible to scale up over the short term.

The internal government document concludes that in order for Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons, it would, in the end, have to construct a graphite moderated nuclear reactor for the efficient production of Pu 239. It would also be necessary to establish a reprocessing line for this reactor. Furthermore, Japan will have to push itself to aquire the technological knowledge required for the manufacture of miniaturized warheads.
(Editor: Tamura Hideo)

Now to me, the leaking of the contents of this report to the Sankei Shimbun...

1) Reassures the Chinese that the smart folks in Japan know that breakout is impossible.

2) Slams the door on the knuckles of certain right wing pundits both here and in the United States who have been arguing for Japan's entry into the nuclear weapons club.

3) Drives a stake through the heart of the "Japan is at most 6 months away from being a nuclear power" canard.

4) Indicates there are at least a few individuals inside the government who think that politicians discussing Japan's possibly becoming a nuclear weapons state needs to be exposed for the nonsense it is.

(Some of this material cross-posted from Arms Control Wonk and Global Talk 21)

I pod therefore I am

Bruce Wallace of the LA Times takes a few moments to smack the provincials upside the head.

In Japan, barely a ripple
Los Angeles Times

TOKYO — Tomoaki Kurita presides over racks of cellphones lined up outside his shop on a busy sidewalk in Harajuku, Tokyo's catwalk of youth street culture where people attracted by the riot of phone options can stop to flip open and fondle the latest models of what the Japanese call keitai.

From behind his busy counter, Kurita giggles when asked about the excitement in America over the arrival of Apple's iPhone, which can also be used to download music and surf the Internet.

"Sounds like business as usual," he says.

On the day when stock markets swooned and techies buzzed over Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs' long-awaited entry into the mobile-phone market, Japanese consumers could be excused for wondering: Why the fuss?

Yes, the iPhone seemed to reaffirm Apple's ability to wow with design. Its finger-driven navigation might bring a new level of sophistication to the way cellphones operate. But many Japanese had a harder time buying Jobs' line about "reinventing" the phone.

"Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything," Jobs said as he unveiled the iPhone on Tuesday at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

But the revolution is already well underway in Japan, where cellphones are used for everything. Besides downloading music and surfing the Net, Japanese use their cellphones to navigate their way home by global positioning system, to buy movie tickets and to update personal blogs from wherever they are.

They have been a natural extension of daily life here for the last few years, spurred by Japan's decision to be the first country to upgrade to third-generation mobile-phone networks, or 3G, which increase broadband capabilities and allow for better transmission of voice and data.

Apple's iPhone, by comparison, will operate on a second-generation network...

Why is the story of Asia's huge advantage in terms of personal communications technology not more of a story? Why aren't the great minds poring over it night and day as they declare the Japanese model dead? And why don't Japanese commentators draw more conclusions about the importance of deregulation AND unified government development goals for the fast expansion of a new technology?

Peko-chan must die

This couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of culinary criminals:

Fujiya suspends production, sales over old-milk scandal
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Major confectioner Fujiya Co. announced the suspension of operations Thursday at five confectionery plants and said it had stopped selling sweets at about 900 outlets and restaurants across the country, to take responsibility for using out-of-date milk to make cream puffs.

The incident took place last autumn at one of the company's plants in Niiza, Saitama Prefecture. Fujiya also admitted shipping products containing 10 times the amount of bacteria permitted under levels set by the Food Sanitation Law.

On Thursday morning, officials from the Saitama prefectural government inspected Fujiya's Niiza plant.

A Fujiya employee said that on eight occasions between early October and late November, the plant used milk that had passed its expiration date to manufacture about 16,000 cream puffs that were then shipped.

The plant was also found to have shipped out cream that failed to meet the bacteria criteria guidelines set by the Food Sanitation Law, used expired processed apple products to make apple pies, and extended by one day more than the company standard the consumption date for puddings.

I had thought their food only tasted bad.

And to be honest, I use the word "food" for a Fujiya product only under most extreme duress.

Oh Amaterasu, the Merciful, the Compassionate, let them stay closed. Permanently.

Question of the Day

From The Asahi Shimbun's lead editorial on January 11:

Yes, you pompous xenophobe Mr. Minister, what will we tell the people...and the children, most of all?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

His Dark Materials

When I see reports like this:

Groups of 2 ministers filed shady fund reports
The Asahi Shimbun

01/11/2007 - Scandals involving shady political fund reports have surfaced around two Cabinet members that could increase the humiliation already weighing down the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The fund reports were submitted by the political organizations of education minister Bunmei Ibuki and agriculture minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka.

In both cases, the groups reported large sums in office expenses in their mandatory fund reports. But the offices in question turned out to be the Cabinet members' rent-free rooms in the Diet members' office building.

The shady reports are reminiscent of the ones submitted to the government by the political organization of former administrative reform minister Genichiro Sata.

I find myself thinking, "I wonder whatever happened to Nonaka Hiromu's old files?"

Seriously, someone out there has it out for Abe Cabinet in the worse way. Going public with all this stuff all at once indicates either that that someone doesn't know what he is doing or that that someone doesn't care anymore.

Read the whole article (related articles in 日本語 can be found here and here ) and then say to yourself, "Why is this coming out now?"

The latest accused of dodging political funds reporting requirements by listing entertainment expenses as office costs: LDP Secretary-General Nakagawa Hidenao and Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairman Matsumoto Takeaki.

Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Later - Okumura Jun in comments offers a timeline. No mystery here it seems--but no light at the end of the tunnel for the politicians.

It should also be noted that in the case of the DPJ's Matsumoto, the questionable claims come only a single year when his office was moving from Himeiji to Tokyo. The offices of the others under scrutiny made their questionable claims over the five years 2001 to 2005. The amount of money is also relatively minor in the Matsumoto case, less than a tenth of the amounts Ibuki Bunmei (the Topiary Accident) and Nakagawa the Barking Mad are being raked over the coals for.

Paging Mr. Michael Palin...Paging Mr Terry Jones...Mr. Idle, pick up a white courtesy telephone, please...

The motto of Fox News is "fair and balanced."

After reading the following, I have tried to think what should AP's motto should be..."thorough to the point of inadvertent parody" perhaps?

Chopped husband scattered around Tokyo

January 11, 2007 TOKYO, Japan -- A woman has confessed to bludgeoning her husband with a wine bottle, sawing the corpse in pieces and dumping his body parts around Tokyo, police and news reports said Thursday.

The arrest of 32-year-old Kaori Mihashi late Wednesday capped a grisly murder mystery that began when a man's torso was found in a garbage bag on a street in downtown Tokyo in December.

The man's legs were found in late December at a separate location in the city, and his head was discovered in a suburban park on Wednesday, a Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity.

The man was identified as Mihashi's husband, Yusuke Mihashi, 30, the police said. His arms were still missing.

It is gruesome, it is awful...but that last line veers damn close to Monty Python.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I'm not letting go of this

Try as I might, I cannot rid myself of a terrible unease over the resignation of Honma Masaaki.

I feel that something truly bizarre occurred and no one noticed.

Part of my unease comes from my not being able to identify a solid reason why Honma had to be hounded from office. I can understand why Sada Genichirō had to go--his political offices had presided over a long-term major fraud.

If I understand the story being told to me in the media, Honma became an unforgivable pariah because he had had his ladyfriend sleeping over for a month at his publicly subsidized apartment.

Now the last time I looked, Japan was not prudish nation. Adultery has rarely been a firing offense. Indeed, if all the products of adulterous relationships of Japan were to suddenly vanish, the Diet, the Imperial Household and many of the executive offices of major corporations would be rather silent.

The Japanese public has furthermore had a soft spot for couples forced to live together unwed because the legal spouse of one of the partners will not countenance a divorce. The courts in Japan are no help: it took 16 years for Sakamoto Ryūichi to secure a divorce from Yano Akiko. Painter Ikeda Masuo and violinist Satō Yōko lived together unwed for nearly 20 years (until Ikeda's untimely death in 1997) because his wife would not agree to a divorce.

Ikeda's and Satō's life together indeed has been featured on a number of television programs.

So what was it about Honma's transgression that was so awful? He is, after all, in divorce proceedings. The relationship with his lover seems a partnership of equals (Honma is 61; the ladyfriend is reported as being in her 50s). So there is none of the icky May-December romance (or even ickier February-December romance) problem here.

So what was the big deal?

The Asahi Shimbun has been the foremost purveyor of the "glaring contradiction" line.

It goes something like this:

Honma is an advocate of the sale of national property. He wants to get the national government out of the property maintenance business and free up land and buildings for use by private enterprise. Sales, of course, would also go far to reduce the national debt.

However, according to the Asahi and the other papers, Honma paid 77,000 yen a government to live in a government-subsidized apartment that, had it been a private residence, would have cost him 500,000 a month...

...if we are to believe the "local real estate experts" anonymously quoted, of course. Any idiot knows that a real estate agent will vastly overestimate the average rent in a neighborhood--both to encourage the client to quickly seize the "bargain" he is being shown and also to jack up the rent the client is willing to pay. The agent's fee is, after all, equal to one month's rent.

To stay in such an apartment while advocating the sale of such government property is hypocrisy, or so they say.

There is a glaring contradiction within this argument, however.

Honma began living, probably part-time, in a government-subsidized Tokyo apartment in January 2003. As a public servant (Osaka University being a state institution at the time) serving on the government's economic revival and budget commission, he had the right to live in the complex at the subsidized rate. He continued to have a right to live there (and advocate the sale of public property) even after Osaka University incorporated in April 2004.

Somehow, his advocacy of property sales and his subsidized apartment only become a problem after the story about the girlfriend, who according to reports began staying overnight starting in October of this year, appeared in Shūkan Post on December 11--one month after Honma took over as the head of the Tax Commission.

Oh, the infamy of his hypocrisy?!?.

Give me an Amaterasu-damned break.

The Yomiuri seems to favor another reason, the "it's asking too much of the people" line.

As the head of the Tax Commission, Honma was in charge of a panel that, one way or another, was going to have approve a government plan to raise taxes. The country has an insane budget deficit even after years of cutting spending. The fiscal imbalance will grow even worse as the post-war baby boomers begin retiring en masse over the next few years and the ratio of workers to retirees plunges.

New revenues are needed to plug the gap. That means taxes have to go up--most likely the consumption tax, from 5% to 7%.

For Honma to live in a tax-subsidized apartment when contemplating raising everyone's taxes is rank hypocrisy. To do it while carrying on with a woman who is not his wife is in bad taste.

Now I may or may not disagree with the second sentence.

The first sentence, however, is hogwash.

It just so happens that everyone who will have anything to do with the decision to raise taxes will be living on the government dole. Either the taxpayers are paying their salaries, or the taxpayers are paying for three staffers in their Diet office or the taxpayers are subsidizing their housing.

Government costs money. Surprised?

Running for office and/or working for the government is high cost, often high risk and low reward way to live. You really have to compensate people in the short run for the burdens they will be taking on by working in the public sphere.

For those who do not reside in Tokyo, for example, there is an added burden of maintaining a second residence.

Without subsidized accommodations, only the rich or Greater Tokyo residents could afford to run for public office or serve on government advisory commissions. If you want middle-class or even upper middle-class folks to come to Tokyo from the prefectures to serve in government offices, you the taxpayer are going to have to chip in a little.

Indeed, since the Honma controversy broke, members of the Diet have been cancelling plans to move into the newly-constructed Diet official apartment building. There is now a waiting list to get into older aparments for Diet members. Representatives figure that if they live in the older, decrepit accommodations, citizens will not get quite so angry about subsidizing the rent (My point would really be made if some government official confessed, "And in by living in this older apartment building, I can get away with shacking up with my mistress too.")

O.K. now, so what was Honma's real crime?

Not having any friends.

In only a month and a half as the chairman of the tax commission, Honma managed to alienate all the three constituencies that could have come to his rescue--and put his faith in a fourth constituency that apparently does not exist.

The three constituencies he managed to anger were the business establishment, the people and the media.

The business establishment, through its avatar the Keidanren, has been clammoring for a reduction of corporate income tax rate from 40% to 30%--to bring Japan's taxation in line with international norms.

The Keidanren's position is specious, facile and self-serving--the Japanese corporate tax system has its own internal network of peculiar tax dodges and hidden subsidies that lessen and reassign the depredations upon the corporate purse.

Rather than telling the Keidanren to go to hell, however, Honma demurred, saying that perhaps a reduction from 40% to 35% would be sufficient.

Now this attempt to split the difference upset the business lobby. It really ticked off the press and the public, though.

To talk on the one hand about the need to raise the consumption tax--at a time when everyone but everyone is talking about how weak Japanese private consumption has become--and then propose to reduce taxes on corporations at at time when corporations are earning record profits-- shows unspeakable political tin ear.

Why did Honma lull himself into thinking he could triangulate between the demands of business and the expectations of the public and the press?

Because he counted on the support of the Prime Minister.

He had good two reasons to believe the PM would cover his back.

The first was that his predecessor, Ishi Kōki had not wanted to relinquish his chairmanship. The PM had had to make a special effort to kick Ishi out and appoint Honma in his place.

The second was that the chairmanship of the Tax Commission is as close to a life appointment as one can get. One of the reasons Ishi tried to hang on was that, at six years and 10 months, his was the shortest tenure of any chairman. Indeed since the position was created in 1959 until this year, only five men have been chairman of the Tax Commision--with the average tenure being 12 years.

That Honma could be forced out after only a month and a half on the job is astonishing.

Now why does all this bother me?

Because there is a word for ostracizing and hounding a friendless person for wanting to live his life differently. Not illegally, not offensively--just differently.

That word is ijime.

And everyone, jut about everyone, seeing that Abe could do, would do nothing to protect the man he himself appointed, just dove right in, condemning Honma's immorality.

How was it possible for those in their high dudgeon to ignore the Augean stables of their own private lives?

If you can name one wide show host, one television commentator, one editorialist, one major political figure without a closet filled to bursting with dirty laundry--then I will buy you lunch. Twice.

And how was it possible for them to get away without getting called out?

That we were all expected to snicker at the phrase "a woman who is not his wife", get all worked up about Honma's presumption and then, after two weeks, move on to something else, is just creepy.

For that, my friends, IS hypocrisy.