Japan’s Yakuza Cancels Halloween – Jake Adelstein 10.25.1512:01 AM ET


On Halloween, Japan’s largest organized crime group used to allow children to extort mobsters. But the event was called off this year due to a possible gang war.

raster illustration of  jack o lantern with knife stuck in side; Shutterstock ID 109331504

raster illustration of jack o lantern with knife stuck in side; Shutterstock ID 109331504

GHOULIES AND GHOSTIES

TOKYO — It’s been over a month since Japan’s largest organized crime group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, split into two rival factions, and, ever since, people here have been waiting for something to go bump (or be bumped off) in the night.

But it appears the first victim in the looming gang war is nothing more or less than the gang’s annual Halloween festivities, which had become a yearly event at the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters in Kobe.

Each October 31, the gangsters famous for their permanent costumes (tattoos, missing digits and the like) invited ordinary citizens, mostly small children in “scary” outfits, to have fun with extortion, demanding Japanese candies and snacks.

In front of the Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters—and yes, all of Japan’s designated mafia groups have well-known headquarters—a sign has been posted in Japanese noting the cancellation of the annual trick-or-treat exchanges:

Every year on October 31st, as per custom, we have held a Halloween [event], but this year, due to various circumstances, the event has been called off. We realize this is causing great regret to those parents and children who looked forward to this, but next year we absolutely will hold the event, so please look forward to it. In great haste, we humbly inform you of this.

The 6th Generation Yamaguchi-gumi headquarters.

The Sankei Shimbun was the first to report these unhappy tidings on October 21, but all through Kobe, certainly, the sad news was reverberating.

It might surprise many in the West that a notorious syndicate which makes its money through blackmail, racketeering, extortion, and other crimes distributed candy to the neighborhood children each year, but the custom fits a pattern.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has been in business since 1915, when it first began as a temporary staffing agency on the docks of Kobe, a port city. The Yamaguchi-gumi has always tried to cultivate good relations with the locals, hosting an annual rice-cake-making event at the start of the year in which the gang distributes food and booze to the locals.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/10/25/japan-s-yakuza-cancels-halloween.html

U.S. Backs Japan’s New Military Expansion, But China Concerned – By Jun Hongo Updated Sept. 19, 2015 4:46 a.m. ET


Parliament gave final approval to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security bills early Saturday, allowing Japanese troops wider leeway to take part in conflicts beyond Japan’s borders.Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at Sep 19, 2015 4.18

The U.S. says it is looking forward to closer cooperation with Japan after the country’s parliament passed legislation expanding its international military powers, but China cautioned Tokyo against disturbing regional peace and stability.

Japan lawmakers early Saturday gave final approval to new laws that, for the first time in the 70 years since World War II, will give the government power to use the military in international conflicts, even if Japan itself isn’t under attack.

Following the passage of the law, the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and the Armed Services committees said Japan can now take a larger role in regional and global security.

“The new measures adopted by Japan today will contribute to international peace and security while strengthening the vital alliance between our two countries,” the Republican and Democratic Senators said in a joint statement.

In the statement, the Senators said the U.S. was looking forward to working with Japan “under the revised US-Japan Defense Guidelines.” That agreement, which was unveiled in April, is aimed at overhauling the two countries’ security arrangements and paving the way for a more robust participation of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in disaster relief, peacekeeping operations, missile defense and other military missions.

At the time, U.S. officials said the new agreement wasn’t about China, but Beijing has treated both the pact and the Japanese legislation with suspicion. While Japanese officials were careful to avoid provoking China, the need to boost deterrence against a growing Chinese military was constantly in the background during the debate over the legislation.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, expressed concern in a statement published on the ministry’s website Saturday, saying the passing of the legislation raises questions about whether Japan will “deviate from the path of peaceful development it has been following” since the end of WWII.

In the statement, Mr. Hong said China urged Japan to “take seriously the security concerns of its Asian neighbors,” and “act with discretion on military and security issues.” The statement also said Japan should “do more to promote regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite.”

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-backs-japans-new-military-expansion-but-china-concerned-1442644956

Japan’s Armed Forces: The Ultimate Military or an Out-of-Date Relic? – By Paul D. Shinkman Sept. 9, 2015 | 6:32 p.m. EDT


Japanese Self Defense Force troops participate in a new year military drill at the training grounds in Narashino, suburban Tokyo on January 13, 2013.

Japan’s armed forces provoke a range of emotions. Founded in the nation’s brutal inherited history with China and South Korea, its more-recent desire to match the military might of its modern economic peers sharply juxtaposes with lessons taught in schoolrooms of an empire that entered into a catastrophic conflict ending with bloody throes on its own shores.

The economic powerhouse is now in the midst of a critical debate. While nations around the world mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Japan’s legislature is weighing a new law that would reinterpret fundamental rules that have governed the country’s military in the wake of surrender in 1945.

Now a conservative leader, a predominantly hands-off American military policy and an increasingly boisterous neighborhood force the island nation to reconsider its own laws that muzzle its ability to wage war.

U.S.-Japan Alliance Can Help Confront North Korea

At first glance, Japanese military forces look like that of any other country of the same size. It spent roughly the same last year on its armed forces as Germany, for example. Its ground troops, seamen and pilots wear uniforms and operate much of the same machinery as its patron, the United States, which has sold Japan almost $5 billion in military equipment in the last decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It possesses modern rifles, missiles, jets, seafaring vessels that bear aircraft, and all of the other framework that the common observer would associate with an offensive force.

The difference lies in those small details that align with Article IX of its post-war constitution, enshrining the Japanese people’s aspiration to “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

Those missiles, for example, can shoot at other aircraft and other ships, but not ground targets, for that latter requirement would only be necessary for an offensive military. Its military does not have what other world forces call “ground-attack doctrine,” or the rules, training and techniques to root out and destroy an opposing army. It has vessels that look like aircraft carriers, but most of its aircraft can’t actually land or take off directly from them.

Japan has, however, stretched and reinterpreted previous restrictions on the use of its Self-Defense Forces and found ways to contribute to the international security agreements from which it benefits. Its military actively participates in an international anti-piracy initiative based in Djibouti providing aerial reconnaissance and surveillance. It even sent engineers and humanitarian assistance to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq during the last war – but could not provide its own security. Instead, Dutch armed forces protected the Japanese troops, contributing to a growing sense of humiliation among some corners of the historically fearsome nation.

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/09/japans-armed-forces-the-ultimate-military-or-an-out-of-date-relic?int=a14709

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this day – CHRISTIAN APPY, TOMDISPATCH.COM WEDNESDAY, AUG 5, 2015 02:45 PM PDT


Seventy years ago this week we vaporized 250,000 civilians, and yet still view the bombings as an act of mercy

The indefensible Hiroshima revisionism that haunts America to this day
This piece originally appeared on TomDispatch.

Here we are, 70 years after the nuclear obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m wondering if we’ve come even one step closer to a moral reckoning with our status as the world’s only country to use atomic weapons to slaughter human beings. Will an American president ever offer a formal apology? Will our country ever regret the dropping of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man,” those two bombs that burned hotter than the sun? Will it absorb the way they instantly vaporized thousands of victims, incinerated tens of thousands more, and created unimaginably powerful shockwaves and firestorms that ravaged everything for miles beyond ground zero? Will it finally come to grips with the “black rain” that spread radiation and killed even more people — slowly and painfully — leading in the end to a death toll for the two cities conservatively estimated at more than 250,000?

Given the last seven decades of perpetual militarization and nuclear “modernization” in this country, the answer may seem like an obvious no. Still, as a historian, I’ve been trying to dig a little deeper into our lack of national contrition. As I have, an odd fragment of Americana kept coming to mind, a line from the popular 1970 tearjerker Love Story: “Love,” says the female lead when her boyfriend begins to apologize, “means never having to say you’re sorry.” It has to be one of the dumbest definitions ever to lodge in American memory, since real love often requires the strength to apologize and make amends.

It does, however, apply remarkably well to the way many Americans think about that broader form of love we call patriotism. With rare exceptions, like the 1988 congressional act that apologized to and compensated the Japanese-American victims of World War II internment, when it comes to the brute exercise of power, true patriotism has above all meant never having to say you’re sorry. The very politicians who criticize other countries for not owning up to their wrong-doing regularly insist that we should never apologize for anything. In 1988, for example, after the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf killing all 290 passengers (including 66 children), Vice President George H.W. Bush, then running for president, proclaimed, “I will never apologize for the United States. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

It turns out, however, that Bush’s version of American remorselessness isn’t quite enough. After all, Americans prefer to view their country as peace-loving, despite having been at war constantly since 1941. This means they need more than denials and non-apologies. They need persuasive stories and explanations (however full of distortions and omissions). The tale developed to justify the bombings that led to a world in which the threat of human extinction has been a daily reality may be the most successful legitimizing narrative in our history. Seventy years later, it’s still deeply embedded in public memory and school textbooks, despite an ever-growing pile of evidence that contradicts it. Perhaps it’s time, so many decades into the age of apocalyptic peril, to review the American apologia for nuclear weapons — the argument in their defense — that ensured we would never have to say we’re sorry.

Article continues:

http://www.salon.com/2015/08/05/americas_overdue_hiroshima_reckoning_the_revisionist_history_that_haunts_the_good_war_partner/

 

Gold just got destroyed – DAVID SCUTT Jul. 19, 2015, 10:03 PM


It’s Monday, Japanese markets are closed and the gold price has just suffered a mini “flash crash”.

At 11.25am AEST the spot price suddenly tumbled 3.8%, or $43, to $1087 an ounce.

spot gold julyg 20

While it has since recovered around one third of its decline, it is now trading at the lowest level seen since March 2010.

The moves in gold are being replicated across the precious metals space with platinum and palladium also lower by 5% and 3% respectively.

At this point it appears as though stop-loss orders, accompanied by thin market conditions due to the public holiday in Japan, are the main catalysts behind the sudden price decline.

Gold stocks on Australia’s ASX 200 are currently under pressure with ASX All Ordinaries gold index down 7.91%, on track for its largest one-day percentage decline since December 1, 2014.

The Australian dollar has also dipped 0.19% to .7356.

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2015.

http://www.businessinsider.com/gold-just-got-destroyed-2015-7

Legislation to expand Japan’s military role passes crucial vote – July 16, 2015 4:08AM ET


Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushed through unpopular legislation that could see troops sent to fight abroad

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at Jul 16, 2015 3.34

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday pushed through legislation in the lower house of parliament that could see troops sent to fight abroad for the first time since World War Two, despite thousands of protesters overnight chanting and holding up placards reading “No War, No Killing.”

A lower house panel approval on Wednesday of the unpopular bills, which would drop a ban on collective self-defense or fighting to defend a friendly country like the United States, sparked demonstrations and more are planned.

Polls show that about 80 percent of Japanese find the bills distasteful, and the majority of them say they think the legislation is unconstitutional

The bills will now go to the upper house, and if no vote is taken after 60 days they will be returned to the lower house, where Abe’s coalition can enact them with a two-thirds majority.

Abe says a bolder security stance, welcomed by ally Washington, is essential to meet new challenges, such as those from a rising China.

 

Article continues:

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/16/japan-military-bills-pass-crucial-vote-despite-protests.html

 

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