Thursday, August 16, 2012

It Could Have Been A Lot Worse

In yesterday's post, I lamented that the August 15 anniversary of the end of World War II was the worst of days, due to the absurd nationalist and ehtnocentric emotions the anniversary raises.

However, we have made it through to Thursday, Amaterasu be praised. A lot of bad, stupid events took place and dumb things were said, but all turned out pretty much for the best.

- The fishing boat full of Hong Kong activists, despite the Japan Coast Guard's vigorous efforts to encourage -- and by "encourage" I mean this...

to not try to make landfall at any of the Senkaku Islands, could not take the subtle hint and proceeded close enough to the shore of Uojima for seven of the activists, carrying inexplicably the flags of both the PRC and the ROC, to wade ashore.

CCTV, in a breaking news flash, depressingly referred to the charade as a "successful landing."

On shore, the seven were met by a company of JCG personnel and Okinawa Prefecture police -- a blend of security forces the activists should have thanked their lucky stars for, as coast guard personnel tend to play rough. They are the proud cowboys of Japan's security establishment and have a very short list of rules of engagement.

Despite the reduced chance of their being harmed, two of the activists turned around and immediately swam back to the boat. Perhaps they lost heart; perhaps they had a live interview wairing for them. The remaining five were relieved of their flags and arrested on violations of immigration laws.

Later, after night had fallen, the Coast Guard took control of the fishing vessel, arresting the nine remaining activists on board.

No one got hurt; the Chinese got their testosterone shot. If Japanese authorities learned anything from the Chinese fishing boat collision case, they will put the activists on a flight to Hong Kong, deporting them for being particularly unsuccessful illegal immigrants.

- President Lee Myung-bak, who threw a wrench into Japan-South Korea relations by visiting Dokdo on August 10, doubled down on his diplomatic faux pas by inviting the Heisei Emperor to visit South Korea on the condition that the emperor issue a contrite apology to the peoples of the Korean peninsula for Japan's occupation and annexation of the land a hundred years ago (E). That the Emperor did this the last time he visited the ROK Prime Minister Kan Naoto did this on the 100th anniversary of Korea's annexation seems to have not satisfied President Lee's critics.

For a guy born in Osaka, Lee sure is tough on his original home. Then again, for the suspicious act of having emerged from a uterus in Japan, the president of the Republic of Korea is a presumed puppet of Japan.

Lesson: choose your uterus wisely!

[Choosing the right uterus is only half the story, of course, even in these oligarchical times. The Hatoyama Brothers, Yukio and Kunio, made an excellent choice, only to proceed through their own particular brand of solipsism to make a hash of their advance placement in life.]

- The demonstration in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul attracted 300 persons, according to Japanese news reports. In the pouring rain, the famous statue of the young seated girl looked as though she were crying,

While particularly a effective and affective work of art yesterday, the statue has to be moved to a less provocative location. It is, of course, a stand-in for the sex slaves themselves, who cannot, due to their advanced age, keep up the weekly protests much longer.

However, the statue, in its permanence, closes minds. From the point of view of a Japanese diplomat or a Japanese politician, the statement "We will always be here" provokes the response, "Fine. We will always ignore you."

- The two members of the Cabinet who paid their respects at Yasukuni yesterday did so in a private capacity, as they had promised, lessening somewhat the fallout from the visits. They also demonstrated, in their press availabilities after their visits, that neither would make it past the first round of an "evil genius" competition.

- After reporting on the rest of the day's sordid events, NHK's 9 p.m. broadcast a special segment on a heretofore little-publicized facet of the Pacific War: the dispatch of eleven agents from the infamous Nakano military intelligence school to the outer, tiny islands of the Okinawa chain in last year of the war. The goal: to infiltrate local society in preparation of convincing the islanders to sacrifice themselves for the defense of the main islands.

The piece focused on the effort of two sisters to record, as long as persons of at least a certain age in 1945 are still alive, memories of a school teacher who arrived in January 1945 and soon became renowned for his kindness and competence.

The school teacher, was, as it turned out, one of these agents.

When Allied forces arrived near the island, the teacher was one of the local authorities who convinced islanders to retreat in to the forests. Once in the forest, the teacher, who had heretofore been known only for his sweet disposition, suddenly began talking about everyone preparing for a glorious death in battle (gyokusai - literally "a crushing of a jewel"). The islanders, in their good sense, thought he had gone insane and ignored him.

Some time later, after the war was over, Allied intelligence found the agent still at work on the island, arrested him, and took him away.

It was the last anyone on the island saw of him.

Now for the sisters, the recording of the activities of the agent, who went on to live a life of obscure normalcy as a middle school teacher on Honshu, has a deeply personal cast. While on the island, the teacher started living with a local woman, impregnating her. She later gave birth to a son.

That woman was the sisters' aunt and the boy their cousin.

The message repeated throughout the piece was the way the leadership in Tokyo considered the inhabitants of Okinawa expendable (sute ishi - "stones tossed away"). Their value. at least as regards the male inhabitants, was as a potential guerrilla force tying down the Allies, inflicting casualties, and slowing the Allied advance as the main islands prepared to repel an amphibious invasion.

Insufficient reflection on the wrongs done in the war, both on the small and the vast scales?

Not exactly.

Photo image credit: Yomiuri Online

1 comment:

Ἀντισθένης said...

Some more specials coming up on NHK that will get the 'uyoku' wound up, but I won't expect to hit very hard at all.