Japan’s denial of past military aggression undermines world peace; intervention in SCS perverse, vicious


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August 15 marked the 71st anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender during World War II. However, on this special day when Japan should spend time reflecting on its history of militaristic aggression, its Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a ritual offering to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine.

The Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 Class-A convicted war criminals among 2.5 million Japanese war dead from WWII, is regarded as a symbol of past Japanese militarism.

The honoring of war criminals, no matter what form it takes, only serves to further hurt those Asian neighbors that Japan once invaded. Such perverse acts to whitewash its crimes of military aggression runs contrary to the pursuit of peace in Asia and the world at large.

It’s common knowledge that the Yasukuni Shrine is a source of spiritual inspiration for Japan to start another war of aggression. Yet, the country’s new Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has tried to associate such a notorious place with the mourning of soldiers belonging to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.

She claimed at a recent seminar that “the Yasukuni Shirine is not the place to vow not to fight. It needs to become a place where we vow to desperately fight when our Motherland is at risk.” Her words shocked even the Kyodo News.

The 71-year-peace after WWII was hard-won. Born from the victory over fascism, this peace has been the foundation for post-war international order. This conclusion is not something that can be ignored, denied or overturned by any country.

World peace and the post-war order, which came at the cost of the blood and lives of the peoples of Allied countries, is closely tied to justice.

Last year, the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of the World Anti-Fascist War, but some countries, looking out for their own interests, have turned a blind eye to the wrongdoings of Japan and have even urged Japan to abandon its pacifist constitution. The world today is witnessing the negative impact brought about by this short-sighted strategy.

By erasing its invasion history, Japan is on one hand attempting to lock away memories of the war and on the other hand setting the stage for future action. In the House of Councillors election in July, lawmakers pushing for Constitution amendments won more than two-thirds of seats. This has led to forward-thinking people in Japan to also begin worrying about the “return of war.”

In order to strengthen military power and shake off the post-war order, the Abe administration usually uses the so-called “China threat” as an excuse to deceive the Japanese public and other parts of the world.

After Japan adopted its new security laws that lifted a decades-old ban on collective self-defense, the Abe administration has been making every effort to contain China by instigating disputes between China and other countries.

On the day when the so-called arbitral decision on the South China Sea dispute was announced in July, Japan, a non-party in the issue, immediately pressured China to accept the arbitration. At the following 11th Asia-Europe Summit and foreign ministers’ meetings on East-Asia cooperation held in last month, Japan reiterated its stance again and again.

In the country’s annual defense white paper issued in early August, Japan pointed fingers at China over the South China Sea issue once again. The paper also made irresponsible remarks concerning China’s armament, military expense and transparency. These actions by the Abe administration has triggered alarm and concern throughout the international community.

Japan’s tribute at the Yasukuni Shrine on Monday once again reminds us that world peace is not that should be taken for granted, it demands continual justice and also the capability to defend it.- People’s Daily

Japan’s intervention in South China Sea perverse, vicious: expert

Japan’s efforts to muddle the waters of the South China Sea are perverse acts that turn back the wheel of history, a Chinese expert wrote on Monday in an article that marked the 71st anniversary of Japan’s unconditional surrender in World War II and called on the public to ponder Japan’s real intentions.

In the People’s Daily article, Hu Dekun, the president of China Association for History of WWII, pointed out that the war of aggression initiated by Japanese fascists during the 1930s and 1940s had brought tremendous disaster to people both in China and the Asia-Pacific region.

As an assailant country, Japan should be held accountable for its war crimes. However, in order to cement its global hegemony, the US, who then exclusively occupied Japanese territory, allied with the latter in the hopes of dominating the Asia-Pacific order.

But instead of repenting for its war crimes and improving ties with the victimized countries, Japanese right-wing politicians started bullying other countries under the support of the US, read the article, titled “Perverse Acts of Japanese Government.”

Things got worse after the US adopted its “Asia-Pacific Rebalance” policy, Hu writes, citing the South China Sea issue as an example.

Hu noted that in a bid to contain China, Japan repeatedly instigated disputes between China and other countries around the South China Sea. Japan, a country not involved in the South China Sea issue, joined the US as another agitator in meddling the waters.

According to Hu, Japan is attempting to get rid of the post-war order by amending its constitution.

After Japan officially adopted the new security laws that lifted the decades-old ban on collective self-defense, the country is now planning a constitution amendment. But the biggest roadblock ahead is public support. The Abe administration is seeking that support by playing up the “China threat.”

What’s more, Tokyo hopes divert public’s attention from other domestic issues. The Abe administration has lost credibility after “Abenomics” failed to revive the Japan’s sluggish economy. By fanning the flames of the South China Sea issue, the administration hopes to route domestic conflicts and consolidate its power.

By poking its nose in the South China Sea, Japan wishes to buddy up to the US. Though the US tried to manipulate some counties to challenge China, its “Asia-Pacific Rebalance” policy suffered serious setbacks by China’s diplomacy, friendships and policy of win-win cooperation, especially as the “Belt and Road” initiative aims to benefit most of its neighboring countries. Japan wants to take this chance to curb China so that it could pander to its alliance with the US.

“What’s Japan’s real intention for interfering in the South China Sea issue? Is Japan going to repeat its mistakes? ”asked Hu. – People’s Daily

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 5 days ago Beware of meddling via soft power ! Joining the club – Illustration: Shen Lan/GT.
MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon …

Beware of meddling via soft power !


MEDDLING by foreign powers is an established phenomenon for as long as one can remember. They are not limited only to the Muslim countries and communities. For example, last year at the Seventh Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Barack Obama indirectly admitted this when he publicly stated that the days of US interference in the affairs of Latin America were coming to an end. Reportedly, he said, “the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past”. Some traced this to as far back as the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries especially after its so-called “discovery” by Columbus. Perhaps, the major difference is that there are many more Latin American leaders and populace who are more “resolute” than their Muslim counterparts in resisting any attempt to meddle.

More generally “colonialism” is one form of meddling that many parts of the world have experienced, and are still suffering from it. Malaysia is no exception, no denying that there are some benefits to be learnt from the process. But where it hits the “mind” is where it is more toxic to the extent that it can debilitate. Even long after achieving independence the “colonised” mindsets are still clearly felt whether at the level of the leadership or the population at large. The post-Merdeka generations are more vulnerable when they are shut out from the larger discourse affecting the future of the nation, ironically due to yet another form of “meddling” that left them disenfranchised. In the days of social media, the impact of this can be phenomenal, what with other contending parties that are more than eager to attract their attention, as we have seen recently.

Social media is an excellent platform for yet another form of meddling – soft power. Coined a few years ago, soft power describes “the ability to attract and co-opt using persuasion (mind-twisting) rather than by coercion, notably by bullying and arm-twisting (hard power). To the disenfranchised, soft power is said to be very appealing especially when “credibility is the scarcest resource”, as explained by Joseph Nye, who introduces the concept. In fact more recently, the term has expanded to include “changing and influencing social and public opinion through relatively less transparent channels and lobbying through powerful political and non-political organisations.”

Of the six factors that are often associated with enhancing soft power, education and culture seem to be pivotal. In other words, meddling can be carried out discreetly using these two dimensions. Indeed, Nye did suggest how higher education leaders might enhance American soft power by increasing international student and cultural exchange programmes. Viewed this way, soft power is a very subtle extension of the colonial process without even realising it. A case in point is when in 2007 the Rand Corporation in the US developed a “road map” for the construction of moderate Muslim networks and institutions “that the US government and its allies need, but thus far have failed, to develop clear criteria for partnerships with authentic moderates”. It therefore proposes “the building of moderate Muslim networks an explicit goal of US government programmes”.

More explicitly, it listed who the “moderates” are to be targeted according to priority, namely: liberal and secular Muslim academics and intellectuals, young moderate religious scholars, community activists, women’s groups engaged in gender equality campaigns, and finally moderate journalists and writers. It argued that “the US should ensure visibility and platforms for these individuals.” For example, to ensure that individuals from these groups are “included in congressional visits, making them better known to policymakers and helping to maintain US support and resources for the public diplomacy effort.” If these sound like “meddling”, it is because it is one – effectively disguised as “soft power”. It is without doubt, yet another attempt among many to continuously interfere and manipulate the situation from the perspective of the authors and the sponsoring institution. Despite this it is very sad if Muslims are oblivious to the sleight of hand, and succumb to the form of endless meddling. Only to realise that it causes more confusion and divisiveness among the community.

In the days ahead before Aug 31, it is incumbent upon us to deeply ponder what Merdeka means beyond the routine parade and march-past, flag-raising ceremony and singing the national anthem.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, theSundaily

With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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THAAD will not protect ROK but cripples UN unity on NK nukes; Sino-US ties should surmount saber-rattling


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Public opinion in the Republic of Korea is divided over whether the deployment of the United States’ Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system is in the national interest.

Many of those in their 20s, 30s or 40s disagree with the decision. And anti-THAAD lawmakers have demanded an open debate in the National Assembly to discuss whether the THAAD is really in the ROK’s interests militarily, diplomatically and economically.

THAAD is incapable of defending against the potential missile threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the DPRK’s missiles travel at a lower altitude than those THAAD is designed to intercept. Even if that was not the case, one THAAD battery would not be able to provide protection against all the DPRK missiles. The capital Seoul and its adjacent metropolitan area, the country’s most populous regions, are even outside the protection range of THAAD.

However, the system’s X-band radar has a range of at least 2,000 km, which is the real reason the United States wants it deployed in the ROK as it will be able to snoop deep into Chinese and Russian territories.

Seoul claims that it will adopt the radar with a detectable range of 600-800 km, but the mode change can be made at any time in accordance with the needs of the US military that will operate the THAAD battery in the ROK.

If THAAD is deployed, it will sour the ROK’s relations with China and Russia, trigger an arms race and damage trade. It will make it difficult for the country to seek cooperation from China and Russia in denuclearizing the peninsula.

Seoul should heed the voices saying the only way to denuclearize the peninsula is through peace talks and changing the armistice treaty after the 1950-53 Korean War into a peace treaty. – China Daily

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 THAAD cripples UN unity on NK nukes

The UN Security Council failed to agree on a US-drafted statement that condemns North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch on Tuesday, because China demanded the statement oppose any provocative moves that take advantage of North Korea’s nuclear threat and missile project to enable a deployment of anti-missile systems in Northeast Asia.

China’s proposition is aimed at the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system that will be stationed by the US in South Korea. Since the US and South Korea announced the plan, the UN Security Council has failed twice to reach agreement over North Korean missile launches because of the major split between China and the US.

The planned deployment is adding a new challenge to the vulnerable geopolitical landscape of Northeast Asia. The international collaboration against North Korea’s nuclear project has been crippled. A degenerative aura of the Cold War is emanating from the US-Japan-South Korea alliance.

China does not have a motive to encourage North Korea to develop nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, because at the cost of its ties with the North, it has been a backer of the UN Security Council’s sanctions against it. However, the US and South Korea went too far and made use of North Korea’s nuclear threat to deploy THAAD, which will cause great harm to China’s national security. Given China’s cooperation in sanctioning North Korea, it is nothing but a stab in the back.

North Korea’s nuclear ambition was primarily triggered by long-standing military pressures imposed by South Korea and the US. The escalating pressures have met bolder nuclear projects. China being a well-intentioned and responsible mediator has been paid back by a threatening advanced military system.

The US and South Korea are strongly convinced that they are absolutely right in this case, and any disagreement is totally wrong. The narrow-mindedness renders all proposals fruitless and futile.

The Korean Peninsula is intertwined with too many complications and concerns. The deployment of THAAD is a selfish and reckless move that will break the fragile balance with terrible outcomes: There will be a huge setback in the Sino-South Korean relationship; the susceptible Sino-US collaboration over Northeast Asia will collapse – all will result in a reconfiguration of each stakeholder’s policy on the region.

Although unwilling to go to war, all players in the big game should reflect on their policies as growing tensions have turned them more defensive rather than open.

The major-power rivalry between China and the US is behind many disputes in East Asia. Beijing and Washington seem to have a tacit understanding that their rivalry won’t explode into a physical conflict. However, some countries cannot look at the big picture, and are eager to pick sides, but they will only find that they are cannon fodder.

China and the US are exchanging blows over THAAD, but they won’t get into a real fight. However, if South Korea leaps headlong into this round of games and becomes a US agent, it will put itself in the middle of a new crisis.

South Korea is a confused player in the big game. It might eventually find out that THAAD will not bring about what it really expects.- Global Times

Sino-US ties should surmount saber-rattling

US naval ship visits Qingdao after disputed South China Sea ruling

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US naval ship visits Qingdao after disputed South China Sea ruling

  A US Navy guided missile destroyer has arrived in the northern Chinese port of Qingdao. This is in the first visit by an American warship to China, after China refused to accept an arbitration ruling on the South China Sea dispute.US Navy guided missile destroyer the USS Benfold arrived in the northern Chinese port of Qingdao on Monday, marking the first visit by a US military ship to China since the South China Sea arbitration. This visit is believed to be a signal and an opportunity for both countries to ease tensions between them.

Before the arbitration award was announced, Washington deployed two aircraft carriers in and around the South China Sea, an obvious move to flex their muscles, pile pressure on China and encourage its allies. China responded in kind with a large military drill in the region and a routine combat patrol. Both countries have engaged with each other in a fierce tug of war.

This is not the whole picture of Sino-US relations, not even their military relationship. Not long ago, the US kept its invitation for China to participate in its Rim of the Pacific military exercise, which is mainly attended by its allies.

The Chinese shouldn’t always push the USS Larson’s provocations in the South China Sea into the limelight, nor can they easily turn over a new leaf with the US as the USS Benfold came in peace. We shouldn’t be tricked by a single gesture from Washington. Both China and the US must admit that the undefined Sino-US ties will continue being shaped in the future.

China and the US are exercising more precautions against each other, and they should get used to the new developments, such as a limited arms race, and not having to take the other’s defensive actions as unacceptable.

Throughout the history of human civilization, China and the US have engaged in the most peaceful rivalry between an emerging power and an established power. The Chinese should know as a dominant powerhouse, the US is relatively rational, and has not opted for harsh gambits. Washington also admits that China is a rational and careful emerging power, and pays enough respect to US national interests.

However, both China and the US still feel their own national security is being challenged by each other. Frankly speaking, China feels more insecure than the US. The US doesn’t have to overreact as for a long time to come, China won’t be powerful enough to launch a showdown against the US.

China should speed up its military modernization and narrow the gap with the US in military strength. The priority should be an increase in strategic military deterrence. The US shouldn’t see this as a hostile move. It must know that it cannot sustain an overwhelming military advantage over other countries forever. A strategic balance is essential to world peace in the nuclear age.

China has no plan to dominate Asia with its military prowess. What is happening in the East and South China Seas are simply territorial disputes, not a prelude for China to overturn the current world order.

China and the US should nurture a strong awareness of risk control and strategic trust to ensure the incessant frictions won’t become a real conflict.

Saber-rattling remarks do not mean both sides are ready for a war. Both sides must strive to avoid a military showdown. Whether they like it or not, they should respect the other’s core national interests. – Global Times

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Stay vigilant to Japan’s “China Threat”, right-wing ‘hawk’ Inada as new defense minister


Once again, in its latest defense white paper, Japan has shamelessly accused China of jeopardizing regional peace and stability, playing up the “China Threat” for its own right-wing agenda.

As the Abe administration moves Japan’s security policy further and further to the right, rebuilding the country as a military power, those neighboring nations who remember the past look on aghast.

The new defense paper adopts an even more confrontational tone compared to previous ones, accusing China of “changing the status quo by relying on its strength” and expressing “deep concern” over China’s activities in the East and South China seas.

If history is indeed a mirror, then surely that mirror reflects Japan’s recent record of stirring up regional trouble and enmity wherever and whenever it can. If there is any meddling with the status quo, it is easy to see that Japan is the meddlesome one.

In 2012, Tokyo stoked up tensions in the East China Sea through the transparent farce of “purchasing” the Diaoyu Islands. Warships and aircraft were dispatched to the islands’ waters and skies, harassing Chinese vessels and aircraft going about their lawful business.

On the South China Sea, Japan — far from an interested party — can’t seem to keep its nose out of the issue, pointing fingers at China and cheerleading for distant parties who also seek to interfere in the dispute.

And then in April, Japan sent warships to the Philippines, perhaps as a direct “thank-you” for the spurious South China Sea arbitration, laying bare its attempts to mount pressure on China.

The Abe administration has tinkered with the stability of the Asia-Pacific and conjured up security threats for no reason other than to justify a move to the right: a militarist move which includes, but is not limited to, easier arms trade, weaker civilian control over the military, and these controversial security bills.

This year’s white paper makes much of the “constitutionality” of Japan’s new security laws – the legal foundation for the right-wing to take control of Japan’s defense.

Japan talks of “concern” and “vigilance” over China’s military development, and has done so in its annual papers since 2005. After new security legislation last year, Japan has taken a more proactive approach, a more aggressive approach, directly condemning and challenging China.

Abe and his coalition partners are clearly speeding up their attempts to rewrite the constitution before his tenure ends in 2018. Laws allowing Japan to engage in armed conflict overseas, even if Japan is not attacked or threatened, came into effect in March. The Abe administration is inching closer to its dream of replacing the country’s pacifist constitution with… a different kind of constitution.

The fanciful “China Threat” and tensions in the region are the best excuses for aggressive military and security polices that Tokyo can cook up.

Seven decades after World War II, Japan now stands at a critical juncture: to continue on its peaceful path or to return to militarism with all the fears and tensions that will bring to the region.

Each and every responsible member of the international community must stay vigilant. This peace and stability was hard-won. Its loss will be harder still. – Xinhua

Abe appoints ultra-right wing “hawk” Inada as new DM to push military agenda

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Her comment that Japan’s actions during the war “depends on one’s point of view” has sparked anger from neighboring South Korea and China.

Japan’s new Defense Minister, Tomomi Inada, inspects a honor guard on her first day at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Aug. 4, 2016.

TOKYO, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s appointment of Tomomi Inada as defense minister following a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday has underscored his intentions to forge ahead with a controversial push to amend the nation’s pacifist Constitution and further expand the scope of the nation’s military, observers here have said.

The prime minister, nevertheless, has maintained that the reshuffle was aimed at speeding up the pace of the nation’s sluggish economic revival, following multiple failed installments of his “Abenomics” economic policy mix, following the approval a day earlier of a 28.1 trillion yen (277.74 billion U.S. dollar) stimulus package.

However, political observers attest that the hawkish Inada, 57, a particularly close ally of Abe’s, yet a novice when it comes to security issues, being given the defense minister’s portfolio demonstrates the prime minister’s intention to use his coalition’s newly-gained dominance in both chambers of parliament to advance his legacy-led mission to fundamentally reshape Japan’s security paradigm in the biggest, most controversial shift since WWII.

Security experts as well as senior members within the defense ministry itself believe that Inada, Japan’s second female defense minister following Yuriko Koike, herself recently elected to be Tokyo governor who held the position briefly in 2007, is ill-equipped and lacks the necessary experience to hold the defense ministry’s top post.

Inada is currently only serving her fourth term as a lower house lawmaker and previously held the post of state minister in charge of administrative reform for just two years and has chaired the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council again for just two years.

Defense, security and military affairs are not in her repertoire, experts close to the matter have maintained.

Inada, however, is known to share the prime minister’s singular goal of revising Japan’s postwar, pacifist constitution and is also, along with Abe and a number of other prominent cabinet members, a visible member of the ultra-right wing Nippon Kaigi fraternity.

“Inada has long been a member of Abe’s inner coterie and shares his fundamental beliefs about the future course of the nation’s political and security direction,” Asian affairs commentator Kaoru Imori told Xinhua, ahead of Inada’s widely-expected appointment.

“She is also a known right-wing revisionist and has made a number of controversial remarks about Japan’s history, and her membership to the right wing Nippon Kaigi group is evidence of her tendentious political and nationalistic views,” Imori added.

Nippon Kaigi is an ultranationalistic nonparty entity with around 300,000 members who all believe in praising the Imperial family (The Emperor), changing the war-renouncing, pacifist Constitution, promoting nationalistic education in schools and supporting parliamentarians’ visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine.

It is the biggest right-wing organization in Japan and Abe has, ostensibly, cherry picked his Cabinet members from this group to run the country, with these “Shinto Conservatives” believing that Japan should not apologize for its wartime acts of brutality, despite the legitimacy of proven historical events.

The appointment of Inada as defense minister will almost certainly ruffle the feathers of Japan’s neighbors, experts claim. “The mood now is to try to promote cooperation,” Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo, was quoted as saying of the current situation regarding ties between Japan and its immediate neighbors.

“That could change if she makes a pilgrimage to Yasukuni in a couple of weeks,” Kingston added.

“Inada supports the prime minister and all parliamentarians’ visits to Yasukuni (shrine) and has openly contested The International Military Tribunal for the Far East after World War II. She also believes that Japan should not apologize for its internationally-recognized war crimes committed and is a proponent of denying Japan’s wartime atrocities,” Imori said.

To this end, Abe appointed her chairperson of the LDP Policy Research Council in September 2014, despite the fact that the position is almost always exclusively held by party members who have had lengthy political careers. – Xinhuanet

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Why do Chinese think differently from the West?


Sculptures of Confucius with his students are seen near the headquarters office building of Chambroad Holding in Boxing, Shandong Province, China, June 27.PHOTO: REUTERS

We live in an age of science and technology, so strictly speaking science should be able to forecast the future and help us make decisions better. But in this Age of Uncertainty, the best economic models did not predict the global financial crisis.

How did the ancients attempt to make better decisions? They relied on history, their own experience or oracles, astrology or mumbo-jumbo. In a situation of uncertainty, you make decisions on the basis of information that you have, and if don’t have that information, you simply have to consult someone or something you believe in.

Some people turn to old sacred text, such as the Bible, with a priest to interpret what God intends. The Greeks used the Delphic Oracle, dating back to 1,400 BC, whose predictions were in riddles that were interpreted by the female diviners. Divination was then serious business, with astronomers studying the stars for some cosmic order.

Most people think that Chinese philosophy began with Confucius [551-479 BC], but his school became famous because it compiled the existing ancient books into the Five Classics, of which the I Ching (or Book of Change) is one. The problem with any translation of ancient text is that we can never differentiate translations from interpretation. How an ancient text is read depends very much upon the translators’ biases or ignorance. This is why reading of sacred text is always personal.

My own view is that the I Ching deserves to be considered a book of early Chinese science, rather than as a book on divination, considered at best as pseudo-science.

The I Ching comprises two books, an earlier classic dated to roughly 1,000 BC, and an interpretive text written about 400-600 years later. The earlier classic comprises the Eight trigrams, attributed to Fuxi, one of the legendary founders of China, and the 64 hexagrams, reputedly invented by Duke Zhou, one of the founders of the Zhou dynasty. In simple terms, the Eight trigrams simply stand for eight possible situations, from good to bad; whereas the 64 hexagrams stand for 64 possible predictive outcomes. The later text is attributed to Confucius and his disciples, which helps the interpretation of what the hexagrams mean. To use the I Ching for divination or decision purposes, you randomly choose a hexagram and then consult the I Ching for what it means.

Herein lies a fundamental difference in decision making between Western science and the Chinese approach to life.

Science developed in the West partly because of the alphabetic language, derived from the Arabs, which means that you can define words and meaning much more precisely, since the English language comprises today over a million words. As the philosopher Wittgenstein argued, all concepts are defined by language.

The Chinese language, on the other hand, is basically ideogramatic and phonetic, meaning that each character comprises radicals that originally were pictures. For example, the character for man can easily be identified as a drawing of a standing man. Because there are limited sounds for each character, each character carries four or five tones, and complex words comprise combinations of different characters. Most people can read basic Chinese with about two to three thousand characters, with the maximum number of characters being roughly 50,000. Complex words are combinations of two or three characters.

Given limited sounds, tones and characters, the Chinese language is not as precise as English. A single character can have different meanings and different sounds, so that Chinese words and phrases can only be understood in context. So when I hear a Chinese speak, I often have to ask in what context is that particular sound/word being used? In other words, we have to add contextual information in order to interpret the meaning of what is being said.

Western science, following the Aristolean logic, is essentially reductionist and linear, seeking cause and effect. The language enables the conceptualisation to be precise and the logic flow to be consistent. The imprecision inherent in the Chinese language means that conceptual thinking is more organic and fluid, and subject to interpretation, including guessing.

In other words, whilst natural sciences could be more precise in communication between two machines, the communication between two human beings carry a huge amount of uncertainty. The social sciences are much more qualitative because one human being cannot by definition fully comprehend the other person’s life experience, values and preferences. Uncertainty is built into the social sciences.

Modern economics dealt with this problem by assuming perfect information, which actually assumed away uncertainty. Economic models based on such perfect information and rational players (mechanical decision-making) gave rise to precise or “optimal”, first-best outcomes. The first best ideal is then thought to be a natural outcome, and life will simply revert back to equilibrium or a stable situation.

Real life is obviously not so simple. The eight trigrams mean that in binary good and bad or black and white terms, there are eight possible outcomes in any decision: good, bad and six mixtures of good/bad. The 64 hexagrams makes life even more complicated, since black and white are only two possible manifestations of any system, the rest being 62 shades of grey (mixture of black and white).

By definition, any fundamentalist view of life is more likely to be wrong, because life is mostly shades of grey.

The best games that illustrates this difference between Western and Chinese thinking are the games of chess and Go (weiqi). Chess has defined linear moves with six types of pieces. It forces one to think logically and sequentially. Go comprises only black and white pieces, but the player has to think spatially, playing the piece in any position on the board, continually trying to outguess the other player.

Without understanding these fundamental differences in language, context and decision-making under uncertainty, it would be difficult to bridge the yawning gap between both sides of the Pacific. It also means that the Chinese approach to economics and geo-politics will be quite different than is more commonly interpreted outside China.

By Andrew Sheng, Asia News Network

The writer, a Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Global Institute, writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

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‘Paper cat’ Australia will learn its lesson


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Around the announcement of the arbitration tribunal over the South China Sea, Australia was one of the most delirious countries. Canberra immediately supported the arbitration result and claimed China “must” abide by it, and also signed a joint declaration with the US and Japan. Australia has inked a free trade agreement with China, its biggest trading partner, which makes its move of disturbing the South China Sea waters surprising to many.
Australia is a unique country with an inglorious history. It was at first an offshore prison of the UK and then became its colony, a source of raw materials, overseas market and land of investment. This country was established through uncivilized means, in a process filled with the tears of the aboriginals.

Even with a scarce population and vast land, Australia has disputes with other countries over territory. It claims nearly 5.9 million square meters of land in the Antarctic, accounting for 42 percent of the continent. In order to back its territorial claims, Australia even brought up the activities of the British in the Antarctic as evidence.

Since The Antarctic Treaty was signed, all territorial claims over the continent were suspended. Canberra then raised another claims to demand the Antarctic continental shelf. It cited Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to avoid a demand by arbitration by others.

Both historical rights and the exemption of arbitration as ruled in Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea were denied by the arbitration tribunal. Australia showed blunt double standards as if no one had a memory of what it did and said over the Antarctic.

Australia calls itself a principled country, while its utilitarianism has been sizzling. It lauds Sino-Australian relations when China’s economic support is needed, but when it needs to please Washington, it demonstrates willingness of doing anything in a show of allegiance.

Analysts say that besides trying to please the US, it also intends to suppress China so as to gain a bargaining chip for economic interests. China must take revenge and let it know it’s wrong. Australia’s power means nothing compared to the security of China. If Australia steps into the South China Sea waters, it will be an ideal target for China to warn and strike.

Australia is not even a “paper tiger,” it’s only a “paper cat” at best. At a time when its former caretaker country the UK is dedicated to developing relations with China, and almost the whole of Europe takes a neutral position, Australia has unexpectedly made itself a pioneer of hurting China’s interest with a fiercer attitude than countries directly involved in the South China Sea dispute. But this paper cat won’t last. – Global Times

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Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed

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Curtain falls on S.China Sea arbitration farce; Tribunal manipulators will be revealed


Foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. — VNA/VNS

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/i_J3TQKTXcc

The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Monday issued a joint communiqué, which didn’t breathe a word about the South China Sea arbitration, or harbor any overt criticism against China. Although the South China Sea issue was mentioned many times in the communiqué, it only gave a general overview of principles that must be stuck to. Most foreign media view the communiqué as a triumph for China’s diplomacy.

On the same day, a joint statement on how to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was issued.

The two statements reflect the consistent stand of ASEAN. Attempts at pressuring China through the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting have failed.

As the first foreign ministers’ meeting after the so-called South China Sea arbitration award was issued, the US and Japan hoped to use the meeting in Laos to solicit ASEAN’s collective support for the arbitration and impose unprecedented diplomatic pressure on China. But such expectations do not correspond with the realities in East Asia.

Hype was running high among American and Japanese media that only Cambodia was standing in the way of a joint statement that incorporates the South China Sea arbitration, and Laos as the host country didn’t voice any firm opposition.

From another perspective, only the Philippines wanted a joint statement with reference to the arbitration, and Vietnam was not so persistent in its demands. Most ASEAN countries have maintained a neutral attitude. They neither want to see a division within the bloc, nor to be dragged into a conflict with China over arbitration.

Manila compromised this time, giving consent to a communiqué without mention of the arbitration. It showed flexibility compared with 2012, when the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ended with no joint statement because the Philippines’ propositions over the South China Sea issue were firmly opposed.

It’s in the common interests of China and ASEAN to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. But the US and Japan are willing to see conflicts between China and the Philippines and Vietnam escalate. If the arbitration leads to overall confrontation between ASEAN and China, it will fullfil the desires of the US and Japan.

ASEAN won’t be so silly as to head toward a confrontation with China. We have carried out construction activities on islands and reefs in the South China Sea, but with our utmost efforts to avoid confrontation.

The possibility of a military solution to the South China Sea dispute has become smaller and smaller. The arbitration has brought about new risks. Instead of a clash between China and the Philippines, or China and Vietnam, there are more worries about conflicts being sparked between China and the US.

Under such conditions, it could never be ASEAN’s desire to amplify the negative influences of the arbitration case. Two weeks after the arbitration result was announced, no other countries outside the region but the US, Japan and Australia have voiced support for it. The farce is coming to an end.- Global Times.

Political manipulation behind arbitral tribunal will be revealed

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/tUR7WVsmC7k

Spotlight: Chinese FM calls for end to politicization of South China Sea issue, urges parties to return to negotiations

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that the political manipulation behind the arbitral tribunal will be revealed, in response to the comments made by some foreign ministers on the South China Sea arbitration case.

Wang expounded on China’s position when attending the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in the Lao capital Vientiane.

Wang said China has not participated in the arbitration case and will not accept the so-called ruling, a position that China has made clear since day one and is supported by strong legal basis.

By adopting this position, China is safeguarding the sanctity and impartiality of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said the Chinese foreign minister.

First, the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the former Philippine government violated the principle of having the consent of concerned parties as the basis of arbitration and failed to meet the prerequisite of conducting full exchange of views beforehand, thus lacking the legal conditions to be initiated.

What the former Philippine government had done also abandoned bilateral agreements between China and the Philippines and violated Article 4 of the Declaration on Conducts of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as well as the principle of estoppel prescribed in international law, according to Wang.

Second, he said, the subject matters of the arbitration, however packaged, in fact directly concern territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation which are beyond the scope of the UNCLOS and the jurisdiction of the ad hoc tribunal. It is a typical act of overstepping the power and ultra vires as well as the abuse of dispute arbitration mechanism.

Wang said by citing a prominent legal expert from Europe that the arbitration case undoubtedly touches upon territorial sovereignty which is not governed by the UNCLOS. The tribunal’s practice of separating territorial sovereignty dispute with the status of islands and reefs is unseen in international law, which is like “putting the cart before the horse.”

Third, the ruling of the ad hoc tribunal is full of obvious mistakes, Wang said. It blatantly uses its self-invented rules to negate and deprive the lawful and legitimate territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests of parties concerned. In particular, it says that Taiping Dao, the largest island in the Nansha Islands with an area of 500,000 square meters, is a rock and has no relevant maritime rights.

If such a judgment can legally stand, the sea map of the world will need to be redrawn, Wang said.

Wang stressed that this ruling runs counter to the spirit of international rule of law as well as the principle and spirit of the UNCLOS.

“This arbitration is imbued with question marks and fallacies in terms of procedure, legal application, fact finding and evidence gathering,” he said.

The so-called ruling is illegal in three aspects: the initiation of the arbitration is illegal, the set-up of the tribunal is illegal, and the result of the arbitration is illegal. Therefore, China’s stance is fully legitimate which serves the purpose of upholding international equity and justice and regional peace and stability, Wang said.

The Chinese foreign minister said more and more countries have come to see the nature and danger of the arbitration case, and understand and acknowledge China’s stance to resolve disputes through direct negotiation and consultation, calling for respect to the rights of sovereign states to independently choose dispute settlement means including respecting the declaration on optional exceptions made under Article 298 of the UNCLOS.

There are also more and more legal experts around the world questioning the legality of the arbitration case and the fairness of the ruling, Wang said, noting that the illegal nature of the so-called South China Sea arbitration case and the political manipulation hidden behind the ad hoc arbitral tribunal will be further revealed. – Global Times

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