There was a variety of news related to President Trump in the Japanese media this last week. Headlines ranged from Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ refusal to testify (or to comment even) on his conversations with Trump (Asahi Shimbun Digital, “U.S. Attorney General: I can’t say what was spoken in conversations with the President“), to the breaking news that Trump blocked author Stephen King from his Twitter account (Cinemacafe.net, “Stephen King gets blocked from Trump’s Twitter Account“). (But he did NOT block J.K. Rowling! What will the neighbors think?)
The Japanese headlines are doing a great job at keeping up with all the scatterbrained, haphazard news coming from the Trump White House.
The article that I’ll write about today (“Trump’s a Traitor’–says the Suspect of a Shooting targeting Congressmen) is about the shooting incident in Del Ray, VA. The shooting took place in public during some congress members’ baseball practice.
The article makes it clear that the gunman targeted Republican congress members, it was a politically motivated shooting (he was shouting “Trump’s a traitor”), and his hostility appears to have trickled over from online to real life.
The article also says that the gunman was moved to take such action out of disgust for the Republican party and Trump.
Not the Land of the Free
No one in the free, civilized world (especially Japan!) understands American’s disgusting gun culture and the violence that gushes forth from it. I’ve been lucky to have met and worked closely with people from all corners from the world. The people whom I’ve met from other countries (excluding those from war torn countries, like from places in Africa & the Middle East) can not fathom how in the world AMERICA–the Land of the FREE– allows people to carry guns in public, much less own them privately. How it is justifiable to own military-grade weapons even further baffles them.
Was this gunman a legal gun owner? That’s beside the point. Was it a rifle or an automatic weapon? That too is beside the point. The fact of the matter is that it’s another mass shooting in public in the “Land of the Free.”
Life in Japan and the US is like night and day. Articles like this cause an even bigger rift between our cultures. Any “professional” diplomat will tell you the importance of public diplomacy–the everyday interactions between common people of different nations. These are the interactions that often times instigate diplomatic relations at the larger scale, so for example between universities, companies, or nations.
Reading about violence in America does not inspire Japanese people to want to come to America to study abroad, sight see, or what have you. Furthermore, it makes Japanese people cautious of excepting Americans into Japan! (Remember this May incident of the American getting in a fight departing Tokyo?)
Let’s Hope Violence isn’t Contagious
Recently I stayed in an APA hotel outside Nagoya. The megalomaniac owner of APA Hotels is a radical lunatic. He stocks the magazine racks of his hotels with his self-published propaganda in the form of books and newspapers.
He and the other nationalist loonies in Japan are trying to change Japan’s constitution in order to grant offensive capabilities to the military. (As opposed to it’s strictly defensive charter now). In one of his books, the APA Hotel chain owner calls for violence against any Japanese parliament member who attempts to block such constitutional changes. He does not just call for violence, but murder. In his books, which are readily available in APA lobbies and hotel rooms, he calls for the out-right assassination of Japanese parliament members!
Let’s hope the latest violence in America does not give disgruntled Japanese people any ideas.