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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Resident Korean Baseball Players 1981

     May I take it that the readers are reasonably familiar with the rules of baseball.  A game is participated in by two teams, each consisting of 9 players-a pitcher, a catcher, four infielders and three outfielders.  It is played for nine innings.

     From almost the time immemorial there has been an annual national tournament in baseball of high schools.  Hundreds of them take part.  In 1981 the final game, to decide what team comes to the top of the whole high school baseball world in the country, was fought between Hotoku Gakuen High from Hyogo Prefecture and Kyoto Commerce High.  The daily Asahi has started writing a column for 20 consecutive days on this game for entertainment starting today, 21 February.  The following is based on the first installment which appeared today.

     What I would like to tell here, however, is not the game itself(Hotoku beat Kyoto by 2-0).  I was rather keenly interested to know from the above that, the two teams put together, as many as seven of the players were of Korean origin(not seven out of eighteen but of fifty or so including the substitute players). Moreover, two of them from Kyoto were there by their real, namely the Korean, names.  This was unheard-of, when many of the resident Koreans were living under adopted Japanese names, although some of those names would suggest the national origin of their users.  Those two with the real Korean names were particularly popular with the Korean audience, receiving phone calls as well as letters from those unknown to them.

     Thirty-six years on, and I am hereby expressing my respect to the courage that the above seven, especially the two, faced the prejudice by the Japanese from which we are yet to be free.     

Monday, January 23, 2017

Mr. Trump Inaugurated

     Mr. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the new US President on 20 January.  The messages he wanted to convey in his 16-minute speech were the following.  The transfer of power was taking place from Washington D.C. to the people.  From now on they are going to be of one heart, one home, one destiny.  The sad depletion of the American military will be restored.  Now we are looking only to the future, and its going to be only America First.  We will bring back our border, jobs, dreams.  For that buy American, hire American.  The civilized world will fight the radical Islamic terrorists to the finish.  He concluded by stressing that America will be strong again, wealthy again, proud again, safe again, and great again.

     There are some questions on the above.  Why did America lose so many jobs?  Are they able to create them when the import from China, Mexico and others have stopped?  If they have stopped importing, are they still able to export, and to where?  Expert opinion says that the loss of jobs in the US has been because of the progress in automation.  Are the US going back by several decades back?  And are the US not concerned with the possible loss of jobs in Mexico and other countries?

     Then why do the Americans have to be strong?  They are already strong enough.  Look at the US bases in Japan.  The residents around them, and there are millions, are harassed by the terrible noise of the newly introduced aircraft, one after another.  If the US wants to get still stronger, it must be against China, North Korea, and Iran.  China has been often mentioned by Mr. Trump during the elections and after.  The other two are mentioned in the official policy document published by the new White House.  Are they, the Americans, not taking non-military measures to solve whatever problems they see existing with these countries peacefully?

     Incidentally the said document maintains that the Second Amendment should be observed. We have heard this often enough as the ground on which people go against gun control.  Needless to say there is nothing about gun control in the speech, and the policy document.  But is the Second Amendment really the legitimate ground to be referred to for such a purpose?  Would it be wrong to say that it was a substitute at a time, in 18th Century, when the US had no regular army, and was a measure to strengthen the militia in the hands of the Federal administration?

     The speech talks about the Islamic terrorists.  This is the only distinct social group mentioned there.  It conveys the feeling that the Muslims as a whole are anti-American, anti-social, or at least suspicious.  At the same time the above document promises to build a wall along the Mexican border, suggesting that the Hispanics are also anti-American, anti-social.  The expressions like wealthy 'again' or great 'again' would suggest going back to the time when by far the majority of the Americans are whites.  Again, the personnel to man the new White House would strongly suggest that it would be pro-Israeli. All put together, it is difficult to think that the new Administration is going to be fair to all the communities comprising America, making it a unique, composite, multi-cultural society worthy of respect.

     Finally, on what Mr. Trump said about the media the next day at the CIA.  He said something like 'the most dishonest people'.  He said it on the media, or at least a part of it.  It was on a small issue, the number of attendance at his inauguration.  He had deliberately avoided, in the presence of many, to nominate a CNN correspondent in his press conference on the day before the inauguration.  Those are very un-statesman like, to say the least.  I am afraid such a behaviour, such an expression, such an attitude, would provide a very convenient model to follow by many authoritarian-minded politicians, now and in the future, around the world.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Japan's Prime Minister's Pearl Harbour Visit

    Prime Minister Abe Shinzo made a visit to the American naval base Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, on 27 December, local time.  It was this base that the Japanese naval air force attacked on 7 December 1941, where 2,400 Americans died, thus bringing America into a war.  In Japan the war is usually thought to have started on 8 December.

   After making a visit to the memorial built on the sunken battleship Arizona, Abe made a speech. It was essentially a speech of condolences meant for the Americans.  There were no words of regret, let alone of apology.  The visit itself was described as the return visit to Mr. Obama's Hiroshima visit earlier this year.

   The speech is bound to raise several questions.  First, he talked of Japan sticking to the principle of peace.  He said nothing of the sort in concrete terms, however.  Rather he talked of the episode of a Japanese Zero pilot who died there on that day and was later buried by the Americans with appropriate military honour.  He said the brave respect the brave.  He likes to talk on these topics more.

   More seriously, he talked of the firm Japan-US alliance, and called it the alliance of hope.  But it is a military alliance.  If it is not against China it is against whom?  In the meeting with Mr. Obama prior to the speech, Abe nodded on the ongoing construction of the huge and permanent US base in Okinawa. This is a dreadful scenario.

   Above all, he said nothing on the nature of the war Japan forced on the US on that day.  Why did we have to fight the US, or for that matter with Britain and the Netherland also, when we were already fighting China?  It was because we were not winning in China, and desperately tried to do so by defeating the US.  It was a hopeless war from the beginning.  It was the Asian nations that really suffered.  In fact the Japanese landed on British Malaya(Malaysia) one hour before attacking Pearl Harbour.  Abe's speech will not go far in convincing the Asian nations.          

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Toward Banning Nuclear Weapons

     On 23 December the UN General Assembly voted to convene a conference at the UN to negotiate a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.  It will be convened for 15 days during 27 to 31 March and 15 June to 7 July, 2017. All the member countries are invited to participate. The next General Assembly, 72nd, beginning in September 2017, will be hearing the results of the negotiation.  Not only the Governments but those representing the civil society will also be participating.

     What a fine Christmas present it was!  The proposal was based on an earlier one which had been voted in the First Committee of the General Assembly on 27 October.  Further, it had been based on the enthusiastic hopes and wishes of the innumerable number of people all over the world who sincerely wanted to see a nuclear-free world.  Biological weapons were already banned in 1975, and the chemical weapons in 1997. Now is the time for the nuclear weapons.

     Predictably the voting was not without some disappointment.  There were 113 for and 35 against, with 13 abstentions. All the Permanent Members of the Security Council, except China who abstained, voted against it.

     Probably more startling was the fact that Japan, the only country victimized by the nuclear weapons in a war, voted against it.  It did so also on the previous October proposal.  The Government is saying that it is because the proposal will make the distance between the nuclear powers and others wider.  It is an ill-concealed excuse for following the US policy, and is bound to intensify the political divide in Japan.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

State of Scientific Research in Japan

    A few days ago, Prof.Kajita Takaaki of the University of Tokyo, who got the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2015, gave an interview to a newspaper in which he warned against the ongoing tendencies in fundamental research in this country.

    First of all he said that the number of published articles in the field from Japan used to be the second in the world, but it has come down to the 5th.  The articles coming from China are fast increasing.

    Then he said that the budget has been shrinking, and as the result the number of the posts for the professors and associate professors is decreasing.  Even more alarming is that the number of research assistants is decreasing more fast.  If you look at the teaching staff below the mid-40s in his University, those without tenure are occupying more than half.  This is a condition absolutely unfavourable for the basic research.

    There are two aspects to the fundamental research.  One is it will be useful to the life of the people in the long run.  The second is it will help construct the intellectual property of the whole of the mankind.  Therefore one cannot expect it to be of immediate use.

     Prof.Kajita also referred to what Prof.Oosumi Yoshinori, from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, who had just got the Nobel Prize for Physics or Medicine for 2016, said on the importance of fundamental research.  I had an opportunity of hearing Prof.Oosumi's 50-minute acceptance speech the previous night, 10 December.  May I add a few things from the speech.

     The speaker talked about such things as 'protein synthesis', 'vacuole', 'autophagy', 'genes', or 'degradation'.  At the same time he mentioned, with gratitude', the names of a number of his collaborators, including some women, his wife among them.  He talked about the relation of cooperation in research and the division of labour.  He discussed the relevance of 'autophasy', and concluded by saying 'the research is continuing'.  The whole speech was an encouragement of the fundamental research by Oosumi, who called himself, with apparent pride, as 'a basic scientist'.