September 15, 2005 Vol. 1, No. 3

Preparing material assistance
to Hurricane Katrina

Japanese Aid to the United States in Response to Hurricane Katrina

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Japan has been making both diplomatic outreach and material contributions to aid the United States. The Government of Japan (GoJ) has promised one million dollars in financial support and emergency supplies so far, and its declaration on September 2 to help the United States was one of the first among the foreign nations. Japanese private companies and local governments have been contributing to the rescue and relief efforts as well, with their donations to date estimated at more than 20 million dollars, and expected to continue to rise.

With the GoJ's support, on September 3, the International Energy Agency member states decided to cooperate in releasing two million barrels per day of oil reserves over a period of 30 days. In this cooperation, the GoJ decided to reduce the compulsory commercial oil stocks by 3 days, which amount to more than 7.3 million barrels.

The GoJ made an initial financial contribution of $200,000 to the American Red Cross, and this money is on its way to help people in the affected area. The GoJ also said that it is prepared to dispatch its International Emergency Relief Team, and provide necessary and available emergency assistance supply such as tents, blankets and power generators amounting up to $800,000.

On September 9, following discussions with the Department of State, the GoJ gave $300,000-worth of supplies (about 20,000 blankets and 3,000 sleeping bags) to the American Red Cross. These supplies are from the storage of the governmental organization Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Miami, Fla., and were delivered to Montgomery, Ala., and Walker, La.

In response to the request from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide generators to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the GoJ has decided to transport $200,000-worth of supplies (150 sets of generators and cord reels) from its storage in Miami to Jackson, Miss., and provided them to MEMA on September 11. Combined with the blankets and sleeping bags, the sum of emergency assistance supplies provided so far is estimated to be approximately $500,000.

Private Japanese companies, many of them multi-national corporations that are doing business in the United States as well, have also been making large financial and material donations. So far, contributions from the Japanese private sector and local governments are estimated to total more than $20 million. These do not include the funds employees of individual companies are raising, and many companies have also started a corporate matching gift program for its employees who would like to make a personal donation to help alleviate the situation. Because these corporations will match dollar-to-dollar the amount employees have raised, the total contribution continues to rise.

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The Honorable Howard Baker
(Photo courtesy of Baker, Donelson,
Eearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC)

Japan is Our Partner in Peace


-By Howard Baker
Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan, (August 28, 2005)*

Sixty years ago this month, Japan laid down its arms, ending World War II and embarking on a remarkable journey that has led a great nation to peace, democracy, and prosperity.

The United States has found in its former adversary a steadfast friend and ally, and the world has come to know and respect Japan not only for the quality of its products but for the generosity and ingenuity of its people.

Some, of course, would argue for their own purposes that Japan has been a reluctant hero in this drama of the last six decades, that at heart the Japanese are unreconstructed, that beneath the benign exterior lies an unrepentant and still nationalistic nation.

After serving for almost four years as America's ambassador to Japan, I can say with the assurance of first-hand knowledge that Japan is fully prepared to play a constructive role in the diplomacy and commerce of the 21st century.

This does not mean the Japanese will jettison their past or that everyone will agree with their interpretation of their own history or their reverence for controversial national symbols. We do not have to agree. What the world seeks, and what Japan readily agrees to, is a forward-looking nation ready to use its economic power and its profound commitment to democracy for the good of the world.

The world has properly sought, and Japan has properly given, numerous apologies for the aggression of 60 and 70 years ago. But such acts of contrition for events in the last century must ultimately give way to more substantive acts of constructive engagement with the world of the new century, and here again Japan has not been found wanting.

Its example of a rapidly democratizing nation stands today as an inspiration to the people of Iraq and people in other countries yearning to breathe free. Its commitment of 500 of Japan's Self-Defense Forces in February 2004 to give humanitarian aid to the people of Iraq gives further substance to its new role as a model for emerging democracies.

Even the act of committing these forces was a test of the strength of Japan's democracy -- a special law had to be passed by the Japanese Diet, over vigorous minority opposition to Prime Minister Koizumi's plan -- and this spirited debate was itself a healthy affirmation of the free and open society that modern Japan has become.

Dispatching forces to Iraq was a historic watershed, representing the first time that Japanese soldiers have been stationed outside Japan since World War II. Their presence in a special noncombat zone is symbolic of several present-day truths of Japan: That Japan pursues global peace at risk of its own internal harmony; that Japan is willing to pay the ultimate price, loss of life, in fighting terrorism; and that 60 years after World War II, Japan has emerged as a fully vested partner in the family of nations.

The United States celebrates the end of World War II as a time of hope and validation, but for Japan, this anniversary induces great national mourning. It's almost impossible to appreciate how Japan was traumatized by the war. The agonies of defeat and Japan's recognition of its complicity in causing the war have imbued in the Japanese a fundamental commitment to peace. The war's anniversary is observed, more than anything, as the chance for an entire nation to renew its pledge never to pursue war again.

This anniversary also finds other nations of Asia pursuing an agenda of freedom and peace. Korea has become a proud and prosperous industrial democracy. Taiwan elected its president through free elections. The Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia have all made important steps toward full democracy. While full credit must go to the people of these countries themselves, Japan has played a major and constructive role to this end.

Since the war, Japan has achieved six decades of sponsoring peace, democracy, and prosperity worldwide.This is the real Japan, the new Japan, the Japan that deserves our appreciation, respect, and friendship.

(Howard Baker, former chief of staff for President Reagan and three-term US senator, served as US ambassador to Japan from 2001-05.

*This op-ed piece was published in The Boston Globe on August 28, 2005.


The leaders of Brazil,
Germany, India and Japan
meeting on UN Reform

Answering China's Japan Bashers
-Part 3 of 3-


-By Kitaoka Shin'ichi
Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations

This is the third and final installment of a 3-part series. The first installment can be found here, in Japan Now Vol. 1, No. 1 (published August 5, 2005), and the second installment can be found here, in Japan Now Vol. 1, No. 2 (published September 2, 2005).

IS JAPAN DISTORTING HISTORY?

Next, let us look at the accusation that Japan is portraying history inaccurately, beginning with the textbook issue.

Japan has a system by which the government screens textbooks for use in public schools. It has adopted this system because it believes that nothing is more important than freedom of speech. The biggest reason that Japan chose the path of aggression and expansion in the 1930s was the absence of free speech. With this in mind, the Japanese government does not manage production of the country's textbooks but allows publishers to compile them as they wish. Through the screening system, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology checks these books for factual errors and for pronounced bias. Under this system, there are 8 different approved history textbooks for middle schools and as many as 11 just for the Japanese History B classes at the high school level. Which of these books are used is up to each individual school system. (Unfortunately, many people in China do not understand this. Recently I was surprised to learn that a high-level Chinese diplomat was under the impression that Japanese schools use government-compiled history textbooks.)

The textbook that has attracted the fiercest criticism from China and South Korea lately is one put out by Fusosha Publishing. Nowhere does this textbook deny that Japan committed aggression against other countries. It acknowledges that Manchukuo was a puppet state, that Japan's colonial rule was oppressive, and that the Japanese army slaughtered many Chinese soldiers and civilians in Nanjing. As a scholar in my own right, I admit I have certain reservations about the contents of this textbook. But the charge that it glorifies Japanese aggression is completely off the mark.

It should be added that after the previous version of the Fusosha text was approved, it was adopted by only 0.1% of Japan's middle schools. That is the extent of its influence. However, as the protests by china and South Korea focus the spotlight on this book, interest is growing among the Japanese, and its share can almost certainly be expected to increase.

A specific bone of contention with regard to the embattled textbooks is the "Nanjing massacre." Chinese and South Korean critics complain that although the incident is covered, the treatment is inadequate, omitting such specifics as the number of casualties. Lest I be misunderstood, let me be very clear. I do not deny that there was a massacre in Nanjing. But the reason the number of casualties is not specified is that the number is not known. There are those who maintain that something on the order of 200,000 or 300,000 Chinese were massacred, but those figures were called into question as early as the Tokyo Trial, and since then scholars have continued to cast doubt on them. Let us consider some of the points these scholars have raised.

  1. In December 1937, just before the Japanese army advanced into Nanjing, the population in the city's center was estimated at somewhere between 200,000 and 250,000. About a month after the fighting, when order had been restored, that figure had actually increased. How can these facts be reconciled with the estimates of 200,000-300,000 slaughtered?
  2. In 1940 Japan installed the Wang Jingwei government in Nanjing. Would it have been possible for the Japanese to entrust administration to a puppet government in the wake of the kind of massacre alleged?
  3. Among the witnesses' statements used during the Tokyo Trial was that of a person who, he claimed, had barely managed to escape the onslaught of the Japanese army, had taken refuge in a cave, and from there had seen the Japanese kill 57,418 Chinese. Is such a witness credible?
  4. The Tokyo Trial also recorded the testimony of a group of 12 people who claimed to have disposed of 2,600 corpses a day. Based on what we have seen in the war in Iraq and the recent tsunami, would such a feat be possible in a situation where there were no bulldozers? However, such testimony has been taken as fact.

Japanese army commander Matsui Ishine recorded in his diary that he wept upon hearing that some soldiers in the Japanese army had been committing assaults, pillage, and rapes. This record testifies to the fact that such violence occurred, but it also indicates that it was planned. Matsui was sentenced to death in the Tokyo Trial for his role in Nanjing.

Others must share in the blame for the massacre. Chiang Kai-shek ordered Tang Shengzhi, commander of the Nanjing garrison, to defend the city knowing full well that it could not be defended, and Chiang himself fled shortly before it fell. Ordinarily, if defeat is unavoidable, a commander will surrender to avoid unnecessary loss of life among the soldiers and the citizenry. And when the top commander flees, chaos is bound to ensue. If he surrenders, he himself may be executed, but the lives of soldiers and civilians will be spared. In the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, vast numbers of civilians were killed because the Japanese army did not surrender when it should have. The army should never have drawn the citizenry into its useless resistance. To some degree, the same must be said of Chiang Kai-shek and Nanjing.

It is true that new documents have emerged concerning the massacre, such as the diaries of John Rabe. But Rabe's account needs to be examined carefully, since much of it is based on hearsay. It seems to me that both countries should take part in this research.

THE YASUKUNI ISSUE

As evidence that Japan is glossing over its militaristic past, critics point to Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro's visits to Yasukuni Shrine, dedicated to the country's war dead. Some 2.3 million of the fallen are enshrined at Yasukuni, which was founded in the nineteenth century. Many nations honor and worship those who died for their country, as China itself acknowledges. The controversy of Yasukuni Shrine revolves around the class A war criminals enshrined there.

Under Article 11 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan is bound to accept the judgments of the Tokyo Trial. As a political matter, it has accepted those judgments, but it would be hard to find a legal scholar who believes that the tribunal was fair. First of all, it was extremely problematical from a procedural standpoint, with inadequate examination of the evidence and cross-examination and no high court ruling. And how many genuine historians believe that this tribunal presented an accurate view of history? The first decisive thrust in Japan's campaign of aggression was the Japanese army's occupation of Manchuria. Yet General Ishihara Kanji, the central figure in these events, was never tried. The reason was that Ishihara subsequently clashed with General Tojo Hideki, Japan's wartime prime minister.

The tribunal approached everything from the American perspective. It was politically calculated to close the book on Japan's war responsibility so as to rehabilitate Japan as a member of the international community. No reliable historical research could have taken place in such a context. Nowadays historians are inclined to regard this phase of World War II as a war centered in East Asia, and many have suggested that the term "war in the Pacific," which reflects the US perspective, is not entirely appropriate. However, the Tokyo Trial, reflecting a US-centered view of history, put the Japan-US conflict and Tojo Hideki in center stage. It is curious that China and even Korea--which had no direct contact with those convicted class A war criminals--should place so much credence in the Tokyo Trial's version of history.

At present Yasukuni Shrine is registered as a "religious corporation" (another fact of which the aforementioned Chinese diplomat was unaware), and it would be extremely difficult for the state to interfere with its practices without violating the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.

Finally, it should be stressed that each time Prime Minister Koizumi has visited Yasukuni Shrine, he has publicly stated that he believes the war was a mistake and explained that he is not visiting the shrine to worship the spirits of war criminals but to honor the unknown soldiers, people who had no choice but to go to war and die in battle. These statements are broadcast on television every year. How, then, could his visits be taken as the glorification of Japan's war of aggression? In Japan today there are some who believe that the prime minister should suspend his visits as long as they lead to misunderstanding among the Chinese and South Koreans. But there are few who believe that such visits are intended to exalt past aggression.

TOWARD A TRANSFORMING DIALOGUE

I serve on both the 21st Century Committee for Japan-China Friendship and the Japan-South Korea Joint History Research Committee. My own perception of history differs from those of some other Japanese on those committees and coincides with those of some of the Korean members. People cannot be forced to embrace the same perceptions. It is possible, however, to ascertain certain facts of which we should all be aware and to clear up needless misunderstandings. This may not be enough to create a common textbook, but it should be enough to compile a common reference work. For this reason, I believe it would be desirable for Japanese and Chinese scholars to participate in a joint history research project similar to that which Japanese and South Korean scholars have undertaken (although this project has yet to produce the kind of results we seek).

However, there are several conditions for undertaking such a project. An absolute condition is that the project adhere strictly to scholarly methodology and respect researchers' intellectual freedom and independence. The participants have to be willing to confront facts that may show their own country or their own theories in a negative light. That is a minimum requirement for scholarship. This ties in directly with the second condition: that the approach be reciprocal. A situation in which the Japanese are open to revising their thinking but the Chinese are not is untenable.

Chinese and South Korean textbooks have their own issues, to state the obvious. How much do Chinese schools teach about the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? At the memorial hall near Marco Polo Bridge commemorating the Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion, there is no evidence of the fact that the soldiers who fought so heroically were actually Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops. When it comes to highlighting the glorious episodes in one's history and glossing over the negative chapters, Japan cannot hold a candle to China.

The third condition for such a joint research project would be that the team include researchers from countries other than Japan and China. One might involve researchers from both former colonial powers and former colonies; some possibilities are Britain, France, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Vietnam, as well as Israel, Germany, and the United States.

Far be it from me to deny the historical truth of Japan's aggression against China and the great suffering it caused. It will doubtless take several more generations to put this history behind us. Even so, we must continue our efforts to verify the facts independent of such sentiment. Should such an examination prove me mistaken in my own understanding, I will gladly change my position. As Martin Buber said, a true encounter between the self and the other transforms both forever. This is the kind of head-to-head encounter Japan and China need. Thus far Japan has been somewhat reluctant to engage in such direct dialogue, but this attitude must change. And as a major power with commensurate responsibilities, China, too, should be able to rise to the challenge.

Kitaoka Shin'ichi received his doctorate in law from the University of Tokyo. He has been a professor at Rikkyo University and the University of Tokyo. He is now deputy permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations. He is the author of Nihon no Jiritsu: Tai-Bei Kyocho to Ajia Gaiko (Japan's Autonomy: Cooperation with the United States and Asian Diplomacy) and numerous other works.

Excerpted from Japan Echo, Special Issue 2005, pp. 12-17, which was in turn translated from "Iware naki Nihon Hihan o Haisu," Chuo Koron, June 2005, pp. 54-63., with some revisions by the author as of April 20 (Courtesy of Chuo Koron Shinsha and Japan Echo).


Aikido headmaster, Moriteru Ueshiba

AIKIDO: Recognizing Your Full Potential


-By Michael Veltri
Chief Instructor, Okinawa Aikikai

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed in the early 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969). Master Ueshiba synthesized Aikido from traditional martial arts including Jujutsu (grappling techniques), Kenjutsu (sword techniques), and Sojutsu (spear techniques). Later in life, Master Ueshiba emphasized the philosophical implications of Aikido through his involvement with an esoteric sect of Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan.

The word Aikido is made up of three Chinese characters: "Ai": to meet or join together; "Ki": energy or spirit; "Do": path or road. Together, Aikido can loosely be translated as a path one follows in the practice of uniting one's energy or spirit. More specifically, training in Aikido involves a rigorous practice of a pattern of well-defined self-defense techniques to control a bigger, stronger, and faster person. Aikido does not rely on speed or force, but uses throws, joint locks, and pinning techniques to mechanically control a person. Traditional Japanese weapons such as the wooden sword, staff, and knife are also incorporated in training.

Aikido is a holistic endeavor that not only incorporates physical self-defense techniques, but also emphasizes the development of positive human qualities such as improved self-control and compassion; sharper mental focus and reason; and increased internal energy called Ki. In this spirit, Aikido training is undertaken with the goal of improving the individual and thereby society as a whole.

At its most fundamental level, Aikido has been used to successfully defend against muggings and many other types of threatening physical altercations--police forces around the world use Aikido joint locks to control and arrest suspects. However, there are many other uses for Aikido besides the physical applications of the art.

For example, I have used Aikido to fight and survive mortal combat. My opponent? Cancer. Like seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The cancer ultimately spread to my lungs, and I had to undergo corrective surgery and extensive chemotherapy to treat the disease. Aikido helped me overcome the ravaging physical and mental effects of cancer. On the physical side, I was trim, fit, and very flexible from practicing Aikido almost daily for 18 years. My excellent physical condition allowed me to heal rapidly from the surgeries and helped my body deal with the devastating effects of chemotherapy. Furthermore, I was able to focus and control my breathing to allow my lungs to heal and continue to perform at peak efficiency. Mentally, I was able to strengthen and direct my internal energy, my Ki, during the treatments and subsequent rehabilitation to assist the body in healing. Without the holistic benefits of Aikido, my battle to overcome cancer would have been much more difficult to win.

The Aikido World Headquarters is located in Tokyo, Japan (http://www.aikikai.or.jp). There, Master Ueshiba's grandson and current headmaster, Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu continues to teach the art of Aikido. Students from all over the world visit the Aikido World Headquarters to learn from Ueshiba Doshu and the other master-teachers employed by the Aikikai Foundation.

Through the hard work of the Ueshiba family and the Aikikai Foundation, Aikido Dojos (schools) can now be found all over the world. This graceful and unique martial art offers unlimited benefits to all practitioners regardless of age or gender. Whether you are interested in self-defense, weight loss, or developing your full potential as a human being, I recommend you visit your local Aikido school to find out more about this exquisite Japanese art.

Michael Veltri is Chief Instructor at Okinawa Aikikai, a dojo in Washington, DC and a direct affiliate of the Aikikai Foundation. For more information, please visit their homepage at www.oki-aikikai.com. Comments and questions on Okinawa Aikikai or this article are welcome at mveltri@oki-aikikai.com.

Views of a JET <1>
-A Series by Past Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Participants-


-By Brian Byun

The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program aims to enhance foreign language education in Japan, and to promote international exchange at the local level by fostering ties between Japanese youth and foreign youth. The JET Program offers participants the opportunity to serve in local authorities as well as public and private junior and senior high schools throughout Japan.

Five years after returning to the U.S., I've finally figured out how the JET Program has been so successful in producing such Japanophiles like me over the years. Forget bilateral cultural appreciation. It's much more one-sided than that. "Make them celebrities when they're in they're self-centered and insecure 20s, and they will realize later on in life that they never had it so good." Now, I was no Brad Pitt, but was I a Very Famous Person in Nagasaki while I was there from 1997 to 2000? Yes, indeed I was.

My star ascended with my participation, in 1999, in the Nagasaki City Japanese Language Speech Contest for Foreigners. To my great pleasure, I won the grand prize and audience award for best speech. Thanks to that win, I was automatically qualified to participate in the all-national speech contest to be held, coincidentally, in Nagasaki the following year and televised nationally on NHK. In the interim, I appeared on local television news programs, was honored by the high school where I worked, and was even chosen to appear in the 2000 JET promotional recruiting video.

The day of the big competition, I was brimming with confidence. I had prepared a color-coded pie chart with moving pieces that displayed various statistics. I wished my fellow competitors luck, but in my heart of hearts, I believed: "How can I lose with such an impressive visual aid? Simple, I cannot."

When my name was called, I rose from my seat and made my way up the stage. Halfway to the podium, I realized that I had left my text on my chair. In that split second, I made a decision to just leave it. "I've practiced this so many times; I won't need it."

I began assuredly enough and visualized the text in my head, but it wasn't long before things started to go south. Halfway through my speech, I discovered that the lever for the moving piece of my pie chart had fallen out somewhere between my seat and the stage; the visual aid was useless. But it was the next thing that truly threw me: the timekeeper raised a yellow card. I had two minutes left. My mind went instantly blank. I stood silent as the second-hand ticked on. My stomach went watery, my palms began to sweat, and I felt the concerned stares of my friends and students. "What's wrong with him?" I looked, panic-stricken, between the space on the lectern where my text should have been and the bright spotlight which I knew covered the faces of the waiting audience. I probably stood like that for fifteen seconds (though it felt like an hour) before I grabbed a line from the murky darkness in my head and rattled through the rest of my speech.

I was so relieved to be done. I sunk deep into my chair and waited for the competition to be over, so I could go back to my apartment and shoot myself.

Naturally, I didn't shoot myself, and in fact, I felt much better by the reception which was held after the awards ceremony (naturally, I didn't win anything). I'd learned a valuable lesson: Celebrity is a very double-edged sword - the more public the success, the more public the failure. Looking back, I realize I was lucky my screw-up did not get me fired or arrested or deported. But more than that, I am glad for this humbling experience as it makes me appreciate my anonymity in the U.S. today and gives me great daydream fodder for what might have been.

Brian Byun was an Assistant Language Teacher in Nagasaski prefecture from 1997-2000. He is now a third-year law student at George Washington University, but says that he hopes one day to be a lead in a Japanese "dorama."