Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Historic Apology

On May 30, 2009, Japan's ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki delivered a historic apology to the former POWs of Japan, their families, and friends. [If the video above does not work, go HERE.]

Like the apology by the President of Toyota to Congress it can not be found in Japanese on any official website. More interesting, it cannot be found on Ambassador Fujisaki's Embassy's website or on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website.

Nor did the Ambassador mention the apology in his new year's message as one of the three "firsts" in Japan-U.S. relations in 2009. In fact, no newsletter or publication of the Japanese Embassy noted that Ambassador Fujisaki traveled to San Antonio, Texas to address the last convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC).

No where in Japan was it reported that Ambassador received a standing ovation. Only a few refused to stand.

The Ambassador, speaking for the Government of Japan, expanded upon the apology he wrote to the last Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Dr. Lester Tenney in December 2008:
Accepting with a spirit of humility the facts of history that Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering including those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island in the Philippines.
He altered the above to read to the ADBC Convention:
We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people including POWs , those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan peninsula the Corregidor Island, Philippines and other places.
Thus, this apology is inclusive of all POWs wherever captured or from any country. And it echoes the official, formal apology for the POWs given by the Cabinet to Upper House member Yukihisa Fujita. In many respects it cements that significant apology. That the apology given to Senator Fujita was a Cabinet Decision, a kakugi kettei, the definition of official governmental statements:

Accepting with a spirit of humility the facts of history that Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of former Allied nations and other nations including former POWs.
This statement mirrors the 1995 Murayama apology for the Pacific War. MOFA has decided that it is fungible.

What is unknown is how the Ambassador translated the English word "apology" in Japanese. In the Murayama Statement, the word used is merely owabi. Interestingly, Ambassador Togo in an op ed for the Mainichi translates it to the stronger shazai.

Here, it is important to note that Ambassador Fujisaki carefully used the personal pronoun "I" to signal a shift from his official statement to his personal feelings when he said,

I would like to express my deepest condolences to those who have lose their lives to the war and after the war and their family members.
ABC News, below, reports incorrectly that this was a Japanese government apology and expression of sympathy. It was not. It was the Ambassador's personal feelings. Although these fine points are lost on the Americans, they are not to the Japanese, especially to Japan's very vocal conservative nationalists and Rightists.

In some respects, the American press has overstated what Ambassador did. He has not apologized for the Bataan Death March or for the war. He is merely expressing regret for the horrors and inhumanity inflicted upon the people who were put in their care.

Nevertheless, what the Ambassador did was profoundly significant and opened the door for more words and acts of contrition. Each time the apologies will become easier and the discussion that surrounds them will become more searching. All this is a good thing.

Now, the U.S. government needs to make clear to Japan that it is important to create a permanent Peace and Remembrance Fund for research and exchange to better understand the war and Japan's relationship with the U.S.

For an apology to be meaningful, it is necessary to put deeds to words. Thus, it is necessary to not merely include the few remaining American POWs in the 1995 Peace Friendship and Exchange Initiative. Widows, wives, children, grandchildren, archivists and scholars need to participate. The records of the POWs buried in the basements of Japanese government ministries and corporations need to be released. And the Japanese corporations that purchased the POWs from the Imperial Japan's army and navy need to apologize.

A temporary, selective invitation program created long after any of the POWs could physically ever endure returning to Japan is cynical, at best. It is indeed time for Japan to move forward honestly.

This article gives a sense of what it was like to be in the Convention Room when the Ambassador spoke. Below is another article on the apology. The Nikkei reported the Ambassador's remarks here.

As noted no where is a transcript of the Ambassador of Japan Ichiro Fujisaki's apology to the POWs of Japan given on May 30, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas to the last convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

Here is my intern's transcription of his remarks taken off a video above produced by the San Antonio Express:
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much. I am very grateful, for the very kind invitation I have received. It is a great honor to participate in your final convention.
Today, I would like to convey to you the position of the government of Japan on this issue. As former Prime Ministers of Japan have repeatedly stated, the Japanese people should bear in mind that we must look into the past and to learn from the lessons of history. We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of wars, those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, in the Philippines, and other places.
Ladies and gentlemen, taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deepest condolences to all those who have lost their lives in the war, and after the war, and their family members. As for the Peace Program, as such Dr. Tenney referred, I have told him that I cannot make a definite statement at this junction, if we can expand this program. However, I can convey to you that relevant bureau in the government of Japan is working seriously and sincerely on this matter.
Today, Japan and United States are the closest friends, best allies. But, we should always keep in our mind that this good relations is based on our past experiences and efforts. Ladies and gentlemen, we are committed to carry on the torch of our future gen-to our future generations of this excellent and irreplaceable friendship and relations. I thank you very much for this occasion.
Here is one of only two TV broadcasts in Japan that reported on the apology. It was produced by MBS and only broadcast to the Kansai region. The clip also only shows the Ambassador's personal condolences on the many deaths, and not the formal apology.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Did he apologize?

In a formalistic manner the President Toyota did apologize to Congress and the victims of its company's mistakes. He expressed his pity and promised that the future will be better.

As the victims of Japan's wars will tell you, who still seek after 65 years a proper and sincere apology from Japan, what happens after the apology is what matters.

I am not sure if those in Asia will be completely happy with what the Toyota president said. However, will we know soon as he is traveling to China on Monday, March 1 to hold a press conference.

There are differences in what Mr.Toyoda said in his prepared testimony and what his company offered as an apology. I am actually not sure what Mr. Toyoda said in his prepared testimony as the only Japanese versions of the testimony are on Japanese newspaper sites. It is not clear if these are from an official Toyota distributed Japanese text or translated by the news organizations.

For those who study these sorts of things, I give you the elements of Toyota's apologies. I leave up to you readers to tell me if the apology is meaningful or not.

Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda’s prepared testimony to House Oversight and Reform Committee on February 24 can be found in English on Toyota’s website. The Japanese draft is not located on the webpage but appeared in the Japanese press prior to the hearing (Wednesday February 24, afternoon, Tokyo time).

The specific phrase regarding apology (highlighted):

今回リコールに至った品質問題を引き起こし、それが原因で事故が起きたことはまことに残念だ。特に、サンディエゴでの事故で命を失った一家4人に深い哀悼 の意を表し、悲劇を繰り返さないよう全力を尽くす

English transliterations:

makoto ni zannen da…fukai aitou no yi wo arawashi, higeki wo kurikaesanai you zenryoku wo tsukusu.

The key words used in this statement with selected English translations:

Makoto まこと sincerely, truly
Zannen 残念 regretful, unfortunate
(fukai) Aitou 深い哀悼 (deep) condolences, regret, sorrow
Higeki 悲劇 tragedy

Mr. Toyoda’s prepared speech was given in English but he responded to questions in Japanese. According to a transcript of that session, he made the following statements regarding the family from San Diego who died in an accident:

English transliterations:
…moushi wake naku, go-meifuku wo o-inori shitai…

Moushi wake naku/nai 申し訳なく (I’m) sorry; it’s inexcusable
Meifuku wo inoru 冥福を祈る May they rest in peace

A live blogging of the event by USA Today indicates the whole deposition took three and a half hours, letting out at 5:10 pm.

Regarding the recall, the front page of Toyota Japan has the following statement that was posted February 9:


English transliterations:

taihen-na go-meiwaku…go-shimpai…kokoro kara owabi moushiagemasu.

(taihen-na) meiwaku 大変な迷惑 (great) trouble, annoyance
Shimpai 心配 worry, concern
(Kokoro kara) owabi 心からお詫び apologies (from my heart)

The announcement is almost identical to a press release of February 5 by President Toyoda. (The highlighted portions are unchanged.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Japan-US Alliance at Filmsy

I promised to write more about the January Alliance Manager’s conclave. Some of you thought that last time  “ohohhooooh” was overused. So, above, I am letting you see the Alliance Managers sing for themselves.

I believe Mr.Armtiage is saying

I'm a freak bitch, baby
I want your love and
I want your revenge
I want your love
I don't wanna be friends
I want your ugly
I want your disease
I want your everything
As long as it’s free

And free it was, so who should be complaining. All the official participants got free lodging at The Willard, one of Washington's more pricey hotels. For the "young leaders" it must have been the first time to sleep on clean sheets since Mom changed them. Excellent cookies, I should add. But I was very disappointed by the house brands at pre-dinner bar. The Japanese are clearly cutting back.

Never mind. The Pacific Forum had its annual fundraising and ambassadorial sale on February 23rd. Joe Nye again gave the keynote speech. Guess last year didn’t work out so well. So give generously or we will have to suffer cheap liquor and no hors d'oeuvres next year as well. And maybe the rumors the Managers have been spreading that the current Ambassador to Japan Roos is in over is head might get some traction.

The Alliance Mangers main message at the day-long public conference was that they had been deceived. Not once did they expect the DPJ to change Japanese foreign policy or to stick to its campaign promises.  Simply put, they did not believe that any sensible government would forsake their advice. The new American administration hadn't, so why should the Japanese?

The highlight of the day was the tag-team presentation by Richard Armitage and Yukio Okamoto. Although Okamoto seemed a bit pained to have share his space with Armitage, he did not seem to mind sharing the same viewpoints and he laughed at Armitage's jokes.

Armitage confessed that he and others did not see this [a Hatoyama government] coming; he was truly surprised at the extent of the DPJ victory. He said the DPJ (rarely did he get the letters or their order correct) spoke a different language  and that he didn't first pick up on it. They simply had a different view on deturrance (misspelling to match pronunciation); spoke a difference language; and had a different thought process than he and his friends had.

No kidding.

But no worries, Armitage felt that due to the hard work of his friend Yukio, Hatoyama and members of his government were learning.  It will just going to take a bit more time to complete their education on the importance of the Alliance, to instill a sense of threat, and to keep the commitment on realignment of US forces. There was no moment of reflection that their assumptions on regional security and its defenders might be faulty. In fact, they only discussed expectations and their disappointment that these were not met.

To Armitage, Japan, "she," has simply lost her way and is trying to distract the US from its defense with "sweet words." The task ahead was simply one of getting to know what is in the "hearts of the leadership of the DPJ" and explaining the facts of life in terms that they will understand. Speak their language. Armitage concluded that to accomplish this, they [the Alliance Managers] need to "get back on the bicycle and ride."

They really do have the disease.

Hitoshi Tanaka of the JCIE, no liberal and long-tasked with Gaijin-handling, was so exasperated by Armitage that he got up and emotionally declared, that the "US was underestimating the depths of the changes in [Armitage] assume that everything will go back to the norm--maybe you are wrong!"

The public programs of the Japan-US Security Seminar were funded by the nationalist conservative Tokyo Foundation. They proudly showed off their ties with to the more conservative DPJ members. The morning program was a discussion of the Challenges Facing the New DPJ Government (the video can be found at the link). Again, the theme was the DPJ was having a hard time shifting from campaign mode to governing. And it was the job of people like them to teach them.

During the Qs and As Larry Niksch of CRS asked the why there was not an effort to educate the Japanese people on what the Marines are there to do on Okinawa.Basically, he wanted to know if the Marines were really still relevant there. No real answer was given.

The filmmaker Annabel Park asked a polite question about the environment and the dugongs and “why was the site selected” while her fiancée filmed everything (see HERE and HERE). Okamoto mumbled it was a logical choice as the runway could be retractable because it was only white sand in the bay (odd, as everyone else says it is a coral reef).

Finally, haunting the room and approaching every senior Japanese speaker and American policy official, as Chris Nelson pointed out (the poor bastard, he said), was Patrick Braden. He is one of the fathers of a child abducted to Japan by her mother. He is trying convince Japan to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to prod them to allow him to see his daughter. Japan is the only G7 country not to do so. Okamoto, the foreign policy guru, claimed to have never heard of the issue.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Not again! Please, please make it stop. It is relentless.

It is not more snow, but that another foundation has paid for and published another pro-Bush, anti-Hatoyama Michael J. Green essay. The Toyota Motor Japan Chair of CSIS just sucks all the air out of the room. What he has to say is increasingly irrelevant, however, this piece is an easy two and one-quarter page, three-point summary of the Alliance Manager’s mantra as to why the US-Japan alliance matters.

And why they remain bamboozled by what has been happening around them.

This time the publisher is the German Marshall Fund (GMF), which until recently shunned any support of Asia-related issues. But, with the Japanese economy fading and political changes in Japan and the US imminent, the Neocons and Alliance Managers branched out in 2008 to find new sources of funding other than the usual Japanese quasi-governmental sources or American foundations seeking to ingratiate themselves with a current White House.

In addition to a greater role by the Sasakawa Family of foundations, there has been an effort to tap the conservative leanings and money of other countries to support the Alliance Managers and their antiquated Asia strategies. Thus, the German Marshall Fund established an Asia program with former minor Bush officials to keep afloat other former Bush officials and their friends. Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz are regulars at GMF meetings.

Titled, Why Japan is Important to the West, the commentary starts with the obligatory reference to the Black Ships—they were meant to stay in more important China and not pester Japan—as well as the newly popular reference to the Japanese Christian nationalist Inazo Nitobe.

Nitobe wrote in the early 20th Century, in English, Bushido: The Soul of Japan. It was a fanciful account of Japan’s samurai warrior code. Nitobe wrote his book to show how seamlessly Christianity could fit into a modernizing Japan. Instead, Japan’s conservatives and nationalists have used the book as proof of Japan’s unique culture and manly ethic. Nitobe, a Quaker, most likely would be horrified by how his work has been interpreted.

Knowing some history does not mean understanding history.

This travel back in time is merely a diversion to a swipe at both the Obama and Hatoyama Administrations. Green is worried that “The American strategic pendulum continues to swing between Japan and China—just as Japan’s sense of identity hovers between Asia and the West.” Clearly, the answer should be Japan and the West.

Unfortuately, the world the Bush Administration Alliance Manager imagined is disintegrating. Japan no longer wants to be, if ever, the passive platform for American strategic interests, and Americans have come to realize that few values are shared between the two “allies.”

Yet, Green finds three reasons why Japan remains important to the US:

1.Japan’s alliance with the United States serves as the single most important element in maintaining a stable strategic equilibrium in Asia at a time of profound power shifts that might otherwise heighten insecurity, rivalry, and conflict.

2. Japan remains the second largest economy in the world in exchange rate terms, and the second leading contributor to all of the critical international institutions that uphold the neoliberal order.

3. Japan anchors a growing number of successful democracies within Asia.

Ok, but nothing new is said here. Long before him, his mentors tried to believe these things. Their failure is that none of it is sustainable.

That is the critical, overlooked issue. He talks about change in economic and political power, but does not realize its dimensions. Japan’s economic power is slipping and its democracy is flawed and no longer unique. In a sense, only fatalism and resignation, has maintained Japan has a security platform for the US.

It is clear even to Green, as it was to some before, nothing in the US-Japan relationship has been cemented nor truly shared. And certainly little was done to make the relationship fundamentals—goals, perceptions, and values—permanent.

From not signing on the to Genocide Convention to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abductions; from lack laws on human trafficking to limited habeas corpus; from believing the US tricked Japan into an unwinnable war to maintaining a curious prohibition against “collective defense” Japan is an outlier among G-7 countries.

As Green notes, “It is not only important for the United States and the West to appreciate why Japan is essential to sustaining a liberal prosperous international order, but also for Japanese themselves to make this assessment….Japanese leaders will have to make the arguments to the Japanese people about why their nation is so crucial to the international order.”

He is right. But Green fails along with his neocon colleagues, to realize that their LDP conservative friends and funders never tried to make the case either. From calling US base support a “sympathy budget” to delaying 14 years on the Futenma move to promoting officiers like Toshio Tamogami, Japan’s elites did little to encourage a healthy relationship with the US. Even a causal check of the speeches and memberships of the Alliance Manager’s friend show a profound dislike of Washington policies and a deeper distrust of America’s wartime victory.

Further, Japanese citizens have never during their postwar contemporary democracy ever viewed their country as a world power. Further, not one survey or measure of public sentiment shows any interest even in becoming an international leader. In MOFA and JDA polling less than 6 percent of the respondents believe that Japan should aspire to more.

The Alliance managers see the importance of Japan though hopes rather than realities. Washington keeps trying to make an imagined Tokyo do things

In the last sentence of his essay, Green finally mentions Europe. He chastises the Europeans for not sharing the Bush vision of Asia.

He writes: “NATO and the European Union should also encourage higher-level strategic dialogue and cooperation with Japan. Indeed, the EU will find that its China policy will improve markedly once Brussels demonstrates the diversity and intensity of its other partnerships in Asia.”

The Europeans have always hedged their bets in Asia. Maybe it is time that Americans learn to do so as well as.

N.B.: The photo above is from the classic movie, The Wild Bunch. I watched this movie with my son as I wrote this blog post. For him, it was supposedly class assignment, as he wants to write his senior essay on the movie's director. My job was to instruct on note-taking. My take-away, and a lesson long learned by Japan, was that you should never underestimate the destructive ability of American men to leave a hugh bloody mess behind.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Yahrzeit

Marc Chagall (French, b. Belorussia, 1887-1985)
Publisher: Tériade (Paris)
Abraham Weeping for Sarah, from the Bible suite, 1958
Sheet: 21 x 15 3/8 in. (53.3 x 39.1 cm) Image: 11 3/8 x 9 3/8 in. (28.9 x 23.8 cm)
The Jewish Museum, New York
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Dolger, 1996-21
© 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Ruth Muroff (1919-1984)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Weatherman sums up how all of Washington felt

Having been home a week with two teenagers, I now know why in some species mothers eat their young.