Surrounded by Threats, Japan Rethinks Decades of Military Dependency – The New York Times

Motoko Rich and 

Reporting from Tokyo

“Over nearly seven decades, Japan has relied on commitments from the United States, its most important ally, for protection in the event of an enemy attack. Japan hosts the largest contingent of overseas American troops and regularly conducts drills with them. It has purchased more American-made F-35 stealth fighter jets than any other country outside the United States.

Yet now, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine challenges long-held security assumptions and as threats from China and North Korea multiply, Japan is starting to rely more on itself, a shift that could quietly alter the balance of power in Asia.

The country’s governing party is pushing to increase Japan’s defense budget drastically, develop more military hardware domestically and redefine what it can do with those weapons under the pacifist Constitution in place since the end of World War II.

By asserting its own deterrent power, Japan — the world’s third-largest economy — could become less a military protectorate of the United States and more an equal partner. That could help fulfill the desire of American leaders for Japan to serve as a stronger military counter to China, as Beijing uses its rapidly improving armed forces to menace Taiwan and send ballistic missiles and coast guard ships into Japan’s territorial waters.”

Why Is This Colorful Little Wheel Suddenly Everywhere in Japan? – The New York Times

TOKYO — A few years ago, a colorful new accessory suddenly began to appear on the lapels of dark-suited salarymen across Japan: a small badge, shaped like a roulette wheel and divided into 17 rainbow-colored sections.

Soon, the logo was seemingly everywhere, proudly displayed in hip boutiques, at children’s playgrounds and on the websites of Buddhist temples.

The object of that zeal? The 17-point U.N. framework known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

S.D.G.s, as they are called, encourage every nation on earth to become a better place, with such hard-to-argue-against aspirations as ending poverty, improving education and reducing inequality.

Charles Loeb: The Black Reporter Who Exposed an Atomic Bomb Lie – The New York Times

” “Loeb Reflects On Atomic Bombed Area,” read the headline in The Atlanta Daily World of Oct. 5, 1945, two months after Hiroshima’s ruin.

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In the world of Black newspapers, that name alone was enough to attract readers.

Charles H. Loeb was a Black war correspondent whose articles in World War II were distributed to papers across the United States by the National Negro Publishers Association. In the article, Mr. Loeb told how bursts of deadly radiation had sickened and killed the city’s residents. His perspective, while coolly analytic, cast light on a major wartime cover up.

The Page 1 article contradicted the War Department, the Manhattan Project, and The New York Times and its star reporter, William L. Laurence, on what had become a bitter dispute between the victor and the vanquished. Japan insisted that the bomb’s invisible rays at Hiroshima and Nagasaki had led to waves of sudden death and lingering illness. Emphatically, the United States denied that charge.”

Marie Kondo Talks About Tidying Up in 2021 and Her New Product Launch – The New York Times

It was perhaps inevitable that Marie Kondo, the one-time Shinto shrine maiden turned tidiness guru and media powerhouse, would expand her organizing business into products.

Yet her first embrace of consumerism more than a year ago roiled the internet, which cried foul as she began selling an array of minimalist objects — housewares, decorative items and organizing supplies — that included pink suede slippers, a boar-bristle broom set and, most notably, a tuning fork presented as a “reset” tool, the ping of which one imagined was the actual sound of “sparking joy,” Ms. Kondo’s trademark phrase.

It was a spare (ish) collection, however. Her latest foray is expansive: 100 organizing objects in a collaboration with — wait for it — the Container Store.

This is the second blockbuster alliance between the retailer and what we might call organizing media. Last year the Container Store partnered with the Home Edit, the Tennessee-based company responsible for Khloé Kardashian’s hair extension closet — an Instagram sensation the writer Amanda FitzSimons likened to an art installation about late-stage capitalism. If Ms. Kondo’s ethos of aspirational organization leans toward emotional and moral clarity — a transformative act, as she often points out — the Home Edit, which uses the colors of the rainbow as its organizing principle, is the equivalent of flashing a logo. (“Conscientious luxury” is how Pam Danziger, a marketing expert, would define both efforts, a trend on point for 2021.)

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NY Times Comment:
Someone who knows me, asked me to read her little book on tidying up the house. It was good advice, and I resolved to try harder. One of her neat ideas, hold up each individual x, a book in the library, a record or CD, and ask, does this item give me joy? If it doesn’t, give it up. She obviously isn’t a writer and historian with archival instincts. Yet, I know that the internet has made most of my archives obsolete. What really keeps me from cleaning up? I’d rather read the NY Times and its competitors and blog about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Also, deep down inside, I know that the easiest way to really clean up, is to die, and the ones who follow will less anguish than I over my multitude of collections.

There Are No Children Here. Just Lots of Life-Size Dolls. – The New York Times

By 

Photographs by 

“NAGORO, Japan — The last children were born in the remote mountain village of Nagoro 18 years ago.

Now, just over two dozen adults live in this outpost straddling a river on the Japanese island of Shikoku. The elementary school closed its doors in 2012, shortly after the last two students completed sixth grade.

But on a recent bright autumn Sunday, Tsukimi Ayano brought the school back to life.

It just so happened that she did it with dolls rather than humans.

Ms. Ayano, 70, had arrayed more than 40 handmade dolls in a lifelike tableau on the grounds of the shuttered school. Recreating a school sports day known as “undokai,” a staple of the Japanese calendar, she had posed child-size dolls in a footrace, perched on a swing set and tossing balls.

“We never see children here anymore,” said Ms. Ayano, who was born in Nagoro, and has staged an annual doll festival for the last seven years.”

David Lindsay:  Comment to NYT

What a lovely, strange story by Motoko Rich and  Nadia Shira Cohen. Thank you. Dr of Nothing commented to this extraordinary piece: “What we are seeing here is a town at the end of its lifespan, but also a society and culture in significant decline. Japan is predicted to have half its current population by the end of the century, so this is more than just a retreat, its a collapse.”

I must disagree completely.  Japan is one of the most overpopulated places in the planet, and naturalists  are suggesting that for the life as we know it to be sustainable, and with other creatures, we need to reduce world population from 7.6 to perhaps 4 billion. That the Japanese are doing their part to bring their own country to more sustainable human numbers, to allow for other species, and clean air and water, and less climate change is magnificent.

Wikipedia reports, “According to the World Bank, the population of Japan as of 2018 is at 126.5 million, including foreign residents.[3] The population of only Japanese nationals was 124.8 million in January 2019.[4]

Japan was the world’s tenth-most populous country as of 2018. “  They showed that in 1910, the population was only about 51 million.

This fact that overpopulated states are going down in population is not bad news. It is good news, and a necessary part of our survival through a slowing of climate change and the sixth extinction of species.

David Lindsay Jr. is an author of “The Tay Son Rebellion”  and blogs at InconvenientNews.net.

Opinion | Where the Cold War Never Ended – By Ian Buruma – The New York Times

Japan and South Korea stir up an old, odd rivalry.

By 

Mr. Buruma is a writer and a professor at Bard College.

CreditCreditOleksii Liskonih/iStock, via Getty Images Plus

“In a rational world, South Korea and Japan ought to be the best of friends. Their cultures and languages are closely linked. Their economies are deeply entangled. And as the only liberal democracies in East Asia (along with Taiwan), they have to contend with the threat of North Korean belligerence and Chinese domination.

But the world is not so rational, and so the two American allies have recently become engaged in a flaming economic row, ostensibly sparked by historical wrongs. Late last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies should compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines during World War II. Assets of major Japanese companies, such as Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have been seized in South Korea, and they could soon be sold. The Japanese government protested that this matter had already been resolved in 1965, when the two countries reached an agreement claiming to settle “completely and finally” all colonial-era claims in exchange for financial aid and loans from Japan worth $500 million.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan retaliated last month by slapping controls on vital exports to South Korea. He cited reasons of national security, but few believe that. Demonstrators in Seoul then protested against a Japanese “economic invasion,” and the South Korean government threatened to stop sharing military intelligence with Japan.

This latest spat follows many others to do with history: the alleged lack of sincerity in official Japanese apologies for having subjected Korea to brutal colonial rule between 1910 and 1945; fights over revisions to school textbooks that downplay Japan’s wartime aggression; the refusal of conservative Japanese governments to admit that Korean women were systematically recruited to serve as sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army.”

Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

“There has been an emperor in Japan for more than 15 centuries, making the Chrysanthemum Throne the world’s oldest continuous monarchy. On Tuesday, the emperor stepped down, yielding to his eldest son in the first abdication in 200 years. This is the family’s story.

We know him as Akihito, the emperor of Japan, a gentle figure who championed peace in a nation devastated by war. But she called him Jimmy.

It was the autumn of 1946, a year after the end of the Second World War, and he was a 12-year-old boy, the crown prince of a defeated land, sitting in an unheated classroom on the outskirts of Tokyo. There, a new American teacher insisted on a more prosaic name for his highness. His father, the wartime emperor, Hirohito, had been revered as a god, but she made clear he never would be.

“In this class, your name is Jimmy,” declared the teacher, Elizabeth Gray Vining, a 44-year-old librarian and children’s book author from Philadelphia.

“No,” Akihito swiftly replied. “I am Prince.””

Source: Japan Would Make Akihito Emperor, but She Called Him ‘Jimmy’ – The New York Times

Carlos Ghosn- Emerging in Public- Lays Out His Defense – By Motoko Rich – The New York Times

 

By Motoko Rich

“TOKYO — Carlos Ghosn and his lawyers are laying out the most comprehensive case yet for his innocence, nearly two months after his arrest shook the auto business and tarnished the reputation of an industry titan.

Still, it may not be enough to free him from jail for months, as prosecutors try to build a case against the ousted Nissan Motor chairman and onetime leader of an automaking juggernaut that builds more than 10 million cars annually.

Mr. Ghosn’s chief defense lawyer in Japan said on Tuesday that prosecutors had no basis for holding him in jail on allegations that he improperly transferred personal losses to Nissan’s books, saying that board members had approved the transactions.

Late Tuesday, that lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, submitted a request to the court to release Mr. Ghosn from detention on the grounds that Nissan did not ultimately bear any losses and that he was not a flight risk.”

Source: Carlos Ghosn, Emerging in Public, Lays Out His Defense – The New York Times

 The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn – by Amy Chozick and Motoko Rich – New York Times

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“Carlos Ghosn was tired. At 64 years old, the chairman of an auto empire that spanned several continents and included Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi wasn’t bouncing back from jet lag the way he used to. Melatonin wasn’t working anymore, and he had bouts of insomnia, phoning his children in the middle of the night or going on long walks around his Tokyo or Paris neighborhood. He planned to retire soon, stepping back from spending his life on an airplane, albeit a luxurious one paid for by Nissan.

Last month, just before Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Ghosn headed to Tokyo to meet his youngest daughter and her boyfriend and attend a board meeting. He was scheduled to land at Haneda Airport at 4 p.m.

The daughter, Maya Ghosn, 26, had spent most of her childhood in Japan and wanted to introduce her boyfriend, Patrick, to her favorite places. Bringing a boyfriend home is a common rite of passage, but a particularly intimidating prospect when growing up Ghosn — a child of one of the most romanticized and ruthless chief executives the global business community has ever seen.

Ms. Ghosn had made a 7:30 dinner reservation at Jiro, the Michelin-starred sushi counter hidden in a basement in the city’s Ginza district.

On the tarmac in Beirut, Lebanon, Mr. Ghosn opened WhatsApp and texted his four children on a group chain labeled “Game of Ghosns,” for his favorite TV show, “Game of Thrones,” the bloody HBO drama about dynasties under siege. “On my way to Tokyo! Love you guys!” Mr. Ghosn texted as his jet lifted off.

Image
Police officers outside the Tokyo jail where Carlos Ghosn, the former head of Nissan, has been detained since his arrest in November.CreditCarl Court/Getty Images

He never made it to dinner.

On Nov. 19, Japanese prosecutors surrounded Mr. Ghosn’s Gulfstream after its arrival and arrested him on allegations that for years he had withheld millions of dollars in income from Nissan’s financial filings.”

Source: The Rise and Fall of Carlos Ghosn – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  This is a fascinating tragedy for Carlos Ghosn.  I have just scratched the surface. It appears, he never understood Japanese culture or values, and insulted both. He also did a great job turning around Nissan, when it needed a dose of change.

Opinion | Don’t Fall for Facebook’s ‘China Argument’ – by Tim Wu – The New York Times

America’s global dominance in technology requires fierce competition at home, not the coddling of monopolies.

Tim Wu

By Tim Wu

Mr. Wu is a law professor who specializes in antitrust.

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CreditCreditAlex Merto

“Over the last year or so, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and other American tech leaders have issued a stark warning to those who want to see more competition in the industry. It goes something like this: “We understand that we’ve made mistakes. But don’t you realize that if you damage us, you’ll just be handing over the future to China? Unlike America, the Chinese government is standing behind its tech firms, because it knows that the competition is global, and it wants to win.”

This — Big Tech’s version of the “too big to fail” argument — has a superficial nationalistic appeal. It’s certainly true that the Chinese technology sector is growing and aggressively competitive, and that many of its companies are embraced and promoted by the Chinese state. By one count, eight of the world’s 20 largest tech firms are Chinese. That would seem to suggest a contest for global dominance, one in which the United States ought not be considering breakups or regulation, but instead be doing everything it can to protect and subsidize the home team.

But to accept this argument would be a mistake, for it betrays and ignores hard-won lessons about the folly of an industrial policy centered on “national champions,” especially in the tech sector. What Facebook is really asking for is to be embraced and protected as America’s very own social media monopolist, bravely doing battle overseas. But both history and basic economics suggest we do much better trusting that fierce competition at home yields stronger industries overall.

That’s the lesson from the history of Japanese-American tech competition. During the 1970s and into the ’80s, it was widely believed that Japan was threatening the United States for supremacy in technology markets. The Japanese giant NEC was a serious challenger to IBM in the mainframe market; Sony was running over consumer electronics, joined by powerful firms like Panasonic and Toshiba. These companies enjoyed the support of the Japanese state, through the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which pursued a nationalistic industrial policy thought to be infallible.”

Source: Opinion | Don’t Fall for Facebook’s ‘China Argument’ – The New York Times