Thursday, April 03, 2014

A Roadside Shrine

A more common sight in Japan than even the ubiquitous convenience store is the roadside shrine (Yes, I know, a most bold assertion). Such shrines come in all manner of upkeep and repair. I pass numerous wayside shrines on my commute, most of them tidy and of weathered, untreated wood, and lacking in any ornament or statement of artistic originality.

 Not so this shrine.

The shrine, with its figure of Jizo, bell pull, flowers, and general appearance, is not unlike others I pass on the ride to school.  However, the artist/ builder has let himself go on the "pediment" (What is this part of the shrine called, by the way?), writhing, serpentining figures and all. 

Jizo is the protector of travelers, women in childbirth, and children. According to Buddhist thought, the souls of children who die during childbirth or at a young age are sent to sai no kawara , a dismal place where they must erect piles of stones, which are promptly scattered by demons. Someone has erected such a pile here. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Update on Death of Visa Overstayer While in Detention

Some while back I wrote briefly about the death of Ghanian national Abubakar Awudu Suraj while in the custody of Japanese immigration officials. 

In a landmark ruling, a Japanese court has ordered the state to make a 5 million yen (roughly 50,000 US dollars) condolence payment to his family.

A paltry sum. 

But for perspective, consider this.  Or this.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don's Bikepacking Trip in Niigata and Fukushima

Mate Don Speden, who contributes to Long Division, recently completed a 5-day cycle trip in Niigata and neighboring Fukushima.  His writes about the journey here.

Shumatsu (Weekend) Cycling, Part 3

The final post in the series is here.

Shumatsu Cycling, Part 2

The post is here:

A Post about Japan from Long Division

Recently the little time I have spent blogging has been done here, on Long Division, a site about cycling.  While not about Japan specifically, I live in the country and necessarily do most of my cycling here, so from time to time I will update Glimpses of Japan with posts from the former blog. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why Do They Go There?

Just what was the idiot mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, thinking when he opened his gob regarding the forced (and it was, contrary to his contention) prostitution of hundreds of thousands of Korean and Chinese women during Japan's "liberation" of Asian peoples from western hegemony during the 1930s and '40s?  Why did he feel a revisionist history lesson was in order? I suppose such people just can't help themselves. What a wanker. You can read about him here.  Oh, and Toru, get a new hairdresser.

Your Kind Isn't Welcome

On April 23 The Japan Times published an article concerning an international student at a university in Kyoto who, attempting to rent an apartment referred to him by the university itself, discovered that the landlord refused to lease to foreigners.  That story is here.

I myself recently experienced similar discrimination, only this time the landlord is not a private individual but a public entity: the City of Niigata.

Niigata City owns and manages 25 or so small storefronts in the downtown distict of the city.  Rents are cheap, and the area is home to a varitey of establishments, from restaurants and cafes to bike repair shops.

A friend and I (both of us holders of permanent resident visas) hope to open a business in one of the properties, and we asked a Japanese friend to make enquiries at the business district's management office; specifically, we wanted to know if permanent-resident foreigners could sign a lease.

The answer: our kind isn't welcome.         

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Yasukuni Shrine

Shinzo Abe, leader of the largest opposition party and almost certain to be Japan's next prime minister, recently visited Yasukuni Shrine. Now, this is no ordinary shrine to Shinto animism. Rather, Yasukuni honors all  Japan's war dead, indiscriminately.  Young men who were sent on suicide missions as kamikaze pilots are enshrined alongside the war criminals who dispatched them, as well as soldiers who slaughtered Chinese civilians in Nanking. As a private citizen Abe can worship wheresoever he pleases, but his position as high-ranking MP makes visits to Yasukuni problematic, to say the least.         

Shinzo Abe (C), leaving the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, 17 October 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Potsdam Declaration and Disputed Islets

Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration (to the terms of which Japan conceded by signing the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1972) states:

 Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine.

The Allies' list of minor islands pointedly excluded Tokto/ Takeshima, on which the Republic of Korea maintains an outpost but over which Japan asserts territorial claims (as part of Shimane prefecture), as it does the Senkaku Island chain, source of much recent controversy between Japan and neighbors China and Taiwan.

My personal take on the status of the disputed islands is that while the Potsdam Declaration/ San Francisco Treaty does not provide for their ultimate designation, neither does it authorize or encourage Japan to assert its prior claims to these territories.  Tokyo's broad interpretation of Allied 'policy' seems disingenuous, given that the Allies aimed to dismember the Japanese Empire, not pave the way for its post-war reconstruction.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains,

1.The Allies designated the areas where Japan, which was under the Allied occupation, had to cease the exerting political and administrative power and the areas where it was banned from engaging in fishing or whaling, which included Takeshima. These directives, however, stated that they should not be construed as an indication of Allied policy relating to the ultimate determination of the assignment of Japanese sovereign territory.

2.The descriptions in the related Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers Instruction Note (SCAPIN) documents are as follow:

(1) SCAPIN No. 677

(a) In January 1946, the Allies issued SCAPIN No. 677 to instruct Japan to provisionally cease exerting or attempting to exert political or administrative power over some areas.

(b) Article 3 of the note states, "For the purpose of this directive, Japan is defined to include the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands north of 30 degrees North Latitude (excluding Kuchinoshima Island)," and listed Utsuryo Island, Cheju Island, the Izu Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Takeshima as the areas "not included" with those where Japan was allowed to exert political or administrative power.

(c) Article 6 of the same note, however, states, "Nothing in this directive shall be construed as an indication of Allied policy relating to the ultimate determination of the minor islands referred to in Article 8 of the Potsdam Declaration." (Potsdam Declaration, Article 8: "Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.")

(2) SCAPIN No. 1033

(a) In June 1946, the Allies issued SCAPIN No. 1033 to establish the so-called "MacArthur Line" and designate the areas where Japanese people were permitted to engage in fishing and whaling.

(b) Article 3 of the note states "Japanese vessels or personnel thereof will not approach closer than 12 miles from Takeshima nor have any contact with the said island."

(c) Article 5 of the same instruction note, however, states, "The present authorization is not an expression of allied policy relative to ultimate determination of national jurisdiction, international boundaries or fishing rights in the area concerned or in any other area."

3.The abolishment of the "MacArthur Line" was directed in April 25 1952, and three days after, on April 28, the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect, which consequently nullified the directive to cease Japan's political and administrative power in the aforementioned areas.

The ROK claims that the Allies did not recognize Takeshima as part of Japan's territory based on the SCAPIN documents mentioned above, and includes them in the evidence for its claim for the sovereignty over Takeshima. However, both of the SCAPIN documents clearly state that they shall not be construed as an indication of Allied policy relating to the ultimate determination of the assignment of Japanese sovereignty, and therefore such claims are obviously not the case.

The territory of Japan was determined by the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which subsequently came into effect. This clearly shows that none of the treatment of Takeshima prior to the effect of that Treaty affects the title to Takeshima.

Friday, September 14, 2012

China Sends Ships to Senkakus

Six Chinese vessels entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku islet chain today.

Japan condemned the violation of waters around the islets, which it annexed in 1895.

The Chinese asserted that they have a much older historical claim to the rocks.