Saturday, March 03, 2007

Revising history... lovely....

Yesterday on the ski lift, Keizo and I were talking about my experience in Japan, culture shock and reverse culture shock. One of the things that I mentioned was that I didn't experience much in the way of culture shock but that one of my reactions was disappointment in the regressive points of view often expressed by members of the Japanese Government. The example I used was Shintaro Ishihara, who is the governor of Tokyo. Some of his gems of right-wing wisdom include the statement that women who live beyond their reproductive years are committing a sin and should commit suicide to avoid being a burden on their families and the country. Lovely. And this is the guy in charge of the largest metropolitan region in Japan, do his views reflect those of his constituents? He was recently re-elected, so one must pose the question.

This morning, as I ran through my usual readings on the Internet, I came across an article that got my blood to a rolling boil... again. Seems that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is folding to the right wing faction within his party and starting to look at revising the sex slaves issue. For those who aren't familiar with this, here are the basics.
  • Japan occupied large parts of Asia during their military campaign starting in the early 1930s and on through WWII.
  • During this time, the Japanese military, with direction from the government in Tokyo, planned and executed a plan to round up thousands of women from the occupied countries to be used as sex slaves by the Japanese army. The PC term for this at the moment seems to be "comfort women", which I find disgusting.
  • It is widely accepted, it seems everywhere but in Japan, that some 200,000 women of all ages, right down to their early teens, were submitted to repeated brutal rapes and beatings at the hands of soldiers in the military-run brothels.
For decades, the Japanese government either denied the very existence of this program, or stated that the women employed were in fact "professional prostitutes" and were not forced into service in any way. Finally, after the discovery of documents in the early 90's outlining the war-time governments plans and intentions, the Japanese government at the time admitted to this horror and issued a statement of "remorse". This is short of an apology, but it is at least something, coming after 40 years of denials.

Now, in this article in the Japan Times Online, I read that the ruling LDP party is looking at watering down the statement issued in 1993 since it goes too far as far as the right-wing groups are concerned. Talk about taking steps back. I think the most interesting parts of this article are quotes from a soldier at the time and a survivor of the Japanese rape and occupation of Asia, I highly recomend you read the article. I find this particular issue particular revolting, but especially when put in the context of the ongoing issues with North Korea. While refusing to step up and admit their wrongdoings in the past, Japan keeps insisting that North Korea apologize and make reparations for their abduction of somewhere from 16 to 80 Japanese citizens 30 years ago. Every time I hear a Japanese official vilifying North Korea for these abductions, my thoughts inevitably turn to the multitude of crimes for which Japan has never been held to account. The sad part is that most people really have no idea of the issues at hand, with the revisionists having long ago gotten their hands on school textbooks. Very sad.

Anywho, enough of a rant for a Sunday morning, ne? Yesterday was a great day, though the snow conditions were pretty bad. We've officially moved into Spring\Summer skiing here, and I now understand Rene's comments about "skiing in wet cement". Great weather though, and we had a great time. Takatsue is a nice place to ski, though one of the runs seemed to have my number. Of the 4-5 times we took the narrow, icy run, I fell twice... bugger. As I mentioned to Keizo, confidence seems to be my biggest issue in the progression of my skiing at the moment.

While I opted not to take my camera up the slopes with me, I did snap a few from the parking lot, and Keizo has a few which he'll email me at some point. I'll add them to the post later. Here is the view upon our arrival, notice the muddy parking lot... quite different from last year's weather. The effects of the lack of snow and high temperatures are painfully obvious, even at 1700 meters altitude.

After a great day of skiing, I was feeling quite tired and my legs were starting to give out on me. I had to cut the day about 15 minutes short, sorry Keizo! I am usually fine so long as I don't stop. When I used to ski alone in Canada, I would go straight from 8 in the morning to 2 or 3 in the afternoon, then have lunch and call it a day. When my legs start to get tired, it gets dangerous for me to keep skiing since I don't turn as much, which means less control and higher speeds... not a good combination. In 24 hours, I will be on a train heading into the mountains of Nagano for my 3 day ski getaway. I am looking forward to it! Staying at the Chu Hotel, which has a lift right out the back door.... VERY COOL! And I WILL take some ski pictures!

For now, let me leave you with this shot I took of our skis in the rack ready for the trip home.


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