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Abe’s global contradictions

by

Special To The Japan Times

In his new year resolutions, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised that Japan would play a greater role as a mover and shaper of global affairs. This is good; but if Japan is to be a successful player on the world stage, it needs vigorously and rigorously to rethink exactly how and where it should put its energies and money. One basic problem is the glaring contradiction between Japan’s global aspirations and Abe’s own narrow view of the world.

Successive Japanese governments, including the current one, have fallen asleep in protecting the interests of the Japanese people, in small things and in large.

Where is the Japanese voice at big international gatherings, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and ministerial gatherings of global bodies, especially the Group of Seven? Abe has helped to raise the country’s profile by his tireless traveling to meet other world leaders and promote Japan. But he is a one-man band.

At the IMF and World Bank, where Japan remains the second-biggest contributor after the United States, Japan fails to make its voice heard. The main players are U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble, the United Kingdom’s George Osborne, publicly, and China behind the scenes. Finance Minister Taro Aso has the additional clout of being deputy prime minister and former prime minister, but he rarely has anything to say except through the tame Japanese press.

At the IMF-World Bank spring meetings last year, Japan hosted an important meeting on health care. Aso was the guest of honor. He turned up late after the main presentations, sat for a couple of minutes, read a short speech in faltering English and swept out with his entourage; for a putative global power, this was a shabby performance.

Years ago, a senior Japanese official in Washington told me: “We sit at meetings; we are silent; sometimes we sleep.” The same Japanese behavior happened in Paris at the landmark climate change summit. The U.S., China, the host France, the European Union, even the pope, were influential. Japan was silent on the sidelines, proving that Abe’s global promises are bold but empty.

Japan’s claims that it extends its global influence by giving aid. But in terms of national income, Japan’s aid has slumped almost to the dismal levels of the U.S. On his international trips Abe has frequently performed as a super-salesman, promoting high-speed railways to Narendra Modi’s home state, trying to sell submarines to Australia.

He is following other world leaders: Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande and David Cameron vie for deals in China; Xi Jinping visits the U.S. and U.K. talking high-tech and nuclear plants and maybe a Chinese stake in the Manchester City soccer team.

Such salesmanship is very different from Japan graduating to be a global player with contributions that could influence the way that the world works for the better. The recent plea of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga for Middle East countries to resolve their escalating tensions through dialogue offered a lesson in Japan’s naivety. Why should anyone listen? What has Japan to bring to the party in ideas or experience that years of nonstop dialogue by the U.S. and EU have failed to achieve?

Supporters of Abe’s determination to change the Constitution urge him on, to make Japan “normal” again, and prove that the country will again be a power in its own right able to influence world events. The ultimate logic of Japan standing proudly on its own feet is that it takes complete responsibility for its defense. If Abe wants to throw off the shackles of a U.S.-imposed Constitution, his next step would be to get rid of the U.S. defense umbrella and shake off any form of U.S. colonialism. It might come to this if a Republican like Donald Trump becomes president: he has said that Japan should pay for U.S. defense assistance.

Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute has suggested that Washington should present Japan with an annual bill of $184 billion for defense help. Adding the $46 billion that Japan spends on defense, total defense spending would soar to $230 billion, billions more than China ($216 billion in 2014 according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or $129 billion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies). It would push Japan’s defense spending to 5 percent of gross domestic product, more than twice what other industrialized countries spend.

Is this affordable and, more important, is this the way forward for Japan, or is it a way disastrously back?

Japan should urgently examine its culture and traditions and its place in the world, in history, today and tomorrow. It has an immensely rich culture that is the envy of the rest of the world; no need to embellish it with fakes like whaling and slaughter of dolphins that deliberately antagonize the rest of the world and diminish Japan.

A difficult historical part includes the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan’s militarism. My fear is that Abe is taking Japan backward, a new Constitution of Abe’s making, not a carefully considered supreme document, which is what a Constitution should be, a nationalistic agenda, arms spending, arms making and selling.

Abe and other leaders should remember the words of Dwight Eisenhower, five-star general and supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe that defeated Hitler, after he became the U.S. president: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. … We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat.”

Admittedly, the rest of the world is doing it, especially China, offering an object lesson in how to bully its way against a world that huffs and puffs but won’t do anything to stop Beijing building islands and airstrips expanding its empire in the South China Sea. China can get away with it because it is a clever rising nationalistic dictatorship facing other nationalistic countries that lack the clout or imagination or guts to challenge it.

The way to fight nationalism is not with nationalism, but with internationalism that understand we are all, whether Japanese, or Chinese, or African, or American, or Arab, or Asian, or European, temporary dwellers on a fragile Earth, whose lives interact and effect each other. Nationalism led to disasters in previous centuries, to widespread misery in the 20th century, and today, with all the military firepower, could bring catastrophe to the Earth and destroy all of us. What are needed now are new rules, new ideas, imagination, inspiration and innovation to achieve a truly global world.

Problems needing urgent solution include care of the environment, curbing greenhouse gases, making sure that there is enough water and food for all, coping with growing inequality and the concentration of wealth and power in a small number of powerful hands.

Japan has many good things to share, including healthy cuisine and lifestyles that lead to long lives, advanced technology making lives easier. Politically, Japan is unique in being both the perpetrator and victim of some of the worst war crimes. The “no war” Constitution won respect because it was an attempt to create a new world.

It is a pity that Abe has no children: his lifetime dream should not be to resurrect the past to vindicate his grandfather, but to strive to ensure that his grandchildren inherit a healthy Earth. True globalism means sharing with the world. What does Abe have to offer?

Kevin Rafferty is journalist, commentator and quondam professor at Osaka University.

  • Tando

    I totally agree with this comment. Especially with the argument that Japan has such a rich culture of which it can be proud of. Why are there so many people,including Abe, whose national pride is based on the darkest chapter of japanese history?

    • styrer

      Well said.

    • zer0_0zor0

      Because it was in that dark chapter that their families became prominent.

      Taro Aso’s family was connected to the “Hanbatsu”, Abe’s grandfather and many of the other founders of the LDP were to be tried as war criminals before being recruited by the CIA.

      • Tando

        In the case of the Abe clan and the likes it can even be said that they were responsible for this dark episode. What many ordinary Japanese fail to understand is the fact that the military elite, formed by the Hanbatsu, dragged Japan into the war causing incredible suffering not only to the people in neighbouring countries but also to the Japanese people themselves.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    Japan keeps trying to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, but in what arena has Japan led the world apart from animation and electronics? What truly revolutionary moves toward the betterment of life on this planet, especially for the poor and underprivileged, has Japan suggested, let alone instituted? Indeed, the renouncing of war was perhaps the one laudable achievement but that’s now been dispensed with.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        Are YOU kidding? Most democratic? You might want to pay closer attention to the way Abe rams things through the Diet without consulting the electorate of late. My comment about animation and electronics wasn’t meant to be taken entirely literally. Japan is far from the only country to have a generous healthcare system, and it was by no means the first. What can you point out that has been a unique contribution from Japan, to the world, in terms of bettering the lives of all?

      • Vladimir

        you are missing the point. You can always cherry pick, but Japan has to be understood in its entirety and through its society. Health care is not only generous but the most efficient. That is because Japanese are generally very disciplined about the medical check ups, and doctors work crazy hours, hence – uncoded social responsibility. Yes, you can try to make law that says “be nice, don’t overuse your privileges” but that is gonna work only in Japan today. As the case of USA shows, you can pour so much more money in health system but if you have so many to abuse it or take it for granted (both hospitals and patients) then you have expensive unefficient healthcare. Now, I would wish if it was that easy, to just find that one thing that Japanese do exceptionally good and copy it to any other society but it doesn’t work like that.
        About the democracy, yeah, I was surprised too, but no formal procedure was broken. On the other hand you can see how patient Abe is with turning the nukes back on, even if the high majority of Japanese support that. They are going for even wider consensus. Just pay attention how people protest here and police manage the protests, without heavy equipment, guns or even stick, in white glows, like batlers. It is unbelievable how much energy and time each level of government spend to just explain every step they are taking.
        So the answer to your question is that this society is generally so well organized, to the extent that no other society is, and that this should be taken as a lesson by the others. This country is very cheap, the taxes are low in general but the level of service and good treatment that you get from government is fantastic. I don’t expect anyone to understand easily, I intend to write a book about this in near future.
        peace

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        First you’re entirely wrong when you say “…no formal procedure was broken…” Changes to the constitution, such as Abe forced through, require BY LAW the approval of the majority of the diet and the electorate. This was not done, no vote was enacted, the changes are therefore, constitutionally illegal.
        As for “…turning the nukes back on, even if the high majority of Japanese support that…” I don’t know where you’re getting your information from as every poll I’ve seen says the majority of the population are firmly AGAINST turning the reactors back on.
        Then you talk about the government taking the time to explain, that’s one of people’s biggest complaints about the changes to the constitution…they WEREN’T explained to their satisfaction. I could talk about the lies regarding TEPCO and Fukushima, but that would be a digression.
        The organisation of this society is not especially great to my mind, I get the feeling you’re just overwhelmed by the lack of casual thievery and the trains (mostly) running on time.
        “…this country is very cheap…” Really? That could easily be argued with, but maybe you’re on a fantastic salary.
        I understand perfectly well thank you, I’ve been here 17 years so I won’t be in need of your book. But, might I suggest you take off your rose-coloured glasses and do some serious research before you start writing.

      • Vladimir

        “Changes to the constitution, such as Abe forced through, require BY LAW the approval of the majority of the diet and the electorate. This was not done, no vote was enacted, the changes are therefore, constitutionally illegal.”
        This was not done because the constitution has not been changed yet. The interpretation of the Article 9 is changed, which require different procedure which was respected. Abe knows well that he needs support from opposition, cause not only that he needs majority, he needs 2/3 majority in both domes, and 2/3 votes on refferendum to finally amend the Constitution. This speaks about the democratic institutions in Japan.

        “Then you talk about the government taking the time to explain, that’s one of people’s biggest complaints about the changes to the constitution…they WEREN’T explained to their satisfaction.”

        And they are right about this. But the debate, and the legal/political fight is far from over (as explained above).

        “As for “…turning the nukes back on, even if the high majority of Japanese support that…” I don’t know where you’re getting your information from as every poll I’ve seen says the majority of the population are firmly AGAINST turning the reactors back on. ”

        I apologize, I meant that people in the regions where nuclear plants are located do aprove restarting. I don’t want to sound arrogant but most of the people protesting/opposing nuclear power are just not educated enough. Particularly about physics. Abondoning nuclear power gradually to avoid any possible risk? Perfectly OK. But turning it all off immediately because people are too affraid of learning to understading the extent of the hazzard objectivelly? That’s just stupid, no matter how many people vote it.

        “The organisation of this society is not especially great to my mind, I get the feeling you’re just overwhelmed by the lack of casual thievery and the trains (mostly) running on time.”

        This is the key – explains nicely why such a book is neccessary after all. Cause its not the lack of “casual thievery” but the obvious lack of all kinds of criminal and violence. How can you ignore this? Basic human needs are physiological needs (food, water, sex,…) and safety (Google Maslow’s piramide of human moivation). The society should guarantee this to as many people as it can under the same conditions. These are absolute priorities, not a subjective opinion! No other country is like Japan when it comes to safety. You might take this for granted, but, go ahead, take a walk in the streets of New York or San Francisco (or most of the cities in the world) and just dare to take a wrong turn – puff – you’re gone in a second. While in the US police killed almost thousand people just in this year, Japanese police did not kill anyone for five years(!). In the US 0.7% of total population is in prison(!!!!!) in Japan 15 times less. Actually, Japan is far better then any other developed country in this terms, even while Japanese police is only babysiting drunk people.
        You also might take for granted that you can enter the train and KNOW that you will get out of it alive, but it is a big deal, without any question. (Just for the records : I never emphasized the punctuality of the trains, that’s what you did, just for the sake of fabulously missing the point again).
        You might take it for granted after 17 years that public servants bow to you, apologize when they make mistake or explain everything 15 times calmly until you are satisfied completely with the explanation, but just go anywhere else in the world and tell me how it compares. How do you feel, as a human, as a citizen?
        So, I suggest back that you turn around and notice how great is the civil society that you are a part of and give it some credits.
        Peace

      • Paul Johnny Lynn

        “The interpretation was changed” is just mealy-mouthed Orwellianism for “I don’t care what the law says.” And yes it DOES speak about the democratic institutions in Japan : it speaks that they are under threat.
        The re-starting of reactors was approved by local assembly members, the local populace WASN’T consulted, and nationally people are 2 to 1 against re-starts. Perhaps the reason people feel so is because after 2011 they saw what can happen; how they will be affected, how the government and utility companies will mis-handle the situation and lie, how they might end up spending years in temporary accommodation because they can’t return to their poisoned hometowns.

        “…the obvious lack of all kinds of criminal(sic) and violence…”, sigh, I suppose you haven’t noticed the number of incidents of kidnapping and murder of children here then? I don’t deny by any means that generally speaking Japan is one of the safest countries, but, if there is NO crime and violence as you suggest, who do they have in the prisons here? Late library book returners?
        My point about the trains, has once again, been taken rather too literally by you.
        I don’t know why you would assume I require 15 explanations of anything, I can usually understand the first time I’m told thank you.
        I also have no problem noticing anything around me, I’m a very observant person. I WILL give credit where it’s due, but I will also point out what is NOT good or right. In this case I’m pointing out that you don’t seem to looking around you carefully. You speak in absolutes and generalities, and it’s obvious your opinions are coloured by an overwhelming, uncritical, unquestioning love for Japan and everything about it. Your proposed book would, I fear, be nothing but a gushing, sycophantic homage; not a useful evaluation at all.
        Finally, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you how long you’ve been here, and what do you do?

      • Vladimir

        “”…the obvious lack of all kinds of criminal(sic) and violence…”, sigh, I suppose you haven’t noticed the number of incidents of kidnapping and murder of children here then? I don’t deny by any means that generally speaking Japan is one of the safest countries, but, if there is NO crime and violence as you suggest, who do they have in the prisons here? Late library book returners?”

        First you said “lack of thievery”, then read my “lack of any KIND of criminal” as “there is NO criminal at all”. Common, man.

        BTW, 90% of crimes in Japan are thefts. So you can imagine how rare are other crimes if even you agreed that there is lack of thievery. What is amazing about this is that very little resources and physical force are being spent in maintaining such a low level of crime. That’s a genuine achievement of this and only this society.

        “My point about the trains, has once again, been taken rather too literally by you.
        I don’t know why you would assume I require 15 explanations of anything, I can usually understand the first time I’m told thank you.”

        There is a humongous difference between safety and punctuality. Like, light years separate those two. How much artistic freedom in your faulty interpretations of my points do you need?

        “You speak in absolutes and generalities,”

        Exactly. Safety and good health are precondition for all other aspects of society. I reffered to the well known and generally accepted Maslow’s classification. I didn’t make it up just now based on my personal feelings. I am just pointing out, from the very begining, that you don’t give this fact that Japan is by far safets developed country in the world the weight it deserves. It’s not only important, but the most important. For everyone in the world. You are arguing with me instead of arguing with this.

        As for generalities, there is nothing wrong with that if you base it on general data, as I did. Its not only my personal sense of safety but the comparative data about the crime and human well-being around the world. It becomes a problem when you base your generalisations on your narrow circles (restrictions of inductive reasoning).

        “it’s obvious your opinions are coloured by an overwhelming, uncritical, unquestioning love for Japan and everything about it.”

        I told you several times where that opinion comes from, so if you want to have a constructive approach you should offer something that is more important for a society than safety and health of its members. And you cannot know what I love, so its a waste of cyber space and time to discuss it (and kinda rude…).

        “my question of the betterment of life for all on this planet, and particularly the poor.”

        Safe and healthy people are not poor.

        “Finally, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you how long you’ve been here, and what do you do?”

        I don’t mind at all, but I don’t see how it can be relevant to this discussion? I’ve been here for 4 years, doing my PhD. I an here with my real name, Google me, I have nothing to hide.

      • styrer

        Utter twaddle.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

    • Vladimir

      Are you kidding? It is a single most peacefull and most democratic society on Earth. It has obscure formal regulations but little abuse of that, hence great freedoms. It’s a vary equal and fair society of ejucated people where humans are NOT wolfs to each other, where all children have same chance no matter what their background is. You cannot transfer the culture, it takes time and will from the rest of the world to understand what makes Japan so great and learn how to apply it. On the other hand, Japan is not perfect, and can learn from others and improve its society even more. Some things that Japanese generaly think that are undividable part of their great society may actually be not so, and the society may not be “spoiled” if those things were reformed, even radically. For instance, long hours at work, productivity and commitment to the company are not neccessarily in linear correlation. There could be more confrontation of ideas at meetings without breaking up the unity and common goals of group. Women could be pursuing their ambitions more freely and still have a stable family, etc. But these are all small things when you have safe and free environment in every square meter of the country, to the extent that no other country can claim.
      Maybe someone’s first association to Japan is really animation and electronics but the first think that comes to my mind is shinkansen that operates without single casualty for 50 years transporting billions of people (the first one had to literally fire up itself in the train to make history). Maybe someone think about the “healthy” food as a reason for long lifespans of Japanese, but I think of unbelievably good, generous and efficient healthcare system financed by all taxpayers solidarly.
      It is said that one has always two countries: his own and – France, but I would add there Japan and make it three.

  • styrer

    Paul John Lynn is hitting the mark, every time, despite the dubious naysayers.

    He should have added, to support his argument, which some here are unfathomably opposing, the lack of any human rights law here, Japan’s lack of anti-descrimination and anti-racism law, Japan’s insistence on 27 days (correct me I’m wrong by a day or two) unchallenged ability to lock you up, under suspicion only, without any access to a lawyer.

    Look at the crazy law that saw a victim last year of an idiot driving crazily into the opposite lane, hitting him, and having to shell out thousands to the perpetrator (a story covered here).

    Kevin Rafferty hits it on the nail every time, and Lynn is quite correct in supporting him, despite the obvious Stockholm syndrome holders of too many going against him.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I give up Vladimir, your ears are closed.