Nikkansports.com Reports on the Shooting attack on RepublicaCongress Members

#TrumpsJapan

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.

 

IMG_0464.jpg
Being interviewed at the scene–I knew him before he was famous.

Blood Diamond

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.”

Public Diplomacy

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.

 

Advertisements

Reports on Session’s Resignation on Jiji.com

#TrumpsJapan

Prime Minister Abe Shinzō (LDP) must feel a sense of relief every time he opens the newspaper these days only to see the Trump administration’s latest fiasco. Abe, his close political associates, and even his wife have been drawing the ire of the people and the press lately for a variety of reasons–two in particular.

from The New Yorker
First, his wife, Akie, (and by extension, him) have been at the center of a controversial land deal in Osaka. The Abe’s influence is credited with negotiating a sweetheart land deal for an ultra-conservative kindergarten called Moritomo Gakuen. One may think, “A kindy? What could possibly be the big deal?” Well, consider this: the property is reported to be worth 13 million USD, but thanks to the head of the school’s (Kagoike Yasunori) political connections, they were able to buy the land for only 1.8 million! Heck, if land in Osaka is 86% off, then I’d start my own kindergarten. Hell–university! Which brings us to the next case…

Abe is linked to a second education-related controversy in which a veterinary school was seeking accreditation in Ehime, Shikoku (one of Japan’s four major islands; in western Japan close to both Osaka and  Hiroshima). The private education management company behind the deal is said to have sought accreditation directly from the government (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology–MEXT), without the consultation or even the support of the Japan Veterinary Medical Association (Nihon jūishi-kai 日本獣医師会). Japan’s population has declined by 1 million people in the past five years. Public universities are feeling the crunch as less and less students enroll, while some private universities have laid off large numbers of faculty–some have even gone bankrupt. Why on earth would MEXT grant accreditation to another college/ university when so many are in bad shape (both financially and in terms of student numbers)? The Japan Veterinary Medical Association has spoken out against the establishment of another veterinary school, and rightly so. Hopefully, MEXT will defer to their (the JVMA’s) better judgement.

With this in mind, last week’s reports of the Trump administration’s latest whispered turmoil may have given Abe the sense that he is not alone if the world of world-leaders and corruption. As Jiji.com‘s article “Is the U.S. Attorney General Resigning due to a clash with Trump?” says, Attorney General Sessions was a supporter of Trump early on in the latter’s presidential campaign, which put him in Trump’s close inner-circle. However, in March Sessions recused himself  from any investigations into the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian officials. The article says that Sessions has become increasingly unsatisfied with the administration and has put in his resignation.

At home, Americans may think that the Trump administration’s blunders and controversies do not extend past the evening news and SNL skits, but the foibles and outright blunders are being well covered all over the world.

The Trump administration’s instability and haphazardness detracts from America’s authority and leadership in the world. Controversy and corruption surrounding the leaders of Japan and the US, both at the same time, is not good for stability in Asia.

NHK Reports on Trump’s Quitting the Paris Agreement

#TrumpsJapan

Before the horrible terrorist attacks in London, President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement was the big US news in Japan.

…an image from CNN

Just as with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the US leaving the Paris Agreement does not mean that the initiative is doomed, but the conspicuous absence of a major player such as the US will surely be felt.

Before I  continue to summarize a little bit about NHK’s report (トランプ大統領 パリ協定脱退の方針を発表, 2 June 2017), I want to make two points clear:

One is that the US emits the 2nd highest amount of COemissions in the world (15% of the global total), behind… drum roll… China! (at 30% of the global total). India is at 3rd place with approximately 7%. Since the US is the 2nd highest contributor of COemissions in the world, you would think that its leader would step up and take some responsibility.

If a country emitting 15% of CO2 emissions drops out of the agreement, then what is to keep countries that emit less (like Japan at 4%) from wanting to participate? Those smaller countries add up quickly.

Second, not only did the participating countries rely on the US to reduce it’s CO2 gas emission, but they also relied on the US’s financial support. Participating in the Paris Agreement costs money–infrastructure needs to change, especially in areas like manufacturing and agriculture. Poorer countries participating in the agreement entered into the pact with the hopes of getting financial support from the US and other wealthy nations. The US is leaving the table and taking its wallet with it.

NHK Reports

The title of the report from 2 June 2017 translates as “President Trump announces his plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.”

  • The article drives home the fact that the US is the 2nd highest emitter of green house gasses behind China
  • The article says that the US’s withdrawal will have a huge effect on the agreement
  • Trump’s rational is that the agreement is unfair to American workers and manufacturers
  • The article mentions that during his campaign, Trump was a Global Warming denier–so this is a reflection of his campaign promises
  • Trump’s stance on the Paris Agreement is OPPOSITE of President Obama’s 
  • Trump is revisiting all environmental reforms that the Obama administration passed and will most likely repeal them
  • Pulling out of the Paris Agreement fulfills the promise Trump made during an April 2017 speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (an old coal & steel city)
  • Finally it shows the contradictory nature of the Trump-beast: at the last G7 summit in Italy Trump said that the environment was a very important thing and something that he is concerned a lot aboutWhich begs the question why pull out of the Paris Agreement?

Since the Tohoku Disaster, energy has been a key issue in Japan. Fukushima’s TEPCO nuclear reactor is still in a critical stage. Ten’s of thousands of Japanese people all over the country have been protesting against the further use of nuclear energy.

Cleaner energy, and hence cutting back on fossil fuel emissions, has been a hot topic in Japan. Seeing the US take a leadership role in the Paris Agreement would have encouraged Japanese people looking for greener energy sources in the future. The US leaving the Paris Agreement could lead to Abe LDP to re-consider its internal energy policies.