Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Absence Of Celebration

On Monday, the 62nd anniversary of the end of Allied Occupation of the Japan main islands, State Minister for Administrative Reform Inada Tomomi paid her first visit of the year to Yasukuni Shrine, accompanied by eight members of her Tradition and Innovation Association (pictured).

Nothing really significant or surprising, really. Inada pays a visit to Yasukuni every year on Sovereignty Day. (Link - J)

What is amazing?

After their visit, Inada and her associates had nothing else to do.

Somehow, the government of Abe Shinzo, purported fervent nationalist and diehard enemy of the Occupation's reforms of Japanese society, did not have a Sovereignty Day celebration this year, after putting on the Ritz last year. (Link)

There seems to have not even been a repeat of the private loony fest (Link) in the afternoon either.

Somehow, somewhere the national day of remembrance worthy of not just a speech but indeed an oration (Link) was not worthy of even a hip, hip hurrah.

This absence of overt celebration would not have anything to do with imperial unhappiness with the impromptu, fervid banzais last year, would it? (Link - J video)

Because I cannot think the the lack of pageantry is only because celebrating the 1952 return of sovereignty to the main islands ticks off the Okinawans, who were under occupation until 1972. (Link - J)

Photo courtesy: Inada Tomomi Facebook page.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Very Kind Of Them #18

Kirk Spitzer asked me a few questions about the Obama visit last week, particularly why there was not a clear public delineations of differences as to history, or at least not during the time President Obama was in Tokyo:

"Obama signals deepening commitment to Japan, Abe"

I tossed out a few more ideas, which perhaps I should post sometime later this week.

Yeah, It Is A Golden Week, For Him

"You know, for some reason, I just feel this belongs around my neck."

Last week, Abe Shinzo got U.S. President Barack Obama to say the magic words: the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements cover the defense of the Senkakus. (Link)

He hosted the president (OK, His Majesty was the nominal host, it being a state visit and all) in a visit without a hint of public acrimony and even a little warmth in between the two leaders. (Link)

His negotiators went nose-to-nose with their American counterparts in Trans Pacific Partnership talks...and when those negotiators did not see on the table a deal they wanted, they asked for a break, leaving the Americans at once flabbergasted and unable to express their frustration in public. (Link - J)

When President Obama made a strong statement in South Korea criticizing the treatment of the comfort women, Abe found it in himself to express his own, heartfelt sorrow (No coughing back there! You hear me? I mean it, no coughing!) at the suffering of the women. (Link - J)

The Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito-backed candidate won the Kagoshima District #2 by-election, completing what seems to be the LDP's and the Abe Cabinet's Immaculate Extrication from the Tokuda family's systematic and flagrant violations of election laws. (Link)

And to top off the weekend, the pro-Henoko base LDP-New Komeito-Democratic Party of Japan-backed candidate in the Okinawa City election defeated his anti-Henoko rival, demonstrating that not even the humiliation of the local LDP chapter over the Henoko base and/or the pressure put on ailing Okinawa governor Nakaima Hirokazu could defeat the ruling coalition's punching power. (Link - J)

If the equities markets do not go into free-fall this morning over the delay in any sort of deal on TPP -- which they probably will not, given that no one wants to mess up his or her Golden Week holiday plans -- the PM is likely to be in an insufferable state of smug satisfaction all the way to May 7.

Photo image courtesy: Abe Shinzo official Facebook page.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Japan's Research Whaling: The Few, The Proud, The Few

The poor wee thing...

The speeches were defiant, the fists were pumped. Representatives from faraway locales feeling similarly beset came to show their support. (Link -J)

However, in the the bleak emptiness of what was once a crowded port area, the pathos of the start of Ayukawa's 2014 research whaling season could not be missed. As a surfeit of helmeted public security forces putt-putted around in the tiny harbor, disorganized ranks of hunters, their feeble numbers boosted by platooned female office staff members in uniform, pledged to fight to keep Japan's whaling traditions alive.

If this was an pep rally, it was for an industry on its way out. (Link - J -video)

The 18 April 2014 Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries handout makes clear, Japan's ambitions as regards a revival of commercial whaling are modest and growing ever more so.

In the aftermath of the International Court of Justice's invalidation of the Southern Ocean pelagic research whaling program (JARPA II), the Ministry hopes to submit a new Southern Ocean research whaling plan to the International Whaling Commission's scientific committee next year, with MAFF offering no projection of a desired date for an actual resumption of JARPA permit whaling.

As for the North Pacific research whaling program (JARPN II), rather than being increased to compensate for the loss of the southern hunt, it has seen its quotas lowered for all species, with a complete abandonment of the pelagic hunts for Minke and Sperm whales. (Link - J)

Species quotas for Japan's northern great whale hunts in 2014, and the previous year's quotas:

Coastal whaling

Minke 100 animals (120)

Pelagic whaling

Minke 0 (100)
Bryde's 20 (50)
Sei 90 (100)
Sperm 0 (10)

The start of the coastal portion of JARPN II 2014 was delayed for four days. According to new reports the cause of the delay was the implementation of measures responding to the ICJ's ruling. However, a wish to delay the opening of the season until after U.S. President Barack Obama was well outside the country might also have played a part in the decision.

Hayashi Yoshimasa, you do eat right (Link) but where is thy ambition? Why do you not adhere to the tradition of obdurate stupidity of the great MAFF minister of old?

Screen shot of first Minke whale taken in 2014 coastal research whaling hunt courtesy NHK.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Very Kind Of Them #17

Lesley Clark of McClatchy News has done a terrible thing: she has reported my views accurately and succintly.

"World War II Complicates Obama's Trip to Asia"

Talk about a tiny basket of ideas that manages to offend just about everybody.

Friday, April 25, 2014

On The Bending A Knee To The PRC

Just give me what I want
And no one gets hurt

- U2, "Vertigo" (2004)
I have been thinking for a very long time about writing a post on the Accommodate China group of scholars and writers and its sister group, the America's Asian Alliances Are A Burden group.

The problem has been trying to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable -- to the Chinese people, to responsible officials in the Chinese government , to those who argue that the Unites States has to to spike the hopes of its Asian allies.

In the interim, a few initial propositions:

1) As regards historical inevitability, one cannot have it both ways. One cannot at once argue that

- China is returning to its historical level of influence and activity in world affairs


- "No, no. Don't worry, the Chinese are not going to walk down the path of conflict we have seen in previous rises of great authoritarian states."

Does history repeat itself or not? Decide. Please.

2) A free people never accommodates itself to the demands of a tyrannical state unless it is to join in common cause to defeat an even more threatening tyranny.

3) Criticizing the governments of smaller, weaker states for standing up for their rights and interests and complimenting them for being pragmatic when they go down on bended kneed before another power is not the wise counsel of a friend.

4) The value of a state can be measured by one's willingness to still live in it after being stripped of all wealth, influence or power.

Corollary: if you would not ever want to be reduced to the position of the least of citizens of a state, then you should not be an advocate for that state or for good relations with that state.

Peaceful relations? Sure. Good relations? No.

5) Selfishness, willful ignorance and narcissism, combined or separate, are not realism.

6) It's all in the timing. In 2007, Abe Shinzo and his friends were freaks because they were paranoid about China's military rise and a global public-private effort by Chinses to undermine Japan's stature in the world.

In 2014, not quite so freakish these views are, eh?

As an aside, not directly connected to the rise of China but which bubbled up during my reading of one particular recent, much-circulated essay on the unconsidered costs of U.S. alliances in East Asia:

7) What is it about a unified Korean people that should get us all misty-eyed? Should we not give as little of a damn about a unified Korea as we do about a unified Kurdistan?

She Wuz A Sk8tr Grrl

The problem with Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty" is not that it is racist or exploitative of Japanese. (Link)

The problem is that it is cringeworthingly, strap-Malcolm-McDowell-down-with-his-eyelids-pried-open bad.

(Hello Kitty)
If I am going to be musically distressed whilst watching a video shot in Tokyo, I would rather it be by Nakata Yasutaka's polyrhythms:
(World of Fantasy)
While we are on the subject of North American bottle blond pop stars with a Japanese street fashion fetish, let it be on the record that "Hollaback Girl of Constant Sorrow" is still the best mashup ever:
(Hollaback Girl of Constant Sorrow)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In A Blue Metal Can With Yellow Lettering


Member of the House of Councillors for Tottori Prefecture, Ph.D (George Washington University, wrote his dissertation on the conversion of the Soviet military-industrial complex to civilian production), member of the New Renaissance Party and Group of Independents Caucus (current membership = 3), former staffer for both the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) Hamada Kazuyuki (Link) seems to be his own brand of nuts.

I mean nuts.

I mean deluxe with that certain special je-ne-sais-quoi nuts: some quarters, Mr. Obama is derided as "the worst president of the postwar era."

Of the many, the biggest reason for the collapse of [Barack Obama's] reputation is his bad relationship with his wife.

It is an open secret that the pair are already in negotiations for a divorce and that "they are waiting for his term in office to end, at which point they will separate."

If you ask the President, he will tell you, "I cannot show my face to the voters after her spendthrift ways."


On the other hand, if you get Mrs. [Obama] to speak, she will tell you, "The President is a pathological philanderer. He uses the Secret Service in this regard and has them cover up the evidence."
Hamada-sensei, dude, are you sure you should be publishing this stuff as a post on your official blog? (Link - J)

My assumption: Hamada Kazuyuki is not on the list of invitees to the State Dinner tomorrow night.

If he is, he shouldn't be.

Another assumption: Hamada is not sought out by his former Washington colleagues as a valued source of insight into the politics in this blessed land.

And to think I thought Fujita Yukihisa's 9/11 conspiracy theories painful to read...which they were, as Fujita was one of the few members of the Diet willing to criticize Japan's pre-1945 record of imperial expansion and human trafficking.

Many thanks to Kyodo's Ben Dooley for highlighting this astonishing glimpse into a truly...original thinker. (Link)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Pair Of Readings For The Obama Visit

Two folks I like a lot, whom I am on good terms with, and who might as well be on separate planets, writing about this week's visit by President Barack Obama.

Sheila Smith
"Our Anxiety as the President Heads to Asia" (Link)

Stephen Harner
"After Multiple Dissings, A Wary Japan 'Welcomes' Obama" (Link)

The really fun part of the exercise? Knowing which one is the ex-diplomat.

Nota Bene - Harner knows I really disagree with his assessment of Robert Kelly's essay for The Diplomat.

Yasukuni This Morning

It is not even 9 a.m. and already the semi-annual herd of members of the Diet have stomped through Yasukuni Shrine. The 146 strong (Link -J) phalanx of fantabulism seems to have been led, as in the last two iterations of this event, by sleepy-eyed Otsuji Hidehisa (Link - J) and cat-who-ate-the-canary-faced Liberal Democratic Party Policy Chair Takaichi Sanae (Link). MPs from the LDP, the Japan Restoration Party, the Democratic Party of Japan, the Your Party and the Unity Party participated in the group paying of respects. (Link - J)

Bewildering and ominous is the report that Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Shindo Yoshitaka made a repeat visit this morning as well (Link - J). Shindo visited the shrine on April 12, before the start of the Spring Festival, just as he had done last year. Just why he thought it wise or necessary to visit the Yasukuni again and so close to the visit by President Barack Obama.

Cabinet Minister Shindo's visit this morn is just the sort of upping of the ante which could upset summit atmospherics warned about in my post of yesterday (Link). Is Shindo's double take a sign that he knows he is not one of the elect, those who will carry on as ministers after the much anticipated reshuffle of the Cabinet and LDP posts after the end of the present Ordinary Diet Session? (Link - J)

Original image courtesy: IRIB World Service

Monday, April 21, 2014

Prior To President Obama's Arrival - A Question Of Atmospherics

Source: Clay's Flickr photostream, under a Creative Commons License.

The Sunday visit to Yasukuni Shrine by Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and Kishi family retainer Furuya Keiji (Link), the April 12 visit to the shrine of Minister of Interal Affairs and Communications Shindo Yoshitaka (Link), Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's sponsorship yet again of a masakaki decoration for the shrine during its Spring Festival (Link) and the battalion of members of the Diet scheduled to pay their respects at the shrine on Tuesday, all right on the eve of the Obama visit should not necessarily be viewed as provocative pandering to revisionist, fantabulist followers in defiance of the United States's message of disappointment at Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's visit on 26 December 2013 (Link)and the laying of wreaths at Chidorigafuchi by visiting U.S. Secretaries Chuck Hagel and John Kerry on 3 October 2013. (Link)

Instead getting all the visits of those who are just hell bent to pay some sort of tribute to Japan's loyally self-sacrificing imperial subjects out of the way before President Obama's plane touches down is supposed to be as a concession of sorts to the United States.

The insistence of the current level of reverence as moderation will suffer a loss of credibility if

a) either Finance Minister Aso Taro, State Minister for Administrative Reform Inada Tomomi and/or Education Minister Shimomura

b) any Liberal Democratic Party member of the Diet shows up at Yasukuni during the Obama visit.

Aso has been keeping his head down ever since his infamous "Is there not something to learn from the overthrow of the Weimar Constitution?" musings of last year (Link) and Inada and Shimomura deferred their visits. If any of these three ministers pops up in Kudanshita any time between now and Wednesday noon -- then we should not be surprised to see fireworks -- which in this blessed land are usually a summer phenomenon.

Incidentally, I recently visited the attached Yushukan (Link). I had long eschewed going, not wishing to give a yen to the shrine or its affiliates. However, when a certain officer of the Congressional Research Service asked if I were available to tag along on a visit, I broke my longstanding vow.

On the whole I found the place a lot less lurid than I expected, with the arguments more allusive and evasive than I could have imagined. Some parts are heinous -- the description of the fall of Nanjing, for example. However, on the whole, I came away with the feeling of the hopelessness of Japan's imperial enterprise, with all its jury-rigged suicide systems and walls of the faces of, as Steven Stills once wrote about a different time and a different struggle, "All the brave soldiers |That cannot get older." (Link - video)

If the goal of the Yushukan is to fill one with a sense of awe or sadness, it fails. What even the mildly questioning mind comes away with is a sense of the essential and obvious stupidity of the Japanese imperial enterprise.

The section of the museum on the build up to the Pacific War, with the focus on Japan's resources crisis in the face of U.S. embargoes, is a window into the fear Japanese conservatives have about energy, particularly nuclear energy and the nuclear fuel cycle. Looking at the exhibits at the Yushukan it is not surprising that the present generation -- who have never known anything but abundance -- are nevertheless paranoid about Japan ever being pushed into making a strategic choice out of a want of raw materials.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rex Omnis Qui Videt, Shinzo Abe Est

© Jeff Cable Photography
O Fortuna!
Velut luna
Statu variabilis!

O Fortune!
Varying in state
like the Moon!

- Carl Orff, Carmina Burana (1935-36)

Yesterday morning I was seated in the far left side of the Ascot banquet hall of the Hotel Okura. From out of the dark on the far right, avoiding a piece of equipment dropped in his path (the special police had something to say about that afterward) walked in Abe Shinzo, the prime minister of Japan.

Or at least that is what my eyes, my program and everyone around me was telling me.

The man delivered a set speech for fourteen minutes and fifteen seconds, then sat down in an armchair answering questions from the chairman of the day's proceedings for another ten and a half minutes.

I have had Abe Shinzo in my line of sight since October 2005, when I attended a conference on Japan's defense at the hotel nearest the Kantei. Abe, the then Chief Cabinet Secretary, was the keynote mealtime speaker.

The speech then was unimpressive. The phrase best describing its delivery: "still wet behind the ears."

Halfway through Abe seemed to lose himself, using the expression ware-ware ("we" "us") to explain what his grandfather Kishi Nobusuke was doing during the build up toward the signing of the revised Security Arrangements between Japan and the United States.

I turned to my tablemate (Dr. Richard Samuels of MIT) with a look on my face of "Did Abe Shinzo just refer to himself as a comrade-in-arms of his grandfather during the Ampo struggle, when he was all of six years old?"

I had Abe Shinzo right in my face every day during his first year as prime minister. I recall the expression of utter, contemptuous boredom on his visage on last day of the Diet session, as he sat on the dais watching vote after railroading vote in the House of Councillors plenary session, the opposition having left the chamber (except for the Communists, who stayed) after the insult of the morning votes -- and the look of his eyes, visible just over the shoulder of a desperate and sweating SP, as he was driven to a specially prepared ward in the Keio University Hospital just seven weeks later. (Link)

I have watched him on a daily basis in the fifteen months since his return to the premiership: struggling to remember his routines, spluttering in Diet interpellations on the simplest of questions, mawkishly flailing his way through some simply embarrassing speeches. (Link)

That man, the Abe Shinzo I know, or thought I knew, did not show up at the Japan Summit 2014.

Someone else did.

The person called Abe Shinzo at the dais and in the armchair yesterday was not Abe Shinzo, grandson of Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, grandnephew of Prime Minister (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Sato Eisaku. He was Abe Shinzo, Prime Minister of Japan, President of the Liberal Democratic Party -- pure and simple. When he sat down in the armchair to answer the hard ball questions thrown at him by The Economist's Asia chief Dominic Ziegler, throwing them right back at his interrogator when when answering was not in his interests ("Since what you are asking pertains to what tactics my country will be using [at the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations] I obviously cannot provide details") -- Abe owned that chair like I have never seen any Prime Minister of Japan own a piece of furniture. Not quite a Vladimir Putin slouch -- but Abe still sat in that chair as if he had brought it with him from home.

This was not your "wet behind the ears" botchan, acting out the role of prime minister with the shadow of imposture looming over him. Those who still look at Abe Shinzo that way are living in the past -- and it might as well be the distant past.

Was Abe's astonishing poise, humor and self-confidence all an act?

Maybe. But then he and his handlers should be triply congratulated for having him put on this act in front of not just the domestic and international news media but an overflow crowd of the world's investment community -- at a time when Abenomics in need of a PR boost...and furthermore on the eve of an incredibly important official visit by U.S. president Barack Obama.

If the Abe Shinzo who showed up yesterday meets an Obama delegation believing that he has to ingratiate himself to them, then the Americans are going of find out what the phrase "hitting a brick wall" means.

Failure at the final push for a TPP agreement this weekend? Abe Shinzo will not give a damn -- and nobody around him will either.

Abe's Cabinet is enjoying an insane 60% support rating (latest Kyodo News poll). His party holds the commanding heights in the Diet, the policy debate and the public's imagination. The number of persons answering the question of "Why do you support Prime Minister Abe?" with the plaintive and honest, "Because there is no other suitable person around" is climbing. "Because there is no other suitable person around" is indeed now the most common answer to the question of why voters support the PM, outdistancing the "high expectations for the economy" response (29% of respondents versus 21% again in the latest Kyodo poll).

And now even the Chinese and the South Koreans are trying to make nice. (Link)

Abe Shinzo 2.0, Spring Edition is so comfortable in his own skin he is even letting his beloved hair go, allowing the gray to show.


Changeable like the Moon.


Later - provisional translation of the Prime Minister's speech to The Economist Japan Summit 2014: "Japan towards 2020: time to get started." (Link)

Partial reproduction of photo image of 15 April 2014 "blood moon" by professional photographer Jeff Cable. Click here for the original image and here to read the explanation of how it was created.

Photo image of Abe speaking at the Japan Summit 2014 courtesy JapanRealTime.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Meanwhile, Two Incredibly Smart Persons Writing Brilliant Stuff On Difficult Subjects

MTC auto-portrait, inadvertent.

If your are wondering what you must read on Japan, rather than what you should read, try:

- Any of Jo McBride's posts on Japanese economic and institutional investment policy at the dauntingly named Investing Japan's Institutional Capital blog. (Link)

- Professor Bryce Wakefield's lithe and readable exposé of the Abe Cabinet's contempt for constitutionalism and reasoned argument as regards collective self defense, with what has got to be the strangest URL of any academic paper on Japan ever. (Link)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dumbwalking, The Sequel

Culture & Technology

In a post on March 27 I suggested a new word --"dumbwalking" -- to describe the glacial and autistic walk of persons absorbed in interaction with their smart phones ("Smart Phones Make For Dumb Walks" being my explanatory epigram). I suggested at the time that the proliferation of smart phones would bring on the day when the Shibuya Crossing would fail to clear.

Guess what?

NTT DoCoMo has posted a video of the simulation of this exact scenario on its You Tube Channel. (Link - video - J)

The result: if the crowd of walkers are all operating smart phones, only 36% of them make it across in the 46 seconds they have between the light changes at the Shibuya Crossing.

Click on the link and watch the video. It is trip -- literally, in some cases.

One key variable, made clear at the 0:47 point of the simulation, is the speed at which dumbwalkers are presumed to perambulate. According to motion studies at the Aichi University of Technology, dumbwalking (the Japanese term is sumaho aruki) is an astonishing 20 times slower than normal walking.

So "glacial" is not hyperbole and one is not imagining things. Dumbwalkers really are moving so slowly they might as well be considered inanimate objects.

Takes the "mobile" right out of mobile telephony, doesn't it?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Stop. Wait. Do You Know Who I Am?

I suppose I should not try to double-guess Tokyo Metropolitan District Governor Masuzoe Yo'ichi. He did, after all, navigate through rough political waters to victory in February.

However, I must confess puzzlement at Masuzoe's willingness to be used as a ratings prop by news organizations. He is supposed to be running the world's richest and most populous municipality. How can he have time to sit helpless in TV studios doing nothing as producers run 4 minutes long features and as snide and chirpy hosts bypass the governor to elicit comments from other guests of decidedly minor stature, meaning that their utterances will be remarkable not only their dearth of knowledge but their lack of significance and/or relevance.

Seeing Masuzoe imprisoned in chair on the Nihon Terebi (Yomiuri Shimbun Group) Saturday and Fuji TV (Fuji Sankei Group) Sunday morning shows had me asking, over and over again, "What is he doing there? Is he afraid that if we do not see him continuing his ring-around-the-talk shows tours, we will forget who is Tokyo's governor? Or is he merely trying to feed the media beast pre-emptively so that when crunch time comes, the conservative media conglomerates do not bite him?"

For any and all politicians, Fuji TV's Sunday morning show is a particular ordeal. The announcers and other guests just toss bait -- annoyances, insults or irrelevant nonsense -- at the main guest trying to get him or her to create a scandal by a provocative or merely poorly thought out response.

Than again, Masuzoe seems to need no prompting to toss sharp and not entirely well thought out remarks on his own. On Saturday he dismissed of the Akasaka Detached Palace where the Government of Japan houses and receives its most honored guests as "a sham Versailles" unworthy and unrepresentative of Japan (Link - J). His longing for a "more Japanese" building fror housing honored guests begs the question, "OK, Monsieur Pantalons-Astucieux," -- Masuzoe is a Francophone and has taught in Paris -- "where in the budget of either the GOJ or the TMG is there the money to pay for a substitute?"


Later - While we are on the subject of Japan-France cultural interactions, the openings of two local exhibitions of note:

- "Okamoto Taro and his Friend in Paris," at the Taro Okamoto Museum in Kawasaki (Link - J)

- "Fer et Cocon" ("Iron and Cocoons") at the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Cultural History in Yokohama (Brochure - J - pdf)

Sunday, April 06, 2014

When He Says, "Training," He Means, "For Real"

Minister of Defense Onodera Itsunori has issued a secret directive ordering a Maritime Self Defense Forces vessel to sea prepared to shoot down any North Korean missile launch threatening Japan. (Link)

In a manner of speaking.

It would make zero sense to have SM-3 equipped Aegis vessels sailing the oceans without authorization to shoot down ballistic missiles threatening Japan. When seconds separate possible intercept and a pointless miss, the system cannot possibly rely on a call the Prime Minister's Residence and/or the Defense Minister to receive authorization.

So if authorization is standard, what has Onodera done?

According to The Asahi Shimbun, Onodera ordered the MSDF Kirishima (Photo) to sea on a training mission lasting from April 3 to April 25 -- a training mission where the captain has been given special authorization to engage in anti-missile combat activities, if he thinks circumstances merit them (Link). Had he addressed the crew before departure, Onodera's message would have been, "Sailors and officers of the Kirishima, no 'defense of Japan' stuff while you are out there -- unless. of course, it's absolutely necessary. Bon Voyage."

Bon voyage, indeed.

For those keeping score, yet another instance of extraordinary casuistry deployed by Japanese security officials in the course of conducting their daily tasks.

As you were.

Later - On Twitter Andrea Ortolani writes that the ship-to-shore communications mentioned above would like be via fax, not voice.