NHK Reports on Trump’s 2nd visit to Texas Disaster Areas

#TrumpsJapan

If it’s one thing Japanese people know, it’s natural disasters. Aside from the big ticket items like erupting volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunami, every year Japan gets hit by both a “rainy season” (the unofficial 5th season!) and late summer tropical storms, both of which cause severe flooding and mass damage throughout the country. Even just a few weeks ago in Akita (where I am) heavy amounts of rain caused flooding that resulted in closure of major roads, home damage, and land slides.

On her 2nd trip down, Mel-T swapped her “FLOTUS” lid for a fly “TEXAS” one. Is that Baylor Green?!
With that in mind, reports of Trump visiting flood victims probably made a good impression in the minds of Japanese citizens.

NHK News web posted an article with video to their website on 3 September 2017 reporting on President Trump’s second visit to Texas’s flood ravaged  areas. The article is basically the video’s script.

The article is titled, “President Trumps makes return visit to disaster area–with attitude of strong support.”

The first paragraph reports that this is Trump’s 2nd visit in a week to the hurricane disaster zone and that he’s there to encourage the victims as well as show strong support for aid sent to the area.

After some basic information about the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey, the 4th paragraph goes into detail about Trump’s activities during the trip saying that he met in person with a large number of people at a Houston shelter, was seen holding children, served lunches, and cheered up victims. He also visited an aid station where he met with hundreds of volunteers and showed them his gratitude.

The final paragraph reveals WHY this was his 2nd trip in a week: on his first trip on August 28 he did not directly meet with any victims, which drew strong criticism from the media. This time his goal seems to have been to garner appeal by meeting with victims and by showing his support.

This article is a ‘safe’ article and pretty unbiased. No doubt it’s good to see the-man-who-happens-to-be-president at disaster relief centers passing large aid containers into driver’s seat windows of emergency vehicles (WT-?), mingling with people in shelters, and smiling in selfies.

It’s a fairly balanced article as well because at the end, NHK tacks on the note about the criticism Trump received from media on his first trip to the region. I guess the coverage of him avoiding flood damaged areas and not meeting with victims on his first trip wasn’t #fakenews.

 

 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20170903/k10011124041000.html

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Sankei News: What to make of Bannon’s Resignation?

#TrumpsJapan

This article  in the Sankei News 産経ニュース, covers the latest (?) shake-up in the Trump White House. It also shows Japanese readers how the event was portrayed in news media outlets both in the US and abroad.

Image result for bannon
Obama Care wouldn’t let him stick with his old dermatologist.

The title is rather long in English, “The Ripple Effect of Bannon’s Dismissal, [Trump’s] Most Influential Advisor–US Papers: ‘The Problem is Now Trump is on His Own,’  Israeli Papers: ‘[Bannon’s] Resignation Poses even Greater Danger.'”

The article begins with really emphasizing how influential Bannon has been, both during the run up to Trump’s election as well as during the first six months of his presidency, crediting Bannon with Trump’s anti-globalization stance and his “America First” policies.

It then continues to show the contrasting coverage in US and Israeli newspapers of Bannon’s early exit . The US papers are said to portray this as a positive step for Trump’s beleaguered administration, while the Israeli papers see Bannon’s departure as threatening.

For the US, Bannon’s sayonara will offer Trump’s administration a chance to re-group and re-organize–to right the ship, so to speak.

For Israel, Bannon’s anti-Israel stance will only be amplified once he is free of the White House’s burden, where veteran GOP leaders presumably have placed a gag order on his most inflammatory ideas.

Sankei News then goes on to provided examples of the coverage as it appeared in the The Wall Street JournalThe Guardian, and Haaretz.

These last six PLUS months, ordinary Japanese citizens have really had trouble trying to understand what to make of [President] Trump. Translators who are tasked with putting his “speeches” into Japanese often find themselves at a loss–not so much with his scripted speech, but with his off the wall free-talking that appears to follow no logical flow and is often unrelated to the topic at hand.

US-Japan policy experts also have had the rug pulled out from underneath them multiple times these last months, as Trump continues to reverse, re-write, and regress US policy with Japan and the greater Asian region.

So when it comes to Trump’s most influential adviser leaving the White House, what I think this Sankei News article is saying to its readers is, “Not even the US, UK, or Israel know what to make of it! We’re not alone in our uncertainty!”

Strange times…

 

*NOTE: Sankei News describes itself as a “reactionary and center-right political newspaper.” It’s newspaper enjoys the sixth highest circulation in Japan.

 

 

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.

 

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.