Monthly Archives: August 2015

China and Noble Lie.

225_one_week

Based on conventional democracy, we simply tend to believe the majority in our society is always entitled to make decisions on where to go. However, from the view point of those who lead the society, that is not always the case. The majority focus not on what to do in the long term but only on issues and interests at this juncture. Because the latter usually harms the former, the leadership is forced to overcome such a dichotomy. To do so, our leaders just tell lies to people on the street. This is called, for example, “Notluege” in German, or “noble lie” in English.

This week, we experienced a noble lie again. It’s China/Mainland that mattered: As soon as the global financial market began to collapse on August 24, world leaders and their mass media blamed PRC for the turbulence in the world economy. Since the Chinese government hesitated not just to announce to take measures for combatting the “new normality”, but to implement them immediately, the stock markets on the globe continued to go down without exceptions. In the course of time, global leadership and their mass media even refer to a possible end of the current Chinese political leadership, by picking up the latest explosion in Tianjin as an evidence for that. “Well, this is the very beginning of the end”, they explained. Fearing of total collapse of PRC, investors massively seek their safe haven in either cash or short bond. Of course, that accelerated the collapse of stock markets. Even USD began to decline vis-à-vis JPY and EUR. Again the global leadership and their mass media repeatedly cried, “Guys, this is finally the collapse of the Chinese bubble economy”, as Ken’ichi OMAE, legendary consultant of corporate management, did to the Japanese public.

The reality is quite opposite to such a thesis: Just after this “Black Monday”, the global stock market started to rebound, as if nothing had happened. It has been revealing that unknown “big brothers” sold certain stocks and then bought other specific stocks massively. Without knowing that, even institutional investors were sacrificed. Being surprised by the abrupt change in the financial market, they had once sold stocks and USD massively, and then were forced to buy them back in a historical large scale. What on August 24 happened was, just the Midsummer’s Daydream. China/Mainland and its current regime still exists.

The point is who the unknown “big brothers” I pointed out are. Absolutely, they’re the winners in this game. From my viewpoint, it’s central bankers led by US and Europe and the Chinese government that worked together. For the former, it was essential to take measures for preventing prices from rising in an irreversible manner. For the latter, strategic investment to Japanese stocks related to high technology are urgently needed to save the Chinese economy. In this regard, stocks particularly in the Japanese market had to decline to be then sold out. Last but not least, the BOJ is suspected to collaborate with them. On November 4, Japan Post and its sister companies plan to do initial public offering. To make it extremely successful, BOJ and GOJ have to do everything possible to wake up Japanese retail and institutional investors. Therefore, a kind of shock therapy is preferred.

Next week, I’ll attend G20/B20 joint meeting in Ankara, where the representative of PRC/Mainland will surely try to explain, “The crisis is not over but effectively controlled.” The noble lie continues. Stay tuned.

China, China, China!!

shigeru_yoshida

Since the Shanghai stock market has begun to pretend to “collapse”, everybody repeatedly claims China (=PRC) is responsible for all the issues we’re facing. Every time I hear such a claim, I spontaneously remember what my elder colleague in the Japanese diplomacy once told me a few years ago: When he entered the Japanese diplomatic service in early 1960s, he and his colleagues were privileged to be given a lecture by Japanese former legendary PM Shigeru YOSHIDA. YOSHIDA kept them waiting so long in the class room of training institute in Myogadani/TOKYO. And finally he came and began abruptly to say just one phrase. “Guys, what important for the Japanese diplomacy is, is China.” Then, he left. That was all. The young Japanese were terribly surprised and stunned.

Shigeru YOSHIDA is right. China shakes the whole world, as the Arabs did in 1970s. Now, you may wonder how long the current turbulence in the global market and community will last. I would say, “At least until September, 2016.” When IMF will make the postponed final decision on whether RMB will be included in its currency basket. Towards such a goal, the worldwide struggle between the Chinese and the Jewish continues, which increases volatilities in every aspect of the global market and community.

Even in the midst of this historical situation, GOJ decided to do the biggest IPO in the Japanese history on November 4, 2015: Japan Post and its sister companies will list stocks. Is it a mere bureaucratic failure or a tactic maneuver to draw attention of global investors? Well, let’s see. Anyway, you can’t help avoiding to face “China”, so that you will finally a way out to survive. Stay tuned.

Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergeht.

shinzo_abe_20150814

For the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, Japanese PM Shinzo ABE released his official statement yesterday. On January 2, I had an opportunity to meet him personally and exchanged views on global affairs. During our meeting, he proudly explained that his cabinet tries to do something different from its predecessors’ achievements. In this regard, the Japanese public expected his statement on the occasion of the 70th anniversary would refer to something which could deviate from the past.

Based on my diplomatic experiences which I gathered as one of Japanese diplomats in charge of our Emperor and Empress’s state visit to Netherlands in 2000, I can hardly find something significant in Abe’s statement. He obviously failed to justify the Japanese attempt to get rid of economic difficulties by the war. Instead of doing so, he simply reiterated that “Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war.” This is quite the same phrase GOJ expressed has made use of. Nothing brand new happened.

What awfully interesting for me is foreign governments’ reactions: US loudly expressed sincere appreciation, even though the statement never includes sentences related to Japan-US alliance expressly. East Asian neighbors such as PRC and ROK show their disappointment. Russia just disregards it, as if any official statement were not released. Nothing significant is brought about.

The point is what “Proactive Contribution to Peace” exactly means, which PM Abe referred to at the very end of his statement. If he tries to join western type of “war economy” herewith, it will just make us understand what German President Richard von Weizsaecker said once: “Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergeht”. We shall never accept such a rhetoric to make us unconsciously involved in tragedy to be repeated by our own Japanese leaders again. Since every single war in the past was started by a “tactic maneuver” to maintain the peace. Recalling the truth in the past, we shall resolutely let the past go away by saying “NO” to any attempt to abuse war economy to boost the national economy.

“Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cabinet Decision

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.

However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

Thus, we must take to heart the following.

The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.

We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfil its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan

Towards “long-term” and “infrastructure”

soong_ming_ling_Yuanshan

Having got back from a pleasant journey through Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei, I’m writing this column very early in the morning at home in Tokyo. Facing extremely energetic Chinese societies abroad, a kind of cultural relativization occurs to me again.

The Japanese in general tend to be proud of being Japanese based on their unique tradition. They even believe their way of life must be prioritized due to its difference from the western one. Because the latter has been approaching its end, the former is about to start to save the world, they simply think. The way of thinking in Japanese intellectuals” brain consists of such a dichotomy: “West” versus “East led by Japan”.

Now that I thoroughly studied what’s been happening in the Chinese societies inside and outside PRC again, I’m finally about to depart from this typical Japanese belief in superiority. It’s this simple idea without reasons that rather matters to lasting difficulties in Japan.

Why? In the course of discussions I did with one of my closest Chinese friends recently, she clearly shows me what she’s always been aimed at: “long-term” and “life-time infrastructure”. Of course, she sometimes jumps in something profitable in the extreme short-term. However, only provided that another long-term scheme includes the former. Again, she focuses in principle on both “long-term” and “life-time infrastructure”. Because her scheme is so, it draws attention of more and more partners and colleagues around her, which then makes her more and more successful. What’s left for her to do is just always being fit both physically and psychologically. The people commit themselves to her scheme, since they has deep trust in her personality. The scheme remains, as long as she lives.

How about the “Japanese” way? It always begins to move forward, only after others already started. Not evading risks in advance but getting more and more in troubles and volatilities afterwards, the Japanese tend to stick to the “short-term”. Because only a short time is left for them, they work extremely hard to make profit in other’s markets like vulture funds. Their business is now so successful that they hardly believe it comes to an end soon. The X-Day, on which every single risk breaks out, abruptly comes, and the Japanese loose almost everything they have earned so far. That makes them again think only in the “short-term”. In lack of “life-time infrastructure”, the Japanese have to continue working hard like vulture funds. They can’t help stop being so, therefore they even start to be proud of being so: “We’re a selected nation and can always be diligent, while others are lazy. “ According to this belief (or “superstition”), they love to work hard even until they die at the desk. “Death in the office” is virtue in Japan after the WWII.

Thanks to experiences I gathered recently, I’m finally awakening. My institute and I have to concentrate on building up schemes as long-term and profitable infrastructure from now on. A brand new Odyssey has just begun. Stay tuned…