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Friday, January 19, 2007

Gregory Clark

I'm sure he loves his mother. He's probably kind to children and small animals. And he has written some good articles in the Japan Times on education issues. But when it comes to international relations and politics, what pours out of Gregory Clark's keyboard and onto the Commentary pages of the JT is often vile. This is a man who feels that China's claim to Tibet is justified, and never mentions the ongoing crusade by the Chinese government to destroy Tibetan culture. This is a man who thinks it was OK for North Korea to have abducted ordinary Japanese in the 70s and 80s, because thousands of Koreans were forced to come to Japan up until the end of World War II. I guess Clark's mother never taught him that two wrongs don't make a right. And this is a man who frequently criticizes resident foreigners in Japan (and even foreigners who have become Japanese citizens) for going to court to fight cases of outright discrimination, on the grounds that the Japanese have a right to defend their way of life (though he has never made it clear how admitting several Westerners into a hot spring could threaten Japan's "unique" culture). If Clark were an American (he's an Aussie, actually) writing in the mid-1950's, he probably would have told Rosa Parks she should accept the fact that her place was in the back of the bus.

Clark is at again, in a commentary in today's Japan Times, "So much for Abe's reconciliation policy" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070118gc.html. While not as offensive as some of his past writings, it's pretty indicative of GC's tendency to put on the blinders when it comes to China. While there is nothing wrong with being a Sinophile (I'm an admitted Japanophile, and I have Anglophiliac tendencies as well), seldom is heard a derogatory word about China when it comes time to submit a piece to the JT. 

In Clark's alternate universe, the Chinese government was doing Japan a favor by focusing on the enshrinement of Class-A war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine, and now the poor Chinese have to put up with Shinzo Abe's new assertiveness in Japan's foreign relations because he has not declared he will visit Yasukuni. Those cunning Japanese have managed to pull a fast one, and now they are teaming up with the Americans to confront China over Taiwan. Why, Tokyo still lobbies the European Union to maintain its ban on arms sales to the Chinese. And watch out, Tokyo is upgrading its military in order to...well, as Gregory puts it:

"These are people [meaning the Abe administration] who are in love with the military and its trappings, and are determined to find the enemies needed to keep the military employed."

In Clark's article, you are not going to find any references to China's ongoing buildup of its military, which has officially recorded double-digit spending increases for more than a decade (and unofficially a lot more). There are no remarks about the worries of other Asian nations over Chinese claims to the Spratly Islands, the Senkakus and other areas. Has China deployed up to 900 missiles aimed at Taiwan, a self-ruled island for over 50 years with democratically elected leaders? You won't get the answer from Mr. Clark. And why does the EU have a ban in place on arms sales? Clark won't tell you it was because the Chinese government turned the People's Liberation Army on its own people in Tiananmen Square back on June 4, 1989. And why talk about China's deplorable human rights record, or Xinjiang, or even the fact that more Chinese have died at the hands of the government in power in Beijing since 1949 than were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army? Never let facts get in the way of a good story, eh Greg?

But it's not only China that's a victim in GC's world. Poor little North Korea is also being picked on by those resurgent Japanese militarists. Japan supports "...U.S. hawkish positions that in effect justify North Korea's nuclear and missile developments" (without clarifying what those "positions" are, of course). So Pyongyang isn't to blame for its long record of broken promises and deceit when it comes to the nuclear weapons issue. And instead of thanking Kim Jong-il profusely for releasing five Japanese abductees back in 2002, Abe "...began to insist that Pyongyang had to liberate many more alleged abductees, including those Pyongyang insists do not exist or are dead." If the North Korean government says they don't exist or are no longer living, it must be true, right? As with China, you will never find any mention of North Korea's abominable treatment of its own people in Clark's articles.

It's hard to understand how people like Gregory Clark feel the need to apologize for and/or excuse murderous regimes (though an insight into his personality can perhaps be gleaned from this old article from the Australian Magazine http://www.debito.org/HELPSpring2001.html#clarkarticle). Yes, the rise of the right in Japan is something that needs to be monitored. But if Clark can ever sort out the psychological issues that seem to fog up his moral compass when it comes to the Middle Kingdom, he might realize that it's a resurgence of Chinese nationalism, combined with China's rise as an economic power, that is the biggest threat to security in East Asia in the long term.

Better yet, being the vice-president of Akita International University,perhaps he should just stick to writing on educational issues. At least he's marooned up in the Tohoku region. Let's hope he stays up there.

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