TEPCO To Dump 770k Tonnes Of Radiation Contaminated Water Into The Pacific Ocean

Takashi Kawamura, chairman of TEPCO.

Takashi Kawamura, the chain-smoking, rotten toothed, chairman of TEPCO, stated on July 14th, 2017, that, “The decision has already been made” regarding the release of 770,000 tonnes of Tritium contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.” Kawamura added, “TEPCO is waiting for approval from the Japanese government before going ahead with the plan and is seeking the understanding of local residents.

According to Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Agency Chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, Tritium is “relatively harmless to humans.” According to Tanaka, “Dumping tritium-contaminated water into the sea is not an uncommon practice at nuclear power plants.” Regardless as to what Tanaka states, Tritium contaminates nearly all fish caught in Fukushima. The fish is then sold throughout the world for human consumption. So, how safe is Tritium anyway?

Tritium facts

Tritium is known as Hydrogen-3, and has the element symbol T or 3H. The nucleus of a tritium atom is called a triton, and consists of three particles, a proton and two neutrons. Tritium decays via beta particle emission, with a half-life of 12.3 years. The beta decay releases 18 keV of energy, where tritium decays into helium-3 and beta particles. Trace amounts of tritium occur naturally when cosmic rays interact with Earth’s atmosphere. Most tritium that exists today is generated from neutron activation of lithium-6 in a nuclear reactor. Tritium is produced by nuclear fission of uranium-235, uranium-233, and polonium-239. In the U.S., tritium is produced at a nuclear facility in Savannah, Georgia. Approximately only 225kg of tritium had been produced in the U.S. Japan has produced 770,000 tonnes of Tritium, and this figured only covers what has been contained. This does not include what TEPCO has dumped into the Pacific Ocean for the past six years.

Like Hydrogen, Tritium exists as an odorless and colorless gas, but is mainly found in liquid form as part of tritiated water or T2O. Tritium in the liquid form is heavy, toxic, and unusable water. Despite the lies from the nuclear industry that Tritium is safe, it poses health risks if ingested, inhaled, or enters the body through an open wound or injection. Because beta particles are a form of ionizing radiation, the expected health effect from internal exposure to tritium would be an elevated risk of developing cancer.

Tritium is used as a component in nuclear weapons, as a radioactive label in chemistry lab work, as a tracer for biological and environmental studies, and for controlled nuclear fusion. Tritiated water can be traced, and used as a tool to monitor the hydrologic cycle and to map ocean currents.

High levels of tritium were released into the environment from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Prior to the tests, only 3 to 4 kg of tritium existed on Earth’s surface. After testing, the levels rose 200-300%. Today, because of TEPCO, that amount is thousands, upon thousands of times higher.

A fraction of storage containers that are filled with radiation contaminated water which are to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean.

Tritium has been building up in water that has been used to cool three reactors that suffered fuel melt-downs after cooling equipment was destroyed during the earthquake, and tsunami that occurred on 3.11.11. Around 770,000 tonnes of highly radioactive water is stored in 580 tanks at the site. A tonne is equivalent to 2,204.6 pounds. According to TEPCO, many of the contaminants can be filtered out, but the technology does not presently exist to remove tritium from water. There also exists no proof whatsoever that TEPCO filtered any of the strontium, cesium, or other highly dangerous forms of radiation from the stored containers. Given the companies laundry list of recklessness, cover ups, and deception, one should assume dumping the radiation contaminated water into the Pacific will be catastrophic.

“This accident happened more than six years ago and the authorities should have been able to devise a way to remove the tritium instead of simply announcing that they are going to dump it into the ocean”, said Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan. “They say that it will be safe because the ocean is large so it will be diluted, but that sets a precedent that can be copied, essentially permitting anyone to dump nuclear waste into our seas”, Mioko-Smith told The Telegraph.

Fishermen who operate in waters off the plant say the release of any more radioactive material will devastate their industry, which is still struggling to recover from the initial nuclear disaster.” Releasing Tritium into the sea will create a new wave of unfounded rumors, making all our efforts for naught,” Kanji Tachiya, the head of a local fishing cooperative, told Kyodo News. The idea that anyone has fished off of the shores of that region of the world for the past six years should already be alarming to anyone. Much of the fish that are caught in that region are not tested at all for radiation. The fish is then sold to agencies that sell it to the Japanese government, who then places it in compulsory lunches for public school children. Despite how Japanese treat their own children, dozens of countries, including the European Union, ban fish exported from Fukushima.

Storage containers en route to Namie, Fukushima.

TEPCO’s over-budget, and often delayed efforts to recover its former plant has been the subject of controversy for a number of reasons. Due to residual nuclear fuel, parts of the plant are so radioactive that they have destroyed robots that were specifically designed to survive in the deadly environment. Toshiba recently announced it would send a new robot called, “little sunfish” into the reactors, and “survey” the flooded areas of the plant. It must be noted that to date, no device has yet to return from Fukushima’s atomic abyss.

The cheap cost of nuclear fuel

Masahiro Imamura, a Liberal Democratic Party cabinet member, and head of the recovery effort for the Tohoku region, screamed at a reporter who criticized the government’s refusal to compensate thousands of refugees. Imamura said he, “became emotional” after a journalist pressed him on the government’s role in assisting the “voluntary evacuees.” Of the estimated 150,000 who initially fled, about 13% have chosen to return. The Japanese government continues to relentlessly pressure those who have not, while simultaneously pledging “greater investment” in Fukushima’s infrastructure, which to date has not happened. Meanwhile the government also withdrew subsidies provided to the refugees, and their families.

The government cut housing funds as of July 15th, 2017 to the “voluntary evacuees,” who Imamura said should bear “self-responsibility for their own decisions.” When one reporter pointed out that many were still in need of assistance, and pressed Imamura for a “responsible answer,” that is when the official flipped out. “I’m doing my job in a responsible manner. How rude you are!” Imamura yelled. “You should retract what you’ve just said. Get out!” he added. “Never come here again!” Imamura’s rant ended when he told another reporter to “shut up,” and thereafter left the conference.

TEPCO has paid approximately 188,000,000 USD in the recovery process, which has hit multiple obstacles while attempting to clean up the “unimaginable” levels of radiation that persists in the plant’s radioactive cores. 

Despite TEPCO’s plan to release contaminated water, approximately 300 tons of untreated, contaminated water, as run off, leaches into the Pacific Ocean every day.
Regional radiation stored in conventional plastic bags.
One of many Kawauchi contaminated soil storage sites.

TEPCO’s long-standing ties to the underworld

TEPCO has long-standing ties to anti-social networks which include powerful yakuza Some members of the Diet, Japan’s national legislatures, feel TEPCO is beyond salvation, and needs to be taken over, and cleaned up. A Japanese Senator with the Liberal Democratic Party stated, “TEPCO’s involvement with anti-social forces and their inability to filter them out of the work-place is a national security issue. It is one reason that increasingly in the Diet we are talking de facto nationalization of the company. Nuclear energy shouldn’t be in the hands of the yakuza. They’re gamblers, and an intelligent person doesn’t want them to have atomic dice to play with.”

Former yakuza magazine editor, Tomohiko Suzuki calls the nuclear business, industrial, political, and media complex the “nuclear mafia.” The book, Yakuza and The Nuclear Industry: Diary of An Undercover Reporter Working at the Fukushima Plant, is generating renewed examination of Japan’s “dark empire,” and its ties to the underworld. It presents more solid pieces of evidence that Japan’s nuclear industry is a black hole of criminal malfeasance, incompetence, and corruption.

Police sources are entirely aware that yakuza have supplied labor to TEPCO, not just in the past six years, but for decades. In the Japanese underworld, the nuclear industry is the last refuge for those who have nowhere to go. One yakuza explains it as, “Otoko wa Genpatsu, Onna was Seifuzoku.”

Meaning, “When a man has no other place to turn to for survival, it’s the nuclear industry; for a woman, it’s the sex industry.”

The Fukushima plant is located where Sumiyoshi-kai reside. The Sumiyoshi-kai is the second largest yakuza group in Japan, with roughly 12,000 members. One executive in the organization defends the role of his members in the Fukushima disaster. “The accident isn’t our fault,” he said. “It’s TEPCO’s fault. We’ve always been a necessary evil in the work process. In fact, if some of our men hadn’t stayed to fight the meltdown, the situation would have been far worse. TEPCO employees, and the Nuclear Industry Safety Agency inspectors are the ones who fled. We stood our ground.”

The following link is TEPCO’s Timeline as to the events that transpired since 3.11.11. http://tepco.co.jp/en/decommissiontraject/index-e.html.
If you want to voice your opinion as to what has happened in Fukushima over the past six years, contact the information listed below.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority
1-9-9, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Phone: 81-335.813.352

The Nuclear Regulation Office stranglehold of Japan.

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Japan’s “Terrorism” Law Aimed at Protesters, and Abe’s Opposition

Japan’s New Terrorism Law Aimed at Article 9 Protesters, and Those Opposed to Abe’s push toward militarism.

Japan’s deceptive “anti-terrorism” bill was steamrolled into law by its parliament, after the ruling coalition ignored standard legislative protocol. The bill is known as the “criminal-conspiracy law, which stipulates 277 crimes that people can be arrested for, including merely discussing criminal acts, or liking a post or tweet.

The bill is designed to target civil liberties. The law includes “terrorist” acts such as “picking wild mushrooms in a national reserve.” This aspect of the bill would be pretty hard to enforce, as Japan is one of the filthiest, and toxic nations on the planet. It is nearly impossible to find a “nature reserve” in Japan, as just about every inch of the land has already been plowed over, and covered in dilapidated concrete, which in turn is covered in some manner of debris.

The real aim of the “act” is to target protesters who descend upon public places, and who rally against everything that Abe, and his lunatic, and racist henchmen stand for. The “terrorist” protesters are most notably the elderly, those who have post WWII memories, and the horrors that followed the fire bombings, atomic bombings, and subsequent occupation. Considering that Shinzo Abe’s grandfather was the “minister of munitions” during WWII, and a convicted war criminal, one can see what is really on the agenda of this current regime.

The “anti-terrorism” bill makes it a terrorist act to stand in front public areas, and protest the LDP, Shinzo Abe, and the “reinterpretation” of Article 9, and Japan’s move toward millenarianism.

Anyone that is familiar with Japan’s corrupt legal system knows that detainees are held without outside contact, tied, and handcuffed to chairs, held in lit rooms 24/7, and forced to confess to imagined crimes. Japan’s 99.97% conviction rate, is based on 94% of those convictions based on nothing more than confessions that are beat out of them, under conditions of torture.

The true motive of this law is to investigate political groups that are seen as a threat to Abe’s administration, Nippon Kaigi, and the LDP. Welcome to the new (old) reality of Japan. Brings to mind the old adage, “Can’t teach an old dog a new trick.”

The vote on the bill, which has been delayed three times amid widespread public opposition, came after a UN expert called the legislation “defective”, which elicited an angry response from Abe himself.

Joseph Cannataci, the UN special rapporteur on the right to privacy, said that the Japanese government used “the psychology of fear” to push through “defective legislation.”

Critics argue that gathering information on perceived plots would require expanded police surveillance. The legislation has been compared to Japan’s “thought police”, who existed throughout the nation’s history, including WWII.

Abe, the LDP, are Nippon Kaigi front men. Nippon Kaigi are a powerful group of cry babies who lost their power in the aftermath of WWII. They are the Shinto Cult group, that spew imperial godlike existence of the emperor, and Japan as the people who are supposed to rule over the barbaric hoards. Generally, that means you and me. The LDP insists the law is necessary to target global organized crime, and to improve Japan’s anti-terrorism measures as it prepares to host the 2000 Olympics.

“It’s only three years until the Tokyo Olympics, so I’d like to ratify the treaty on organized crime as soon as possible so we can cooperate with other nations to prevent terrorism,” Abe told reporters. “That’s why the law was enacted.”

But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, an impotent, powerless, and useless organization, and other critics point out that offenses covered by the law include those with no connection whatsoever to terrorism or organized crime. They say the law is really aimed at protesters who are critical of Abe, Nippon Kaigi, the LDP, and copyright infringement. Yes, protests, and copyright infringement, are now acts of terrorism in Japan.

The legislation is clearly part of Abe’s broader mission to increase state power, the power of the prime minister, and the return of Japan’s emperor to worship status.

Despite government assurances to the contrary, the target of the law is ordinary citizens, and to stifle decent. Renho Murata, leader of the opposition Democratic party, said Abe’s administration pushed through a “brutal” law that infringes even upon freedom of thought. Critics fear that the law, combined with a widening of legal wiretapping and the reluctance of courts to limit police surveillance powers, would deter grassroots opposition to government policies.

A Kyodo news agency survey last month showed voters are split over the bill, with support at 39.9% and opposition at 41.4%.

Thousands of people demonstrated in front of the parliament building, denouncing the new law as “autocratic” and vowing to prevent Japan from turning into a “surveillance society”. “Peaceful demonstrations is now prohibited, and we that oppose this legislation are now viewed as terrorists.” Miyuki Masuyama, a 54-year-old woman, told Kyodo news. “Our freedom of expression is now threatened.”

At a time when Japan is struggling to keep foreign business operating in the country, no doubt this law will further wreak havoc to the nation’s economy that is already spiraling downward.

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The Trump Card: Japan’s Lopsided Trade With The U.S.


Recently I was on vacation in the sunny state of Florida, while Abe was sharing quality time with Trump in Palm Beach, and Melbourne. I was in both cities during Abe’s trip.

On the last day in February 2017, Trump gave a speech to congress, reiterating much of what he has campaigned for. An ugly wall erected between the U.S. and Mexican border, which won’t stop anyone who wants to get across or under it. Trump talked about better schools, better streets, better bridges, and reiterated that Americans will have “The Best.” I’ve heard that line of jargon my entire life.

Below is a video of Trump’s entire congressional speech.

From my perspective, better schools, better streets and bridges are not what America has ever really been about. Americana has always been about sucking the tit of the working class, until that tit became a dried out husk. One such example is where my 82-year-old mother continues to pay 27% taxation, even though she hasn’t been employed for nearly 20 years, while Trump and nearly every billionaire member of his cabinet, continue to pay none.

At the end of Trump’s speech, while walking around and shaking hands with his enemies, one member of congress asked, “How did you do in golf against the Japanese prime minister?” Trump responded by stating, “He was terrific. A quality man. Nice people, nice people.”

The truth is Abe has spent a significant amount of time in American since Trump became president because he fears the tariffs that Trump has threatened foreign nations with.  This is supposed to provide better arrangements for American interests, the working people, and all of that.

Abe, who has a shitting disease, and shits himself by his own estimate, approximately 30 times a day, must have doubled his load during those days.

“… terrific. Nice people, nice people.” There is nothing terrific, or especially nice about Shinzo Abe. The Japanese prime ministry is about as likable as Trump is. There is also nothing terrific, or nice about Abe’s cabinet, who are all associated in some way or another with Nippon Kaigi, a secretive, hateful and racist organization that is financed by the Shinto Cult, and other right-wing lunatic fringe groups.

Why is it that American presidents always seem to get bamboozled by Japanese politicians? Why is it that America always comes up on the short end of any dealings with that nation?

Abe has proven himself an incompetent leader. He abruptly retired during Japan’s pension scandal due to constantly shitting himself. Abe openly hates America, the American people, and the American way of life, as well as Japan’s constitution, written by American lawyers, which Abe has publicly stated was imposed on Japan to humiliate the Japanese people. Abe constantly refers to the Japanese constitution as a doctrine imposed on Japan. But, the fact is the constitution was approved by 2/3 of both houses, with Abe’s own grandfather, a former prime minister supporting it.

Constitutional mandates, such as Free Speech, Equal Protection, Freedom of Association, are what Abe really hates, and what he and his Nippon Kaigi pals refer to as humiliating. The concepts of these important fundamental rights remain as alien to the Japanese today, as they did some 70 years ago. This twisted mentality is exactly why Japan must remain an occupied nation, and should not be permitted to engage in any military activities ever again.

It must be stated that all of the fundamental rights stated above are slated to be scrapped from Japan’s constitution, if Abe, Nippon Kaigi and the Shinto Cult who support that group have their way. Imagine having no individual human rights, and having to ask the Japanese government to approve your group right, such as protesting against illegal government activities? This may well be the future of Japan’s people. Is this an interest that America proscribes to, regarding democratic principles? The constitutional changes mentioned herein, pale the shock of Article 9 reinterpretations.

Why is it that American politicians, including Donald Trump claim they represent America’s interests, while they rally around slogans such as, “Make America Great Again” yet continue to be bamboozled by the Japanese who continue to flood the American market with inferior goods, and place one of the most significant roles in destroying American productivity?

I’ve lived in Japan a decade. Hopefully, not much longer, but that is another story entirely. Nearly every product I have purchased in the past decade comes from the west, including electronic goods, computers, cell phones, clothing, even food. Even my rice cooker came from Canada, as it was manufactured in a quality that is far superior to any overpriced product intended for the same purpose. A 60,000 ¥ rice cooker in Japan can only cook rice. My 89.00 dollar Instant Pot was not only stainless steel with no plastic items coming in contact with food, but is also makes yogurt, soups, breads and stews.

Go into any Japanese electronic store, or shopping mall and wander up and down any isle. You would be hard pressed to find any product manufactured in the U.S. Trade with Japan and the U.S. is extremely lopsided. This must end for the betterment of the American people, or there will be no one left to pay the excessive taxes, which are not used to benefit those that attend schools, or use the roads to drive upon.

In August of 2009, only 192 Fords and 63 Chevrolets were sold in Japan according to the Japanese Association of Automobile Importers. And over the last decade, the import of American goods has actually gotten worse. Much worse!

In 2008, Chevrolet sold one vehicle in Japan for every 1,300 Toyotas sold in the U.S. Ford sold 2,500 vehicles in Korea last year, compared to nearly 330,000 Hyundai and Kia vehicles imported to the U.S.

While Korea and Japan claim they no longer restrict U.S. imports, they do put up barriers, said Chris Vitale, president of a Michigan-based group, FairImage.org. “For all intents and purposes, the Japanese market is closed to everyone,” Vitale said. “No one gets a foothold.”

China is another story. GM sells about 150,000 cars a year in China. The prospect of the growth of American products sold in China is staggering, yet Trump continues to propagate the same fake policies that the predecessors he so publicly claims to hate engage in. This, while America continues to sanction Russia, and Iran, and block the flow of goods to those nations, costing Americans billions in annual revenue. Instead, we see the same isolationist policies and hate rhetoric regarding, China, Russia, and Iran continue as if Washington had not just been stunned by Trump’s election. It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Japan Auto Sales.png

Most American politicians repeat the mantra of fear mongering against Iran, claiming that nation is the number one supporter of terrorism in the world. Why are these rants tolerated when everyone knows that this is the continuation of fake politics, fake media reporting, and mere political propaganda? The entire world populace knows that the number one and two supporters of terrorism are the Saudis, and the U.S. itself. The Taliban are Sunnis. Al Qaeda are Sunnis. Islamic State are Sunnis. Iranians are Shia. They are the enemies of the Sunnis. It was the Sunni Arabs that flew planes into the twin towers in New York City, and killed more than 3000 Americans on 9.11. It was the Saudis that financed that attack. Yet, Trump continues in the same pattern as his predecessors, sitting alongside fat little midgets that appear to be wearing an Italian table cloth on their bald little heads. How on what was once considered god’s green earth are those repugnant beings possibly considered our allies. As much as I loathe AIPAC, and zionism, why are those extremist not rattling their sabers? As much as I distain war, I probably wouldn’t mind seeing Saudi Arabia leveled, and turned into a giant kitty litter box.

Wives.jpgMeet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I can’t say that I was unpleased with Trump destroying Hillary Clinton, and her disbarred, serial rapist husband. I enjoyed it when Trump told Clinton that he was going to look into her corruption, and theft of hundreds of millions from the Haiti earthquake disaster that the Clinton foundation ran off with. But, now it is clear that Trump never had any intention on carrying through with that. The Clinton’s belong in prison. Period! In all, the best part of the Donald and Hillary  Show was witnessing the Clinton’s get kicked swiftly to the curb during the 2016 presidential election and witnessing John Podesta, the Saudi lobbyist, being publicly beaten on a daily basis through WikiLeaks drip, drip, drip, Chinese torture metaphor.

The problem is these sideshow events matter little. The economy, war, displaced millions, destruction of Europe, depletion of raw material, environmental catastrophes, illiteracy, and other issues should take priority. But, they don’t.

For a nation to protect its interest in commerce, very high tariffs on imports is how to go about doing that. This would include huge tariffs on Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Sony, and other Japanese companies that flood the American market. The Americans who purchase those goods are also significantly to blame.

Globalism is not, and never will be an economic paradigm aimed at the protection of local people, or goods. In that, I was pleased to see Trump tear up the TPP. I thought it amusing that Abe spent so much effort having the TPP passed in Japan, only to see it quickly becoming much needed toilet paper for Japan’s prime minister. The Japanese are always a day late, and a dollar short. (Unlearned and cheap.)

Another way to ensure America has the money needed to sustain its propped up economy is to ensure companies like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and others, stop hiding billions in assets in overseas accounts so as to avoid taxation in the states. Good news here, the IRS has filed an action against Facebook regarding its overseas assets. A recent action had been filed by Caroline Ciraolo, Assistant Attorney General, and James Weaver, Senior Litigation Counsel for the Internal Revenue Services, Tax Division against the company. I hope they follow through with every other company that engages in the same forms of fraud.

What is Trump doing about Japan, tariffs, and protecting national interests, and domestic markets? Apparently, nothing, save having a few rounds of golf, and gorging on arsenic contaminated Japanese glue, also known as rice, tritium contaminated nori, and mercury contaminated raw fish, which tastes disgusting if it is not drenched in hot mustard and soy sauce.

While I was in south Florida, I noticed that the organizations that claim to work to get Japan to return the hundreds of kidnapped children to their parents were no where to be seen. How is it that the parents of kidnapped children expect to ever regain access to their children if they take no action, even when the national leader responsible for those kidnappings is located in their own backyard?

If must really be true that this generation is the pussy generation. That, or the preoccupied, indifferent generation. Certainly, there will never be a Woodstock or protest songs written by the likes of Justin Beaver, who is preoccupied egging his neighbor’s home, and masturbating online. 

The Hague on Child Kidnapping calls for sanctions against nations that harbor kidnappers. Japan has never returned any children, and no sanctions have been placed on Japan.

If Japan was to kidnap my child, I can guarantee that I’d take a busload of Japanese tourists by gunpoint, and park that bus in front of a Japanese embassy. That is where negotiations would begin, and that would be one gaijin story Japan wouldn’t be able to keep hidden from the media. What is life without your child anyway? Why hasn’t anyone, done anything, about the kidnapping of children in Japan? Even the American military who were stationed in that nation, and who had their children kidnapped have taken no action, save making a few weepy, weepy statements to politicians that won’t ever do anything for them in that, or any other regard. Maybe there’s a metal and plastic pin that can be pinned upon the left breast?

Is government inaction, kidnapped children, and lopsided trade the price Americans must pay for the occupation of Japan? Are Americans who work in Japan supposed to continuously be subjected to horrible working conditions? Are children supposed to be the subject of child abuse, child pornography, and kidnapping, because of occupation? Are lopsided trade relations the result of Japan’s inability to govern itself?

When Abe returned to Japan he stated that he was ensuring that high tariffs be placed on the import of western foods. Personally, I wish the U.S. would stop providing food to Japan. If that occurred, Japan would quickly become the Ethiopia of Asia, as the nation can’t feed 2/3 of its own people anyway. Given that fact, perhaps the Japanese sexless and loveless marriages, and the multitudes of suicides as a result of the deplorable social life that exists in Japan is a good move toward depopulation. If the Japanese hate Americans so much, and they hate our ways as they claim, then why should America feed them? Talk about biting the hand that feeds!

It appears the only thing that came out of Trump’s meetings with Abe in Washington, and Florida were confirmations that Japan would remain occupied, American could still continue to put boots at any location in Japan that it desires, and as a result, Japan will be permitted to continue to dump onto the American market, the inferior goods they now produce in China, a country the Japanese hates even more than America. That, and the nation will continue to be able to flood the American markets with overpriced cars that can barely make their way across a 70 mph interstate. Another good thing to look forward to is the multitude of class actions Japanese car companies are sure to face, again sometime in the near future.

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Scorsese Silences Japan’s Skeptics

Silence 1.jpg

Angelina Jolie’s movie, Unbroken, about the WWII prisoner of war, and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini won numerous accolades including three Oscar nominations, scores of Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, and AFI’s Movie of the Year. But, that occurred in the west. The film’s director received nothing but great scorn in Japan. Ironically, one of the most xenophobic nations that ever existed resorted to calling Jolie a racist. Read about the uproar at the following links, https://theguardian.com/film/2014/dec/09/angelina-jolies-unbroken-is-racist-say-japanese-nationalists, and http://nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/unbroken-outrage-japan-article-1.2039136.

Unfortunately, when Japanese lunatics bellow for the banning of a book, or film that doesn’t jibe with their distorted imaginings of history, distributors, and theaters run for cover, fearing they will be labeled, unpatriotic. For Jolie’s film, there were even calls at the highest level within Japan’s government to bar her from ever entering the country again. That was in 2015. That was then, and this is now. Fade to black.

My wife, who is Japanese, told me that as early as elementary school she was taught about stepping on the face of the imagined likenesses of Catholic deities. I say imagined because anyone that was forced to attend Mass, or Christian churches in the west should be familiar with the second commandment, which states, no one should make any graven image of god, and should not engage in the worship of idols. Apparently, the Catholic Church, and the Christians throughout history that made fortunes on the sales and distribution of relics, forgot to include that in their teachings. In Japan, Catholic idol worship cost the lives of several hundred thousand.

Besides being taught at elementary school to step on a graven image of Mary or Jesus, my wife was horrified to learn that an estimated 300,000 Japanese were tortured, mostly beheaded, as Kirishitans, who refused to give up the imported faith that they adhered to in a different “son” god.

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Andrew Garfield’s character Rodrigues is about to have his conviction tested.

Martin Scorsese’s film Silence was written by a Japanese writer named Shusaku Endo. Perhaps this fact will play a role in toning down the vitriol, and the rhetoric of the far-right spewers of venom.

Anyone with any semblance of knowledge of history, and the inner workings of the entertainment industry understand that films about Japan make a lot of people wealthy in Hollywood. Especially if it’s a film based on WWII. La La Land film financiers have doled out an endless sea of cash to produce anti-Japanese, and anti-German films and there is no sign that this is to end any time in the near future. At lease not until Israel is successful in taking possession of all of Palestine. Few people outside of Washington and the entertainment capital realize that a large amount of propaganda film funding comes from the unsuspecting American taxpayer, who are forced to divvy out more than 4B USD annually to Israel. A portion of that money is slated to keep the lobbying efforts of AIPAC viable. Another portion of that money is used to create and endless sea of fake news, publications, universities speaking engagements, and of course, the film industry. AIPAC ensures that Hollywood remains awash in cash to create “blockbusters” that manipulate history under the guise of artistic freedom, and presented nicely to create the illusion of U.S. national pride.

There is no doubt that the Japanese who hold power over the nation engaged in the persecution of the crime of religious belief. Catholics were forced to convert to Buddhism throughout Japan. Even so, it must be remembered that the Catholic Church during that same period engaged in forced conversion, torture, and mass murder, and engaged in the same persecution of religious thought. The only difference here is the Church did it at a much larger scale. Much of the details of the crimes against humanity, under the ruse of religion are recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 300,00 Kirishitans were murdered by Japan’s inquisitors, and that fact is terrifying enough. However, the Catholics through Crusades and heresy trials executed roughly 600,000 million throughout all of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Six Hundred Million! Many religions, their gods and their practices were wiped forever off of the face of the earth.

During the 15th and 16th centuries the Spanish and Portuguese missionaries sought to convert the Japanese to Catholicism. Generally, these people had honorable intentions. Regardless, there were those within the Church who had higher ambitions, and that was to control trade throughout Asia. This included trading with the nation of Japan.

The Treaty of Tordesillas, which was signed in 1494, resulted in the two powers of Spain and Portugal dividing world trade territories between them. This resulted in excessive, and exclusive spheres of influence over trade, and which resulted in the colonization of Asia. At that time, neither nation had direct contact with Japan. Portuguese Jesuits under Alessandro Valignano took the initiative and were first to proselytize the Japanese. In 1575, Pope Gregory XIII determined that Japan belonged to the Portuguese Diocese of Macau, and in 1588, the diocese of Funai (Nagasaki) was founded under Portuguese protection.

Shortly thereafter Spain entered Japan via Manila. Their campaigns resulted in Pope Clement VIII’s decree of 1600, which permitted Spanish friars to enter Japan via the Portuguese Indies. The power struggle between Jesuits and mendicant orders caused a schism within the diocese of Funai. Further, complicating the matter were mendicant orders that attempted to establish a diocese on the Tohoku region and which was to be entirely independent from any Portuguese influence. At that time the Roman Catholic world order was being challenged by both the Netherlands and England. It was during this period that Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan.

Once Hideyoshi became the ruler of Japan, he scrutinized external threats, particularly when it was related to the expansion of European powers in Asia. The turning point for Catholic missions was the San Felipe Incident, where in an attempt to recover cargo, the Spanish captain of a shipwrecked trading vessel claimed that the missionaries were there to prepare Japan for conquest. These claims made Hideyoshi suspicious of the foreign religion and what their true aims were. Hideyoshi began curbing Catholicism while all the while maintaining good trade relations with both Portugal and Spain.

Many daimyo, regional rulers of Japan, converted to Christianity during this period. Conversion often occurred under pretext so as to gain favorable trade terms to acquire saltpeter, which was then used to make gunpowder. Between 1553 and 1620, eighty-six daimyos were officially baptized, with many more being sympathetic to Christian causes.

By 1587, Hideyoshi had become alarmed, not because of there were large amounts of Catholic converts but because he discovered that Christian lords oversaw forced conversions, that they had garrisoned off the city of Nagasaki, and had actively been participating in kidnapping, and selling Japanese into the slave trade. They also offended Hideyoshi’s Buddhist sentiments, by allowing the slaughter of horses and oxen for food.

After Hideyoshi’s invasion of Kyushu, he promulgated the Purge Directive Order to the Jesuits, on July 24th, 1587. Article 10 included that Japanese could not be sold as slaves to the Portuguese. The Purge also banned missionaries from engaging in proselytizing Japanese. The Jesuits in Nagasaki conspired to raise an armed resistance against Hideyoshi, led by the Portuguese Jesuit, Gaspar Coelho. Coelho sought help from Kirishitan daimyos, but they refused. Jesuits then sought a deployment of reinforcements from their homeland and its colonies, but this plan was abolished by Jesuit Alessandro Valignano. Valignano realized that a military campaign against Japan’s powerful ruler was futile, and would bring catastrophe to Catholicism in Japan.

By the end of the 16th century, the Japanese mission had become the largest overseas Christian community that was not under the rule of a European power. Its uniqueness was emphasized by Valignano, who promoted a deeper accommodation of Japanese culture.

Most Japanese Christians lived in Kyushu, but Christianization was not a regional phenomenon. It had an impact on the entire nation. By the end of the 16th century baptized Christians existed openly in virtually every province of Japan. On the eve of the Sekigahara battle, which outcome would result in the rise of the Tokugawa’s, fifteen daimyos were baptized. Their domains stretched from Hyuga in Southeast Kyushu all the way to Dewa in North Honshu. By this time, hundreds of churches had been established throughout Japan.

In June 1592, Hideyoshi invaded Korea. Among his leading generals was Christian daimyo Konishi Yukinaga. The attack on Korea resulted in the massacre and enslavement of thousands of Koreans. After Konishi’s loss in the battle of Sekigahara, Konishi would base his refusal to commit seppuku on his Christian beliefs. Instead of taking his own life, he chose capture and execution. It was during this period that Nagasaki was called the Rome of Japan, as most of its inhabitants were Christians. By 1611, Nagasaki had ten churches and was divided into eight parishes including a Korean order.

Following Hideyoshi’s death in 1598, Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed power. Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu disliked Christian but continued to give priority to trade with Portugal and Spain. Jesuits realized that the Tokugawa shogunate was much more powerful than Hideyoshi’s administration, yet they openly discussed military options against the shogunate. In 1615, a Franciscan emissary of the Viceroy of New Spain asked the shogun for land to build a Spanish fortress. This deepened Ieyasu’s suspicion against Catholicism, resulting in his decision to ban Catholicism from Japan entirely. The, Expulsion of all missionaries from Japan, issued in 1614, was to be the first official statement of a comprehensive control over the Kirishitan. The statement stated that the Christians brought disorder to Japanese society and that their followers “contravene governmental regulations, traduce Shinto, destroy regulations, and corrupt goodness. This edict would be fully implemented and canonized as one of the fundamental Tokugawan laws. In the same year, the bakufu, the government of three dynasties of Japan required all subjects of all domains to register at their local Buddhist temple, as Buddhists. This become an annual requirement in 1666, cementing the Buddhist temples as an instrument of state control.

In the mid-17th century, the shogunate demanded the expulsion of all European missionaries and the execution of all converts. This marked the end of open Christianity. The government erected bulletin boards at crossroads and bridges throughout Japan, strictly warning against any involvement in Christianity.

Systemic persecution began earlier in 1614, but it was met with stiff resistance from Catholics, despite the forced expulsion of the clergy. The main reason for this resistance was not the presence of a few priests who remained, but rather the organization of Japanese Christian communities. Forced to secrecy, and having a small number of clergymen working underground, the Japanese Church was able to recruit leadership from among lay members. Japanese children caused admiration among the Portuguese and actively participated in the resistance. Nagasaki remained a Christian stronghold in the first decades of the 17th century and during the general persecutions. There were approximately 1,000 known martyrs during this period. Countless more were dispossessed of their land and property leading to abject poverty and subsequent death.

The Japanese government used fumi-e to reveal practicing Catholics. Fumi-e were pictures of Mary, the mother of Jesus, or Christ. People who were reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Christian and taken to Nagasaki to be interrogated. If they refused to renounce their faith while being detained in Nagasaki, they would ultimately be tortured, and executed.

The Shimabara Rebellion, led by a Christian boy named Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, took place in 1637. The rebellion broke out in the wake of the Matsukura clan’s construction of a new castle at Shimabara. Taxes were drastically raised, which provoked anger from local peasants who were being starved to near death. Religious persecution of the local Catholics exacerbated the discontent, which turned into open revolt. The Tokugawa Shogunate sent over 125,000 troops to suppress the rebellion and, after a lengthy siege against the rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them with the support of the Dutch. After the castle fell, Iemitsu had beheaded an estimated 37,000 rebels and sympathizers. Amakusa Shiro’s severed head was taken to Nagasaki for public display. The Hara Castle was burned to the ground and buried along with the bodies of the dead Catholics and rebels.

The shogunate suspected that European Catholics were involved in spreading the rebellion. Portuguese traders were driven out of the country, and the policy of national seclusion was made stricter by 1639. The ban on Christianity that was already in place was enforced more fervently. Christianity in Japan survived only by going underground. The underground Catholics became known as the Hidden Christians. This included foreign priests who remained in the country illegally. Only two years prior to the Shimabara Rebellion, Iemitsu had issued the Sakoku Edict, which barred trade with foreign agents, and effectively isolated Japan from the rest of the world.

Drawn from the oral histories of Japanese Catholic communities, Shusaku Endo’s novel, Silence provides detailed accounts of the persecution of Catholic communities and the suppression of the Church during the Edo period.

Silence, stars Andrew Garfield as Rodrigues, and Adam Driver as Garupe, two Jesuit priests that entered Japan during the height of the persecution of Christianity and expulsion of foreigners. Rodrigues and Garupe enter Japan in search of Ferreira their fallen hero, who is played by Liam Neeson. It is believed that Ferreira had apostatized after being subjected to torture. Neeson’s role in the film is relatively minor.

Silence 3.jpgIssei Ogata overplays the inquisitor role of Inoue in Scorsese’s film Silence.

Issei Ogata played the inquisitor Inoue. While Issei’s character performance gave the film a unique flare, his portrayal was too cartoonish, and more annoying than terrifying. I’ve lived in Japan for a decade and have never seen anyone act in the manner that Ogata portrayed Inoue. This was probably due to the film director’s lack of exposure to Japan, and its culture.

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Mokichi and fellow Kirishitans endure several days of being subjected to extreme weather, and pounding waves before finally succumbing in one of the films most powerful scenes.  

Yosuke Kubozuka portrayed Kichijiro, the equivalent to Judas the betrayer. Kubozuka’s acting was a bright spot in the film, second only to the saintly portrayal of Shinya Tsukamoto as Mokichi. Tsukamoto without a doubt had the best performance in the entire film, and well deserves an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

After the first viewing of the film, I felt it moved too slowly, and both Garfield and Driver had not prepared well enough for their roles. At points, the film became lifeless, and tiring. I found myself moving forward in the timeline, which doesn’t fare well as the film was too long for what was being conveyed. Too much attention was drawn toward the monotony of existing in isolation. Neeson’s character didn’t enter the film until the third act. Film school teaches what is the norm in the industry, and that is show, don’t tell. Scorsese spent too much time showing things that didn’t need an explanation, and telling about things that should have been dealt with metaphorically. The visual images of helpless people being tortured by uncaring deviants, lent enough to what the director wanted to portray without having to force the audience to endure in explaining details of methodology that the inquisitor engaged in to obtain apostasy.

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Yosuke Kubozuka portrays Kichijiro, the Japanese equivalent of the biblical character Judas.

The scenes in a Maccau bar in the first act did not lend themselves to authenticity, but instead brought an absurdness to the film. Those scenes, and the acting of Kubozuka was over-the-top, and unnecessary. Both Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver could have and should have been much more prepared for their roles as Jesuits, as much of their dialogue which was related to matters of faith and doctrine, came across as pretentious and shallow. At times the film came across as a movie-of-the-week on broadcast TV, instead of a feature film that was years in the making.

With these issues apparent, the second viewing of the film permitted me to focus on the subject matter, rather than the notable flaws.

Overall, I’d have to say the film is very good, and shows yet another example of how Japan’s rulers during the Edo period, engaged in intimidation, thought control, and fear as they manipulated and controlled every aspect of the nation’s people. Not much has changed since that time, save for the manner of dress, and the never ending lack of social etiquette.

But for the Tokugawa’s Japan would be a significantly different nation today. There probably would have never been an Asian aspect to WWIi, and as the film accurately portrayed, the Japanese would be a shining example of what a Christian is supposed to be.


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The Cult Of Shinto Exposed


The cult of Shinto, which is Japanese in origin, is a polytheistic religion that grew out of superstitions that are animist in nature. Shinto’s prehistoric beginnings were not based on moral ideology. Despite this fact, Shinto was declared a state religion forced upon the entire nation of Japan. The declaration of Shinto as a state religion came long before the emperor was elevated to the status of a god.

In the past tyrannical dictators, pretenders to the throne, and maniacal monarchs professed that they descended from the heavens. Jesus said, “I am he that sent me.” King Louis XIV of France was held out to be the sun king. The Catholic Church resolutely proclaimed that popes were infallible gods manifest in the form of human beings. For those that didn’t adhere to those “prophesies” they were tortured, and thereafter tried as heretics. Protestants and non-believers weren’t just crucified throughout all of Europe, but in Japan as well. Today, Japan and North Korea are the only nations that continue to claim that its emperor is a god that descended from heaven.

For centuries the Japanese have claimed they are a divine, and unique race, especially where it concerns the Yamato clan. This includes the current emperor, and his father Hirohito, a WWII war criminal, known to the Japanese as Showa, a name that originated out of the Shinto cult.

In the cult of Shinto, all human beings who are not Japanese are inferior. Those who maintain power over the cult continue unto this day to profess that the Japanese are a divine, unique and superior race destined to rule the world. From this foundational pretext, one question must be addressed. How did these absurd notions originate?

In the beginning…

Shinto originated as a cult religion based on a belief in, and worship of kami. What are kami? Kami may be elements of the landscape, such as a mountain or a river. They may also be powerful natural forces, such as a storm upon a raging sea, or a tornado ripping through a terrorized community. The worship of objects, and elements began in pre-historic times when people were incapable of understanding, rationalizing and explaining everyday natural occurrences.

The first inhabitants of Japan migrated from China’s mainland. These people did not arrive as a divine race, or with an emperor leading the way. These first people that arrived in Japan crossed frozen ice as mere nomadic hunter-gathers who subsisted off of the land. The early inhabitants of Japan brought with them prehistoric rituals that originated from animism, which was a form of religious practice that prevailed throughout all of prehistoric Asia at that time. Legendary individuals, significant places and other phenomena, such as a mountain or a powerful river became objects of reverence. These people and forces would become known as kami.

The rites associated with the worship of kami would eventually become known as Shinto. Early on the religious practices culminated into a profusion of local deities worshipped and prayed to as kami. Kami is translated into meaning, the way of the gods. With the emergence of a strong unity between clan groups, each provided special honors to kami, most notably ancestors of the ruling clan. The practice of turning ancestors of clan rulers into deities, gave those in power prestige and the ability to maintain power and control over clan members.

A clan known as Yamamoto did not migrate to Japan in the classic nomadic sense. The Yamamoto fled the mainland of China because more power tribal bands had defeated them in battle, and pursued them with the intention of eradicating them from planet Earth. For the Yamamoto, their arrival in Japan was as an exiled group. By the 4th century AD, the Yamato had achieved imperial status, with the emperor being elevated amongst even the most prominent kami. In order to maintain this elevated status, and for the Yamamoto to hold power over the growing population, a narrative had to be created. That narrative came in the form of a sun goddess the Japanese named Amaterasu. Over time, Amaterasu became the most powerful and well known of all kami. It was in the 4th century that the Yamato began claiming there ancestors were the descendants of the goddess of heaven. It was in this manner that the imperial family politicized religion so as to maintain complete control over the Japanese. Shinto teachings become the driving force for Japan’s imperial family to haughtily claim a divine right to rule over the inhabitants of the nation, and over all of the barbaric hordes of the world.

In the 6th century CE Buddhism was imported into Japanese religious life and Buddhism and Shinto together began to play a role in Japanese government. The emperor and court were required to perform religious ceremonies they believed would ensure that the kami protected Japan and its people. Over the next few centuries Buddhist influence in government grew stronger.

The 17th century of Japan’s politics was dominated by a state imposed Buddhism that continued to hold on to several aspects of Shinto practices. This would be no different than when the Romans became Christians, and changed Roman gods, or Greek origin into Christian spirits. The winter solstice of Rome became Christmas, the birth of the Jesus child. The worship of Diane became the worship of Mary, and Easter came out of fertility rites. The 17th century Japan saw elements of Confucianism emerge into politics. By this time popular religion consisted mainly of Buddhism and Shinto practices. There was a movement toward an unmodified Shinto faith during the next two centuries, culminating in the Meiji Restoration of Shinto toward the end of the 19th century, when Shinto became the established religion of Japan.

The rise of the cult of Shinto

The Meiji Restoration in 1868 brought an abrupt change in the religious climate of Japan. The aim was to provide a sacred foundation and a religious rationale for a modern Japan that was struggling to formulate its own identity. Shinto was seen as a way to centralize the administration of governmental affairs. It was during this time that the cult of Shinto was entirely separated from Buddhism, and brought within the structure of the state administration. Amaterasu, who until then had not been a major divinity, was popularized, and used as propaganda to validate the role of the emperor, not only as the ruler of Japan, but also as the high priest of Shinto. Many shrines were supported by through state funding. One result of reformation was that it was no longer tolerable for kami to be identified with Buddhist deities, and a considerable reorganization of the Japanese pantheon of spirit beings had to take place. Shrines were cleansed of every trace of Buddhist imagery, apparatus, and ritual, and Buddhist deities lost their godly status. Buddhist priests were stripped of their status, and Shinto priests were appointed by the government to take over Buddhist shrines with an implicit mission to purify them from any foreign influence. Shinto became the glue that bound the Japanese people together with a mix of devotion to kami, ancestor worship, and group loyalty to those that held regional power.

Shinto became inseparable from the imperial way, and the fundamental code of Japan. To officials this made Shinto superior because they claimed that human beings created other religions. Therefore, to them, Shinto held a unique non-religious status due to its “true” heavenly origin.

The officials in Japan operated their government during the Meiji Period in three distinct branches. This allowed a handful of the elite to maintain total control over every aspect of the ordinary Japanese. First, there were the courts, which based legal determinations on control and fear, not the rule of law. Second, there was the political and military branch, which were inseparable. Finally, the state sponsored cult of Shinto, which was the force that greatly influenced military determinations. Together these forces ruled over the people of Japan with an iron thumb and instilled enormous fears for those who were subjected to the indoctrination of the cult. Anyone that opposed even the smallest of whims of the emperor found themselves in a death march procession, which led to the other side of the Bridge of Tears, and into the untouchable land of the Burakumin, who were tasked with disposing of the corpse of the condemned. Even today, it remains an unlawful act to even walk on the shadow of Japan’s emperor.

The myth of Japan’s emperor as god

The idea that the Japanese emperor has Korean blood irks even the most liberal of the Japanese. Removing this fact presents the Japanese with an “unstained” origin, which hailed from the heavens. The cult of Shinto, aided by government, instilled into the people that the “first emperor” of Japan, Jimmu had descended from heaven as the greatest desire of the sun goddess. Amaterasu The sun goddess was none other than Jimmu’s grandmother, who had given birth to kami who were Jimmu’s parents. This means that Jimmu was born out of incest, as most Japanese deities. It must be noted that the constant reference to incestual relationships in the cult of Shinto may have played a significant role in Japanese pornography, which is obsessed with violent assaults and rapes by fathers toward their daughters, and mothers who seduce sons that are socially inept.

Amaterasu, the grandmother of Jimmu is considered the greatest of all kami who had many children and grandchildren. In consultation with other senior kami she decided that an imperial family should rule Japan forever. This divine ancestry of the emperors of Japan acknowledges the power of the female, something that is at odds with gender roles in Japanese life, and Nippon Kaigi, which intends to remove the constitutional protection of equal rights for women, and to make them subservient to their male counterparts as a constitutionally required duty.

Shinto has been a major part of Japanese life and culture throughout the country’s history, but for the greater part of that history, Shinto has shared its spiritual, cultural, and political roles with Buddhism and Confucianism. It must be noted that before the arrival of Buddhism to Japan there was no formal Shinto religion. There were only local cults that for convenience today are grouped under the Shinto moniker.

Like many prehistoric people, the first inhabitants of Japan were animists. Animism is the belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena. This means that the early inhabitants of Japan were devoted to the spirits of nature. In their case these were the kami that were found in plants and animals, mountains and seas, storms and earthquakes, sand and all significant natural phenomena.

The early Japanese developed rituals and stories which enabled them to make sense of their universe, by creating a spiritual and cultural world that gave them historical roots, and a way of seeming to take control of their lives, in what would otherwise have been a fearful and puzzling landscape.

Other cults that are grouped into Shinto arrived in Japan from Korea with the Korean tribes that arrived in Japan in late prehistoric times. Religions were highly localized, and not organized into a single cohesive faith at this point.

The creation of Japan according to the cult of Shinto


Izanami and Izanagi. A painting by Kobayashi Eitaku. Circa 1885.

According to early Shinto teachings, in the beginning there was chaos, and out of that chaos the universe was established. Out of this newly created cosmos a number of gods simultaneously, and miraculously appeared. Of those gods a brother and sister named Izanagi and Izanami fell in love, married, and discovered sexual intercourse, which they greatly enjoyed. These two gods are then said to have plunged a jeweled spear into the ocean on planet Earth, and through that act, land began to form. The first place that the spear touched the water would be the central island of Japan, which today is known as the island of Honshu, where Tokyo is located.

Izanagi and Izanami continued to have sexual relations, and because of this, a child was born. They called that child Hiruko, which is Japanese for leech because he was born grossly deformed. Because of this deformity his parents considered him inadequate, and abandoned him, setting him adrift in a reed boat on the ocean. The myth claims that Hiruko’s deformity was due to Izanami speaking first during the intercourse, which conceived the child. Throughout Japanese history, the act of abandoning an imperfect child has been justified because the creators of Japan had done the same thing.

The brother and sister gods continued to enjoy sexual relations, and other offspring include all other Japanese islands as well as many other kami. Izanami suffered a significant injury while giving birth to one child. The cult of Shinto claims that her vagina was severely burned while giving birth to the kami of fire. As a result, she died from those injuries. Izanami’s death resulted in the first death on Earth. Izanagi, overwhelmed by sorrow, became furious, and beheaded the newborn child whom he blamed for the death of his wife/sister. Other kami were born out of the blood of the execution of fire. Thereafter, the grief-stricken Izanami traveled to the underworld in search of his wife/sister. The underworld was known as Yomi, which is where all of the dead are consigned at the end of their life. Izanagi managed to locate Izanami, but she had already eaten the fruit of the dead, and because of this was doomed to remain in Yomi perpetually. When Izanami saw Izanagi approaching her, she compelled him not to look at her, but instead to give her time to consult with the rulers of the underworld so as to see if they could be persuaded into allowing her return to the land of the living. Izanagi did promise not to look upon his sister/wife but reneged on that promise discovering that Izanami’s body had rotted, and was full of maggots.

Izanagi was horrified at the sight of Izanami, and attempted to flee to the land of the living, but Izanami grew angered and was ashamed at being seen in a state of decay. She pursued Izanagi, wanting to capture him so as to force him to live with her in the underworld forever. Izanagi managed to escape Yomi, and thereafter blocked the entrance to the underworld with a large boulder, so that Izanami could not follow him. That boulder formed a chasm, a permanent barrier between the worlds of the living and the dead. Izanami became enraged as a result, and vowed from that day forward to execute one thousand people every day. Izanagi created fifteen hundred newborn babies each day as retaliation for the deaths of the innocent victims of Izanami. 

The origination of purification rituals in Japan

Izanagi’s time in the underworld, and coming been in contact with the dead required his purification. This was due to his belief that having ventured into the underworld plagued him with misfortune. Izanagi decided to bathe in the ocean to wash away the pollution of death, and to restore providence. The cult of Shinto teaches that Izanagi’s act of bathing, known as a harae purification ritual, was the first time the ritual had been performed.

During Izanagi’s bath a number of kami were created. This included Izanagi’s daughter, Amaterasu, who would become the sun goddess. It is also taught that Izanagi gave birth at that time to Amaterasu’s younger brother Susanoo. The myth teaches that Amaterasu was born when Izanagi washed his right eye. Susanoo was born with Izanagi blew his nostrils. Other children born from that washing include the kami wind and storms.

Over time, Amaterasu would become the most powerful legendary figure of the Japanese. Shinto priests teach that the entire imperial lineage can be traced all the way back to Amaterasu, through one hundred and twenty five births, beginning with the grandson Jimmu. Because of this, the followers in the cult of Shinto teach that because Japanese emperors originated from heaven, they are divine and by rights are to be worshipped, and prayed to for spiritual guidance. It is taught that Jimmu was sent to Earth, as Japan’s first emperor to reign over the Japanese. The Shinto myth claims even today that the native Japanese descended from the kami who were present at the founding of Japan. Because of this supernatural connection to heaven, which no one but the Japanese have, they are destined to rule over the eight corners of the earth, and over all of the barbarians hordes (non-Japanese.) In the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries Shinto became an established state religion, inextricably linked to the cause of Japanese nationalism, and was significantly involved in the false flag operation, the Manchuku Incident, which initiated Japan’s aggressions toward all neighboring states during WWII.

Amaterasu as goddess of heaven


Amaterasu is coaxed out of a cave, bringing light back to heaven and Earth.

Izanagi gave Amaterasu authority to rule heaven. Susanoo was disheartened at this appointment, as he was a male child, and his sister, merely a woman who often acted out of pettiness. Susanoo’s tantrums led him to behave so badly that he was banished from heaven. One such act led to Amaterasu hiding in a cave, and being the goddess of light, caused the heavens and the earth to remain void of light so long as she remained hidden in a cave. Regardless of his bad actions, Susanoo remained an important and powerful kami. Although Susanoo has dreadful powers of destruction, he is worshipped at many shrines for having the power to prevent disasters.

What led Amaterasu to hide away in a cave? The story is told that one day, Susanoo was in a drunken rage, trampled Amaterasu’s rice fields, emptied all of her irrigation ditches and threw excrement inside her palace and shrines. The omikami asked Susanoo to stop but he ignored them, going so far as to throw the corpse of a giant skinned horse through the roof of Amaterasu’s castle, and at her handmaidens who were weaving at the time. The women were killed by the wooden when it broke apart and pierced their bodies. This caused Amaterasu such grief that she ran into a cave and began moping about therein. Immediately, thereafter the universe, as well as the heavens and Earth below fell into darkness. Hundreds of kami then gathered outside, and pleaded with Amaterasu to leave the cave. Still sulking, she refused to consider their desires. The kami then brought thousands of roosters to the entrance of the cave, and placed a mirror at the entrance. The kami then threw a party of debauchery, during which a particular female kami decided to perform a striptease. As this female kami was engaged in removing articles of her clothing, the other kami began to hoot and holler. Amaterasu became curious as to what was happening outside of the cave, and opened a door that had been blocking the entrance. She wanted to see what was going on. One kami who was large in stature grabbed Amaterasu, and prevented her from returning to the cave. He also placed a large object at the entrance to block the door from being opened again. As Amaterasu exited the cave, light immediately entered the world again; thousands of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooed. Amaterasu saw her reflection in a mirror for the first time, and became enthralled at her beauty. Susanoo offered his sister a sword as a token of apology. A gemstone was offered to Amaterasu’s by her brother/husband as a way to amend for murdering her friend Mochi, the goddess of food. After being presented with these three gifts, the kami persuaded Amaterasu to take her proper place in the cosmos. Susanoo was asked to rule over Earth, which he refused. Amaterasu would later ask her grandson Jimmu to rule over Earth, which he accepted. He brought along with him the three, royal regalia to prove his heavenly origin.

The most important kami have many stories associated with them. None of the stories told about any Shinto kami are based on morality. There is no concept of sin, right or wrong, or even common sense. The book of Proverbs in Judaism give profound lessons such as one found in the book of Proverbs 20:1, which states, Wine is a mocker, and strong drink is raging and those who are deceived thereby are not wise. The New Testaments in Luke 6:37 states, Judge not and you shall not be judged, for what measures you mete, they shall be met unto you. Buddhist and Confucian teachings are filled with intellectually based teachings. The cult of Shinto had no moral teachings whatsoever until Buddhism became part of Shintoism. As shown above, the stories told by Shinto priests, as truths are as absurd and petty as Greek mythology. State sponsored Shinto eradicated all aspects of Buddhism, leaving the Japanese with nothing more than endless rituals, which are as hollow and empty as an urn with a large hole in its bottom.

Shinto kami include Mochi the goddess of food, who was murdered when she began to defecate food. Benten, a female kami with Hindu origins, who is associated with music and the arts. Ebisu is a kami who is said to bring prosperity to the Japanese. Ebisu was originally the abandoned leech-child of Izanami and Izanagi. This kami provided the Japanese the justification to abandoned unwanted children, and aging parents, which continues to this day. Hachiman is the god of archery and war. Izanagi and his wife/sister Izanami gave birth to Japan. Konpira is the kami of safety at sea, but was originally a Buddhist deity who was the protector of sailors, fishermen, and merchant ships. Tenjin is the kami of education. Tenjin was in reality the Shinto scholar Sugawara no Michizane (845-903 CE). Students taking exams in Japan often ask Tenjin to grant them good scores. Student prayer tablets can be seen at shrines throughout Japan. Those prayer tablets are scribbled on with pen or marker, and placed on thin, rectangular wooden blocks, often stamped with the image of Tenjin. A student prayer tablet can be purchased by anyone at a cost of about 500 ¥.

Despite what is readily accepted, for most of Japanese history the emperor’s status as the direct descendant of the founding kami was not reflected in his political power. In fact, until the Meiji restoration the emperor had little power, and instead was a largely unknown and ceremonial figure. Japan was actually run by feudal noblemen, known as Daimyo, and the emperor lived in either seclusion, or at times in imprisonment, being held as a political pawn.

From the 6th century CE the beliefs that are now known as Shinto were greatly altered by the addition of other ingredients, especially Buddhism, which arrived in Japan from India. From then on Shinto faiths and traditions took on Buddhist elements, and later Confucian elements as well. Some Shinto shrines became Buddhist temples, and coexisted within Buddhist temples, or had Buddhist priests in charge. Buddhist temples began to spring up all over Japan, and Buddhist ideologies began to be explored as the population increased.

The ruling aristocracy saw advantages in harnessing Shinto, Confucianism and Buddhism in order to maintain rule over the people of Japan. At the same period, government took a role in religion with the establishment of the “Department for the Affairs of the Deities.”

Shinto became greatly disadvantaged to Buddhism and Confucianism because it lacked intellectual doctrines. This meant that the development of Japanese theology and philosophy inevitably drew on the comparative intellectual richness of Buddhism and Confucianism. Buddhism began to expand significantly, and was given a role in supporting the growing influence of central government. The idea was put forward that humans should follow the will of the gods in political life. The rule of the state was referred to as matsurigoto, a word very close to that for religious ritual, matsuri that was used to refer to both government and worship.

The emperor and the court began to have distinct religious obligations, and ceremonies that had to be carried out meticulously to ensure that the kami protected Japan and its people. These ceremonies, which included as many Buddhist and Confucian elements as they did Shinto became part of the administrative calendar of the Japanese government. As time went on, the Japanese became more and more accustomed to including both kami and Buddhist ideas in their spiritual lives. Philosophers put forward the idea that the kami were transformations of the Buddha manifested in Japan to save all sentient beings.

During the 7th and 8th centuries the spiritual status of the emperor as the descendant of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu became official doctrine, and was buttressed by rituals and the establishment of the Ise shrines as the shrines of the divine imperial family. Over the next few centuries the Buddhist influence in government grew steadily stronger, despite the Dokyo Affair that took place in the middle of the 8th century. Between the 11th and 15th centuries Japanese government was in the hands of three interdependent power blocs: the court, the aristocracy, and the religious establishments, although there is some debate as to whether the various religious groups were ever able to present a united front, or whether they ever had as much political muscle as the other two blocs. The 16th century was a time of conflict in Japan, but religious establishments continued to play a part in the administration of the various territories of the country. Missionaries arrived in Japan during this period and started converting people from Shinto and Buddhism to Christianity. Christianity was seen as a political threat and was ruthlessly stamped out. The 17th century was dominated by Buddhism heavily laden with Shinto partly because anti-Christian measures were forced every. Japanese civic religion retained elements of Confucianism in its political and administrative thinking. Buddhist temples came under the control of the state, and the training of priests and the management of temples and the hierarchy was effectively state supervised.

In the two centuries before the Meiji period there was a movement towards a purer form of Shinto, with a particular focus on the Japanese people as being the descendants of the gods and superior to other races. Due to state supervision of churches, including licensing requirements, Buddhist and other influences were filtered out of institutions and rituals. This was done to create a unified faith from a group of many ideas, beliefs and rituals.

It was during the 1930s that Shinto priests taught that the emperor was god, manifest in the form of a human being in which the property of kami nature was perfectly revealed. The emperor’s qualities of kami nature together with his direct descent from Amaterasu, the highest of the kami, made him so superior that the Japanese thought it entirely logical that people should obey the emperor and worship him.

Despite the westernization of Japan’s mythological religious thought, Shintoists continue to claim, as they always had, that human are incapable of understanding the true nature of kami, because kami are not like the gods of other faiths:

  • Kami are not divine like the deities found in other religions.
  • Kami are not omnipotent.
  • Kami are not perfect, they make mistakes and often behave badly.
  • Kami are not inherently different from human beings or nature.
  • Kami are a higher manifestation of life energy.
  • Kami don’t exist in a supernatural universe.
  • Kami live in the same world as human beings and of nature.

Kami are sometimes applied to spirits that live in things, but they also apply directly to things themselves, so the kami of a mountain, or a waterfall may actually be the mountain or waterfall itself, rather than the spirit of the mountain or waterfall. Finally, not all kami have names!

In principle human beings, birds, animals, trees, plants, mountains, oceans, and divine entities may be kami. Whatever seemed strikingly impressive, possessed the quality of excellence, or inspired a feeling of awe, this was kami.

Three types of kami are important to the cult of Shinto:

  1. Ujigami are ancestors of clans. In tribal times, each clan believed a particular kami. These were deceased ancestors, and were the protectors of the clan. Clans dedicated their worship to that particular spiritual entity.
  2. Kami are natural objects, living beings, and forces of nature.
  3. The souls of dead humans, while living, accomplished some kind of outstanding achievement.

The end of the fairytale

Three key documents dismantled Shinto as the state religion of Japan after the Second World War. The documents parallel Shinto purification rituals, since their purpose was to restore purity and cleanliness to a religion that had been polluted by political action. Those documents are:

  • The Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shinto. (1945)
  • The Imperial Rescript renouncing Divinity. (1946)
  • Japan’s post-war Constitution.

The first of these documents is one of the most powerful condemnations of the abuse of religion ever written. The purpose of The Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shinto was not to destroy Shinto but to prevent recurrence of the perversion of Shinto theory and beliefs into militaristic and ultra-nationalistic propaganda designed to delude the Japanese people and lead them into wars of aggression.

The restructuring of the Japanese education system was a key initiative in the religious reforms. Although Shinto is no longer a state religion many Japanese still regard Shinto as the national religion, but post-war Shinto is very different from the pre-1946 version, having been cleansed of the political, nationalistic and militaristic elements that were included in State Shinto.

The present Japanese Constitution guarantees freedom of religion in Article 20: Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all. No religious organization shall receive any privileges from the State, nor exercise any political authority. No person shall be compelled to take part in any religious acts, celebration, rite or practice. The State and its organs shall refrain from religious education or any other religious activity.

Further protection of religious freedom is given in Article 14, which forbids “discrimination in political, economic, or social relations because of creed”, and Article 19, which states, “Freedom of thought and conscience shall not be violated”. Article 89 adds further separation of religion and states that no public money or other property shall be expended or appropriated for the use, benefit or maintenance of any religious institution or association, or for any charitable, educational or benevolent enterprises not under the control of public authority.

Shinto was disestablished in 1946, when the emperor lost his divine status as part of the Allied reformation of Japan. This constitutional mandate was established in Article 89 of Japan’s constitution. The main objective of Article 89 was to ensure that the Shinto cult was stripped of its ability to use religion as a pretext to indoctrinate the masses, and to use that indoctrination as a political tool. In the Imperial rescript on January 1st, 1946, the emperor wrote, “The ties between us and our people have always stood on mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths. They are not predicated on the false conception that the emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world.”

Despite the loss of official status Shinto remains a significant player in Japanese life, and a dark force in political determinations. Most notably is the recent exposure of a group known as Nippon Kaigi, which will be discussed in more detail further in this article. Despite the non-divine status of the emperor, considerable religious ritual and mysticism still surround many imperial observances.

The allied forces at the end of WWII, attempted to ensure that the Shinto cult was permanently eradicated from the conscience of the Japanese people. The allied mandate to abolish the Shinto cult as a political tool was voted into law by two-thirds of both houses of the Japanese political establishment. Any changes to the constitutional provision of the separation of church and state requires a two-thirds vote of both house and a referendum by the majority of voters.

The priestly status that the emperor inherited ceased to exist. His ritual functions ceased being national tasks and instead have become private Shinto devotions designed to preserve the good fortune of Japan, and the continuity of the imperial line.

The return of a delusional mindset

In 2000, the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, sparked a controversy by once again describing Japan as a divine country centered on the emperor. Mori made the statement during a meeting with pro-Shinto politicians. Mori later apologized, claiming his reference to the divine emperor was about the importance of tradition and education.

As of 2016, in direct violation of the constitutional requirement of the separation of church and state, the vast majority of Shinto shrines have been displaying banners calling for Japanese to support Nippon Kaigi and their affiliates, and the Liberal Democrat Party’s constitutional amendments. Part of the constitutional rewrite restores the Shinto cult as a branch of the Japanese government, and to its state of former glory.

The Liberal Democrat Party currently has control of more than two-thirds of representative seats in both houses. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current prime minister, as part of his economic plan, nonsensically called, “Abenomics” is in reality Nippon Kaigi’s agenda to rewrite Japan’s entire constitution. Nippon Kaigi’s constitutional draft amendment includes provisions that are quite disturbing. They include the removal of free speech, free press, equality for women, no rights for foreigners, and justification unconstitutional acts that the courts, police and prosecutors already engage in, under the guise of “new human rights.” Abe has already stated that The Declaration of Human Rights, the most basic tenet of a nation becoming a member of the United Nation is “not the law, and not enforceable upon Japan.” The Asian Pacific Journal recently wrote that if Nippon Kaigi, and the LDP get their way, Japan’s will return to a totalitarian dictatorship, with the emperor at the head.

Nippon Kaigi was exposed by one of its former key members, Sugano Tamotsu. Tamotsu, disgusted with the organizations repugnant views on human rights exposed the organization in his book titled, Nippon Kaigi no Kenkyu. Abe called Tamotsu a “traitor” and fervently attempted to block the release of the book, which exposes Abe, the LDP, and Nippon Kaigi’s true agenda. Tamotsu calls Abe and the other members of Nippon Kaigi, delusional old men who have become mentally ill through the guilt, and humiliation they suffer as a result of their family names being permanent stained for the war crimes they are responsible for, and their total lack of remorse. Tamotsu stated that, Nippon Kaigi members seek nothing more than to exonerate their families, to return the Yasakuni Shrine to a place of reverence, and to rewind the clock back to the Meiji era when Japan was a nation that threatened regional stability. Click here to learn more about the cult of Shinto, and how they are secretly running the nation of Japan.

The cult of Shinto’s return to political and religious power would restore the religion to a government branch that highly influences national policy. The method they would use to gain that power would be to instill a constitutionally created obligation for all Japanese to adhere to religious, and financial duties owed to the state. The cult would use the same techniques that were used successful prior to, and during WWII. They would indoctrinate young children through compulsory education, and compulsory worship practices that include reciting prayers in school that are directed at emperor worship, and to sing national anthems that are currently prohibited. The indoctrination requires all Japanese to worship the emperor as a god, the imposition of reciting daily prayers to the emperor, and to sing imperial inspired anthems that are warmongering by design. These rituals would instill in the mind of the Japanese that they are superior to all other life forms on planet Earth.

The Supreme Court of Japan has already held that Japanese teachers must perform the “duties” proscribed herein, or face hefty fines, or termination. There already exists, government paid “listeners” who are dispatched to schools who engage in government sponsored eavesdropping, so as to ensure that teachers participate in government mandated activities, and do so vigorously. The teachers unions of Japan, which were originally organized by foreigners, are despised by the Japanese government, and Japan’s Ministry of Education.

Today, Shinto is experiencing an increase in popularity amongst Japan’s aging relics. This is due to the ambitions of the descendants of Showa worshippers.

The separation of the Shinto cult and government are detailed in the Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shinto, which was an order issued by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers to Japanese officials at the end or WWII. It was presented on December 15th, 1945, and went into effect immediately. The directive details the requirements of the abolition of state sponsored religion. The entire document is available to read below.

Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shinto 

Orders from the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to the Japanese Government:

15 December 1945

MEMORANDUM FOR: Imperial Japanese Government

THROUGH: Central Liaison Office, Tokyo

SUBJECT: Abolition of Governmental Sponsorship, Support, Perpetuation, Control, and Dissemination of State Shinto

  1. In order to free the Japanese people from direct or indirect compulsion to believe or profess to believe in a religion or cult officially designated by the state, and

In order to lift from the Japanese people the burden of compulsory financial support of an ideology which has contributed to their war guilt, defeat, suffering, privation, and present deplorable condition, and

In order to prevent recurrence of the perversion of Shinto theory and beliefs into militaristic and ultra-nationalistic propaganda designed to delude the Japanese people and lead them into wars of aggression, and

In order to assist the Japanese people in a rededication of their national life to building a new Japan based upon ideals of perpetual peace and democracy,

It is hereby directed that:

  1. The sponsorship, support, perpetuation, control, and dissemination of Shinto by the Japanese national, prefectual, and local governments, or by public officials, subordinates, and employees acting in their official capacity are prohibited and will cease immediately.
  2. All financial support from public funds and all official affiliation with Shinto and Shinto shrines are prohibited and will cease immediately.
  3. All propagation and dissemination of militaristic and ultra-nationistic ideology in Shinto doctrines, practices, rites, ceremonies, or observances, as well as in the doctrines, practices, rites, ceremonies and observances of any other religion, faith, sect, creed, or philosophy, are prohibited and will cease immediately.
  4. The Religious Functions Order relating to the Grand Shrine of Ise and the Religious Functions Order relating to State and other Shrines will be annulled.
  5. The Shrine Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs will be abolished, and its present functions, duties, and administrative obligations will not be assumed by any other governmental or tax-supported agency.
  6. All public educational institutions whose primary function is either the investigation and dissemination of Shinto or the training of a Shinto priesthood will be abolished and their physical properties diverted to other uses. Their present functions, duties, and administrative obligations will not be assumed by any other governmental or tax-supported agency.
  7. Private educational institutions for the investigation and dissemination of Shinto and for the training of priesthood for Shinto will be permitted and will operate with the same privileges and be subject to the same controls and restrictions as any other private educational institution having no affiliation with the government; in no case, however, will they receive support from public funds, and in no case will they propagate and disseminate militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology.
  8. The dissemination of Shinto doctrines in any form and by any means in any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds is prohibited and will cease immediately.

1) All teachers’ manuals and text-books now in use in any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds will be censored, and all Shinto doctrine will be deleted. No teachers’ manual or text-book which is published in the future for use in such institutions will contain any Shinto doctrine.

2) No visits to Shinto shrines and no rites, practices, or ceremonies associated with Shinto will be conducted or sponsored by any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds.

  1. Circulation by the government of “The Fundamental Principles of the National Structure”, “The Way of the Subject”, and all similar official volumes, commentaries, interpretations, or instructions on Shinto is prohibited.
  2. The use in official writings of the terms “Greater East Asia War”, “The Whole World under One Roof”, and all other terms whose connotation in Japanese is inextricably connected with State Shinto, militarism, and ultra-nationalism is prohibited and will cease immediately.
  3. God-shelves (kamidana) and all other physical symbols of State Shinto in any office, school institution, organization, or structure supported wholly or in part by public funds are prohibited and will be removed immediately.
  4. No official, subordinate, employee, student, citizen, or resident of Japan will be discriminated against because of his failure to profess and believe in or participate in any practice, rite, ceremony, or observance of State Shinto or of any other religion.
  5. No official of the national, prefectural, or local government, acting in his public capacity, will visit any shrine to report his assumption of office, to report on conditions of government, or to participate as a representative of government in any ceremony or observance.
  6. a. The purpose of this directive is to separate religion from the state to prevent misuse of religion for political ends, and to put all religions, faiths, and creeds upon exactly the same legal basis, entitled to precisely the same opportunities and protection. It forbids affiliation with the government and the propagation and dissemination of militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology not only to Shinto but to the followers of all religions, faiths, sects, creeds, or philosophies.
  7. The provisions of this directive will apply with equal force to all rites, practices, ceremonies, observances, beliefs, teachings, mythology, legends, philosophy, shrines, and physical symbols associated with Shinto.
  8. The term State Shinto within the meaning of this directive will refer to that branch of Shinto which by official acts of the Japanese Government has been differentiated from the religion of Shrine Shinto and has been classified as a non-religious national cult commonly known as State Shinto or National Shinto.
  9. The term Shrine Shinto will refer to that branch of Shinto which by popular belief, legal commentary, and the official acts of the Japanese Government has been recognized to be a religion.
  10. Pursuant to the terms of Article I of the Basic Directive on “Removal of Restrictions on Political, Civil, and Religious Liberties” issued on 4 October 1945 by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in which the Japanese people were assured complete religious freedom,

(1) Shrine Shinto will enjoy the same protection as any other religion.

(2) Shrine Shinto, after having been divorced from the state and divested of its militaristic and ultra-nationalistic elements, will be recognized as a religion if its adherents so desire and will be granted the same protection as any other religion in so far as it may in fact be the philosophy or religion of Japanese individuals.

  1. Militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology, as used in this directive, embraces those teachings, beliefs, and theories, which advocate or justify a mission on the part of Japan to extend its rule over other nations and peoples by reason of:

(1) The doctrine that the Emperor of Japan is superior to the heads of other states because of ancestry, descent, or special origin. (2) The doctrine that the people of Japan are superior to the people of other lands because of ancestry, descent, or special origin.

(3) The doctrine that the islands of Japan are superior to other lands because of divine or special origin.

(4) Any other doctrine which tends to delude the Japanese people into embarking upon wars of aggression or to glorify the use of force as an instrument for the settlement of disputes with other people.

  1. The Imperial Japanese Government will submit a comprehensive report to this Headquarters not later than 15 March 1946 describing in detail all action taken to comply with all provisions of this directive.
  2. All officials, subordinates and employees of the Japanese national prefectural, and local governments, all teachers and education officials and all citizens and residents of Japan will be held personally accountable for compliance with the spirit as well as the letter of all provisions of this directive.

For the Supreme Commander:

[Signed] H. W. Allen

Colonel, A.G.D.

Asst. Adjutant General

Why the mandate was crucial for regional stability and why it should remain

Prior to, and during WWII, Japan’s Shinto cult had been a propaganda, and brainwashing tool of the political/military branches of government, and the dark forces that controlled them. Shinto teachings were compulsory and forced upon every Japanese. The consequences for refusing to comply with these duties to the state were similar to those that rejected the instructions of the Roman Catholic Church; heresy proceedings, imprisonment, torture and death.

The secular forces that gained the most from these constraints were the imperial family, the military, and three main shrines that facilitated the myth through espousing the belief that royal regalia, which they claimed, and continue to claim originated from heaven, and as a result proves that the emperor of Japan, and his lineage were in fact deities that could be traced back to Amaterasu, and their heavenly origin. Those shrines still exist today and have waited over seventy years to regain their prior significance. The royal regalia the followers of the cult claim to exist include a sword, a jewel, and a mirror. It is said that these objects are housed at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the Three Palaces Sanctuaries in Kyoto, and the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture.

The shrine of Ise had once wielded great political power, and they want it back. The Ise shrine, which is the main shrine to Amaterasu is rebuilt every twenty years to the tune of millions of dollars, all money donated from the cult’s adherents. The mere size of the shrine, which is about the size of the city of Paris, reflects the power that the cult once enjoyed. It’s been more than seventy years since this shrine was stripped of its political might. The shrine continues to lure visitors under the continued claim that the shrine houses one of the royal regalia the “first” emperor of Japan, Jimmu, brought with him from heaven, being guided by his grandmother Amaterasu. Ise’s priests claim to engage in thousands of religious ceremonies each year. The sole purpose of all of these prayers, according to the shrine’s website is to pray for the prosperity of Japan’s emperor, and of course the return of their power.

Now, before rushing to visit one of these shrines so as to get a glimpse of these heavenly artifacts, I have to warn you… You can’t see them! Why? Because you are a mere mortal! If you were to look at any of those items you would immediately go blind. The only beings capable of viewing the heavenly objects are the emperor himself, and of course, the priests that perform the ceremonies performed who benefit greatly by adhering to the falsehoods of the cult. In “fact” the last time these items were brought out for viewing was when current emperor Akihito, succeeded his war criminal father Hirohito/Showa, on January 7th, 1989.


The origins of the cult of Shinto and its involvement with WWII are virtually unknown to the Japanese today. This included my wife, who is Japanese. She knew almost nothing about Shinto. This is because Article 89 of Japan’s constitution had done what it was supposed to do. To protect children who are easily misguided through false teachings. Upon learning what the Shinto Cult asserts as fact, my wife said, “Who would believe any of that?” I had to remind her that nearly every person in Japan believed in, or were forced to pretend to believe in the false teachings of the cult until its powers were stripped away at end of WWII, when it was banned from government affairs, school textbooks, etc. I had to show my wife that the Japanese government had always interfered in the freedom of religious practices. This included the banning of Buddhist faiths, and the genocide of Christians, which is addressed in Martin Scorsese’s latest movie, Silence. The Japanese government seized all properties which were not Shinto, and delicensed, and deloused temples and shrines under the guise of purification. Buddhist priests who refused to convert to Shinto were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. It must be noted that if Nippon Kaigi, and the LDP had their way, every Buddhist temple, every Christian church, even the Chabad Houses in Tokyo and Kyoto, would be banned, and their property seized, and turned over to operators of the Shinto cult.

When Shinto was reconstructed in 1868 the imperial legend was moved center stage, and Amaterasu who until then was only revered in parts of Japan was promoted as the most important of the gods, given a national role in the new system of state Shinto. This new status was intended to validate the role of the emperor, not only as ruler, but as the high priest of Shinto. This gave the emperor a divine right to rule not only Japan, but the whole world. Furthermore, it became official doctrine that since the Japanese were descended from the gods, they were superior to all other races.

The cult of Shinto continues to preach this hateful, unconstitutional, and illegitimate rhetoric. The Japanese people must condemn the teachings of the Shinto cult and the dark powers they wield over officials who have become drunk in priestly pretentions. The Japanese must ensure that the constitutional provisions that have given them freedom of religion, and thought for more than seventy years must continue provide them with the right to worship in any manner they choose, without being subjected to government interference, intimidation and control.

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Aeon’s Organic Food Scam


Companies rarely obtain this level of success without engaging in some form of unethical conduct. Aeon’s “organic” scheme is one such example of corporate fraud.

Unfortunately, companies are only in the business to reap as much profits as they can while putting as little effort into what they produce as possible. In that, companies are not in the business to ensure the products they sell are healthy and safe for your family. As a result, the term caveat emptor means more today than ever before.

There are many marketing companies whose sole purpose is to entice you into schemes to get you to purchase the products they pitch. This article focuses on the foods you eat, the organic scams, and notably the Japanese company known collectively as Aeon. Aeon has jumped on the organic bandwagon. The company’s website calls the organic market a “trendy” multi billion dollar industry, an industry that Aeon wants to grab as much of as possible, regardless of the unethical tactics the company engages in. Aeon clearly has little knowledge as to what purchasers of organic products want. Organic purchasers who pay a premium for organic foods want as little processing as possible and they don’t want to be taken advantage of in the process. They also don’t want the foods they buy smothered in various plastic wrappings such as those that contain PBAs, Polyvinyl Chlorides, and Polystyrenes, which are endocrine system disruptors and are known to cause cancer. Organic product purchasers want as little exposure to any toxins as possible, regardless of where, or how they originate.

The long list of things to avoid in the foods you consume include mining waste or heavy metals dumped on agricultural land, and promoted as fertilizers intended to increase yield. Heavy metal fertilizers, and pesticides have all but destroyed the “conventional” foods most people consume today. One doesn’t have to look much farther than what Syngenta, a Japanese company, BASF another Japanese company, Cargill, and Monsanto engage in when it comes to the agriculture industry, to know that no living organism should ever come in contact with what these companies produce. Insects won’t eat the products they produce, birds won’t eat it, and animals won’t either, yet the vast majority of North Americans consume what these companies produce as part of every meal.

If I could create a single word to describe what it is like living in Japan it would be Japartheid. The Japanese are generally world illiterate, xenophobic and know little about their countries propensity to engage in illegality on a grand scale. The Japanese care little, if at all about any of the myriad of serious issues the world faces today. Japan is an unnatural society, chemically dependent, and is better compared to a cult than a civilized culture. The Japanese can’t communicate with the world, and are humiliated by this fact. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live in a world that I couldn’t communicate my very thoughts, yet the Japanese have done so for decades.

There are few, very few advantages of living in Japan. In that, one advantage is that all American food products sold in Japan are marketed with labels that proudly proclaim, From America, or, From The USA. While the debate war rages in the U.S. over GMO labeling, that matter doesn’t concern me in Japan, as those are all the labels I need to know the products in those packages are GMO, and off limits to my family. Further, most of what is pawned off in Japan as American food is mass-produced by companies like Kraft, or other low-end corporations that process foods (for lack of a better word) that I wouldn’t feed to a hungry dog. Several years ago I lived in Tennessee, and about thirty miles down the road was a Kraft food processing facility. When the wind blew from the south, a foul stench that stagnated over the community, making nearly everyone that lived in the community nauseous. Needless to say, I didn’t live there long.

Today a handful of multinationals grow most of the world’s food in what are called mono crops. Mono crops are large acreage of agricultural land that has been contaminated by toxins so deadly that earthworms, and microorganisms cannot survive in them. The multinationals proudly call these lands sterile growing environments. Agricultural land was never meant to be barren.

There are numerous products sold today that are linked to mercury poisoning such as natural skin products. This is but one such example. Products are pitched as natural or organic and Aeon has created entire sections in their stores to sell these overpriced goods. A cursory inspection of the ingredients in most of these products prove the product was created in a laboratory and not on a branch, bulb or vine. I’ve seen Aeon displays selling tiny bars of soap for as much as fifty dollars, and the product weren’t natural at all.

Many products sold in Japan today are falsely advertised as natural or organic. One hair product that is sold all over Japan originated from a U.S. company that sells a hair care line called Nature’s Gate. Nature’s Gate has engaged in marketing fraud that dates back to the 1970s. Nature’s Gate was sued by Dr. Bronner’s Soaps for marketing fraud and was forced to stop touting it’s product as natural and organic when it wasn’t. Nature’s Gate went bankrupt, yet the fake natural products are still sold in Japan as organic and natural. Company’s like Nature’s Gate is able to swindle the public in Japan because the Japanese remain ill informed. How do companies like Nature’s Gate get away with marketing fraud? Because the natural and organic industry is unregulated. This means anyone can produce a   pretty package and use words associated with natural and organic and sell that product as such. Nature’s Gate is about as natural as Livermorium and Californium, manmade elements that exist on the Chemistry Periodic Table.

The Environmental Watch Group releases annual reports on just how much the food you consume is contaminated. The EWG’s Dirty Dozen list can be viewed at the following link: http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives. You may be unpleasantly surprised to discover that the Dirty Dozen are the foods you eat on a daily basis. That fresh salad, which includes cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and green pepper is in reality a toxic toss up of arsenic, lead, mercury and other neurotoxins. In a recent television segment in the U.S., Diane Sawyer raised the issue of arsenic and lead contamination in rice to a “health specialist.” The specialist told the reporter to “eat a balanced diet.” This agricultural industry swill was originally intended to get people to eat a variety of foods. Diane Sawyer didn’t follow up by asking how one was supposed to maintain a healthy diet when the vast majority of food consumed today is contaminated with mining runoff, fertilizer runoff and other contaminants that originate from a variety of toxic sources such as pesticides that have become so powerful that merely drifting onto neighboring crops wipe out those crops. Monsanto recently released a product into the stream of commerce, which hasn’t even been approved for use. It’s called Dicamba, and when it drifts onto neighboring lands it wipes out any living vegetation. Monsanto claims its “best products continue to sit on the shelf” because they have yet to be approved for public use. If you think the organic food industry is any safer, then you need to access where you get your information.

There are more than 10,000 additives allowed in food. Some are known as direct additives deliberately formulated into processed food. Others are indirect additives that get into food during processing, storage and packaging. How do you know which ones to avoid and which ones are directly linked to serious health issues including endocrine disruption and cancer? The EWG’s Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives helps you figure it out by highlighting some of the worst failures of government regulation. The guide covers ingredients associated with serious health concerns, additives that are banned or restricted in many countries, but not in the U.S., Canada or Japan. The fact is, there are many toxic substances that shouldn’t be in the food you eat and which you provide to your children. This raises the topic of one of Japan’s latest scams that originates at the company known as Aeon, and it doesn’t only affect Japanese consumers, as the company has become a global entity.


Some of the produce shown above originates from Fukushima and is sold under the guise of being organic.

Aeon, Japan’s largest food supplier is now actively engaged in the organic food industry, while at the same time capitalizing on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, purchasing mass acreage of contaminated land, and using it to grow “organic” produce that is then sold all around the world. Recently, I met with an Aeon produce manager. I had major concerns about some of the “organic” produce that the company is selling. My concerns originally arose over a recall of frozen peas, and thereafter, rancid produce that chronically appears on the shelves of the organic section of the company’s stores. I was told that some of the food quickly becomes rancid because it lacks preservatives. I found this explanation ludicrous as Aeon is in the business of selling fresh produce, not rotting matter. Aeon’s organic produce costs on average three times more than the “conventional” produce the company sells. It’s the duty of Aeon to ensure what they sell is fresh and edible.

Another issue with Aeon is nearly all of the company’s produce is wrapped in plastic. This makes it extremely difficult to inspect the product for freshness. All too often once a product is purchased, and taken home, removed from the packaging and inspected, the side that is hidden from view is bruised and rotting. It’s obvious that this packaging ploy is to ensure the company purges its waste at the expense of the consumer.

All food wrapped in plastic becomes toxic from gassing off, and is as undesirable as food sprayed with toxins. These issues pale in comparison to the fact that massive acreage of land in Fukushima has been purchased by Aeon to grow “organic” food. The land Aeon has been purchasing is abandoned land due to radiation contamination. Aeon has been able to purchase contaminated land for pennies on the dollar because of the contamination of the land due to the triple meltdowns that occurred in 2011. Another issue that raises questions regarding the ethics of Aeon corporations is that the company is intentionally deceiving the consumer by claiming the food they are growing in Fukushima is organic. It’s not just Fukushima, but also Ibaraki and Miyagi, which have large areas that have been contaminated by radiation fallout.

Aeon also engages in labeling fraud, producing “organic” food grown from several regions and combining it in the same packages, making it difficult to know where the produce originated from. An example here is where one plastic wrapped squash has a label that reads it originated from Yamate in southern Japan, while another squash sitting right next to it will have a label that says it originated from Fukushima. Few people would suspect that any company would label food as organic if it originated from Fukushima. Another issue that effects foreigners living in Apartheid would be their inability to read labels that show the products origin. This makes it extremely difficult to know where the food they are purchasing comes from. If one took the time to learn the Japanese characters for Fukushima they would be quite shocked to discover that a large range of produce sold in Japan originates from one of the most toxic places on Earth, Fukushima. This includes cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, lettuce, spinach, green beans, peaches, and cherries.

I asked an Aeon manager if he would feed any Fukushima produce to his children? He admitted that he would not. I asked why then was he knowingly selling Fukushima produce to his customers. He stated that Aeon supported Fukushima farmers. We’ve heard that line of crap before from 7-11 and other companies that purchase contaminated Fukushima food at a fraction of the cost they would from uncontaminated food suppliers. The truth is Aeon and 7-11 aren’t supporting Fukushima the farmers, they preying upon them for the sole purpose of maximizing profits for corporate shareholders that demand quarterly returns on their investments.

I asked if Fukushima’s food was being grown indoors? I was told it was not. Aeon’s manager then stated that Fukushima’s organic produce was being tested for pesticide residue, fertilizer residue and radiation contamination as well. I asked what level was considered radiation contamination? The level that was the national standard prior to the triple meltdowns, or the level raised to twenty times that level thereafter, which is the equivalent to radiation exposure at a nuclear power plant an employee is subjected to while simultaneously wearing a hazmat outfit and undergoing numerous safety procedures? Aeon’s management had no response to that query. It must be noted that Aeon corporate office was given an opportunity to answer the same questions raised herein, but did not respond to the query.

Aeon is engaging in an scheme to maximize profits and defraud consumers by not notifying them where the “organic” foods they are purchasing originates from. Aeon is also taking advantage of Fukushima farmers whose livelihoods were destroyed by TEPCO, and whose lands were banned from being used to produce food. Aeon then sells contaminated produce as “organic” so as to maximize company profits. Lest we forget, the water that is used to grow crops in Fukushima is contaminated with billions upon billions of Becquerels of strontium, tritium, cesium and whatever else exploded into and rained down on the region.

The following text is marketing jargon located at Aeon’s website.

Aeon goes organic…

The organic market in Japan is the seventh biggest with annual sales of approximately 143.1 billion yen and still has a room to grow, especially before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Aeon’s self described code of conduct is shown below.

The future will bring challenges to AEON’s value proposition. AEON must become a “trusted brand” to distinguish itself from the competition and earn customer loyalty. And to maintain that loyalty, we must work daily to evolve the AEON of the future, a company that constantly focuses on creating new value for customers.

So what is the AEON of the future? For example, if our customers are affected by a law or regulation they feel is unreasonable, we at AEON will strive to make things better for them, making our position clear and staying true to our core values. The center of our philosophy is the concept that “everything we do, we do for our customers.” This is an immutable principle that will never change, even as we ourselves are in constant renewal. Never satisfied with the status quo, always taking another step forward to improve our customers’ lifestyles—this is the AEON tradition. This is the AEON mission. And this is the reason AEON will always be there to serve the needs of future customers.

We have established the “AEON Code of Conduct” as a means to provide more clarity for the AEON of the future. The Code of Conduct helps us interpret AEON’s basic principles to know what actions we need to take for the benefit of our “customers of the era ahead.” 

We pledge that beginning today, we will do everything in our power to promote and embody the AEON Code of Conduct. It is our hope that all AEON people will join us in sharing this sense of purpose, developing deep bonds of trust between us all.

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Japan’s Post WWII Illustrations


Black rain.

We’ve always been told that Japan lost WWII. However, unlike Germany, Japan has never paid reparations to any nation it looted and destroyed. Japan began WWII as the ninth economy of the world, and emerged as the world’s second economy. In the aftermath of WWII, Japan was awarded a constitution that mirrored that of the U.S., which is the best doctrine ever devised to ensure a nation’s people received due process, fundamental rights, human rights, and human dignity; concepts Japanese officials continue to not grasp.

Today, Abe, and a handful of lunatics he surrounds himself with call the constitution of Japan a doctrine imposed on the nation that had but one intention and that was to humiliate the people of Japan. This illogic would mean that the constitution, which resembles that of the U.S. was intended to humiliate those who today call themselves Americans.

I spent time today at a water park with my son. The enjoyment was overshadowed by the constant interruption of military drills taking place in the air above us. This reminded me of Abe’s push to engage in military actions against regional countries such as China, and Korea.

Japan has been pulling out all the propaganda cards it can muster. Recently, I was able to catch one exhibit that displayed post WWII illustrations created by the survivors of that war. The images depict the crimes perpetrated by the enemies of Japan, America. The images are a rare glimpse into the mindset of the Japanese, then and now. They show the hatred the Japanese have towards the U.S. More concerning is the fact that Japanese official rhetoric continues to take the position that the Japanese were the victims of WWII, and not the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

This new breed of hate is aimed at creating a distrust of Japanese towards Japan’s  imagined enemies, most notably the U.S.

Japanese people need to be made aware of things that have always been kept from them. This includes the Great Kanto Earthquake genocide of Koreans, the biological warfare facility known as Unit 731, and other atrocities, such as Hiroshima being the city where Kamikaze pilots were trained as suicide bombers. Japanese also need to become aware of the fact that Japan gave the world its first suicide bombers. Hiroshima also imprisoned more than 30,000 Chinese and Koreans who were kidnapped and forced to perform labor to produce weapons for Mitsubishi and other Japanese corporations. Those weapons would be used against the people of China and Korea as well as other regional nations. Many women who were worked to near death by day, were raped and tortured to death by night by Japanese soldiers. Japanese officials call them comfort women.

The Japanese weep every year on this date in August, pining over the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese have never shed a single tear for the 30,000,000 who were murdered by Japan, and whose nations were pillaged of their wealth by Hirohito and his “royal” cousins.

The Japanese were not the victims of WWII. The Japanese were the aggressors who began WWII in a false flag operation that was designed, and instigated by current prime minister Abe’s grandfather. Thereafter, Japan destroyed every nation in the Pacific region. Today, Japan’s regional conduct has resulted in China building seven offshore military bases, which no doubt will eventually store nuclear weapons aimed at Tokyo.

The images below depict the sufferings of the Japanese during the aftermath of WWII. What Japan suffered pales in comparison to what the rest of the world suffered during the time. Abe and the insanity that permeates every one of his cabinet members proves that after more than 70 years, Japan remains an occupied nation for good cause.

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Toyota, Terrorism, And The Bottom Line

Islamic State terrorist parading in brand new Toyotas courtesy of the Japanese auto manufacture.

Japan is selling thousands of military vehicles to the Islamic State, and you won’t find this mentioned anywhere in the Japanese media. The Japanese automaker is reaping huge profits selling vehicles that aid the Islamic State in committing genocide, torture, kidnappings, and the destruction of ancient historical landmarks.

Toyota, the world’s second largest car maker claims it has no idea how its vehicles got into the hands of terrorists. Statements like these are entirely transparent. First, every new vehicle is sold with factory installed machine gun mounts, and bullet proof siding, and well as other features that aid the extremist group. Further, every vehicle is sold with GPS technology, which means Toyota has the technical ability to track each vehicle from the factory where it is manufactured, to the dealer the company has exclusive contracts with regarding the sales of every one of their vehicles. Finally, Toyota has the ability to locate, and track, at all times, each and every movement any of these vehicles make.

Toyota clearly engages in aiding the enemy of the U.S. and its allies with the vehicles the company is providing the extremists as they continue to wage war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and other regions of the Middle East. Trade with the enemy violates both international agreements, and sanctions, and this makes the executives of Toyota criminally culpable for their illegal conduct.

U.S. counter-terror officials asked Toyota to help them determine how the Islamic State has acquired such a large number of Toyota pick-up trucks, and SUVs which are used prominently in Islamic State propaganda, and enlistment videos.

Toyota claims it doesn’t know how Islamic State has obtained the vehicles and is “supporting” the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the U.S. Treasury Department, which is part of a broad U.S. effort to prevent Western-made goods from ending up in the hands of Islamic State.

We briefed the Treasury Department on Toyota’s supply chains in the Middle East, and the procedures that Toyota uses to protect supply chain integrity,” said Ed Lewis, Toyota’s Washington-based director of public policy and communications. Toyota has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,” Lewis said.

Regardless as to what Toyota’s U.S. mouthpiece has to say, the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Faily, stated that Islamic State has acquired “hundreds” of “brand new” Toyotas.

The Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,” said Mark Wallace, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. “In nearly every Islamic State video, they show a fleet, a convoy of brand new Toyota vehicles, and that’s very concerning to us”, Wallace said.

Questions about the Islamic State using Toyota vehicles have been raised for years with the company taking no action whatsoever to prevent their vehicles from getting into extremist hands. In 2014, a report by the radio broadcaster Public Radio International noted that the U.S. State Department delivered numerous Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels. A recent report in Australia said that more than eight hundred brand new trucks had been reported missing in Sydney between 2014 and 2015, and quoted terror experts speculating that they may have been exported to territories controlled by the Islamic State.

Toyota’s figures show sales of Hilux, and Land Cruisers tripling from 6,000 sold in Iraq in 2011 to 18,000 sold in 2013. Brigadier General Saad Maan, an Iraqi military spokesman said, “We are spending our time fighting those terrorists, we cannot say we are controlling the border between Iraq and Syria,” he conceded. “We are deeply in need of answers.” Toyota distributors in the region said they did not know how the trucks reached the Islamic State.

Sumitomo, a Japanese conglomerate that ships vehicles to the region, responded to claims the company is aiding terrorism, “In terms of how anyone operating outside of the law obtain vehicles for misappropriation, we have no way to know and therefore cannot comment.” A spokesman for former owners of the Toyota dealership in Syria said its sales operation was halted in 2012. This means that the vehicles are not entering the Middle East through Syria.

Wallace, of the Counter Extremism Project, said his organization wrote directly to Toyota earlier this year to urge the company to do more to track the flow of trucks to the Islamic State, and noted that the trucks are stamped with traceable identification numbers. “Toyota’s is on notice that they must do more,” Wallace said. “They should be able to figure out how their trucks are getting into that region. I think they should disclose this, put a stop to it, and put policies and procedures in place that are real, and effective to make sure that we don’t see videos of the Islamic State using Toyota trucks in the future.” Toyota responded to Wallace’s statement by writing that Toyota stopped selling vehicles in Syria several years ago.

Toyota apparently doesn’t get it. It’s not about selling vehicles exclusively to Syria. It’s about supplying vehicles, and parts, which is a large part of its industry to Saudi Arabia, and other nations involved in the conflict, which purchases the vehicles in huge numbers, and thereafter supply them to terrorists to aid in the destruction of Shia controlled territory.

I’m curious as to what Haruna Yukawa, and Kenji Goto’s family, and friend’s thoughts are on this topic? I wonder what they drive?

Toyota. Doing its part to make the world a better place for extremists to thrive.



Ric O’Barry: False Arrest And Torture In Japan

Taiji, Wakayama. A Japanese World Heritage!

When I first arrived in Japan nearly a decade ago, I witnessed a disturbing trend that is somehow considered acceptable social behavior. Cruelty to animals! I was working out at a gym when a TV show appeared on the screens positioned in front of the treadmills. The show titled, Waratte Iitomo was until recently one of Japan’s most popular, and was hosted by an elderly man named Tamori, who for some reason is always wearing sunglasses. On that particular episode the crew rigged a camera over a washing machine. The lid was removed. An octopus was placed inside the machine, which was then turned on the wash cycle. The bewildered creature began attaching its limbs, and suction cups to various parts of the machine in an effort to balance itself. Next, the spin cycle was turned on. The octopus was immediately ripped into pieces as the terrorized creature instinctively projected ink as the only way it knew how to fend off danger. The show’s stars appeared at the top right of the screen. They laughed hysterically, and broke out in a cheer, applauding the sickening segment. The people in the gym thought the matter comical as well.

Not only do the Japanese seem to disrespect marine life, but they also seem to have an aversion for birds, including one known as Mukudori (White-cheeked Starling). The first time I came across the Mukudori, I was walking along the shores of Sendai. There were hundreds of these dead creatures scattered along the beach. I later inquired with Japanese officials as to what caused these birds to die in such great numbers. I learned that the Japanese government intentionally poisoned them in an attempt to get rid of them.

The Mukudori are about the size of a small bat. They fly in large numbers, with great precision, and have the ability to turn on a dime, and in unison. It’s quite enjoyable to watch the Mukudori perform aerial acrobats as they frolic in the late evening before taking refuge at the top of tree branches. The excited chatter they engage in as they communicate their final thoughts before bedding down would make anyone smile. The Japanese despise these birds so much that wherever the Mukudori seek shelter in the limbs of trees, the branches are cut back bare, making it impossible for the birds to have a place to rest, nest, and reproduce.

The Japanese also loathe the blue-black, crow-like raven that inhabits the nation. The Japanese call them karasu, and due to the bird’s incredible resilience, and resourcefulness, they’re considered pesky, and malevolent. They’re not! The karasu are incredibly intelligent, and are worthy of whatever niche they have carved out for themselves in an environment that they are entirely incompatible with. Japanese lore call the karasu, a  demon, and a major cause of warmongering.

Tengu.jpgIn Japanese lore, the karasu is depicted as the evil creature Tengu.
Karasu 2.jpgIn reality, the karasu struggles to survive in Japan.

The Japanese immensely fear foxes, which they call kitsune. They even have shrines, which are supposed to protect the nation’s inhabitants from the evils that the fox represents. The fear of foxes is irrational, and based entirely on folklore that the Japanese craned from ancient China. The Japanese held on to all of the negative aspects of the traditional stories, and left behind all of the endearing tales, (nine to be exact). Ironically, the Japanese believe that foxes have the ability to morph into human form, and are capable of deceiving someone into doing acts they otherwise would not, such as allowing themselves to be fleeced of the hard earned money that they horde.

Fox Shrine.jpgA child runs away from a kitsune shrine located in Yonezawa, Japan.

Fishermen on the Nagara River have been given the honorary title of “Cormorant Fishermen of the Imperial Household Agency.” After first capturing cormorants, the fishermen in Gifu, and Seki resort to tying ropes around the necks of these birds, which are then forced to dive into lakes, and rivers for fish. Once a fish is caught, the bird instinctively attempts to swallow it, but as it does, the fishermen yanks the bird by the neck back into the boat, and while choking it, forces the cormorant to regurgitate (vomit) the fish back up. It’s a sickening sight to see, yet the Japanese arrive in throngs as tourist for the opportunity to witness what the Imperial House of Japan sanctions as a national treasure. Matsuo Basho, a famous Japanese poet was so enamored with this activity that he wrote two haiku poems about it.

An illustration of Keisai Eisen’s cormorant fishing on the Nagara River.

Do not proceed further if you don’t want to learn the truth about the Japanese Macaque. National Geographic Magazine seems to publish an article annually on the snow monkeys, but Jigokudani Yaen Koen, the location that the primates inhabit is anything but natural. The snow monkeys are domesticated, and remain at the location solely because the proprietors, who charge an admission fee, feed them rye seed several times a day. The animals lounge around in an artificial pool as they wait for the next handout. Rye seed is not a natural part of the Macaque’s diet, and bathing is not part of the snow monkey’s natural behavior. The photograph below quickly dispels any thoughts that what I have stated is not based in fact.

The only thing wild at Jigokudani Yaen Koen is the behavior of the visitors that push, and shove each other about as they attempt to shoot Japan’s Macaque.

I was in Enoshima recently, walking along the trash-riddled shore, noticing that the Japanese never seem to notice such things. If one took the time, as I have, to draw attention to the massive amount of debris that litters the beaches of Japan, the Japanese are quick to blame it on the Chinese, and the Koreans. How the Chinese, and Koreans manage to pollute the Pacific Ocean side of Japan remains one of the great mysteries regarding the secretive island nation.

Suddenly, the local police began broadcasting over loud speakers. The commotion echoed throughout the entire community, and inundated anyone within range. There was no escaping it! The spokesperson rambled on about a seventy-four year old man who had been missing for a few hours. It wasn’t long before they discovered the senior citizen inebriated, and not too far from a dolphinarium located between Enoshima, and Kugenumakaigankoen. Before the speakers finally fell silent, I was already pondering other falsehoods that have become part of Japanese myth. Concern for the elderly is but one of them. The immense photographic collection I’ve amassed of the aged homeless huddled in blue tarp tents along polluted rivers bares witness to that.

In the not too distant past some of the elderly of Japan were considered an onus to their offspring, who no longer wanted the economic burden of caring for them. Many were taken to the foothills of Mt. Fuji, dumped like so much garbage, and left to their own fate, which was undoubtedly death by exposure, dehydration, starvation, and whatever it was that had already been afflicting them. Historical facts such as the example provided here is not the kind of narrative that the Japanese tourism industry appreciates popularized about its culture. The Japanese would rather the west remain awash in the endless imaginings of Edo glory, of mercenary codes of honor, and of gutting oneself after being humiliated in a trifle. Today it’s mountains of garbage that surrounds the national treasure that UNESCO has endorsed as a World Heritage site. Mountains of discarded debris, and an endless array of decaying corpses that sway at the end of ropes tied about the necks of those who chose suicide over continuing to exist in the perpetual farce the Japanese are forced to endure. In Japan, life in any form has always been cheap. After all, all things are impermanent, according to the Shinto cult rhetoric the country connects itself with.

I could elucidate endlessly about the backward mindset of the nation of Nihon. I could spew vitriol over price fixing schemes where billions were bilked out of hard working Americans who were always bamboozled into believing that Japan is an honest nation. I could fume hysterically about Toyota supplying ISIS, and the Taliban with an endless sea of brand new vehicles, factory equipped with machine gun mounts, and bulletproof siding. Instead, I’ll take this opportunity to focus on a recent incident that took place between Japanese police, and another elderly man. A man who is internationally acclaimed for exposing egregious immorality, while at the same time trying to prolong life in oceans that are fast being drained of it. A man who has a street named after him in the city of South Miami where he resides. I’m referring Ric O’Barry, and his recent false arrest, and subsequent torture in Nachikatsuura, an inconsequential village located in Wakayama Prefecture.

Ric O’Barry is the founder, and director of the Dolphin Project. You’d have to have been held without habeas corpus, and enduring waterboarding, forced rectal feedings, and the threatened rape of your minor child at one of the black sites operated by the U.S., and its allies to not know that Mr. O’Barry was the subject of an Academy Award winning documentary that was more than thirty years in the making.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on August 31st, 2015 Mr. O’Barry was detained by Japanese authorities under the guise of not being in possession of his passport. The government official who staged this ruse goes by the name of Takimoto. He’s employed at the Shigu Police Station In Wakayama. The police charged Mr. O’Barry for being in violation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (ICRRA). The ICRRA is an antiquated, and racist law that requires foreigners to be in possession of their passport at all times. The problem that arises for the Japanese authorities is that Mr. O’Barry was in possession of his passport, and the police who arrested him knew it all along. Mr. O’Barry was also in possession of an international driver’s license. Under the ICRRA an international driver’s license is an acceptable form of alternative identification. Regardless, Mr. O’Barry was arrested anyway.

Thankfully, the international community acted swiftly on Mr. O’Barry’s behalf. Including U.S. congressmen, respected human rights organizations, and international leaders. The downside is that there are numerous foreigners currently detained in Japanese prisons, and detention centers who have not committed any crime, yet are currently facing criminal proceedings in front of one of the world’s most corrupt, deceitful, and biased judiciaries. Unfortunately, for those victims of state sponsored terror, they don’t have the internationally notoriety that Mr. O’Barry had at his disposal.

Arrival in Japan

Earlier on the same day of the false arrest Mr. O’Barry arrived at Narita Airport. Although Mr. O’Barry has never committed a crime in Japan, he is always taken into custody, detained, and interrogated by petty Ministry of Justice officials who don’t seem to have the mental capacity to recognize the limitations of the power granted to them courtesy of a constitution imposed on them by the United States, after soundly being defeated at the end of World War II. That constitution includes such terms as free speech, freedom of association, and equal protection. It also calls for the right to have access to legal counsel, and two clauses that forbid the use of torture.

After Mr. O’Barry was reluctantly released from Narita Airport, he headed for Taiji. His first stop was a voluntary appearance at the police station where he met with Takimoto, and allowed his passport to be photocopied. Mr. O’Barry also let the police know what his itinerary was to be. It must be noted that there is no legal requirement for Mr. O’Barry to do this. Shortly thereafter Mr. O’Barry was eating dinner at a restaurant with acquaintances from Phuket, Thailand. The fact that there were several witnesses to what transpired that evening is quite significant, as the story they tell is entirely different from that of the police.

During dinner Mr. O’Barry noticed that he was being stalked, filmed, and conspicuously monitored. Mr. O’Barry noted that he had never seen any of the photographers before, and suspected they were in reality undercover officers. At the end of dinner, Mr. O’Barry, and his companions entered the vehicle he had rented, and headed to the hotel where he had reserved a room. The hotel was a mere 200m (650’) from the restaurant. This means that it would have taken less than one minute to drive from the restaurant to the hotel parking lot. Regardless, by the time Mr. O’Barry arrived at the hotel, the police had already barricaded the entrance. The photographers at the restaurant were already at the hotel, had their equipment set up, and were prepared to shoot what was about to transpire. Nearly a dozen police swarmed the vehicle, and forced Mr. O’Barry out.

What occurred next contradicts the false statements Takimoto reported to the Japanese media, most notably NHK. NHK is a blatant propaganda tool that officials use to keep the Japanese people ill-informed, or not informed at all on just about every important topic under the sun. It’s ironic the Japanese media would even bother making any effort to cover the arrest of Mr. O’Barry, as the media in Japan has blacked out any coverage whatsoever regarding, The Cove documentary. Theaters refused to show the film, and universities nationwide refused any guest appearances, or even free viewings of the film. Yet, as unimportant as the matter seemed to be to the Japanese, somehow Mr. O’Barry’s arrest managed to make headline news.

According to Takimoto, the police claimed they received an “anonymous” call that Mr. O’Barry “may” have been driving under the influence of alcohol. Given the short duration of time, the phone call made by an anonymous source must have been made prior to Mr. O’Barry entering the rented vehicle, and making the short drive to the hotel. The following is a direct translation of a statement Takimoto made to the Japanese media. “We received an anonymous call that he (O’Barry) may have been drinking alcohol and driving, so officers were dispatched to find him, and check his breath.” Takimoto then went on to claim, “He (O’Barry) smelled like alcohol, but the reading (on the breathalyzer) was negative.”

A breathalyzer test is a piece of evidence that must be preserved when a criminal investigation is underway. In Japan it’s actually a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment, and fine for anyone, including the police, to disclose such matters to the media. See Criminal Procedure 281(4) and (5). Takimoto knew this legal requirement at the time he made his statement to the media. Takimoto should be held criminally responsible for violating these rules. Further, Takimoto knew that Mr. O’Barry passed the breathalyzer test, and made his statement to the media for no other purpose but to defame Mr. O’Barry. As a result, the Shigu Police Department should be held civilly liable under Japan’s strict laws regarding the utterance of statements made to harm another’s reputation. In Japan, liability results when a defaming statement is made. Damage is presumed, regardless if the statement was true or not.

Anonymity of informants, and statements not based on fact

There are two important assertions in Mr. O’Barry’s false arrest. The first being a phone call made to the police by an anonymous source. Second, that the anonymous source made a statement claiming that Mr. O’Barry “may” be driving under the influence of alcohol. An anonymous phone call to the police, alleging facts does not give police probable cause to make a warrantless stop. Further, this phantom caller only stated that Mr. O’Barry may have been driving under the influence of alcohol. Such statements do not give police probably cause to detain someone, or even the lessor reasonable suspicion standard required to make a legal stop.

Japan’s Criminal Code is craned from the U.S. Federal Criminal Code

  • Probable cause: Probable cause is a reasonable belief, based on facts that can be articulated, and which is required before a suspect can be arrested, and prosecuted in a criminal proceeding. Before a suspect can be arrested the police must possess enough facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the charge is accurate. In criminal cases there are two aspects of probable cause that are significant. First, police must have probable cause BEFORE they may search a person or a person’s property, and they must possess it BEFORE they may arrest a person. There are some exceptions. Police may briefly detain, and conduct a limited search of a person in a public place if THE POLICE have a reasonable suspicion that the person being detained had committed a crime. A police officer possesses reasonable suspicion if THAT officer has enough knowledge that would lead a reasonably cautious person to believe that criminal activity had, or was occurring at that particular time, and that the person detained played a part in that particular crime. The lack of probable cause means the police never had a reasonable belief, or sufficient evidence to detain Mr. O’Barry. Where police lack probable cause, the person detained (Mr. O’Barry) may file a false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution suit. False arrest, and kidnapping are interchangeable terms. False arrest applies to the law of torts, where kidnapping applies to criminal law. Japanese police acted illegally under color of law, and kidnapped Mr. O’Barry for the sole purpose of questioning him on matters unrelated to what he was arrested for. This is in fact, a kidnapping.
  • Anonymous sources: An anonymous phone call to the police by an unknown source where the caller claims that someone MAY have committed a crime does not give police probable cause to detain, and interrogate someone. Further, the person that must have knowledge that a crime has occurred is the police themselves, NOT a third party “anonymous” source. This raises other legal questions such as, the mental capacity of the anonymous caller, and the veracity of the caller’s statement. Given the information that Takimoto told the media, the police clearly made an illegal detention, and subsequent arrest. Mr. O’Barry should never have been detained. Further, once Mr. O’Barry tested negative for alcohol consumption the police should have released him immediately.

During my interview with Mr. O’Barry he stated that the police were baffled, even disappointed that he had passed the breathalyzer test. Thereafter, Mr. O’Barry sought to be released, however the police refused to let him go. Instead, the police huddled, and conspired as to how to proceed. The initial illegal detention then turned into an absurd allegation that Mr. O’Barry was not in possession of his passport, which Takimoto had personally seen, and photocopied, a mere two hours earlier.

Mr. O’Barry was placed under arrest, restrained with double lock handcuffs, and forced into a police car, and taken into custody. Mr. O’Barry’s rented vehicle was thereafter unnecessarily impounded. I asked Mr. O’Barry if he was served a warrant regarding seizure of the vehicle. He stated that he did not. Japan has strict warrant requirements regarding police seizing someone’s property. The police must obtain a valid search warrant issued by a judge. There must be a showing that the property was used in a criminal capacity. The breathalyzer test exonerated Mr. O’Barry of that, as he was clearly not driving under the influence. Therefore, the vehicle seizure was illegal, as the police could not make a rational connection between the alleged passport violation, and driving a vehicle. Further, Mr. O’Barry was in possession of an international driver’s license, which made it perfectly legal to drive the vehicle. The identification was also a valid form of identification.

Detention in Japan’s Daiyo Kangoku

Japan’s Daiyo Kangoku is a system of police custody condemned by the U.S. Department of State, the United Nations, and Amnesty International. Daiyo Kangoku detention is Japan’s version of black sites. Detainees literally disappear off of the face of the earth. Detainees are not permitted to contact anyone on their behalf, or to obtain legal representation. There is no bail, and detainees are interrogated, threatened, physically, and psychologically tortured, for twenty-three days, and for twenty-four hours a day. Detainees are almost always coerced into signing false confessions. Regardless, 99.99% of indictments result in conviction. This is not the exception; it is the rule, and Japan’s corrupt judiciary will nod, and wink at these illegitimate, and reprehensible proceedings at every turn.

Mr. O’Barry knew none of what is described above at the time of his detention. Further, the interrogations are not audio, or videotape recorded. Such conditions violate international law. Mr. O’Barry was physically, and psychologically tortured the entire time he was detained. Upon arrival at the police station the double lock handcuffs remained on Mr. O’Barry’s wrists. He was tied up with black nylon rope, and led around like a dog on a leash, not unlike the infamous photos that were taken by guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Mr. O’Barry was booked, fingerprinted, and had his mug shot taken. Mr. O’Barry was then forced into an isolation chamber, which was stifling hot. He was denied access to an interpreter, or an attorney. Still handcuffed, and tied with rope around his waist, Mr. O’Barry was then tied to a chair. Regardless, of the fact that none of the Japanese officials could communicate with Mr. O’Barry, and that no interpreter, or legal representative was present, Takimoto, and other cops tried to force Mr. O’Barry to sign numerous false confessions, which they had prepared, and were written only in Japanese. Mr. O’Barry could not understand anything the police were saying, nor what information the written confessions contained. Eventually, he would come to learn that none of the questions had anything to do whatsoever about his passport. Every one of the false statements prepared by the police attempted to implicate Mr. O’Barry as an eco-terrorist, and a member of the Sea Shepard Conservation Society (SSCS). The Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR), a front group for Japan’s state-sponsored whaling program deems the SSCS a terrorist organization. The International Court of Justice however, has ruled the ICR a fraudulent organization, and under the auspices of science, is in reality a commercial whaling enterprise. Japan can no longer enter international waters for whaling purposes. A spokesman for Greenpeace UK, Willie MacKenzie welcomed the ICJ’s decision, “The myth that these hunts were in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all.” New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully “made it very clear” that Japanese ships are not welcome in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and has called Japan’s violations into New Zealand’s territorial waters entirely unacceptable, and disrespectful. Australia now sends surveillance plane to the Southern Ocean to monitor Japanese whaling ships.

Japan and false confessions

During the initial twenty-three day period, nearly 95% of detainees succumb to the relentless onslaught of threats, and intimidations. During the police investigation period a detainee is not allowed to gather evidence on their behalf, obtain bail, or have contact with an attorney, or their family. Once indicted detainees are intentionally refused the opportunity to raise a valid defense, or to have a fair hearing in front of an unbiased judiciary. It is under these conditions that Japan obtains a 99.99% conviction rate. The U.S. Department of State, the United Nation, and Amnesty International release annual reports condemning these counterfeit proceedings, yet they continue unabated.

At one point after hours of interrogation, while handcuffed, and tied to a chair, Mr. O’Barry told his interrogators that he was seventy five years old, (two weeks shy of seventy six), and that he had four prescription that were at the hotel, and which he was in need of. The police refused to retrieve them. I asked Mr. O’Barry if there would have been dire health related consequences if he were refused medication for a prolonged period? He stated yes, and disclosed some of those health related issues. Regardless, the police continued to deny Mr. O’Barry his medications, and continued to press him to sign false confessions for matters unrelated to what he was arrested for. Mr. O’Barry was not questioned whatsoever about his passport.

After all night of being dragged in, and out of the interrogation room, Mr. O’Barry became quite ill. He laid his head down on the desk, as the police continued to try, and force him to sign false confessions. When it became obvious that Mr. O’Barry’s health was deteriorating, the police untied him from the interrogation chair, and thereafter, while still in handcuffs, tied him to a wheel chair. Mr. O’Barry was placed in a van under multiple guard watch, and driven to a local hospital. In that state, Mr. O’Barry was wheeled through the front entrance of the hospital as a public spectacle. Mr. O’Barry called the entire proceedings “an exercise in humiliation.” Thereafter, Mr. O’Barry was taken back to the police station, returned to the same blistering hot interrogation room, and subjected to the same abhorrent interrogation proceedings, while handcuffed, and tied to a chair. The police continued to try, and coerce Mr. O’Barry into signing false confessions, in Japanese, a language that he does not communicate in, or understand. The false confession statements continued to implicate Mr. O’Barry as a member of Sea Shepard Conservation Society, and as an eco-terrorist.

Mr. O’Barry finally had enough, and ridiculed the corrupt cops, and asked pointedly, “Do people really sign these statements?” He told the police, again, and again that he wasn’t going to sign anything. When it was apparent that the police were not going to relent until Mr. O’Barry signed one of their prepared statements he said, “I don’t care if you shoot me. I’m too old for this. I’m tired, and I’m going to sleep.” Mr. O’Barry attempted to lie down on the floor while still tied to the chair. The police forced him up, and carried him to a bare cell. Mr. O’Barry was left tied up with black nylon rope, and in handcuffs for nearly twenty-four hours. During my interview with Mr. O’Barry he stated that the conditions the other detainees were held in couldn’t be regarded as anything less than torture. “They (other detainees) were forced to kneel in the center of the bare cells, and to remain silent at all times. No one was allowed to get up, or to go to the bathroom without first seeking approval. The lights were left at all times, which made it impossible to get any sleep.”

International pressure

Word got out rapidly that Mr. O’Barry was being detained under false pretenses. International pressure mounted, and police reluctantly released Mr. O’Barry. Upon release, Takimoto handed Mr. O’Barry his passport, which the police had in their possession the entire time he was detained. I asked Mr. O’Barry if he had realized at that time that the police had somehow come in possession of his passport, and refused to disclose this fact to him? He stated, “I was numb. I was so exhausted from the ordeal that I was unable to think about anything. It didn’t occur to me until much later.”

After being released Mr. O’Barry went to Taiji, and witnessed the latest Japanese fishing technology, which includes the use of a device that looks like a large ice pick being forced into a dolphin’s blowhole. The device stabs into the blow hole repeatedly, ripping apart the breathing apparatus. Thereafter, a plug is hammered into the blowhole to prevent the marine mammal’s blood from saturating the cove. The dolphins then drown in their own blood, which fills up inside their head.

On one hand the Taiji fishermen state that there is nothing improper about what they are doing. However, on the other hand, they take enormous measures to try, and cover up what they are doing, and the barbarity of the procedures they engage in.

Release and subsequent harassment

Immediately after being released from police custody, the police followed Mr. O’Barry everywhere he went. They called his hotel room constantly, and pulled him over as he drove the rented car. Mr. O’Barry stated that he believes that his hotel room, and the rented vehicle were bugged. The police continuously pulled the vehicle over, and tried to intimidate him into returning to the police station, and aiding them in their “ongoing investigation about him not being in possession of his passport.” Mr. O’Barry videotape recorded each, and every one of these encounters. Thereafter, Mr. O’Barry hired an attorney to force the police to cease in harassing him. The following text is an email communication that took place between Mr. O’Barry, and attorney T. Takano.

On Sep 8, 2015, at 5:36 PM, T. Takano <EMAIL ADDRESS REDACTED> wrote:

I talked with Mr. Takimoto of Shigu Police Station, who is in charge of your case.

He said: His translator had called you today. He wanted you to make a statement of your personal history for the charge of non-carrying passport. I said everybody knows Mr. O’Barry’s personal history so that he need not make any statement about it, and that my client would not make any statement without his counsel present. As I advised you in our phone conversation, if they (Takimoto) call you again, just respond by telling them you don’t want to be questioned without your counsel present.

Sincerely yours, T. Takano

Japan’s unjustified hatred and fear of foreigners

Mr. O’Barry isn’t the only foreigner to be treated with hate, violent assault, and intimidation by Japanese authorities. In February of 2014, Martyn Stewart, a journalist for the BBC was detained at Osaka airport. Stewart was accused of being a Sea Shepard Conservation Society member, and an eco-terrorist. Sound familiar?

Mr. Stewart was subjected to the same criminality under the color of law as Mr. O’Barry. Mr. Stewart was illegally detained, falsely accused, falsely charged, starved, frozen, mistreated, and interrogated by authorities that couldn’t communicate with him. Police tried to coerce Mr. Stewart into signing false statements that stated he was a member of Sea Shepard Conservation Society, and an eco-terrorist. After going through a futile appeal process in front of a protectionist judiciary, who are equally as corrupt as the Japan’s police, and prosecutors, Mr. Stewart was deported. The following are segments from posts that Mr. Stewart left on social media while held in detention. “I’m freezing cold, it is as though I’ve killed someone, no pillow, no bedding, no towel to dry myself. They look through a hole in the door every 15-30 minutes to see what I’m doing. They claim that I’m Sea Shepherd. I have been spat on. I had a knife held to my chin, yet I’m the terrorist!”

When I inquired into Mr. Stewart’s personal experiences in Japan he responded by saying, “I consider the Japanese extremely racist. I have been spat on. Threatened in front of police, and they did nothing about it. I had a knife held to my throat while a cop filmed, waiting for me to retaliate, so I could be charged with assault!”

Japan’s professed low crime rate

When a nation like Japan brags relentlessly about having a low crime rate, it must be noted that most criminal activity in the nation is in reality perpetrated as hate crimes against foreigners (which the Japanese media does not cover whatsoever), and government malfeasance. Iwao Hakamada spent forty-eight years on death row for a crime the police, prosecutors, and judiciary knew he had not committed. Japan’s death row is internationally rebuked as physical, and psychological torture. Those who find themselves in that precarious situation are held in isolation, and subjected to 24 hour a day lockdown. They are cut off from communicating with the outside world, even with their own family. When the time of execution comes the condemned receives no notice save for a knock on the cell door stating, “It’s time!” Death comes in the form of a hangman’s noose. As in nearly every case on death row, Hakamada finally relented, and signed a false confession that the police, and prosecutors prepared for him. The prosecutors intentionally withheld evidence that they knew would have exonerated the man. Japan’s judiciary was equally culpable as they eagerly accepted whatever the corrupt officials vomited in their laps.

After such a disgrace, one would think Japanese officials had humiliated themselves to the point of self-inflicted disembowelment. No, such luck! Double jeopardy is an alien concept to the Ministry of Justice in Japan. If prosecutors fail to beat a false confession out of someone to aid in obtaining a false conviction the first time around, and somehow the defendant is not convicted amongst the 99.99%, prosecutors are allowed a second go at it.

Intentionally misleading, and wrongful convictions of foreigners in Japan

Govinda Mainali spent sixteen years of a life sentence after being convicted of murdering a Japanese woman. On a retrial Japan’s High Court ruled that prosecutors intentionally withheld crucial DNA evidence that could have exonerated the man. Japan’s Ministry of Justice handled the embarrassment by immediately deporting Mainali for “overstaying his visa by sixteen years.” Even after Mainali was sent back to Nepal, Japanese prosecutors continued to harass the man, threatening to force him to return, and face yet another retrial. Regardless, the Ministry of Justice was required to compensate Mainali to the tune of 68 million yen. Mainali was arrested, accused, and convicted solely because he was the only foreigner that lived in the same building with the woman. What was the evidence the prosecutors intentionally withheld at trial? The woman was gang raped, and had multiple semen samples inside her vagina. None of which was Mainali’s. The woman also had multiple DNA samples under her fingernails where she had clawed at her murderer’s flesh. Again, none of those numerous samples were Mainali’s either.

If a foreigner is convicted of even a petty offense in Japan, they are subjected to immediate deportation. This is true, even if that person has a Japanese spouse, and children. This means Japan’s counterfeit brand of justice not only victimizes those who are falsely accused, and convicted of crimes they have not committed, but also their children, spouses, and families as well. The Japanese call children who have foreign parents “hafus.” This is racist jargon where children with only one Japanese parent are considered inferior. Japanese corporations blacklist these children from ever being hired as employees, solely on grounds they are not “Japanese.”

There are other cases in Japan, which have drawn international consternation. State-sponsored race hate crimes such as that of Abubakar Suraj, whose tortured, mutilated, and murdered body was discovered gagged, hog tied, and slumped over in a seat on a plane bound for Egypt, is but one such example. When passengers noticed the dead man slumped over on the plane, the pilot was notified, and he refused to take off from the airport until Suraj’s body was removed. But for the actions of the pilot, this story would have never seen the light of day.

In a civil proceeding regarding Suraj’s murder, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials had murdered the man. In a previous hearing, which resulted in gross injustice, and the continuation of Suraj’s detention, a Tokyo Court ruled that Suraj’s wife had a job, and therefore no need of a foreign husband. Their twenty-year marriage was never even a consideration for the discriminatory nitwit who was adorned in a black robe at the time of his ruling. None of the ten cops who tortured, and murdered Suraj were ever brought to justice by the Chiba prosecutors who themselves have a long history of incompetence, and corruption, and who knowingly file fabricated charges to aid in obtaining false convictions. Suraj’s wife wasn’t even told how her husband died, until she sued the Ministry of Justice, and prevailed. “The death of this man is criminal abuse of power,” said Junpei Yamamura, a doctor who visits detainees in prison, and who examined Suraj’s body after his death. The Ghanaian Embassy refused to accept the Japanese government’s letter of apology.

Ministry of Justice officials speak out against Japan’s corrupt criminal justice system

I have reported in the past on the Japanese mindset toward non-Japanese. I personally met with, and interviewed a former Yokohama city prosecutor named, Hiroshi Ichikawa. Ichikawa was fired after making death threats to a detainee in the Saga City Agricultural Co-op case. Ichikawa knowingly filed false charges in that case, and after he had a difficult time obtaining a written confession he put a sharp object to the eye of the detainee, and threatened to pull it out, He stated, “We’ll fucking beat you to death, you bastard!” This was, and still is the kind of behavior that prosecutors in Japan engage in on a regular basis. Ichikawa gave a stunningly candid account of the reality of training that prosecutors receive. He disclosed that, “We (prosecutors) were taught that yakuza, and foreigners have no human rights.” Think about that for a moment. Let that sink in. In Japan, police, and prosecutors lump together all foreigners with gangsters who engage in extortion, racketeering, child pornography, prostitution, and murder. Ichikawa stated that, “Prosecutors are instructed to make up confessions on their own, and then force the suspect to sign it.” He also said, “While being trained in this way, I came to agree that these kinds of things were only natural.”

In a book titled, Desperate Court, retired judge Hiroshi Segi wrote that the entire body of Japan’s judiciary is corrupt, and must be forcefully ejected from office. Segi’s exposé ushered in Supreme Court Chief Justice, Hironobu Takesaki sudden retirement. Takesaki quit as Chief Justice without giving any prior notice. He also left behind a handsome pension that was but a few months away from realization. The following is what Takesaki had to say when he was appointed to the court, “As a judge of the court of last resort, I will strive to make a rational judgment while hearing opinions of the parties from a neutral and fair perspective and taking into consideration the course of history.” I contacted Takesaki to obtain a statement on his thoughts about Segi’s book, and the topic of this article, but he declined to comment. In fact, he didn’t respond at all.

In the past year several other Supreme Court justices have stepped down in disgrace. Consider the massive amount of coerced confessions, and deceptive convictions, and an entirely corrupt judiciary, while Prime Minister Abe has raised the execution rate by more than 15%. According to Amnesty International only a small number of countries carry out the vast majority of senseless state-sponsored executions. Japan is right up there at the forefront with Saudi Arabia, which chooses beheadings, and crucifixions.

The Torture Victims Prevention Act, a legal remedy available in U.S. Federal Court

The Torture Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) is a powerful U.S. federal law that allows anyone to bring action against a foreign government, which uses any form of torture attempting to extract a confession. Under the TVPA, an individual who, under actual or apparent authority, or color of law, of any foreign nation, subjects an individual to torture shall, in a civil action, be liable for damages to that individual. Torture is defined as any act, directed against an individual in the offender’s custody or physical control, by which severe pain or suffering, other than pain or suffering arising only from or inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on that individual for such purposes as obtaining from that individual, information, or a confession, punishing that individual for an act that individual has committed, or is suspected of having committed, intimidating or coercing that individual for any reason based on discrimination of any kind. This includes any mental pain or suffering caused by or resulting from the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering. This act also covers procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality of the detainee.

Torture defined

The most widely accepted definition of torture is that set out under Article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The government of any territory is ultimately responsible for any form of torture that occurs within its boundaries.

Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as to obtain from them information or a confession, punishing an act they may have committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing them, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”

Psychological torture, and ill treatment often have long-lasting consequences for victims. Torture includes being placed in isolation, threats, humiliation, and witnessing the torture of others. Mr. O’Barry was subjected to each one of these forms of torture. Japan ratified Article 1 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Ratification of the convention obligates the Japanese government to assert responsibility for the prevention of torture, and to redress victims.

Who are the perpetrators of torture? By definition, torture is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official acting in an official capacity. Those most likely to be involved in torture include prison officers, detention staff, police, health professionals, prosecutors, and judges.

The White-cheeked Starling.

The O’Barry Interview

Jones. How did the day of your false arrest begin?

O’Barry. I arrived in Japan on Sept. 30th, as this is the day before the annual dolphin hunt begins in Japan. As usual, as soon I exit the plane, I’m taken into custody, put in a room that has no furnishings, just a primitive looking concrete cage. I get grilled like I’m a criminal, and I’m detained for several hours in prison like conditions. Each time, I go through the same routine. I’m asked questions as to where my destination will be, as if they didn’t already know. Basically, the Japanese immigration attempts to trip me up, and find some kind of reason as to not allow me to enter Japan. I get questions such as, are you here on business, when my visa states that I’m here as a tourist.

Jones. What happened when they let you go from Narita airport?

O’Barry. When I finally was allowed to leave, I proceeded to Taiji. The first thing I always do is go to the police station, show them my identification, and let them know what my plans are. After that, I went to a restaurant. In the past, there were never any Japanese media in Taiji. The Japanese aren’t interested in this story whatsoever. But this time, the restaurant was full of photographers. The restaurant is about 200 meters from the hotel where I was staying, and when I left the restaurant, the photographers called police. That is what I’ve been told.

Jones. What happened after exiting the restaurant?

O’Barry. I was eating with a group from Phuket, Thailand. They were in Japan to let officials know they don’t want Taiji dolphins sold in Thailand. Before we arrived at the hotel, the photographers were already there. Police vehicles barricaded the hotel parking lot. It was obviously a set up from the start. I was pulled over by a dozen police cars, and forced out of the car I was driving. About ten officers approached me. Immediately the police demanded I give them a Breathalyzer test. I did! In Japan, DUI is 1.5. I blew 0.0. The police didn’t want to let me go, so the officer that I had already shown my passport to just a couple hours earlier, demanded to see my passport. I looked in the vehicle where I knew I had put it, but it wasn’t there. I was immediately arrested for not carrying my passport. I was handcuffed, and taken into custody, and the police towed, and impounded the car, even though it was already at the hotel where I was staying.

Jones. Did they tell you where they were taking you?

O’Barry. No.

Jones. What happened when you arrived at the station?

O’Barry. Throughout the night I was taken in, and out of a cell. Again, and again I was tied up with black nylon ropes around my waist. I was handcuffed, and taken into interrogation. Each time I was tied to a chair. About the third time I said, “Look, I’m 75 years old. I can’t do this any more.” After that I kicked the chair out from under me, and it broke. I fell to the floor. They picked me up, and carried me back to the cell. There was no furniture, or any bedding. Nothing, just an empty cell. The other prisoners had to kneel exactly in the middle of the cell. I was witnessing torture. It can’t be described as anything else. After that, I refused to cooperate.

Jones. When you were being interrogated were they questioning you about your passport?

O’Barry. No, only matters related to the dolphin issues. They tried unsuccessfully to connect me to Sea Shepard, and claims that I’m an eco-terrorist.

Jones. How different was their treatment of you once you were out of the public eye, and behind closed doors?

O’Barry. Pretending to be respectful.

Jones. We have the same birthdate, so I know you were two weeks away from being 76.

O’Barry. I have health issues. I take four medications, and I need those medications. The police refused to get me my prescriptions that were at the hotel. They said we have to take you to the hospital if you have to have any medications. Handcuffed, they tied me to a wheelchair, and took me to a public hospital. We entered in the main area. The entire thing was an exercise in humiliation. At first, I thought this was because I couldn’t locate my passport. But, I also had an international drivers license on me. When I was released I was told that they (the police) found it (the passport) in the glove box. This was entirely suspicious, as it was not where I knew it was.

Jones. What other proceedings did you have to go through?

O’Barry. I was booked, photographed, and fingerprinted. Two guys with a flashlight examined every orifice of my body. Three guys stood over me as I tried to piss.

Jones. Was there an interpreter?

O’Barry. No, not when I needed one. One finally showed up on the next day. But, arrived too late.

Jones. What else did the cops do?

O’Barry. They only spoke Japanese so I don’t know what they were trying to say. All night long they kept writing things in Japanese, and trying to force me to sign whatever it was that they were writing down. Nothing was about the passport. They were trying to force me to sign a statement that I was a member of Sea Shepard.

Jones. You mean the police were intentionally trying to force you to sign a statement, a confession of some kind that was not related to what you were arrested for? And they were communicating to you verbally, and in written form only in Japanese?

O’Barry. Yes.

Jones. Do you speak Japanese?

O’Barry. Of course not.

Jones. Did you have any idea what they were trying to force you to sign?

O’Barry. They were trying to write a statement, about ten times, in Japanese. I had no idea what they were writing, and they wanted me to sign each one of those statements. I said, “Are you are kidding me? Who in the hell would do that?” They kept doing it all night long. Finally, I put my head on the desk, and ignored them, and they carried me back to the cell again.

Jones. How many times did they keep bringing you back to the cell?

O’Barry. I don’t know. Many times. They did it all night long. Finally, I told them I was too tired, and going to sleep. I broke their chair, and laid on the floor.

Jones. Did they tell you they had your passport all along?

O’Barry. They never told me they had my passport.

Jones. How did you learn they had your passport?

O’Barry. Two of my team members told me. My passport somehow magically appeared after the international media picked up on the story.

Jones. Do you think you were guilty of any crime?

O’Barry. I broke no law. But, when the media called, and asked the police, what charges do you have on O’Barry, they created a scenario where they thought they could probably have me deported.

Jones. You’re fortunate the international media got involved, and congressmen took issue with the arrest. A deportation proceeding would have landed you in immigration prison possibly for several months. It’s quite common in Japan for deportation proceedings to take several years.

O’Barry. That’s not what they tell the media. They say it’s an on going thing. Really, the entire thing was torture. This shouldn’t be allowed. I couldn’t take it any longer, and just dropped to the floor, and said, “I don’t care if you shoot me. I’m done.”

Jones. The U.S. Embassy has a deplorable record of helping citizens in Japan. I know of a case where the embassy intentionally destroyed physical evidence that a U.S. citizen was tortured while being detained in Japan. I know this is factual because I have seen the documents, which were released under the Freedom of Information Act.

O’Barry. The American embassy was in touch with me constantly because they were being badgered by people in Washington. The consequence… If they don’t act in cases like mine, that they get exactly what they don’t want, a tsunami of media attention.

Jones. Who were the people that were putting on the most pressure?

O’Barry. A California congressman. Many people got on the horn, hundreds of people, perhaps even thousands.

Jones. What happened after you were released?

O’Barry. Immediately after being released the cops followed me around everywhere I went. They kept telling me to return to the station to aid in their investigation. Each day I was being followed around, and asked to submit to more interrogations. I said, “You got to be kidding me, what makes you think I want you to torture me again?” I videotaped these harassments. The cops didn’t know it though.

Jones. When you were handed your passport upon release, did you think that was strange? Is that when you discovered that they must have entered the car prior to the fraudulent arrest?

O’Barry. No, I hardly remember being released. I was exhausted, sleep deprived, numb. I was not capable of thinking anything. And that’s how they do it. They want you in that condition so you’ll finally sign whatever it is that they put in front of you.

Jones. How often did they follow you around after you were released?

O’Barry. Several times.

Jones. Did they try, and pressure you to go back to the police station, and answer unrelated questions to the passport scam?

O’Barry. Constantly. They were calling my hotel room, and asking me to come to the police station for questioning. They followed my car, and pulled me over to ask if I would come in for more questioning.

Jones. When did all this finally stop?

O’Barry. It stopped when I hired a lawyer, and he called them, and told them I wasn’t going to answer any more questions.

Jones. What circumstances caused you to leave Japan? I know you went to Beijing.

O’Barry. Burnout. I was sick, and tired of the harassment.

Jones. How many days after being released did you leave?

O’Barry. I was scheduled to leave when I did. My departure date is usually arbitrary. I decided not to extend my stay. This time I simply left.

Jones. When did you finally have a chance to speak to an attorney?

O’Barry. The first lawyer I called is suing the museum, where the mayor is running his scam. I then talked to a lawyer named Takano. He contacted the police and demanded they stop harassing me. Understanding that the prosecutor could still files charges, and that those responsible was coming from someplace at the top, I ended up leaving Japan, and going to Beijing.

Jones. I know that for thirty years you’ve been calling for people to not boycott Japan, or assault its citizens. How do you feel now?

O’Barry. I don’t feel the same any longer.

Jones. When The Cove was being made, so long as there was money to throw around Japanese people met you at the airport, assisted you in many ways, and participated in the cause. Do any Japanese meet you at the airport, or assist you in any way any longer?

O’Barry. No. They’ve all been threatened, and scared away. They’re afraid of being ostracized.

Jones. Will you return to Japan?

O’Barry. I’m scheduled to go back in January with a German TV crew, ARD television station. I’ve hired an attorney to make sure that my legal rights are protected when I return to Japan. I’ll have a lawyer with me as well. That should be interesting.

Jones. That should be interesting indeed. I think you should refuse to be detained upon arrival at the airport.

O’Barry. If I do that they have an excuse to not let me into the country. Every time I go to Japan I’m detained upon arrival. I tell them the same thing. I have a right to be in Taiji. I have a right to blog about dolphin slaughter just as they would have a right to go to a slaughterhouse in America if they wanted to. I repeat this every time I’m interrogated. I just want to be treated like any other tourist. We have rights in the states, and with our relationship with Japan. They should know that I’m trained as to what to say. I’m dolphin watching! I’m whale watching! Regardless, they try to trip me up by asking the same questions over, and over again.

Jones. How much longer are you going to keep on doing this?

O’Barry. Well, on my 76th birthday I jumped 15,000’ from a plane.

Jones. You’re hard as nails!

O’Barry. You know what? When they start dropping dead from Minimata disease, that’s when they will stop this. Japan’s Supreme Court covered up that case, and helped the corporation hide the mercury dumping that took place in that city.

Jones. It was W. Eugene Smith that was responsible for bringing that story to light. Smith took the famous photo of Tomoko Uemura In Her Bath. For breaking the story, he was rewarded with practically being beaten to death by gangsters hired by the Chisso Corporation. The company is still in business to this day, and still pollutes the same body of water. Mercury contamination continues to exist even today. Perhaps even worse than when it was first discovered.

O’Barry. The Olympics will be the game changer regarding all the bad media attention they blame on me.

Jones. I wrote an article on why Japan’s Olympics should be boycotted. After all, how many times does a westerner need to hear, “whito pigu, gou homu”, or to be refused housing, or a seat in a restaurant, before the west rejects the repugnance of these small minded people, and stop purchasing their products. Sometimes living in Japan is like being in Alabama late ’52. It really does get that bad.

O’Barry. I was more terrified when I got out of police custody, and researched what could have happened when I was detained. There are thousands of innocent people in Japan’s prisons. People are swallowed up by this!

Jones. I know a Japanese/American, meaning someone who is 100% Japanese, but was raised in the states. He was in Japan on vacation, visiting his relatives. While waiting for a train, it was delayed due to bad weather. Freezing, he went to the police station, and asked if he could sit there until the trains began to run again. The police told him his Japanese sounded strange, and accused him of being a Chinese gangster. He told them he was Japanese, but from American. They didn’t believe him. He was arrested for suspicion of being a Chinese gang member. He was held in prison for 40 days. The prosecutors refused to release him until he signed a false confession written by the prosecutor. The statement was a confession that he was a Chinese gang member. During interrogation sessions he spoke Japanese, but the prosecutor refused to communicate directly with him in Japanese. The guy was forced to speak through an interpreter that he said could barely communicate in English. He ended up speaking Japanese to the interpreter, who then spoke in Japanese to the prosecutor. At issue was that he didn’t speak Japanese like “Japanese” so this somehow led to the absurd conclusion that he was a Chinese gangster, even though the police had in their possession both his Japanese, and U.S. passports, which he had on him at the time of his arrest. The police took his Japanese passport, and stamped a permanent black mark on it, ensuring that he would always be harassed upon entering Japan. This is significant because he has a Japanese wife, two children, owns a house, and has a good job to provide for his family. He fears that at any time the Japanese authorities could deport him. Some claim these officials are merely incompetent. That’s untrue. There are xenophobic, hateful, racists, and entirely dangerous.

Our conversation paused here because both myself, and Mr. O’Barry had prior engagements. We spoke again on the following morning.

Jones. I met with Rabbi Binyomin Edery of the Chabad House in Tokyo at his home to discuss human rights violations that occur in Japan. Rabbi Edery was running late, and his wife prepared me an excellent kosher meal. I really miss kosher food. That meal was excellent! When the Rabbi arrived he told me that he had just returned from Hokkaido, where he was visiting a prisoner who was being mistreated with gross injustice, and indignity. In Japan, prisoners are compelled to do physical labor for Toyota, Nissan, Honda, etc. The man refused to do slave labor for Japan’s auto industry. After the man refused to build component parts for Japan’s auto industry he was frequently beaten. Eventually prison officials stripped him naked, and refused to allow him to wear clothing. Apparently, he had been left naked for several weeks, and was suffering severe frostbite. This is significant because this is Hokkaido, which is the extreme north of Japan, and where temperatures plummet for most of the year. (Japan is notorious for prisoners receiving severe frostbite, and freezing to death.) Prison officials now apparently keep the man tied up on a dog leash, and force him to eat meals on his hands, and knees out of a dog bowl. I’ve asked the U.S. Embassy about this matter, but they remain mute? Why is this story not in the media? How is this any different from Guantanamo?

O’Barry. Honestly, I had no idea what went on in Japan’s prisons. Certainly, the Japanese don’t want to end up there. They’re ostracized, and considered social outcasts, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Jones. As far as I’m concerned some people forfeit their right to life. People that engage in that kind of abuse should be executed. I’m sick to death of watching people play bongos, and carry signs about, somehow thinking that will accomplish anything.

O’Barry. Well, the Japanese activists have abandoned ship, because the government scared the shit out of them. The government invites the media, and tells them that guy is dishonoring our country. We need to stop them!

Jones. They scared away Boyd Harnell. He’s the journalist that helped you originally break the Taiji story. When I discussed this with him, he told me the police constantly called, at all hours of the night, and harassed him over his relationship with you. So, it’s not just the Japanese that the officials are trying to scare away. I was interrogated about my “relationship” with you as well. I don’t get intimidated any longer. I just tell them to fuck off. I get loud, and Japanese don’t like anything loud.

O’Barry. The Japanese believe what they’re fed in the media. That’s why Boyd, and others won’t associate with me any longer. They’re afraid! Regardless, our cause is more popular than ever. I’m a bit concerned though about filling in flight documents that ask if I was ever convicted of a crime in Japan.

Jones. In Japan prosecutors have to indict someone being investigated within twenty days. If they don’t, then the investigation must be terminated. The fake passport case can no longer be raised in Japan. I’m also pretty sure no prosecutor would want the headache an action against you would bring. I’m certain, and I’m certain they’re certain that such a case would end their fraudulent career. You haven’t been convicted of any crime in Japan. So, you don’t have to report anything. There’s also no legal obligation for anyone to fill out those documents anyway. They are self-incriminating. You’re being asked to provide evidence against yourself, and then to sign it as well. Under such situations, it’s a violation of due process. I’d do as you did at the Shigu police station. Remain silent! Japanese cops are liars, and the prosecutors are sociopaths anyway.

O’Barry. Why don’t you get the hell out of there? You’re family is in Hawaii. You should take your son there, and teach him to surf, and dive. What a great life for him.

Jones. That’s all in the works my friend. All in the works! Oh, one more thing! When you went to Bali last year, the security guy my buddy hooked you up with was David LaBravah from the TV show, The Son’s Of Anarchy. He played the character Happy who tortured, and executed rival gang members, and exceedingly enjoyed it. I’d like to have a front row seat as to what Happy would do to some of these Japanese officials. One last thing! I heard you moved to Denmark?

O’Barry. Yes, it’s very civilized over here.

Jones. My guess is “civilized” doesn’t extend to the Pilot Whale killings in the Faroe Islands?

O’Barry. It’s one of the reasons we’re here. We live two hours from the Faroe Islands.

Jones. You mean you’re also engaged in exposing the actions of Caucasians who engage in similar activities as those of the Taiji fishermen? But, that flies in the face of the racist card you’ve been dealt by Japanese whackos that support Taiji fishermen, because, after all… they’re Japanese! (Nothing racist about that!)

O’Barry. What they are doing is an anachronistic concept that needs to be abolished. Many Faroe Island locals who never participated in that are trying to stop it through education. We want to support those efforts. Mercury contamination will end it eventually anyway. There’s a link between eating Pilot Whale meat, and Parkinson’s disease. This has been overshadowed by all the high drama.

Jones. OK, I’m on my way out. I’m taking my son for a walk on the beach.

O’Barry. I’m doing the same. I’m taking my daughter for a walk, and then swimming at a water theme park. At least we have our priorities in order!

Jones. One last thing… Japan’s judiciary, and its High Court share the same building in Tokyo as the public prosecutors. Where’s the public defender’s office you ask? There are no public defenders offices in Japan. There are no public defenders!

A cursory inspection of the Internet reveals a large amount of information related to the injustice of Japan’s legal representatives, and the system they continue to wrongfully adhere to. The following are but a few samples of reports regarding Japan’s lack of human rights, Japan’s coerced false confessions, Japan’s use of torture, and Japan’s Daiyo Kangoku system of detention.

Forced Confessions In Japan.
Japan: Briefing To The UN Committee On Torture.
Japan Urged To End False Confessions.
Japan’s Substitute Prison Shocks The World.
Victims Of A Safe Society.

Unlike in Japan, terrorists don’t have streets named after them in the U.S.

Update: On December 18th, 2015 Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project held a protest in London in front of the Japanese Embassy. An estimated one thousand supporters showed up for the event. Nearby construction crews hoisted a banner over a balcony of a high tower, which read, We Love Dolphins. During the protest, the Japanese Embassy took down the Japanese flag in an attempt to hide the location of its embassy. Ric spoke openly about his false arrest in Japan, as speakers broadcasted loudly into the embassy. The removal of the Japanese flag marks the first time in history that a nation voluntarily removed its national banner from public viewing. Clearly, the Japanese are ashamed of the international scrutiny that mounts as to its deplorable record for hate crimes, human rights violations, and its corrupt Ministry of Justice that resorts to the use of torture for no other purpose but to extract false confessions that result in a myriad of unjust convictions.

Watch Ric speak about his false arrest at the following link:

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Bigger Than Life

Shooting With Nikon’s AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

The canopy of Enkaizan Omaru Yama.

There’s a wildlife reserve that’s walking distance from my residence. It’s called Enkaizan Omaru Yama. This location is one of those off the beaten paths that you won’t find in glossy covered tourist magazines, and that’s fine with me.

I decided to shoot Enkaizan Omaru Yama with one of Nikon’s most talked about lens, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. I received it as a points purchase from Yodobashi in Akihabara. It was free! Apparently, it was my reward for purchasing a lot of equipment from that particular electronics chain over the several years I’ve lived in Japan. I would also use Nikon’s D800 for the shoot, and set a few rules to follow regarding the shots I’d be taking for this article. First, all shots were to be taken handheld. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time setting up a tripod, merely hoping that I’d be able to get a good shot. I once spent two entire evenings in Del Mar, California shooting large bumblebees that frenetically swirled around the oceanfront cliffs that were covered in wild lavender. I was using a tripod, and the experience was tormenting. The bees weren’t cooperating. Waiting around in a single position, hoping for all of the stars to align to get a spectacular shot is fine for others, but it’s not one of my greatest strengths. I also wouldn’t be using a technique known as stacking, which is where one takes several different shots, all with different focus ranges, and later bring all those images into software to piece them together, in order to achieve what would appear to be one single sharp image. I also decided not to carry any other lens, and I would limit each subject to only three shots. I first heard about this rule of three several years ago when I discovered that Jimmy Page, the legendary guitarist of Led Zeppelin never took more than three takes of any recorded solo. I’d rediscover this rule in film school where it’s used as an editing technique to aid the writer, or director convey a sense of rhythm in one aspect of telling their story.

Obviously, sharp images make for interesting photos of insects, and plants. Likewise, taking photos with a camera in hand, with a lens of the magnitude of the 105mm, also gives a photographer the ability to create other desired visual effects. Where tack sharp images show off technical expertise, removing that element aids in utilizing other techniques to obtain visual aesthetics.

One of the reasons I decided to go entirely handheld is that Nikon was claiming that the D800 could bring into focus images, which were shot out of focus. I found this to be a marketing ploy, more so than actual fact. Especially shooting subjects in low light, such as Enkaizan Omaru Yama, which is covered in a thick canopy of sprawling branches, which bore fresh sprouts of summer leaves. I also wanted to see how well the vibration reduction of the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens held up in such conditions.

Before shooting, I performed a ritual that I like to do when I have the option to do so. I had actually never been to Enkaizan Omaru Yama. On my first trip I’d go without a camera, and explore what I hoped would become my target subject. It’s quite difficult to do that in a place like a wildlife reserve, as I may lose a shot that I’d want to preserve. Even so, this technique of going to a shooting location empty handed gave me the freedom to study the area, and consider what I’d like to achieve. This isn’t as easy as it first seems, as weather is often fickle in Japan. The general rule is that it’s sunny one day, and dumps rain for the next three. I’ve also done this at locations where I expected to find something worth shooting, and found none. This saved me from having to lug around heavy equipment under those circumstances upon return.

The sign reads: Removing Plants Is Prohibited.

On my first visit to Enkaizan Omaru Yama, I discovered a steamy environment teeming with insects, and other forms of wildlife. The terrain was hilly, and the forest dense. Much to my delight the variety of flowers were numerous, with each species in full bloom. In contrast to the towering cedar, pine, and bamboo, the flowering plants were tiny. Several of the insects, which helped maintain the ecosystem in that dense environment, were quite small as well. After exploring Enkaizan Omaru Yama, I had a pretty good idea of what I could expect to accomplish, and was pretty excited about returning, which was planned for the following day.

The neighborhood that surrounds Enkaizan Omaru Yama was intriguing, as much of the manmade structures were built prior to WWII. They were rustic, and bore the wear of time. For example, I found an abandoned property, where beautiful mossy covered rocky steps led up to what had once been someone’s home. It was surrounded by a towering bamboo forest. The physical structure remained in pretty good condition. I estimated that it could be restored for about fifty grand. I thought how wonderful it would be to have a quaint house in that location, surrounded by a wildlife reserve on all sides, an abundance of greenery, and strange sounding birds that filled the forest.

I walked around the home, peeking inside the windows, and noticed tatami flooring that hadn’t been walked on in at least a couple of decades. Bamboo blinds tilted because the sun had rotted the twine that had once held them in place. There was no interior toilet, and the thin hallways, and rice paper slat doors left me with the same visual impression I’ve seen in countless Kurosawa films. The river that ran through that small community was not far from that abandoned property. I’m certain that the path that led to the water was where those inhabitants bathed, washed their clothing, and used for other purposes in their daily lives. Today that water, which no doubt had once been a meandering creek, exists as all other bodies of water do in Japan, shored up on both sides by unsightly concrete, and lacking in visual appeal. The water no longer runs freely, and pristine through what the nation calls a wildlife preserve.

Not far from that abandoned structure, and walled up creek, I discovered other housing, the kind that’s never shown in photo blogs, or tourist magazines. Those poorly maintained apartments appeared weathered, rickety, and brittle, yet still provided shelter for those who lived there. There were three large cages, which I noticed as I was on my way to the entrance to the reserve. Inside those cages were cooing creatures. One of those cages had been attached to an exterior wall on the second floor of the apartments. It looked like it had been there for many years, and could come crashing to the ground at any moment. In one of those cages I saw two beautiful white birds that first appeared to be large doves. Yet, they weren’t doves. It’s possible these were some kind of carrier birds, a hobby, or perhaps that evening’s meal. A long board hung over the entry of one of the doors, which were no taller than five feet, and about two-thirds as wide as a normal door. None of the units had air conditioning, and were beyond repair. I became curious as to whom each, and every one of those inhabitants was.

While continuing on my exploration, I discovered a small plum grove that had been carved out of a section of the forest. Lying on the ground under one tree were a hundred or so green plums about the size of quail eggs. An elderly man was in the process of scooping them up into a plastic bag that he brought with him, apparently for that particular purpose. We talked a bit, and I learned he’d been to San Francisco, and even to Yosemite National Park. But that was many years ago. I asked if he was going to eat the plums, however I already knew the answer. He was going to use them to make plum sake. He offered me a bagful, but I politely declined, knowing that he hadn’t taken the effort to remove plums, just to hand them over to a complete stranger, let alone a foreigner. I said goodbye, and went my way. I wasn’t prepared for what I would discover next. As I continued down a particular path, as there were many, I came upon tall cedars, and tall bamboo. It was as if the path was a boundary, and both species of plant life knew not to cross over to the other side. I looked about for signs that this was manmade, but couldn’t detect any.

Protruding petals that appear as tiny fingers.

As I walked on, I found a young lady sleeping on a bench. The sign behind her, which was written in Japanese read, “Resting area.” She heard me approaching on the path, and lighted. We talked a bit, and I learned she was a local girl, and in her third year at a university studying medicine. I can’t recall the name of the university. I took her photo near one of the signs that laid out the park’s extensive walking course. I asked her to show me her favorite area. She did! I find it odd that an attractive young woman would freely venture deeper into a remote area, with a complete stranger. But, that’s how it often is in a country where people don’t have a level of apathy, or distrust that is prominent in the states. Ironically, her favorite area was my least favorite in the reserve. It turned out that this was the place that she often brought her dog, and the animal really enjoyed tromping around in the high grass. I preferred walking amongst the tall bamboo. We said our goodbyes, and I watched as she disappeared down a path I had not previously noticed, and had only moments earlier walked past while following the girl in the long black hair.

I had seen enough of what I had come for, and if the weather held up, on the next day, I would be back to Enkaizan Omaru Yama, shooting what it had to offer, and in a very limited capacity. It was getting late, time to head home!

The next day the air was dry. It was cool, and a bit too breezy for my particular purpose. Trying to shoot images up close as they swayed to and fro would be a challenge that led to dismal results. I thought about holding off until the wind died. Perhaps the following day? This was the second day in a row of clear blue skies. These conditions weren’t going to last, and if it did rain, and I had to wait a few more days, the fresh buds would certainly be gone. I rationalized that perhaps once I was under the canopy of the thick ancient cedar, pine, and maple that the wind wouldn’t be too great a factor. I would be wrong! Shooting would turn out to be more difficult that I thought, but on the opposing side of the dilemma of high winds, and wobbly plant life was the fact that the mosquitos wouldn’t be such a great distraction.

The one thing that displeased me was that I couldn’t get close to the large black butterflies, which were the size of my hands. They seemed to purposely stay high in the canopy. Other insects never rested, not even for a moment, including the honeybees, which were busy fiddlin’ about. I thought about the honeybees in the states, which are currently being wiped out through the use of glyphosate pesticides. I thought about the deplorable TPP trade deal that no one but shareholders of multinationals would benefit from. I shuttered to think that genetically altered seeds that required the soil saturated in that poison would be imposed upon Japanese farmers, who for hundreds of years have protected their seeds. It was already bad enough that the radiation contamination from Namie tainted nearly ever crop in the nation. If the trade deal takes root, then Japan’s agriculture would in my opinion become entirely inedible. Also, if anyone refused to grow it, or consume it, the corporation that produce those mutated products would have carte blanche to sue for loss revenues.

After spending a few hours at Enkaizan Omaru Yama it was time to finish the shooting aspect of the project. I wasn’t sure what I had captured, as the slightest movement in a focal depth that shallow destroys an otherwise perfect shot.

While viewing the photos, I realized that I didn’t know what most of those plants, and insects were called. I contacted, The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists to see if they would answer those mysteries. But, I received a generic response saying they don’t give out that kind of information. I thought, if an organization that spends its time studying Japanese plant life won’t answer those kinds of questions, who would? It probably took more time to translate the response in English, than to just tell me the names of the plants. Much like The Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists refusal to aid in naming a few plants so I could in turn share that information with the readers of this article, life is all too often absurd.

A bright burst of purple, and orange anther.

After looking at the large blown up images of life that existed in Enkaizan Omaru Yama, I realized just how small many of the flowers that I took actually were. Some as little as the nail on my pinky finger. The insects that were nourished by them were even smaller. Some I could barely see without the aid of the magnification of the lens. As I left, I was reminded of how many creatures that I had discovered, and how difficult it was to try, and photograph them under my self imposed rules.

A week later I returned to Enkaizan Omaru Yama to walk around with my infant son, and to share with him the things that I had discovered. As we entered the reserve I was surprised to discover that every flowering plant that I had photographed was gone. They’d all been cut down to clear away the high growth that had already begun to cover the reserves walking path. That’s where the majority of my photos came from. The flowers, and the myriad of buds that had yet to bloom were cut away. I thought, what form of preservation is this? What flowers hadn’t been chopped to bits had withered away in the hot sun. Even the vast array of insects were nowhere to be found. Everything appeared different. It reminded me of the impermanence of all things. On the other end of the spectrum, several bamboo shoots that were barely head high, were now towering a dozen feet above me. Even so, the land that I stood upon appeared as if a horrible, and tumultuous storm had come, like a land tsunami, and flattened everything. The paths were no longer teaming in apparent life. They now appeared nearly void of it. An image of a Brazilian rain forest came to mind; a bird’s eye view, revealing cattle grazing upon it. Soon enough those cows would end up on someone’s dinner plate. Although these thoughts raced through my head, the time I was sharing with my son was fantastic. He finally had a chance to see real butterflies as they flapped their wings, and flew in their apparent erratic motion. I thought those large ones high in the canopy were wise to remain there. My favorite moment with my son was when I picked up a dandy lion, showed it to him, and blew the seeds away. I watched his face in total enjoyment as they rained down all around him. I handed him a dandy lion, and tried to show him how to blow on it. Instead, he handed it back to me, expecting me to perform that same magical feat. (And again, and again and…)

On our way out of Enkaizan Omaru Yama, I thought of all the microcosms that existed where I had stood. I thought of the unknowing havoc I wreaked upon the microscopic life forms I had trampled upon to get the shots I had taken of the flowers that no longer existed. I thought about the vegans, and vegetarians that proclaim they eat no animals, yet devour trillions of living creatures in every bite of food that goes into their mouths. I then looked up at the canopy above, and caught a glimpse of what lied beyond. A thing we call infinity. Suddenly, the lyrics from a song titled, Don’t You Feel Small written by the group, The Moody Blues came to mind. “Ask the mirror on the wall. Who’s the biggest fool of all, bet you feel small. It happens to us all. See the world as what it’s for. Understanding, nothing more. Don’t you feel small? It happens to us all. Time is now to spread your voice. Time’s to come there’ll be no choice. Why do you feel small? It happens to us all. Look at progress, then count the cost. We’ll spoil the seas with the rivers we’ve lost. See the writing on the wall. Hear the mirror’s warning call. That’s why you feel small. It happens to us all. Ask the mirror on the wall. Who’s the biggest fool of all? Bet you feel small? It happens to us all.

The Enkaizan Omaru Yama macro gallery.

This article originally ran in the June, 2015 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2015/06/bigger-than-life-a-macro-photography-excursion-in-yokohama.

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Fukushima: The Land Time Forgot, And Other Anomalies

Inawashiro-Ko located in Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima.

This summer’s Golden Week holiday has passed. My family took a trip to Yonezawa, the hometown of my wife. Yonezawa is a mere 41km northwest of Fukushima City. Namie, where the Daiichi Nuclear Facility, and three nuclear reactors melted down, and which are currently continuing to contaminate the Pacific Ocean is only 55km (34 miles) east of Fukushima City. Namie is 88.9km from Yonezawa. It’s only one stop by way of the Tsubasa Shinkansen from Fukushima to Yonezawa; that’s about a fifteen-minute train ride from station to station. Our home in Yokohama is 312km south of that particular location.

Click here to view the entire photo gallery with detailed descriptions.

There were several events that coincided on this particular holiday. The first being the seventh year since my wife’s grandmother passed away. This is an important date, as the first, third, and seventh years are marked with specific traditional matters that family members partake in when a relative passes away, such as the family going to the Hoji (cemetery), to pay their respect by offering food, incense, and prayers. This would be the first of this kind of event that I had participated in. On that day, my wife’s family arrived from all over Japan. In the evening we ate a fantastic dinner that my wife’s parents had chefs prepare at a local traditional restaurant, and delivered to their home.

I got to meet nearly all of my wife’s extended family for the first time, including her grandmother who is 86 years old. She lives in Iwaki, which was nearly wiped out by the tsunami of 3.11.11. Iwaki is also located near the Daini nuclear facility, which was shutdown after it was struck by tsunami waves. Daini was the nuclear plant that was originally thought to be the one that would wreak the most havoc for the nation, and an industry that has such a deplorable track record for operational safety, and which has clearly been proven that shouldn’t exist. I was reminded of this again last week as the Red Forest that surrounds the Chernobyl nuclear disaster area caught fire, and put back into the atmosphere high levels of radiation that sat dormant in the trees of that forest for the past twenty-nine years. Ah, but I digress… I’m discussing something that everyone has seemingly forgotten about, and of course, what one can’t see, hear, or taste, can’t hurt them. Right? At least not immediately, some would say.

The family event described above occurred on May 4th, which was sixteen months to the day that my son was born. The next day was May 5th, another important notable holiday in Japan. May 5th is celebrated as Kokomo No Hi, or Boy’s Day. My wife’s parents had carp kites waving in the breeze at the entrance of their home, and had purchased an expensive samurai armor set for our son, which is now on display in their prayer room. Both are required things to do when a boy has been born into a family. On Boy’s Day, we took our son to Uesugi Jinja Shrine, which is walking distance from my wife’s family home. The last time we walked there was in the heat of winter, and the snow was stacked over our heads. (How’d you like that, the “heat” of winter?)

There are numerous things to do at Uesugi Jinja Shrine, as it’s very large, beautiful, and quite famous. One of the main events held there annually is the Uesugi Yuki Toro Matsuri (Yonezawa Snow Festival), which happens on the second weekend in February of each year. I’ve attended the festival a few times. It’s quite surreal, and very cold. The snow is piled high, hundreds of lamps made of snow occupy the entire temple, and the temperature is always below zero. I’ve had the best amazaki (warm sweet rice sake) at this festival. I don’t like sake, but I could drink a gallon of that concoction. Unfortunately, it’s only available during the festival. It’s really is that good! Makes me wonder what all the fuss is over eggnog?

Yonezawa: Uesugi Jinja Shrine

At Uesugi Jinja Shrine there was a festival underway. Ironically, the weather was much warmer than in Yokohama, although the surrounding mountains were still blanketed in a bit of snow. We saw paper lanterns that little boys from the local community had made. Our son got to play in a water fountain located at the main entrance with my wife’s sister, who adores him. He really enjoyed splashing around in the water, as the photos attest to. He then crashed a Gomo Kusukue booth, but the operator didn’t seem to mind. I got some great shots of him entirely mesmerized by the artificial water current that move hundreds of little toys in a circular pattern. Gomo Kusukue are quite popular with little children who use small nets to try, and scoop one of the gleaming treasures up with. If they catch one, they get to keep it. Our son also got to feed carp (koi) with the aid of a bag of rice that my wife’s father had prepared for this purpose. My wife’s family has been in the rice business for decades, and after eating the rice that he sends us. I quickly discovered that there is a great gulf fixed between rice that is hand selected by an expert, and that, which is sold at the markets. It’s probably akin to trying to explain night, and day to someone who has never seen either. This was the first time our son got to feed fish. However, he was more interested in the pigeons that were snatching up the rice that fell to the ground.

Yamagata: Omoshiro Yama Kogen

On the next day we drove to Yamadera, which is where the famous national treasure, Yamadera Temple is located. This mountaintop temple sits on top of the mountains that separate Yamagata from Sendai. The views from the top are fantastic, and the air quite refreshing.

At Yamadera, we parked, and ate lunch at one of the town’s fine restaurants. We then boarded a train to get to the next stop, which is further into the mountains. We accidentally took a rapid train, which passed our destination. All I could do was look out the window at the waterfall that most people had never noticed on their commutes between Yamagata, and Sendai.

We ended up at a tiny town called Sakunami, which is where the famous Nikka Whisky Company originated. We had an hour to kill before the next train arrived, so we got to learn about the company’s founders. A Japanese man named Masataka Taketsuru had gone to Scotland to study at a university. There he met, and eventually married a young woman named Jessie Roberta, a native of Scotland. The couple returned to Japan where the woman supported her husband’s desire to start an alcoholic beverage company. This was in 1920, at a time when prohibition was in full swing in the U.S. It must have been a sight for sore eyes for the local people to see Taketsuru return with a blond woman from Europe as his bride. Especially, considering Sakunami was in the middle of the undeveloped mountains, and in an entirely remote area cut off from any western influence. The community remains that way, even today. The mountain water in that area is so pure that it can be drunk straight from the river. The beautifully maintained Nikka facility still exists as well, and offers tours, and free samplings of their most sought after products. As I stood waiting on the train platform to head to our original destination, I thought how fleeting life is. That “odd” couple made a business that eventually thrived. They prospered from their vision, and their products continue to win prestigious international awards. It’s ironic that the Taketsuru’s are no longer here to witness the fruits of their labor. To learn more about the Taketsuru’s go to the following link: http://nikka.com/eng/founder/index.html.

We exited the train at Omoshiro Yama Kogen. While my wife changed the boy’s diaper, her sister practiced Hawaiian hula dancing she recently became enamored with. A man in the restaurant apparently took notice, came out, and joined in. So it is in Japan, at least when one manages to escape the entrapments of urban life. People outside of the large cities are generally very kind, and curious. Almost childlike! We learned that this man, who’s name I have already forgotten, had recently undergone back surgery, and was proud to show us how rapidly he had been recuperating. We talked a bit, and then it was time to head to the waterfall, walk along the pristine river, and hike around a bit before heading back to Yamadera to watch the sun set at the top of the mountain temple. Our new friend continued to hula dance back toward the restaurant that his life long friend owned.

During winter, Omoshiro Yama Kogen becomes a snow skiing nirvana for locals. It’s off the beaten path, and only a hop, skip, and a jump from Yamagata, or Sendai. One can literally step off of the local train in their snow boots, exit the tiny station, and step right onto a lift that goes to the top of the mountain. All for a mere 410 ¥. I first discovered Omoshiro Yama Kogen purely by accident several years ago when I was on my way to Sendai. I happened to look out the window, at the right moment, spotting a waterfall in the valley far below. It was only a split second that I got a glimpse of the water cascading down the side of the mountain. The following weekend I went back to investigate. It turned out to be one of my favorite places in Japan. I’ve traveled to Omoshiro Yama Kogen several times when I lived in Yamagata; winter, spring, summer, and fall. It’s incredibly beautiful, and unspoiled, as few people even realize that it’s even there. The trail along the river leads through the mountains, and back to Yamadera. It’s something that everyone who visits Japan should experience. It certainly will leave a better impression as to what had once been the true Japanese way, other than the westernized offerings of Harajuku, Shinjuku, or Yokohama. I took some great shots of my son with a couple different waterfalls in the background at Omoshiro Yama. Soon enough though, the sun began to dip below the mountains, so it was time to head back to Yamadera.

Omoshiro Yama Kogen in Yamagata Prefecture.

Yamagata: Yamadera Temple’s Thousand Steps

When we arrived at the steps to the entrance of the temple, it was already closed. My wife, and sister tried to prevent me from entering. (There’s nothing but a small sign, written in Japanese that says the steps are closed. There are no gates, locks, or security to prevent one from entering.) I can’t read Japanese, and told them that, which they already knew. But they could! I told them, “I only wanted to look around the first turn.” So, I took their photo at the entrance, and off I went, knowing full well, I wasn’t about to drive all the way from Yonezawa, and return without trekking to the top. My wife said, “What if you told our son not to do something, and he did it anyway?”

There are a thousand steps or so to reach the top of the mountain. This gave me plenty of time to reflect on what my wife had asked regarding our son. I concluded that if he ignored something that I told him not to do, and had a legitimate reason to do so, then he was discovering the power of autonomy, and therefore, it would not be improper for him to use his own cognitive skills in determining how to proceed. I also thought that if his reasoning was skewed, ignoring me would be unjustified. In that, I felt justified in ignoring a sign that I couldn’t read anyway, and as far as I was concerned, shutting off access to such a location during the best light of the day was most unjust. This is one thing that really perturbs me about Japan, the often illogic of how things are done. A cursory inspection of the Yamadera photos I took on that evening made me quite pleased that I didn’t go home empty handed. Actually, in defense of the indefensible, I’ve walked past that sign at least three other times in the past, at sunset, never realizing that the temple was closed.

There are numerous sights to discover at the top of Yamadera. Some of the shrines were built into the cliffs hundreds of years ago, and had not been destroyed during the Warring State Period, most likely because of its rural location, and strategic location at the top of the mountain. What most people don’t know when they are visiting most of Japan’s castles is that they were rebuilt for tourism purposes. The facts that nearly all of Japan’s castles were burnt down after the particular daimyo that ruled over it was defeated by a rival clan. The Maruoka Castle is the oldest castle in Japan to survive that era. It’s located in Fukui, where I lived during my first year in Japan. Maruoka Castle was built in 1576. The Inuyama main tenshu began construction in 1601, and was finally completed in 1620. One of the most infamous, yet “true” samurai tales took place in Fukui, and it tells of the destruction of one of those Japanese castles, destroyed by a technology that had never before been seen in the east. Samurai, not with swords, but with rifles attacked the Asakura clan in Ichijodani. Needless to say, the Asakura clan were slaughtered. Today, all that remains is the gate of the once towering structure. Everyone inside was brutally executed, as swords were no match to the new form of weaponry, as those that had vowed to protect those they had united with would discover. After the siege, as usual, the castle was razed. This was the death null to an era where swords were used to determine the outcome of disputes. The Locales photo gallery at my website, http://stackjones.com has a photo of the Asakura gate covered in snow. Ironically, I discovered it, and Ichijodani as I had much of Japan, which was purely by accident.

I was new in Fukui, and had a few days off from work, so I decided to drive to Tojinbo, cliffs that had become infamous for suicide jumping. Tojinbo is located in one of the most beautiful place in Japan, and is situated directly on Japan Sea. Somewhere along the route I had planned on my trip, I took a wrong turn, and ended up heading in entirely the opposite direction. I thought I was driving east, but was actually heading west. After driving for two hours I came upon the mountains of Ichijodani, the Asakura gate, and a beautiful waterfall. I also discovered Imadate, which is a small mountain community that’s famous for making the best paper in Japan. Anyone that has even cursory knowledge of Japan knows that the nation considers paper making a high art.

I visited the museum in Imadate, and talked with an elderly man, a lifelong employee who was responsible for choosing the wood to be used in their paper processing, and for operating the wood mill, which resulted in the manufacturing of fine paper. The paper that was on display in the museum were clearly works of art. An 18” square of Imadate paper hung on a wall in a home would be one of the most beautiful pieces of art on display. It really is that beautiful! Later that day, after complete strangers who could not communicate in English, (I could not communicate in Japanese) made a hand drawn map for me to get to my original destination. That evening as the sun was setting, I would discover the Japan Sea, and finally stand on the cliffs of Tojinbo. I also discovered Oshima Island, and stayed there late in the evening sitting on a grassy cliff, that looked toward Korea. I would later hear these words shrieked at me as I told a young Japanese woman of my adventure. “Manifest ghosts!” Meaning, so many people have committed suicide at Tojinbo, with many of the bodies floating on the currents to the shores of Oshima, that locals will not go there.

Most of my discoveries in Japan were made through error, and getting lost while navigating along roads that often had signs that I could not understand. This would lead to venturing into the unknown, and discovering many locations unknown to foreigners. I’d often leave home with no plans, and intentionally get lost, taking odd turns off of main roads, and heading into unchartered territory, where country folk lived, and where I’m sure I was the first foreigner to go. I would end up doing this on the following day after returning to Yonezawa from Yamadera.

Yamadera Mountaintop Temple.

Tall pines, and cedar cover the path up to the top of Yamadera. A children’s shrine that is located there, and the fact that the temple is located at the top of the mountains that overlook the town below inspired me to write a short story titled, The Crazy Woman, And The Fiery Snow. This is a story about a woman whose young son passed away, and thereafter she went to the top of Yamadera, prostrated herself in prayer, and refused to leave until her son was returned to her. It was the little red, and white amulets that were most inspiring, as each one of the hundreds that were placed around a shrine, along with pinwheels, were placed there by grieving parents who lost a child in some kind of accident, mishap, or disease. These iconic trinkets are said to help protect the children from any dangers they might face in the hereafter. To see all those little statuettes in the hundreds together is quite an emotional experience.

As I headed down from the top of the mountains it was already dark. I walked through the town, took a few pictures as the lights inside homes that sat atop shops that existed on the ground floor began to flicker on. I found my son, wife, and her sister in the car, and waiting for me. Japanese women are nothing like western woman. An American woman would have either left me there, or began shouting hysterically upon my return. The, “nothing was amiss” routine is often worse than a shouting match. I gave my wife the answer to her question she had posed at the foot of the temple steps.

It was time to head back to Yonezawa, where another fine meal was already waiting to be served to yours truly, and the rest of the family. The meal, in part consisted of home cooked udon noodles. Often, home cooked food is far superior to restaurant food. Of all the noodles out there, ramen, soba, pasta, whatever… udon is my least favorite. But, on that evening, they were the best damn noodles I’ve ever eaten.

On the next afternoon, we, that is, my wife, son, and I, drove into the mountains that surround Yonezawa. I would learn the Yonezawa Mountains are called Tengendai Highlands. I had been looking up at those mountains for several years, whenever I was in that region of the country, and had yet to trek into them. I wanted to get a feel of the place that my wife grew up in, but I was surprised to learn that she hadn’t spent much time in that region of her hometown, even though she rode her bicycle to high school in that very same direction five days a week for three years. She vaguely recalled visiting the Mizukubo Dam, when she was in elementary school, and hadn’t even thought about it, until we stumbled upon it that evening, and or course, by accident. This amazing place was a mere fifteen-minute drive from the home where my wife grew up in. It was so incredibly beautiful in the low lying hills that I had already decided to take another drive into the Tengendai Highlands on the following day. On the other side of those mountains lies the infamous Fukushima Prefecture.

The Tengendai Highlands Of Yonezawa

On the next day we drove back into the Tengendai Highlands, and took a cable car to the top of the mountains located on the Yonezawa side. It turned out this was a ski resort. When we reached the top, there was a stroller waiting for our son. When I tried to remove him from it after we reached our first destination, he put up a fit. Apparently, he really enjoyed being in “his” new contraption. Once out, and distracted with whatever I could think of at the moment, he became interested in playing with the rocks that were laid out on the trail to where we had decided to eat lunch. That location gave us a near 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains. The boy cared little for the view. It was rocks, rocks and more rocks for all that he cared.

At the top of Tengendai Highlands I could see the huge mountains that bordered Yamagata, and Fukushima Prefecture. I’ve done a lot of writing about Fukushima, and an industry that stigmatized that region of Japan. I had attended antinuclear rallies, reported on them, and even went inside the exclusion zone shortly after the 3.11.11. triple disaster, and photographed it extensively. I entered evacuated communities, and saw wild animals that had once been domesticated, now wandering the streets, with some living in abandoned homes. I stumbled upon a horse that the owners had abandoned in a corral, and was starving to death. I tried to release it, but I was not able to break the locks, or tear down the metal posts that trapped the animal. All I could do was gather as much grass as I could, and put it inside the corral. I photographed that horse, and felt terrible as I departed, knowing that I had probably just fed that animal its last meal.

I had first discovered the beauty of the Fukushima coastline when I entered the exclusion zone along the cost in the evacuated town of Minami Soma. The ocean was as clear as any that I’ve seen in the Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii, or Greece. One of the most beautiful women that I’ve ever met was from Fukushima. Today, the city, and its people are treated like lepers were treated a couple thousand years ago, or as HIV carriers were treated in the early 80s. The inhabitants of the city are marginalized, and have become the brunt of jokes that aren’t funny at all. Even today, Tepco’s website continues to blame the tsunami as the reason the reactors they were responsible for maintaining failed, but the truth is the original engineers quit the project during the initial stage of construction because they were entirely aware the facilities design was flawed, that there was no way the facility could withstand a tsunami, and that their concerns were entirely ignored by those that stood to reap huge profits, and the politicians they controlled refused to stand up, and do anything about it. A larger than life disaster was inevitable. It was only a matter of time. That time came on 3.11.11. when the warnings that went unheeded finally became a reality.

Until that day at the top of Tengendai Highlands, I had no idea that the Fukushima Mountains rivaled Japan’s other national treasures such as Nikko National Park, which I wrote about in an article for Tokyo Weekender magazine. In fact, a great portion of Fukushima is a national park, and treasure.

The Fukushima Unknown To The West

The temperature gauge read between 12 and 13 degrees Celsius. But, the sun, and the dry air made it feel quite a bit warmer. Only a few people were skiing at the nearby resort, and most likely enjoying the fact that they had the slopes all to themselves. It was while eating ice cream, which my son was force feeding me, that I decided to drive to Aizu, and to try and get a glimpse of Lake Inawashiro Ko, which sat in the valley on the Fukushima side of the great divide. At the time I had no idea that we’d discover some of the most breathtaking scenery in Japan, including waterfalls, such as the one called, Fudo-Taki. We would also see a lot of snow monkeys, which I managed to get near for a few good shots. One of the larger ones became a bit aggressive, as I got too close for comfort. I had made the mistake of looking it directly in the eyes, and had forgotten that they consider that an invitation to a confrontation. I was a lot closer to the monkey at that moment than the car, and I knew that if it attacked me that it would tear me apart, and surely bite me numerous times. I thought that my wife, and son, who were in the car, would witness this as well. I quickly decided to return to the vehicle with the shots I had gotten, and with my body still in one piece.

The weather was fantastic! It was dry, and cool, but the mountains were still covered in snow. Regardless, fresh, bright green summer leaves were already sprouting. Oddly, they were turning, like it was autumn. It felt more like winter was coming, instead of the dreaded parched, and steamy summers that I long ago left Miami to get away from, and unfortunately rediscovered in Japan.

Inawashiro-Ko is located in Bandai-Asahi National Park in Fukushima. It’s the fourth largest lake in Japan. It also goes by the name Tenkyo-Ko, or heaven’s mirror. The world-renowned doctor, Hideyo Noguchi was born in Inawashiro. He became famous for his research in yellow fever, earning him a portrait depiction on Japan’s 1,000 ¥ note. His parent’s home has been preserved as the Noguchi Hideyo Memorial. In the same general area are the Aizu Folklore Museum, Sekai-No-Garasu-Kan (World’s Glass Hall), and the Inawashiro Jibiru-Kan (locally brewed beer hall), where one can drink beer brewed from the underground spring waters of Mt. Bandai-san. Fortunately, I would discover that this area remained relatively unscathed by the nuclear debacle that took place more than four years ago.

Bandai-Asahi National Park is a short trek from the Tengendai Highlands.

At the foot of Mt. Bandai-san, along the Inawashiro lakeside is a group of hot springs, including Tenkyo-Dai, Omote-Bandai, Ottate, and Bandai Inawashiro-Hayama. During winter downhill skiing takes place from Mt. Bandai to Lake Inawashiro. I saw cyclists speeding along on the lengthy downhill ride from Aizu to the foothills of Yonezawa. When I saw them fly by, I was taken back to memories of riding my bike down Estes Park Mountains in Colorado, where my sister had once been a park ranger. An aside here, she lost that job because she refused to wear a gun strapped to her waist, which was not required at the time she had original obtained that position.

The photos that I took of the Fukushima side of the mountains cannot adequately express the natural beauty of the area, as the lighting, and colors changed nearly by the second. It was cloudy one moment, and then suddenly the sun would shine, way too bright. The visual imagery would go from flat, and one-dimensional, to sudden multiple layers of contrast, and shadows. It was quite pleasing to watch the sunlight hit the landscape, and move rapidly along in that manner. The camera however could not accurately record the greens, and oranges of the leaves that I was witnessing. The colors were so bright in most of the photos, that they appeared to be oversaturated, or even distorted. I had to go into Photoshop, and remove saturation in the pictures that were salvaged, and that I am sharing in the link provided above.

We didn’t have enough time left in the day to venture to Lake Inawashiro-Ko. The gate at the entrance of the park closed at 5:00 p.m. I thought this was as stupid as closing Yamadera at the most beautiful time of day. Any amateur photographer knows that the magical hour of photography is early morning, and just as the sun is setting. Who are these men that draw lines in the sand, and say other men, generally those with more skills, or knowledge may not cross? My wife was keeping close watch on the clock, and reminded me that it was 3:50 p.m. I exited the car for the last time for some final shots of Inawashiro, the valley walls, and the surrounding mountains. I must have looked like the boy in the story, The Five Chinese Brothers, who refused to return to the shore, as he kept scooping up the hidden treasures that he found. I kept moving from position to position trying to find the best shot of the lake that sat far below. Even worse was that fact that yet another bend laid ahead in the road. It would become one of those obstacles in life that I had to begrudgingly deny. If I was alone, I would have gone on, and remained in the park for the night, sleeping on the shores of the beach, and arising to get photos of another phenomenon that Tenjin Beach is known for. I would have also gone to the brewery, and drank a few beers, and been asleep by 8:00 p.m., and up by 4:00 a.m.

On August 18th, 1925, Tenjin Beach was the site of the first Boy Scouts of Japan camping trip. Members of the Imperial Family, attended including Prince Hirohito. He’s the demon responsible for the deaths of 30 million, mostly civilians during the world’s worst war, which the “victors” celebrated this past week. Hirohito’s cousin Prince Chichibu also attended that event. He would be responsible for numerous raids that pilfered, the arts, treasures, precious metals, and riches of the nations that surrounded Japan, including China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the Philippines. None of that wealth was ever returned.

In winter, strong winds, and waves form natural ice sculptures on the shoreline vegetation at Tenjin Beach, attracting photographers from around the globe. Kobirakata Shrine, located at Tenjin is dedicated to Sugawara No Michizane for philosophic thought. In mid-winter, Shibuki-Gori, (frozen mist), the phenomenon I spoke of earlier, hovers low along the shores of Inawashiro. The lake water is blown to the shore by strong winds that end up sticking to twigs, and foliage, where thereafter it becomes frozen, forming natural works of art. It enhances the scenic beauty of the lake, and in the not so distant past, mystified the region. The Shibuki-Gori appearance, and size changes by the day, just as the clouds, and sun duke it out for prominence overhead. If one ventures to this location at the right time of year, they may also experience the Omiwatari, which is ice that cracks as it rises on the beaches, and frozen lake surface. For me, that would have to be another jaunt into this previously unchartered territory, as it’s no longer winter, although it seems its quickly approaching. Or is the weather playing tricks on me again?

Is this magical location the dreaded Fukushima that nobody talks about any longer? Is this the place where cancer rates in children have risen 6000% since March of 2011? Is this the large swath of land, called a national treasure that’s become a wasteland? Or is this the paradise that it appears to be; a place where monkeys, and bears roam freely, where waterfalls endlessly run downstream providing water to numerous towns? Is there where stunning terrain, and beautiful, but strange sounding birds abound? Or is it more aptly, a paradise lost? I think the aesthetics of this place speaks volumes. I think that the real losers here are the human kind that care little for what has been given to them, as overseers, or self appointed protectors, who continue to remain negligent in their duties. I think the Fukushima Mountains, Aizu, and Inawashiro are places that are a testament to human folly, and a damning indictment of our inability to accept our role as administrators of this planet. Locations such as the forests that surround Chernobyl, the abandoned communities that once thrived there, Fukushima, and the residents who remain, having to endure constant testing for radiation exposure, and an uncertain future for their children, are mere drops in the bucket of the calamity that awaits us if we don’t pause, reflect, and rewrite the rules for this thing we call civilization.

One of many Omoshiro Yama Kogen waterfalls that cascades into the Yamadera River.

This article originally ran in the June, 2015 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2015/06/fukushima-the-land-time-forgot-and-other-anomalies.

Click here to view the entire photo gallery with detailed descriptions.

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When World’s Collide: Art And Tragedy

Sendai Route 10. Train And Missing Children.

While preparing a new photo gallery for the anniversary of Japan’s 3.11.11. triple disaster I began to wonder if it was ethical to turn a tragedy suffered by so many into a personal form of artistic expression. To answer this, I needed a clear understanding of what art, and ethics actually are. While researching these terms I would also discover the concept known as truth would be equally as important in making those determinations.

Ethics is often described as a moral belief system that guides the actions of an individual or group. Truth! The Oxford Dictionary defines as “the quality or state of being true.” Well, that designation was as useless as faithfulness, and constancy. The Catholic Church sent Galileo into exile to Siena on the churches determination that the world was flat. Historical records more often than not are consistent in putting forth falsehoods as facts. Even Pilate while having the power to free or execute Jesus pondered, “What is truth?” Art, as it turns out is even more difficult to define than either of the former.

Modernly, art originates in a vast array of forms including music, literature, poetry, film, fashion, architect, and photography. In ancient times, the creators of art didn’t have access to the technological advances we take for granted today. Those creators didn’t have the ability to produce copies of their intellectual property, and as a result had no means to distribute it. Those ancient masters of expression developed real time means of sharing their ideas through various forms of communication. Useful forms included illustrations, painting, sculpting and music as a means to express those ideas. Unfortunately, often those expressions were not those of the artist, but of those who held power over them. Most notably religious, and political powers!

Hugh MacLeod wrote art suffers the moment others start paying for it. Historically, an artist paid with their life if they portrayed an image, even a chord structure in a manner that the powers interpreted as a challenge to their authority. Modernly, once an artist is paid for their creation, they almost always lose the right to control the final product. Remember Gandhi appearing in Apple Computer advertisements that shamefully shouted “Think Different”? In reality, those images were of Gandhi on a hunger strike protesting British control of India. Apple, only interested in selling computers, gave no thought to the activist’s message. Clearly, one who retains the rights to a creative work can manipulate not only that image, but the content of that original image as well.

When money interferes with the creative process can that labor still be considered a work of art? If the creative process has been tampered with can it truly be considered a work of art? Bob Dylan, in his essay, Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie summed it up:

“And you can’t find it either in the no-talent fools that run around gallant and make all rules for the ones that got talent. And it ain’t in the ones that ain’t got any talent but think they do and think they’re foolin’ you. The ones who jump on the wagon just for a while ’cause they know it’s in style. To get their kicks, get out of it quick and make all kinds of money and chicks.”

Perhaps Prince said it best, “Let the baker bake the bread.”

When a photographer cleans up an image, or enhances features within that image with a program like Adobe Photoshop, does that new creation represent what had originally been captured? Is it the “captured” image that matters, or what the photographer later settles upon as a final work through the creative process? I’ve spent countless hours removing plastic bags, digital blowouts, white distortion, logos, and even people from an image. Did this manipulation destroy the “art” that existed prior to manipulation? Or did it become art the moment the manipulator considered it complete? Finally, is it the creator that determines if it is art or the audience that it was intended for?

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “We have our arts so we won’t die of truth.” André Gide said, “Art begins at the point where resistance is overcome. No human masterpiece has ever been created without great labor.” What is therefore art? The final product, or the work involved in obtaining that end? Perhaps art is the creative process itself? A creation shared by both the artist and the audience.

Body bagged Minnie. Where’s Mickey?

When I was an artist agent in Hollywood, I represented scores of amazing talent. One of my daily duties was to meet with artists who were seeking representation. I looked at thousands of portfolios, and often visited graduate school “art” exhibits. I rarely came across something that moved me. If it doesn’t move us is it art?

One artist I eventually represented sent me an image of a box that looked like a stack of old eight track tapes. I deleted that representation query upon receipt. I received it again. I deleted it again. I received it a third time, and due to the tenacity of the artist, I took a closer look, and it turned out to be a Rhino Records, commemorative CD case of several Motown greatest hits that had been released during the eight track tape era. It won a Grammy Award for best packaging design!

If it offends is it art? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used a threshold test for obscenity in Jacobellis vs. Ohio (1964). The test was first used in Miller vs. California (1973) where the court held that obscenity could be censored. Jacobellis, the manager of a theater had been convicted, and fined $2500.00 for screening a French film titled, The Lovers. The state of Ohio considered it obscene.  The three-prong test used considered: 1. Whether an average person, applying contemporary community standards would find the work, taken as a whole, prurient. 2. Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law. 3. Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Justice Stewart viewed the film and determined it was not obscene. In the courts majority opinion Stewart wrote, “The Constitution protected all obscenity except hard-core pornography. Stewart wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

So, if we can determine obscenity, or something that offends by simply, “knowing it when we see it”, then perhaps we can understand what art is simply by recognizing it when we see it. The problem here is that today we’re surrounded by “art”, actually bombarded with it as a sales tool, and as a result, we take it for granted. We’ve become blind, numb, or even cynical toward creative work. This is truly tragic. Or is it?

Greek philosopher Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex, an ancient Athenian tragedy that tells the story of a man who was foreordained to become the king of Thebes. This right obtained through birth led to the murder of Oedipus’ father, and eventually marriage to his own mother. The focus on this tragedy is how destiny contributed to Oedipus’ downfall. Would this classic tale have been considered obscene, and therefore not a protected work of art if the Miller Test had been used during that time? How about the contemporary standards as applied in countries like Saudi Arabia today?

Art in tragedy existed long before modern man walked the face of the earth. The earliest known paintings are petroglyphs that were discovered in Australia, and are approximately 50,000 years old. The most notable original art was discovered in northern Spain and southern France. These cave paintings date back to approximately 15,000 years ago.

In the Lascaux caves, the artist used animal bones and stones to ground earth pigments in hollows on the floor. The clays were then mixed with water, albumen, animal fat and blood to create complex paints. The paints were then applied with chewed ends of twigs, feathers and animal hair, or smeared and dabbed using the hands and pads from mosses and lichen. They were also applied by blowing paint through reeds and hollow bones. Those people traveled great distances to collect the material necessary to create those works, thus putting their life in peril. One can only conclude that expressing thought through painting must have been extremely important to those early earth dwellers. They not only painted the walls and ceilings of caves, but also their tools, clothing and bodies.

There are several theories as to why so much time and energy was expended to create early forms of art. One emphasizes pleasure, and story telling. Another is based on the belief that painting a picture of a successful hunt would help to achieve it. Yet, another is artistic symbolism that represented things that were unfamiliar, had mystical powers, and were difficult to communicate to others.

Sendai. Natorigawa. If one made it to the bridge they survived. If not…

What is truth? Ernest Hemingway, John Lennon and Bruce Lee had one thing in common. All of them were atheists. Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed had one thing in common. They were not!

Today, what is truth to an Israeli is a fairytale to the Palestinians. What’s truth to a protestant is heresy to a Catholic. Writers of the Talmud sentenced Jesus to an eternal vat of boiling excrement. Likewise, Jesus placed his enemies into an eternal lake of fire. Historical revisionists are ridiculed for demanding educational institutions “rewrite” history in an accurate manner, based on fact, not in the perspective of those that have the most to gain financially, religiously, or politically. On the other hand institutions that make billions by continuing to promote historical fabrications are strictly opposed to change. One thing is certain… If there isn’t a whole lot of truth to be told, there certainly is a lot of creative license regarding it.

Is it possible for art to accurately depict truth? Do movies accurately represent the best-selling book the film had been derived from? Does a documentary film accurately depict opposing arguments of a dispute? No! They’re skewed to the perspective the writer/director wants to convey to the audience, or that of the financial entity producing that work.

In an essay by Leo Tolstoy titled, What Is Art, Tolstoy argued against aesthetic theories that define art in terms of good, truth, and beauty. In Tolstoy’s opinion, art was corrupt and decadent, and intellectuals misled the artist who sought their finance, favor and social status.

According to Tolstoy, art must create an emotional bond between the artist and the audience. Tolstoy believed art embraces any human activity. Tolstoy offers as an example, a boy who experienced fear after an encounter with a wolf. He later relates that experience, infecting the listener and compelling them to feel the same fear he had experienced. To Tolstoy this is a perfect example of art as it clearly communicates, is sincere, and is singular, focused on a particular emotion. Tolstoy condemned Wagner and Beethoven as examples of overly cerebral artists who lacked true emotion. Tolstoy wrote that Beethoven’s, Symphony No. 9 merely pretends at a feeling of unity and therefore is not good art.

The music room inside a destroyed high school revealed Ryoh’s Guitar. An aside: I contacted every major music company offering to deliver new equipment to thirty-seven destroyed schools. None accepted the offer. Most never even bothered to respond.

Another problem with a great deal of “art” is that it reproduces past models, and as a result it is not properly rooted in a contemporary and sincere expression of the most enlightened cultural ideals of the artist’s time and place. To cite one example, ancient Greek art extolled virtues of strength, masculinity, and heroism according to the values derived from its mythology. However, Christianity embraces the virtues of the meek and humble. Tolstoy therefore believed it is impossible for modern society to embrace tradition forms of art. He also believed that art should not be considered a means to pleasure or to consider it as one of the conditions of human life. The activity of art is based on the fact that a man, receiving through his sense of hearing or sight another man’s expression of feeling, is capable of experiencing the emotion, which moved the man who expressed it. If a man laughs, and another hears it, he becomes merry. If a man weeps, and another hears it, he feels sorrow.

Steven Pressfield in his, The War of Art wrote, “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.” Elbert Hubbard wrote, “Art is not a thing—it is a way.” Michelangelo said, “The artist must be the sponsor of thought in whatever endeavor people take on, at every level.”

After years of representing artists, studying “art”, and creating music, lyrics, poetry, stories, illustrations, and photography, I’m still no closer to understanding what art truly is. I can only assert in it’s simplest form art is subjective, and therefore means something different to everyone. I do believe however that art and tragedy coexist, and that the former could not exist without the latter.

What is art? Art is a tool. It’s an integral extension of tragedy, and it communicates in a manner that the event in and of itself cannot. A true artist does their best to infect our emotions. Sometimes they’re successful at it, and sometimes they fail. Art forces us to look at what we don’t want to see, or believe, and consider alternatives. I think that’s what art’s greatest gift is.

Art is many things to many people. It’s a snapshot of the world in an expressive form perceived by the creator, and conveyed to the audience. Once submitted, the audience determines to accept it as art, or not. If I may borrow a couple of Japanese words, I’d say that art is, dozo – domo, meaning “here you are” and “thank you”. If these two conditions are met, it is art. Or not!

The following link takes the reader to Stack Jones photography that was shot during Japan’s 3.11.11. triple disaster. Many images have never been exhibited before. The comments in the timeline share Jones’ personal experience while shooting Japan’s worst disaster since experts began keeping records. http://stackjones.com/photography.htm.

Daini: The cheap price of nuclear power. The first nuclear facility to report failure remains offline. The evacuated town remains inside the 30km zone.

This article originally ran in the March, 2014 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2014/03/when-worlds-collide-art-and-tragedy.

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Jigokudani Yaen-Koen: Snow Monkey Paradise In Hell Valley

A snow monkey takes a dip in the Yokoyu River hot spring. Photo credit Stack Jones.

Jigokudani means Hell Valley in Japanese, and received this moniker long before monkeys began monkeying around in the Yokoyu River. The valley in this region of Nagano Prefecture has steep cliffs, with hot water that steams when it comes to the surface. Jigokudani-koen is the only place on earth where monkeys bath.

The snow monkeys aren’t the only attraction in the park. The Jigokudani fountain of Shibu is a national monument that has been venting hot water for centuries. In 1783, it abruptly halted when Mount Asama erupted. Mount Asama is the most active volcano in the Honshu region and has erupted several times since the early 1980s. 
Eruption of volcanic activities that results in steam is known as Jigoku (Hell) phenomenon. The water that erupts is salty spring yet crystal clear. The pristine water from this area supplies Shibu-onsen and Kanbayashi-onsen. Another onsen, Korakukan opened in 1864 and is considered a therapeutic bathing facility.

About two hundred Japanese Macaque call this place home. The monkeys form close bonds with others in the group. Some of their facial expressions, and mannerism are very humanlike. It’s truly an amazing place to visit.

A mother affectionately cuddles her offspring. Photo credit Stack Jones.

Despite the close proximity between human interaction and the monkey business that goes on at the park, tourists are warned not to touch or to make eye contact with the local inhabitants. This is because the monkeys may feel threatened, and try to scare or even bite in response. In monkey society, direct eye contact is a sign of hostility, and aggression. Visitors are also warned not to feed the animals, as they would inevitably expect a handout from everyone. In the past the monkeys have also been known to steal handbags, and other items. So, keep in mind that these are wild animals. They are not pets. In that, the monkeys were incredibly docile and quite used to the presence of humans.

When did the monkeys begin using the hot spring? Local facilitators of the park began to artificially feed the monkeys as far back as 1964. As a result, the monkeys stay longer in the park, and have more free time to relax while waiting for their next feeding. One cold day, a younger monkey went into the water. Others began to follow. It wasn’t long before the majority of the monkeys started to bath. Despite becoming famous for being water creatures, some do not like bathing at all. However, on very cold days, many will bath for a couple hours at a time.

Monkeys that live in such extreme weather conditions are unique in the world. It’s believed the monkey’s bath in the hot water due to the extreme winter elements, as they don’t seem to bath during the summer season.

Since the establishment of Jigokudani Yaen-koen in 1964, visiting the monkeys has become an attraction for tourist from all over the world. The “snow monkeys” have also become one of the most famous animals of Japanese folk tales, nursery rhymes, and proverbs according to the Jigokudani Yaen-koen website.

The Japanese Macaque has a pinkish face and bottom. Their coloring changes to bright red during copulation. There’s a strong bond between members of a group, especially among females and their babies. There is no noticeable hierarchy among the group. It’s reported that they rely on each other in just about every aspect of their life. The Macaque are not entirely peaceful. They do have conflicts and often receive injuries as a result of those episodes.

At times the Japanese Macaque exhibit very human like behavior. Photo credit Stack Jones.

Usually the larger offspring dominate the others. Not so with the snow monkeys. Among brothers and sisters, younger ones receive a higher ranking under their mother’s protection. This became immediately noticeable to me as during feeding time the younger monkeys were chasing off others that were quite larger. I found that humorous. It’s said that the mother’s protection exists to avoid fighting within the group. This does not infer that the higher-ranking monkeys have superiority over the ones that appear to have a lower ranking.

I discovered through literature provided by the park that the snow monkeys mainly communicate through sight. They read mood by observing other monkey’s expression and emotion. 
Although it’s not considered language, they use sounds to warn other of danger, to intimidate intruders from other groups, and to signal their presence. It’s said they express their feelings through variations of tone and volume. According to the park staff, the monkeys have an amazing ability to “read between the lines.”

The monkeys of Jigokudani Yaen-koen don’t sleep in dens. Of course, animals that sleep in den usually purge outside the den. As a result, the monkeys “go” anywhere. So, be careful where you walk. You’ve been warned.

The Macaque sleep in the safety of steep cliffs or branches of a tree. They huddle with immediate family members or their closest friends. They also hold hands and legs while sleeping together. Few sleep alone.

The monkeys are fed barley, soybeans and even apples, depending on the season. Barley and soybean are a preferred source of food for the monkeys who usually eat grass, tree leaves and flowers. In autumn the monkeys have a greater variety of food such as grapes and chestnuts that they can easily find in abundance in the nearby mountains. To keep them around, the caretakers dole out apples to entice them to stay. I learned that the snow monkeys generally are not attracted to human food. Obviously, feeding is intended to entice the monkeys to stay in the park, which attracts tourists. But it is also a way to keep them under observation, and to study their behavior in as close to a natural habitat as possible.

Things to remember

  • Monkeys are wild animals therefore visitors should follow the rules.
  • Do not show or give monkeys any food.
  • Do not touch
. The monkeys are not pets.
  • Do not make them nervous. Otherwise they may terrorize or bite.
  • Do not stare. Staring and opening one’s mouth is a sign of hostility.
  • Do not get too close to them. 
Curious babies come close. In those cases step away as soon as possible.
  • No dogs, cats or other pets are allowed in the park.
  • Photos and video recordings are permissible. 
Handle equipment with care.
  • Do not get too close when taking photos.

Below is a link to a more in depth reading about the Japanese Macaque that inhabit Jigokudani Yaen-koen. http://jigokudani-yaenkoen.co.jp/english/html/jigokudani_geology.htm.

Directions: From Nagano take a bus or train to Yudanaka. A bus service from Yudanaka runs to Kanbayashi Onsen Iriguchi. There’s a great museum up the hill from the bus stop. It’s free! There are great photos on display in that museum. The walk to Jigokudani Yaen-koen is approximately another thirty-minutes. It’s a fantastic journey in the winter and the entrance fee is insignificant for the amount of pleasure and excitement you will receive. March is said to be the best time to go. So what are you waiting for?

For more information contact:
Jigokudani Yaen-koen Inc.
6845 Yamanouchi-machi Shimotakai-gun
, Nagano Japan 381-0401
Phone: 0269.33.4379.

The Jigokudani Yaen-koen photo gallery. Photo credits Stack Jones.

This article originally ran in the March, 2014 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2014/03/snow-monkey-paradise-in-hell-valley-jigokudani-yaen-koen.

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Autumn In Tochigi: Nikko Now!

Nikko National Park. A view of Kegon Falls, and Lake Chuzenji from atop Akechidaira cable car ride. Photo credit Stack Jones.

If there were ever an occasion to visit Tochigi’s celebrated Nikko National Park this would be the perfect time to do it. Nikko is at the height of expression this season, exploding in a vast array of yellows, orange, and red hues. Welcome to autumn in Japan! If you’re planning to visit Nikko this autumn, you’ll need to make arrangements soon, as the cool weather has already set in, and the remarkable visuals won’t last much longer.

Some of the most popular attractions in Nikko include Lake Chuzenji, which is located in the Nikko National Park. Lake Chuzenji has some of the clearest, and purest water in the country. Chuzen is also the burial site of Japan’s most famous Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and his grandson Tokugawa Iemitsu. There are also shrines in Nikko that date as far back as 766. The region also boasts some of Japan’s finest hot spring (onsen) locations in Japan.

Irhoha Zaka is the winding road that leads to the top of Nikko National Park, and eventually down into the towns below. It reminded me a lot of Estes Park, Colorado. I was told not to drive to Nikko this time of year due to the large amount of tourist related traffic in the region. As a result, I made plans to take the train, but somehow, at the last moment, literally as I was heading out the door, I decided to take my chances on the crowds, and drive.

Kegon Falls. Photo credit Stack Jones.

Although there is ample transportation in Nikko, such as the local bus that could take you to many of the park’s destinations, there is truly nothing more pleasing than having the freedom to of a car, to stop on a whim. Despite the warnings of heavy traffic, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the roads were nearly empty. The only place traffic got a bit heavy was approaching the top of Akechidaira, and that was only due to limited parking spaces available. After a mere five minutes of waiting, I found an empty space, parked, and was soon on a cable car heading to the top of Akechidaira, and to a wonderful view of Kegon Falls, and Lake Chuzen.

The Akechidaira cable car, which is reasonably priced at 710 yen, welcomes viewers to the most breathtaking view of the park from the top of the mountain. At the top of Akechidaira one shares a breathtaking view of Kegon Falls, Chuzen Lake, and the expansive valley below. If there were only one attraction to see at Nikko this would have to be the one to choose.

Kegon Falls is absolutely beautiful. However, I’d say if there were anything unremarkable about Kegon Falls, it would be the elevator that takes one to the bottom of the falls. The cost is a mere 310 ¥. Some may find this attractive. I didn’t. I feel that if one is to experience such a wonderful natural site, it should be earned by trekking in, like one would expect to reach the top of Yosemite Falls.

Nikko National Park. Photo credit Stack Jones.

The elevator is one of those quirks of Japan that you have to get used to. It appears that during the 1980s bubble era “miracle” economy of Japan someone had nothing better to do with their money that to, uh… build an elevator that lead to the best view of the falls. Other than this oddity, I’d say Nikko is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Japan. It surely rivals some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Therefore, Nikko definitely earned its position as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. In fact, I’ve already made plans to head back in a couple days. Yes, I’ll be driving.

Nikko is also famous for the Three Wise Monkeys that are located at the Toshogu Shrine. I had my own experience with Nikko monkeys, which are notoriously famous for their aggressive behavior toward unsuspecting tourists.

While driving around Lake Chuzenji, I stopped at a remote area to take photos of an isolated dock that stretched out toward the open, and clear water. To my surprise, I spotted approximately two hundred monkeys, far off in a clearing to my right. I was stunned by the numbers, and thought it couldn’t be too difficult to get a few shots of those capricious creatures.

Nikko National Park forest. Photo credit Stack Jones.

I slapped a 400mm lens on my new Nikon D800, grabbed my tripod, and prepared to take some easy shots. But as soon as I opened the car door to exit, and without my feet even hitting the ground, one of the monkeys howled a warning to the others. Instantly, the entire group bolted up to the top of the steep mountain that was to the south of them. They did this with great ease. In a matter of seconds they disappeared over the top. I thought I’d climb to the top of that mountain, and get a few good shots of monkeys in the obscured valley that stretched out below. Ha! No such luck.

I followed the fresh trail the group had left behind. Huffing, and puffing, I finally made it to the top of the mountain that the monkeys had cleared with great ease. I thought I was about to receive my great reward of the day. Yet, nothing could have been further from the truth. Just as I got a glimpse over the top of the mountain, a lone centurion howled below to the rest of the group. I viewed nothing but an empty valley. I quickly looked back to where the centurion had been, but he too was gone. I looked up into the trees, and all around me. There weren’t any monkeys to be found.

That was a very humbling experience. It was clear those monkeys weren’t about to share in any of my monkey business. The sun was about to set over the distant mountains, and its remaining light cast a final illumination over the quiet and still valley. The colors were breathtaking. I didn’t get a shot of the monkeys, but I did experience some of the best autumn colors I have ever seen. I also had the wrong lens with me for a shot of that valley. Mocking my own ineptness, I suddenly thought about the bears that were known to inhabit that region. I didn’t want to end up a final meal before their long hibernation. So, I decided to take a quick jaunt back to Lake Chuzen for some final evening shots. When I got to Lake Chuzen, not only were there no monkeys, but there were also no people either.  So much for the heavy tourist crowds that I was warned about.

Kegon Falls. A bizarre twist to this photo is that I had to pay, and then ride an escalator to get here. There’s something anti-climatic when no energy is spent trekking to such a location. Photo credit Stack Jones.

I made a lens change, and quickly found myself at the edge of the lake and walking out onto the dock. I thought that it just doesn’t get better than this.  Nature in its purest form, a solitary man, a camera, and diminishing light.

This article originally ran in the November 6th, 2012 edition of the Tokyo Weekender.

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Tomita Isao: Ihatov’s Utopia Envisioned

A photo of synth composer, Tomita Isao taken during the Nippon Columbia Records interview with Stack Jones. Photo credit Stack Jones.

On January 23rd, Nippon Columbia Records will release Isao Tomita’s Symphony Ihatov, World Premier Live Recording. The project features the smash sensation, vocaloid soloist Miku Hatsune, and will be released via iTunes to forty-one countries.

Isao Tomita’s new magnum opus, Symphony Ihatov debuted November 23rd at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. The performance comprised appearances by Tomita himself, along with Hiroyuki Ito, the president of Crypton Future Media, the creators of the smash vocaloid and visual sensation, Miku Hatsune, as well as Motokazu Shinoda, the synthesizer artist who conducted Miku in this wondrous technically, and aurally pleasing achievement. The concert also included two choirs, and Japan’s finest musicians, courtesy of the Japan Philharmonie Orchestra. This musical masterpiece was conducted by none other than the world-renowned, Naoto Ootomo.

As if that amount of talent wasn’t enough to guarantee an outstanding evening, the entire performance was also broadcasted online, via Tower Records Japan’s new Live Stream Broadcast that’s operates out of Shibuya. The virtual audience that tuned in for this event numbered more than 13,500.

Tomita’s Symphony Ihatov is based on the celebrated Japanese author, Kenji Miyazawa’s euphoric children’s prose. Tomita, as a child, was greatly influenced by the works of Miyazawa. In the 1940’s, during World War II, Tomita turned inward, creating his own euphoric existence, which was the direct result of the world that surrounded him; a world permanently altered by the U.S. relentless air raids that decimated Tokyo, as well as Miyazawa’s hometown in Iwate.

Tomita, who spent his early childhood growing up in China, questioned the harsh environment that surrounded him, as did Miyazawa. Ihatov is the name Miyazawa gave Iwate, in honor of his great devotion for the land of his birth. Likewise, Ihatov is the name Tomita gave to his latest symphony, in honor of Miyazawa’s work.

I first became familiar with Tomita’s synthetic rendition of DeBussy’s Arabesque No. 1 when I was just a child. The music was the theme to Jack Horkheimer’s Star Hustler, a hugely successful astrological TV show that was produced in my hometown of Miami, by the Miami Space Transit Planetarium. The show, which aired on PBS was a mere five minutes in length, but it left the audience with an indelible memory that would forever credit Tomita as the creator of the modern age genre of space music.

On December 12th, I was fortunate to have received an invitation to interview Tomita at Nippon Columbia Japan by Shotaro Kaizuka, who has worked diligently on Tomita’s new release. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to interview Japan’s most celebrated musical genius. Joshua Brown, and Michikazu Ichikawa, who did a great job interpreting the interview, also assisted me in this endeavor.

So here it is, an interview with Japan’s most famous musician, the legendary, (and very cool I might add), Isao Tomita.

Stack Jones. In April of this year, you turned eighty. Yet, you just released this huge production titled, Symphony Ihatov. How long was this project in the works, and when did it first begin to take shape?

Isao Tomita. Actually, I won’t be into my eighties until next April. So, I’m still a very young man. As far as Symphony Ihatov, I began the orchestrations around May, and finalized the project in November.

Stack Jones. What was the inspiration for the project?

Isao Tomita. Back in the 1940’s I was reading books that were written by Miyazawa Kenji. I recall that they had great philosophical concepts that were easily understood by children. So, his work has always stayed with me.

Stack Jones. You used the vocalist Miku Hatsune, which was created by Hiroyuki Ito, of Crypton Future Media. Miku is a hugely popular virtual vocalist. She’s receives millions and millions of views on YouTube. Simply amazing!

Tomita. Yes, I had no idea that she was so popular. So, I was very pleased that she agreed to work with me.

(Everyone at the interview laughed at this statement.)

Stack Jones. Seriously, how did this collaboration come about?

Isao Tomita. Miyazawa’s character was supposed to be a boy, but in reality it was a girl. A tomboy! A very boyish girl! So, in creating the symphony, I wanted a voice that could capture that part of Miyazawa’s character. When writing this symphony, I also felt that the human voice was incapable of capturing that sentiment.

Stack Jones. What I’ve noticed listening to Miku’s voice is that she often projects sexuality, and is very powerful performance, yet in Symphony Ihatov, she’s much more fragile, and her voice, alien, yet more childlike.

Isao Tomita. One of the great qualities of Miku is that this character doesn’t have a defined personality. As a result, the end user has the ability to give her a variety of characteristics. That’s was one of the main reasons that I wanted to work with Miku’s creators. As a result of this attribute, Miku is open to a vast array of individualized interpretation.

Stack Jones. Yes, her voice in Symphony Ihatov blended very naturally with the youthful choir that sang during the live performance.

Isao Tomita. (smiles, and nods in agreement).

Stack Jones. What audience was Symphony Ihatov intended for?

Tomita. I didn’t have a particular audience in mind when I composed this music, or when I decided to work with Miku.

Stack Jones. Did you create this symphony as a memorial to the disaster that took place in Tohoku where Iwate is located?

Tomita. No, this project is based on Miyazawa’s literature. I did have the people of Iwate on my mind when I was working on it, but I didn’t create Symphony Ihatov to give Iwate courage, or to inspire them either. It’s up to the audience to feel as if they are inspired in that way or not. It’s up to the audience to decide for themselves.

Stack Jones. When did you first commit yourself to creating music that would be attributed to Miyazawa’s work?

Tomita. I first realized that I wanted to do something with Miyazawa’s literature about ten years ago. As you know, Miyazawa’s writing did not exist as music; it was just, kind of like a vague character that needed a medium of full expression. So, I decided to create a soloist that could turn his work into something much more tangible. Mostly, though, I wanted to create a character that would actually represent the sentiments of Miyazawa’s work in a musical form.

Stack Jones. Well, you definitely accomplished that.

Tomita. (laughing) Well, actually at the time, I didn’t know that Miku was so famous.

Stack Jones. Until I began to research for this interview, I didn’t know that either. Let’s go back a little in time. On the website tomitaisao.net, you credit Switched On Bach, by Wendy Carlos as the catalyst that drove you toward wanting to create synthesizer oriented music. What was the immediate impact on you when you heard Carlos’ work for the first time?

Tomita Pull

Tomita. It was the fact that music could be created with this new instrument, or machine. That there was now an endless ability to create sounds that had never been heard before, and without limit to shaping their tonality. I was impressed with this new reality, that music could be interpreted with so much color, and this machine, which was called the Moog Synthesizer was the means to this end. Bach was a great composer to work with on this new medium. Bach’s music has many lines that blend together and there is so much room for creativity.

Stack Jones. Your Snowflakes Are Dancing was released in 1974. You recorded this album in over a fourteen-month period, performing each note in individually, or in mono form, which was the only way a synthesizer could be played at that time. This was well before we had polyphonic synthesizers. So, how difficult was it to be the engineer, the producer, the composer, arranger, and musician on this project? And to have such impeccable timing while layering all these tracks together?

Tomita. I don’t make that distinction in my mind between the different roles in creating a final product. I feel it’s more like an artist that applies each of the colors to a painting until the final work is completed. It’s like when someone plays a traditional folk instrument, like the biwa, singing and playing, or performing both roles simultaneously, in addition to the other skills, such as composing, arranging, and the like.

Stack Jones. Rick Wakeman’s synthesizer work on the Yes, And You And I album was one of the pieces of music that drew me into the world of synthesizers. You had the opportunity to work with Rick Wakeman on the Nagoya Sound Cloud Project. How were you introduced to Rick Wakeman, and how did you end up collaborating?

Tomita. On the Sound Cloud Project, we didn’t actually play together. We performed individually, and then I brought the entire project together. The place that this event took place was shaped like a dome, and we placed many video screens around the dome. I wanted it to look like a UFO, and that the video screens were the spaceship windows that looked out onto the universe that surrounded us. Rick’s contribution to the project was Mahler’s Symphony No. 2. He actually played the piano on the piece. Alan Paul of Manhattan Transfer was one of the producers of the event. He has an amazing ability as a producer.

One of the ideas was that Manhattan Transfer was a rock band from outer space, and they would knock on the windows of the spaceship trying to get in, so they could perform as well.

[Some time after our interview Rick Wakeman responded to one of my emails: He says, “I had the great pleasure of working with Tomita in Japan some years ago and it was an absolute joy. The man is a tremendous musician with a unique style that is passionate, and one that he is dedicated to. On top of that he is a true gentleman.”]

Stack Jones. When we think of Tomita, we think of you as the father of synth, space, and ambient music. This began in 1974 when Snowflakes Are Dancing, which was nominated for several Grammys.

Tomita. When I was a child, Japan was closed to western music. This was during the time World War II was happening. At the end of the war, a lot of western music started to be broadcast on the radio. Jazz, pop songs, and classical music was filling the airwaves of Japan. To me, that music sounded like it was coming from aliens in outer space. That was really what I thought. I thought I was listening to music from outer space. It was difficult to find your own identity at that time.

Stack Jones. In 1969, a struggling British musician trying to find his own identity, named David Bowie released a single called, Space Oddity. This song was released at the time the U.S. astronaut, Neil Armstrong was making the first moonwalk. Elton John openly admits that his 1972 song, Rocket Man was a rip off of David Bowies successful tune. I’m curious if Bowie’s Space Oddity played an integral role in introducing you to space music?

Tomita. Is that the song where an astronaut went into space and wasn’t able to return?

Stack Jones. Yes. Was it this new pop genre, or would you credit Holst’s, Planets, composed between 1914, and 1916, as the inspiration that moved you into the direction of this new futuristic medium?

Tomita. It was most definitely The Planets.

Stack Jones. Ironically, Holst’s daughter refused the release of your Planets. Why did she block the release of this work of yours?

Tomita. Holst’s daughter was very rigid about how her father’s work was interpreted. She didn’t object to the synthesizers, she just didn’t want her father’s work rearranged differently from the way he had originally intended. So, it wasn’t the synthesizer that she didn’t like. She also objected to the way the piece was arranged for ballet performances.

Stack Jones. Well, not so surprising your rendition of Holst’s, The Planets has become a collector’s item, and it’s extremely rare to find a copy. Yet, it’s very popular on video sites like YouTube. Ironically, your Planets is in high demand, and all comments regarding the album are extremely positive.

(Tomita didn’t know that his music is shared all over the world and that his music is posted on numerous websites.)

Stack Jones: Your version of Mars, The Bringer Of Wars is led in with electronic voices that sound as if they were communicating in preparation for an attack. It really pulls the listener in. Then, suddenly those voices begin to sing in unison. At that point the audience doesn’t know what to expect. Then… the alarm and a countdown in alien voices, and then an explosion. It was surreal to hear for the first time. Simply genius!

Tomita. I actually recorded those voices in a unique way. I recorded them onto a tape recorder, and then drove up to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji. I broadcasted the voices through a transceiver, and then recorded them as I drove down to the ocean. I learned later that there was a military base nearby. I was worried that I might have interfered with their broadcasting frequencies. Looks like I was OK though. (laughter)

Stack Jones. Do you plan to ever release your version of The Planets?

Tomita. Actually, Columbia has rereleased The Planets with new horns parts. I was never happy with the original ones.

Stack Jones. Switched On Bach was credited to Walter Carlos in March of 1968. Of course, Walter turned out to be Wendy who had worked with Robert Moog to create the first synth demonstration for his new product. That first Moog appeared on the cover of the album, which you credited on your website for introducing you to synth music. Your website says your first synthesizer was a Moog III synth. Do you recall that particular equipment?

Tomita. I didn’t even know there is a Tomita website.

Stack Jones. Do you recall your first synthesizer? The name?

Tomita. The Moog was sold in modules, not as a single piece of equipment. So, the modules didn’t have any particular name as I recall. Plugging those different modules into the tower and creating different sounds was something that each musician had to do themselves. It was hard work, but you could also create your own unique sound and skill that way, it was a part of the creative process.

Stack Jones. Today, most original analog equipment is extremely difficult to find, and if it is found, and in good working condition, extremely costly for the average musician.

Tomita. In those days it was very expensive to obtain that equipment, as the rate of exchange was ¥ 366 to 1.00 U.S. dollar. When the equipment was shipped to Japan, it couldn’t be categorized as music equipment, so it would often spend weeks held up in customs. I went into great debt to purchase those modules. I really don’t want to talk about that. But, rather, I’d like to say that one could purchase those various Moog modules in pieces, and combine them together. That’s what I did.

Stack Jones. For years, artists and the industry pushed digital equipment and digital productions. At one time you abandoned the analog world in favor of this new medium as well. Do you find it ironic that all that classic equipment is finding its way back into production?

Tomita. No. Because there are no limits to what sound can be created with that equipment.

Stack Jones. Today, which medium do you prefer?

Tomita. Most definitely the analog equipment, but today all of it is useless. None of the equipment that I had works any longer.

Stack Jones. In your earlier years, did you feel restrained in creating as a result of expensive analog equipment that was generally out of the financial reach of an average musician? Also, how difficult did you find it to create single – mono notes in multi-chord structures?

Tomita. That equipment was extremely difficult to use. For example, there were no presets back then, so when you created a sound, it was very difficult to go back and recreate it. As a result, you couldn’t make any errors in recording, because there would be no way to go back and get that same tone again. Recording was very troublesome as recording tracks, on top of each other, in multiple layers was extremely difficult. I had to master timing. I had to record in perfect time. That was extremely difficult.

Stack Jones. Do you have any advice for people who create music today? Should they be using the analog equipment everyone is trying to find, or is the digital medium preferred?

Tomita. I think it doesn’t really matter whether one has a collection of digital or analog equipment. What matters most is putting together sounds that people will enjoy hearing. I don’t think in terms of digital and analog, I think that digital music is really just a continuation, another extension of the analog music that came before it.

Stack Jones. My favorite Tomita albums are:

1974. DeBussy’s pieces which created Snowflakes Are Dancing.

1975. Mussorgsky, Pictures At An Exhibition.

1975. Stravinsky, The Firebird Suite.

1976. Holst, The Planets.

1984. Pachelbel’s Canon In D MajorCanon Of The Three Stars.

Stack Jones. Incredibly, any of these albums could be released today, and still sound as if they were recently produced. This is an astonishing feat. There is a definite timeliness to the albums you have created.

Tomita. (smiles)

Stack Jones. Many people credit you for introducing them to classical music; music they otherwise had no interest in. Does that make you feel you’ve accomplished something unique?

Tomita. If that is true, then I do feel good about that.

Stack Jones. What do you feel is your most significant work?

Tomita. Holst’s, The Planets.

Stack Jones. Is there anything you’d change if you could? Is their something different that you would have liked to have done creatively, or professionally?

Tomita. I’m pleased that The Planets was recently rereleased. This was a very difficult project, and now with the new horns, I’m pleased with the results.

Stack Jones. Do you get more pleasure from your own work, or interpreting a classic?

Tomita. I enjoy both, but The Planets is my favorite work.

Stack Jones. What is your favorite piano, or synthesizer today?

Tomita. I believe feelings, hearts, and emotions are important to creating music. Not the instruments, or the equipment.

Stack Jones. What future projects do you have planned?

Tomita. I’m continuing to work with Columbia on updating some of my albums and remixing them to 5.1 surround sound.

Stack Jones. Is there a studio recording planned for Symphony Ihatov?

Tomita. This is a live recording project.

Stack Jones. When I was a child the American TV show, Jack Horkheimer Star Hustler, which ironically was produce in my hometown of Miami, used your rendition of DeBussy’s Arabesque No. 1 as the shows musical theme. This show, which was a mere five minutes in length, introduced millions of Americans to your work. Although Snowflakes Are Dancing was nominated for several Grammy’s, it was Star Hustler that introduced your work overseas. Are you aware of this show?

Tomita. I don’t know that show.

Stack Jones. Jack Horkheimer died in August of 2010. Did you ever have the chance to meet him?

Tomita. I have never heard of him.

Stack Jones. How do you feel when you’re working on a musical project? Do you get emotional, do you find yourself laughing, at something you’ve discovered? Are you filled with other emotions? What emotion would you say best describes how you feel during the creative process?

Tomita. There are errors in everything I have done. It’s frustrating. So, I do the best I can to cover those mistakes in the mix.

(I asked the translators if there was anything they’d like to ask Tomita. Michikazu Ichikawa made the following statement, in which Tomita responded.)

Michikazu Ichikawa. Your work has received great praise from people worldwide. When The Planets, and Pictures At An Exhibition were released I was a university student. I’ve been listening to these albums for almost forty years now. Much of your work is based on the classics, not Japanese music. But when we Japanese listen to your music, we feel something nostalgic and are impressed deeply, even though these are European pieces. What is the origin of your creative ability?

Tomita. When I was a child, it was during the war. I, like all Japanese had no information except that which was broadcasted by the national military. In order to receive bombing alert information, and where the U.S. had been targeting, we had to turn on the radio and listen during all hours of the night. On one occasion I recall hearing new sounds which were alien to me, and which I had never heard coming from the radio before. I think those sounds were from U.S., and allied aircraft carriers that were getting closer to the Japan islands. I was inspired by those sounds, and this was the catalyst that began the creative spirit within me.

During World War II, we Japanese had nothing and were poor, but we kept our rural culture and traditions and relationships alive. I spent my youth during that time being filled with that rural culture. So, both those foreign new sounds, and the rural Japanese culture was my origin, the beginning of me as a creator of music.

Stack Jones. Is there any music, such as a musical that you recall, or that you really enjoyed?

Tomita. When I first heard The Sound Of Music, I really thought it came from another planet. Today it’s hard to imagine, but it really seemed like it was music from another world.

Stack Jones. Are there any other musicals you enjoy listening to?

Tomita. I like Pajama Game, and South Pacific, as well as The Sound Of Music.

Stack Jones. One last thought… How would you like to be remembered?
Tomita. (smile) No response.

For more information on Tomita’s musical releases visit: http://columbia.jp/ihatov.

This article originally ran in the January, 2013 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2013/01/isao-tomita-qa.

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Takashi And Maru

The blue plastic tarp shantytown that exists near Senju’s Arakawa River. Photo credit Stack Jones.

I received an email last Friday from Ric O’Barry simply stating, “I’m on a plane heading to Tokyo. Call when I get there.”

Ric is a man of few words, but as many of us know, he works tirelessly for an important cause. As he likes to put it, “If we can’t protect the environment of an important species like dolphin, then we can’t protect ourselves.” While some might say this is a doom, and gloom approach to a possible future scenario that we all will face, Ric remains optimistic. “We can do this, it’s not difficult. We just have to care.”

Ric was on his way to Japan to work on his next project. A concert that could end up being larger than the Rolling Coconut Review, which took place in April of 1977. RCR was the first concert to have Japanese and western superstars performing on stage together. At that time Japanese acts were relegated to the opening slot.

The RCR was a benefit concert for Japan Celebrates the Whale, organized by Ric. The concert featured Jackson Browne, John Sebastian, Richie Havens, Odetta, Warren Zevon, Eric Andersen, Lonnie Mack, Japanese folk singer and actor Izumiya Shigeru, and a jazz-funk band with keyboardist Richard Tee, drummer Steve Gadd, guitarist Eric Gale, guitarist Cornell Dupree and bassist Gordon Edwards.

What people didn’t know about that concert, was Japanese products were being boycotted, and Japanese abroad were getting beaten as a result of the boycott. Ric stepped in to stop the violence aimed at the Japanese.

By now you’re probably starting to wonder, how all of this relates to an article titled, Takashi And Maru? OK, fair enough!

While heading to Shinjuku to meet Ric, I passed Minami Senju, as I have done so many times before. I always look out across the Arakawa River, to get a glimpse of the ever expanding, plastic blue tarp homeless community that exists, right there on the river. I also notice that the Japanese, never notice, or pretend not to notice. Today, armed with two cameras, and HD video, I decided that I would be going there after meeting Ric.

The nearby Edo River. Photo credit Stack Jones.

The Arakawa River sits between Kita Senju, and Minami Senju. Most people in that region pass over the river on either the TX Line, or the Hibiya Line, with the homeless shantytown in full view. Often, people going to Kita Senju will be on their way to Disneyland, “The happiest place on earth.”

At the end of my interview with Ric, I made my way back to the river. I got off the Hibiya Line at Minami Senju, and walked toward the Arakawa River, which was actually a lot further than I thought.

I finally came upon a huge wall with fences, and steep hills that obscured the location. I climbed the steep hill, to get a bearing on where I was, and there it was, right before me. I stood there for a few minutes, taking it all in, as endless trains passed overhead. It wouldn’t be long before the sun would set, so I have to hurry.

The first thing I noticed was a huge pile of trash, neatly and properly broken down in the myriad of categories the Japanese government expects. Then, I realized that these invisible people took the effort and expense to properly store their debris, yet the government hadn’t bothered to take the time to haul it away.

Then I noticed a bicycle, or footpath leading to the makeshift homes. It was clear of debris. I took that path, and quickly found myself surrounded by several blue tarp sites that looked more like camps than a home. Most were very clean and organized. Some were very sophisticated with solar lights, radios, sleeping areas, furnishings, and areas to sit, relax and eat. There was even a smoking area.

It was especially touching for me to see how these people adapted to their surroundings, because when I was in law school, I lived in San Diego, but commuted to San Bernardino to attend classes. The commute was five hours in normal traffic, impossible if it was backed up. I often stayed late into the evening studying at the library, and was often the last person to leave. I drove a truck, and decided to purchase the equipment necessary to sleep in the back of my truck. There was a YMCA gym very close to the school, which was perfect for working out, and showering. Fortunately, my traveling lifestyle made this arrangement quite easy for me to adapt to. In that, I survived the California wildfires snowing gray ash on me for several days, a few snow falls, rain, bitterly cold winter nights, and even a late night car (truck) jacking attempt by gang members wearing hats and hoods that covered their faces. (I held up my cell phone pretending it was a gun. Luckily for me, I didn’t accidentally hit one of the buttons that would have lit up the phone, and revealed its true purpose. The criminal miscreants bought the act, and moved on.)

A garden maintained by the homeless who reside on Senju’s Arakawa River. Photo credit Stack Jones.

As I made my way through the shantytown, I quickly found myself at the river’s edge. Here, there was an impressive array of fishing poles, and everything one would need to fish. I noticed that the river was very polluted. This was not the result of the people who lived at the camp. This is what I have come to understand as Japan’s incredible indifference toward river’s and oceans. One of my earliest memories of Japan is how shocked I was when I went to the beach for the first time, and seeing more trash than any third world countries I have ever visited. Little wonder Ric O’Barry has great difficulty educating Japan regarding mercury contamination, lead, pesticides, herbicides, coal fire plants, dioxin and other toxins that are wreaking havoc throughout the region and the world.

Oddly, nobody appeared to be “home”. Then, I suddenly stumbled upon a man sitting at a table at his site. At first, I backed away, not wanting to disturb him. Then, I thought, this is what you came here for; to discover who these people are. I gathered myself and returned to the place where that man was sitting; having no concept as to how I would be received.

As I approached, I said, “Konichiwa.” A well-fed cat jumped up on a table and greeted me. The cat was healthy, and quite friendly. He stayed at my side for quite some time, purring and seeking affection. I used the cat encounter as a means to begin conversing with the man, who had kind eyes and a ready smile. I would come to know him as Takashi. The cat was Maru. Takashi and Maru!

I noticed that Takashi had a genkan, and that his boots were free of any mud or debris. I noticed that his clothes were clean, his hair trimmed short, and he was freshly shaved. I asked if I could take a photo of Maru. “Of course.” I asked if I could take a photo of him. He agreed.

Takashi offered me a chair. His best one! I sat down. We talked briefly, and I offered him some money for allowing me to take photos. He staunchly refused. I asked if I could buy him a beer. Takashi said he didn’t drink so much, and it was quite clear he hadn’t been drinking at all that day. He looked healthy, and he was mentally, and physically fit.

I told him I was thirsty and wanted to go get a drink. I asked him what was his favorite drink. He politely replied, nande mo, which means, anything’s OK!

Takashi and Maru have been residents on the Arakawa River for three years. Photo credit Stack Jones.

I headed over the steep wall, and toward Senju, which has a brand new and very nice shopping area. I got some beer, and went to a trendy Chinese noodle shop. As usual, I couldn’t understand a damn thing on the menu, let alone figure out how to use the machine to purchase it, so, I asked the employee what her favorite noodles were? She pointed to something, and I said, “OK, two take our orders, please. While I waited for the noodles, I picked up some Krispy Kreme donuts, and a piece of KFC chicken for Maru.

I got back to the steep hill and discovered a high school student taking photos of the shantytown. I invited him to come and get a closer look. He replied, “Abunai”, which means dangerous. I laughed and headed down the hill toward Takashi’s home, and gestured, “C’mon!” To my surprise, the kid followed. I asked his name. He said, “Daisuke.”

We approached Takashi’s camp, and I shouted “Kombanwa!” Takashi responded and so did Maru. Daisuke introduced himself, while I took off the breading of the chicken and gave the meat to Maru. Maru happily ate it, and then took off, and I didn’t see him again for the entire evening. Typical cat! I wondered how many lives he still had left?

I offered Daisuke a donut, and he readily accepted. I asked if he wanted a beer. He didn’t readily accept! We all laughed at that. I handed Takashi a beer, (I had purchased four), and he bowed with his hands together, which is always an uncomfortable feeling for a foreigner. Especially, for an intruder, oh dear reader, which I recognized myself to be. I gave Takashi noodles, and we both ate. We both said, “Oishi” a dozen times, as those noodles were really good! I finished my noodles and my beer before Takashi. I’m sure I was hungrier.

I then ate a donut, and opened a second beer. Takashi had barely drunk from his, but he had finished the noodles. Daisuke having a good look, up close and personal, probably had enough, and politely bowed out.

Takashi had a cell phone, and he showed me a photo of Maru when he was a kitten. The picture was perfectly cropped and adorable. He obviously loved Maru, and it was apparent Maru shared the same affection toward him.

I asked if it was OK to record our conversation. He said, “OK!” I wanted to know who this man was, and what is was about him that his own people refused to recognize. I learned Takashi lived on the river for three years now.

I asked him how he ended up there. I couldn’t understand all that he said, but he used to be a truck driver and somehow lost his license.

I asked how he currently earned a living. He said he collects electronic goods, and aluminum, and makes pretty good money.

One of the well maintained sites of the invisible people living on Arakawa River. Photo credit Stack Jones.

He had a cell phone, his camp was stocked with solar lights, radios, a sturdy wood closet he built, which locked and where he stored his valuables. He also had a comfortable place to sleep that was water tight, and which he had designed and built himself.

I asked how he bathed, and he said he goes to the public bath house and pays 400 ¥ to bath. (Which I think is pretty expensive). I asked his age. He’s 52, and has two children. His daughter is 19, and his son is 28.

I asked if they know where he is. There was silence, and I could see he was holding back an emotional flood. I stopped prodding into this man’s personal life, and felt like a jerk for pushing too hard, and intruding into this man’s life. His children don’t know where he is, as, in Japan’s unforgiving culture, he lost his job, had no income, so his only option was to leave home. A self-imposed exile!

During the entire conversation, trains rolled overhead. Again, and again, and again and again and… It was now getting dark, but the lights from the trains lit up the campsite, and were actually very attractive. They also lit up the river, which shined, and shimmered in red, yellow, and gold. The sound of the endless train of trains, and their metal wheels on the metal tracks beat out a steady rhythm. Honestly, it felt as if I had been on holiday, and was camping at Waipio Valley on the Big Island of Hawaii, or on the Baja in Mexico.

I asked Takashi what time he went to bed, he said, usually around 7:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. I asked what his hobby was. He didn’t understand. So, I said I like surfing, writing, and photography. He still didn’t understand. I then gestured, that I played the guitar. Takashi understood, and said he likes to go fishing. I asked if he liked river fishing or ocean fishing. He said both. I said, “How about fishing here.? Pointing to the river. Takashi said there are huge “Chinese” fish (I can’t remember the name), about 4′ (four feet) in size and easy to catch with bamboo poles. He showed me the bait he uses. I asked if he ate the fish he caught. He said no, as the river was too polluted. I asked when was the best time to catch those fish. He said in August.

An elderly man suddenly appeared, and just as quickly disappeared when he saw Takashi had a “guest”. Takashi said that was Grandfather. Takashi said, his son committed suicide a few years back, a work related death, and Grandfather had no place to go, as he believed he was now a burden to the rest of his surviving family. So, Grandfather made his way to the river one day, and started to piece meal together his own blue, plastic tarp, river front existence. Takashi said, Grandfather, refused to let anyone help him build it. Apparently, he never intended to be a burden to anyone again.

The trains run endlessly over the Arakawa River in Senju Japan. Photo credit Stack Jones.

So, Grandfather went to the river, as many have done before him, and surely will after. At Grandfather’s age, he should be enjoying his final years in the security he was taught to believe in, by the society that now rejected him, and whom he rejected. Instead of having that security, Grandfather had to start a new one. The kind of life all Japanese people fear and shutter to think about. Even to the point where they act as if it doesn’t exist.

I thought about my five-year relationship with my girlfriend who is very dear to me. I thought about all the thousands of times she has asked me, if we got married, could I protect her, could I give her security. Thinking about Grandfather, I wondered if anyone could answer that question in the affirmative, and be honest in doing so.

Takashi suddenly excused himself, and as he did, I realized that it was getting close to 7:00 p.m. I thought I should probably get going. Takashi quickly returned and to my surprise offered me a gift. He said, because you are a photographer, you can use this to put photos in. It was a brand new photo display that would light up a photo beautifully. I knew that he was offering it to me in exchange for dinner. What Takashi didn’t realize, was that he had already given me a life-long gift, and it had more value than anything tangible. I knew that I would never again be able to pass over the Arakawa River, and not think about Takashi, Maru, and especially Grandfather.

The public image of men like Takashi is that they are drunkards. Takashi barely drank the beer I gave him. The public image is that these people are insane, dangerous, outcasts, misfits, degenerates, low-life and deserving of their plight. Clearly, his eyes are kind and he was generous to put up with an uninvited intruder, and answer a myriad of personal questions that I myself would have refused.

I personally don’t believe in the dyslexic dog, we call god, but I shutter to think of the scores of millions and millions that go to shrines, churches and temples and pray to their grandfathers, and grandmothers who have passed away, in the Shinto and Buddhist tradition, but laugh at, mock, and ridicule to scorn people like Grandfather, and Takashi.

I said I should probably get going. We stood. I called out for Maru, but he was having none of it. Takashi laughed. He bowed and thanked me. I walked over to him and said, let’s do it American style. I hugged him, and he hugged me too. We patted each other on the back and looked closely at each other’s face as the train passed by overhead. We smiled, and I promised to return to to go fishing with him. Takashi said he would like that!

Takashi’s solar light began to dim, so I grabbed my camera bag, said goodbye, and made my way back to the train station. But, not before stopping and turning around and taking in the sounds, images, and smells of the camps that were huddled in the darkness, with their dim lights shining within, and the river glimmering from the passing trains crammed full with kaisha workers that didn’t even have enough space to sit.

Senju’s invisible people exist in plain sight near Arakawa River. Photo credit Stack Jones.

I laughed, but I wanted to cry, realizing those people hate, and fear the likes of Takashi and Grandfather. Hate, because their “way” was something that society has taught them to shun. In reality, society has taught them the hard lesson of circumventing true freedom. Fear, because everything down there, at the bottom of that hill, and on the river, in that dark, and dimly lit, blue plastic tarp town is the possibility of an unknown future for us all. While that the endless cattle car society turns that alternative into something shadowy, degrading, vicarious, reprehensible, and horrific.

How can I ever pass over the Arakawa River without thinking about Takashi, Maru, and Grandfather? When will I do return? In August? Next week? I want to meet Grandfather. I want to see his face, and listen to him speak about his life.

The train was packed solid as I returned home. I stood in the crowd, taking in foul smelling winter coats that had been in countless smoky bars, and restaurants. I saw the empty faces, all staring at and endless array of electronic devices. There wasn’t a sound, except that of the train wheels, clicking out the same rhythm I heard while in conversation with Takashi.

Upon returning home, I immediately contacted my friend Dr. Ebihara. I told him that he must return to the river with me. I told him he must check on the health of Grandfather. Dr. Ebihara, who is a wealthy, prominent, and successful owner of a rather large clinic, said he often goes to Senju to stand at the bar, and drink with the people of Senju. He said it is one of his greatest joys.

Apparently, I still have much to learn about Japan.

This article originally ran in the February, 2013 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2013/02/takashi-and-maru.

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Japan’s Invisible People

A shirtless woman sits at the top of the stairs at Shimbashi Station during the heart of winter.

Homelessness is on the rise in Japan, as not seen since WWII. Blue tarp communities are springing up all over the country, yet the Japanese go about their daily lives as if these people don’t exist.

Being homeless in Japan has to be much worse than in western nations like the U.S. The level of despair, and hopelessness is far greater because there’s a  social stigma attached to it, like none I’ve ever seen. Simply, the Japanese not only don’t, but absolutely refuse to help those who are down on their luck. This is a perplexing dichotomy considering Japan’s teaches the importance of the community over that of the individual. Sadly, a great gulf is fixed between reality, and philosophy in this seemingly buddhist nation.

In America, there exists welfare programs implemented by employment departments that are designed to help those who genuinely want to get back on their feet. Those services offer much more than an unemployment check. They also provide educational funding as part of the unemployment benefits package that is available to those that are out of work. Most U.S. citizens aren’t even aware that these programs exist. People who do participate in these programs receive skills necessary to aid them in their search for new employment opportunities.

Giving educational opportunities to the unemployed not only helps to get them off the streets, but it also helps them to become productive members of society. It’s a simple concept actually; when a government program pays for people to obtain the skills needed to become employed, over the lifetime, that employed person will pay much more in taxes than the government paid out in the initial educational investment. The result is obvious, the unemployed ends up with a new skill, and as a result of their employment, they end up living a healthier, and better quality life.

Japan’s invisible people gallery.

How tragic it is to have no place to go, no money to support yourself, and to have calloused officials heap an even greater indignity by taping a notice that your property will be destroyed if you don’t find another place to take it.

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Origins Of The English Language

I grew up in Miami, Florida. The city is a hodgepodge of communities that coexist, offering up a variety of cultural nuances, and exhilarating ethnic experiences. However, it’s also a tropical environment, and the high humidity can be a catalyst that causes temperatures to boil over. As a result of the sweltering heat that the city is famous for, rational processes often fail, and hostilities arise between one who perceives themselves to be an American, and another, most likely a Cuban, and who had probably lived in the city for a longer period of time. When the former found they were unable to express themselves, as they desired during one of these heated exchanges, they would often resort to intolerable obscenities, racist slurs, and almost always ended up commanding the latter to speak English!

I speak one of a vast array of dialects that has come to be recognized as the English language. But, what is this English language that I speak? What is its origin?

The language spoken two thousand years ago by those that dwelt in the land that’s known as Britain today wouldn’t be decipherable by contemporary English speakers. It would take another thousand years before the ever-evolving English language would become recognizable in today’s England, a land that received its name from the Saxon invaders. Today, what has developed into the English language has become the vernacular of the world. This is possible because the English language has the ability to absorb other languages almost seamlessly, and is amenable to nearly every other tongue in the world. The adaptability of this manner of speech has made the English language capable of producing new dialects, and new forms of expression that continue to evolve, all over the world.

What started as a guttural tribal dialect has become the language of more than one and a half billion people today. More people speak English than any other language on earth. Yet, the English tongue nearly became extinct on numerous occasions as successive invasions of the island nation not only added to its ever-expanding vocabulary, but also threatened to destroy it completely.

For three hundred years the English language would be forced underground. Nonetheless, it would emerge as the language of William Tyndale, the writer of a vast majority of the King James Bible, William Shakespeare, and William Wordsworth, the master of prose. Oddly, what is dubbed the “Queens” English today is in reality a language forbidden to the ruling classes for three centuries. It was the farmer, and the peasant that lived far from the courts, and the royal facades that kept the language alive. Against all likelihoods, the language of the English empire would eventually become the language of another powerful nation. America! English would also become the international language of business, and diplomacy, despite its rather humble beginnings.

Friesland is a province in northern Netherlands, which originally was part of an ancient region known as Frisia. The Friesland dialect is the closest relative of today’s English, which evolved some 1500 years ago. Words such as three, four, frost, freeze, mist, and blue originate from this region. Other words that began in the Germanic forms of languages include butter, bread, cheese, meal, boat, snow, see, and storm. The people who spoke these words lived in today what are known as Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

Modern English can be traced back to the Germanic family of languages dating back to the 5th century. The Germanic people were nomadic, warlike tribes that moved throughout Europe a thousand years ago, and eventually settled upon what today is known as Holland, Denmark, and Germany. The original Germanic tribes consisted of Jutes, Anglo, and Saxons, and after mastering the art of fashioning together seaworthy vessels they sailed to the English shores in search of conquest, plunder, and to take advantage of abundant resources. However, the Germanic people weren’t the first to invade the shores of England. More than a thousand years earlier, the Romans invaded the land claiming it for Emperor Claudius, and to expand the Roman Empire. The Romans named this newly discovered land Britannia. Yet, when the empire crumbled, the native inhabitants, known as Celts at the time, were left to fend for themselves.

The Celts were subsequently conquered by the Germanic invaders, and were given the name Weelah (Welsh), which meant foreigner or slave. The only way the Welsh could gain in social status within these varying Germanic cultures was to assimilate into it. This meant the Welsh has to adopt the Germanic languages as their own. As a result, the Celt language became more, and more marginalized, and began to fade away almost entirely, as the language of the victors prevailed. Few Celtic words have survived into the modern English language. Among them are crag for rock, combe for valley, tor for peak, fortress, and the caer of Carlisle, which at the time meant a protected place. The Celts also left many names that remain to this day, including Thames, for the Thames River, London, and Dover.

By the 6th century Germanic tribes occupied much of the southeast, and about half of Britain as well. The tribes broke off into territories, Essex (east), Kent and Sussex (south), and Wessex (west). These regions would form Saxon tribes. In East Anglia, it would be the Saxon’s who bequeathed England with its name.  East Anglia (the Anglos), territory included Mercia, and North Umbria. The “ing”, meaning, “the people of”, was used in these regions, and exists unto this day, such as in the towns of Reading, and Worthing. Other language examples that remain from this period include “ton”, which meant village. So today, Bridlington would mean, the people of the village of Bridl, or the people of the village of Chess, for Chessington. Birmingham today used to be known as Birmington. Another example of the language that survives today would be “ham”, which meant farm. So, today Birmingham would have meant, the farmers of Birm.

Each word you’re reading now is from Old English!

Hundreds of words used today in the English language originated around 1500 years ago. From all of those Germanic tongues, and all of their various dialects, a single language would begin to emerge. This emerging language would be known as Old English. And English speakers from all around the world speak Old English everyday. Samples include nouns, such as youth, son, daughter, field, friend, and home, prepositions, like, in, on, into, by, and from come from this time, participles a, and the, also originated from Old English. Our verbs, drink, come, go, sing, like, and love also can be traced to their origins in the Germanic languages. Today there are approximately 25,000 words that originate from Old English. This may seem marginal when compared to modern dictionaries that contain approximately 100,000 words. But, the average educated person today only has about 10,000 words in their vocabulary, and those ancient people didn’t have terms like hairdryer, television, computer, electricity, stationary, telephone, and technology to bolster their vocabulary.

Verbim: The Word

Tribal roots in the English language had already begun to fade with the revival of Christianity in England. In 597, Augustine led a mission from Rome to Kent, and around that same period Irish monks were establishing churches in the north of England. Within another century Christians were already building churches, and monasteries throughout the island. Christians (Catholics) also brought with them the international language of scholars, which was Latin. From this point on religious terminology would become permanently imbedded into the English language. Words such as apostle, altar, mass, monk, and verse became used in daily life. Absorbing words from other languages would become a pattern, as the English tongue would continue to evolve from a diversity sources.

The written form of the Jutes, Anglos, and Saxons would end up giving way to the Latin custom. Earlier written forms did not utilize script, as we know it today. The Jutes, Anglos, and Saxons used the runic alphabet, and symbols, which were formed mainly of straight lines, so that letters could be carved into stone or wood, as this was the medium to communicate at that time. Runes were mainly used for short practical messages. The Latin alphabet however, was different, as its curves, and bows allowed for words to easily be written on parchment or vellum using pen and ink. Pages could then be gathered into a book, and widely circulated to convey the writers intended message. It was Christianity that brought books to the English shores. Yet, the text of those books were written in Latin, and the common people could not decipher its meaning.

It wasn’t long before a native culture of scholarship began to flourish in the region. However, the written language would be based on Latin, and not on the ever-evolving language of the English speaking people. The famous Lindisfarne Gospels would be created on the island of Lindisfarne, which was just off of the northeast coast of England. A few miles south of Lindisfarne, at the monastery of St. Paul in Jaro, the European monk Bead, born, and educated in North Umbria, would begin documenting the first recorded history of the English speaking people. Although Bead wrote in Latin, which was the language of scholars at the time, the prevailing language of the land was still Old English. Beginning in the 7th Century, the English language was beginning to appear on parchment, and vellum as well. Thanks to the written form of expression the English language was now able to record a variety of subtle nuances, and express in great depth the human experience.

An Epic English Language Poem

Beowulf is the first great poem ever written in the English language. Its author remains unknown. This stylistic masterpiece was written between the 7th and 10th century, and celebrates the glory days of the Germanic warrior. The work was written in a traditionally oral form that would lend itself to other legendary English writings such as that of Shakespeare. The surprisingly extensive, and expressive language found in Beowulf leaves no doubt that even the earliest forms of English had the ability to utilize a wide variety of creativity, and expressionism. Beowulf contains around 40,000 words. English speakers today speak a less elaborate form than that found in the language of Beowulf. By this time, written English was already fully developed, and had become the perfect vehicle to express action, and descriptive speech. Writers were now capable of articulating great depth, detail, and subtle nuances due to the fusing of so many different languages. Around this same period, the Anglo Saxon Chronicles were also recording England’s historical events.

Invaders From The North

By the late 8th century, just as the English language began to evolve into an elaborate form of communication, a great destructive force from the north had already begun to lay siege. The Vikings had arrived, and sacked, and burned the religious centers that were recording the new English era. First to go was the religious center located on Lindisfarne Island. One year later the Vikings returned, and sacked the Abbey of Jaro, where the monk Bead had been the writer of one of the greatest libraries in English history. Bead was one of the scholars instrumental in writing in Latin, as well as English. Jaro was burned to the ground, and as at Lindisfarne, all its books were destroyed. For the next seventy years the Vikings ruthlessly attacked the eastern half of England. Few stories endure as to what had occurred because few survived the invasions to live, and tell about them. At first, the Vikings were content upon plundering the fortresses of their wealth, and returning home. But, in 865 the Vikings decided to annex East Anglia as well. Within five years the marauders, now known as Danes, controlled the entire north, and eastern part of the country. Of all of the early Anglo Saxon kingdoms only Wessex remained. Old Norse, the language of the conquerors was now spreading throughout the land. Old English now faced the same fate as the Celtic language it had supplanted, which was virtual extinction.

The English language needed a champion. It found one in King Alfred the Great. He would become known as the great defender of the English language. Alfred came to the throne within one year of the Danes numerous attacks on the northeast. In 878, the Danes defeated Alfred in a decisive battle that took place at Chipidome in Woocher. Alfred fled the battle with only a few surviving men. If Alfred’s kingdom fell, then the entire country would fall into the hands of the Danes, and be controlled, and settled by the conquerors that would inevitably crush the English language. His situation was desperate. Alfred began mounting guerilla warfare against the Danes, and in the spring of 878, he sent out a call for all inhabitants of the land to join him in a battle against the Danes. Four thousand men from Woocher, and Summerset would answer the call. The famous battle would result in the Danes being defeated, with the Danish king being baptized as a Christian. A peace treaty followed, and Alfred, and the Danes would divide the country into two regions, establishing a border that divided the land from the Thames to the north. The land to the north would be known as Danelagh, and it fell under Danish rule. The land to the south, and west was English territory ruled by Alfred.

Over the course of time the Danes, and English would trade in goods, and as a result, began to intermarry. Communities mixed, and so did the languages. The English began to absorb the Danish language, and culture. The extension, “by” had been the Danish name for farm. Today towns like Swanby, Runby, Faceby, and Kirkby, that had been vast farmland, still carry the same Danish names. Thorpe, meant “village”, and villages that grew into towns like Westhorpe still have their roots in Danish tradition. “Waite” is a section of land, such as in Huthwaite. “Son” was a Danish way of adding to the father’s name. Harrison, Robinson, Gibson, Simpson, and Watson are but a few examples. The Danish influence exists on many aspects of the English language, and culture even to this very day.

Old Norse remained in the dialect of some northeastern parts of England. Words such as beck (stream), and the sound “sk”, for sky began to appear in the English language. Other words that originated from the Danes include anger, knife, neck, root, scowl, and window. When the English, and the Danes had different words that meant the same thing, often both would survive such as in craft/skill, hide/skin, and sick/ill. These, and other foreign words were helping to build a powerful English vocabulary, and added to the richness of the language’s expression. Words like law, egg, husband, leg, ill, die, and ugly, are all from Old Norse. The pronouns they, their, and them are also Old Norse in origin. Even today, Old Norse affects the English language more than any other. Old Norse actually resulted in restructuring the way English speakers form sentences. Old English had no prepositions like “to.” Instead they added special endings, which meant the same thing. In English, gunum, meant (to man), and un (many), added to blanc (horse), blancun meant, many horses.

Through the great efforts of King Alfred, the English language survived, but the written form remained in a state of ruin. Written English had been on the decline ever since the early Viking raids. In his capital city of Winchester, Alfred began to promote literacy, and the restoration of the English tongue. “We should promote certain books for all men to know, into a language we can all understand. And also arrange it, if we have peace, so that all free men among the English people can devote themselves until the time when all men are able to read English writing well.” Alfred had five books of religion, history, and philosophy translated from Latin into English. Copies were sent to the twelve Bishops of his kingdom to be taught, and spread as widely as possible amongst the people. Alfred truly made the English language the jewel in his crown. King Alfred the Great died in 899, but at the time of his death, the English language had become more prestigious, and more widely read than ever before. Alfred’s legacy was to produce English text that could eventually be read by all who spoke the language.

By the mid 11th century English seemed secure as a language in both written, and spoken form, but the language itself was about to face its greatest threat yet.

The Battle Over Hastings. Painted by Philip James de Loutherbourg.

The Norman Invasion

The English king Edward the Confessor, spent many years in Normandy, and regarded William Duke of Normandy as his son. In 1066, Edward named William as his successor to the English throne. Harold, as Earl of Essex, the most powerful of the English lords was summoned to Normandy, where he was to pledge his loyalty to William. He did! However, when Edward was laid to rest, Harold had himself crowned as the king of England on the very same day of Edward’s death. William responded with a full invasion of England. The Norman, and English armies met near Hastings where a fight would ensue. Harold would fall, fatally pierced through the eye with an arrow. The site where the incident took place would be named with the French word battle. The Battle of Hastings! England had a new king, and a new language. Harold would be the last English-speaking king for three centuries.

On Christmas day in 1066, William was crowned king. Although his coronation was in English, and Latin, William spoke French throughout the entire proceeding. A new king, and a new language were in authority in England. Approximately ten thousand words of the Old French vocabulary would find their way into the English language. The Normans however, no longer spoke Old Norse. They spoke the language of what today is called Old French, which had its roots in Latin. Over time, many words that originated from Normandy would become unpleasantly familiar to the English.

French words became an integral part of the English language. Enemy, and castle would be new words added to the English language immediately. The French built many castles throughout the conquered land, and used them to impose Norman rule over the English-speaking people. By blood the Normans were the same as the Norsemen, who had invaded Lindisfarne, and Jaro centuries earlier, but the language had become very different. Old French, Norman words such as army, archer, soldier, guard, crown, thrown, court, Duke, Baron, nobility, peasant, servant, governor, liberty, authority, obedience, traitor, felony, warrant, arrest, judgment, jury, accused, acquit, sentence, condemn, prison, and jail were words that proved who was in authority over the land. Words such as city, market, salmon, mackerel, oysters, pork, sausage, bacon, fruit, olive, appetite, plate, mustard, salad and dinner, all Old French were absorbed into the English language as well.

The Norman takeover of the English was pervasive, and absolute. The native ruling class was slaughtered, banished, or disinherited. Half of England was now in the hands of one hundred, and ninety men. Only eleven of those held half of that, and not one of them spoke English. The writing of English became increasingly more rare. Even the writings of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles ceased to exist. In a country of three languages, English became the least communicated in any form. As the English language was forced underground, it would take another three hundred years for it to reemerge, and when it finally does, it changed dramatically from when Beowulf had been written.

The Normans took over power in every important aspect of English life especially in positions within the government, and the church. No longer were Englishmen Earls, Bishops, or Abbotts. The last recorded record of English writing during this period was in Peterborough Cathedral Abbey in the year, 1154. For the past six hundred years, the Anglo Saxon Chronicles were written in English, the language of the people. The Peterborough Chronicles would be the last official English text, recording that the new Bishop, was a Frenchman. These would be the last words written in the English language for the next three hundred years. Old English ceased to be the language of record throughout the land. Nevertheless, the spoken language remained the language of ninety percent of the people. Over time, the language became simpler. Plural forms were becoming more prevalent. Despite English being the officially ignored language, it was continuing to evolve and change, and would endure, resisting, and absorbing the invaders tongue, until it would someday become the prevalent language it is today.

New words began to pour into the English language. Words such as, honor, damsels, jousting, and tournaments were absorbed into the language through the French Court. The vocabulary of romance flourished in England. Eleanor, the French queen of England was considered the most cultured in all of Europe. She patronized the troubadours, and poets whose verses, and songs painted the romantic image of the middle ages. This would be known historically as the age of chivalry, but it was never realized outside the pages of literature. One hundred years earlier, chivalry meant something entirely different, it meant cavalry, as it was the warriors of the Normans that carried the day at the Battle of Hastings. Since then, the English considered the Normans as little more than thugs, and bullies, who ran the country by force, terror, and intimidation. But to the Normans, the mounted warriors became known as Knights, and chivalry represented a whole new paradigm of ideals, and behaviors. As a result, the English culture became infused with words, and concepts such as honor, and altruism. Ideas shifted, and words went with them. It was through Eleanor that the stories of Arthur, and his Knights made their way into history books, as the concept of French romanticism, cultivated the region, adding new words that were richer than those of the Normans who had invaded the northern region of the island. This new language would run through the sonnets, and poems of Shakespeare, and the pop songs of today’s hit singles, which have all, in some way, been inspired by Eleanor’s heart of the court of courtly love, and the imagery of fair cruel ladies.

It was William the Conqueror that introduced the system of feudalism to England, and along with it came words such as village, vassal, labor, and serfs. But, the French language did not trickle down to the common people. The native Englishmen were concerned with things related to their less than exalted condition. They sang of matters that related to their daily lives, and sang in their own tongue. English words like summer, sow, seed, spring, and wood sprang from Beowulf. Merry, sing, and loud, words authorized by Alfred remained as part of the language as well. In the country, where 95% of the people lived as serfs, tied to their lord’s land for life, at the subsistence level, lived in cottages, or huts, while their French masters lived in castles. The modern form of English still holds these distinctions. On the farm the English tended to cattle, and raised oxen, and cows, while the French dined on the preferred meats that came to their table. The French ate beef. The English used sheep, while the French dined on mutton. Calf was veal; deer was venison, and pig, pork. English animals were French meat in every case. The English labored as the French feasted. Apple in Old English meant any kind of fruit. The word fruit is introduced into the language, absorbed, and becomes a way of describing a variety of different foods. As a result, apple takes on the characteristic of describing a particular kind of food. English words begin taking on a more narrow meaning, giving the language more descriptive expressions, flexibility, and preciseness. Sadly though, after 150 years, the written form of English, which was the labor of Alfred, was all but dead. But, the balance of power within the languages was about to shift.

Where the French masters, and their English subjects lived together, the boundaries in language began to wither away. The court, and countryside began to mingle, as French words continued to enhance the English vocabulary. But, not the grammar as the Danes had. As trade grew so did the towns with London merging as the center of commerce. Its population doubled during the 13th century, and French craftsmen came to England from Normandy to ply their trade, as the city continued to expand. Feudalism began to loosen its grip. English speakers in masse migrated to the city, looking for opportunity, and a better life. Already established were the French court officials, administrators, lawyers, and merchants. Craftsmen gave French names to the tools of the trade including, measure, mallet, chisel, pulley, bucket, and trowel. As the population, and trade grew so too did the vocabulary. Business opportunity brought in new business oriented words such as, merchant, money, price, discount, bargain, contract, partner, and embezzle became part of the English language. The English didn’t just absorb the French vocabulary; they took their names from it as well. Then as now, names are taken out of fashion, and the fashion of the 13th century was French. French names like, Richard, Robert, Simon, Steven, John, Jeffrey, and the most popular William became the leading names of the English, as well as the French. With this much French influence, one would think the English language would be engulfed entirely, but that didn’t happen. Because of particular historical events, French speakers in English became cut off form their cultural, and linguistic roots.

In 1284, John, the reigning king of Normandy lost his land in a war with the much smaller kingdom of France. The Normandy Dukedoms, and ancestral lands of William the Conqueror became part of another empire. Many French Englishmen were cut off from their ancestral lands, and when they lost that contact, the ruling class began to lose connection with their homeland. Their identities began to change, and their language began to lose its grip on the French-English. French speakers, even from the noblest of families began to marry English wives. When they did, they married English speakers, and into the English language as well. Now, the French aristocrats children were learning English from mothers who spoke the language as their native tongue. As a result, children of Anglo-French families began to grow up bilingual. By 1250, many children were struggling to learn French from language instructors, as had to grapple with what was effectively a foreign tongue. Many French living within the English society were beginning to speak English as well. As Normandy became a foreign land, those with French blood, and French names began calling themselves trueborn Englishmen. The French language was becoming a foreign tongue even to the French, but its vocabulary was streaming into the English language. Words like attire, defend, figure, malady, music, person, sacrifice, scarlet, spy, stable, virtue, park, reign, beauty, clergy, cloak, country, food, and air all became part of the English language. The French court would introduce legal terms, such as plead, defend, and marshal while the religious order used clergy, and pillory. As trade with the east began to open, Arabic words also became part of the English language; words such as saffron, mattress, hazard, camphor, lute, amber, syrup, and alchemy were absorbed into English. The chess game term checkmate entered the English language from the Arabic word shazmat, meaning the king is dead.

Fine nuances became part of the language as well. Answer, and respond did not mean the same thing. Neither did, begin and commence, or liberty and freedom. As new words poured in, English words remained, steadfastly, adding to the richness of the language. Words like swan/signet, ax/hatchet, ask/demand, bit/morsel, wish/desire, might/power, room/chamber, on the surface appear similar, yet they began to represent shades of meaning, new thoughts, and expressive details, adding more precision, and flexibility, to the language, which allowed speakers, and writers to carefully choose the right world to express their desired form of communication. Rather than replace English, French was equipping the language with its ability to communicate more powerfully.

The old language was beginning to be revived, and by now was a rallying cry for a new people. Edward I of Scotland, a direct descendant of William the Conqueror, known as the hammer of the Scots, used the English language to unite the kingdom, when the French King Phillip threatened to invade England in 1295. Edward used the English language as a symbol of national unity to galvanize support. “If Phillip is able to do all the evil he means to, God protect us, he plans to wipe out our English language entirely from the earth.” The invasion of Phillip never came. Despite the threat of yet another invasion, Latin, and French remained the official language of those who governed the nation. As the 14th century approached English became the one language everyone knew, and used in their daily lives. Even the French troubadours were now singing in the English language.

By William of Nassyngton

In englysch tonge I schal you telle
Yif ye so longe with me wil dwelle
Ne latyn wil I speke ne waste
Bot englisch that men usen maste
For that is youre kynde langage
That ye have most here of usage
That kan eche man understonde
That is boren in engelonde
For that langage is most schewed
As wel among lered as lewed
Latyn as I trowe can nane
Bot thoo that have it at scole tane
Somme kan frensch and no latyn
That used have court and dwelled therin
And somme kan of latyn a party
That kan frensch ful febelly
And somme understonden englysch
That kan nouther latyn ne frensch
Bot lered and lewed olde and yonge
Alle understonden englysch tonge

The Great Pestilence: Black Death

It would be a rodent that gave the English language its greatest boost. In 1348, black rats began to arrive on the shores of England from France. They carried with them a deadly cargo. The disease became known as the great pestilence, or the Black Death. Black rats shed infected fleas that fed on their blood. This would then transmit the bubonic plague to humans who would likewise be bitten by the contagious fleas. An estimated one-third of England’s four million died from this terrible plague. In some places, entire communities were wiped out. This set into motion a social upheaval that aided in the restoration of the English language as the recognized language of the nation. At the local level, priests who performed mandatory services in Latin either caught the plague or ran away. Many of their replacements were laymen whose only language was English. They began to perform religious rituals, such as Masses, and baptisms in the English tongue.

After the Black Death, England became a very different country. In many places there was hardly anyone that could work the land, or tend to livestock. The acute shortage of labor meant those that did have the requisite skill, and who could perform the work suddenly had the power to demand better working, and living conditions, and higher wages as well. As wages rose, the price of property fell, and the fortunes of the common people began to rise. By 1385, English replaced French in the schoolrooms, and as literacy spread, so did the demand for books written in English. It was during this time that the English language would find its place in the state, and in the law. In 1362, for the first time in three hundred years, English was acknowledged as the official language of business, and the language of the state because too many lawyers, judges, and officials had died from the plague. As a result, cases could now be pleaded, defended, and judged in English. That same year Parliament opened in Westminster, and for the first time ever the Chancellor addressed the assembly, not in French, but in English. Soon English would become the language of the kings. Since 1066, during Harold’s brief stint, England had not had an English king. In 1399, Henry Duke of Lancaster deposed King Richard II. Henry Duke of Lancaster became known as Henry the 4th. He made his coronation speech in English. Once again, the English language was the royal language of England.

Catholic Control: The Dark Ages

The Catholic Church controlled all aspects of life. In the church, Latin was the spoken language, but nobody understood it except the church leaders themselves. When one went to church, and everybody did because it was compulsory, common prayers, the service, hymns, and everything else was spoken in Latin. Only the clergy were allowed to read the word, and they even did that silently. Absurdly, a bell would ring to let the congregation know when the priest reached the important parts. Although the masses were forced to attend church, they weren’t even allowed to know the words of the faith that was imposed upon them, under the threat of death. The authority of the Catholic Church sought to hold all power, and language was power, so it was vital that the clergy stood between the believer, and the Catholic bible, which was written in Latin. But, all of this nonsense was about to change dramatically.

In the 14th century, there was a movement that would tear the church in two. It would mark the end of the middles ages, and cost the lives of millions. This would be the battle for the language of the bible. The English wanted access to the language of the kingdom of heaven. They wanted a bible that belonged to them, and they wanted a religious teaching that was in their language. They were also willing to fight, and die for it. So, English set out to become the language of God. This struggle would be a violent one, as the lay demanded access to the bible in a tongue they understood.

John Wycliffe, a theologian, and philosopher was fluent in Latin. Wycliffe believed everyone should have access to the knowledge he held. The church in Wycliffe’s time was corrupt, and he was fiercely opposed to the power, and wealth of the church. “When men speak of the church they speak of priests, monks, bishops, friars, but it should not be so.” “Whether a hundred popes, and all the friars turned to cardinals, their opinions, and matters of faith should not be accepted except in so far as they are found on the scripture itself.” Wycliffe railed at the corruption, and complacency of the Catholic faith. Wycliffe believed man had the right tot examine the bible for himself. This meant an English bible that was unauthorized by the church. To the church this very thought (an opinion crime) was heretical, even seditious. Wycliffe set out to produce an English language bible. The work had to be done in secrecy. Its aim was to not only produce an English language bible, but to also overthrow, and end the reign of the Catholic Church. By 1380, Wycliffe had completed, and authorized the first English bible translated from Latin. The work was done at Oxford University, with numerous translators. Hundreds of English language bibles were copied by hand, and distributed throughout England. Today, one hundred, and seventy copies have survived, which means there must have been armies of faithful followers that believed in the cause who were secretly transcribing, and passing them on, knowing their discovery meant certain death.

Eventually, hundreds would be martyred as a result of Wycliffe’s English bible. But, many believed it was worth dying for, as it was “God’s” work that they were performing. Because of Wycliffe’s bible, many phrases made their way into the English language, and continue to this day. Some of those words, and phrases include, woe is me, an eye for an eye, barbarian, birthday, child bearing, cock crow, communication, crime, dishonor, envy, godly, graven, humanity, injury, jubilee, lecture, madness, mountainous, pollute, tramp, unfaithful, and zeal. These, and other words, and phrase first appeared in Wycliffe’s bible. In fact, there are more than one thousand Latin words that first appeared in Wycliffe’s bible, and those words would become a pertinent part of the English tongue. Other words from Wycliffe’s bible include, emperor, justice, city, cradle, suddenly, angel, multitude, and glory.  Wycliffe’s bible immediately became the best selling, and most sought after literary work in the English language. The church immediately condemned it. “The jewel of the cleric is turned to the sport of the laity, and the pearl of the gospel is scattered abroad, and trampled under foot by swine.” Clearly, the Catholic Church thought of the English as nothing more than mere farm animals; chattel to labor for the churches coffers. By keeping the masses in the dark, regarding scriptural content, contradictions that existed between the Catholic Church, and the scripture could not be known. However, once the English bible became available, people began to question the churches doctrine, and authority, and the foreign faith that was imposed upon them. Moreover, the swine that the church spoke of were now becoming illiterate, and learned.

Wycliffe trained an order, and dispatched them throughout England. There purpose was to spread the word all across the land. They were determined to win the battle against the church, and preach against its corruption. They did this reading from Wycliffe’s bible. Those who read from Wycliffe’s bible became known as Lollards, which meant, the whisperers. The Lollard’s remained a secretive, but influential movement that was hated by the Catholic establishment. The Lollards went straight to the people, cutting out the middlemen. The following text is from the book of Mark, which Wycliffe had interpreted directly from the original Greek, and Hebrew:

Blessed be poor men in spirit, for the kingdom of heavens is theirs.
Blessed be mild men, for they shall wield the earth.
Blessed be they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed be they that hunger, and thirst rightwiseness, for they shall be fulfilled.
Blessed be merciful men, for they shall get mercy.

On May 17th, 1382, a special organization of top Catholic Church leaders met to examine Wycliffe’s work. It was as much a show trial, as the Nuremberg trials held in Germany after WWII, as the conclusion was preordained. Wycliffe was condemned as a heretic. The Catholic Church ordered his arrest, and the arrest, and imprisonment of all of Wycliffe’s preachers. The church also secured a parliamentary ban on all of Wycliffe’s bibles. Wycliffe fell ill. The stress defeated him. He became paralyzed by a stroke, and would die two years later. Regardless, it was already too late for the corrupt church leaders, because after Wycliffe’s death, the movement continued, as the faithful avoided captivity, keeping their faith, and their English teachings alive. Wycliffe’s bible became a national political movement, and its cause was for the people to have an official English language bible.

The church was not satisfied with Wycliffe’s death. In 1414, the Catholic Church declared Wycliffe a heretic once again, and in the spring of 1428, his body was ordered exhumed, and posthumously burned. Wycliffe’s remains were burned near a tributary of the Avon River. His ashes were then scattered into it. Officially, the bible would remain in Latin, but a Lollard prophecy rang true:

The Avon to the Severn Runs
The Severn to the sea
And Wycliffe’s dust shall spread abroad
Wide as the waters be

The Church Of England

In 1417, King Henry V, began writing letters in English. His English letters started a movement to standardize spelling throughout the entire country, because each region spelled even the simplest of words differently. Take for example the word church, which could have been spelled sixteen different ways. The following are those different spelling forms, church, churche, cherche, chirche, church, chyrch, cherge, chyrche, kirk, kirke, kyrk, kyrke, kerk, kire, kerke, schyrche. The Chancellery was given the task to standardize spelling because it was crucial that all official documents that were written in London, could be read elsewhere. Because government documents had legal status, they had to be consistent. The Chancellery had the task to impose this new standard upon the entire nation. Congruency within the language became one of the nation’s top priorities. The Chancellery had to choose, which form of a word, and which spelling would become the standard. Thousands of documents were written, and sent all over the country explaining this new legal procedure. The language was becoming clearer, more modern, and congruent. I, (previously Iche) found its modern form. So did any, but, ought, and such. Lond became land, chirche (and the rest) became church, xal, and schal became shall. Rithe became right. Hath, and doth became has, and does. Everyone spelling words the same way doesn’t mean the language became logical though. Anyone trying to rationalize the English language text realizes immediately that the final determination is in reality not logical at all.

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese

You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice
But the plural of house is houses, not hice
If the plural of man is always called men
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine
And the plural of vow is vows, never vine
If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet
And I give you a boot would a pair be called beet

If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth
If the singular’s this and the plural is these
Should the plural of kiss ever be keese

Then one may be that and three would be those
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren
But though we say mother, we never say methren

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim
So the English, I think, you all will agree
Is the strangest of languages you ever will see

The Power Of The Press: Gutenberg Germany

The print medium gave writing its true power. The ability to print is the most technological seismic change western civilization has ever known. In 1435, printing was invented in Guttenberg, Germany. This would be the beginning of the information age. Print also made it hard to control the spread of ideas. As in England, where the Chancellery decided how words would be spelled, it would be the owners of the presses that determined what words would be used.

Early in the reign of Henry VIII, the king remained adamant on burning Wycliffe’s bible, and followers. Wycliffe’s bible was circulating relentlessly in hand copied form. The Catholic Church continued hunting down, and executing all books they alone considered heretical. It was during this time, an ordained priest, educated at Oxford, named William Tyndale began to preach against the Catholic Church. History was repeating itself. The presses would play a major role in bringing about a radical change in the English language, and what was to be read. When one cleric challenged Tyndale regarding his intention to make a new English language bible he responded, “I will cause a boy who drives a plow to know more of the scriptures that thou.” It would be Tyndale who finished the work that had begun with John Wycliffe.

William Tyndale: A Stranger In A Strange Land

In 1524, at the age of 29, William Tyndale left England. Unknown to him at the time, he would never return. He settled in Cologne, Germany, and began to work on translating the New Testament, not from Latin, but from the original text of Hebrew, and Greek. By 1526, six thousand copies had been printed, and were about to be smuggled into England. Henry VIII, and the Catholic Church were alerted, even terrified of this perceived threat. The nation’s entire political, and religious authority was put on alert. Naval ships patrolled the coastal waters, and searched boats for the latest heretical conspiracy against the church, and a great number of Tyndale’s books were intercepted. Nevertheless, hundreds of copies of the first run of Tyndale’s Bible would eventually make their way through. The king sought to purchase the entire print run so he could have them burned. “Oh, he will burn them”, Tyndale was known to have said. “Well, I am the gladder, for I shall get the money for these books, and the whole world will cry out for the burning of God’s word.” The books were purchased, and burnt. Tyndale would use the proceeds to prepare, and print a better version of his bible, and all at the church’s expense. Tyndale’s work would later become 85% of the King James Bible, and native English language speakers all use Tyndale’s words, and phrases unto this very today. Words, and phrases such as, scapegoat, let there be light, the powers that be, filthy lucre, my brother’s keeper, fight the good fight, flowing with milk and honey, sick unto death, a man after my own heart, signs of the times, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, ye of little faith, eat drink and be merry, broken hearted, clear eyed, and hundreds of other phrases, and idioms are accredited to Tyndale. Words like, beautiful, fishermen, stumbling block, two-edged viper, Jehovah, and Passover also come to the English language through Tyndale. Tyndale’s language not only refined the English speaker regarding their external experiences, they also taught them how to communicate concerning their internal condition.

Before long there were thousands of copies of Tyndale’s Bible in England. These new bibles were produced in pocket-sized books and were easily concealed. He passed them on to city officials, and universities, even to young boys who plowed the fields. The authorities, especially Thomas Moore railed against Tyndale’s work. But, it was too late, the damage to the Catholic Church was done. The English had their bible. Tyndale, of course, was condemned as a heretic, and the hunt for him continued until 1535 when two hired assassins trapped Tyndale in Antwerp. Tyndale was captured, kidnapped, and smuggled out of the city, and taken to Vilvoorde Castle near Brussels, where he was imprisoned and tortured extensively. In his last letter, Tyndale asked, “That I might have a warmer cup, for I suffer greatly from the cold. A warmer coat also, for what I have is very thin. A piece of clothe for which to patch my leggings, and I ask to be allowed to have a lamp in the evening for it is wearisome to sit alone in the dark. But, most of all, I beg and beseech your clemency that the commissary will permit me to have my Hebrew bible, my grammar, and my dictionary, so that I might continue with my work.” Tyndale did continue to work, his work would also give the English language phrases such as, a prophet has no honor in his own country, a stranger in a strange land, a law unto themselves, and, let my people go.

In August, of 1536, Tyndale was found guilty of heresy by an inquisitional court in the Netherlands, and as was the case with John Wycliffe, the determination was already predetermined. On October 6th, Tyndale was tortured yet again, strangled while tied to a stake, and burned. His last words would be, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Within one year the Catholic Church would be ousted from England, and Tyndale’s bible placed in every parish throughout the land. The ousting of the church wasn’t based on corruption, or even morality. It would be based on a king who sought the annulment of his marriage. A decision the Catholic Church wasn’t willing to make.

The Pope’s refusal to grant Henry VIII a divorce from Catherine of Aragon led to a confrontation with the Catholic Church. Suddenly, Henry VIII objected to Catholic rule. Precipitously, scripture became more important to the king than Catholic authority. As well, Thomas Moore would be executed for refusing to a meeting of the minds with the king. King Henry’s new advisors, Thomas Cromwell, and Thomas Cranmer, pushed for ecclesiastic reform. The split with the Catholic Church also meant a split from Rome. The English reformation was now in its infancy. The English language would now become the language of the court, the language of literature, and now the language of religion. Ironically, at the time of Tyndale’s martyrdom, Henry had authorized the first legal English bible, the Coverdale Bible. Soon there would be so many competing versions of the bible that King James of Scotland would order a standardized version, which today is known as the King James Bible, completed in 1611. The interpreters of the King James Bible reviewed all of the competing versions, but it would be William Tyndale’s Bible that made up the majority of the English text. In fact, 85% of the King James Bible is in reality, Tyndale’s work.

Henry The Eighth And His Many Wives

Henry VIII married Catherine of Aragon, who had previously been married to the king’s brother Arthur. Arthur had been the original heir to the throne. Henry, and Catherine’s first son died, and a series of miscarriages followed. Catherine therefore failed to produce an heir to the throne. Henry being much younger watched as his wife became bloated as a result of numerous pregnancies. The marriage however was able to produce a daughter. Mary! Catherine, being of Spanish blood was a devote Catholic, as her daughter would grow to be. During Henry’s reign, Thomas Woolsey was the churches supreme leader. Woolsey rose from a butcher’s son to the hold the highest position in the Church of England. Woolsey would be the architect of Henry’s victories in the French campaigns, known as the Battle of the Spurs. Henry took control of two French cities at that time. Also, during this time, in Germany, Martin Luther had risen in power, and began condemning the corruption of the Catholic Church.

Henry was adamant to defend Rome, and won the title of Defender of the Faith when he wrote his book, In Defense of the Seven Sacraments. This was the first book written by a king since Alfred. Thomas Moore, a friend who held great sway over Henry requested Henry to take a more moderate stance on religion. The king steadfastly refused. King Henry would eventually fall for the sister of one of his mistresses, Anne Boleyn. Anne refused Henry sexual relations, only unless he agreed to marry her. The difficulty was that he was already married, and Catherine refused to grant a divorce. So, Henry, and Anne began searching for a legal loophole to resolve the marriage. Their best hope laid in the bible. The book of Leviticus forbade a man to marry his dead brother’s wife. Henry argued that when Rome permitted his marriage to Catherine, the Pope exceeded his power, and the marriage was therefore invalid. That matter was then turned over for disposition to the man who was both the Pope’s representative in England, and Henry’s own chief minister, Cardinal Woolsey.

On May 17th 1527, the first trial of the marriage of Henry the VIII began. It was a secret trial, as Catherine had no knowledge about the proceedings. All were confident that Woolsey would rule the marriage invalid. To everyone’s surprise, on May 31st, Woolsey adjourned the court indefinitely on grounds of the difficulty of the case. Woolsey defied the king who felt betrayed. The fact is that matters in Rome at that very time made it impossible for the Pope to rule in favor of Henry. The troops of Charles V had sacked Rome, and pillaged the city. The Pope was driven out of the city, and sought refuge at Castel St. Angelo, which was the property of Catherine’s nephew. While the Pope waited in exile at the Castel St. Angelo, Henry’s desire to receive an annulment was quashed.

Henry, and Anne had hoped for a quick marriage, but the matter had stretched into years. In the second divorce trial held in 1529, Henry’s patience was at an end. Woolsey knew his power, and life was at stake. He wrote Henry’s case, in his own hand, “never rising to eat or even piss” according to his valet. But, not even the Cardinal of England had the power to sway Europe’s political powers at that time. Given the condition of the Pope, Woolsey was unable to persuade the Pope to grant Henry, and Catherine’s annulment. Woolsey would lose his position, power, and prestige, and shortly thereafter died, but not before cursing Anne, and blaming her for his swift downfall. Woolsey predicted the downfall of the Catholic Church as well.

Anne, a sympathizer of Luther, encouraged Henry to turn to Rome’s English opponents for guidance, and that led to a meeting with Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury. Henry was told that he had been going about the divorce proceeding the wrong way. Cranmer said he had been treating it as a legal matter, but it wasn’t, according to Cranmer, it was a moral one. Cranmer said the bible supplied absolute answers as to what was right, and what was wrong. Cranmer suggested Henry seek the knowledge of theological experts to get his answer, which all of Rome, as well as the Pope would have to recognize. Experts gathered at Cambridge, and delivered the verdict Henry desired. Henry’s envoy was then sent to pit the argument against the authority of the Pope. The entire power of the Tutor state bribed, and bullied the European universities to rule in favor of Henry. But, Catherine wasn’t without her own defenders. One of them was Thomas Able, her personal minister. Henry sent Able on a mission to Catherine’s nephew, but Able acted as a double agent. Outwardly, he was working for Henry’s cause, but secretly he was undermining the king’s strategy, on Catherine’s behalf. When Able returned to England, he became Catherine’s outspoken propagandist. He wrote, Invicta Veritas, which attacked the verdict of the university scholars. Henry read the book, and was furious, he wrote, “The whole basis of this book is false. Therefore, the Papal authority is empty save in its own seat.” Despite this, Able continued to rail against the king. This led to Able being arrested, and imprisonment in the tower twice. Able would subsequently be executed as a traitor to England in 1540.

Henry being king, and emperor of England felt he was subject to no authority on earth. Not even that of the Pope. Henry, once the stoutest of proponents of papal authority, turned his back on the church, all because of the matter of a divorce. Henry held that the truth was not found in Rome, but in the words of the bible itself. Those same words that the church had tried so desperately hide from the English people.

The Pope’s interest in preserving his own position, and the five years delay in obtaining a divorce had taken its toll. The church was now Henry’s enemy, and what stood between him, and Anne. Henry argued that there were no Popes in scripture, but there were plenty of kings. Cranmer also argued that it was kings who were God’s anointed. Henry’s wrath against the Catholic Church would transform the monarchy from that point on, and forever. On January 19th 1531, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that Henry should be the head of the Church of England. The announcement was met by a stunned silence. The Archbishop took it to mean consent. Henry was now head of the Church of England. By becoming the head of the English Church, Henry broke Magna Carta, the first clause of his coronation, which was his allegiance, and devotion to the Catholic faith. Henry, still married to Catherine became a bigamist. In December of 1532, Anne became pregnant, and in January of 1533, Henry, and Anne married. The following month Cranmer was made Archbishop of Canterbury, and declared Henry’s marriage to Catherine unlawful. Charles V of Spain became furious upon learning of the announcement, and the Pope excommunicated Henry.

Henry’s old friend and counselor, Thomas Moore, warned him regarding his defiance to the church. Laws now required opponents to swear a double oath, to accept the kings second marriage, and to object to Papal supremacy. To refuse the oath meant treason to England, and certain death. Moore refused the oath, and was imprisoned for more than a year at the tower. At his trial, Moore said he could not be guilty because the English Parliament did not have the power to make Henry the supreme leader of the church. Moore argued that all of Christianity had given that authority to the Pope, and had done so for more than a thousand years. The law chief justice responded, “English law was whatever English Parliament said it was.” Moore was condemned, and beheaded on July 6th, 1535. Working with Parliament, instead of against it, as his father had, worked in Henry’s favor. In 1536, the monasteries were plundered of their wealth, and dissolved under the guise of reform. Henry would then face the greatest threat to his power, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. By 1540, the last standing Abbey was gone. This provoked shock, outrage, and open revolt. The largest army England had ever seen, since the Battle of the Roses, some thirty thousand with twelve thousand reserves marched toward London from the North. They were prepared for war. Henry only had eight thousand men. Wisely, he chose to negotiate a deal. Henry also offered pardons to all, and the revolt dispersed. A few months later Henry broke his promise, and exacted revenge. The leaders of the revolt were arrested, and sent to London. The trial was especially harsh on the clerics, even those who were coerced into joining the revolt. Many religious leaders were drawn and quartered, or hanged. Henry’s church, which condemned Rome for all its barbarity was now the new form of tyranny, and terror.

Anne was unable to produce a male heir to Henry’s throne. After only three years of marriage, she was executed on trumped up charges of adultery, incest, and sexual perversion. Anne’s real crime however, was that she failed to produce a male heir. Henry soon married Jane Seymour who produced a male heir, Edward. However, Jane would die shortly after giving birth to Edward. Henry’s two disputed marriages, and the lack of a male heir were now resolved. Edward succeeded Henry in 1547. Edward then removed his half sister Mary from succession because of her staunch Catholic religious faith. On Edward’s deathbed, Lady Jane Grey was named queen of England. Mary formed an army based out of East Anglia, and backed by the Catholic Church, and successfully deposed Jane, who was subsequently beheaded. In 1554, Mary married Phillip of Spain, and thereby began the 4th Tutor dynasty. Mary restored Catholicism to England, and during her five-year reign, executed more than two hundred and eighty protestant dissenters, who were burnt at the stake. Upon her death, Mary’s half sister, and successor Elizabeth returned England to Protestantism.

Prevailing Winds

John Locke’s, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was a conceptual work where Locke believed that if a definition of all words could be agreed upon, this would bring an absolute understanding between nations, and as a result, peace would prevail, and wars would be avoided. “Dispute would end of themselves.” Locked also believed that a uniformity of language would lead to pure reasoning. Latin remained understood as the international language of scholarly work, and regarded as the only precise way of communicating science, and other serious works. Members of the Royal Society wanted to make England the language for scholars. In 1687, Isaac Newton published his first work, Principia Mathematica, which was published in Latin. But, his next work, Opticks, published in 1704, was written in England. Newton gave the English language new terms such as flexibility, and other terms began to take on new meaning, transmission became, passing through a medium, opaque had meant unlit, but now was understood for not allowing the passage of light. Newton also gave us indistinctness, and well defined. English scholars by now were redefining the meaning of many English words.

For the first time, daily newspapers began to circulate. Articles were short, and concise. The work of Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, was becoming difficult to understand, even tedious to read. Jonathan Swift, the writer of the fictional travel diaries known as, Gulliver’s Travels, written under the name Lemuel Gulliver, (a surgeon and captain), criticized the changes to the written form of English. Swift argued the new terms could hardly be understood unless one had access to an interpreter. Swift hated “the vulgar liberties” the English scholars were having with the English language. Modern scholars had also begun to shorten words, and this shortening was considered crude. Examples include, mob, from a French word that was shortened to mean common people. Swift also hated modal words such as, bully, banter, shuffling, cutting, and sham. Swift said Latin, and Greek had survived because they never changed. Swift said he would save the English language by “putting an end to changes.” He wanted to take control of the language, and to take it away from the “anarchy” of the class bloods, and their slang. In 1712, Swift proposed the foundation of an academy, for ascertaining, improving and preserving the English tongue. This new form of academia was to replace the “bastardization” of the language the aristocracy was responsible for. Swift took his case to Queen Anne, however she died shortly thereafter, and George III, took her place. George III was a German king who spoke little English, and cared about the matter even less. Swift’s plans died a miserable, and humiliating death. Dr. Samuel Johnson, an effortless eccentric would become the English language’s next champion.

Samuel Johnson took seven years to put 43,000 words, and definitions, etymology, and quotations into a dictionary. He confessed to omitting words he didn’t understand, “Many terms of art, manufacturing, and trade were omitted. But, for this deficit, may I boldly allege it was unavoidable. I could not visit caverns to learn the miner’s language, nor take a voyage to perfect my skill in the dialect of navigation.” Johnson’s dictionary is lacking in the language of law, medicine, and the physical sciences. He left out rude words, and when two society ladies asked him why, he responded, “What my dears? Have you been looking for them?” In 1755, Johnson’s dictionary was finally published in two volumes. This dictionary, with all its omissions gave a sense of national pride. For it was not put together by a French committee, but was the efforts of one man alone, an Englishman. One inclusion into Johnson’s dictionary is the word, Tarantula, which described the creature as, “an insect whose bite is cured only by music.” Johnson also defined his trade as a, lexicographer, “a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge.” Today the dictionary is still read, and enjoyed in all its eccentricity, and antiquated glory. Despite the humor attached to some of the definitions, like the examples given above, Johnson’s goal was to fix the pronunciation of words in the English language. But, by the time he finished his work, Johnson was convinced that no dictionary could pin the language down.

The printed form of English was being regarded as the correct way to speak the English language. But, what did the written English sound like, and who decided? One idea was that all the letters that were written should be spoken. This was to help in how to pronounce vowels. But, what of the many English inconsistencies in the written form? Truly, the English language is a nightmare. There are at least seven ways to pronounce the vowel, e. Free, these, leaf, field, seize, key, machine. The four letters ough, have six different sounds, cough, though, through, thorough, bough, thought. Johnson omitted pronunciations from his dictionary stating, “Trying to fix it was like trying to lash the wind.”

The Select Society held. “Pronunciation is proof someone has kept good company.” Thomas Sheridan believed his new book would teach everyone how to speak the same, and make everyone equal. That didn’t happen. His book divided people’s, especially the Scotts who were made to feel their dialect was inferior. Robert Burns would be the bearer of the Scot standard. Born in 1759, to a poor farming family, Burns worked as a plowboy until he was 15. It’s said he loved women, Scotch, and Scots. His first publication was a collection of poems, Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect. Burns made the Scots proud of their own language. Burns died at 37, but he left four hundred songs, and other admired Scottish works.

Prose And Cons

William Wordsworth, an ordinary man wrote, Lyrical Ballads And A Few Other Poems. He said, “Poetry should be written in the language really used by men.” Wordsworth lived in the same manner that he wrote. He planted his garden using wildflowers, instead of the cultivated hybrids of the upper class. It was much the same with the language of his verse; the natural variety that men used in their daily lives. Wordsworth warned that readers who were used to gaudiness, and inane phraseology, of many modern writers would perhaps have to struggle with reading his works. For daring to write poetry in the language of the ordinary person, Wordsworth was reviled by the critics, and contemporary poets. Thomas Paine’s, The Rights Of Man, was written in the plain language of the common people, as well as, Answer’s to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution. Today it’s hard to imagine a world of art without the likes of Paine, Wordsworth, and their predecessors. Wordsworth gave a lasting legacy to the language of ordinary speech. Despite this, among the privileged, and “educated”, how one spoke was a key to their social status.

Jan Austin wrote novels that were aimed at the woman reader. Her subjects were always a well off businessman in search of a wife who had the same social status. Her works carried with it the concept that, if certain words were removed, the thought regarding those words follow. For the male penis she used terms, such as: tailpipe, Pilgrim’s shaft, silent flute, pike of pleasure, mutton dagger, cupids torch, chink stopper, Nimrod the mighty hunter, his majesty in purple cap, pick lock, pump handle, pleasure pivot, dear morsel, and Dr. Johnson, “because there was no one that he wasn’t prepared to stand up to.” Trade terms had no place in the works of Austin. But, those terms were about to reinvigorate the English language once again.

The Industrial Revolution

In 1851, an exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in London, displayed manufactured a plethora of goods, and inventions from the modern industrial world. For the first time ever, every conceivable device was on display. This era of industrialization also ushered in, and introduced new words into the English vocabulary. Those trade words included, hydraulic power, centrifuge pump, lithograph, electro-plating, dynamo graph, and anhydrohepsetarion. Craftsmen, usually watchmakers brought word of their trade into common language as well, wheels, pins teeth, and horsepower the new standard of energy output. New words that originated from Greek, and Latin were absorbed into the new world, which was now the leader in science, and technology such as: biology, petrology, taxonomy, morphology, paleontology, ethnology, gynecology, histology, agronomy, phytology, and entomology. Engine in the middle ages meant skill or talent. It would change to mean machine, or weapon, and again to mean motor, or locomotive. The world was moving on, and taking with it many words. The word industry itself moved away from initially meaning, individual ideals, to large factories or mills, which had originally been trading post. Now, factories were something that churned out products en masse. Words like labor, capital, and industry were not just changes in meaning, but also changed the way people lived. Untold millions would learn new words, from the slang of the poor, including slum. The economic miracle of the industrial revolution was also a curse with large-scale squalor, and poverty on every corner, never before seen in any society considered civil. English was using new words to describe social standing. Status, or rank changed to class. The slum was the realm of the working class, the lower class.

In the late 16th century, the language police sneered at urban dialect, such as Cockney, which was regarded as the speech of the “vulgar provincialists from metropolis”, or “a speech that lacked literary propriety.” The journalist, Henry Mayhew writings would change all of this when the Cockney rhyme eventually gave the street language the cherished characteristic it still enjoys today. Slang means street language. It’s code speech. A way a group speaks to itself, without being understood by the rest of society. Marie Lloyd, was reviled for using the following line, “She sits among the cabbages, and peas.” Lloyd then changed the words to, “She sits among the cabbages, and leeks.” Speech was changing; people were changing, their speech was designed to hide its true meaning, behind masks of respectability. Charles Dodson, who wrote under the pen name of Lewis Carroll, invented the fictional character of Humpty Dumpty, “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean.” In 1871, Dodson wrote, Alice In Wonderland, Through The looking Glass. He then took the written form of the English language into a new realm, with his poem, Jabberwocky, which was considered intellectual nonsense. Dodson once said, “A word means what the writer intends it to mean, and what the hearer understands it to mean, and that is all.”

Pygmalion, a work of Bernard Shaw, is the story of a Cockney girl who’s coached how to speak “properly”, like an upper class lady. Shaw intended to show that there was no magic in this perceived “good speech.” At the time Shaw broke one of the cardinal rules of polite society, which was to never use a certain word on stage. That word was “bloody.” The use of this word brought outrage at the time, but that outrage would soon fade, as the outbreak of WWI would bring about the long decline of social order, an order based merely on language, and speech. From this time on, no longer would one be considered a better person simply based on the manner of their speech. WWII would follow, and the new mediums of radio, and television brought the realities of the horrors of war right into the living room of every home. Soon the Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam were to follow, and terms like, communism, red scare, cold war, and nuclear bombs were added to the vocabulary of anyone that spoke the English language. People could now sit in the comfort of their own home, in their favorite reclining chair, while eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and partake in the ritual of becoming desensitized to the realities of the new world that surrounded them. Next it would be Palestine, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the “terrorist”, both theirs, and ours, as the high-speed “information age” ran so fast at us that everything had to be abbreviated. 911, and WMDs are phrases that were intended to put us in such a perplexed state of fear that nearly everyone was ready to give up all their freedom in order to keep their liberty. Soon, “smart devices” came along, and anyone that had learned to type at 60WPM, could suddenly express themselves while clumsily typing on a keypad the size of a thimble with only their thumbs. CUL8TR, LMAO, and OMG will no doubt become dictionary entries, if they haven’t already, in this age of de-evolution. No longer would one have to leave their desk to communicate to another warm body. One can now LOL while the entity on the receiving end contemplates whether it was a statement of mockery, “laughing out loud”, or sending “lots of love their way.”

This new era, this “information age” is in reality anything but that, as how much accurate information one is allowed access to is controlled by those who own the airwaves, the television networks, cable networks, magazines, newspapers, marketing, and PR firms. I think you get the picture. I hope you do!

As much as the English language has grown, absorbed, and expanded in this age of talking heads, visual manipulation, enhanced audio, and double spin, all of this in reality is designed to bombard the senses with senselessness, and mystify the bovine masses with a sophisticated form of controlling the way we perceive, and react to intentionally illusory contrivances. The age of technology, and a refined, and well-crafted form of propaganda has arrived. It too has brought the English language a myriad of cryptic terminology. But… who cares? Let’s go shopping!

I’ve heard it said that journalism is a form of communication that is untrue, unreadable, paid for, and intentionally misleading. On the other hand, I’ve also heard it said that literature is expressive, stylized, and dynamic yet it is seldom read, and even less understood. What is communication? What is language?

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Japan, Child Abduction, The Hague And Sanctions

The above image was provided by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Note: The first image shows a xenophobic Japanese child surrounded by foreign children all with big noses. The image below it shows a foreign man being arrested for committing a crime against a child. The middle image shows a Japanese woman in financial ruin because she married a foreigner, and is unable to provide for her daughter. The top right image shows a foreign male abducting his daughter, with the Japanese mother pleading for her return. The image below that shows a foreign male beating a defenseless child, taken from her mother who remains in Japan. This despicably racist propaganda was designed to aid the Japanese in understanding the implications of Japan ratifying The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This twisted message exposes the depths of depravity Japanese officials are known for, and the irrational message they desire to portray to their own citizens. In reality, it’s the Japanese that abuse, and abduct children, more than just about any other nation.

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi married Kayoko Miyamoto in 1978. The following year the U.S. Congressional Subcommittee on International Child Abduction had its first hearing. Japan was one of the nations of main concern during that hearing. Koizumi’s marriage would end four years later in divorce. However, prior to the termination of the failed marriage, the couple had two sons, Kotaro, and Shinjiro.

It’s often said that in Japan custody of the children always go to the mother. The father almost always voluntarily cut ties with his children, and forever. While those in the west would find this arrangement appalling, Japan continues to pretend that this is perfectly acceptable conduct. In the case of Koizumi, his families political connections, along with Japan’s notoriously corrupt judiciary awarded sole custody of both sons to him, allowing his ex-wife sole custody of the six month, unborn fetus that she was carrying at the time of the marriage dissolution. Yoshinaga Miyamoto was born three months later. He became the third son of man who would be prime minister, and to this day has yet to meet his father, who has never acknowledged him. The divorce terms forbade contact between the mother, and her one, and four-year-old children who in reality were abducted from her by Koizumi. Neither of her abducted sons have ever met with their mother again, even though they live less than an hour away from one another. In an article for the L.A. Times Miyamato said, “I’ve been hoping to be reunited with my sons for nineteen years. All I can do is wait.” It’s been thirteen years since that story was published in 2002. The following is a link to that article: http://articles.latimes.com/2001/oct/02/news/mn-52341.

When Yoshinaga was newly born, Koizumi failed in a planned abduction attempt of his third son. When he was pressed on the issue Koizumi responded with speech characteristic of political jargon, stating, “It’s a matter of privacy, I’d like to refrain from commenting. However, I thank the Japanese public for entrusting the important duty of prime minister to a divorced politician. I feel a change flowing in Japanese society.” Change occurred indeed. Across Japan the rate of divorce skyrocketed. So did the rate of child abductions.

Kotaro, and Shinjiro are now both adults. One is an aspiring politician; the other is a talentless pop star. Although Yoshinaga has never met his famous father, he somehow admires the man, and continues to hope that one day he would be able to meet him. For Kayoko, seeing her abducted son plastered on billboards, advertisements, and performing on TV shows is too much for her to endure. Yoshinaga became a fixture on morning talk shows with his repeated pleas to meet with his father entirely ignored. Silence! That’s how Japan deals with the myriad of social injustices, and morally reprehensible conduct that continues to plague the nation.

The former prime minister is a man who intentionally, and irresponsibly shirked his duty to raise a son, who loved him unconditionally. Regardless, during Koizumi’s televised campaign for the prime minister’s seat, Yoshinaga, who was a young boy at the time, would be heard by his mother shouting, “Come on, Pop, win this one!” Sadly, those shouts would be absorbed by the wind!


One thing Koizumi, and Jong-il have in common is that they’re both child abductors.

After Koizumi won the office of prime minister, on September 17th, 2002, he visited North Korea to meet with Kim Jong-il to address the issue of Japan’s claim that North Korean agents had abducted hundreds of Japanese citizens, to train spies so they could communicate in Japanese, and to understand the culture. Unlike Koizumi, and every prime minister that would follow in his footsteps, North Korea would admit culpability to a handful of abductions, apologize, and return five victims. Japan, on the other hand has never acknowledged any of the thousands of kidnappings its responsible for, and has yet to return any of the known victims that have been abducted from nearly every nation on the face of the planet. In the U.S. alone, and ever since congress began holding hearings on child abductions, those kidnappings amount to more than four thousand.

A celebrated history of child abduction

Japan’s first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu whose descendants ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration, was a victim of numerous abductions. Ieyasu was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, the daimyo of Mikawa of the Matsudaira clan, and Odai-no-kata, the daughter of a neighboring samurai lord, Mizuno Tadamasa. The majority of Ieyasu’s family had ties with the Imagawa clan. Family feuding over regional pacts resulted in the murder of Ieyasu’s paternal grandfather. Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, and grandson of Ieyasu ruled from 1623 until 1651. Iemitsu was responsible for shutting off relations between Japan, and the rest of the world for two centuries. In the process, Iemitsu destroyed thousands of families, separating fathers, and mothers from their children by not allowing Japanese citizens who were overseas to return home, under the threat of execution. This decree commonly called the Sakoku Policy did not only affect Japanese families, foreigners caught up in the irrational decree were also forbidden to leave Japan, thereby affectively cutting them off from reunification with their wives, and children as well.

The abductions of Ieyasu

In 1548, when the Oda clan invaded Mikawa, Hirotada, Ieyasu’s father turned to Imagawa Yoshimoto, the head of the Imagawa clan for help to repel the invading forces. Yoshimoto agreed to help under the condition that Hirotada sent Ieyasu to Senpu, where he would be held as a hostage to assure Ieyasu’s father remained loyal to Imagawa. Hirotada agreed to this unconscionable term. Oda Nobuhide, the leader of the Oda clan learned of this arrangement, and had Ieyasu abducted while he was en route to Sunpu. Ieyasu was merely six years old at the time. Nobuhide threatened to execute the child unless his father severed all ties with the Imagawa clan. Hirotada replied that sacrificing his son’s life showed his determination to remain loyal to the Imagawa clan. Despite Hirotada’s refusal, Nobuhide chose not to murder Ieyasu, but instead held him hostage for the next three years at the Manshoji Temple in Nagoya. Ieyasu would never be reunited with his father, or mother ever again.

By 1549, when Ieyasu was seven years old, his father died of natural causes. At about that same time, Oda Nobuhide died during an epidemic outbreak. The death of Nobuhide weakened the Oda clan. Imagawa Sessai sent an army to lay siege on the castle where Nobuhide’s first son now ruled. With the castle about to fall, Sessai offered a deal to Nobuhide’s second son, Nobunaga. He promised to end the siege if Ieyasu was handed over to the Imagawa clan. Nobunaga agreed. Ieyasu was once again abducted, and taken to Sunpu, his original abduction destination. There the boy was held hostage until the age of fifteen when his abductor passed away.

I had a chance to visit Ieyasu’s remains, which are housed in a lavish shrine in Tochigi Prefecture. I had gone to Tochigi to write an article for Tokyo Weekender on Nikko’s National Park in autumn. The following is a link to that article: http://tokyoweekender.com/2012/11/nikko-in-autumn. I shrugged off taking the time out of my schedule to visit Ieyasu’s final resting place. I was not interested in visiting the grave of man who through fraud had faked his own royal lineage to persuade Kyoto’s religious leaders to sanction his appointment to shogunate.

Today, Ieyasu is celebrated as the man who ended Japan’s Warring State Era. In reality, Ieyasu, and his offspring were mass murderers; sociopaths responsible for the destruction, and pillage of an entire nation, as well as the continued policy of abducting children to ensure the Tokugawa’s remained in power. Ieyasu was also responsible for the mass beheadings of those who sought refuge in Osaka Castle when he took siege against a child he had sworn an oath to protect. The Tokugawa’s were also responsible for the genocide of Christians who joined forces with peasant farmers known as the Shimabara Uprising. Both Christians, and peasants were executed en masse because they refused to bow to the Tokugawa’s as deities, and refused to pay excessive taxes, that in reality were causing the peasants, and their children to starve to death.

No doubt Ieyasu’s childhood trauma played a significant role in his inability to understand the importance of family relations, and his vow to protect an innocent child that was incapable of protecting itself. Ieyasu would write the Buddha’s name ten thousand times in an attempt to absolve himself of the lack of integrity that was a clear part of his character. He could have written the Buddha’s name a million times, it wouldn’t change the fact that he was a liar, and a murderer of children who were incapable of defending themselves. Ieyasu’s lack of integrity remains an inherent aspect of the Japanese mindset, as Japan continues to dishonor international treaties the nation has ratified, including The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Regarding the folklore, and myth known as the Japanese honor code, made famous in books, poetry, and movies, it holds no real position in factual history. There simply is nothing honorable when it comes to the nation’s refusal to address the myriad of child abductions that continue to stain the nation’s xenophobic reputation. Unfortunately, that lack of integrity, and the lack of honor is the true “way” of the Japanese, where the samurai, or “warrior” code has long been exposed as for what it really is, a fallacy.


A painting of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Japan’s first shogunate, and victim of multiple abductions as a child.

Japan’s irrational ideology on child abduction

U.S. congressional committees on international child abduction have been going on since 1979. With Japan being one of the most egregious violators in bilateral relations regarding this subject matter. H.R. 3212 was passed into law in the U.S. to ensure nations complied with the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by countries with which the U.S. enjoys reciprocal obligations to establish procedures for the prompt return of children abducted to other countries, and to impose stiff sanctions on nations that do not comply with this law. Japan signed this agreement in April of 2014, and is subject to sanctions as a result of being in violation of these terms.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ) spent five years fighting for the passage of a law known as The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014. Smith stated, “Many children, and parents have tragically lost years separated from each other in violation of U.S., and international law,” He added, “They have missed birthdays, holidays, and family time that they can never get back. H.R. 3212 ensures that they will now receive significant help from the U.S. government in their fights to recover their children. Every day a child is separated from his or her rightful parent, and home in the United States brings immense suffering to both parent, and child. The Goldman Act is designed to right the terrible wrong of international child abduction, and heal enormous pain, and suffering, and bring abducted children home.”

More than one thousand international child abductions are reported to the State Department’s Office on Children’s Issues each year. Between 2008, and 2013, at least 8,000 American children were abducted, according to the State Department. Earlier this year, the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children reported that there have been at least 168 international child abductions from New Jersey alone since 1995.

In a March 2015 hearing on Capitol Hill, Congressman Smith stated that, “Japan is breathtakingly unresponsive on U.S. child abductions.” He called for immediate sanctions. Smith stated that unless sanctions are imposed, which are the consequences of The Goldman Act, for non-compliance, the law would be toothless. Smith called on Tokyo to comply with its international obligations.

Despite Japan ratifying the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it has yet to comply with any aspects of the treaty regarding the return of the more than four hundred known U.S. cases of child abduction. The accord requires the Japanese government to set up processes for legal appeals from foreign parents seeking either visitation or the return of their children to the country where those children were abducted. Ironically, Japan has used the treaty to have five children returned to Japan, yet continues to fail to acknowledge parental rights abroad, even where abductors have been placed on Interpol, and the FBI’s Most Wanted List. This double standard is repugnant, and harmful to international relations, and national security. Further, Japan has received sixty-seven requests for the return of abducted children since ratifying The Hague terms, from the U.S. alone, and has yet to take any action. As of this writing, the FBI Most Wanted List include Japanese child abductors, Ryoko Uchiyama, and Reiko Nakata Greenberg-Collins both have international warrants out for their arrests.

There are currently more than four hundred known cases of children kidnapped to Japan since 1994 from the U.S., a number Smith called “unconscionable.” What is equally unconscionable is during that same hearing on Capitol Hill, Representative Smith requested the actual number of children returned from Japan to the U.S. Susan Jacobs, the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues at the State Department responded by saying, that she didn’t know representative Smith was going to “ask for numbers.” Smith ridiculed Jacobs for not having that information readily available. The truth is that Jacobs knew exactly what those numbers were. None! No child has been returned to the U.S., which proves that Jacobs is entirely inept in handling the responsibilities of the position that she holds, and should be removed from office for gross incompetence, and for failing to take adequate steps to address this with Japanese officials. Ridiculously, Jacobs would also state, “I talked to Ambassador Kennedy yesterday, and she is energized and she is ready to launch.” Kennedy has been the Ambassador to Japan since November 2013. Did it really take this long to get energized on one of the major topics of friction between U.S., and Japanese relations? Jacob’s empty rhetoric has been going on for several years now. Smith was obviously frustrated at Jacob’s inability to understand the gravity of the situation. Jacobs would then tell Smith that she “shared his frustration”, and was planning to visit Japan in June, where she, and Ambassador Kennedy would discuss the annual report with Japanese officials.

In 2013, Representative Cardin (Maryland), of the Foreign Relations Committee spoke to Kennedy on the topic of child kidnapping, and Japan, and the four hundred pending cases of American abductions. Mr. Cardin asked Kennedy if she would use her office to help resolve those open cases. Kennedy stated, “As a parent I certainly understand the emotional aspect of this issue,” and “That everyone at the State Department is really committed to making that happen, and to bring these issues forward, and resolve these cases.” This comment was made nearly two years ago, yet Kennedy has not taken any steps in dealing with this matter. Kennedy did Tweet regarding other inhumane conduct the Japanese engage in, and which is internationally condemned, the Taiji dolphin slaughter.

Cases of child abductions prior to April 2014 fall outside of the scope of The Hague Agreement on child abductions, which Smith blasted as outrageous. Parents in those situations may still apply to Japan for visitation rights, but almost no parent has ever received such rights, and when they do, they are treated as if they are an imprisoned felon, with police, lawyers, Japanese officials, and the other bawling, and objecting parent in a separate adjacent room doing their best to interrupt the reunion, while all view the short visitation through one-way glass. Children who haven’t seen their non-abducting parent in several months, to several years, and probably have been brainwashed with horror stories, and may no longer be unable to communicate in their native tongue, no doubt would cry due to the high level of stress associated with the circumstance. If they appear detached, Japanese officials take that as a sign that the child wants nothing to do with the non-abducting parent. Anyone that has obtained even basic child psychology knowledge would immediately recognize that a child who had been separated from their parent for such a long time, needed an adequate adjustment period, and most likely psychological counseling as well. Thirty minutes or so just doesn’t equate as an adequate parent-child reunion.

Is the State Department assisting parents in the return of their abducted child?

Unfortunately, history has taught us that if anyone wants to get something accomplished, they have to take matters into their own hands. The recent action of the State Department proves that if the U.S. government is not willing to assist citizens whose lives are in peril in Yemen, they certainly aren’t going to aid someone to get their abducted child back, despite laws that are written regarding the scope, and degree of the State Department’s duties in such matters. U.S. citizens stranded in Yemen had to resort to filing a lawsuit against the Department of State for abandoning them. Meanwhile, other countries including, China, Russia, and India, have conducted large-scale evacuations, including aiding in evacuating numerous U.S. citizens.

On August 24th, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother, and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in U.S. history, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, and asked to be rescued, after being held captive in Japan for six years. Indifferent, and incompetent consular staff refused to aid in the child’s rescue, and instead sent her back to her kidnapper. Mary’s father, William Lake, would later be informed of his daughter’s attempted rescue by caseworker Virginia Vause from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues. Lake would learn that the consular office attempted to make only one call to him at his residence. They didn’t leave a voice message, nor did they contact him on his cell phone, or send an email. When Lake brought up the issue of why his daughter was turned away, he was told that the consulate would not assist in his daughter’s escape because they needed to have his written authorization to take her into custody. Furthermore, if his daughter were taken into custody the consulate would have to assign a staff member to stay with her until she was returned to the U.S., an inconvenience that the State Department refused to accept. They also required an agreement in advance for Lake to repay any airfare costs. This was the third episode of gross negligence on the part of the Department of State toward Lake, and his daughter. Twice previously they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining his required signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent, and the mother was wanted for kidnapping. Generally, all cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. In Lake’s case, neither the victims, nor the abducting mother are Japanese. It’s should be harshly apparent when it comes to the crime of child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being, and lives of U.S. citizens being held captive in Japan.

Jeffrey Morehouse has spoken on Capitol Hill numerous times regarding child abduction. He was granted sole custody of his son in 2007 due to his former wife’s alcohol abuse, psychological issues, violence, and because she was a flight risk. Restraining orders against the mother traveling with their son were in place when she fraudulently obtained a passport from the Japanese consulate in Portland, after being turned away in Seattle. U.S. consular officials have refused numerous requests to pursue prosecution, and adamantly refuse to aid in the return of Morehouse’s son based on his former spouse’s violation of both Japanese, and U.S. laws regarding child abduction. Since Morehouse’s son was abducted, all communication ceased between them. The boy’s whereabouts, mental, and physical condition remain unknown. In March 2014 Morehouse was granted sole custody by a Japanese court. Yet, he still has no contact with his son, and has no knowledge as to where he is being held. Morehouse operates an organization called BACHome: Bring Abducted Children Home. In the following link, Morehouse testifies before a congressional hearing that took place in March of 2015, regarding child abduction, Japan’s ratification of The Hague Convention on Child Abduction, The Goldman Act, the facts regarding the disappearance of his son, as well as the imposition of sanctions on Japan: https://youtube.com/watch?v=4eHITnrRMFA.

On March 11th, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed House Resolution 125 by a vote of 418-0, condemning Japan for its actions on International Child Abduction. This congressional resolution described Japan as “a United States ally which does not recognize intra-familial child abduction as a crime, and though its family laws do not discriminate by nationality, Japanese courts give no recognition to the parental rights of the non-Japanese parent, fail to enforce U.S. court orders relating to child custody or visitation, and place no effective obligation on the Japanese parent to allow parental visits for their child.”

On May 21st, 2009, the U.S., the UK, France, and Canada released a joint press statement condemning Japan for it’s inaction regarding international child abduction, and called on Japan to sign the Hague Convention. These four nations acting with one voice stated, “left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little realistic hope of having their children returned, and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children, and exercising their parental rights, and responsibilities.” These countries urged Japan “to identify, and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them, and to visit them,” and described the “failure to develop tangible solutions to most cases of parental child abduction in Japan particularly troubling.”

On July 13th 2003, Erika Toland was abducted from her home at Negishi Navy Family Housing in Yokohama, Japan. Her mother, the abductor, Etsuko Toland, subsequently died of suicide on October 31st, 2007. Since the death of the child’s mother, her maternal grandmother, Akiko Futagi, has refused Erika any contact with her father. The child’s father is, Commander Paul Toland, a highly decorated U.S. Naval officer. Since his daughter’s abduction he has been trying to see Erika, to no avail. On June 25th, 2009, Congressman Chris Smith discussed Erika’s case on the floor of the House of Representatives. He stated, “The international movement of our service members make them especially vulnerable to the risks of international child abduction. Attorneys familiar with this phenomenon estimate that there are approximately 25 to 30 new cases of international child abductions affecting U.S. service members every year.”

More than a decade later, Erika remains held as a hostage from her father, as government officials tasked with the duty to address these issues remain staggeringly indifferent. Toland has spent his life savings trying to have his daughter returned to him. His Japanese attorney told him via email, “Please understand that your case is not a piece of cake due to the racism, and irrationality of the Japanese legal system. It might be like defending the Taliban in the U.S.” Toland said while speaking at a congressional hearing, “I flew to Japan, and waited on a street corner to greet Erika on her way home from school, because this is the only contact with dignity that is possible. I knew that if I had tried to take Erika to the embassy, and attempted to get a passport, I would likely meet the same fate as Christopher Savoie, when he attempted to retrieve his children from Japan. I would likely be blocked at the gates of the embassy by a state department that was more interested in preserving a relationship with Japan, over the welfare of U.S. citizens. I’d likely end up in a Japanese jail, as Christopher Savoie did.

In the following link, Navy Commander Toland testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. on December 2nd, 2009: https://youtube.com/watch?t=23&v=f9lfTWFX0f8.

The Department of State and Japan’s nuclear debacle

After the third nuclear explosion at the Daiichi Nuclear Facility in Namie, Fukushima, the U.S. consulate finally made the determination that American citizens were in peril. If U.S. citizens wanted to leave the country, they could board planes that were available at Narita airport. At the time I was appearing on MSNBC with Brian Williams, and my photography, and videography was appearing in several media outlets. I contacted the U.S. Embassy, and inquired into the conditions for U.S. citizens to board one of those planes. I stated that April was the beginning of the work year in Japan, and there were thousands of new teachers stranded, and probably unable to pay for flights back home, as they had just arrived, and most likely were recent university graduates. The embassy staff told me that if citizens were unable to pay for the flight back to the U.S., their passports would be confiscated, and unless they paid the State Department back the airfare, plus interest, they would never be allowed to leave the U.S. again. I was shocked, and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The entire nation was shut down including all forms of transportation, store shelves were empty, and Tokyo’s water spiked with high level of radiation contamination. It was finally disclosed that Daiichi was using MOX Fuel, and high levels of plutonium were released into the atmosphere, as Japanese officials played the silence game, telling everyone to remain calm, and that there was “no immediate threat to life.” Professor Koide from Kyoto University, a nuclear physicist, and long time adversary of the reckless, and grossly negligent energy company, TEPCO stated that the plutonium alone released from those three explosions were the equivalent to 200,000 Hiroshima bombs. I had a friend who had direct contact with Nancy Pelosi. I informed them what was happening, and they immediately notified her as to what the embassy was scheming in Tokyo. The next morning it was one of the top news story that Pelosi had gotten planes on Narita’s tarmac, and they were available for free to any U.S. citizen who wanted to leave the country. The threat of passport confiscation ended, as well as turning U.S. citizens into homeland prisoners due to no fault of their own.

The Department of State’s complicity in kidnapping children

Julian Assange’s trouble began when WikiLeaks released thousands of classified documents that exposed not only U.S. war crimes that were occurring in Iraq, but also diplomatic communications that were taking place at the State Department. I took an interest in the topic as most Americans did. The government’s position was that the release of those documents “placed American overseas in imminent danger.” Some of those documents I read exposed communications between U.S., and foreign diplomats, exposing U.S. involvement in the abduction of third world children, and turning them over to foreign diplomats, who were pedophiles, so those children could be used as sex slaves. In exchange for those “favors”, the foreign diplomats engaged in “international cooperation”, and assisted those U.S. officials who worked for the State Department in business transactions they would benefit from. None of those diplomats have ever been brought to trial, as they enjoy immunity from prosecution. Yet, Assange who exposed these outrageous crimes remains on self-imposed lockdown in the Ecuadorian Embassy of London, which is monitored around the clock by U.S., and UK government agents. Private Manning who turned over those documents to WikiLeaks was convicted for violating the Espionage Act, and sentenced to thirty five years imprisonment, forfeiture of all pay, and dishonorably discharged. Ironically, Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen, and who was guilty of nothing more than what the mass media often does, did exactly what the corporate media would have done with that information if it had been turned over to them, which was to publicly expose that very same information, except they would have profited nicely from it, and continued to enjoy their freedoms. American officials, and media hacks continue to call for Assange to be extradited for “aiding the enemy”, and for “treason”, a crime that is exclusively reserved for citizens of that country, which Assange isn’t.

Prejudicial double standards

Parental child abduction is not a crime when Japanese nationals do it, yet when foreigners attempt to have contact with their children it’s handled as a felony

Chris Savoie, who had custody of his two minor children left them with his former spouse Noriko for visitation purposes. That was the last time he would see them in the U.S. Noriko defied a Tennessee state court order, which barred her from leaving the state, and ordered her to turn over her passport to officials. This order occurred after Savoie received an email from her, which read, “It’s very hard to remain here watching my children lose their Japanese identity.” Savoie filed a restraining order. He subsequently contacted his former father in law, who told him the children were in Japan. Savoie’s only hope to ever see his children again was to go to Japan, and try to get them back in the same manner his former spouse had taken them. As his children were walking to school he placed them in his car, and drove off to the U.S. Embassy. The media would say that the Japanese police arrested Savoie as he was about to enter the American consulate. But, the true facts are the U.S. Embassy officials turned Savoie over to the Japanese police, who treated the case as a kidnapping. Savoie struggled with Japanese police, who literally ripped the terrified, and screaming children from his arms. Savoie was handcuffed in front of his children, and taken into custody at one of Japan’s notorious Daiyo Kangoku detention centers where the use of torture, and coerced confessions are daily matters with corrupt police, prosecutors, and a judiciary that sanctions all of it. Savoie was charged with abduction of a minor, and faced five years in prison for merely attempting to enforce a U.S. custody order. Savoie’s story was the last one that made international headlines regarding Japan, and child abduction. International, legal, and media pressure forced the prosecutors to release Savoie who returned home, and filed a false imprisonment action against his former wife. Savoie was awarded a 6.1M verdict. He said the money was a hollow victory. “Anything about this just reopens a lot of wounds. It’s bittersweet.” Savoie said he hasn’t been allowed to speak to his children in more than a year. That was back in 2011. “At the end of the day, I’d much rather have one afternoon in the park with my kids than one penny of this judgment.”

The return of an abducted child to the U.S.

No thanks to any intervention on the part of the State Department, Caroline Kennedy, or Susan Jacobs, one Japanese abductor got a taste of American style justice.

Emiko Inoue being led into court where she faced 25 years for child abduction.

Emiko Inoue thought she was clever when she abducted Moises Garcia’s daughter Katrina to Japan. After three years, and only one visit with his daughter in Japan, Garcia caught a break. His ex-wife flew from Japan to Hawaii to renew her U.S. green card. Inoue was unaware that her U.S. immigration file had been flagged because of a Wisconsin arrest warrant issued a few months earlier. Inoue was arrested, and extradited to Milwaukee, a city she once called home, where Karina was born, and where she, and Garcia were married. Milwaukee prosecutors ordered Inoue to return Garcia’s daughter to the U.S. within 30 days, or risk spending the next twenty-five years in prison. After eight months in prison she plead no-contest to felony child custody interference by a parent for fleeing America with Garcia’s daughter. Karina, was six at the time, and Inoue’s decision to circumvent U.S. family court set in motion an unprecedented criminal case, making her the first Japanese citizen to be arrested in the U.S. for child custody interference. It’s a felony in most states, but not considered a crime in Japan, unless the parent happens to be non-Japanese. Garcia gained full custody of Karina shortly after Inoue left the country in 2008. Eventually, he would also be granted full custody by a Japanese court, although it would reverse that decision, saying it was in the best interest of the child to remain in Japan.

Garcia successfully convinced the Milwaukee prosecutor’s office that although he had legal custody in both countries, there was no way for him to get his daughter back or even get visitation rights. The Milwaukee police department then issued a warrant for Inoue’s arrest in February of 2011, even though it was unlikely that Japan would agree to extradite her to face felony parental child abduction charges in the U.S. Unlike Japan’s Ministry of Justice, known for its corrupt, and prejudicial determinations against foreign nationals, the prosecutors in Inoue’s case allowed her to remain in the U.S., instead of deporting her for having a felony conviction. Inoue could also travel freely outside of the country with permission from the court, but not with her daughter. Inoue’s attorney in Japan, Haruki Maeda, said that Inoue only “very reluctantly” agreed to the deal. Under the plea bargain Katrina was sent back to her father, who had remarried. Maeda questioned whether, “Separating Katrina from her mother, and forcing her to live with her father, and stepmother, will lead to the well-being of the child?” Unlike in Japan, where a child has no right to make any self determination, in the U.S., when Karina turns twelve, she has the right to tell a U.S. judge what parent she desires to live with.

Garcia arranged for a Japanese tutor for his daughter, and for psychological counseling to help her cope with the transition. On the other hand, foreign parents that haven’t had any contact with their abducted children have noted that, when they do manage to obtain contact, the child can no longer communicate with them, and that no measures were taken to ensure the child smoothly integrated into Japanese society, which in reality calls children with two nationality parents, “hafus”, racist jargon meaning the child is somehow defective because they are not fully Japanese. Another well-known fact about Japan is that Japanese children will almost never associate with hafus, who suffer varying degrees of bullying, and are ostracized by Japanese children who can only learn such level of xenophobia, ignorance, and hatred from the parents who raised them that way.

Are parents of abducted children doing enough to gain custody, or visitation rights with their children?

From The Shadows is a documentary film highlighting several parents who have had their children abducted to Japan, including Paul Toland, and Regan Haight. I’ve contacted the producer, and directors Matt Antell, and David Hearn numerous times attempting to receive a viewer copy of the film for this article. I’ve never received a response from either of them, and the website http://fromtheshadowsfilm.com doesn’t seem to be a valid link. I can’t find this documentary anywhere, and it seems those that took the effort to produce it don’t consider it important enough to promote it. Another film titled, Sayanara Baby, which is an Australian News Special can be found online. The following is a link to the film: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDA2MzE2Nzcy.html.

Regan Haight, a mother of two who’s featured in both documentaries mentioned above was married to Shuta, Japanese national. Haight returned home one day to find her children, and her husband gone. He abducted the children to Japan, and they weren’t ever going to return. Haight soon discovered that Japan, which claims to always award custody to the mother, wasn’t about to here her legal argument. The perverted Japanese family courts are always stacked heavily against those who are not Japanese, and those who are not the abductor. The Japanese officials sided with her former spouse, the abductor of her two children. Haight turned to a former British military special forces operative, Steve Johnson who is known in the business as a child recovery specialist. Johnson told Haight that Japan has the reputation of being impossible to recover children from. Johnson joined Haight in Japan, and Shuta claimed the children had been abducted a second time by their Japanese grandmother who was holding them for ransom. Haight said “At one point she told me that I had to sign over the house, and that I could see the kids. So, I did that. Then she wouldn’t let me see them. Next, we had to pay her fifty thousand dollars to see the kids. I didn’t have that money.”

The legal definition of kidnapping is the unlawful carrying away of a person against their will, usually to hold them for ransom, or in furtherance of another crime. Shuta, and his mother engaged in a conspiracy to extort as much as they could from the grieving mother. Captured on videotape, the children’s father was handed an ultimatum from Johnson, release the children to Haight or the matter would be turned over to the media, the police, and Interpol. Shuta, and his mother, realizing that they could be imprisoned for criminal extortion, and kidnapping, turned the children over to Haight. Today, the children enjoy a safe, and loving relationship with their mother. Haight is the only woman who has ever succeeded in having her children returned from Japan, a nation that would rather protect kidnappers, and extortion conspirators, than to protect abducted children who are in imminent danger, while being held for ransom. Japanese officials never brought charges against the criminal monsters the children had previously called, Otousan (father), and Obaachan (grandmother).

Australian Chayne Inaba, a trauma medical specialist had been battling the system in Japan to gain access to his daughter Ai. He tried to negotiate with his wife, and her family for visitataionrights, but they threatened him with violence if he didn’t stay away from her. One evening upon returning home from work, Chayne was attacked from behind in his own home, and beaten nearly to death with a brick. “I walked inside, closed the door, walking down towards the living room and I was attacked by a brick from the bathroom. I had two black eyes, skull fractures, a lot of damage”. Chayne has strong suspicions about who was responsible, and the message they were trying to send. “There’d be major problems if I went to the house where my daughter is being held. The police would be involved, a lot of nasty things would happen.” “The brick had skin, hair, and blood on it, and (the police) told the Australian consulate that the brick wasn’t the weapon”.

Craig Morrey, a man who defines the word hero perhaps more than any other person in the history of humankind became a single parent, sacrificing everything to care for his profoundly disabled son, after his pregnant wife ran off. She abandoned her disabled son, and abducted the healthy child, with no intention to ever allow Morrey into the child’s life. Morrey first saw his infant daughter in a courtroom when she had already reached six months of age. Morrey was attempting to gain visitation rights to his daughter. Although Morrey’s wife had abandoned her fist child, the Japanese court awarded her sole custody of Morrey’s daughter. The following link provides more information about Dr. Morrey: http://childrenfirst.jp/content/dr-craig-e-morrey. Dr. Morrey also operates a website in honor of his children, and other children that have been abused by Japan’s morally bankrupt judiciary: Forever Your Father. The following link is a CNN article about the life of Dr. Morrey, and the son he cherishes, Spencer: U.S. Father’s Japanese Custody Heartache.

After nineteen years in Japan, Alex Kahney packed his bags to return to the UK, leaving behind everything he cared for, which were his two beautiful daughters who were abducted by their Japanese mother. “I thought she can’t kidnap my kids, I’ll just go to the police. The first two or three months I was shattered, the first six months I was numb. I’ve been disowned. I might as well be a ghost.” In the documentary, Sayonara Baby, it’s painful to watch Kahney attempt to speak to his two daughters who were clearly being brainwashed to fear their father, and who are seen running away from him as they walk home from school. Two children that once adored their father were being taught by their Japanese mother to hate, and fear the man that spent years trying to regain them into his life, and to be the father that he always wanted to be for them. The following link is a BBC article on the ongoing plight of Mr. Kahney: http://bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-12358440.

Support groups for parents of abducted children

Bruce Gherbetti is the father of three children who were abducted to Japan in 2009. Since that time, he has moved to Japan to maintain contact with his children. He has also helped to form two organizations to fight for children’s rights in Japan, and has lobbied Diet members including former Justice Minister Satsuki Eda. Apparently, his efforts have been fruitless. Regardless, he presses on. The following link is a website Mr. Gherbetti operates in honor of his son: Bring Sean Home Foundation.

John Gomez, chairman of Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, a group of Japanese, and non-Japanese parents, friends, and supporters advocate for the right of children to have access to both parents. Mr. Gomez understands that Japan simply ratifying the Hague Convention will not solve anything if the nation continues to take a one-sided approach to domestic custodial rights. The Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion website is located at: http://kizuna-cpr.org.

Eric Kalmus helps to operate Children’s Rights Network. The website is a major source of exposing the depths of Japanese injustice, and is located at the following link: http://crnjapan.net. Kalmus’ ceaseless work related to child abduction resulted in his own daughter, who had been abducted to Japan several years ago, discovered his work online, and reunited with him shortly thereafter.

I’m betting you didn’t know that it took thirty two years for Yoko Ono to be reunited with her kidnapped daughter. During the period when Richard Nixon was attempting to have John Lennon deported permanently from the U.S., the famous couple was enduring another legal battle, and that was over the abduction of her daughter, Kyoko. The children’s Rights Network has posted a link to that story here. John, and Yoko discuss the kidnapping on the David Cavett show, and videos of this interview can be found on YouTube.

Applicable U.S. laws

A 1993 U.S. federal law makes it a crime to prevent a person from exercising their parental rights by removing a child from the U.S. or keeping a child outside the country. A federal grand jury in Virginia charged Walter Benda’s former wife with kidnapping, a felony offense that carried with it a penalty of up to three years in prison, or a $250,000 fine. Japan refused to extradite the abductor stating that it does not treat parental child kidnapping as a criminal offense, and is not covered under the U.S.-Japan extradition treaty.

Article 766 of the Civil Law, revised in 2011 specifies that visitation rights, child-support payments, and other matters must take into consideration the welfare of the child first.

Section 19 of The Goldman Act addresses pattern of noncompliance, and defines the term pattern of noncompliance as the persistent failure to inter alia, abide by provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention, and where thirty percent or more of the total abduction cases in such country are unresolved, and where the judicial or administrative branch of the national government of a Convention country or a bilateral procedures country fails to regularly implement, and comply with the provisions of the Hague Abduction Convention or bilateral procedures, and where law enforcement authorities regularly fail to enforce return orders or determinations of the right of access rendered by the judicial or administrative authorities of the government of the country in abduction cases.

Under Title II of The Goldman Act, Subsection, Actions by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State has an obligation to promote the best interest of the abducted children, and to ensure enforcement for their prompt return. It’s been over a year since Japan joined the rest of the G8 nations regarding The Hague. Japan’s dawdling can no longer be tolerated. Sec. 202 of The Goldman Act addresses nations such as Japan that are in noncompliance with the terms of international child abduction. Actions that must be taken by the State Department include public condemnation, delay or cancellation in bilateral working, official, or state visits, withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of United States development assistance in accordance with section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of United States security assistance in accordance with section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, a formal request to the foreign country concerned to extradite an individual who is engaged in abduction and who has been formally accused of, charged with, or convicted of an extraditable offense. Currently, Susan Jacobs, and John Kerry are in the position to handle the abduction issues, and both are well aware of them, yet neither has taken any action to aid U.S. citizens to have their children who were kidnapped returned to them. These useless career politicians need to resign, and get out of the way. There is however, one champion in Washington that has the best interest of the abducted children at heart, and that is Representative Chris Smith from New Jersey, who, for years has been a thorn in the side of nations like Japan.

Japan’s racist immigration policies and the deportation of responsible parents

”Dear Walter, please forgive me for leaving you this way,” read the note from Walter Benda’s Japanese wife. Benda’s unsuccessful efforts to get information from his wife’s family, the Japanese police, and his children’s schools, left him feeling as if he was trapped in a Kafka novel. After months of unsuccessfully searching for the whereabouts of his children, his visa expired, and he was forced to return to the U.S. Mr. Benda, and Brian Thomas, a Welshman involved in a similar abduction case, began fighting back. They identified a dozen cases of child abduction by Japanese parents. In most cases, they were Japanese women married to foreigners, but there were also several involving Japanese men, and foreign wives.

Deportation laws are often what former Japanese spouses rely on to get the other parent out of the way, and Japanese authorities are more than willing to accommodate. Deportation proceedings mean the children’s foreign parents may never be allowed to return to Japan. These “legal” measures are criminal, and violate human rights, and the right of parents, and children to be able to continue in their relationship undisturbed by a vindictive former spouse, or racist, segregationist, immigration policies. Just as in the days of the Tokugawa’s, Japan continues to act as a vile, and repugnant isolationist state that seems to enjoy participating in the destruction of families, instead of preserving them, which is another farce the west has become accustomed to believe about the primitive, and world illiterate island nation.

Repugnant terminology

Often the term “spirited away” is used to describe a child that has been kidnapped. Writers, and advocates should stop using this aesthetic jargon, and use the terms kidnapping, or abduction instead, because these are legal terms that don’t trivialize the severity of the unconscionable criminal conduct. “Left behind parent” should also fall by the wayside, because hundreds of responsible, and caring parents were not forgotten, as if this was another release in a serious of “Home Alone” flicks. These grieving parents had their child kidnapped, and their life entirely destroyed as a result, often with the entire contents of the home, accompanied by the pilfering of the family bank account. The criminal perpetrators don’t just “leave behind” an unwilling participant, they ruthlessly destroy that person, and trash the fundamental rights they share with their child. This is a sure sign that the abductor is also engaging in systematic psychological abuse of the kidnapped child, and perhaps even physical violence. Terminology such as those stated above trivializes the harsh realities of child abduction, and they should no longer be associated with this form of criminal conduct.

The Civil Rights movement as the paradigm to address Japan’s unwillingness to end abductions

I’ve viewed numerous documentaries made on this topic. I’ve read countless articles, and interviewed scores of damaged parents who have lost their child due to abduction. I have watched hours of congressional hearings on international child abduction, and met with those at the forefront of the movement to end Japanese officials condoning conduct that violates international law. I have taken juvenile law, and family law courses in law school, and worked in both adult, and juvenile public defenders offices in southern California. I also worked at a family law clinic inside the Pomona Court while attending my final year of law school. Government officials, on either side of the issue are not doing enough, that, or they are not doing anything at all to help grieving parents to be reunited with children who each day grow further apart, due to the loss of communication, and physical closeness. The only recourse a non-abducting parent has is going the route Regan Haight did, hiring professionals to aid in the return of her children. Or is it? My suggestion to those whose children have been abducted is to follow the paradigm set by Martin Luther King. Fill Japan’s prisons with parents who are no longer willing to wait around for a disinterested third party to intervene.

If my child were abducted, I’d join ranks with approximately thirty other parents, and engage in collective civil disobedience. I’d prepare safe houses set up in various communities scattered about Japan where the children are being held. In groups of ten, I’d head for Japan, and I’d go after my child. I’d use whatever force was necessary to take back possession of my abducted child. If anyone failed, and the police got involved, I’d make sure to know enough Japanese language to inform them that this was a family matter, not a criminal matter, and remind the police what they have always claimed, which is that they have no jurisdiction over the matter. If the police arrested any of these individuals anyway, they’d be in good company, as certainly others in the group would be detained as well. I’d have a full statement prepared for the consulate officials, and the media. I’d have lawyers in the home country demanding the release of the children who are being held as hostages, and have those legal advocates demand the release of the parent who are being illegally detained. As soon as that first group’s story hit the media, I’d send a second wave of determined parents in another group of ten, and continue in the same manner. Surely, some would make it to a safe house, while those that were detained, and threatened with criminal prosecution, trained in civil disobedience, refused to participate in any police, or prosecutorial proceedings against them. They should also refuse to wear any prison garb. This would place extreme external pressure on the humiliated Japanese officials, forcing them to finally kowtow, and address the international consternation, and political ramifications for failing to address the matter after signing the child abduction aspects of The Hague. I’d have the arrested parents go on a hunger strike, and refuse to submit to legal proceedings, staunchly claiming the nation had no subject matter jurisdiction. Collectively, these parents would demand Japanese officials release the whereabouts of every child that had been intentionally hidden from their non-abudcting parent. Finally, I’d send the third wave of parents, and initiate the same procedures, crushing Japan’s illegitimate claims of sovereignty over the fundamental rights of non-abducting parents, and their children who remained in hostile conditions of psychological, emotional, and possibly physical abuse by their abducting tormenters.

Japan is no Goliath. Japan is an occupied nation that is nearly always on the wrong side of international disputes. Japan has proven over the past seventy years that it cannot be trusted as an autonomous, and rational behaving nation, and should remain occupied perpetually, as a result.

There is nothing more powerful than the bond between a parent, and a child that relies on both parents for security, love, and assurance. I believe there is nothing more honorable than a parent who is willing to sacrifice their freedom, and go to prison for the right to hold their child in their arms again, and to let them know what they were willing to resort to in order to hear their voice again, to listen to their laughter, and to smell the scent of their hair, and the very breath that they breathed. I believe this is a parent’s ultimate duty. Those who sit overseas, licking their wounds, and endlessly copying, and pasting articles that we’ve all already read, to the few “friends” on Facebook that may, or may not even bother to look at them, will continue to wait as the years pass without any contact with their children who may no longer even have the ability to communicate with them in their native tongue.

Preemptive protection of parental rights

Before marrying, and having children with a Japanese spouse, enter into a prenuptial agreement that include terms where neither parent could seek, or obtain sole custody of the children if the marriage were to be dissolved. Include a clause that states that neither party could abduct the children, nor prevent the other from having access to their children. Include another clause that states, if the children were abducted by one parent, in violation of that agreement, the non-abducting parent would determine, which country had both subject matter, and procedural jurisdiction over the matter. These kinds of agreements are binding in Japan, as well as most western style, civilized nations. Be sure to have two witnesses sign that agreement, and supply both parents with their own copy. Always obtain birth certificates for your children, and ensure they have citizenship in the non-Japanese parent’s country. Also, always have a valid, non-expired passport for your child at all times.

I conclude this article with a conversation that I had with former public prosecutor Hiroshi Ichikawa. Ichikawa became infamous when he was working for the city of Yokohama as a public prosecutor. Ichikawa had threatened a foreigner with death if he did not sign a false confession that Ichikawa had prepared for him to sign. When this matter was exposed, Ichikawa faced criminal charges, and was forced to resign. After that, he found a conscience, and began to publicly speak against the depths of government corruption that exists in Japan’s Ministry of Justice, and the fact that foreigners are not considered human beings by Japan’s prosecutors, and judiciary. When we spoke he admitted that foreigners have no human rights in Japan, and prosecutors are taught this as part of their training. In fact, foreigners are not even considered human beings. Foreigners that have had their children abducted should drink deep from this filthy well of knowledge, and never permit themselves to be subjected to any court proceedings in Japan, due to the prejudicial outcome of the proceedings that is sure to follow. Finally, retired judge Hiroshi Segi who recently released a book exposing the depths of depravity, and corruption in Japan’s judiciary, said the entire Japanese legal system should be scrapped because of its inherent, and systematic flaws. Segi also stated that every prosecutor, and judge in the nation should be removed from office, and that Japan should follow the model of justice as proscribed in the U.S., and the UK. Perhaps then, grieving parents, and their abducted children would finally have their fundamental human rights properly addressed in a court of real law, and their pleas for reunion granted with a binding judicial decree, and the banging of a gavel.

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The TPP And Its Implications On Food, Intellectual Property And Trade

The Farmers Cooperative which represents the majority of Japanese farmers want no part of the TPP.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws, patents, and rewrite international laws to enforce them. If not stopped, the TPP will eventually cover more than 40% of global trade. The TPP is the most aggressive trade plan in the history of the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the broad scope and far-reaching implications of the TPP, negotiations for the agreement have taken place in secret. Vandana Shiva, one of the world’s most respected authorities on agriculture, and biodiversity said the TPP is nothing more than an extension of the WTO, and deepens its implications in an even more perilous manner. Shiva stated that the impact of globalization, free trade and the deregulation of commerce in her native land resulted in 270,000 Indian farmers committing suicide. Shiva also said that each country that is currently in negotiations, or considering joining the TPP should understand that the only participants that will benefit from the TPP are U.S. corporations that have infiltrated and corrupted certain U.S. government branches, namely the FDA and the EPA, as well as other multinationals that are interested in privatizing, and exploiting national resources. As a result of the WTO every fourth Indian is now starving, and ever second child is wasted and stunted. The WTO has done nothing to benefit India, and the TPP will do nothing to benefit the people of Vietnam, Chile, and the other nations currently involved in secret negotiations. Shiva also stated that before the WTO, India went from being the top producers and exporters of oilseeds and pulses (lentils and beans), to the top importer of those products.

Who Would Benefit From The TPP?

Big pharm, Monsanto, Cargill, multinationals, World Banks, entertainment conglomerates, and lobbyists that corrupt congress and the senate of the U.S. legislative branch.

Criticism Of The TPP

The TPP is non-transparent. Like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the TPP is being negotiated rapidly with little transparency. During the TPP negotiation round in Chile in February 2011, negotiators received strong messages from prominent civil society groups demanding an end to the secrecy that has shielded TPP negotiations from the scrutiny of national lawmakers and the public. Letters addressed to government representatives in Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand and the U.S. emphasized that both the process and effect of the proposed TPP agreement is unconscionably undemocratic. Despite the broad scope and far-reaching implications of the TPP, negotiations for the agreement have taken place behind closed doors and outside of the checks and balances that operate at traditional multilateral treaty-making organizations. The TPP raises significant concerns about freedom of expression, due process, innovation, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and the right of sovereign nations to develop policies and laws that best meet their domestic priorities. In sum, the TPP puts at risk some of the most fundamental rights that enable access to knowledge for the world’s citizens. The U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) is pursuing a TPP agreement that will require signatory counties to adopt heightened copyright protection that advances the agenda of the U.S. entertainment and pharmaceutical industries agendas, but omits the flexibilities and exceptions that protect Internet users and technology innovators. The TPP will affect countries far beyond the eleven that are currently involved in negotiations. Like ACTA, the TPP agenda is to create new heightened global IP enforcement laws. Countries that are not parties to the negotiation will likely be asked to accede to the TPP as a condition of bilateral trade agreements with the U.S. and other TPP members.

What Does The TPP Affect?

Everything from foreign ownership of land, mining licenses, media laws, control of agriculture, trade tariffs, treaty settlements, control of financial speculation, the price of medicines, compulsory labeling of food, plain packaging of cigarettes, privatization contracts for water, power, prisons, schools and hospitals. The U.S. trade office publishes an annual hit list of ‘trade barriers’ in each country including:

  • Restrictions on sale and manufacture of GMOs and labeling of GM foods.
  • Strict quarantine and labeling rules.
  • The importation of music, movies and computer programs.
  • Intellectual property protection in the digital media and pharmaceuticals.
  • Pharmaceutical schemes for buying drugs and subsidies.
  • Dominance of Telecom over competitors and new entrants.
  • Easing restrictions on foreign investments.

Regarding intellectual property the main problems are two-fold:

  1. Intellectual Property: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for end users freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process. This will hinder the public’s ability to innovate.
  2. Lack of Transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.

Why is the TPP being described as a “trade” agreement?

It’s clever branding. In reality it’s an agreement that guarantees rights to foreign corporations that operates from within any of the TPP countries like entertainment (Warner and Sony), pharmaceuticals (Merck and Pfizer), mining (RTZ and BP), tobacco (Philip Morris), retailers (Wal-Mart and Woolworths), finance sector (Merrill Lynch, Westpac, AIG, Macquarie, JP Morgan), agro-business (Cargill, Monsanto), private water operators (Bechtel, Veolia) and much more.

Special Rights. Foreign investors Can Sue Governments To Change Laws That Benefit the Multinationals

This works on several levels.

  1. Laws that allow foreign investment would be locked so they could only be weakened, unless the government reserves the right to strengthen them before it signs the agreement.
  2. It would guarantee foreign firms are consulted over proposed new laws and the government would have to show how it had considered their client’s views. Citizens would have no right to change laws that negatively impact the nation.
  3. If the government goes ahead with a new law that the foreign investors doesn’t like they could sue the government for billions of dollars for breaching their rights, thereby trumping domestic laws.
  4. If the matter did go to court, the case would be heard in a secret international court run by the United Nations or even worse, the World Bank, not a domestic court.

Examples of new laws considered for the TPP include a ban on plain packaging of cigarettes, tighter regulations onshore and offshore mining exploration, banning the sale of the kind of toxic financial products that fuelled the financial meltdown of 2008, restrictions on sale of strategic assets to foreign firms, and a tax on ‘hot’ money flowing into and out of the country. In New Zealand, the familiar and worn out pitch that the country would benefit where Fonterra’s milk powder would be introduced to the huge U.S. market. As U.S. economist Joseph Stiglitz said, “Most of these ‘free trade’ agreements are made for the sole benefit of the U.S., which has the bulk of the negotiating power.” There is no real negotiation for the TPP nations, and “New Zealand would never gain anything that would benefit the nation.”

The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement

All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement. In the U.S., this is likely to further entrench controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and restrict the ability of Congress to engage in domestic law reform to meet the evolving IP needs of American citizens and the innovative technology sector. The recently leaked U.S. proposed IP chapter also includes provisions that go far beyond current U.S. copyright law. The eleven nations currently negotiating the TPP are the U.S., Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contains a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, patents and even geographical indications. Since the draft text of the agreement has never been officially released to the public, we know from leaked documents, such as the February 2011 draft U.S. TPP IP Rights Chapter, that the U.S. negotiators are pushing for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The leaked U.S. IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws. These include obligations for countries to:

  1. Place Greater Liability on Internet Intermediaries: 
 The TPP would force the adoption of the U.S. (DMCA) Internet intermediaries copyright safe harbor regime in its entirety. For example, this would require Chile to rewrite its forward-looking 2010 copyright law that currently establishes a judicial notice-and-takedown regime, which
provides greater protection to Internet users’ expression and privacy than the DMCA.
  2. Regulate Temporary Copies: Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders’ authorization as copyright infringement. This was discussed but rejected at the intergovernmental diplomatic conference that created two key 1996 international copyright treaties, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.
  3. Expand Copyright Terms: Create copyright terms well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Here, the owner of a creative work would be the life of the creator, plus seventy years for works created by individuals, and following the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement, either 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation for corporate owned works (such as Mickey Mouse).
  4. Enact a “Three-Step Test” Language That Puts Restrictions on Fair Use: The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is putting fair use at risk with restrictive language in the TPP’s IP chapter. The U.S. and Australia are both proposing very restrictive text, and Peru is willing to accommodate the bad language.
  5. Escalate Protections for Digital Locks: It will also compel signatory nations to enact laws banning circumvention of digital locks (technological protection measures or TPMs) that mirror the DMCA and treat violation of the TPM provisions as a separate offense, even when no copyright infringement is involved. This would require countries like New Zealand to completely rewrite its innovative 2008 copyright law, as well as override Australia’s carefully-crafted 2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, videogames, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device, a thoughtful effort by Australian policy makers to avoid the pitfalls experienced with the U.S. digital locks provisions. In the U.S., business competitors have used the DMCA to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
  6. Ban Parallel Importation: Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners.
  7. Adopt Criminal Sanctions: Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation, based on the provisions of the 1997 U.S. No Electronic Theft Act.

In short, countries would have to abandon any efforts to learn from the mistakes of the U.S. and its experience with the DMCA over the last 12 years, and adopt many of the most controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law in their entirety. At the same time, the U.S. IP chapter does not export the limitations and exceptions in the U.S. copyright regime like fair use, which have enabled freedom of expression and technological innovation to flourish in the U.S. It includes only a placeholder for exceptions and limitations. This raises serious concerns about other countries’ sovereignty and the ability of national governments to set laws and policies to meet their domestic priorities.

According To The BBC

The TPP is one of the most ambitious free trade agreements ever attempted. Its supporters have billed it as a pathway to unlock future growth of the countries involved in the pact. The critics have been equally vociferous, not least because of the secrecy surrounding the negotiations of the agreement. Despite the criticism, the countries involved have been pushing for a deal to be reached soon and they are confident that even more economies will want to join the pact in the coming years. The pact is aimed at deepening economic ties between these nations. The TPP is expected to substantially reduce tariffs, and even eliminate them completely in some cases, between member countries and help open up trade in goods and services. It is also expected to boost investment flows between the countries and further boost their economic growth. The member countries are also looking to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulatory issues. The eleven countries that are currently part of the negotiations have a combined population of more than 650 million.

A free trade agreement could turn this into a potential single market for many businesses. Criticism of the deal is on various fronts. Like many other free trade agreements, there are fears over the impact TPP may have on certain products and services in member countries. Some campaign groups have raised concerns about the impact such a wide-ranging agreement may have on intellectual property laws and patent enforcement. They fear the deal may extend the scope of patents in sectors such a medicine and prevent the distribution of generic drugs. Meanwhile Japan, which has expressed an interest to join the negotiations, has raised concerns about the agreement impacting its agriculture sector. But the biggest criticism has been of what the campaigners allege to be secretive negotiations. They say that the delegates have not been forthcoming about details of the issues that they have been discussing, and what the scope of agreement in those areas is likely to be, and how it will impact trade. Last year, a group of lawyers even sent a letter to Ron Kirk, the U.S. Trade Representative, to express what they called “profound concern and disappointment at the lack of public participation, transparency and open government processes in the negotiation of the intellectual property chapter of the TPP.” However, those working on behalf of the TPP organizers say the reason why the negotiations have not been made public is because there is no formal agreement as of yet. They also state that free trade agreements attract a lot of criticism from campaign groups, and that in this case the delegates may be wanting to keep the discussions under wraps to avoid any pressure from such groups.

The stated goal of the TPP is to unite the Pacific Rim countries by “harmonizing” tariffs and trade rules between them, but in reality, the “intellectual property” chapter in a massive trade agreement that will force changes to copyright and patent rules in each of the signatory countries. Accepting these new rules will not just rewrite national laws, but will also restrict the possibility for countries to introduce more balanced copyright laws in the future. This strategy may end up harming other countries’ more proportionate laws such as Chile, where a judicial order is required for ISPs to be held liable for copyright infringement and take down content. Such systems better protect users and intermediaries from disproportionate or censorship-driven takedowns.

If the final TPP text forces countries to adopt a privatize notice and takedown regime, this could imply the end of the Chilean system. It would also undermine Canada’s notice-notice regime. The content industry can, has and will continue to pay and distort facts to affect changes in laws that protects their sole interests, and what they want more than anything is for us to remain passive as they tighten the screws. They did it with SOPA, ACTA, and now it’s the TPP. I The TPP is slated for conclusion this October, but it should be our main objective to get the worst of these copyright provisions removed from it. Demand an open transparent process that allows everyone to analyze, question, and probe any initiatives that will make new regulations to the Internet. The secrecy of this agreement is not acceptable.

TPP And The GMO Horror Show

The TPP would force Japan to accept an unlimited amount of GMO foods and seeds. Additionally, rules dictate that the Japanese government can not require GMO foods to be labeled, or disclose the origin of the foods to ensure that consumers will not be able to even guess whether the food they are about to feed their children are genetically modified or not. While politicians use tax dollars to pay extravagant subsidies that are designed to gain farmers support for TPP, it would be better for the Japanese people to focus on the quality and safety of the food that will enter the market. Currently, around two-thirds of all crops grown in the U.S. are genetically altered. More than sixty percent of the food consumed in Japan comes from the U.S., and China. Japan should expect that most of the food imported from the U.S. would be genetically modified. Japan’s acceptance into the TPP will result in the U.S. agricultural giants taking over Japan’s farmland, and forcing farmers to pay licensing fees for patented GMO seeds, courtesy of Monsanto, the same company that brought Agent Orange to S.E. Asia, and Okinawa, DDT’s to the world’s farmlands, lawsuits against farmers that didn’t want their crops contaminated by GMO cross-pollination in the first place, and the total destruction of the once booming agricultural industry of India. Monsanto, or other biotech companies fund nearly all GMO research. This means that truly independent data is not available. Independent scientists claim that people are being used as human guinea pigs. Professor Terje Traavik is in a rare and privileged position in the world of genetically modified research. As scientific director of Norway’s GenØk Centre for Biosafety, he presides over the only research institution in the field of gene ecology, which is completely independent of funding from biotech companies like Monsanto. Professor Traavik has been giving speeches all over the world and for many years stating that 95% of scientists working within genetically modified research areas (genetic engineering, molecular biology and genetics, synthetic biology) are directly, or indirectly, working for the biotech industry. Despite widespread reports of intimidation, threats and career destruction of scientists who produce negative results, Professor Traavik says, “There is no shortage of techniques, methods and technologies within life sciences, but there is a shortage of critical minds and original hypotheses,” he said. The most famous incident involving intimidation, and the destruction of an independent researchers career is the case of Dr. Arpad Pusztai, one of the world’s top researchers in his field of lectin proteins and a senior researcher at the prestigious Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Ironically, Monsanto’s CEO, Hugh Grant is from Scotland as well. Hmmm…

When Dr. Pusztai fed genetically modified potatoes to rats, they developed pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and a damaged immune system. Dr. Pusztai stated during a televised interview, “If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it”, and that” “I find it’s very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.” Two days later, his 35-year career at the Institute was ended amid persistent phone calls to the director from Downing Street. Dr. Pusztai was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, but eventually, he was invited to speak before Parliament, his gag order lifted, and his research published in the prestigious Lancet. In Latin America, the research by the embryologist Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, at the University of Buenos Aires, had a similar occurrence. In 2010, he showed that Roundup, the Monsanto herbicide sold in conjunction with most genetically modified crops, caused defects in the brain, intestines, and hearts of amphibian fetuses. His research confirmed reports from peasants that they suffered adverse health consequences after using Roundup. Later, a violent gang prevented him from giving a speech on his findings.

In an interview with GM Watch, Professor Carrasco said, “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy. In spite of the evidence, they still tried to run down thirty years of my reputation as a scientist. “They are hypocrites, lackeys of the big corporations, but they are afraid. They know they can’t cover up the sun with one hand. There is scientific proof and, above all, there are hundreds of affected towns, which are living proof of this public health emergency. I have confirmed that glyphosate is devastating for amphibian embryos, even at doses far below those used in agriculture. Roundup causes many, and varied types of malformations.” Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow was one of many scientists to have their supply of seeds terminated after she discovered problematic side effects in genetically modified sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding access to genetically modified seeds and genes. Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey suffered the same fate after they found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s genetically modified soybeans. After publication, Hartz, the company that supplied the seeds told them they would no longer provide samples. And when Hungarian Professor Bela Darvas discovered that Monsanto’s GM corn hurt endangered species in his country, Monsanto shut off his supplies. Dr. Darvas later gave a speech on his preliminary findings and discovered that a false and incriminating report about his research was circulating. He traced it to a Monsanto public relations employee, who claimed it mysteriously appeared on her desk, so she faxed it out. A further problem in the industry is conflict of interest. Many individuals have switched between jobs with responsibility for regulating the biotech industry, and working for Monsanto.

The following are some examples: Dr. Michael A. Friedman, formerly the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy commissioner for operations, joined Monsanto in 1999 as a senior vice president. When Linda J. Fisher left her role as an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she became VP of Monsanto, from 1995 to 2000, she then returned to the EPA as deputy administrator the next year. William D. Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator, and Mickey Kantor, former U.S. trade representative, each served on Monsanto’s board after leaving government. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney in Monsanto’s corporate-law department in the 1970s. He wrote the Supreme Court opinion in a crucial G.M-seed patent-rights case in 2001 that benefited Monsanto and other seed companies.

What does all this mean? The U.S. agricultural industry is one of the biggest proponents of the TPP and has the political clout to ensure that any trade pact will pay big benefits. The truth is that no one really knows what the long-term effects of GMO on humans are, mostly because few scientists are looking for those answers, and when those few scientists find results that negatively impact the bottom line of companies like Monsanto, they are discredited, sued, financially ruined, and run out of town. Much like what Monsanto does to farmers that don’t want their crops contaminated with genetically modified cross-pollination. With all this evidence staring in the face of Japan’s agricultural industry, the TPP advocates are willing to trust Monsanto and other politically connected companies that GMO foods are safe for the Japanese populace. Unfortunately there is no scientific evidence to prove that genetically modified foods are safe.

Monsanto, Obama, and the TPP trade negotiations with Japan

President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government. On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised, “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Much like Obama’s promise to get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, that campaign rhetoric turned out to be nothing more than lies. Starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration. President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbyists.

  • Michael Taylor former Monsanto Vice President is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.
  • Roger Beachy is the former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center. He’s now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • Islam Siddiqui. Siddiqui is currently the U.S. Trade Representative’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator, was Vice President of CropLife America, the notorious lobbying group that represents pesticide and genetic engineering companies, including the six multinational corporations that control 75% of the global agrichemical market: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and DuPont. CropLife is the group that infamously chided the First Lady for planting a pesticide-free organic garden at the White House. Siddiqui should be of great interest to Japan’s concerns about Monsanto and GMO patents. As part of the U.S. Trade office, Siddiqui would have considerable influence over the terms of the TPP free trade agreement, if not a personal hand in the negotiations. Remember that the U.S. advocates the elimination of food labeling that would allow consumers to avoid genetically engineered food products. Before CropLife, Siddiqui was a chemical farming and biotech booster in Clinton’s USDA. It was his idea in 1997-98, rejected by the organic community to allow GMOs, sewage sludge and irradiation in organic production. (The Organic Consumers Association spearheaded the successful campaign to save organic standards from Siddiqui.) Siddiqui was an Obama campaign donor and fundraiser.
  • Rajiv Shah is the former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a Monsanto partner), served as Obama’s USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.
  • Elena Kagan who, as President Obama’s Solicitor General, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case. She now sits on the Supreme Court.
  • Ramona Romero corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.

Click to graphic above to enlarge it.

One of the interesting aspects of Monsanto’s push to sow its genetically engineered seeds across the world is the issue of contamination. Cross-pollination of crops is not something anyone can control. So an organic farmer who sits adjacent or downwind from a field of GMO crops will easily become contaminated. This causes several problems for the organic farmer. For example, genetically engineered seeds do not reproduce viable seeds for the next planting season. So, farmers will discover that their contaminated crops do not yield viable seeds. Monsanto sees this as a feature and not a problem as their intent is to force farmers to purchase licensing agreements to gain access to GMO seeds every year, ensuring a market in perpetuity. Organic farmers would also not be able to sell their contaminated crops as organic. Worse, however, are patent laws, which protect Monsanto. Of course, these patent laws will be part of the TPP free trade agreement. Over the past decade, Monsanto’s aggressive marketing tactics, political lobbying and promises of increased yields have swept the farming world by storm. Don’t ever believe that farmers care about healthy crops. They care only about healthy profits.

Farmers who refuse to switch to Monsanto’s expensive seeds and chemicals are targeted for lawsuits under the guise of patent infringement. In reality, it’s the farmer’s crops that have become contaminated through cross-pollination, often intentionally to force those farmers to join the “club” or be financially ruined. As the wave of GM crops spread, many independent farmers who did not buy into the hype were discovered to have patented genes in their fields, and were then financially ruined by expensive lawsuits brought on by Monsanto’s army of litigious lawyers. An independent farmer cannot stand against a corporate giant that has infiltrated every government agencies, and the courts that are supposed to protect that farmer rights. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy. So, the winds, bees, butterflies, and birds, which are part of the pollination process and owe no allegiance to either side, contaminate the organic farmer’s crops, ruin his business and Monsanto sues them for growing crops containing their patented genes. Must I add that bees, which pollinate most of the world’s food are dying in mass numbers, all due to being poisoned by Monsanto’s Roundup pesticides.

No bees, no food. No food, no seeds. No seeds no profits. No profits, no people. No people, no shareholders. No shareholders, no Monsanto. Any questions?

Our anonymous farmer speaks out. “We have a right to be secure on our farms and to be free from Monsanto’s GMO trespass. If Monsanto contaminates us, not only is the value of our organic seed crop extinguished but we could also be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because their contamination results in our ‘possession’ of their GMO technology. We have farmers who have stopped growing organic corn, organic canola and organic soybeans because they can’t risk being sued by Monsanto. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Family farmers need justice and we deserve the protection of the court.” It’s a situation only a corrupt government could create. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that president Obama, who is desperately pushing for Japan to join the TPP free trade agreement, is one of the leading proponents of Monsanto’s GMO scheme. Former Monsanto executive, Michael Taylor, who serves in Obama’s administration as the “food czar.” His duties to the public include ensuring that food labels contain clear and accurate information, overseeing strategy for food safety and planning new food safety legislation. Taylor is the first individual to hold the position and he has failed miserably. Instead, he does all he can to see to it that Monsanto receives everything it desire for domination, ownership and control of the world’s seed supplies.

Mary Christ Massacre from the GMO masters of delusion.

The problem for Japan, and other nations is that the provisions within the TPP eliminate labeling for GMO, meaning that the consumer would have no way of knowing if the food was genetically engineered or even where it was grown. In Japan, food may be labeled as containing GMO ingredients or as being GMO-free, but this would change if a key clause in the TPP agreement was to be implemented. According to the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, “The U.S. has made clear that a priority for it in the proposed TPP is the abolition of laws requiring the labeling of GMO foods, as well as the acceptance of the import of such products.” This clause would apply to the Japanese market and Japanese consumers as well as any other country that agrees to the terms of the TPP.

Critics of the GMO business claim that many health hazards exist, but that they have been swept under the rug by the companies involved, and by systematically infiltrating key government positions. Japan is an isolated nation, with little knowledge of what goes on outside of the island chain. Acceptance of the relative terms of the TPP would force Japanese farmers into paying huge royalties, and entering into perpetual patent agreements. Farmers would be told that their crops yield would increase, and as a result receive greater profits. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A 2003 study showed that Monsanto’s GMO cotton grown in India produced between five to seven times less net incomes than the indigenous variety according to an official governmental report. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of farmers taking out expensive loans they could not afford, and when their crops did not yield the results they were guaranteed, they could not pay back the debt incurred against those loans. Many lost their lands, and to date more than three quarters of a million farmers have committed suicide. Are these the prices that unsuspecting small farmers, and the consumer of foods must continually pay in order for a company that is responsible for millions of deaths to continue to report quarterly profits, and for corporate criminals like Hugh Grant to receive multimillion dollar bonuses?

The TPP is about to change life in Japan forever. Yet, there will be no benefit for the Japanese people. The TPP will only result in importing the corruption of the U.S. government into Japan’s agricultural industry. Japan already has enough problems with the corruption within its own government and is a nation still reeling from the affects of TEPCO and the radiation debacle. There is significant opposition to the introduction of biotechnology outside the U.S., especially in Japan, the EU, and Australasia. According to the UK’s Soil Association 2008 report, GMOs have cost the U.S. farmer 12 billion in lost exports since 1999. Monsanto, has a large stake in this aspect of agribusiness, but suffered a setback in 2003, the British government released the results of three studies on the effects of GMOs, wherein lasting damage to the environment was predicted if GMOs were introduced. In addition, a British poll showed that 93% felt that not enough was known about the long-term effects of the so-called GMO Frankenstein food products, and 86% said they would not eat it. This popular reaction and these findings forced an effective halt to Monsanto’s research operations in the UK, and in other European nations as well.

It would seem imperative for the Japanese TPP negotiators to be aware of the ramifications associated with this aspect of the partnership, and to think carefully before allowing Japanese consumers and the Japanese ecology to be unwittingly exposed to a technology imposed from outside, the effects of which have yet to be objectively and definitively assessed. Already protests from Sendai to Tokyo have been underway. Recently, 3,000 protesters staged a rally in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park that was organized by agricultural and consumers groups. “If the government announces Japan’s participation in the TPP without building a national consensus, it can only be described as an act of betrayal against its citizens,” their joint statement said.

According to a recent article in the Japan Times, Akira Banzai, who heads the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, accused the government of being high-handed and deliberately only disclosing information that casts Japan’s potential entry into the TPP negotiations in a positive light. “Unless the government gives up on its plan to join the discussions, our fears will persist,” he said. The Japan Association of Corporate Executives issued a statement the same day urging the government to participate in and advance high-level talks on free-trade agreements, including the TPP.

The renewed momentum among both those in favor of and against the TPP was triggered last week, when Tadashi Okamura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, appealed to trade minister Yukio Edano for the government to arrive at a swift decision on Japan’s participation in the multilateral TPP discussions. You may remember that Edano was the chief liar communicating to the world that there was no meltdown concerns at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear facility. Since that time we have learned that there were already three meltdowns occurring, he was aware of this, but kept lying to the public. Expect Edano to continue in massive distortion when it comes to the TPP, Monsanto, and free trade. Japan formally announced the nation’s interest in joining the TPP talks as of November 2012. Officials have since held a number of consultations with countries already involved in the negotiations to win their approval over Tokyo’s participation. Recently, those nations, including Canada, and the U.S. have officially invited Japan to become the 12th TPP nation.

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