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Monday, August 6, 2007

In the news ニュース

Once a month, I sacrifice my one day off a week in order to clean our apartment from top to bottom, which also gives Pamela time to take care of things she otherwise wouldn't be able to do. Today was that Sunday, so I don't have anything to write about in regards to places visited and things seen. However, there were some Taiwan-related articles in the English-language Japanese media this week, so here's a brief roundup:

From last Sunday (7月29日)the Japan Times carried a letter to the editor from Wen Ching-chu, of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei (Taiwan's de facto embassy in Japan) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20070729a6.html. Entitled "Striving for a place in the U.N.", Wen argued that Taiwan's application for admission to the United Nations 国際連合 had the support of the majority of Taiwan's populace. Nonetheless, Taiwan's application was dismissed out of hand by the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon バン・キムン, in what was most likely a violation of UN procedures. According to this Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ban_Ki-moon:

"...Ban Ki-Moon has been noteworthy as accepting of many Chinese positions, especially those vis-a-vis Taiwan."

I guess human rights violations in general, and suppression of self-rule movements in Tibet チベット and Xinjiang 新疆, are less objectionable to Ban than the desire of a democratic nation of 23 million people to seek its rightful place in the world body of nations.

Today, the Daily Yomiuri had a story about China protesting over the playing of the Republic of China national anthem 中華民国の国歌 http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_GEN_CHINA_JAPAN_TAIWAN_ASOL-?SITE=YOMIURI&SECTION=HOSTED_ASIA&TEMPLATE=ap_national.html. It seems that the anthem was played after at least five games during the course of a basketball tournament being held in Tokushima 徳島. In the words of the Chinese Foreign Ministry:

"China expresses strong protest and demands the Japanese side to immediately take effective measures to remove this vile influence and avoid similar events from happening again..."

"Vile influence"? If one country is having a "vile influence" on the rest of the world, it would be the one with its capital in Beijing 北京, which is causing otherwise decent human beings to abandon their principles and overlook abuses against their fellow human beings, all in the name of making a buck in the China market. 1.3 billion potential consumers make for one giant collective ass to be kissed by people the world over, doesn't it?

Finally, there was this review in today's Japan Times of a book entitled "JAPAN'S CONTESTED WAR MEMORIES: The "Memory Rifts" in Historical Consciousness of WWII", by Philip A. Seaton http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fb20070805a1.html. While this book isn't related to Taiwan, it's refreshing to see a writer trying to get beyond the stereotypical views many Asians and Westerners have of Japan and how the latter views the Second World War. Which is exactly the author's point, that there is no "Japanese" view of things as war memories are a point of contention within Japan. The reviewer, Jeff Kingston (a director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Tokyo campus), states at the end:

"Although Seaton claims that Japan boasts "probably the most contested memories of any of the major WWII combatant nations," this perspective does not seem to matter in China and Korea where the "orthodoxy" of an unrepentant Japan in denial goes unchallenged.

In looking at the future of war memory, it is hard to avert our eyes from the competing selective gazes of state-centered war memories that bedevil relations in East Asia. Translating this book into Chinese and Korean might help."

This sounds like a book I should add to my reading list.

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