Saturday, May 18, 2013

"Comfort Women" Controversy: Mayor Hashimoto to Hold a Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan

(UPDATE) It is on. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan announcement:

P/L Toru Hashimoto Mayor of Osaka and Co-leader of The Japan Restoration Party

Summary :
PROFESSIONAL LUNCHEON Toru Hashimoto Mayor of Osaka and Co-leader of The Japan Restoration Party

Description :


Toru Hashimoto

Mayor of Osaka and Co-leader of The Japan Restoration Party

12:00-14:00 Monday, May 27, 2013

(The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation)

* Initial reservations are limited to two tickets and may be subject to further change.

Since 2008, when he became Osaka governor, Toru Hashimoto has been described, variously, as the long-awaited savior of Japanese politics, as a smart, practical, reformer representing a new generation, a populist fighting the hated Tokyo bureaucrats, a fascist dictator, and as "Japan's answer to the American Tea Party movement."

In November 2011, Hashimoto and his local party, Osaka Ishin no Kai, took control of the Osaka mayor's office, the governor's office and the Osaka prefectural government assembly. Hashimoto then went national, tying up with former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara for last year's Lower House election. Their Japan Restoration Party won 54 seats, making it the third largest party in that chamber.

In recent months, however, the party and Hashimoto have been largely eclipsed by Prime Minister Abe’s economic program dubbed “Abenomics.” All of that changed last week, however, when Hashimoto began speaking out on “comfort women,” war-time prostitution and related issues, bringing a virtual wave of international criticism.

In response, Hashimoto made a declaration: He would come to the FCCJ to explain his views to a global audience. His appearance will almost certainly be one of the top news events of the year.

The outspoken Hashimoto loves a good debate, and is one of the few Japanese political leaders whose press conferences are open to all. He is reportedly something of an expert on French wines and old whiskies, and he's an avid user of social media, with a Twitter account that has over 1 million followers worldwide.

Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). The charge for members/non-members is 1,700/2,600 yen, non-members eligible to attend may pay in cash (menu: hamburger steak mushroom sauce). Reservations canceled less than one hour in advance for working press members, and 24 hours for all others, will be charged in full. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation. For meal service, please enter the room by 12:25.

Professional Activities Committee

I don't know whether the comments like "almost certainly be one of the top news events of the year" are sarcastic or not.


Mark your calendar. It will be on May 27, 2013.

Boy-wonder doubles and triples down on his remarks that "comfort women" were necessary, that everybody did it, and that his remarks were misunderstood by foreigners because he can't speak English because of Liberal Democratic Party.


According to the world of Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka City and co-president of Japan Restoration Party, these women were "pros", and not "sex slaves". Tell that to the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Dutch, Philippino, and other women in Japan-occupied Asia from that time.

Kyodo News has a tepid coverage of Hashimoto's plan, and reduces everything to "difference of opinion".

From Kyodo News (5/19/2013):

橋下氏、特派員協会に説明の考え 慰安婦問題、性奴隷を否定

Mr. Hashimoto will explain the issue of comfort women at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, denies they were sex slaves


Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka City and co-president of Japan Restoration Party, appeared in a TV program on May 19, and talked about the comfort women of the Japanese imperial army. He said, "It is said that the whole nation raped, threatened and abducted these women and forced them against their will to become (comfort women) and thus "sex slaves". But that's not true." He said he will explain his opinion at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on May 27.


A Korean former comfort woman, who is already in Japan to meet with Mr. Hashimoto on May 24, criticizes Mr. Hashimoto's remarks, saying "I experienced exactly that. How can he say there is no evidence?" It seems to highlight the difference of opinion.

There are an amazing number of Japanese who staunchly support Boy-wonder. They all cling on to the semantics, and seem to think these women were willing prostitutes selling themselves for money. Here's one example of the tweets I get:

Hashimoto is doing the politics of words. He's challenging the existing framework of the US being always right.

What does that have to do with forced slavery under the Japanese imperial army?

Boy-wonder's latest excuse is that he didn't know enough about "US adult entertainment (sex) industry" when he talked to the Marine base commander in Okinawa and suggested to him that Marines make good use of Japanese sex industry.

This is a "Young Global Leader" elected by the world elite who meet at Davos every year.

What a wonderful world.

Reuters: There Is No Plan B for Japan, as Abe Bets the Whole Country on His Economic Programs Dubbed "Abenomics"

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the cockpit of T-4 training jet at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force base in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi prefecture, May 12, 2013. REUTERS/Kyodo

Tank commander was clearly not enough. What's next? A battleship captain?

Good luck, Japan. You'll need it. Even that won't help you much with the leader like this.

From Reuters Opinion page, by Anatole Kaletsky (5/17/2013; emphasis is mine):

The 3.5 percent gross domestic product growth announced by Tokyo Wednesday suggests that Japan may be the fastest-growing economy in the G7. Since the Tokyo stock market hit bottom exactly six months ago, the Nikkei share index has soared almost 80 percent. Meanwhile, the yen has experienced its biggest six-month move against the dollar. All these events appear linked to the election of Shinzo Abe and the regime he has installed at the Bank of Japan.

Even after 20 years of stagnation, Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy, with a 2012 GDP of $6 trillion, equal to France, Italy and Spain combined. Financiers, business leaders and economists everywhere are starting to ask the obvious question: Is Japan finally taking the truly radical action required to fix its economy and end its “lost decades”?

This, however, is the wrong question. It confounds two very different issues – which need to be carefully distinguished to understand what’s happening in Japan.

The first question is whether Japan is truly committed to actions far more radical than anything attempted in the past 20 years. The second question is whether these actions, if pursued with determination and persistence, will fix Japan’s economy.

The first question was answered with a clear “yes” in March, when Abe appointed Haruhiko Kuroda as the governor of the Bank of Japan. Kuroda is an independent thinker, light-years from the consensus-seeking bureaucrats who have dominated Japanese policymaking for 20 years.

Kuroda demonstrated this immediately, in his first meeting of the BoJ council. He announced a monetary stimulus of staggering proportions – roughly three times larger, relative to the size of the Japanese economy, than the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing in the United States.

But that still leaves the second question: Will Japan’s unprecedented macroeconomic expansion succeed in delivering the hoped-for economic growth? The answer is “maybe.”

Most bottom-up analysts, economists and investment analysts, who study companies and industrial sectors in detail, put the probability of success at well below 50 percent. Japan, after all, has profound structural problems: a shrinking population, misallocation of investment, enormous public debt, protectionist lobbies in service industries and agriculture, inflexible labor practices, unimaginative management – the list could go on. None of these can be fixed by monetary policy.

Why, then have stock market investors turned so bullish? Because top-down investors, who seek to profit from macroeconomic trends, have ignored the skepticism of bottom-up investors. To see why they have done this – and why they may be right – let us return to my two questions.

Bottom-up analysts, who think mostly about structural issues, quite reasonably argue that macroeconomic policies, however bold, will not help Sony invent the next iPhone. They will not turn frugal pensioners into spendthrifts or stop Japanese companies from hoarding profits instead of distributing excess cash to shareholders through higher dividends or to workers through higher wages.

Macro-investors, on the other hand, see unprecedented fiscal and monetary expansion as a good enough reason to buy Japanese equities and sell the yen. But if bullish macro-investors keep acting on Japan with enough conviction, they could change Japanese economic reality and win their intellectual contest with skeptical bottom-up analysts.

(In other words, exactly the same forces that have been driving the US stock market up so much that even the financial cheerleaders at CNBC are voicing concerns that the market does not reflect the main street at all. But then who cares about the main street, other than people on the main street? Now, onward with the article's conclusion part...)

Finally, the macroeconomic stimulus of the past few months is only the beginning, not the end, of the Abe program. Abenomics has been described as a quiver with three arrows – fiscal stimulus, monetary expansion and structural reform. The third arrow will be fired only if Abe wins the Upper House election in July.

After that election, Abe is almost certain to make structural reforms in areas such as international competition, female labor participation, employment deregulation, lower energy prices and corporate taxation. These reforms will likely meet with opposition from powerful political lobbies. But some, at least, are almost certain to go ahead.

The reason is that Japan will have no choice. The fiscal and monetary expansion started in the first few months of Abenomics has been so extreme that there is no turning back. Unless Japan can achieve much faster economic growth, Abe’s radical experiment with macroeconomic stimulus will create a debt and monetary overhang so huge that it will bankrupt the financial system and possibly trigger hyper-inflation.

In short, Abe has bet his country on the success of his economic program. He will now be forced to do whatever it takes to achieve strong growth, both through macroeconomic stimulus and structural reform.

The financial arithmetic of Abenomics means that tolerable stagnation is no longer an option for Japan.

The Abe administration seems to think the economy will grow if female labor participation goes up. They look at the statistics in other countries, and see the statistical significance (I don't think so, but they do) as the causality. How are they going to lower energy prices with the falling yen? Who knows? Nobody cares, particularly not those "macro" investors - i.e. Goldman Sachs and J.P.Morgan Chase. "Macro" means nothing but government policies these days, and no one is more proficient in "macro" investment than these two.

There is no "Plan-B", as Abe bet the whole country on the success of his pet project that he says he polished over those years after he resigned from the premiership till his party's win in 2012 December election.

For the likes of Abe, if his pet project ends in an unmitigated disaster that finally sinks the country (and a good chunk of the world economy with it - after all, Japan is still the third largest economy), that will be probably OK as long as his name will be associated with the disaster, making history.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

(OT) Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No.3 by Ottorino Respighi

Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa, excellent interpretation - lyrical but not overly dramatic, clean.

(I am playing this on Friday night (second violin, principal), and have been busy doing the rehearsals. Sorry I haven't been able to post much because of that.)

US State Department's Response to Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto: "Outrageous and Offensive", with Transcript Footnote Showing Disgust to Asahi Reporter's Question

A reporter from Asahi Shinbun went to the daily briefing at the State Department on May 16, 2013 and asked questions to the spokesperson Jen Psaki.

What do you think of Mayor Hashimoto's comments?

What do you think, were those women "comfort women" or "sex slaves"?

(Oh boy.)

From the US Department of State Daily Briefings transcript for May 16, 2013:

QUESTION: Hi, my name is Takashi from Japanese newspaper Asahi. Osaka City Mayor Hashimoto recently made a comment on the so-called “comfort women” issue, arguing that even though it is unacceptable from the moral perspective value, but the comfort women were necessary during the war period. And he also argued that it is not fair that only Japan is criticized by the United States and other countries, because there are other country military that were provided sexual service by prostitute. And do U.S. has any position on his comment or criticism against the United States?

MS. PSAKI: We have seen, of course, those comments. Mayor Hashimoto’s comments were outrageous and offensive. As the United States has stated previously, what happened in that era to these women who were trafficked for sexual purposes is deplorable and clearly a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions. We extend, again, our sincere and deep sympathy to the victims, and we hope that Japan will continue to work with its neighbors to address this and other issues arising from the past and cultivate relationships that allow them to move forward.

QUESTION: Do you describe this issue sex slave or comfort women?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I don’t know that I’m going to define it. You kind of laid out the specific details there, and we have described this issue in the past as comfort women[ii].

What is the footnote ii? Well I am afraid even the Asahi reporter managed to piss off the State Department (emphasis below is mine):

[ii] Rather than focusing on the label placed on these victims, we prefer to address the fact that this was a grave human rights violation of enormous proportions. The United States is also committed to working with our partners and allies around the world to denounce modern-day slavery and trafficking in persons no matter where it occurs.

これらの被害者につけられたラベル[慰安婦(Comfort women)か性の奴隷(Sex slaves)か]にこだわるよりも、私たちは、これが、重大で恐ろしく大規模な人権の蹂躙であったという事実に向き合う[事実を扱う]方を好む。アメリカ合衆国はまた、世界のパートナーや同盟諸国と共に、世界のどこであろうと現在存在する奴隷制度、人身取引を強く非難する。

I couldn't believe it until I read several articles by the Japanese media and tweets by some Japanese, but some people in Japan do seem to think if those women were called "comfort women", somehow they were part of the legitimate business. And they are shocked that foreign media portrays these women as "sex slaves". Thus the Asahi reporter asked that question.

If you start to believe in your own shit (often called "tatemae" in Japanese, literally "a facade"), you are toast. But many Japanese do not even know that any more. Lost art of tatemae and honne.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

US NRC Chairman Allison M. Macfarlane: Life after #Fukushima - “The New Normal”

I guess Ms. Macfarlane probably doesn't know that the word "New Normal" was coined by PIMCO's co-president Mohamed A. El-Erian, as she doesn't give any credit to PIMCO when she quotes the word...

El-Erian's "New Normal" is the phrase he coined in 2009 to describe the post-Lehman world of slow economic growth, high unemployment and high government debt.

In Macfarlane's "New Normal", she says that "public interest in nuclear power, whether positive or negative, remains heightened."

So what exactly is her definition of "New Normal" in nuclear industry regulation, other than to say "In the months and years ahead, we should continue to consider “the new normal,” and assess the nature of the influence Fukushima will have on our daily work"?

Continue to consider?

Well I haven't had time and patience to read the 5-page statement yet, but you can read her entire prepared statement at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) Nuclear Energy Assembly on May 14, 2013, here.

Feel free to leave the summary in the comment section.

In early April this year, NRC effectively ditched the idea of filtered vent (a la Sir Humphrey, "further study is needed").

Monday, May 13, 2013

Groundwater Pump and Release from #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Fukushima Fishermen Want Safety Assurance from Government, and Goverment Is Set to Give That Assurance

Another reason for TEPCO's shares jumping 18% in the morning session at Tokyo Stock Exchange is this:

TEPCO may get to release groundwater into the ocean soon.

From Jiji Tsushin (5/14/2013):


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi commented in the press conference after the cabinet meeting on May 14 on the release of groundwater from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant [to the ocean] which has been postponed because of the concern from the locals, and said, "Obtaining the approval from those involved would be the prerequisite, and the national government will do its best to explain [to the locals]." As to the release of groundwater, he said "it is extremely important" from the standpoint of reducing the amount of contaminated water.

Why is Motegi saying this? Because that's what the Fukushima fishermen have said they need the government's assurance that the water is safe.

In other words, they will agree to the scheme as long as the national government tells them it is safe.

Trust in the government continues to run supreme in Fukushima after two years of pathetic performance by both the national government and the prefectural government when it comes to dealing with the accident and resultant contamination.

Also from Jiji Tsushin, from yesterday (5/13/2013):


The Federations of Fishery Cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture held a meeting of the cooperatives presidents in Iwaki City in Fukushima on May 13 to discuss TEPCO's plan to draw groundwater in the plant compound and release it into the ocean as part of countermeasures against the increase of contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The groundwater is the water before it enters the reactor buildings and gets contaminated with radioactive materials. TEPCO asked for understanding, but no agreement was reached. They will meet again in June.


Tetsu Nozaki, president of the Federations of Fishery Cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture, said to the press after the meeting, "There are fishermen who are confusing the groundwater with the contaminated water", and asked for further explanation from TEPCO. He also said, "We need to know clearly that (the national government) has approved [the plan]."


The meeting was attended by the senior members of the Fishery Cooperatives in Fukushima and the officials from the Fisheries Agency and Fukushima prefectural government. TEPCO's executive director Tsunemasa Niizuma explained the plan. There is no problem with safety, according to TEPCO, but fishermen are worried about damages from baseless rumors.

There you go. For the mayor of Iwaki City, his out is that he objects to the release of groundwater "at this point" (see my previous post on the topic). For the Fukushima fishermen, as long as the national government vouches for the safety of the water released, they will be OK with the plan. Just blame the fickle and ignorant consumers, as they've been doing for the past two years.

TEPCO seems to be trying to keep the water level in the reactor building basements at about O.P. (Onahama Peil) +3000 (or three meters above the standard sea level used for the plant), so that it is groundwater that's flowing into the basement instead of highly contaminated water flowing out of the basement.

Judging by the high, and increasing bioconcentration of radioactive materials in the fish inside the plant harbor, contaminated water from somewhere may be already leaking into the ocean anyway. That news died quickly.

Now with this cleaner water dump, TEPCO may be able to hasten the dilution of radioactive materials in the harbor.

TEPCO's Stock Jumps 18% Thanks to PM Abe's Word That They Shouldn't Be the Only Ones Responsible for the Accident Cleanup

The reason for the jump is given in the Yomiuri article in the morning of May 14, 2013 (part):


In the Upper House Budget Committee on May 13, Prime Minister Abe said about TEPCO who caused the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, "It's wrong to foist (all the problems like compensations and decommissioning) on TEPCO. The national government will step forward to fulfill its responsibility."

Osaka City Mayor Toru Hashimoto Urges US Military Commander in Okinawa to Use More Japanese "Fuzoku" (Adult Entertainment) Establishments

In the context, "adult entertainment" is "sex for a price".

Boy-wonder, who was selected as one of the "Young Global Leaders" at Davos World Economic Forum, a confab of the rich and the powerful in the world, was visiting Okinawa.

Commander of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Colonel James Flynn, froze, according to Sankei Shinbun article.

Sankei Shinbun (5/13/2013; part):

「もっと風俗活用を」と橋下氏 凍り付く沖縄の米軍司令官

"Use more adult entertainment establishments", says Hashimoto, Okinawa Commander froze


Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka City and co-president of Japan Restoration Party disclosed on May 13 evening that when he visited the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (Ginowan City, Okinawa) and met with the commander, he urged "more use of Japanese adult entertainment" by the US military. According to Hashimoto, he told the commander, "Unless you make good use of the adult entertainment industry, you can't control sexual energy of tough Marines." The commander ignored his suggestion, saying "it is prohibited in the US military".


Mr. Hashimoto visited the Futenma Air Station on May 1. On that occasion, he told the commander of the Station that "there are places in Japan that [the Marines] can legally release their sexual energy", and urged that the commander order the Marines to make use of adult entertainment establishments. According to Mr. Hashimoto, the commander froze, and cut off the talk by saying "The US military bans the use [of such establishments]. Let's not talk about this any more."

Boy-wonder's comment is no surprise, as he's been saying "comfort women" are absolutely necessary.

It is absolutely no surprise for the country of Japan either. After all, the country readied what was to become "Recreation and Amusement Association" in three days after the Emperor declared the end of World War II on August 15, 1945 - almost the very first thing that the defeated government did. Heroic girls and women to serve as "breakwater", and preserve the virginity of the rest of Japanese girls and women.

What a country.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

(OT) Space Oddity from International Space Station

Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station sings David Bowie's "Space Oddity":

Plant Earth is blue and beautiful.

#Radioactive Japan with Nothing Better to Do: Police and Japan Coast Guard Held Joint Anti-Terrorism Exercise to Protect #Fukushima I Nuke Plant from Terrorists

Jiji Tsushin's article has no information as to who the Police or the Coast Guard think would be the supposed "terrorists" who would attack Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Jiji Tsushin (5/11/2013):


Police and Coast Guard held joint exercise against terrorism on nuclear plant at Fukushima II (Daini), with special force staging "gun battle"


On May 11, Police and Japan Coast Guard held a joint exercise on the assumption that terrorists were attacking Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Vulnerability of Fukushima I Nuclear Plant was exposed in the March 11, 2011 disaster, and work toward decommissioning is on-going today in a situation that is still unstable. The exercise was open to the public, as there are those who have expressed doubt about the security system. A special force for counter-terrorism also participated in a mock gun battle.


The exercise was carried out at Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant, about 10 kilometers south of Fukushima I (Daiichi) Nuclear Power plant. About 80 policemen from the Fukushima Prefectural Police Firearms Countermeasure Unit which is stationed at the nuclear plant and from the Chiba Prefectural Police Special Force "SAT" (Special Assault Team), and about 70 officers of Japan Coast Guard including the Coast Guard Counter-Terrorism Unit participated. The joint exercise against terrorist attack on Fukushima I Nuke Plant was the first after the March 11, 2011 disaster.

Jiji has a photo of Coast Guard officers with machine guns, dressed in black-and-yellow radiation protection gear and looking like a bee or fly, having subdued the "terrorists" on board a ship:

Let's see... To disable the plant and stop the cooling of the reactors and Spent Fuel Pools, all you need would be to release a boat-load of rats and mice and wait... Or simply wait until all those huge steel tanks that are not welded start to leak, in about 3 years. Or just continue to let TEPCO do the work and wait.