Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dare Ya

On a day in which all the major Western newspapers reported that Japan’s GNP will fall 3.3 % for the coming fiscal year that began on April 1 and that the economic situation is worsening, Japan’s conservative nationalists spent over US$100,000 for a full-page advocacy ad in the New York Times.

Finance and Economics Minister Kaoru Yasano had told the Diet on April 27th that the Japanese economy is rapidly deteriorating.  “Our country,” he continued, “is clearly in a situation that can be described as an economic crisis.” He reported that Japan will experience a nominal growth rate of minus 3%. Private analysts say that this is more likely to be a minus 6%. 

The April 28th ad, DO YOU DARE OVERLOOK THE HELL NAMED NORTH KOREA?, challenged President Obama to press for human rights in North Korea so that it can become a truly democratic state.  Signed by a group of seven generally moderate public intellectuals, the ad demands that the President relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Reportedly “thousands” of individual Japanese donations helped pay for this ad that appeared in the middle of North Korea Freedom Week and the visit of a delegation from Japan of well-known abduction advocates led by Dietmember Takao Hiranuma and accompanied by Keiji Furuya, Ichiro Tsukada, Jin Matsubara, Masahisa Sato, and Shinkun Haku. 

Representing the families of the abducted is Teruaki Masumoto, Secretary General of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea (AFVKN), whose sister, Rumiko, North Korea admitted kidnapping. 

In February, Masumoto participated in a symposium on abduction and national defense in Nagoya hosted by General Toshio Tamogami’s support group. The General, known for his skeptical views of American influence and authority, was the main speaker. Masumoto reportedly said that Japan should use its economic power to pressure the US into relisting North Korea as a terrorist supporter.

And what economic power would that be?


  1. Hey, Madam Chairperson: ladies in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, or, to put in (proper) limerick form:

    There once was a power so super.
    No one thought they could dupe her,
    Then along came banks' greed,
    A little of quantative ease,
    And it was back to the life of James Fenimore Cooper

  2. Refuse to sell Toyotas?

    There is some theoretical economic power, although using it would require economic suicide. The great Governor Ishihara himself suggested several years ago that it could be used against the US. He acknowledged that it would damage the economies of Japan and the rest of the world, but after the world economy recovered, Japan would be one of the quickest to return to normal. It would do so, according to Blinky, because of the superior quality of its products. (I assume he was not referring to software, housing, our Hitachi washer/dryer, or our Toshiba DVD recorder. Nor the Mitsubishi trucks which had wheels falling off them a few years ago and and the execs covering it up.)

    The weapon he suggested? Sell all the US dollars Japan holds. Ishihara, not being one of the world's sharpest fellows, failed to consider that an intentional attempt by Japan to damage the US (and world) economy might not be taken all that well. And should the US just standby and do nothing to prevent it, Ishihara did not explain why US citizens would just stupidly start buying Japanese products again after a recovery.

    Well, that's a ton of words just to say that there are plenty of similar mindsets who have an extremely exaggerated view of Japanese power and influence.

  3. I need not add that Japan ignored the hell that is North Korea for decades after it was forced out at the end of WW2 after 30 years plus of subjugating all Koreans. Well, they did provide some mine-sweepers during the Korea War and was happy to build military supplies for the US at that time. Otherwise, I don't recall Japan being involved to any degree---if at all---in any talks among the ROK, DPK, and the US until very recently.

    The national government stood by and said and did nothing even though its own people were being kidnapped from Japanese soil.

    People in Toyama knew it at least 20 years ago. They'd warn visitors and newcomers not to go to the nearby beach alone---especially at night because there was a danger of being kidnapped by North Korea agents. I'd ask why the Japanese government didn't do anything, and the answer I'd get is that they couldn't do anything. Nobody ever claimed that the government didn't know.

    What exactly do these folks think relisting DPK as a terrorist country would do?

  4. And (I can't shut up) I meant DPRK

  5. David,
    I fully understand.
    It is just nice to know that someone reads what I write and cares enough to respond. I am pretty invisible.


If I am unamused, your comment will not be posted.