Monday, April 30, 2007

Storm Again

Thunder storm again.

狂風 狂雨 狂雷の夜 狂った過去と未来想う
故郷遠く 熱の国で独り静か
眠れぬ夜 天井のdagger 不気味に光る

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” (Winston Churchill)
“Every nation has the government it deserves.” (Joseph de Maistre)

From “Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas” as quoted in “Shared Responsibility and Unshared Power”:

“What are we all seeking? A form of government that will be comfortable, because it meets our needs, is not oppressive, and maximise our opportunities. And whether you have one-man-one-vote, or some-men-one-vote or other men-two-vote, those are forms which should be worked out. I’m not intellectually convinced that one-man-one-vote is the best. We practise it because that’s what the British bequeathed us and we haven’t really found a need to challenge that.”

“You mean that ice-man knows the consequences of his vote? Do you honestly believe that the chap who can’t pass primary six knows the consequences of his choice when he answers a question viscerally, on language, culture and religion? But, we know the consequences. We would starve; we would have racial riots. We would disintegrate.”

“If I were in authority in Singapore indefinitely without having to ask those who are governed whether they like what is being done, then I have not the slightest doubt that I could govern much more effectively in their own interests.”

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Salute to the Flag, Day of Showa

Twenty-ninth of April, the Day of Showa (昭和の日), the date of birth of Emperor Showa. If you like to condemn, belittle or hate the Showa Era and the late emperor because of Japan’s war in Asia, go ahead. That’s one way to remember the era. I, for one, would like to think it is more important to understand why our country decided to embark on a disastrous war. No nation’s history is irreproachable, just like a person’s life. And the Showa Era was not all about war. Japan experienced a great transformation politically, economically and socially. I should have a mind that allows me to embrace the whole, beautiful and ugly. That’s called true love. The Emperor Showa I remember was just an old man who spoke with a funny accent, his mouth twitching. On this day, I salute our beautiful flag!

Last night, I started “At Canaan’s Edge,” the last volume of Taylor Branch’s trilogy on Martin Luther King Jr. and his civil rights movement, covering the events from 1954 to 1968. The first volume, “Parting the Waters” and the second, “Pillar of Fire,” were published in 1988 and 1998 respectively. “At Canaan’s Edge” was out in 2006. I find rather surprising that King’s activities lasted only for less than 15 years. I read the first two volumes perhaps in 1998. For JFK and LBJ, the later period overlaps the Vietnam War. Ten years since then, my memories of them are obscure… How close will Dr. King manage to get to the Promised Land?

Early morning, a wild jungle thunder storm. Though I’ve never seen a real bombing raid, I was wondering if it was not like this, with the whole neighbourhood illuminated up by flares and sharp explosions lacerating the sky and the resonating groaning low but loud.

I met my friend, Nakajima-kun, again in a dream. Somewhat pale, he showed me a surgery scar, his upper chest down to the abdomen with many stitches. “Glad to see you alive!” I remember you, man!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Osaka Stadium Dream Again and Arrest Warrant to Shilpa


大阪球場は改築されていた。スコアボードは全電光式で、スタンドの規模に比べて釣り合わないほど大きかった。この新球場は以前の夢に出現したものと同じで、「前の大阪球場の方がよかった」。 誰が撮影したものか知らないが、旧球場での最後の試合の写真数枚を眺めて、場面と選手、コーチについて説明していた。誰に?ピンク色のユニフォームを着ていたコーチも数人いた。

Arrest warrants were issued to Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty for an “obscene act.” Oh, Shilpa…

There is a small detail in “Sophie’s Choice” I don’t understand. It is mentioned somewhere that Nathan changed his and Sophie’s sleeping arrangement to his own room to Stingo’s relief. But Nathan’s room was right above Stingo’s and that’s why he was made frustrated with his lust in the first place. Moving the arrangement to Nathan’s room could have further impeded his work. Why could it have been a relief? Did I read that part wrongly?? Somebody, give me the answer, please.




Friday, April 27, 2007

Choices That Sophie Made

In a Washington hotel on their way to Virginia, Sophie told Stingo that she was with her children and Wanda on the train to Auschwitz. Upon disembarking, she was forced to choose Eva or Jan… So soon after leaving Nathan, Sophie was not in the mood of thinking about a married life with Stingo, and after an amorous night, he found her gone. Nathan and Sophie, Stingo knew they would choose to go deathward. Sophie’s choices.

Stingo and Sophie Flee to the South

It took me much longer to fall asleep but it seems it was not yet morning when I did so.

Höss did not keep his word. No Jan for Sophie. … And in Brooklyn, her intelligent, loving, cruel, abusive boyfriend, Nathan, was a paranoid schizophrenic, his older brother, Larry, told Stingo. Nathan’s boast about his research at Pfizer was a complete fake. Now he was more dangerous than ever. Stingo and Sophie flee to his birthplace, Southampton, Virginia.

“Shared Responsibility and Unshared Power” is informative even with a few typos and annoying “as such” and “all said” and even though it is arguable whether each chapter'analysis is deep enough. I have wanted to have a look at the Constitution of this country. The book cites Article 14 of the law that is eye-opening, even surprising, to those who have not read it.

Article 14:
(a) Every citizen of Singapore has the right to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) All citizens of Singapore have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, and;
(c) All citizens of Singapore have the right to form associations.

And about the judicial independence, the author refers to this comment: “… it was not in the country’s interest to have it said that its judges were compliant or corrupt as this would eventually destroy its reputation as a good place to do business and invest.” This view from a perennial defamation-lawsuit winner was published in The Strait Times of 3 November 1995.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Is Sophie Going to See Her Son? And Ok Sleep

It was Wanda, a Warsaw Resistance member, who requested at Auschwitz that Sophie seduce Höss to obtain any information and secure the survival of herself and Jan, her ten-year-old son being held in the Children’s Camp. (Her other child, Eva, was taken away along with a flutist.) Wanda also asked her to steal a radio… Sophie’s seduction was miserably failed and a desperate plea for Jan’s safety was rejected out of hand, but Höss promised her to let her see her son again. There was a radio Sophie has seen many times in the room of Emmi, Höss’s eleven-year-old daughter. When she touched the Siemens radio, a voice froze her right there. “You have no business in this room… I’m going to report you to my father. He will have you punished.” It was Emmi. And Sophie fainted to the floor.

For three consecutive days, it seemed I had ok sleep – without Epilim. It is a small, but remarkable, step forward!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Defending Homosexuals

Reuters reports that MM Lee sees no option but to reconsider the ban of homosexual acts. He said, “They tell me that homosexuals are creative writers, dancers. If we want creative people, then we have to put up with their idiosyncrasies… Let's not pretend it doesn't exist.” A guy who is found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another guy can be jailed for up to two years. The government is considering legalizing oral and anal sex between consenting heterosexual adults, but not between homosexuals.

Creative or dull is not the point at all. Writers and dancers? Some of homosexuals can be excellent CEOs. And “Put up with (them)”? To attract more investment? What sort of rationale is this? “Gross indecency” according to whose view? What specific acts constitute “gross indecency”? This is so vague and can be grossly subjective. How about sexual acts between lesbians? Also gross indecency? They are human beings with a different sexual orientation. Period. Funny country, indeed.

Botched August 19 Coup

I do not remember if I wrote about August 19, 1991. Anyway I do here.

It was a day when I had three morning classes in Osaka. In the second or third class, there was a man who told me he worked as a city subway conductor. What’s rather strange about him was the bag he was carrying. It had “CCCP,” and probably the famous hammer and sickle sign, on it. Inevitably, our talks went to his interest in the USSR. He didn’t elaborate but said, “Gorbachev disappeared. It’s not known where he is now.”

I would take the Hankyu (阪急) line to go back to Kyoto after work. Sensing something historic was happening, however, I decided to walk a longer distance to Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋) to take the Keihan (京阪) line because the Keihan superexpress has “TV cars.” I thought every TV station was broadcasting the shocking news of the vanished Soviet President. When I boarded the train, the TV was showing a news program about him, but soon after it left the station, the channel was changed to the high school baseball tournament…

Back in Kyoto, I, very excited, walked around the area where appliances stores are concentrated hoping to catch any snippet of the news. No luck. What was taking place in Moscow became clearer bit by bit in the evening. VP Gennady Yanayev, PM Pavlov, KGB Chairman Kryuchkov, Defense Minister Yazov, Interior Affairs Minister Pugo, Supreme Soviet Chairman Lukyanov… Yeltsin on a tank… The late Yonehara Mari tells us in her book that Yanayev was dead drunk at the press conference. Two days later, Gorbachev came back to Moscow. But his ear was over. Those must have been some of her busiest days.

Monday, April 23, 2007

About Boris Yeltsin

There is a memorable scene in the BBC documentary, “The Second Russian Revolution,” where Boris Yeltsin, after finishing a stinging speech criticising the Soviet leadership, climbs down the podium and walks to the back door and disappear, to the amazement of the delegates. And his undoubtedly heroic act in August 1991 to stand up against the coup plotters. A temperamental boozer and prideful statesman, Yeltsin’s likable childlike side is told by the late Yonehara Mari, who watched him closely as his interpreter. I almost hear Yeltsin shout “Mari! Mari!”


The same view from the same window
The only thing that changes is the shape of the moon

After the time passed two o’clock, I went out to pay an overdue phone bill and to buy some beer. These days alcohol is not as inviting as before, as I now realise it does not assist me in organising my sleep. The reason I decided to go out at that odd hour is Stingo. He was drinking beer in New York with his father who from the South was having bourbon. My beer didn’t betray me. I had only fitful sleep. Waste of precious monetary resource.

Following “Ko-jin,” I started “Kokoro (こころ, 1914).” Again the story is about a neurotic guy (先生), who knows something about being betrayed, and his relations with the daughter (御嬢さん) of a widow (奥さん) and his childhood friend, “K.” K, a son of a Buddhist monk, is very principled and can be argumentative. A straight arrow, who seeks enlightenment through hardships. “先生,” whose mind was somewhat warmed in the company of two women and especially by his fond feeling toward the daughter, brought “K” to his lodging from pure friendship, against an initial opposition from “奥さん” to let him to ease his psycho. His plan goes well. Too well, in fact…

Between “Ko-jin” and “Kokoro.” there seem changes as to how Soseki places commas. Or so I believe. I find it more agreeable in “Kokoro.”

In the primary-school science class, there were assignments to observe constellations. Yes, stars. Those days, it was still possible to find the Polestar, Septentrions, Orion, Scorpio, et cetera, depending upon the season. It is a pity if kids of the present day no longer can observe them because the sky is not dark enough and shrouded with polluted air. Before coming to this country, I innocently expected a starry sky, forgetting how urbanised this place is.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sophie Continues Her Story

Sophie’s story at Auschwitz continues. Because of her Polish/German bilingualism and shorthand skill, she finds a way to survive by working for Rudolf Höss, as a result of which her sense of guilt deepens. Hearing the news of Höss’s imminent transfer to Berlin, she tries to ensure her survival by seducing him. And now the true and radical face of her professor father is disclosed through his “solution” idea for Judenfrage.

Those Happy Moments are Forever Gone

As I wrote, “Ko-jin” reminded me of my childhood, despite a big gap of years. When I was perhaps at a kindergarten age, my mother would take me to a place where goldenrods (キリン草) were blooming as far as my eye could see. To reach there, we walked through the neighbourhood shrine and up the slope eastwards. Also, she would point at a few fire-red lycorises (彼岸花, 曼珠沙華), which could be seen on a bank of the stream that crosses the main street. We would look at them from the small stone bridge. Such nice memories. Mother and son, happily together. I deeply miss those rare moments. But they are forever gone… Forever. Mother, are you okay?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Ichiro Struggles at the End of Meiji Era

Since yesterday, my neck hurts! I must have sprained it while sleeping. I can’t turn it. How fitting, or ironic, or condemning. There is a Japanese saying, “I can’t turn my neck because of debts.”

I finished “Ko-jin” at around 6 am. While the first half of the story focuses on happenings among the family members, its second one almost exclusively concentrates, through a long narrative by “H,” on the psychology of Ichiro (一郎), who his younger brother (二郎) thinks may be a little “crazy.” Ichiro, a scholar, is an absolutist who doesn’t fail to see things in the light of right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, etc. and pathetically (or pathologically?) incapable to connect with people around him, even his wife, Nao (直). Lamenting his own “only study, no action” life, he agonises his inability to accept the real world of imperfection. Thanks to one of the very few gifts depression endows me, I can now empathise with this man of odd character. “I have three choices, die, go mad and live as a religious person,” he tells H. He answers himself, “I don’t think I can’t go into religion. I would be drawn back by my lingering attachment to life. Then the only choice should be death.” With a strong scholarly mind, he has no choice but to dig deeper and deeper innocently to find the truth of life.

At the end of the era of Meiji (明治), Ichiro must have been struggling to cope with the quickened pace of modernisation and the disintegration of the old way of life.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Colloquialism of 100 Years Ago

Yesterday, I didn’t read even a sentence of “Sophie’s Choice.” Instead, I concentrated on “Ko-jin (行人, 1912-1913)” and “Shared Responsibility and Unshared Power.” Now I’m half way through “Ko-jin,” appreciating it more than before. What’s obvious to every reader of it is the colloquialism it employs. It is interesting to see how the way people speak has changed over some 100 years. This is not only because in the first place my own accent is quite different from the one the characters, who are from Tokyo, use. They, the mother, brothers and elder brother’s wife, talk among themselves not so much with formality as with clear traces of politeness. And an impression I gather is the lack of rapid-fire talks. After all it was still the era of “kuruma (俥)” and the electric railway system was just in its infancy. With these, the pace of society was no doubt so much slower than now and conversations were allowed to be long-winding. (Once again, I realise I was born in the wrong period.) However, a slow pace of society does not fully explain this change of colloquialism.

Other obvious points include the usage of “kanji (漢字),” particular expressions and punctuations. A few examples are 「見詰めながら」「眼を眠った」「疾うに」「到底も」「不断の」. Even though these are still “acceptable” they are no longer widely used. As for punctuations, an editor would add more commas (、) or move them for the sake of readability.

By the way, the sound of “yadoya (宿屋)” somehow reminds me of my childhood and makes me yearn for a night or two at one, wearing “yukata (浴衣)” and enjoying nice, authentic sashimi dinner with beer/shochu/sake, after a refreshing hot bath.

The work BC talked about some days ago has gone to Japan. He informed me today and he doesn’t know why. All the same, I can only thank him for his effort to get it for me. He’s done a great deal to extend a big helping hand to me.

Psychology of expectation: visualise it, then it is yours. On the other side of the same coin, think it’s yours, expect greater disappointment.

Miss Q came again. How irritated I become by her casual comments is amazing…

Books Keep Me Alive and a Huge Contretemps

I sometimes think I will try to continue to live until I finish all the books I have here but haven’t opened yet. Without my active reading, I would be long gone…

… And then, I buy new books, as a result, prolonging my life.

Last night (actually early morning today), I started “Ko-jin (行人)” by Natsume Soseki (夏目漱石). I wish I had kimono of his period. So cool!

Miss Q came. She does not know what sort of life I’ve been leading these days, id est, at what time with great effort I managed to sleep, what books I’m reading (she has never shown any interest in my books), in what state of mind I’m finding myself, etc. Even when I’m sleeping finally, she talks to me in a loud voice, making my face grimace… Her coming only disrupts my life – a huge contretemps. Though her actions seem well-intentioned, they are terribly executed.

Tonight, back from JB, I found a new hand soap bottle in the bathroom. Thanks, but the last one was not empty yet. It is beyond my comprehension that she buys new things before old ones have not been used up. It is just the same about toothpaste. I find a beauty when no paste comes out from whichever way I squeeze a tube. This kind of her behaviour never stops and it has happened in countless times. She can never be an archaeologist or an antique appraiser. When I was thinking about moving out of this island, the first thing she uttered was how to sell my DVDs. In the past, she’s also mentioned more than a few times selling my books for money. To me, these comments are tantamount to slicing off my flesh. Please, Miss Q. Am I being too prudish?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Regretful Late Comer to Literature

One thing is qiguai (strange, 奇怪, 不思議) about myself is that I’ve never been so attracted to Japanese literature. It seems all the novels I chanced on in high school textbooks eluded my attention. It does not mean at all that I think light of them. In fact, in recent years, I reread some masterpieces, say, by Natsume Soseki (夏目漱石). They didn’t impact me so much and the devotion I find towards Maugham, Greene and now Styron was simply not there. Or overwhelmingly powerful political writings by Said and Chomsky. Is it because I read Japanese books so leisurely? Well, let me try to re-reread Natsume. I may find treasures I’ve failed to detect so far. Even about Maugham, Greene and Styron, I feel that I should’ve read them years ago, though I did read some of Maugham some 20 years ago. But I have to admit that this could not have been done as English was (still is) a foreign tongue to me… All the same, it is regrettable that it took me so many years to reach for their works. In my 20’s and 30’s, I was really mad about news magazines of the US and the UK while almost ignoring literature. I was reading at least four weekly news magazines. Thus my pathetic lack of adjective/adverb vocabulary.

There must be non-Japanese who devour Japanese novels. They may be feeling the same kind of zeal that I have towards non-Japanese works. If true, does it show that there is something magical in the experiences of reading foreign books?

Inevitably, this leads to the issue of translation. I believe when Japanese people talk about the writing “style” of such and such non-Japanese author, they are actually talking about the style of the translator, as the majority of them read a translated version. Even though no translator is allowed to turn the original work into his own, there is a huge difference between reading the original and its translated version. Perhaps, I should check how the translated version of “Sophie’s Choice,” for example, is managing to convey and express the impression evoked by a particular way of talking of the South or words uttered in Yiddish, French or German and see if I get the same images.

I’m not a compulsive cleaner. But the daughter of a former unit owner said to me, “You are untidy but not dirty.” When I do wipe tables, I find the surface is as black as soot. Why? This is not only about my current lodging. Is this air pollution? How can dust be so sooty?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Miss "As Such" is Not My Woman

Living in this country corrupts one’s proficiency in English. There is a certain standard to be preserved in any language. And here, many people are really carefree about the correct English usage. One obvious reason is the fact that for the vast majority of people, English is not their first language. They insert words of Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Malay, etc. into English sentences as they see it fit. The result is often colourful and effective to get the point across, at least to my ear. By “corrupt,” I don’t mean those words or the ubiquitous particles like “ah,” “lah,” or “ma.” These particles only make sentences sound peculiarly rich.

One trouble I still can’t overcome after years is phrases like, “just now” or “last time.” By “just now,” they mean (or seem to mean) “a short while ago.” And the verb they use with this phrase is of its past-tense form as if they avoid present-perfect sentences. “Just now, you said…” instead of “You have just said…” (There seem people whose sentences are all in the present tense. Forget about “-s” and “-es” for the present-tense third-person singular verbs.) And “Last time, you said…” Last time? When? Not specifying the time, what they try to mean is “sometime ago/before.”

Another example is the usage of “how.” Sentences like “How is your girlfriend (look) like?” I wonder how many of them say “What does your girlfriend look like? Cat or pig?” Apparently not many.

Yet another example can be found in writing, especially the kind of writing intended to be formal. This is most irritating to me as it disrupts the flow of reading. That’s “as such.” I hardly see “as such” at the beginning of a sentence in so-called standard English. It should be perfectly ok to use “as such” as in, “He is the king. They treated him as such.” What this means is “in a manner appropriate for the king.” However, when “as such” is placed at the head of a sentence, they mean “consequently” or “therefore.” I’m not a linguist, but I believe this sort of usage is very close to being wrong. When I encountered the first instance of this “as such” in “Shared Responsibility, Unshared Power,” I became certain the author is Singaporean. Every time the phrase shows up, it feels like whenever I turned a corner, I find the same “as such” woman standing and she says to me, “Hi, it’s me again”… Hey Miss As Such, you are completely unsolicited. As such, keep away from me!

Yesterday morning, the late Yonehara Mari (米原万里) appeared in a dream. It was a rather commodious classroom and she was an instructor of Russian (of course) while I a novice English one. She was exuding powerful confidence and at the same time witty, just as she was in the real life… I read five books by her and each one of them are a source of good laugh and deep contemplation for language, culture, literature, society, history, politics. In the Gorbachev era, her name was on the TV screen day after day, often several times a day. For me, as the ablest Japanese interpreter of Russian, she was Gorbachev, Yeltsin and Shevardnadze.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sidetracked Long Time Ago

My mind seems clear after sleeping only for a few hours. Though it is quite true what counts is the quality of sleep not its duration, I usually feel so irritated if I managed to have only a few hours' sleep. Funny day, maybe because it is fine outside this morning after a couple of days of rain.

I started “Sophie’s Choice” last night. Right now, I’m only at the beginning of Part 2. I feel a strong affinity with Stingo's thought like “But at my age, with a snootful of English Lit. that made me as savagely demanding as Matthew Arnold in my insistence that the written word exemplify only the highest seriousness and truth, I treated these forlorn offspring of a thousand strangers’ lonely and fragile desire with the magistrate abstract loathing of an ape plucking vermin from his pelt.” Or “My attempt at jacket copy filled me with a sense of degradation, especially since the books I have been assigned to magnify represented not literature but its antipodean opposite, commerce.” I absolutely agree. Then, “[The senior editor, Farrell,] paused, then said, ‘Oh, but somehow I side-tracked. I think it was the long years of editorial work, especially of a rather technical nature. I got sidetracked into dealing with other people’s ideas and words rather than my own, and that’s hardly conducive to creative effort.’” “Editorial work” can be replaceable with “translation work.” Here, Farrell is also talking about my own work too. Long ago, I sidetracked…

Stingo was sacked rather happily from his position at McGraw-Hill, and the story goes into the history of his ancestors and their slaves.

Also last night, I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” again.

Mainichi Shimbun reports: The prosecutors asked for a fine of 200,000 yen on Friday for an amnesiac man who allegedly had stolen nine items (amounting to 1,723 yen) at a supermarket in Kyoto. When he was arrested in February, he had only 152 yen with him. The man says, “What I manage to recall is that I woke up from cold in a mountain and has been surviving with 70,000 or 80,000 yen I had in my pocket. I came on foot from the direction of Hiroshima. My family name is ‘Yamakami’ or ‘Yamagami.’ Born in 1951 or 52.” “Don’t resort to criminal acts even when you find yourself in difficulty. Ask for help,” Judge Higashio said to him. The verdict is expected to hand down to him on 25th of this month.

Thank Gov't Again! Reports by AFP and BBC

Friday April 13, 10:13 PM (AFP)
Gagged Euro MPs slam 'authoritarian' Singapore

Singapore acted like an "authoritarian state" by gagging members of the European parliament in a move that could hinder efforts to reach a partnership and co-operation agreement, the MEPs said Friday.

The seven MEPs along with a Cambodian and a Congresswoman from the Philippines said Singapore denied them permission to speak Friday night at a forum to discuss the development of democracy in Asia and Europe.

"I fear that, in this sense at least, it puts Singapore in a league with North Korea, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China," Graham Watson, a United Kingdom Member of the European Parliament, told a press conference.

"Now that is not where I believe Singapore is, or where I believe Singapore should be."

Watson, who leads the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), said they were conducting a parliamentary mission to Singapore and had come from Indonesia where they spoke at a forum without any interference.

"What has happened today proves that Singapore is an authoritarian state," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP.

The Cambodian and Philippines delegates represented the Council of Asian Liberal and Democrats (CALD). The ALDE-CALD delegates were invited to address the forum organised by their sister party, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chee Soon Juan, one of a few in Singapore to have spoken out against the People's Action Party (PAP) which has ruled since 1959.

Chee has had numerous battles with local authorities.

Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said the SDP applied to police for a licence to hold the public forum, and asked the ICA for professional visit passes "for several foreigners" invited to speak at the event.

"The police and ICA respectively have rejected the SDP's applications for a permit to conduct this public forum and for professional visit passes for the foreign speakers on the ground of public interest," the ministry said in a statement.

"Singapore's politics are reserved for Singaporeans. As visitors to our country, foreigners should not abuse their privilege by interfering in our domestic politics."

On its website, SDP said the forum was to "register your disgust" at pay hikes for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, cabinet ministers and civil servants.

The pay rises have sparked rare public fury in the conservative city-state.

But the MEPs said they did not come to discuss Singapore's internal affairs.

Watson said Singapore's decision "will not help with the difficult task" of finalising a partnership and cooperation agreement which both sides began discussing about two years ago.

Such agreements provide rules that govern trade, exchange of criminal suspects, return of refugees and other issues while including clauses about respect for human rights, he said.

"The refusal to allow a basic political dialogue on issues of common concern clearly makes it more difficult to negotiate any such agreement," he said.

Ambassador Holger Standertskjold, head of the European Commission's delegation to Singapore, said the EU "regretted" that the MEPs could not speak at a public meeting organised by another legally recognised political party.

The forum was to proceed with speakers from the SDP, while the foreign delegation vowed to remain silent, and would return to Europe Friday night.

"We are not terrorists. We are not dangerous radicals," Watson said.The Ministry of Home Affairs said Chee's party is free to organise public meetings "provided they do so lawfully."

Since independence in 1965, Singapore has grown from a third-world country to an Asian economic powerhouse.

But critics say this has come at a price, in the form of restrictions on freedom of speech and political activity.

Friday, 13 April 2007, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK (BBC)
Europe MPs 'gagged' by Singapore

Singapore has been accused of acting like an "authoritarian state" after refusing to allow European Parliament members to speak during a visit.

The seven MEPs, as well as a Cambodian and a Philippines congresswoman, were denied permission to speak at a forum on democracy in Europe and Asia.

One MEP likened the Singaporeans' to repressive regimes such as North Korea.

The Singapore government said foreigners did not have permission to address the event.

The seven MEPs, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), came to Singapore after earlier speaking at a forum in Indonesia.

'Authoritarian state'

"I fear that, in this sense at least, it puts Singapore in a league with North Korea, Myanmar and the People's Republic of China," MEP Graham Watson was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. "What has happened today proves that Singapore is an authoritarian state," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish MEP.

The MEPs had been invited to speak by the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) led by Chee Soon Juan, opponents of the People's Action Party which has ruled the island state since 1959.

"Singapore's politics are reserved for Singaporeans. As visitors to our country, foreigners should not abuse their privilege by interfering in our domestic politics," Singapore's Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Human Factors in "The Human Factor"

Greene didn’t’ name the name of the man. I’m still thinking about this man who helped Maurice Castle defect to Moscow even though he is not a communist. (“… I’ll fight beside you in Africa, Boris – not in Europe.”) A few clues Greene provides are, aside from the man’s appearance when he came to Castle’s hotel room, “‘I was delayed by the circulation,’ the man said in precise but rather incorrect English” and “He carried the tools of his trade...” But his appearance cannot be a clue because he can easily change it.

“The circulation” apparently refers to the circular going around among MI6 and immigration authorities about Castle’s escape. Spending a few hours of early morning in bed, I searched the book for anyone who speaks “in precise but rather incorrect English.” And “the tools of his trade” to give Castle a crew cut. This scene inevitably led my mind to the photos of Che Guevara with a bald head with a pair of glasses. Colonel John Daintry, “a compulsive shaver,” strongly despises Doctor Percival, who poisoned Castle’s innocent deputy, Arthur Davis. You are the one, Colonel, aren’t you?

Sarah, Sam and Buller… A rather happy family life in England, even with the remnant of insecurity from the past, results in a separation.

Loyalty, moral, conscience, betrayal, love, family, race, apartheid, the Cold War (Checkpoint Charlie!)… Each one of these involves a deep human factor. Reading “The Human Factor,” or any other like it, compels me to wonder if this fiction, based on the author’s experience at MI6, reflects the reality of politics, international or domestic, more accurately than any poli-sci book.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"The Human Factor" - Who is This Small Man??

I’ve come to the end of Part Five of “The Human Factor.” Mr Halliday is the first surprise, and a far bigger surprise is “a small man with a black moustache wearing a dark suit carrying a black attaché case.” Who is this man?? After this man appeared, I was reading the last two pages of the part while hiding the remaining paragraphs with my hand. I want to know but I don’t want to know!! Great suspense! Greene never tells who in Part Five. And at the beginning of Part Six, he turns to Sarah and her mother-in-law. Who is the man?? Tell me but don’t tell me!!

Thank Gov't for Its Vigilance against Communism! Hurrah!!

Hurrah for the Government! Hurrah!

Film on ex-detainee banned (TODAY, 11 April)
It may undermine public's confidence in Govt: Mica
Loh Chee Kong

A FILM about a former journalist detained under the Internal Security Act has been deemed "against public interest" and banned by the Government.

Shot, directed and edited by local film-maker Martyn See, the 50-minute interview-based film, Zahari's 17 years, centres around the February 1963 arrest and subsequent detention of Mr Said Zahari, a former editor of the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Melayu and president of Parti Rakyat Singapura. Mr Said, then 34, was arrested during Operation Cold Store — a Government security operation against subversive activities — and released in August 1979.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) said the film gives "a distorted and misleading portrayal" of Mr Said's arrest and detention and was "an attempt (by Mr Said) to exculpate himself from his past involvement in communist united front activities against the interest of Singapore".

The ministry said Mr See had submitted the film to the Board of Film Censors for classification for screening.

Explaining its decision to use, for the first time, section 35 (1) of the Films Act, Mica added: "The Government will not allow people who had posed a security threat to the country in the past, to exploit the use of films to purvey a false and distorted portrayal of their past actions and detention by the Government. This could undermine public confidence in the Government."

Section 35 (1) allows the Mica Minister to prohibit the possession or distribution of any film contrary to public interest. With effect from tomorrow, anyone who possesses or distributes the film could be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for a maximum of two years, or both. When contacted, Mr See, 38, said he found the decision "very strange".

He said: "I had wanted to screen the film here, but I haven't decided when and where yet ... I need to find out on what basis they are banning it."

This is the second time in as many years that a film which Mr See had directed has run afoul of the Films Act, which prohibits films with political themes. Last year, after 15 months of investigation, the police gave him a "stern warning" over his documentary about opposition politician Chee Soon Juan, which was banned under a different section of the Films Act.

Last year, Zahari's 17 years was submitted for the Singapore International Film Festival. At that time, the Board of Film Censors passed the film with a PG rating — traditionally, films at the festival attract a smaller audience than at a general release. But despite the rating, the festival organisers decided not to screen the movie. It has, however, been shown at film festivals in Malaysia and Toronto.

"(The Board of Film Censors) has to explain why they had passed it under "PG" in the first place. If I'm not satisfied with the explanation, I will have to put it up on YouTube," Mr See said.

I was in Kalamazoo yesterday morning… in a dream. I was bicycling around the campus. Confused by a changed sight of the town and not really aware which building I should go to, I was also meandering on foot in the campus. There were some T-shirt shops, eateries and even a small bowling alley.

Before flying to Kalamazoo, I was talking to perhaps two men. I have no idea as to who they were. Sitting on a white floor of a place like a rooftop playground, one man was pointing structures that could be seen at a far distance. “That’s the “Tower of the Sun” of the Expo Park and the other is ‘…’ Hotel,” he said. The floor was moving slowly as if floating on water. I asked one of them the time and he said, “eight o’clock.” “I need to catch a nine-o’clock flight to Kalamazoo!” The other man phoned some place and found that my flight would leave after ten o’clock.

Then, last night, I encountered this passage in “The Human Factor”; “One of the men said, ‘Take a squint at this, Taylor.’ He handed the other a sheet of paper. The other read aloud, ‘Bonne chance, Kalamazoo, Widow Twanky.’” Coincidence? Of course.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been nightmare-free. It tells a lot about my state of mind (I’m quite content with reading and writing). But it is not whole yet. I’m so impecunious! To a scary extent. And the trouble with Epilim is it does not seem working at all. Say, I take two tablets at midnight, I’m still awake reading at four o’clock. Then, I wake up only after a few hours.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Limit of My Intellect

Early morning today, I finished “Power and Interdependence.” Finished, but pages in the middle of the book left me blank-eyed, forcing myself very reluctantly to realise, 15 years after Albany, the limit of my intellect. The book mentions in several places non-state terrorism. Back then, it might refer to “Palestinian terrorism,” but again Keohane and Nye, or anyone else for that matter, expected anything like 9/11 to happen.

Somewhat encouraged by the two poli-sci books I have just ended, I decided to proceed with Ho Khai Leong’s “Shared Responsibility, Unshared Power: The Politics and Policy-Making in Singapore.” Contrary to my first impression of the book, especially on its unattractive layout, I have found it is written quite objectively and calmly, unlike those ass-licking writings prevalent here. Thus, I hope the pace of reading it will quicken. And let me choose Graham Greene’s “The Human Factor” to accompany it.

About Al Gore again. I’ve known him since when he ran for presidency in 1988. Called “Prince,” he dropped out of the race after the Super Tuesday, if I remember correctly. Those days, he was more recognised as an expert of national security issues rather than environmental problems. Gore reappeared before me, of course, as the VP candidate in 1992 and, when I got hooked with Zappa, in the latter’s Porn War and Senate testimony against music labelling, which Tipper, with Jim Baker’s wife, was campaigning for. Perhaps I should watch the much-talked-about “An Inconvenient Truth” one more time. Gore’s sincerity and honesty (even humour) are demonstrated in the film. At the same time, I wonder what George W would be doing now if he had lost the race to Gore in 2000…

Very public-minded government ministers’ salaries are going up.
(Figurehead) President: from S$2,551,700 (2006) to S$3,187,100;
Prime Minister: S$2,464,000 to S$3,091,200;
Senior Minister: S$2,680,600 to S$3,043,300;
Minister Mentor: S$2,656,600 to S$3,043,300;
Deputy Prime Minister: S$2,064,700 to S$2,454,500;
Other Ministers: S$1,202,600 to S$1,593,500
(Welfare payment to the elderly is S$260 per month.)

Like most other people (I guess), I hate mosquitoes. These days, it seems I’m sharing this flat with a number of them. Dengue fever season is coming. What I don’t understand about those nagging flyers is why it is okay for them to suck different types of blood indiscriminately. It is totally against the transfusion principle. And another important matter is about male mosquitoes. As only females suck blood, what nutrients do males get? I don’t sympathise at all with mosquitoes, male or female, but males appear such poor creatures.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Inspiring Al Gore and Polar Bear with Fur Coat

Last night, I watched “An Inconvenient Truth.” In it, Al Gore, who “used to be the next President of the United States,” is far from being wooden. His enthusiasm shows very clearly and he is even inspiring. I wonder what the world would be like with him in the White House, and the film surely makes me think what I can do to help tackle the problem of global warming.

In Singapore, there are people who wear a sweater or windbreaker in their offices to protect themselves from the freezing temperature. Even a polar bear would have to wear a thick fur coat!! What a waste of energy!! Setting the temperature just a few degrees up saves a lot of energy, and every household will be happy with a lower electricity charge.

“The growth of economic and ecological interdependence,” Keohane and Nye wrote in “Power and Interdependence,” “does not provide clear, deterministic guidelines for foreign policy… We will have to learn both to live with interdependence and to use it for leadership. From a systemic point of view, American paradox may be that the United States has too much rather than too little freedom in the short run, and may fail to take the lead on the economic and ecological problems that will be increasingly important.” And as Gore reminds us, the US is one of the only two signatories that have not ratified the Kyoto Treaty. (The other is Australia.)

In the Tokyo gubernatorial race, Toyama Koichi got 15,095 votes (0.3%) to Ishihara’s 2,811,486 (51.1%).

50 Years after My Brother Died

On this very day 50 years ago, my eldest brother died. He was nine years old.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Connection of Historical Dots

I finished “Between Peace and War” tonight. I gained momentum as I proceeded with reading. I read this as a history book rather than a poli-sci one and have learned a lot from the book. A few dots of events have been connected here again to make my line of time longer and more comprehensive. At the time of writing, who could have imagined that the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia would be no more on the world map.

The book was first published in 1981. Reagan and Thatcher were already there but it was still pre-Gorbachev, and of course pre-Al-Queda, pre-9/11. Lebow writes “If Moscow and Washington learn to coexist, future historians may well see the Cuban missile crisis as a significant positive turning point in their relations.” “It is still too early to tell how successful the superpowers will be in defusing the tensions of the Cold War, but there can be no question that Cuba was an important catalyst of détente…”

While some of us born especially in Asia after World War II may tend to concentrate their interest on events pertaining to this world war, Lebow provides materials to be learned on the other world war and a string of alliance combinations.

Fashoda crisis in Sudan (1898); the British presence in Egypt, important for its communications with India and the Far East, led to clash with France that attempted to choke it by establishing an outpost on the upper Nile in Fashoda.

Reading pages on Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1908-1909) and the July crisis after the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand (1914) by a Serbian man that triggered World War I, I was reminding myself of the illustration of the incident in my high school textbook. Germany pressed Austria-Hungary, a motley empire of peoples, to take military action against Serbia, which Russia could not ignore as a fellow Slav nation. The alliance of German and Austria believed that they would be able to limit the war to a localised one. Germany declared war on France, an ally of Russia and its violation of the neutrality of Belgium, guaranteed by Britain, prompted Britain to take action against Germany.

On Nehru’s reaction towards the Chinese military action, Lebow writes “The prime Minister maintained a benign image of the Chinese much longer than most Indians did and felt personally betrayed by their ultimate resort to force. He later confessed to the Lok Sabha: ‘It is sad to think that we in India, who have pleaded for peace all over the world, sought the friendship of China, and treated them with courtesy and consideration and pleaded their cause in the councils of the world, should now ourselves be victims of a new imperialism and expansionism by a country which says it is against all imperialism.’” This part is more in tune with the description by Brown.

Ishihara Shintaro (石原慎太郎) returns to the Tokyo governor’s office. During the campaign, he was still mentioning the name of his late younger brother (裕次郎), who was a superstar actor. So many years passed since his death and I don’t think his name has much appeal anymore.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

"Instead" Shopping

HMV had none of the DVDs I’m interested in; “Tragedy in the Holy Land” (2001), “Rana’s Wedding” (2002) and “Gaza Strip” (2002). Instead, I bought “An Inconvenient Truth” of Al Gore, which I must see anyway. Nor does Kinokuniya have any of the three books I had in mind, all about Okinawa. I bought Greene’s “The Human Factor” and Styron’s “Sophie’s Choice.” I don’t want to think I spent unnecessarily on “instead” things. These are for my intellectual wellbeing.

I’m feeling so much better. One reason is certainly a phone call from an old friend, BC, I received yesterday. He asked me if I would take on a 40-page translation work. Yes! He told me that he had thought about passing it to ARN but turned to me, who he believes should be more reliable. Thank you, BC.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Nostalgia Must Not Lead to Xenophobia

It has been quite clear to me, after more than seven years abroad, there are people who suddenly “discover” their homeland and become “patriots” either out of politically-based nationalism or pure nostalgia. I count myself as one of them. In my case, it is more of nostalgia rather than exclusive nationalism.

What is repulsive is the sort of feeling can lean towards xenophobia. It is one thing that people calmly discuss the benefits and scars Japan left behind and the historical backgrounds of, say, the Japanese colonisation of Korea or occupation of Singapore while it is quite another if one justified the barbaric acts prosecuted by our fellow men. It should not be denied that Japan, as part of its colonisation policy, contributed to the infrastructure development of the Korean peninsula, no matter how vehemently Koreans oppose the view. A Korean-American student I met in Albany, NY, about 15 years ago said that Japan had converted the whole peninsula into a rice field to feed people in the Japanese proper. This is ridiculous and untrue. We must not see historical facts from the point of view of the present day. We must try to understand what happened from the contemporary viewpoint. It was an aspect of power politics of the time that led Japan to decide to annex Korea and come down to Southeast Asia.

I feel very uncomfortable when a Korean or a Singaporean talks about personal stories of the war time because as an individual I possess the capacity to be empathetic. Those who have suddenly become aware of their own identity based on their nationality seem to lack or not to try to have the attitude that places themselves as persons, not as a member of a certain group, and looks at history from the opposite direction. For example, Korea may have developed materially thanks to Japan, but were they happy?

With these fellow Japanese, I also feel uncomfortable as some of their comments are just too much, displaying their ignorance, prejudice and inhumanity. This is a strong reason why I think that at times I feel better surrounded by non-Japanese. In that environment, I can be an individual who happened to be born in Japan and who even loves the country. Xenophobic nationalism is only malefic.

Publicity-Seeking Candidate and YouTube, and Takamatsuzuka

According to a Sankei report, the election commission of Tokyo requested YouTube to delete footages of a man who is running in the Tokyo gubernatorial race. Some days ago, I accidentally watched his official campaign broadcast sanctioned by the commission… well on YouTube. The report says the broadcast is now recreated with inserted animation and music, accessed to in some hundreds of thousands of times.

This man, Toyama Koichi (外山恒一), is a skinhead street musician, who in the broadcast calls for the overthrow of government and says that elections are no use to change anything. He, whose style of speaking is agitprop, stands out among the candidates for bizarreness. Absolutely irreverent, he even shows the finger! Toyama is just one of those who run for office only to seek publicity. And it seems that people who saw the original thought it should be a good material for some “creative” works, inadvertently allowing him to realise his own aim.

For each candidate, the Public Offices Election Law restricts the official campaign broadcast to five times and three times on TV and radio respectively.

The dismantling work of the ancient tomb of Takamatsuzuka (高松塚古墳) started today. Found in 1972, the tomb, believed to have been built in the late seventh to early eighth century, has been damaged by mould. The work commenced today is to save and restore the mural paintings inside, an official national treasure.

We, living in this 21st century, decided to dismantle it, which those who constructed it about 1300 years ago should never have imagined to happen. Even though the work is to save it, I wonder if it is not a disrespectful intrusion to the restful life of the person who was buried in it. Scholars disagree over whose tomb it is.

Balloon Moon and Absurd Checkpoint Conversation

Tonight’s moon… unusually large and rather yellowish. Low-lying and it looks like an advertising balloon.

Third trip to JB since the end of the CNY holiday. A short conversation with an immigration official on the Singapore side was absurd because I presume that all people working at the checkpoint are somehow suspicious of me.

“How many days you stay in Singapore?”
(Hmmm? Until I found a job and also thereafter. Or is he asking me how many days I have stayed so far?)
“I’m seeking a position… A job.”
“Yeah? Then how many days?”
(Maximum 14 days, right? Or is he giving me more days if I ask for it, as it has happened once before?)
“14 days.”
He scribbles “14” on the immigration card.
“Where you stay in Japan?”
(What a question… Does he mean “Singapore”?)
“Kim Tian Place.”
“Where you stay in Japan?”
“Oh, I’m from Kyoto.”

With his hair and thin beard all white, this man was nice though.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Where is My Rose?

Intentionally, I omitted the part where Styron describes his decision of a December night, which no doubt is so arresting. But I should listen to “Alto Rhapsody” that helped bring him back to sanity. And Rose… Styron talks about an image of himself, age four and a half, “tagging through a market after my long-suffering wife; not an instant could I let out of my sight the endlessly patient soul who had become nanny, mommy, comforter, priestess, and, most important, confidante…” Here again, I see the need of a confidant or confidante. Where is my Rose?

My intention is to reread the works by Maugham and Greene again while at the same time trying to proceed to the ones I haven’t touched yet.

Styron: "Walking Wounded" and "Wraithlike Observer"

And even more by Styron.

“There is a region in the experience of pain where the certainty of alleviation often permits superhuman endurance. We learn to live with pain in varying degrees daily, or over longer periods of time, and we are more often than not mercifully free of it. When we endure severe discomfort of a physical nature our conditioning has taught us since childhood to make accommodations to the pain’s demands – to accept it, whether pluckily or whimpering and complaining, according to our personal degree of stoicism, but in any case to accept it… In depression this faith in deliverance, in ultimate restoration, is absent. The pain is unrelenting, and what makes the condition intolerable is the foreknowledge that no remedy will come – not in a day, an hour, a month, or a minute. If there is mild relief, one knows that it is only temporary; more pain will follow. It is hopelessness even more than pain that crushes the soul. So the decision-making of daily life involves… moving from pain to pain. One does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes. And this results in a striking experience – one which I have called, borrowing military terminology, the situation of the walking wounded. For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devastation would be lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems… However, the sufferer of depression has no such option and therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must… even smile.” (pp. 61-63)

“A phenomenon that a number of people have noted while in deep depression is the sense of being accompanied by a second self – a wraithlike observer who, not sharing the dementia of his double, is able to watch with dispassionate curiosity as his companion struggle against the oncoming disaster, or decides to embrace it…” (p. 64)

“I’m convinced I should have been in the hospital weeks before. For, in fact, the hospital was my salvation, and it is something of a paradox that in this austere place… I found the repose, the assuagement of the tempest in my brain, that I was unable to find in my quiet farmhouse. This is partly the result of sequestration, of safety, of being removed to a world in which the urge to pick up a knife and plunge it into one’s own breast disappears… But the hospital also offers the mild, oddly gratifying trauma of sudden stabilization – a transfer out of the too familiar surroundings of home, where all is anxiety and discord, into an orderly and benign detention where one’s only duty is to try to get well. For me the real healers were seclusion and time.” (pp. 68-69)

“… In the hospital I partook what may be depression’s only grudging favour – its ultimate capitulation. Even those for whom any kind of therapy is a futile exercise can look forward to the eventual passing of the storm. If they survive the storm itself, its fury almost always fades and then disappears. Mysterious in its coming, mysterious in its going, the affliction runs its course, and one finds peace.” (p. 73)

“… There is a Sisyphean torment in the fact that a great number – as many as half – of those who are devastated once will be struck again; depression has the habit of recurrence. But most victims live through even these relapses, often coping better because they have become psychologically tuned by past experience to deal with the ogre. It is of great importance that those who are suffering a siege, perhaps for the first time, be told – be convinced, rather – that the illness will run its course and that they will pull through… [It] has been shown over and over again that if the encouragement is dogged enough – and the support equally committed and passionate – the endangered one can nearly always saved. Most people in the grip of depression at its ghastliest are, for whatever reason, in a state of unrealistic hopelessness… It may require on the part of friends, lovers, family, admirers, an almost religious devotion to persuade the sufferers of life’s worth, which is so often in conflict with a sense of their worthlessness, but such devotion has prevented countless suicides.” (pp. 75-76)

Styron cites a Dante;
In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
For I had lost the right path.
And so we came forth, and once again beheld the stars.

I have my own wraithlike observer who hovers over me all the time…

I have been trying to explain my condition sincerely to people who I BELIEVE are willing to listen. But I’m increasingly feeling that was a mistake. Because of what this illness WRONGLY implies to laymen about the personality of sufferers and my fear towards their lack of understanding and prejudice, and also because of my own embarrassment, my behaviour may be giving them an impression that depression is something they can safely joke about. Again, out of embarrassment, I timidly accept hurtful jokes with a forced laugh. It may be one of those rare times when the violent nature of depressives turns outwards.

Styron: "There Should be No More Reproof Than to the Terminal Cancer Victims"

More by Styron. After telling the tales of Abbie Hoffman, Randall Jarrell, a poet, and Italian writer and Auschwitz survivor, Primo Levi;

“… [The] pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne. The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain. Through the healing process of time – and through medical intervention or hospitalization in many cases – most people survive depression, which may be its only blessing; but to the tragic legion who are compelled to destroy themselves there should be no more reproof attached than to the victims of terminal cancer.” (p. 33)

“When I was first aware that I had been laid low by the disease, I felt a need, among other things, to register a strong protest against the word ‘depression.’ Depression, most people know, used to be termed ‘melancholia,’ a word which appears in English as early as the year 1303… ‘Melancholia’ would still appear to be a far more apt and evocative word for the blackest form of the disorder, but it was usurped by a noun with a bland tonality and lacking any magisterial presence, used indifferently to describe an economic decline or a rut in the ground, a true wimp of a word for such a major illness… [For] over seventy-five years the word has slithered innocuously through the language like a slug, leaving little trace of its intrinsic malevolence and preventing, by its very insipidity, a general awareness of the horrible intensity of the disease when out of control.” (pp. 36-37)

“… [With] their minds turned agonizingly inward, people with depression are usually dangerous only to themselves. The madness of depression is, generally speaking, the antithesis of violence. It is a storm indeed, but a storm of murk. Soon evident are the slowed-down responses, near paralysis, psychic energy throttled back close to zero. Ultimately, the body is affected and feels sapped, drained.” (p. 47)

“… [Until] that day when a swiftly acting agent is developed, one’s faith in a pharmacological cure for depression must remain provisional. The failure of these pills to act positively and quickly – a defect which is now the general case – is somewhat analogous to the failure of nearly all drugs to stem massive bacterial infections in the years before antibiotics became a specific remedy. And it can be just as dangerous.” (p. 55)

I myself remember the first days when I started showing the symptoms of depression though, perhaps like many sufferers, I didn’t know what was happening to me. It was an early fall of 1992, in Albany, NY, dark and already cold. I would lie in bed for hours and hours. One day I heard a student from Puerto Rico, finding me in bed in the afternoon, say to my roommate, “Is he sick?”

Attending classes was no longer possible. Everyday, I would manage to get out of bed very late night after the dorm became quiet and go down to the lobby. There alone on a sofa, I was reading. When the hour came when the cafeteria opened, I was one of the first students in line. Omelette with American cheese. Those working at the cafeteria must have thought I was a hard-studying early bird.

I spent Christmas and New Year holidays alone in the now almost empty dorm. I took a walk to downtown not to join the celebrating crowd but being alone was simply unbearable. I believed that watching people and sharing a bit of their joy would ease the pain.

Come 1993, my girlfriend joined me in Albany. I was already nobody in school, and by then all energy I am sure I had had before leaving home was nowhere to be seen. I was in deep disappointment with myself and also in denial. There is now no doubt that I was in a serious bout of depression. Looking at me slumbering in bed for many hours, she understandably complained. One night, listening to music with a CD Walkman in the hotel room we were staying at, I started crying uncontrollably. My thought was that all my preparation, financial or otherwise, of the past five years was being wasted. No academic achievement and the only choice I could think of was go home however painful the decision might be. It was a somewhat similar feeling I have been having these days.

I don’t recall whether someone suggested that I do so. But I went to see an advisor for international students. I told him that I had decided to return to Japan. He asked if I was comfortable with my decision. I answered “No.” He then asked if I had family support. To which I replied, “If I had support from my family, I wouldn’t be here.” I packed my stuff and got myself ready to fly back…

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Styron: "So Alien to Everyday Experience"

I have all but given up the thought that I should sleep in a reasonable pattern. Whatever effect Epilim still has on me, I just try to devote myself to reading in bed. In a few hours, sleep may or may not come. Last night, I started William Styron’s “Darkness Visible.” I simply couldn’t wait, though I have yet to finish “Power and Interdependence” and “Between Peace and War.”

“[Failure] of alleviation is one of the most distressing factors of the disorder as it reveals itself to the victim, and one that helps situate it squarely in the category of grave diseases.” (p. 10)

“As a clinician in the field told me honestly and, I think, with a striking deftness of analogy: ‘If you compare our knowledge [of depression] with Columbus’s discovery of America, America is yet unknown; we are still down on that little island in the Bahamas.’” (p. 11)

“That the word ‘indescribable’ should present itself is not fortuitous, since it has to be emphasized that if the pain were readily describable most of the countless sufferers from this ancient affliction would have been able to confidently depict for their friends and loved ones (even their physicians) some of the actual dimensions of their torment, and perhaps elicit a comprehension that has been generally lacking; such incomprehension has usually been due not to a failure of sympathy but to the basic inability of healthy people to imagine a form of torment so alien to everyday experience… William James [a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910)], who battled depression for many years, gave up the search for an adequate portrayal, implying its near-impossibility when he wrote in The Varieties of Religious Experience: ‘It is a positive and active anguish, a sort of psychical neuralgia wholly unknown to normal life.’” (pp. 16-17)

“The pain persisted during my museum tour and reached a crescendo in the next few hours when, back at the hotel, I fell onto the bed and lay gazing at the ceiling, nearly immobilized and in a trance of supreme discomfort. Rational thought was usually absent from my mind at such times, hence trance. I can think of no more apposite word for this state of being, a condition of helpless stupor in which cognition was replaced by that ‘positive and active anguish.’” (pp. 17-18)

And the story of Albert Camus. And the tragedy of the former wife of Romain Gary, Jean Seberg, an actress, in 1979 and a year later Gray himself…

Camus wrote in “The Myth of Sisyphus”: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”

Now Lebow’s “Between Peace and War” is telling me about the 1962 Sino-Indian War. According to Judith M. Brown, Nehru got totally caught off guard by the Chinese attack, despite of the forward policy. When he visited Beijing before the war broke out, Nehru pointed out to Premier Chou En Lai that some Chinese maps included Indian territories as Chinese. Chou told him that they were just old maps and they didn’t have enough time to amend them. So, my impression was the cunning Chou betrayed the trust Nehru had towards China, and Chou personally.

However, Lebow cites an important factor that contributed to the lack of preparedness on the part of India, which is that Nehru and especially Krishna Menon promoted politicisation of the military, thus surrounding themselves by sycophants. Brown does mention the obnoxious character of Menon and insufficient nature of information gathered by the Indian Embassy in Beijing. But she omits the sorry state of the Indian military.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Soft Lenses, Another Comfort Woman Suit? Nanjing Controversy and Delicate Japanese Language

I’m getting used to soft lenses just fine. Instead of moving them sideways as I was instructed at the shop, it is much easier to remove them by dragging them downwards.

The Times of the UK reported on 31 March on a possible “comfort woman” lawsuit. The following is an excerpt of the article. Whether or not the Japanese government is liable, this kind of lawsuit has no chance to succeed due to the postwar compensation agreement between Japan and the PRC.

Nanking victim ready to sue Japan
Jane Macartney in Nanjing

[Lei Guiying, a 79-year-old peasant] … was barely 13 when she was raped by a Japanese soldier and, for the next two years, forced to work in a Japanese-run brothel on the edge of the southern city of Nanjing. In her first interview with a foreign newspaper, Ms Lei says that she is ready, if the Chinese authorities will support her, to file a case against the Japanese Government for its wartime abuses. She knows nothing of a private fund created in 1995 by the Japanese Government that provided a way to support former sex slaves without offering official compensation and which expires today. But she… [demands] formal government compensation and an apology approved by the Japanese parliament.

[Having become] an orphan, [she roamed] the streets with her brother to scavenge for food. When the Japanese took her city in the infamous Rape of Nanking… in late 1937, she was 9. She remembers how young women dug tunnels to hide from the invaders and how she begged for food at a “comfort house” run by a Japanese businessman.

On one side of the street was a military brothel with Japanese women. She found a home opposite with the businessman, working as a nursemaid to his toddler son. One day three Japanese soldiers came and dragged her away. They bayoneted her in the leg and head. She still limps.

“Even before my wounds were healed, they raped me. Then they made me serve ‘clients’ for two years.”…

Ms Lei retains from that time a jar of potassium permanganate…

Su Zhiliang, a historian at Shanghai Normal University, says that the jar is important evidence. Since the 1949 Communist takeover, the chemical has been available only as a fine crystal, while Ms Lei has a jar filled with chunks. He said: “We know that the women in Japanese brothels used this as a disinfectant.”…

(And the article listed how Japanese troops allegedly acted in Nanjing.)
- 300,000 killed by Japanese troops in Nanking, many of them women and children
- 1/3 of the city’s population died
- 20,000+ women raped. Japanese historians dispute these figures
Source: Princeton University, China Daily

This historian says “the jar is important evidence.” Evidence of what? The existence of a “comfort house”? The Japanese government has long admitted there were comfort houses. Nothing new.

And the number of those who were killed (300,000 according to the PRC government and also cited above) has been controversial. “” in an article of December 2003, “Data Challenges Japanese Theory on Nanjing Population Size,” tried to refute the assertion of Japanese historians.

… In recent years, right-wing Japanese scholars wrote many articles denying the fact, asserting that before the Japanese invasion there were only 200,000 citizens in Nanjing.

Zhang Lianhong, professor of Nanjing Massacre Research Center in Nanjing Normal University, published an article in Beijing Daily, in which he [showed] that the population of Nanjing urban area was between 367,000 and 467,000, and the overall Nanjing population was between 535,000 and 635,000.

[Right-wing] Japanese scholars… maintain that only 200,000 citizens lived there before Nanjing was occupied by Japan in World War II, concluding therefore that it was impossible for the Japanese army to have killed 300,000 Nanjing citizens, and that the "Nanjing Massacre" never happened.

According to Zhang Lianhong, after the Kuomintang government set up its capital in Nanjing in 1927, the geographic boundary of Nanjing changed a lot. In 1927, Nanjing only included the urban area. In March 1935, 21 townships formerly under the jurisdiction of Jiangning County were merged into Nanjing, so Nanjing extended its boundary. Later, the number of Nanjing citizens increased a lot, reaching 1.015 million by June 1937.

After the August 13, 1937,… Japanese aggressor troops launched a large-scale offensive against Shanghai… [And many] Nanjing citizens moved to other cities for security… At the beginning of November 1937, more than 547,000 citizens still lived in Nanjing. A Japanese military spy report revealed that more than 530,000 citizens lived in Nanjing in late October of 1937.

After the Japanese army occupied Shanghai,… traffic facilities were not enough to take all citizens who wanted to move to other cities from Nanjing… and many Nanjing citizens could not afford to leave. On November 23, 2003, the Nanjing government announced that more than 500,000 citizens stayed in Nanjing.

In early December 1937, Tang Shengzhi, commander of the Nanjing defense army, closed all the gates of Nanjing and blocked off travel to other cities, so it became impossible for Nanjing citizens to leave after December 1937. In this period, some people moved to the city from rural areas, but this movement did not change the overall population number of Nanjing.

After the August 13 Incident of 1937, many refugees came to Nanjing, many of whom want to go further to hinterland. However, due to limited transport facilities, most refugees were not able to leave Nanjing before the city was occupied. There was no exact number of the refugees flooding to Nanjing per day, but if it was assumed as 1,000, the number of people contained in Nanjing was 30,000.

No exact statistical data shows how many Chinese soldiers stayed in Nanjing after the Japanese army occupied it, but it is estimated that more than 116,919 Chinese soldiers and officers participated in the war defending Nanjing and more than 47,382 soldiers were reported lost, of whom less than 10,000 died during the war. Therefore, at least 37,000 Chinese soldiers stayed in Nanjing City after the Japanese army occupied it.

[Before] the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, the following people stayed in Nanjing: original Nanjing citizens (300,000 to 400,000); refugees (more than 30,000); and Chinese soldiers and officers (more than 37,000). Therefore, 367,000 to 467,000 people stayed in Nanjing urban area before occupation. Plus the rural population of 168,000, the overall Nanjing population should number between 535,000 and 635,000.

Some Japanese scholars ignore the fact that the Nanjing population included both the city population and rural population… [The] massacre happened in both city and country areas.

( by Wang Sining and Daragh Moller, December 28, 2003)

What are “right-wing” Japanese scholars saying to this claim? I do not know.

“Wikipedia” has the following sentence in the entry of “Nanking Massacre”: “In Japan, however, public opinion over the severity of the massacre remains widely divided - this is evidenced by the fact that whereas some Japanese commentators refer to it as the 'Nanking massacre' (南京大虐殺, Nankin daigyakusatsu), others use the more ambivalent 'Nanking incident' (南京事件, Nankin jiken).” “The Economist” also said the same thing in a last year’s issue. This is off the point and totally ridiculous! The humble Japanese people, whose mother tongue is famous for its delicate usage, call “Tiananmen Massacre” “Tiananmen Incident.” “Massacre” is a very strong word thus not to be used so freely. Do the mainland-Chinese call this “incident” of 1989 a “massacre”? I don’t think so.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Poli-Sci and Psychology, Miyazawa-Kono Accountability Issue, Letters as a Visual Design and Online Dictionary

To analyse processes of political decision-making, it is certainly important, even indispensable, to learn the state of mind of decision-makers or actors. Lebow, citing Robert Jervis, Irving Janis and Leon Mann, devotes pages for cognitive elements of decision-making. He mentions psychological conditions of those who struggle to make decisions under stress and their implication for the flow of decision-making.

Even though neuroscience and psychiatry have shown great leaps of understanding in recent years, they are still far from fully explaining human mentality. Therefore, it should be nearly impossible for political scientists to reach a definitive conclusion.

To me, poli-sci books are hard to read, not only because of complicated analytical and theoretical logics but also because of my ambivalent feeling towards an undertaking of political scientists to apply dry and cold analyses to essentially human behaviour.

While called “science,” this discipline, like economics, appears to me an attempt to create theories that will fit into past examples, not to produce tools to predict actors’ behaviours.

But while reading the Lebow book, my mind wandered into the decision-making process that had made Prime Minister Miyazawa decide to issue the “Kono Statement.” Did he consider what implications, immediate and long-term, such a statement might have? Did he determine that the research of the matter was carried out in a convincing way to endorse the statement? Here, I read what the then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Ishihara Nobuo, had to say in the interview with a Sankei reporter.

Ishihara contends, “That statement contains the risk that we might have to admit the claim by those who started law suits that every case was by coercion. And we resigned to such a prospect.” Was it a political decision by Prime Minister Miyazawa? “Even though it was a statement issued by the chief cabinet secretary (Kono), it was done with the will of the prime minister. The responsibility is with the Miyazawa administration. Of course.” Ishihara makes it clear that the government did not anticipate at all that the statement would lead to compensation demands to it. It was improbable then that the Korean government would insist on such demands. He understands, “Once such a statement was issued, it creates a risk that it may be abused.”

As far as I know, Miyazawa has been keeping mum and Kono is defending himself without elaborating the process of the research and the fateful decision. Did they consider enough about possible ramifications that the statement might cause? Is there not an accountability issue here?

I like to look at beautiful handwriting, including calligraphy. This fascination, at least partly, stems from my reading habit. Reading a book printed in a fine font set is an enchanting experience. It doubles and trebles the joy of reading. I still remember the excitement that I felt when I pressed the keys of an NEC 98 computer in the office to write a simple letter and printed it for the first time. It was a primitive printout with insufficient dots. However, I felt like I created a book.

Soon after that, I started learning ten-finger typing, which somehow I really enjoyed and only enhanced my interest in letters. The shape and form of each letter is a type of visual design and important to me, and, by extension, delight to even only look at each word, each phrase, each sentence, each paragraph and each book deepened.

This delight is not limited to printed letters, of course. When I come across a beautifully written signature for example, I am envious of anyone who keeps such a nice signature to himself, especially when it is produced with a fountain pen or calligraphy brush. The width of a fountain-pen tip is a factor that cannot be ignored. It should be finely balanced, not too sharp and not too wide.

When I was in my 20s, I would carry a paperback Random House with me. Whenever a word whose meaning I was not sure of came up, I would take out it from my bag and check the word. I also would look at other words in the same page and preceding or following page, building up my vocabulary. In a sense, I was reading a dictionary. This is something that one cannot do with an online dictionary.

I happened to see a friend today and exchanged a few words with her. She looked fine. It was my first time in many days to talk to any friend in person.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Who is Norimitsu Onishi?

Two pieces from the New York Times (excerpts), both of which were written by Norimitsu Onishi, a familiar name to me by now, whoever he is.

In Japan, a Historian Stands by Proof of Wartime Sex Slavery
Published: March 31, 2007

TOKYO — IT was about 15 years ago, recalled Yoshiaki Yoshimi…, a [Chuo University] historian, when he grew fed up with the Japanese government’s denials that the military had set up and run brothels throughout Asia during World War II.

… Mr. Yoshimi went to the Defense Agency’s library… In just two days, he found a rare trove that uncovered the military’s direct role in managing the brothels, including documents that carried the personal seals of high-ranking Imperial Army officers.

Faced with this smoking gun, a red-faced Japanese government immediately dropped its long-standing claim that only private businessmen had operated the brothels. A year later, in 1993, it acknowledged in a statement that the Japanese state itself had been responsible…

“Back then, I was optimistic that this would effectively settle the issue,” Mr. Yoshimi said. “But there was a fierce backlash.”

The backlash came from young nationalist politicians led by Shinzo Abe…

... Until Mr. Yoshimi came along 15 years ago, the government had always maintained that there were no official documents to prove the military’s role in establishing the brothels. Mr. Abe was now saying there were no official documents to prove that the military forcibly procured the women — thereby discounting other evidence, including the testimony of former sex slaves.

The emphasis on official documents, according to Mr. Yoshimi and other historians, has long been part of the government’s strategy to control wartime history. In the two weeks between Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, and the arrival of American occupation forces, wartime leaders fearing postwar trials incinerated so many potentially incriminating documents… Even today, Japan refuses to release documents that historians believe have survived and would shed light on Japan’s wartime history.

… [He] is not optimistic about unearthing documents about the military’s abduction of women.

“There are things that are never written in official documents,” he said. “That they were forcibly recruited — that’s the kind of thing that would have never been written in the first place.”

Mr. Yoshimi copied the document but did not publicize his finding. At the time, no former sex slave had gone public about her experiences, and awareness of wartime sex crimes against women was low.

But in late 1991, former sex slaves in South Korea became the first to break their silence. When the Japanese government responded with denials, Mr. Yoshimi went back to the Defense Agency.

Of the half-dozen documents he discovered, the most damning was a notice written on March 4, 1938, by the adjutant to the chiefs of staff of the North China Area Army and Central China Expeditionary Force. Titled “Concerning the Recruitment of Women for Military Comfort Stations,” the notice said that “armies in the field will control the recruiting of women,” and that “this task will be performed in close cooperation with the military police or local police force of the area.”

In another document from July 1938, Naosaburo Okabe, chief of staff of the North China Area Army, wrote that rapes of local women by Japanese soldiers had deepened anti-Japanese sentiments and that setting up “facilities for sexual comfort as quickly as possible is of great importance.” Yet another, an April 1939 report by the headquarters of the 21st Army in Guangzhou, China, noted that the 21st Army directly supervised 850 women.

DESPITE the government’s efforts to hide the past, Mr. Yoshimi succeeded in painting a detailed picture of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery: a system of military-run brothels that emerged in 1932 after Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, then grew with full-scale war against China in 1937 and expanded into most of Asia in the 1940s.

Between 50,000 and 200,000 women from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere were tricked or coerced into sexual slavery, Mr. Yoshimi said… Unlike other militaries that have used wartime brothels, the Japanese military was the “main actor,” Mr. Yoshimi said. “The Japanese military itself newly built this system, took the initiative to create this system, maintained it and expanded it, and violated human rights as a result,” he said. “That’s a critical difference.”

We are still in the dark. For example, what were the relations between the army and the “agents”? It is not hard to imagine that there were Korean agents who were currying favour of Japanese officers and with this close relationship making money. Yoshimi says the number of women totalled 50,000 to 200,000. The government actually met only 16 (!) to prepare the “Kono Statement.” Only from this small number, what sort of generalization can even be surmised? It seems to me that the hastily-prepared statement restricted the scope of action the Japanese government can take and confounded the situation.

Let’s assume that the Japanese military was systematically, to whatever extent, involved in establishing brothels. Then, one important point arises. The military wanted to prevent raping of local women by soldiers and the spread of STD among them and maintain a sufficient hygiene level. Russian soldiers’ barbaric acts against German women and fellow Russian women are well-known because there was no system to control it. And it is also known how Korean soldiers’ behaved during Vietnam War.

From “コリアン世界の旅 (The Journey of the Korean World)” by Nomura Susumu (野村進);

In Lac An Village of Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, southern Vietnam, a motorbike taxi driver shows to the author a scar left by a bullet that went through his body in an indiscriminate attack by Korean soldiers, in which his parents and three small sisters died. He was also hit in his right upper arm, armpit and a thigh. Another man says, “Koreans were a horrifying bunch. They sliced off ears and noses from dead bodies. Some were beheaded.”

The author met a former Korean soldier in Ho Chi Minh City. He recalls, “When hit by a bullet, Viet Con men would totter only five meters and collapse. But women were different. They would fall down after running about 30 meters to escape. We were surprised (by their strength). Women were able to endure through torture too. We caught a Viet Con nurse corps officer, a beauty, and hung her from a tree. Even when hit by an iron bar or whatever, she kept her mouth shut. She died, keeping her silence.”

The former soldier also tells a story of burning down a whole village of 16-17 houses. His unit was defending the village, not knowing that villagers were informing the movements of the Korean Army to Viet Cons. Furious, Koreans set fire to the houses and shot all, including women and children. Is the story of “ear-slicing’ true? “We did so to show how many enemies we had killed. There was no other body part to slice…” Hideyoshi, a la Korean! I’m very much interested to know how Korean text books are describing what their soldiers did in Vietnam.

The US House resolution, expected to be voted on after Abe’s visit to the US, appears influenced by a strong Chinese lobby and what is ironic is its original sponsor is Representative Honda, a Japanese-American.
Japan’s Textbooks Reflect Revised History
Published: April 1, 2007

TOKYO, March 31 — In another sign that Japan is pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II, new high school textbooks will no longer acknowledge that the Imperial Army was responsible for a major atrocity in Okinawa, the government announced late Friday.

… [The] fresh denial of the military’s responsibility in the Battle of Okinawa and in sexual slavery — long accepted as historical facts — is likely to deepen suspicions in Asia that Tokyo is trying to whitewash its militarist past...

During the 1945 battle, during which one quarter of the civilian population was killed, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa’s defense and safety. Japanese soldiers used civilians as shields against the Americans, and persuaded locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. With the impending victory of American troops, civilians committed mass suicide, urged on by fanatical Japanese soldiers.

“There were some people who were forced to commit suicide by the Japanese Army,” one old textbook explained. But in the revision ordered by the ministry, it now reads, “There were some people who were driven to mass suicide.”

Other changes are similar — the change to a passive verb, the disappearance of a subject — and combine to erase the responsibility of the Japanese military. In explaining its policy change, the ministry said that it “is not clear that the Japanese Army coerced or ordered the mass suicides.”

Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former prime minister…, recently denied what he wrote in 1978. In a memoir about his Imperial Navy experiences in Indonesia, titled “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23,” he wrote that some of his men “started attacking local women or became addicted to gambling. “For them, I went to great pains, and had a comfort station built,” Mr. Nakasone wrote, using the euphemism for a military brothel.

But in a meeting with foreign journalists a week ago, Mr. Nakasone, now 88, issued a flat denial. He said he had actually set up a “recreation center,” where his men played Japanese board games like go and shogi.

Clearly, the phrases like, “pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II,” “long accepted as historical facts” and “trying to whitewash its militarist past” are setting a negative, even hostile, tone of the article. Controversy is still very much alive precisely because they are not “long accepted as historical facts.”

How many of the one-quarter of the population killed, including human-shield civilians, did the US forces murder? Surely, not all of them committed suicide by the order of the Imperial Army.

Why did Onishi not mention the law suit started by the younger brother of Imperial Army Captain, Akamatsu Yoshitsugu and others against a publisher (Iwanami Shoten) and author (Oe Kenzaburo) who asserted there were “orders” by the army to civilians to commit suicide? Did he not read the book by Sono Ayako? Is he not aware of a recent testimony by a former Ryukyu government official, Teruya Nobuo, on mass suicide that took place in Tokashiki island (reported by Sankei in August last year) that his government produced documents, which claimed the Army had ordered suicide, to ensure that civilians would receive postwar compensation, to which only soldiers and their families are entitled, and that there were no civilians who were ordered to take their lives? According to the Sankei report, this official asked Captain, Akamatsu, who was stationed in the island, to approve the documents and the captain agreed. Teruya says, “I have been telling this lie. But I think it is time the truth was told. Every time Captain Akamatsu was criticized, it was heart rendering.”

I searched for the 1978 book by Nakasone on the web but couldn’t find it. It must be an interesting read.

Lebow’s “Between Peace and War” is so much easier to read than “Power and Interdependence.” He himself gives me the reason. In the preface, he wrote, trying to bridge two discipline, political science and history, “On more than one occasion… my [poli-sci] professor [suggested] that I transfer into history program where he was sure I would feel more at home.” And, “In an icy voice, my [German history] professor suggested that I return to the political science department where it was apparent I belonged.” “Between Peace and War” is a hot drama, backed by dry theories.

Writing and reading makes me forget time and all the problems I’m facing though they do not go away…