Friday, March 5, 2010

No shame department

Did you get invited to the  party? Me neither. Hope the food was good. Better eat that tuna before it become politically incorrect.

The NIKKEI reported on March 2 that Parliamentary Secretary of Defense Akihisa Nagashima gave a talk at a party he held in Tokyo on the 1st.. With respect to where to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, Nagashima emphatically said: "The continued presence of U.S. Marines in Okinawa is linked to the foundation of Japan's security."

The next day Bloomberg had Aki announcing that a decision on Futenma had been reached. It is startlingly close to the very original plan from way back in the 1990s. A heliport will be built inland at Camp Schwab.  But was that his job to speak up? Surely, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano must be getting tired of telling this guy to "zip it."

Has this guy any sense of shame, protocol, or place? Why hasn't he been fired yet? The best I can figure is that Aki is going to take the fall for whatever goes wrong--along with the rest of the Alliance Managers. After all, he is best buddies with all the folks that devised and delayed the current crappy plan to stick a air field out into a pristine bay on a typhoon- and earthquake-prone island.

His declaration is not exactly news. There was never any doubt that the Futenma relocation would be any other place than Okinawa.

If there will be a surprise, it will be the swiftness at which the relocation will happen. The LDP talked a bit game of enhancing Japan's security and furthering US-Japan cooperation, but did little to move it along. They were masters of delay and keeping the barbarians at the gate.  The DPJ's take-away from all this, is a recognition that any decision on Futenma would need to move quickly to appease the antsy Americans.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oriental is

Maybe some of my readers were as uncomfortable as I was with the Metropolitan Museums of Art's recent exhibit on Art of the Samurai: Japanese Arms & Armor made possible by the Yomiuri Shimbun. Apparently, the Met was not the only museum featuring the charms of the samurai sword.

The myth of the Bushido was big this past year in the galleries of the United States.

Swords are for show and beauty, no?

It turns out that the Asian-American art community hated the exhibit even more than me! And did something about.

To learn what they "did", go to the University of California, Berekely on March 9th for Lord It's the Samurai: Socially Engaged Art and the Cultural Production of Orientalist Hysteria with Majime Sugiru, Communications Director, Asians Art Museum
Mr. Sugiru serves as communications director for the Asians Art Museum, a guerrilla art collective that creates public and online 'cultural interventions' as a means of challenging dominant (mis)representations of Japanese visual culture in the Bay Area. Their latest project integrates Japanese Studies scholarship with art in a parody of last summer's blockbuster Lords of the Samurai exhibition at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. 
Generating joyful laughter and impassioned debate across a broad spectrum of constituent communities while garnering media attention, critical acclaim and wide-ranging scholarly approval, this deft cultural counterpunch succeeded at raising awareness of the retrograde cultural politics that continue to play out in the exhibition of Japanese art in this country today.
Majime Sugiru is a Berkeley-born, Cal-educated contemporary artist based in San Francisco. His provocative art has been shown in New York and San Francisco, most recently at the de Young Museum where much of his work was ordered taken down shortly before the exhibition was about to open.
At the Asians Arts Museum website you will learn the following about the samurai:

Precision of the Blade
Better Ceramics through Slavery
Boys before Flowers

And yes, the Met is having another exhibit on Japan's noble arts (because it was only nobles who could afford to have and keep it). 5,000 Years of Japanese Arts runs through June. A New York Times review, Cleaning Out Closets, Reuniting Old Friends, finds that "Japanese art does not tiptoe around big emotions like fury, erotic passion, grief, and ecstasy."