Voices | COMMUNITY CHEST

Letters: Snowden and the sheeple; 'U.S. Marines culture' was once like Japan's

A couple of readers’ responses to recent Community Page articles:

Snowden and the ‘sheeple’

Re: “Who’s watching whom? It’s a state secret” by Ian Munroe (The Foreign Element, June 16):

One hundred years from now Edward Snowden will be looked upon as a great hero, a man who tried to warn us of the inherent dangers of massive unrestricted government surveillance. The sheeple in Japan and America just yawned and went back to sleep, feeling confident that if their governments were conducting mass surveillance, it must be for the good of the people.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s ultimately about control, intimidation and political power. Dictators of the past — monsters like Josef Stalin, Hideki Tojo and Adolf Hitler — would have given their left nut to have such sweeping powers of surveillance.

IBM, the U.S. computer company, famously assisted Hitler’s SS goons in their efforts to track down the addresses of every Jewish family in Europe, just for the record, back in the late 1930s. The rest, as they say, is history.

Japan has always kept careful track of all gaijin [foreigners] living legally in Japan. Illegals have always tried to slip away unnoticed and live off the radar — now with the new registration laws, illegal aliens in Japan will be much more easily tracked. Hell, with surveillance cameras all over every major city and town, everyone will be kept under surveillance. Supercomputers can easily store billions of bits of data that record the movements of every citizen in Japan.

This was George Orwell’s worst nightmare and it’s become a reality. Welcome to a Brave New World. Japan’s mass surveillance program, assisted by the nice people from the NSA (the b———s), is probably one of the most comprehensive, most sweeping systems of police spying in the world.

Since at least the Edo Period [1603-1868], Japanese leaders have always had a love affair with all kinds of spy networks. World War II militarists even setup the infamous neighborhood watch programs encouraging patriotic-minded Japanese to spy on their neighbors and report back to the Thought Police. President George W. Bush suggested the same sort of action in U.S. society after 9/11.

Goons like [Prime Minister] Shinzo Abe love the powers of surveillance that modern technology has afforded them. He doesn’t give a dirty geriatric diaper about the privacy of ordinary citizens. If Japan’s government is spying on Muslims today, it’s obvious that it can just as easily spy on any other group or organization that it sees as a threat, including opposition political parties.

The Liberal Democratic Party is the government of Japan — with the blessing of the USA. Democracy in Japan? What a joke.

ROBERT MCKINNEY
Otaru, Hokkaido

‘Marines culture’ once like Japan’s

Re: “Marines’ Okinawa briefing links crimes to ‘gajin power’ ” by Jon Mitchell (The Foreign Element, May 26):

I appreciated Jon Mitchell’s article in The Japan Times, which points out the wrong-headed thinking on the part of American military leadership.

I served on Yokota Air Base [in western Tokyo] for approximately seven years. While I never had any issues with the law in Japan, it always pained me to see others causing trouble. It was deeply embarrassing to be known to be in the military, knowing that most of what we were doing was good for both Japan and the U.S., but then to see cases like this happen.

I recall that a young girl was raped in Okinawa, and that was really serious too. Japanese don’t really care if it’s a marine, air force or navy service member who commits a crime. They just know that it’s an American. I think we in America have become far too desensitized to crimes.

What the Japanese probably don’t realize is that In American culture, we tend to punish and blame the individual for their own crimes, but in Japanese culture, I’m sure the people feel that the officers of the military should be taking a firmer stance and setting the example and that the group should be punished. In an ironic way, Japanese culture is similar to what was once “U.S. Marine culture.”

When I first arrived on Yokota Air Base, I was given a proper orientation and was told that all service members are to be ambassadors for their country and that we were to be on our best behavior.

I took that to heart because happy citizens means happy allies. Americans must understand that Japan and in fact all countries in the world have their own constituencies. When these events occur, it not only harms the victims and their families but also our alliances and causes distress for service members who are sometimes made to feel badly, even if they had nothing to do with it.

In any case, thank you for the article. It makes me wish I had become a journalist.

JOHN MCSHEA
Fairfax, Virginia

Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp