Archive for Japan

Preaching to the Choir

So, 62 million girls around the world are being denied an education?

How many of them are Japanese?

First lady Michelle Obama, saying it’s an “injustice” that 62 million girls around the world are not in school, joined forces with her Japanese counterpart, Akie Abe, on Thursday, saying they would together promote education for girls in developing countries.

Meeting with young women from Japanese universities and high schools, Obama recounted her own journey from a working class neighborhood in Chicago to Princeton and encouraged them to pay attention to education at home and to dream big, too.

“I’m sitting here with my good friend in Japan [and] with all of you, and we have the opportunity to change the world,” the first lady said, sitting in a circle with the students and Abe — who wrote her master’s thesis on education in Myanmar — and U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy. “You can do that, too, and so can the 62 million girls out there who aren’t getting their education.”

It’s a worthy issue, but a waste of time. Say it in Afghanistan. Pakistan. Saudi Arabia.

She’s also incredibly culturally insensitive. Some societies actively reject educating girls as an alien and disruptive practice. She might as well walk into a vegan restaurant and insist they all eat bacon cheeseburgers. Such an Ugly American. Or an exceedingly tall one.



ISIS beheaded someone else. In other news…

He ventured to Syria to tell the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by war.

But in doing so, Kenji Goto suffered his own gruesome fate — apparently becoming the latest foreigner to be decapitated by ISIS.

A newly distributed video from ISIS appears to show the beheaded body of the Japanese journalist. It came one week after a video surfaced featuring Goto holding a photo of what appeared to be the corpse of his fellow Japanese captive, Haruna Yukawa.

Just like ISIS’ previous beheading videos, the 67-second footage released Saturday was issued by the terror group’s media wing, Al Furqan Media. The video cannot be authenticated by CNN.

And now, Japan finds itself more deeply embroiled in the global fight against ISIS.

“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to broadcaster NHK. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”

Unlike the United States, Britain and other allies, Japan is not involved in the military campaign against ISIS. But Japan has been providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East as ISIS continues its bloody quest to solidify an Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.

Let me try to untangle my feelings. I am sad, of course, at his death at the hands of the rabid dingos of ISIS. Especially when:

The 47-year-old Goto left Japan last fall, when his youngest daughter was 3 weeks old. His wife, Rinko, first heard from his captors December 2.

Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, said her son wanted to help create a world without wars.

“I’m shedding tears of sorrow, I just can’t think of any words to say,” she said, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. “But I don’t want this sorrow to create a chain of hatred.”

He was a husband, a father, and a son. And now he lies dead in the desert. Sad.

Mourning’s over; time to move on!

Mom doesn’t want hate? Really? What would she prefer? Lust? Sloth? I’d rather just forget Goto than be told I can’t hate his executioners. You go ahead and cry, but tears make it hard to aim the rifle scope. Or, in my case, hard to see the keyboard.

I love dogs, but I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a rabid one. When a mean dog has attacked my beloved Bloodthirsty Puppy, I have viciously kicked an animal I would have been happy to scratch behind the ears only seconds earlier. I love dogs, but I love justice and safety more.

I love humanity, too, or at least I try. Okay, I know I’m supposed to try. For while the creatures I love most in my life are people, so are the creatures I fear most. And hate most, though I try to keep hatred in check. Hatred is a great motivator, but can easily overwhelm more rational thought. Think of a food pyramid with hatred at the pointy apex. You need a little every day, but don’t overdo it.

When Jihadi John and the IS-a-Kills leave yet another husband/father/son a bloody, headless stump in the sand, tell me how else to feel. I’m past shock.

But then, Aggie and I were past shock before we started this blog nine years and two weeks ago (thanks for the cards—not). One of our early fans, Barb from Pittsburgh, raved about our posts and our points of view. But she had to bow out because the world we were revealing to her was too hard for her to take. She didn’t dispute what she wrote, she just couldn’t take it. Never heard from her since.

Who could be shocked anymore after 9/11? Or the Passover Massacre in Netanya? Or the 1994 bombing at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires? (Or the recent assassination of the prosecutor still looking into it?) Or the abduction of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram? Or Nidal Hassan’s “workplace violence” at Ft. Hood? Or the Luxor Massacre in 1997? Or the the butchery of the Munich Olympics?

Let’s stop there. The world was shocked by Munich; sportscasters were rendered speechless.

More than 40 years have passed, and we’re still “shocked”? I don’t understand. Truly, I don’t understand. Somebody explain it to me.

Goto wanted to “tell the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by war,” and became the protagonist in a tragic war story of his own. As he must have known it might. I won’t gainsay his decision—it was a brave one—even if I can’t wholly support it. He was a husband, father, and son who could have chosen to remain so, rather than put himself at risk of a merciless death in the desert. Soldiers don’t have the choice; he did.

The least we can do for him in return is to get over ourselves. Be shocked, but get past it. We’ve had 40 years. Let’s try something else.


All Americans Look Alike

That can be the only rational explanation for this bizarre outburst:

A prominent Japanese politician has raised hackles as Barack Obama visits Tokyo by claiming it’s an ‘open secret’ that he and the first lady are headed for divorce, and that the president has been using Secret Service agents to cover for him as he pursues extramarital affairs.

Kazuyuki Hamada, who sits in the upper house of Japan’s parliament, earned his PhD a half-mile from the White House at George Washington University, and emerged as a shrill commentator on America’s economy and foreign policy.

Hamada complained April 5 on his official blog about Obama’s decision to visit Tokyo without first lady Michelle Obama in tow. ‘His approval numbers are dragging down near 30 per cent,’ Hamada wrote, according to an English translation, ‘and his failed leadership in some places brings him scorn as the worst president of the postwar era.’

‘The biggest reason – of many – for the collapse of his reputation is his failed relationship with his wife,’ Hamada claimed.

‘It is an open secret that the pair are already negotiating their divorce, and that they are waiting for his term in office to be over, and then they’ll separate.’

He had stiff words for the impact of the first lady’s multimillion-dollar ‘goodwill’ trips to far-flung places on the taxpayers’ dime.

The Japanese pol claimed that ‘if you ask the president, he will tell you, “I can’t show my face to the voters after how she’s spent so much money”.’

‘On the other hand,’ Hamada added, ‘if you get his wife to talk, she’ll tell you: “The president is a pathological philanderer. He uses the Secret Service for this, and has used them to hide evidence that he’s a cheater”.’

I believe he means the Clintons, doesn’t he? I mean, we’ve dipped our toe in the National Enquirer stories about the Obamas’ marriage, but we didn’t believe them. Any more than we believe in the president’s African birth. (What African would treat his extended family so coldly?)

That shrill sound you hear is not the First Lady letting her hound dog of a husband have it (unless it’s an echo of 20 years ago), it’s the shrieks of dog whistles blaring like sirens at a nine-alarm fire. I think the Japanese need some racial-sensitivity training—and have had for about a century.

PS: Obama may cheat in elections (throwing candidates off the ballot), fundraising (millions in shadowy contributions), governing (executive orders), and killing (trials for some American citizens, drones for others), but that doesn’t mean he cheats at the important stuff like marriage and golf.

PPS: Well, no one’s accused him of cheating at golf.

PPPS: Do you think Michelle would have gone to Japan if she knew that its legislature was called the Diet?

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Got Peat?

Boy, they ain’t kidding about global warming, huh? That’s some pretty bad [bleep].

Good thing enlightened people are taking the threat of greenhouse gases seriously:

Japan is turning into a rare bright spot in the world coal market, stepping up coal-fired power generation to replace nuclear plants that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Plans by Japanese companies to spend billions of dollars on new coal-fired plants offer a striking contrast with the U.S., which has effectively blocked new coal plants using existing technology over concerns about global warming.

If the plans all come to fruition, Japan’s coal-fired power capacity would increase to around 47 gigawatts over the next decade or so, up 21% from the time right before the Fukushima accident.

It’s understandable that Japan might shy away from nuclear power (wrong but understandable), but do they really think coal is a safer bet?

The bodies of six miners trapped after a rock burst at a coal mine in central China’s Henan province were found by rescuers Friday.

What do the Japanese care? They still get their coal.

As somebody says, I’ll take global warming seriously when people act like it’s serious.

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Turning Japanese

I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so

This insipid song from the 80s makes more sense than this stupid story

The announcement that Japan’s population fell by almost a quarter of a million in 2013 – the fifth consecutive annual fall – brought warnings that the country may be in terminal decline.

Japan has the world’s oldest population, with a median age of 46 years, an average lifespan of 84, and a quarter of the population over 65. But this doesn’t have to mean a gloomy future. What happens in the coming years might even point the way for other countries.

Japanese longevity can’t compensate for its ultra-low fertility rate – just 1.4 children per woman. Hard-working Japanese society has “embraced voluntary mass childlessness”, says Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC. One in four don’t have children. Some European countries also have low fertility rates, but top up with migrants. Insular Japan does not.

Not only do Japanese not have immigrants and not have children, they don’t have sex.

Who needs kids?

The conventional view is that this is bad news: shrinking numbers hobble economic growth and the ageing population is a major financial burden. But Eberstadt says there is another side. The proportion of Japan’s population that is dependent on those of working age isn’t unusual, he says, it’s just that it has almost twice as many over-65s as children. Consequently Japan spends less on education. And because the Japanese are the world’s healthiest, care bills are also lower than in other nations.

Thanks to the falling population, individual income has been rising strongly – outperforming most US citizens’.

With 127 million people, Japan is hardly empty. But fewer people in future will mean it has more living space, more arable land per head, and a higher quality of life, says Eberstadt. Its demands on the planet for food and other resources will also lessen.

There you go. It’s about human vermin crawling all over the lovely planet. Were Japanese people starving from a shortage of arable land? Are their 127 million people seriously straining “the planet”?

It’s not just Japanese who are “vermin”: we’re all vermin now!

Japan isn’t alone in demographic contraction: Russia, Romania and Hungary all follow the trend. For many more, it is being delayed by immigration. But the global population bomb is slowly being defused. As Swedish statistician Hans Rosling first noted, the world recently reached “peak child” – the point where the number of children aged 0 to 14 around the globe levels off. Global fertility rates have halved in 40 years – they are now below 2.5 children per woman – and global population may peak soon.

So, far from being a demographic outlier, Japan is “the world leader in demographic change”, says Aoki.

As Japan goes, so goes Romania! What a selling point. And if immigration is supposed to be a savior of childless societies, look at Malmo and the banlieues of Paris to see how Swedish and French their immigrant communities are.

[O]thers believe that peak population is a necessary first step to reducing our assault on the planet’s life-support systems. In that case, following Japan’s example may be just the ticket.

I really don’t care how many people there are on the planet. I’m already here, and so are my offspring. The rest of humanity can go screw (or not, if Japanese). But don’t sell me chicken[bleep] and call it chicken salad. The “planet’s resources” are fine; societies that have their acts together (a small minority, granted, though including Japan) can feed, clothe, house their citizens with relative ease. You want to save humanity (they don’t) and save the planet (they do), implement free market reforms.

And if you seriously think we can afford decades of retired oldsters because we’ll be spending less on pre-K, I have some vintage sushi for sale. Mark Steyn is laughing has ass off.


Mao Your Days Be Merry and Bright

If you’re not exhausted from the 2013th birthday of the little baby you-know-who, perhaps you’d like to raise a glass of, I don’t know, Alka-Seltzer on the dirthday (typo, but I’m keeping it) of another person whose words and deeds affected the lives of billions, however adversely:

Celebrations are being held in China to commemorate the 120th birthday of Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.

Members of the Politburo Standing Committee including Mr Xi and Mr Li all visited Mao’s mausoleum on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

However, there was no mention of Mao’s birthday on the front page of the party’s official paper.

Although in a commentary in later pages, the paper praised him as a “great patriot and hero”, it also carried an editorial piece saying the “best commemoration” of Mao would be to keep advancing economic reforms that were launched by his successor.

Correspondents say Chinese politicians have to balance their praise of Mao, to whom they owe their political legitimacy, with an appreciation that some of his policies had disastrous consequences.

Millions died during the Great Leap Forward, when Mao’s attempts to collectivise farms coincided with a massive drought.

And many intellectuals, older people and middle class people were purged or killed during Cultural Revolution.

Please join me in expressing to our Chinese friends… UTTER DISGUST at their celebration of the birth of the greatest genocidal monster in the history of the Solar System (with the possible exception of an asteroid or the Yellowstone caldera). You people are sick [bleeps]. Why didn’t you start your stupid one child policy before he was born? Your country and the world would have been immeasurably better off. Hock—ptui!

Since the start of the reform period in 1978, leaders have paid respect to Mao’s achievements but moved away from most of his policies.

Mao’s “achievements”? His “policies”? What’s the difference if one is shot in the back of the head by a policy or slowly starved to death by an achievement?

I assert (without reference) that Mao was responsible for more civilian (i.e. non-war) deaths than Hitler and Stalin combined. (And I’ll throw in Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, William Calley, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Kennedy!) Yet we don’t see state observances of their births. Well, not Hitler’s. Well, not outside of the Palestinian occupation.

I repeat: you people are sick [bleeps] (in a world rather richly populated with sick [bleeps]).

And you’ve got some nerve:

China and South Korea have condemned Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for visiting a shrine that honours war dead including convicted war criminals.

Seoul said it was furious with the “deplorable” act, and Beijing labelled the visit “absolutely unacceptable” and summoned Japan’s ambassador.

You just blew out 120 candles on the birthday (dirthday) cake of a Reaper more Grim than anything the Japanese could muster in their most perverse dreams (and they are indeed a “cruel race”, as termed by Bridget Jones’s mum). Yet you dare to say the honoring of convicted war criminals is “absolutely unacceptable”? They’re Mother-[bleeping]-Teresa compared to your Birthday Boy. I’m going to have to stop here because I need to use the loo. You can bet I’ll be thinking of Mao while I do.

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Hating on the Heterogeneous

As a white American male, I am keenly aware of my inherent racism. I can’t help it; I just have to own it.

But I resolve to try harder to catch up with these people:

The World Values Survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to state the type of people they did not want as neighbours.

Over 40 per cent of respondents in India, Jordan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong said they would not want a neighbour of a different race.

The British were among the most tolerant, along with former colonies the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. People in Latin American counties were also prepared to embrace racially diverse neighbours.

Europe showed widely varying results, with France coming out as notably racially intolerant at 22.7 per cent. Former Soviet states such as Belarus and Latvia proved to be more tolerant than many of their European neighbours, according to the study.

Why can’t France be more like that nice Japan?

As Japanese nationalism is fueled by friction with neighbors over territories and World War II legacy issues, hostile demonstrations against the country’s Korean residents are gathering steam, raising concerns among political leaders and setting off soul-searching among Japan’s largely homogeneous population.

While attendance at the rallies is small and such extreme actions are far from entering the mainstream of Japanese politics, the demonstrations of nationalist activists using hate speech and intimidation have grown in size and frequency in recent months. One target has been the central Tokyo neighborhood of Shin-Okubo, known for Korean restaurants and shops selling South Korean pop-culture goods. Starting in February, groups of 200 or so demonstrators have descended on its busy weekend streets, waving Japanese flags and carrying signs that read “Roaches” and “Go Back to Korea.” They shouted in unison: “Let’s Kill Koreans,” language that passersby told local television they found shocking.

I suppose it’s understandable given the behavior of Imperial Korea before and during World War Two. Occupation, massacres, “comfort women”—Korea has a lot to answer for.

Or do I have that backwards?

PS: I realize this is just cross-talk in the “conversation on race”, so just ignore.


How Big China?

Big China fine. How you?

China has submitted to the UN a detailed explanation of its claims to a disputed area of the East China Sea.

It argues that certain geological features prove its territory extends out to a group of islands near Japan.

A UN commission of geological experts will examine China’s submission but does not have the authority to resolve conflicting claims.

Beijing and Tokyo have long laid claim to the islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Tensions flared up again in September after the Japanese government bought three of the islands from their private Japanese owner, triggering public protests in some Chinese cities.

Since then Chinese ships have been sailing in and out of waters around the islands, prompting warnings from Japan.

There was another diplomatic spat on Thursday after a Chinese government plane flew near the disputed islands.

Tokyo responded by scrambling fighter jets. Both countries accused the other of violating their air space.

Nice of China to submit its claims to a body that has no authority, that is part of an organization know for spinelessness, and that it can feel free to ignore if it doesn’t like the answer.

Any other territorial disputes we should know about?

A former senior U.S. defense official viewed as a possible successor to Leon Panetta as defense secretary said the Philippines has recently mistaken U.S. renewed engagement in the region as an opportunity to more assertively pursue territorial claims against China.

Michèle Flournoy, who served as undersecretary for defense policy until February 2012, said last month while the U.S. needed to send clear signals of support for its allies in the region, it also needed to ensure that support didn’t lead allies to act provocatively.

Naming the Philippines specifically, she said there was a risk of Manila “mistaking U.S. support for an opportunity to be much more assertive in staking their claims. I think we have to be careful that we don’t feed that dynamic.”

“I do think there is a danger of some of our friends occasionally misreading, or miscalculating, in terms of the support that they have from the United States,” Ms. Flournoy added.

Tensions between China and the Philippines escalated rapidly this year over longstanding territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Many feared a prolonged spring standoff between Chinese and Philippine government vessels in the sea’s disputed Scarborough Shoal would trigger conflict.

The standoff eventually drew down peacefully, but revived questions over what the U.S. would do in the event of an armed China-Philippines clash. The U.S. is obligated to protect the Philippines by a 1951 mutual-defense pact. It remains unclear, however, whether a conflict in disputed territory would trigger the U.S. to act in defense of its Asian ally.

Countries rise and fall, disputed territories change hands. It happens. But China knows what it’s doing, and whom it’s messing with. In Japan and the Philippines, it is taking on two of the USA’s closest allies in Asia. That can’t be an accident.

Neither can our response. Arab sheikhs, Asian PMs; once more, President Obama has bowed to foreign authorities.


A Modest Proposal

I’m not sure myself, but might it not be a good idea to take away Iran’s nuclear weapons program—and give it to Japan?

Woody Island is a speck of land in the middle of the South China Sea, not quite a square mile in size. Over the past 80 years it has been occupied by French Indochina, Imperial Japan, the Republic of China, the People’s Republic of China, South Vietnam, and, after a brief war in 1974, the People’s Republic again. Now known as Yongxing to the Chinese (or Phu Lam to the Vietnamese, who still lay claim to it), the island has an airstrip, a harbor, and a few hundred Chinese residents, none native-born, many of whom make their living as fishermen.

An obscure tropical island may seem an odd starting point for an essay on the coming global disorder. Yet great conflicts have been known to flare over little things in faraway places.

On July 24, 2012, Beijing decreed that henceforth the little village of Sansha on Woody Island would be considered a “prefecture-level city,” complete with a mayor, a people’s congress, a military garrison—and claims to administer the 770,000 square miles of surrounding waters, an area larger than the Gulf of Mexico. Beijing’s coup was protested loudly by Vietnam and more quietly by the U.S. State Department, which fretted that the move ran “counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences” in the South China Sea. In response, Beijing called a U.S. embassy official to the carpet and demanded that the United States “shut up.”

China’s leaders are fond of advertising their country’s “peaceful rise,” and the pro-China chorus in the West has sought to engage Beijing as a “responsible stakeholder” in global affairs. Yet in the last three years alone, Beijing has provoked quasi-military confrontations over disputed waters with Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and even the United States, all the while insisting that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over nearly the whole of the sea. “China is a big country and other countries are small countries,” explained Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi at a regional summit in 2010. “And that is just a fact.”

And you thought Woody Island just made funny movies. This one sounds almost as serious (and as bad) as Interiors.

Look, this is the next chapter in the History of the World. The radical Islam plot line is by no means done, but China’s not going to wait around for Al Qaeda to pick us apart before making its move. Its next move, that is.

And whom do you think is better equipped to deal with it?

PS: Let me forestall any gotchas out there by saying I know it’s the Japanese Emperor he’s bowing to, not a Chinese autocrat-du-jour. (That will come.) But you can’t deny the symbolism.

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Of Course You Know, This Means War

As Aggie has observed, Mitt Romney’s dog gets more coverage in the lapdog press than most pressing issues of the day.

But Rex or Fido or whatever was a heck of a lot safer on top of Mitt’s car than he is in Barack’s world.

Example One:

Chinese streets were quiet today after anti-Japan protests, many of them violent, rocked more than a 100 cities last week. Large demonstrations continued through Tuesday, the 81st anniversary of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria.

The disturbances, triggered by a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, are commonly described as the worst anti-Japan riots to hit the country since at least 2005, and they may have even been more destructive than that.

Last Monday, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce official, Jin Baisong, wrote in the official China Daily that Beijing should take “strong countermeasures, especially economic sanctions” against Japan. And on the same day People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s chief propaganda organ, said it could use economic sanctions to force Japan into one or more “lost decades.”

Threats like these may work in the immediate term—as they did in 2010 when Tokyo was pressured to release a Chinese captain who rammed two Japanese coast guard vessels—but in our just-in-time world they inevitably erode confidence in China. The last thing Beijing should be doing at this moment is reminding the global business community that it cannot be trusted.

And that brings us to the third reason why the disturbances last week could have long-term adverse consequences for China. By now, it’s apparent the Communist Party has been promoting anti-Japan sentiment. There were virtually no anti-Japan protests in the early years of the People’s Republic, when two strongmen, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, ruled the country. Now, however, two weak leaders, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, have resorted to whipping up nationalist sentiment to bolster the Party’s faltering legitimacy.

Because senior Party leaders are failing to maintain unity at home, it’s likely they will continue to press Tokyo over their claims to the Senkakus. In recent weeks, Beijing has upped the stakes by sending patrol vessels and threatening to flood the disputed area with “more than 1,000” craft.

Unfortunately, Beijing in recent years has lost its ability to compromise its territorial claims, some of which are outlandish. Beijing has laid down a marker for itself and cannot yield an inch. This makes each claim a flashpoint.

And Tokyo is beginning to realize there is no appeasing Chinese leaders. On the 14th, the official China Daily, by making a reference to Kume in the Ryukyus, laid the historical groundwork for raising a claim on that Japanese island chain, which is near the Senkakus. Said Hissho Yanai, a Japanese activist, to the New York Times, “If we let them have the Senkaku Islands, they’ll come after all of Okinawa next.”

In fact, Beijing officials have talked about taking the Ryukyus after they get the Senkakus. And we should not think the Chinese are limiting their anger to the Japanese. Last week’s events have been compared, in their intensity and their aims, to the anti-foreigner Boxer Rebellion, which began just at the end of the 19th century.

That, unfortunately, is a historical parallel we should remember. Rioters on Tuesday attacked and damaged the car of American ambassador Gary Locke while he was in it.

Naturally, that assault on an American ambassador was overshadowed by an assault on another American ambassador.

But it’s getting to be a habit among our adversaries.

Speaking of bad habits:

A senior member of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces warned Israel against considering an incursion into the Sinai Peninsula to contain terrorist activity.

Speaking anonymously to the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Yom on Monday, the official said that the Egyptian leadership was closely following developments in Sinai and threatened to ”cut off the hand” of any foreign or domestic aggressor. He also praised the ongoing anti-terrorism Egyptian operations in Sinai.

The council member said that Egypt takes seriously Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reported desire to “purge” the Sinai of terrorists, and warned against Israeli attempts to “provoke Egypt.”

Which language reeks of suspect familiarity:

Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel if it was sure the Jewish state were preparing to attack it, a senior commander of its elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made the comments to Iran’s state-run Arabic language Al-Alam television, according to a report on the network’s website.

“Iran will not start any war but it could launch a pre-emptive attack if it was sure that the enemies are putting the final touches to attack it,” Al-Alam said, paraphrasing the military commander.

Hajizadeh, who heads the Guard’s aerospace division, said any attack on Iranian soil could trigger “World War III.”

“We cannot imagine the Zionist regime starting a war without America’s support. Therefore, in case of a war, we will get into a war with both of them and we will certainly get into a conflict with American bases,” he said. “In that case, unpredictable and unmanageable things would happen and it could turn into a World War III.”

At least Iran is honest enough to state the terms and consequences of the world today. Would that Obama and the American media had the same determination.

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Shitake Mushroom Cloud [UPDATED]

Maybe instead of destroying Iran’s A-bomb lab, they could just box it up and ship it to Japan?

Protests against Japan for its control of disputed islands swelled across more than a dozen cities in China and at times turned violent Saturday, with protesters hurling rocks at the Japanese Embassy and clashing with Chinese paramilitary police before order was restored.

Thousands of protesters gathered in front of the embassy in Beijing. Hundreds tried to storm a metal police barricade but were pushed back by riot police armed with shields, helmets and batons. A few made it through but were quickly taken away by plainclothes police. Protesters also threw rocks and burned Japanese flags.

Protests were more orderly in most other cities, though in the southern
city of Changsha protesters smashed a police car made by Mitsubishi, according to reports online.

Anti-Japanese sentiment, never far from the surface in China, has been building for weeks, touched off by moves by Tokyo and fanned by a feverish campaign in Chinese state media. Passions grew more heated this past week after the Japanese government purchased the contested East China Sea islands from their private owners. Though Japan has controlled the uninhabited islands — called Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese — for decades, China saw the purchase as an affront to its claims and as further proof of Tokyo’s refusal to negotiate over them.

In response, Beijing has lodged angry protests and tried to bolster its claims by briefly sending lightly armed marine surveillance ships into what Japan says are its territorial waters around the islands and by ratcheting up state media coverage. Some news programs featured explanations of historic documents and bellicose commentary.

Smaller demonstrations had been staged throughout the week. But they boiled over Saturday, especially in Beijing. Outside the Japanese Embassy, the protesters — most of whom appeared to be students — shouted slogans demanding Japan relinquish the islands and claiming China’s ownership of them. The crowd grew larger than expected, prompting police to close off a main thoroughfare to traffic.

See, what you want to do, China, is overwhelm the unarmed embassy, take the ambassador hostage, torture and kill him, then parade his corpse around the streets like an Italian saint day madonna. I would have thought that would be child’s play for you.

Why the kerfuffle over a few rocky outcroppings in the East China Sea?

As Wikipedia tells it:

After a 1968 study by experts discovered that oil reserves might be found under the sea near the Senkaku Islands, Japan’s ownership of the islands has been disputed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC, also known as Taiwan) following the transfer of administration from United States to Japan in 1971.

To be fair to China (as when are we not?), they’ve claimed ownership for centuries, though they didn’t start speaking up until more recently.

To be continued: the Chinese opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Don’t worry, Japan. Just ask Israel what “we got your back” means:

“There is a perception in Japan that the U.S. commitment is ambiguous,” says Yoichiro Sato, director of international strategic studies at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in southern Japan. “If China thinks Japan will hesitate to respond or that America will hesitate, that will embolden the Chinese. It’s better that America sends a clear, explicit message now than have to respond to something worse later.”


Learn Something New Every Day

Did you know, for example, that if you lose territory in war, you don’t necessarily get it back?

It’s true!


Due to the statements of Japanese officials published by mass media that possible visits of representatives of Russian government to the Southern Kuril Islands would contradict to the position of Tokyo in the so-called “territorial issue,” the following should be mentioned.

The Southern Kuril Islands are an integral part of the Russian Federation. The comments from abroad regarding the transportation of the Russian government in the territory of their own country are at least inappropriate.

Here’s a map, just to bring everyone up to speed:

The Japanese had longstanding ties to the islands they called Chishima, although disputes with Russia go back centuries.

But all that ended after Japan lost WWII.

In August 18–31 [1945—after the US had decimated Japanese resistance with the atomic bombs], Soviet forces invaded the North and South Kurils. The entire Japanese civilian population of roughly 17,000 was expelled by 1946.


If anyone is aware of any other situations where a warring people, who lost on their territorial gamble, and had to sacrifice disputed land as a result, please let me know. I think the United Nations, the European Union, the Quartet (which includes the Russian Federation), and Desmond Tutu would be interested too.


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