31 October 2005

Yodok Burial Detail and Human Fertilizer

In the spring of 1981, I was assigned to help bury the bodies of prisoners who had perished during the previous winter, when the frost-hardened earth had made timely interment difficult. As with any detail, the work was carried out after school; but since it was considered somewhat unusual, we were rewarded with a few noodles to supplement our ration of corn. This would have sufficed to make interring bodies a desirable detail, but the work offered another very practical advantage. The burial team could strip the corpse of its last remaining clothes and either reuse them or barter them for other essentials. But the fringe benefits came at a price. Since Korean tradition requires that people be buried on a height, we had to carry the bodies up a mountain or to the top of a hill. We naturally preferred the hills at the center of the camp to the steep mountain slopes near Yodok's perimeter. Their proximity allowed us to follow tradition without traversing tens of kilometers. But the neighboring hills eventually became overcrowded with corpses, and one day the authorities announced we would no longer be allowed to bury our dead there.

We thought the order had been given for health reasons, but we soon found out how wrong we were. I was walking back to the village with my team one evening after a day of gathering herbs up in the mountains, when we were overtaken by a terrible stench. As we walked on, the odor grew stronger and stronger until we finally came upon the cause. There were the guards, bulldozing the top of the hill where we'd buried so many of our dead. They actually dared to set upon corpses! They didn't even fear disturbing the souls of the dead. An act of sacrilege held no weight for them compared to the possibility of growing a little more corn. As the machines tore up the soil, scraps of human flesh reemerged from the final resting place; arms and legs and feet, some still stockinged, rolled in waves before the bulldozer. I was terrified. One of my friends vomited. Then we ran away, our noses tucked in our sleeves, trying to avoid the ghastly scent of flesh and putrefaction. The guards then hollowed out a ditch and ordered a few detainees to toss in all the corpses and body parts that were visible on the surface. Three or four days later the freshly plowed field lay ready for a new crop of corn. I knew several people from my village who were assigned to plant and weed it. Apparently, it was horrific work. Since only the larger remains had been disposed of during the initial cleanup, the field-workers were constantly coming upon various body parts. Oddly enough, the corn grew well on the plot for several years running.
SOURCE: The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, translated by Yair Reiner (Basic Books, 2001), pp. 101-102

Hidden Family Heritages Unearthed in the New World

Regions of Mind directs attention to a very interesting post by Ann Althouse. Here's Geitner's summary.
One of the most affecting aspects of the Jewish experience in Inquisition-era Spain was how many Jews professed to have adopted Christianity but in secret maintained the rites of Judaism. Ann Althouse has a terrific post on a 21st-century tangent of this story: Some present-day Latino residents in the United States are discovering that, despite their Catholic heritage, they are the descendants of those Iberian Jews. The comments at Ann's site are quite interesting, too.
One of Ann's commenters notes that the hidden infidels who fled the Spanish Inquisition to the New World after 1492 were just as likely to have been Muslim as Jewish.

30 October 2005

Diary of a Tokyo Christian, 9 August 1945

August 9, 1945, Thursday

This morning Nobukazu went off to Gôra and returned in the evening. When he finished dinner, he had to leave again--this time to board a nine o'clock train to Karuizawa, his school's evacuation site. And so after he finished dinner, he left the house. It was about seven.

The same sort of strange bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima three days ago was dropped on Nagasaki today, and it was wiped out. This bomb possesses extraordinary power. Photographs showed that Chinese ideographs written in black on signs at train stations had burned, and it was explained that white things wouldn't burn. Up to now, we've been ordered not to wear white garments, not even when it was hot, because they were easy for enemy planes to see. Now we're warned not to wear black garments because they burn easily.

So what in the world is safe for us to wear? We don't know anymore. The thought of a single aircraft destroying a large city in an instant is driving us to nervous breakdowns, and I feel as though we have no choice but to die or go crazy. I can't help but hate those responsible for placing human beings in this situation and continuing the war. At this point, continuing the war will save neither us nor our country. When one comes to this point and when those responsible realize that they have no escape and contemplate the punishments they will surely receive, I believe they will continue the war because they simply don't know whether or not fighting until the last Japanese falls is a good idea. In this country, where human morality is based on the relationship between masters and followers, we submit to our leaders' will and simply do as we are told. Because ours is a country in which each person lacks any kind of individuality and because our citizenry doesn't realize that they themselves have the power to revere their own individuality, we have fought this unprofitable war right up to the present, muttering all the while, "We will win, we will win." At the very start of the war, Japanese declared in unison, "Today we take pride in our good fortune to be born a Japanese." I myself could only lament "my misfortune at being born a Japanese today."

If Japanese had not been cursed by this sort of feudalistic thinking, I believe we could have expected our country to have ended the war sooner than Germany or Italy did. At the beginning of the war, I predicted that we would lose in the way that we have and worried about it. My arguing that we should have stopped the war at Singapore was an earnest and heartfelt plea. Those of us who thought this way were called traitors; our beliefs were regarded as unthinkable; and we were seen as potential spies. I blamed this on the ignorance fostered by feudalistic thinking. No matter what, I can't accept the fact that my own life has been taken from me for the sake of the lawless promoters of this feudalistic way of thinking, and I am not happy about it.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 186-187

The diarist, Takahashi Aiko, was born in Tokyo in 1894, but her family immigrated to the United States in 1916 or 1917. There she met Takahashi Shôta, a physician practicing in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. They married in 1922 and had two children, Nobukazu and Emii. In 1932, the family returned to Tokyo, where Dr. Takahashi opened a practice. During the war they lived in Hiroo, "a fashionable area in central Tokyo not far from Sacred Heart Girls High School, where their daughter was a student. Takahashi and her husband may have chosen Sacred Heart because they were Christians" (p. 161).

UPDATE: The Marmot and Coming Anarchy have long and relatively well-informed comment threads about questions of effectiveness and war-criminality with regard to both fire bombing, atomic bombing, and other attempts to win the war as well as end it.

29 October 2005

Perils of Privilege in Prison Camp

My uncle was the [Yodok camp] distillery's technical chief for seven years. No one had ever held the position for that long, and only the handful of detainees who worked in the guards' office or in the bachelors' kitchen ever enjoyed as many privileges. To land such a job, a prisoner needed to win the protection of a guard, which is what my uncle somehow managed to do. His ascent had begun with the unpleasant surprise of being called on to serve as an informant. My uncle was not overjoyed at the prospect but was afraid to refuse. He also knew that if his reports were sufficiently useless, he would be cut loose from the duty in no time anyway. As it turned out, my uncle's reports were not bad, though, just innocuous. This avocation earned him a few packs of cigarettes and some extra food, but more importantly it gave him the chance to befriend a guard, whose good word later helped him get the job in the distillery. My uncle's degrees in biochemistry, which gave him a competence in matters of distillation, no doubt also influenced the authorities' decision. After becoming lord of the alcohol bottles, my uncle wielded enormous power and prestige in the camp, though his position was mined with countless dangers and intrigues. Security agents were always dropping by to ask for a bottle on the sly, which left my uncle with a very dubious choice. If he refused their request, the agents had no shortage of ways to exact their revenge; if he relented, he could run into serious trouble during the next production audit.

His work also came under the daily supervision of a security agent who was assigned to the distillery, a man not likely to forgive irregularities. My uncle had to play it slick, fulfilling his substantial clandestine distribution while making everything appear on the up and up. Pressured by a number of different guards--some of whom were rivals--my uncle had plenty to keep him up at night. One day he was called before a camp official who wanted him to admit he'd given alcohol to a colleague who ran the distillery. My uncle firmly denied the charges, guessing correctly that the interrogation stood on little but rumors and suspicions. The official wasn't so easily put off, however, and at one point he suggested the sweatbox might help stir my uncle's memory. The thought was almost enough to make him confess, except that a confession would land him in the sweatbox all the faster--and as a confirmed criminal, rather than a mere suspect. Moreover, the guards compromised by his confession would become his sworn enemies and make him pay for their troubles. He would also risk a transfer to Senghori or to one of the other camps of no return. So he kept his mouth shut. Toward 3:00 a.m., the tone of the interrogation changed. The official suddenly stood up, perfectly calm, and led him out of the office. Outside, he turned to my uncle and said, "Your silence is appreciated. Keep it up!"
SOURCE: The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, translated by Yair Reiner (Basic Books, 2001), pp. 92-94

28 October 2005

Getting to Know Your Snitches

Yodok and the hard-labor camps did have several points in common, the first of these being the snitches. During the first days and weeks of our detention, my father and uncle felt most oppressed by the physical demands of forced labor and the looming threat of punishment. The slightest wrong move, it seemed, could mean extra work or a stint of solitary confinement in a sweatbox. This fear, they soon realized, was the consequence of the network of snitches that pervaded the camp. The informants were at every turn. There was no one to confide in, no way to tell who was who. The veteran prisoners sometimes laughed at my father and uncle because of all the naive questions they asked, which only made them more depressed. The only advice their fellow prisoners could offer was to have patience: they would learn to pick out the snitches soon enough. Until then, they would do well to keep their thoughts to themselves. The camp's common wisdom turned out to be true. Within a few months, we all developed a sixth sense--a snitch radar, if you will--that told us who could be trusted and who could not. Yet a snitch is not necessarily a bad guy. The prisoner is usually picked for the job without being asked his or her opinion, and, in most cases, the honor is not one for which he or she is proud.
SOURCE: The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, translated by Yair Reiner (Basic Books, 2001), p. 77

My impression, during my year in Ceausescu's Romania (as a privileged foreigner, not a prisoner!) was that many of the Romanians who befriended us, and thus had to report periodically on our activities, were among the more interesting and entertaining of our small circle of local acquaintances there. The building manager who lived just across the hall from our apartment, however, was a complete sleazeball. I went out of my way not to ruffle his feathers.

27 October 2005

Next, Lotte Marines vs. Chicago White Sox?

Bobby Valentine, manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines (and nicely profiled by Japundit), sounds just a bit pumped up after seeing his team take the Japan Series in 4 straight games, outscoring the Hanshin Tigers by 33 to 4. The Asahi Shimbun reports his challenge to both Japanese and North American pro baseball.
NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Prefecture--Bobby Valentine is nothing if not ambitious.

The 55-year-old manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines issued a challenge Wednesday to the winner of the World Series: "Let's do battle in a real World Series."

Valentine, who on Wednesday became the first foreigner to manage a team to a Japan Series title, says the level of play in Japan has risen to that in North America and the time has come for a best-of-seven series between the Japanese champions and the World Series champions....

The Marines swept the Tigers in four games to claim their first championship in 31 years. Valentine says his club has what it takes to compete against either of this year's World Series combatants, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros.

"(Lotte) is as good a team as I've ever managed," Valentine said. "I don't like to rate the teams I've managed, but it compares very favorably to the teams playing in the World Series.

"The White Sox have a little more power than us, but so did Softbank [Hawks] and so did Seibu [Lions]," he added, referring to the two teams the Marines beat in the Pacific League playoffs.

"The only reason I am saying this is because I am the only person to have managed in both the World Series and the Japan Series," Valentine said. "I've watched our guys all year and I've watched the two teams in the World Series on TV and the level is equal. The competition would be great, it's time to do battle."
The Japan Times adds more player reaction.
Valentine's players also think a champion-versus-champion showdown would be beneficial.

"I would like to play against the major league champions," said Lotte pitcher Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the Japan Series. "The (Chicago) White Sox have home-run hitters with (Paul) Konerko and (Joe) Crede. Some matchups would be more problematic," Kobayashi admitted.

Former Fukuoka Daiei Hawks star Tadahito Iguchi, now with the White Sox, would worry Kobayashi more than anyone, he said.

"He hit me pretty good," Kobayashi said. "I faced him enough."

According to Lotte outfielder Benny Agbayani, who played for Valentine's New York Mets in the 2000 World Series, the biggest winners if such a series were to take place would be the fans.

Well, So Much for the Rakuten Eagles

Jack Gallagher reports in the Japan Times on the quick demise of the once-brash upstart Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. (I prefer to call them the Igloos, which sounds much the same in Japanese.)
Last fall, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles emerged on the Japanese pro baseball scene as the first expansion team in 50 years and optimism abounded that a new era in the game had dawned.

The Eagles hired the first non-Japanese general manager ever in American Marty Kuehnert, then brought rookie manager Yasushi Tao out of the television booth to lead the team.

They marketed the club like it had never been done before here.

The term "fan service" was actually brought into the lexicon and seemed certain to have an impact on how pro baseball teams in Japan treated their supporters.

These moves were definitely not out of the traditional Japan pro baseball textbook and had the establishment feeling a bit uncomfortable, to say the least.

Eagles owner Hiroshi Mikitani seemed to be the face of the future. A 38-year-old business magnate who was determined to drag the game into the 21st century.

But, lo and behold, a funny thing happened on the way to changing history.

The more time passed, the more the Eagles began to look like the other 11 franchises in Nippon Pro Baseball....

[T]he team did not enjoy the benefit of an expansion draft -- where they could choose players from the existing NPB teams -- like new franchises do in Major League Baseball.

No, the Eagles were constructed almost entirely from the leftovers of the merger between the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Orix BlueWave.

The only two true stars the team had were ace pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and outfielder Koichi Isobe, who refused to play for the Orix Buffaloes -- the team created by the merger.

The results were predictable.

The Eagles finished their inaugural season with a record of 38-97-1, the worst mark in the NPB in 40 years.
Read the whole sorry story, if you have any interest in Japanese baseball.

UPDATE: And here's another sad story by Gallagher about the nasty treatment of foreigners by Japan's sports media.

26 October 2005

A Kiwi Officer in Borneo, 1965

The website of the Royal New Zealand Artillery Old Comrades Association contains a lot of military memoirs from the days when New Zealand had more of a military than it does now. Here's a tale recorded in April 2001 by former Captain John Masters MC from his days on the border of Malaysia and Indonesia.
It was 1965 in the jungles of Borneo. In the tropical rain forest we lived in a constant sauna. The temperature was the same at 2 in the morning as it was at 2 in the afternoon.

As a young subaltern, my first independent command on active service was small, but we were certain we were elite. Well, after all, we were Royal Horse Artillery.

My single gun crew were all Glaswegians. The Sergeant was a big taciturn Kentishman. I had a battery surveyor, a signaller and a gleaming, well-oiled 105mm howitzer which we made no effort to camouflage. We fired it regularly in support of C Coy, 3 RAR with whom we co-habitated on a little ridge a few feet above the mangrove swamp, and we believed in advertising our presence. Thus we spent three months, never more than fifty miles from the Equator, and never more than fifty feet above sea level.

After seven weeks of this untroubled existence (stress-free because we were forty miles across untracked virgin forest from Battery HQ, and the BSM) we were to be visited in our base by the Director Royal Artillery. He was a wonderful old fellow out from London to visit the only Regiment in the British Army, which was on active service that year. We assembled in our immaculate gun-pit, stripped to the waist and in our Hats, floppy, but with polished brass and our boots gleaming.

My last briefing to the troops, as the General's helicopter landed, was to tell them to speak when spoken to. "Don't hesitate to say what you think if he asks you a question." I was well aware, of course, that Sergeant Smithers had already threatened dire things if anybody moved a muscle.

The dear old chap was overweight and drenched with sweat, but he carefully inspected us all, had a word to each, and then stood us at ease. He then asked if there was anything he could do for us.

Gunner Wilson, the layer, was from the Gorbals. Even after many weeks he was still blue-white in colour. Somewhat flat-chested and with a rather prominent adams apple, he did not look too capable of much initiative in such circumstances. He was however, as I was well aware, the Regimental featherweight champion. I had seen him very effectively deal with a well-muscled Australian who took him at face value, in two rounds.

Well, Gunner Wilson immediately snapped to attention, cleared his throat, and, looking fixedly into the middle distance, belted out, "Sir, when our beer comes in it is too hot." Sgt. Smithers seemed to lose two inches in height, his jaw muscles slackened into rictus, and his eyes rolled to heaven.

The DRA blanched, but only slightly. He wasn't a General for nothing. He knew he could do nothing for Gunner Wilson, but, with only the barest pause, he came up with a response none of us ever forgot. Reaching back to his subaltern days on the Indian sub-continent, he said, "Well, I remember, when we had that problem we would hang the bottles in the trees, and the breeze would blow, and cool our beer."

There was a frisson that rippled through the little group in the gun-pit. An eyelid flickered, a face muscle twitched, but they were British, by God. Unlike any bunch of Kiwis who would have fallen about laughing, they held themselves erect until the General's helicopter lifted off. Then they fell about.

For the rest of our tour, the answer to any question, or the reaction to any complaint was "Just hang it in the trees, and the breeze will blow, and the beer will be cool." I loved the Brits.
via Japundit, by a very circuitous route

Fraser Weir on Islam's Arrival in Coastal Southeast Asia

Fraser Weir's A Centennial History of Philippine Independence, 1898-1998 gives an account of Islam's arrival in coastal Southeast Asia in the 14th and 15th century, closely followed by the arrival of the first Portuguese and Spanish Christians.
Regular coastal trade in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea linking Mesopotamia and the Indus valley dates from at least the time of the Assyrian Empire (729-612 BC). Arab and Persian merchants are reported in the southern Chinese port of Guangzhou (Canton) in the 8th century AD. However, after Mahmud of Ghazni's invasions of the Indus valley (997-1030), the Sword of Islam added a vigorous religious and political dimension to the commerce.

On his return to Venice from the court of Kublai Khan, Marco Polo noted in 1292 that Pasai in northern Sumatra had converted to Islam. The Sultan of Pasai, the first Muslim ruler on Sumatra, died in 1297 and Pasai returned under Majapahit's Hindu ambit in 1350. Despite this reverse, Islam was moving steadily through the archipelago.

Islamic inscriptions in Malaya date from 1326. A Muslim scholar, Mukdum, from Malaya is reported in the Philippine's Sulu archipelago in 1380. In 1400, the northern Sumatran province of Aceh converted to Islam.

When Majapahit captured the Sri Vijayan capital Palembang in 1377, a prince of the royal house, Parameshwara, escaped to Malaya. In 1402 he chose the choke point where the Straits of Malacca narrow to 53 km in width to found his new capital, Melaka. Parameshwara moved quickly to protect his fledgling state. He sent a mission to the Emperor Zhu Di (Yong Li) seeking Ming protection from his Majapahit enemies. Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) arrived at Melaka in 1409 with the Ming's Dragon Fleet. Parameshwara paid a personal visit to Beijing in 1411 to cement his alliance with the Ming Empire.

In the same year as a Muslim mission was attracting converts far to the east on Ambon in the Moluccas, Parameshwara announced his conversion to Islam in 1414 and proclaimed himself Sultan of Malacca. The appeal of Islam was strong. The Sultanate's arch rival, Majapahit converted in 1447. Hindus who wanted to retain their faith were under siege. From mid-century on, Javanese Hindus concentrated on the island of Bali where they have succeeded in preserving their religion to the present day. In 1475 the Moluccan islands of Ternate and Tidore converted to Islam.

Through the 15th century the upstart Sultanate of Malacca grew from strength to strength. It successfully repelled overland and seaborne attacks from the Thai Empire in 1445 and 1456. The Sultan Mansur Shah put down the Thai's peninsular allies Kedah and Pahang in 1459. Finally in 1498, by the efforts of its Admiral Hang Tuah, Malacca had secured the monopoly. All the trade in the Straits, and especially the spices from the Celebes and the Moluccas, moved under its protection and through its markets.

Considering that in over a thousand years, Buddhism and Hinduism had barely made an impression east of Borneo, for Islam to have travelled the length of the archipelago from Sumatra to the Moluccas in under two centuries is remarkable. As a religion, Islam had popular appeal. The Hindu and Buddhist religions had been used mainly to deify the rule of the Rajas. Islam offered its converts a personal salvation.

Islam was also carried with the mobility of the merchant community. The landed Hindu-Buddhist Rajas were content to let the trade come to them and tax it as it passed through their ports. Lacking a fixed land base, the Islamic merchants followed their commercial instincts knowing that the best profits on the trade were to be made at source. The trail of conversions led straight to the spices.

Perhaps most important of all, Islam brought with it gunpowder, firearms and cannon. Recalling how smartly the Sultan of Malacca accepted the new faith and how quickly others followed his lead, access to the new weapons may have been restricted to the faithful. The religion's rapid progress through the islands may have been, at least in part, an arms race.

The year that the Sultanate of Malacca finally consolidated its hold on the Straits was fateful. That same year, Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope from Portugal with four ships, crossed the Indian Ocean and landed on 27 May 1498 at Calicut on the Malabar coast. Indian Hindus and Portuguese Christians shared in common a deep animosity for Islam. In 1510, Affonso de Albuquerque, the Viceroy of India, by treaty with Krishna Deva Raya, the Emperor of Vijayanagar, secured the port of Gao [sic] as a naval base for Portuguese operations in the Indian Ocean.

Albuquerque had already learned of Malacca's strategic importance to the spice trade. The very next year, in 1511, he took with him eighteen Portuguese warships from Gao [sic] and ended the Sultanate of Malacca. The loss of Malacca shattered the Islamic trade network at a blow. From so far away, though, Portugal was operating at the very limit of its power and was never quite able to rebuild the trading network it had destroyed. Ten years later, the Portuguese were greatly alarmed to see Magellan's flagship Victoria returning to Spain - westward from the Philippines.

25 October 2005

A New Homeland Lost to Each New Generation

Growing up, I was never aware of my uncles' disaffection with Kim Il-sung: I was too young to imagine such a thing was possible. Looking back now, their transformation seems telling: the silence of one, the alcoholism of the other, my father's sudden obsession with music. They were each running away from reality, avoiding the words that might indict the political system or, worse yet, the parents who had brought them to live in it. My father was learning all the popular international songs by heart. He knew "Nathalie" and "La Paloma." To our great joy, he also sang us the famous "O Sole Mio." I now realize this was his way of escaping the military marching music and the glory hymns to Kim Il-sung.

I mentioned that he had been married to a woman whose family also had returned from Japan. Many marriages took place within this immigrant community, which proves just how difficult integrating into Korean society really was. The former Japanese residents, especially the young ones, had grown up in a different culture. This made communication with North Koreans difficult. Neighbors and security agents never let slip an opportunity to remind them that they were no longer in Japan, that they should express less originality, that they should show more respect for the laws.

Having been exposed to the wider world, my parents, like most former Japanese residents, felt superior to the people who never left North Korea. Their payback was being viewed as strangers. The old enmity between Korea and Japan also played against us. To many people, my family's former immigration to Japan seemed more important than its decision to come back. The family's material advantages were also the cause of barely veiled jealousy. As part of the next generation, I always felt profoundly and unequivocally Korean--indeed, North Korean. Yet, even as a young child, I sensed the chasm that separated my parents from their neighbors. My mother's accent, which bore traces of her years in Japan, was the cause of constant laughter among my friends. Every time she got home from work and called me back inside, they would mimic her voice, making me blush with embarrassment. Finally I asked her not to do it anymore. I think I hurt her feelings, but she didn't say anything, and from then on, whenever she wanted me to come home, she walked over to where I was playing and gave me a little tap on the shoulder....

As the family's situation worsened, Japan became an ever-expanding reservoir of idealized memories, nostalgic images, favorable dispositions. My family was once again a family of uprooted emigrants. That feeling of nostalgia is still in the family, but with every generation its object continues to shift. My grandfather lived in Japan full of longing for his native Cheju Island. My father lived in North Korea and was nostalgic for Japan. And me, I sit recalling my life's story in Seoul, gnawed at by the Pyongyang of my youth.
SOURCE: The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot, translated by Yair Reiner (Basic Books, 2001), pp. 32-34

24 October 2005

Japanese Soldier's Diary, Okinawa, 13 September 1945

September 13, 1945 (Thurs.), clear and windy

We talked all day, half-believing and half-doubting what the pacification team members told us last night. I lay down alone and dozed. No matter how much we talked about it, without seeing the evidence the pacification team said they'd bring, conversation was pointless. I didn't like talking.

It was around eight in the evening. The same two members of the pacification team who had come last night arrived with conclusive evidence of imperial Japan's surrender.

First, letters from our war buddies in units that had been attacked and surrendered were distributed to each of us. The letters explained Japan's unconditional surrender and urged us to surrender right away. Then they showed us copies of the "Potsdam Declaration," which Japan had accepted; the emperor's "Surrender Rescript"; and the "Surrender Instrument" from the deck of the USS Missouri. There also were orders from Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, the top official overseeing the occupation of our country, and issues of the Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri newspapers that had pictures and articles about the August 9 "Soviet Invasion of Manchuria," the "Damage from the Atomic Bombs" dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the "Failed Suicide Attempt of Prime Minister Tojo.

The seven of us stared silently at the evidence--its meaning was all too clear. I felt as though my whole body had suddenly collapsed and I were being attacked by a dark loneliness.

Then after recovering from this feeling of loneliness, I was assailed by an inexpressible anger. Who or what in the world was the object of my anger? I couldn't say.

I stamped my feet on the floor like a child and screamed words of anger. I felt the urge to run like a cannonball right into the center of the American camp.

In the end, even as I was being attacked by these violent feelings, I agreed with everyone else that we should surrender.

Frankly, even if I acted alone and raced out of the bunker, the surrender of Japan as an actuality wouldn't change, and the mop-up operation the American troops would launch in the wake of such an action would be directed continuously at all the Japanese soldiers in the vicinity of the military field warehouse bunker.

Rather than rant and rage, I kept my thoughts to myself, left the group, and slowly walked to the back of the bunker.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 154-155

This soldier, Nomura Seiki of Kochi City on Shikoku, surrendered the next day, but didn't retrieve his diary until later, after which he wrote a long and poignant account of his actions and feelings on his final day as a soldier of Imperial Japan. It was too long to excerpt here, but here's his subsequent and final diary entry on 10 November 1945.
Today, with the help of American soldiers, I visited the field storage bunker at Shuri and was able to recover the diary I left in the back of the bunker the night before I surrendered on September 14. This was a wonderful find. I have followed and recorded my memories of that day that brought things to an end for me as a Japanese soldier, and this is the end of this diary.

Marines (and Sox) on a Roll

Canada.com carries an AP report on Game 2 of the Japan Series.
TOKYO (AP) - Saburo Omura, Matt Franco and Lee Seung-yeop all homered in the sixth inning Sunday, leading Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines to a 10-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers in Game 2 of the Japan Series.

The Marines, bidding for their first Japan Series title in 31 years, take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championships.

After scoring single runs in the first two innings, the Marines blew the game open in the sixth with five runs.
Read that lede once again, savoring the names as they stumble off your tongue. Okay, now let's compare the AP lede for Game 2 of the World Series in frosty Chicago.
CHICAGO Oct 24, 2005 — Scott Podsednik made it two electrifying home runs for the White Sox and two World Series wins. Podsednik's home run off Brad Lidge in the ninth inning gave Chicago a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday night and put the White Sox halfway to their first World Series title in 88 years.

"I don't think anyone in the ballpark was thinking about me hitting the ball out of the ballpark," Podsednik said.

After yet another questionable umpiring call, Paul Konerko capped a momentous week with a seventh-inning grand slam on reliever Chad Qualls' first pitch, giving the White Sox a 6-4 lead and sparking the crowd of 41,432 to life on a drizzly, dreary night.
A few old-fashioned MLB names there.

Just to rub it in, here's a 2004 profile of the White Sox by the Yankeecentric YESNetwork's Steven Goldman.
THE BEST: Nothing. Okay, Paul Konerko, maybe Aaron Rowand, Shingo Takatsu.

THE WORST: A random starting rotation — pitchers to whom consistency is a dirty word, an outfield without much pop, a manager who thinks he's living in the dead ball era. To be more specific, Orlando Hernandez won't feel up to making a third of his starts, Jose Contreras will run up the white flag like he thinks the French Foreign Legion is attacking. Trading for Scott Posednik is risking getting exactly what you think you need, and Ozzie Guillen apparently slept through his entire career, which involved increasing numbers of baseballs being whacked over his head.

EX-GIRLFRIEND/BOYFRIEND: The one whose vanity far outweighed any realistic appraisal of their charms.

FINISH: Fourth in the Central.
And here's YESNetwork contributor Will Weiss rubbing it in, too.
World Series showcases what could have been

Jose Contreras and Roger Clemens will start Game 1 of the World Series Saturday night in Chicago, Andy Pettitte will start Game 2 for the Houston Astros, and lurking in the Chicago White Sox' bullpen is Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.

And the Yankees will be watching them on TV like every other baseball fan.

Following Contreras's complete-game, pennant-clinching victory for the White Sox in Anaheim, numerous message board threads on YESNetwork.com and other Yankeecentric Web sites popped up about the possibility of Contreras, El Duque, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens squaring off in the World Series. The Astros' win in Game 6 of the NLCS in St. Louis made that notion a reality (Pettitte stood as the winning pitcher in Game 5, until Albert Pujols' monster shot sent the series back to Busch Stadium).

Yankees fans have every right to stew at the fact that what could have been 80 percent of the 2004 rotation will have a say in who wins the World Series, albeit for teams not bearing an interlocking NY on their caps. A majority of fans might look at the postseason performances of Contreras, El Duque, Clemens and Pettitte, and the way they led the White Sox and Astros to the World Series and say, "This figures." In Contreras's case, countless fans said, "Where did this come from?"

23 October 2005

Diary of a Kyoto Civilian at New Year, 1945

December 31, 1944, Sunday
End-of-the-Year Thoughts

At long last, today is the last day of 1944, and when the new day dawns, we'll greet 1945, the Year of the Rooster. The enemy attacks are a daily affair, and there's no New Year's spirit. I got up at eight, but there were no sounds of tatami being beaten [in the traditional New Year’s housecleaning].

The crowing of the neighborhood roosters is pathetic, as though their lives were being sucked to the bone.

Toshie and Haruko [daughters] put on their clogs and cleaned the planks laid out over the mud. Up until two years ago, as a morning exercise, they polished the area between the Iroha [billiards parlor] signs with oil until it was smooth, but in no time, this area, which guests were once reluctant to walk on in their shoes, had become muddied and dirty. It was New Year's Eve, and not a single cent was owed me, no loans had to be repaid, no end-of-the-year gift to be given, and nothing coming in. When I thought about this strange, unprecedented sort of New Year's Eve, I simply accepted the fact that it felt good, and that was enough.

New Year's Day
Impressions of a Sweet Potato New Year

Wartime conditions have come to prevail with extraordinary speed, and the weak have become food for the strong. How will we survive in this harried world? The new year promises to be one filled with problems.

It was unusual, but even the enemy planes seemed to have some humanity. On New Year's Day alone, we're not worrying about air raids over our heads. First of all, although it was a small matter, there was mazetakimi rice, some bamboo shoots, and sake. I'm seventy-six, and although I'm of no value for the honorable country, today I realized my humanity, and it felt like an old-style New Year's.

It was a sweet potato New Year's. Otsuru [eldest daughter] must not be surprised. She went to a place about a mile east of Shimokameyama in Mie Prefecture to buy fifteen or sixteen loads of sweet potatoes. What made this possible was the fact that the potatoes were black market goods. We've developed good relations with the farm families, and we came to buy sweet potatoes at one kan [about 8 lbs.] for three yen; even with the train fare included, one kan cost only three yen, eighty sen.

When we eat glutinous rice [mochi], we have to sacrifice one month's worth of rice, and as a rice substitute, the honorable sweet potato is full of nourishment. Under the circumstances, while both [daughter] Toshie and I are in the house, it's strange for us, rather than Otsuru, to be searching for, and eating, food.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 108-109

Game Called on Account of Fog

Game 1 of the Japan Series was called in the seventh inning on account of fog, but the Chiba Lotte Marines were given the win because they were ahead 10-1 at the time. The Japan Times reports:
The game was interrupted by fog in the seventh inning as umpires pulled players off the field after Benny Agbayani's two-run homer.

Almost 40 minutes later, home plate umpire Minoru Nakamura called the game.

Lotte's Tomoya Satozaki, Agbayani and Lee Seung Yeop all homered, and Saburo Omura doubled in a pair of runs for the victors....

"It was too bad we didn't get to play nine innings," Lotte manager Bobby Valentine said. "[Starting pitcher] Shimizu was fantastic."

Lotte's powerful offense had little trouble putting runs on the board, as the Marines reached base in every inning.

Starting with the bottom of the fifth, Lotte scored in three straight innings, taking control of the game.
Good for the Marines. And good for the White Sox in the World Series. I hope Game 2 in Chicago is not called on account of snow.

UPDATE: The Japan Times also explains the frustrations of trying to keep up with either Japanese or American baseball on Japanese broadcast channels. (Frustrations other than the broadcast-channel tendency to end coverage exactly on the half-hour, even if it's a tie game in the 9th inning with the top of the order due up to bat.)
This is 2005, the 21st century, the age of cable and satellite and, if you are a baseball fan looking to see the games live, but you don't have extra-terrestrial reception capability, it is going to get worse.

Probably, within a few years, fewer and fewer games will be telecast on the conventional channels, and more and more will be on cable or satellite.

But, to look at it from the opposite angle, it is going to get better. It has gotten better. A lot better.

Go back about 25 years, and all we got on TV throughout Japan were the Tokyo Giants games, home and road, picked up an hour into the game and usually cut off long before the final out was recorded.

Today, if you have the right systems, you can get all six Japan pro baseball games any day of the season, from the first pitch all the way through the hero interview, even if the game goes 12 innings or five hours.

We can also get two or three MLB games per day during the season, all the playoff games and the World Series, live and in English.

What more do you want?

22 October 2005

Japanese Pilot's Diary, 3 January 1945

January 3, 1945, cloudy then clear, rain in the evening

We've had stews for the past three days. Today's was the most delicious, perhaps because it was made with a miso broth. I couldn't stomach the strange smell of the herring roe, though. The roe would have been fine if it had been soaked in water for two or three days. Serving things that even the Payroll Department couldn't eat was just for show and was irresponsible.

Take-yan read my fortune with cards. According to what he said--in the tone of a real diviner--I would be poor and struggle, and my social standing and advancement were uncertain. My future was exceedingly uninteresting. Will Dad die before me and Mom live on? Even if I had a romantic relationship, he told me, I'd be completely rejected and defeated. He says that I absolutely will not be bound to anyone and that a man I would approve of will appear, steal her heart, and steadily captivate her. And apparently I will die young. Well, that can't be helped, and besides that's my basic wish. What's strange is that she's going to die young, too.

If he's this sort of diviner, he doesn't need to borrow any cards. When I laughed and said, "If you offer fortunes like this, your business will fail," he said, "Because I do it only when asked, I don't give discounts or do it for free." He nonchalantly and noisily began to eat a pomelo. He gazed longingly at a second pomelo that was big and looked like a head, and he finished that off, too.

I remember that it was two years ago today that I got a thirty-six-hour pass and went home, together with a student pilot at Yatabe, my chest festooned with seven medals. A send-off party was held, and lots of sake was poured. My older brother Kitaro made a speech. I recall that he pointed out that it was the anniversary of the fall of Manila.

I'd like to reflect on that. It's been a full three years since the fall of Manila. Hasn't Manila been transformed into the site of frontline fighting? In that time there was the change of course at Guadalcanal. There was the gyokusai ['jewel shattering' = honorable fight to the death = total annihilation] at Attu Island. The gyokusai at Kwajalein and Rota. The many infuriating results continue: the gyokusai at Tarawa and Makin and more recently the gyokusai at Saipan and Tinian at this time last summer. But we are not defeated. We're winning. We are definitely winning this war. While everywhere we rout two or three times as many enemy and achieve splendid victories, resistance is hard, quantitatively, and we go off to commit gyokusai, pledging resolutely to save the country for seven lifetimes. Decisive battles are now taking place in the Philippines. At the moment, Japan will make a comeback with this last stand, break the enemy's nose, and push with irresistible force, push to the end.

Both the army and the navy have formed special-attack units and are continuing the intense and endless battles. I believe that 1945 is the autumn of emergencies when the Yamato race, one million strong, will choose death and make a last stand. I am overcome with emotion as I remember my send-off two years ago.
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 65-66

Japanese Pilot's Diary, 8 April 1945

April 8, 1945, clear

In the morning we practiced dropping thousand-kilogram practice bombs. One bomb was twenty meters off the target, and a second misfired.

The engines of our planes were in great shape, and we were in good spirits. Preparations for the attack.

This time--I'm definitely not expecting to return alive.

No, it's not that I don't expect to return alive. I simply intend to body-crash, and thus my dying can't be avoided, can it?

I'll get myself ready, write my last letters, and make arrangements for the things I'll leave behind.

In the end, my life will have been twenty-two years long.

I'll smear the decks of enemy warships with this teenager's blood. It'll be wonderful!
SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), p. 79

The pilot, Itabashi Yasuo, died in a special-attack flight on 9 August 1945.

21 October 2005

Pop Culture vs. Corruption in Romania, Take 2

Matt Welch has another update on Romania in the October 2005 edition of Reason that reprises the theme of his 17 July 2004 essay in Canada's National Post headlined "Rapping the Commies Away: A New MTV Generation in Romania Tries to Drive out Corruption."

Welch's current title is perhaps a tad overoptimistic: "The Second Romanian Revolution Will Be Televised: The TV show Dallas helped overthrow Ceausescu. Now gangsta rap and pop culture are driving out corrupt post-Soviet thugs." But he gives a vivid account of developments in Romanian pop culture during and after the Ceausescu era. Here's how it ends.
Pop culture, once beaten down to virtual nonexistence, has now become a valuable export. In the summer of 2004, the Moldavian-Romanian boy band O-Zone scored Europe’s No. 1 pop and dance hit, the unbearably catchy single “Dragostea Din Tei,” which topped the charts in at least 27 countries and sold more than 8 million copies. (You’ve probably heard it—think relentless Euro disco, and the phonetic phrase “Numa numa yay.”) And popular gangsta rap bands like Parazitii ['The Parasites'], despite suffering greatly from domestic piracy and the censorious ways of the National Audio Visual Council (which banned one video simply for the reasonable couplet “alcohol is life/life is alcohol”), have still managed to sell nearly 1 million CDs since Ceausescu was shot.

Unlike the 1989 generation of anti-communist students, these twentysomethings didn’t taste the clubs of miners, didn’t help overthrow an odious tyrant, and didn’t worship at the altar of a 1980s TV show that glorified a morally corrupt business tycoon. “We were more into Seinfeld,” Parazitii manager Munteanu says. Not to mention foul-mouthed 1990s Compton rap sensation N.W.A. “You really need freedom to do this kind of music, you know?”

But their revulsion at corruption, coupled with a government that shares it, offers serious hope that post-communist Europe’s red-headed stepchild will finally emerge from its long, dark shadow and create a country far more free, successful, and interesting.

“On a recent and fairly rare venture into Bucharest’s club scene, I looked at the trendy crowd and felt for a moment that I could have been in Manhattan or South Beach,” said former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest, who led a daily crusade against Romanian corruption during his three-year tenure, in an exit interview with the monthly magazine Vivid, one of nearly a dozen English-language publications in Bucharest. “Then a series of young people brought me back to reality, stopping one by one at the table to thank me for speaking [out].... Those who think they’re getting away with corruption are just fooling themselves. A new generation is coming, and it will demand, and indeed create, change.”
And maybe some new wealth. But are the music and film industries really going to help eliminate corruption? Only by motivating voters without fostering cynicism. Otherwise, I would guess that straight-laced bankers are going to be a lot more critical in the fight against corruption than pop musicians.

20 October 2005

Dangers of One-Party Control in a U.S. Democracy

The explosive outbreak in 1997 of a long-simmering scandal in Hawai‘i illustrates the dangers of one political party exercising full control of all three branches of a U.S.-style government for over four decades. In Hawai‘i's case, Democrats maintained constant control of the legislature, the governor's office, and the judiciary--while the state Supreme Court justices appointed the trustees of the largest charitable trust in the country. But Republicans are in no way immune to the same pernicious disease, whether at the state or national level.

University of Hawai‘i law professor Randall Roth was instrumental in bringing the extent of the scandal to public attention and forcing state and federal officials to begin attempts to redress the sorry state of affairs. Here's an excerpt from his article in the journal of the International Center for Not-for-profit Law in 1999. Much has changed since that time.
Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate (KS/BE) was established 114 years ago by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter and last descendant of King Kamehameha the Great. Initial funding of this charitable trust consisted of roughly 10% of the Kingdom of Hawaii's land mass, including all of Waikiki. The KS/BE corpus today is estimated to be worth approximately $10 billion, including a 10% interest in Goldman Sachs....

The will directs that trustees be chosen by justices of the "Supreme Court," which at the time of the princess' death meant the Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Hawaii. But Supreme Court justices continued to make the selections when Hawaii was a republic, territory and state ... until late last year. It was then that four of the five justices, bowing to public pressure, agreed not to participate in future trustee selections. The one dissenter has suggested privately that he has authority to make future selections "as a majority of one." In past years, the justices did not hesitate to decide cases involving the trustees they selected. But earlier this year, the justices agreed to recuse themselves in such matters.

HIGHLY COMPENSATED TRUSTEES. KS/BE trustees have paid themselves annual fees averaging about $900,000 each. They argue that this has been within the compensation cap set by mechanical application of Hawaii's statutory fee provision. But the nation's preeminent authority on trust law has called this formula "practically incomprehensible ... an awful statute." Among other problems, it does not define "revenue," "income" and "general profits." As a result, it is not clear in what circumstances net income as opposed to gross income is to be used, or to what extent capital losses are to be offset against capital gains.

These ambiguities take on greater meaning when you consider a few numbers. During the three-year period currently under review by a court-appointed master, the trustees experienced losses and loss reserves totaling $241 million. This exceeded investment income from all sources, including Goldman Sachs. Plus, annual management and general expenses rose from $42 million to $52 million to $61 million. According to the master, the total return for this three-year period was minus 1.0%.

Due to a dramatic, last-minute floor vote on the floor of the state House of Representatives, the 1998 Legislature replaced the statutory fee formula with a simple requirement that trustee compensation always be "reasonable under the circumstances." The bill had been bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee (whose chair has for years received a $4,000 monthly retainer from KS/BE), and was actively fought by the Speaker of the House (who recently received a $132,000 consulting fee on a KS/BE land transaction).

POLITICAL CONNECTIONS. One of the current trustees was Speaker of the state House of Representatives at the time of his appointment in 1984 and for several years thereafter. Another had been President of the state Senate just prior to being appointed a trustee. A third had just been chairman of the state Judicial Selection Commission, and a fourth was a physical education teacher turned state Department of Education administrator who recently had served as chairperson of the sitting Governor's re-election committee on the island of Maui. The fifth trustee, Oswald Stender, is sometimes called the accidental trustee. Unlike the other four, he is not politically active and was not the first choice of any justice. Stender emerged as a compromise candidate only when the justices reached a stalemate over other candidates, one of whom was generally regarded at that time as a political "king maker." Stender is the only trustee with CEO-like credentials. [All trustees have now been replaced.--J]

Cynics sometimes point out that members of the Judicial Selection Commission are selected by the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ... and that KS/BE trustees in recent years have included a Speaker of the House, President of the Senate and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Governor also selects Commission members, and the most recent trustee is the best friend and political confidant of the Governor. [emphasis added]

The law firm of another recent Judicial Selection Commission chairman has received $15 million in fees from KS/BE since his tenure on the Commission, and the law firm of a former Governor received millions in fees soon after he left office in 1995.

Unsuccessful candidates for justice of the state Supreme Court have described being quizzed by members of the Judicial Selection Commission about who they might be inclined to name as a KS/BE trustee. These candidates concluded that no one gets appointed to the high court in Hawaii unless they answer this question "correctly."
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin has a special website devoted to its extensive coverage of this evolving story between 1997 and 2003.

19 October 2005

U.S. Embassy Beijing, 5-8 June 1989

President [George H.W.] Bush called me Monday morning, June 5th [1989]. Earlier that day in Washington, in his first official comment on the crackdown, the president had announced a ban on new weapons sales and suspension of military contacts. In our phone conversation, I told President Bush that things were pretty calm on the ground but that my main concern was the safety of American citizens in Peking, particularly American students living at Peking universities that were the locus of the student movements.

At the U.S. Embassy, we were already getting heat from the American press, which had gathered en masse in front of the embassy at 7 that morning, clamoring to know how the embassy was going to safeguard the lives of Americans in Peking. Fortunately for the U.S. government, McKinney Russell, a career officer at the old United States Information Agency, was an experienced hand. Russell knew that any story, once the fighting subsides, becomes a local story. He had called me at about 6:30 a.m. that morning, and we got our cue cards together. Yes, we assured the journalists, we had scouted out evacuation routes and organized buses to get students out of harm's way and take them to hotels or to the embassy. We fended off the hungry journalists, but we knew they would be coming back for more.

At this point, I should have put into place a general evacuation order as some other embassies had done, in particular the Japanese and French Embassies. I would have saved myself a lot of headache, but we went about it piecemeal. We started evacuating students on Monday, and on Tuesday embassy personnel started calling all Americans to urge them to leave Peking. But we waited until Wednesday, June 7, to inform American residents of a voluntary evacuation procedure for all Americans. Initially, I relied on the Consular Section, which has the responsibility for the welfare of American citizens, to do the calling and planning. Later, at [military attaché Jack] Leide's suggestion, I switched the evacuation planning to the military attaché's office because, as military men, they were better organized to handle this sort of crisis operation.

[Assistant military attaché] Larry Wortzel's frustration over delays was the catalyst for the change. On June 8, after scouting evacuation routes and informing American citizens of collection points, Wortzel returned to the embassy prepared to lead a convoy of embassy vehicles at 11 a.m. But he discovered that little progress had been made in assembling the convoy. Diplomats and others were haggling over insignificant details, like who would drive which car. Wortzel stormed out of the room, cursing a blue streak. He bumped right into me. Ten minutes later, I found Wortzel in his office. I dumped the batch of motor pool keys on his desk. "You are in charge," I said. "Get this convoy out of here in 30 minutes."

The delays brought all sorts of opprobrium down our--largely, my--head. Disgruntled Americans gave the media the story they wanted: The American government wasn't performing well in a crisis. Stories appeared in the stateside press about the embassy's "failure" to assist U.S. citizens trying to get out of China. Magnifying the "failure" was news footage from Peking that showed a city under lockdown with the possibility of more clashes. There was talk of civil war between branches of the Chinese military, which had different views of the crackdown. The reports were wrong. At the embassy, we knew from accurate reporting by Wortzel that rumors of a split in the PLA were overstated. It turns out that a Canadian military attaché, who had never been trained in ground combat, asserted to the press that civil war between ground troops was imminent. The attaché had looked at tanks facing outward on a highway overpass with guns pointed in three directions and come to his erroneous conclusion. This fueled the rumor mill racing around Peking and over the airways.

Nevertheless, despite our best efforts, I was behind the curve. Hysteria set in on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Our Citizen Services Center started getting about 2,000 calls a day from Americans concerned about family members in China, and politicians in Washington excoriated the Bush administration for failing to act to protect Americans. I had people badmouthing me in Peking and all over the U.S.
SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 324-326

17 October 2005

Niall Ferguson on Europe and China

Economic historian Niall Ferguson contrasts Europe and China in today's LA Times.
EUROPEAN UNION finance ministers went to China last week. Their trip may shatter the complacency that seems to pervade European capitals these days. "Wake up and smell the coffee" is what we like to say here in the U.S. when we encounter complacency. But it's the Chinese green tea that the Europeans need to wake up and smell....

Today, as a result of reforms dating to the late 1970s, China has the most dynamic economy in the world and quite possibly in all history. Europe, by contrast, is fast becoming the "sick man" of the developed world — a title held until recently by Japan.

Over the last decade, according to the International Monetary Fund's latest World Economic Outlook report, growth in the core economies of the EU that make up the Eurozone has been a sluggish 2% per year. Growth in China has been more than four times faster. In dollar terms, China's gross domestic product is already about one-fifth the size of the Eurozone. Project those growth rates forward and China could overtake the Eurozone within 30 years.

Europe's sluggish growth is only one of several reasons why China's leaders rank the EU significantly behind the United States in the global pecking order. Leave aside the two other big reasons, lack of military clout and lack of significant energy reserves, both of which make Russia seem more important to Beijing than Europe. And purely as a potential market for China's exports, Europe seems less promising than China's own Asian neighbors.
via RealClearPolitics

Lotte Marines Clinch Pennant!

I'm happy to see the long-suffering White Sox in the U.S. World Series. Last year about this time, I was wondering whether this year would see an all-Chicago series between the Cubs and the Sox. The major drawback of the White Sox victory over the Angels is that it brings to an end Matt Welch's season of sharply informed comment on the national pastime.

Meanwhile, Japan's Pacific League playoffs have ended, too, with gratifying results.
FUKUOKA (AP) Bobby Valentine's Chiba Lotte Marines are going to the Japan Series for the first time in 31 years.

Tomoya Satozaki doubled in a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning at Yahoo Dome on Monday as the Marines defeated the Softbank Hawks 3-2 in Game 5 of the Pacific League's second stage playoffs to advance to the Japan Series, where they will face the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers.

"I don't think either team should have lost," said Valentine. "The Hawks are a great team and the Marines are a great team and I congratulate everyone in the organization."

The Marines, who last played in the Japan Series in 1974 when they were known as the Lotte Orions, will open the best-of-seven championship on Saturday at Chiba Marine Stadium.
When I was a kid, my brother and I used to root for the Nankai Hawks, while my Dad would root for their archrivals, the Daimai Orions. Now I'm happy to see the successors of the Orions beat the Hawks, mostly because the Hawks have been rather unfair toward foreign players, while the Marines have gone so far as to hire a foreign manager, not to mention one of Hawai‘i baseball's favorite sons, Benny Agbayani.

In a sloppy piece (see comments) from 2001, Scott Gorman at JapanBall.com described the Hawks' attitude toward foreign players who threaten their manager's home run record.
On September 24th, [Tuffy] Rhodes, a journeyman when he played in America, did the unthinkable: He tied Sadaharu Oh’s decades-old record for most home runs in a season when he belted number 55. That he was even granted a chance to tie and perhaps surpass Oh, the unchallenged king of Japanese baseball as a player and now the manager of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, may be a testament to how much attitudes towards American players have changed in Japan, just as the immense popularity of Ichiro Suzuki in the United States signals a sea change in the American acceptance of Japanese players.

In contrast, consider the case of Randy Bass, an American slugger of an earlier era, who in 1985 was denied even the opportunity to challenge Oh. When he got close, Japanese players and managers appalled at the thought of an American (and it must be said in race-conscious Japan, an African-American player to boot) taking home the precious record intentionally walked or hit him every time he came to the plate in the last games of the season. Oh said nothing.

But this year, Oh let it be known that Rhodes should have a chance without prejudice, much to his credit. Perhaps he suddenly remembered that as a young player, before he was anointed, he took lots of guff because his mother was born in Taiwan, and he therefore was not a “pure” Japanese. [Oh's family name is Wang in Chinese, and more likely came from his father's side.] Rhodes’ lot was made easier by the fact that he showed proper respect for the record and the personage of Oh all year, much to the dismay of the Japanese sporting press, who love to create screaming headlines.

(But perhaps Oh still had mixed feelings, at least about seeing his 37-year-old record broken in front of him. In a game against Oh’s Fukuoka Daiei Hawks on September 30th, Rhodes was walked or given impossible-to-hit pitches, despite Oh’s statement that he wanted everything on the level. Were Oh’s coaches acting against his wishes? Hard to say, but unlikely. But the general principle remained; Rhodes, it was maintained, was still be given his chances, apparently just not against the Hawks).
UPDATE: Tom of That's News to Me notes that Gorman seems to have mixed up Randy Bass, who's white, with Tuffy Rhodes, who's black.

16 October 2005

The Interrogation of Kim Hyun Hee

On November 29, 1987 ... a powerful bomb exploded on a Korean Air Lines (KAL) jetliner over the Andaman Sea on its way from Abu Dhabi to Seoul. All 115 passengers and crewmembers were killed....

Moving swiftly after news of the plane's disappearance, the Bahrain Intelligence Service had determined that the passport of Mayumi Hachiya, a 25-Year-old Japanese woman traveling with her father and registered on the first leg of KAL 858 from Baghdad to Abu Dhabi, was a fake. On November 31 at the airport in Bahrain, where the two had flown in an attempt to get home from Abu Dhabi, the suspicious pair was apprehended by Bahraini police as they were about to board a flight for Rome. The elderly man, who turned out to be a veteran North Korean secret agent, bit into a cyanide-laced cigarette and died instantly. Bahrain Police Chief Ian Henderson, however, grabbed for a similarly poisoned cigarette on the lips of the young woman. She hesitated for a moment, and Henderson flicked the cigarette out of her mouth. The young woman survived. To this day, Henderson, an Englishman by birth, shows curious visitors the scar on his finger where the young woman bit him when he reached for the "cigarette."

At first, with her interrogators the young woman stuck steadfastly to her cover story that she was a Chinese orphan who had grown up in Japan and who had had nothing to do with the bombing. But her actions belied her story. In one violent outburst in Bahrain, enraged by a line of questioning about her sexual past, she felled a female interpreter with a palm-heel strike to the nose, delivered a hammer-fist punch to the groin of Henderson, and then grabbed for his pistol. She was about to shoot herself with the pistol when she was jolted by an electric stun gun. Her rage prompted Henderson to send her to Seoul. "Get her out of here. She belongs to the South Koreans now," Henderson said.

The man who took Kim Hyun Hee--her real name--back to Seoul was Vice Foreign Minister Park Soo Kil. Park flew to Bahrain shortly after the KAL 858 explosion with three agents from the Agency for National Security Planning, also known as the KCIA, to demonstrate to the Bahrain authorities that Kim was indeed a North Korean agent. Chief among the evidence was an analysis of the cyanide-laced cigarettes, which showed them to be the same type used by North Korean agents apprehended in South Korea. Bahrain was getting pressure from unfriendly countries such as Syria to send her to China. Park told Bahrain government officials that the longer the suspected terrorist stayed in their country, the more at risk Bahrain would be to a rescue attempt by North Korea that could leave more people dead, likely Bahrainis. Finally, after Kim's attack, the Bahrain government let her return with him.

In Seoul, under twenty-four-hour observation and subject to in-depth questioning to which she replied in either Japanese or Chinese, Kim broke and confessed. On the eighth day of her interrogation, she collapsed upon the breast of a woman interrogator and said in Korean, "Forgive me. I am sorry. I will tell you everything." The interrogation had been conducted masterfully by the South Koreans. They had observed the way she expertly made her bed every morning as if she had had prolonged military training, uncovered discrepancies in her story, like her incorrect use of southern Chinese words to describe life in northern China, and cajoled her by taking her on a tour of Seoul.

She admitted to helping place a radio time bomb with liquid explosive in the overhead luggage rack of KAL 858 while on the Baghdad to Abu Dhabi leg and then deplaning with her fellow agent. Kim revealed that the two North Koreans had been traveling overseas, disguised as father and daughter, for more than three years in preparation for the operation. Interestingly, the South Koreans used the fact that Kim had said she was originally from China to get back at the North Koreans. They communicated to Peking through the New China News Agency in Hong Kong that "your North Korean friends have put this monkey on your back." The Chinese were upset--and probably embarrassed....

For the bombing of KAL 858, the U.S. put North Korea on its list of countries engaged in terrorism and started to assist South Korea in security arrangements for the upcoming [1988] Olympics. In a meeting with Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze in March 1988, President Reagan received assurances that there would be no North Korean terrorist attacks at the Olympics.
SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 283-284, 286-287

15 October 2005

Mullah Omar and Bin Laden: New Friends, Not Old

Since September 2001, Mullah Omar has been widely portrayed as an old friend of Osama bin Laden's. Richard C. Clarke, the CIA counterintelligence chief, said that Mullah Omar and bin Laden were old friends and that Mullah Omar was anxious for bin Laden to return to Afghanistan from Sudan. [Former Taliban intelligence chief] Khaksar denies this, saying the two had never met until after the Taliban took control of Kabul in September 1996.

Clarke said Bin Laden was encouraged by Mullah Omar to come to Afghanistan from Sudan to build training camps and bring his money. That's plain wrong. The terrorist training camps flourished under the mujahedeen government [1992-1996], the opponents of the Taliban. Osama bin Laden came to Afghanistan from Sudan with the help of the mujahedeen government.

The Taliban had become, by 2001, a loathsome repressive regime. But that does not justify or explain why the CIA revised history in order to connect bin Laden and Mullah Omar in those early days of the Taliban movement. The CIA should have known that Osama bin Laden's friends were the men of the Northern Alliance, men like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the very men it would later choose to help hunt bin Laden.
SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 31-32

Kandahar, 1986: City of Music and Rubble

It's a bizarre twist that the Taliban movement, with its horrific repressiveness and abhorrence of music and mysticism, should have come out of Kandahar, where ritual worship at shrines is widespread. That region is home to the [Sufi] Pirs, clerics who trace their lineage to Islam's prophet and have mystical qualities that are revered, their feet and hands kissed.

The severe interpretation of Islam that the Taliban eventually embraced with such vigor came from the outsiders who would take it over, the Afghans trained at Pakistani madrassas, and later by the austere philosophy of Wahabi Islam practiced by Saudi Arabia and the Arab militants who would later wield such control.

Kandahar was not a city of severe Islam in 1986. Kandaharis were not anti-Western ideologues, but in fact just the opposite. The mujahedeen, who arranged my clandestine visit to Kandahar city, were Pashtun tribesmen, kinsmen of Mullah Omar. They drove throughout the region on motorcycles.

In their homes in bomb-shattered villages were old dust-clogged tape recorders that blared Pashtu songs. The most popular singer was a Pashtu chanteuse named Nagma, who sang of love lost, new love.
SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), p. 33

12 October 2005

Rashid on the Pakistani Military vs. Mother Nature

In today's Daily Telegraph, Ahmed Rashid questions how well Pakistan's military rulers will survive the latest huge natural disaster to hit the region.
The last time the Pakistan army rode to the rescue of its citizens after a massive natural disaster, the result was a civil war and the loss of half the country.

That was in 1970, when half a million people in what was then East Pakistan drowned as a result of typhoons and floods, and the delay of the army in launching a relief effort led to enormous public anger and the eventual creation of Bangladesh....

So far the army has been woefully slow in reacting to the disaster. Its much vaunted Crisis Management Cell - set up after 9/11, run by army officers and modelled on America's National Security Council - has itself been an abysmal disaster. Management on the ground has been superficial at best. Stories abound, such as the one about a 72-man team of Spanish rescuers and their sniffer dogs being kept waiting for 48 hours at Islamabad airport before someone told them where to go. But as the army operation kicks in, bolstered by foreign aid, money and helicopters, public anger will recede.

One may well ask why the seventh largest army in the world is holding its hand out for helicopters and tents when America has supplied dozens of helicopters since 9/11 and the country is one of the largest tent manufacturers in the world.

The army itself holds thousands of tents in stock, along with tens of thousands of tins of foodstuffs and blankets - which do not seem to have been released. Perhaps this is because the army continues to fight an insurgency in Balochistan and al-Qa'eda remnants in Waziristan along the border with Afghanistan. These operations are on-going even as the army runs the relief effort.

It has not gone unnoticed among Western intelligence agencies that the epicentre of the quake is also the epicentre of the camps run by Pakistani extremist groups affiliated to al-Qa'eda, where hundreds of Kashmiri militants and Afghans are being trained.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pointed the area out to visiting Western leaders on a map as being the centre of Taliban resurgence. The Kashmiris trained in this area still cross the Line of Control to ambush Indian patrols. The army, wishing to continue to exert pressure on India and Afghanistan, has turned a blind eye to these activities. While the army is likely to be wary of allowing Western aid agencies running pell-mell all over Azad Kashmir, it will now be impossible to keep these camps hidden and to continue training.

One positive result of the earthquake may be greater international and Pakistani civilian pressure to close these camps, thereby speeding up the peace process with India.
via RealClearPolitics

Kaplan on the Modern Military vs. Mother Nature

In today's New York Times, Robert D. Kaplan develops a point he made after last year's Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
With the global population now at six billion, humans are living in urban concentrations in an unprecedented number of seismically, climatically and environmentally fragile areas. The earthquake-stricken region of Pakistan saw a doubling of its population in recent decades, certainly a factor in the death toll of more than 20,000. The tsunami in Asia last December showed the risks to the rapidly growing cities along the Indian Ocean. China's booming population occupies flood zones. Closer to home, cities like Memphis and St. Louis lie along the New Madrid fault line, responsible for a major earthquake nearly 200 years ago when those cities barely existed; and the hurricane zone along the southern Atlantic Coast and earthquake-prone areas of California continue to be developed. More human beings are going to be killed or made homeless by Mother Nature than ever in history.

When such disasters occur, security systems break down and lawlessness erupts. The first effect of the earthquake in the Pakistani town of Muzaffarabad was widespread looting - just as in New Orleans. Relief aid is undermined unless those who would help the victims can monopolize the use of force. That requires troops.

But even using our troops in our own country is controversial: the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 strictly limits the use of troops inside the United States. The Gulf Coast devastation has helped remind us that this law was enacted in a rural America at a time when natural disasters took a relatively small human toll, and such calamities were viewed more fatalistically.

In a nation and a world where mass media and the Internet spread the word of disaster so effectively, impassioned calls to do something can quickly erode constitutional concerns, political differences and worries over sovereignty. Just as Pakistan has now agreed to accept aid from its rival India, Iran accepted help from the United States Air Force after the earthquake in Bam in 2003. The very people who typically denounce the American military will surely be complaining about its absence should our troops not show up after a major natural calamity.

Indeed, because of our military's ability to move quickly into new territory and establish security perimeters, it is emerging as the world's most effective emergency relief organization. There is a saying among soldiers: amateurs discuss strategy, while professionals discuss logistics. And if disaster assistance is about anything, it's about logistics - moving people, water, food, medical supplies and heavy equipment to save lives and communities. We also have our National Guard, which is made up primarily of men in their 30's (many of whom are police officers and firefighters in civilian life) trained to deal effectively with the crowds of rowdy young men that tend to impede relief work.
via RealClearPolitics

The Seduction of Mullah Omar

The Taliban had a lot to offer Pakistan. They could provide strong Pashtun allies in Afghanistan, something Pakistan desperately needed because its only other significant Pashtun ally was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the mujahedeen prime minister who hadn't yet set foot in Kabul, choosing to stay outside the city and pound it with rockets in an attempt to dislodge his rival and the current defense minister, Ahmed Shah Masood....

The Taliban could also provide training and inspiration for the jihadis that Pakistan was using with such ferocity in Indian-ruled Kashmir, a small former princedom that both India and Pakistan claimed as their own....

It wasn't difficult to co-opt the Taliban. Pakistan insinuated its control slowly and insidiously. It used Pakistani mullahs like those attending the meeting in Kandahar to mold and manipulate Mullah Omar. Additionally, the ISI recruited Afghans trained at Pakistani madrassas to infiltrate Mullah Omar's inner circle. One of Pakistan's handpicked men was Tayyab Aga, barely thirty-five years old and a perfect English speaker. He would eventually become Mullah Omar's spokesman, rarely leaving his side. He won Mullah Omar's confidence through sheer persistence.

Every day, he and his friends would sit outside Mullah Omar's office in Kandahar and send in messages, pleading to see the one-eyed leader. Mullah Omar didn't always answer their messages. Sometimes they waited weeks before being called in to see him. But they were patient men.

Each time, they would fill his head with flattery, praising him for his commitment to Islam, to the purity of the Sharia law that he had imposed. The seduction went on for months.

A measure of their progress was that eventually some of the founding members of the Taliban, men like [intelligence chief Mullah Mohammad] Khaksar, had trouble seeing Omar. Khaksar said: "It changed slowly. I used to walk into his office unannounced, drink tea and talk. But then it changed. I couldn't easily see him. He was always too busy and when we did get in they were always there, these mullahs from Pakistan or these new Afghan mullahs talking nonsense."

The real triumph for Pakistan and for its Afghan surrogates came in the first months of 1996 on the day that Mullah Omar removed the Cloak of Islam's Prophet from its sacred resting place, unseen since 1935, and in front of more than 1,500 mullahs who had traveled to Kandahar, declared himself Amir-ul Momineen, or King of the Faithful.

This act of hubris turned even the Muslim countries against the Taliban, reducing their circle of international friends and making them more dependent on Pakistan. It also inspired the Islamic zealots, those jihadis Pakistan had been nurturing so carefully.
SOURCE: I is for Infidel: From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years Inside Afghanistan, by Kathy Gannon (PublicAffairs, 2005), pp. 41-42

10 October 2005

Anti-DDT Trumps Antimalaria in the West

An op-ed by Sebastian Mallaby in today's Washington Post hits on a topic that was once close to my liver and is now closer to my heart, enforced disarmament in the battle against malaria.
Some 500 million people still get the disease annually, and at least 1 million die, but the World Health Organization refuses to recommend DDT spraying. The U.S. government's development programs don't purchase any of the chemical. In June President Bush made a great show of announcing a new five-year push against malaria; DDT appears to play no part in his plans.

But the worst culprit is the European Union. It not only refuses to fund DDT spraying: In the case of at least one country, it has also threatened to punish DDT use with import restrictions.

That country is Uganda, which suffered a crippling 12 million cases of malaria in a population of 27 million in 2003. The Ugandans know perfectly well that DDT can help them: As Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute recently testified to Congress, DDT spraying in one part of the country in 1959 and 1960 reduced the prevalence of malaria from 22 percent to less than 1 percent. Ugandans also know the record in South Africa, where the cessation of DDT spraying in 1996 allowed the number of malaria cases to multiply tenfold and where the resumption of spraying in 2000 helped to bring the caseload down by almost 80 percent.

So the Ugandans, not unreasonably, would like to use DDT. But in February the European Union waved an anti-scientific flag at them. The Europeans said Uganda might need to institute a new food monitoring program to assuage the health concerns of their consumers, even though hundreds of millions have been exposed to DDT without generating any solid evidence that the chemical harms people. The E.U. proposal might constitute an impossible administrative burden on a poor country. Anti-malaria campaigners say that other African governments are wary of even considering DDT, having seen what Uganda has gone through.
Please read the rest.

I've only experienced the mildest form of malaria, Plasmodium vivax. It was unpleasant enough, but P. falciparum is the true killer. And it's spreading.

UPDATE: Two discussion threads in diametrically opposed blogs question Mallaby's take and tease out some of the finer points of the DDT vs. malaria issue. Enviro-hawk Tim Lambert argues that the E.U. is only concerned to prohibit the use of DDT on agricultural products that it imports. Everyone seems to agree that's a dangerous and counterproductive use of DDT, in that it fosters DDT-resistant strains of malaria more quickly than localized use does and can endanger other species. So agricultural use should be banned. There seems to be much less agreement about how much and how widespread DDT resistance already is. The most effective use of DDT seems to be spraying it on the inside walls of houses or on mosquito nets. Libertarian Ron Bailey's piece sparks a debate about how effective DDT is relative to other chemicals, what the relative costs are, and how important human life is relative to that of other living creatures.

Belated Happy Hangul Day!

Hangul Day (한글날) was 9 October. The ever-observant Language Hat has more, and Language Log has much, much more.

A Nondiplomat at a Nonembassy in Taiwan

In Taiwan I had to get used to the unusual situation of conducting diplomacy in a country with which America wasn't supposed to have diplomatic relations. To wit, at AIT [American Institute in Taiwan] we were officially consultants under contract to the State Department working in an unofficial capacity at a nonembassy to advance America's interests in Taiwan. It was a mouthful, and the semantics and diplomatic gyrations that American representatives in Taiwan had to go through were at times humorous, at times frustrating.

Starting with the mundane, we had to develop a new vocabulary to conduct diplomacy. The embassy became an institute in 1979, and I was its second director, following veteran diplomat and fellow China hand Chuck Cross. At the institute, there were no American flags flying, no national days celebrated, nor Marines in red, white, and blue. Instead of a political section, we had a general affairs section or GAS, perhaps an appropriate acronym for political reporting. Rather than a consular section, there was a travel service section. In our daily lives, we had to be careful to adhere to certain rules. If I were addressed by a Taiwanese journalist as ambassador, I had to ignore him. If at some function or performance we were seated in the special section reserved for diplomats, we had to suggest that this was not quite right. Most of the time we ended up sitting there anyway. Should the agressive Taiwanese press have caught wind of any protocol slipup on our part and used it to trumpet recognition of an upgrading of the relationship, we would have caught hell from both Washington and Peking.

The most frustrating part was that we were prohibited from meeting with Taiwanese Foreign Ministry and Defense officials as well as with the president himself in their offices, nor could they visit us in ours. We could meet with a designated group of Taiwanese foreign service officers who staffed AIT's counterpart organization on the Taiwan side. But we had to transact the majority of our discussions in other venues, like restaurants, country clubs, golf courses, and private homes. Perhaps the most serious casualty of such restrictions was our waistlines. Dinners and cocktail parties--the staple of most diplomatic posts--took on added importance in Taiwan. A rich Chinese diet can wreak havoc with an American-fed body, as it did with mine.
SOURCE: China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage, and Diplomacy in Asia, by James Lilley with Jeffrey Lilley (PublicAffairs, 2004), pp. 238-239

09 October 2005

Asashoryu Loses in Las Vegas

After narrowly winning last month's Aki Basho in Tokyo, Asashoryu has lost again, this time in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS — Ozeki Tochiazuma beat yokozuna Asashoryu in the final to win the first-day tournament of sumo's exhibition tour of Las Vegas on Friday.

Thirty-eight wrestlers in the top-tier makuuchi division took part in the competition, which will be followed by similar one-day mini tournaments for two more days during the tour. The spectators Friday were entertained by humorous introductions of each wrestler and explanations of techniques by Hawaiian-born former ozeki Konishiki in the opening ceremony and between bouts.
Warms my heart to hear it. I hope Asa loses a bit at the casinos, too. He can well afford it.

The Las Vegas Sun reports:
Tourists gawked as the athletes drank, smoked, played slots and held court at the Baccarat tables.

The buffet at Mandalay Bay, the hotel-casino hosting the event, added 2,500 pieces of sushi, pickled daikon and miso soup to its spread, just feet away from a steaming heap of mashed potatoes.

Japundit has a reporter on the scene!
BTW, here's a thorough analysis of September's Aki Basho that trashes Bulgarian upstart Kotooshu's actual performance during his bouts.
The Bulgarian's 12-0 start was highly inflated. There's no denying that Kotooshu is extremely athletic, agile, skilled, and well-rounded in his technique. There's no denying Kotooshu's future in this sport. And, there's no denying that Kotooshu's sumo this basho sucked. I'm not talking about his magical escapes at the tawara because he did snatch victory from the jaws of defeat numerous times. I'm talking about his approach to the bouts and his execution. We were onto this early on in the basho. Not a single word of praise over the first three days, and then on day four this statement: "if he keeps this up and manages a 12-3 record, the Association will hesitate to consider Kotooshu's promotion to Ozeki because his sumo content this basho is so poor." Sex symbol Makiko Uchidate of the Yokozuna Deliberation Council also wasn't fooled. She had nothing positive to say about the Sekiwake after the basho, and she also publicly stated that she doesn't think he will secure promotion to Ozeki in Kyushu. It wasn't all bad. After being called out by Asashoryu mid-week, Kotooshu did finally win a bout moving forward against Kyokushuzan on day 8. He followed that up with an excellent win against Iwakiyama on day 9, and he thoroughly dominated both Ozeki (Tochiazuma on day 11 and Chiyotaikai on senshuraku). But that's it; only four solid bouts. Other than that it was bad sumo.