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Politicians, straighten up! No. 7 [2011年06月29日(Wed)]
Politicians, straighten up! No. 7
—Comments and Reactions—


I have received words of encouragement and empathy to the open letter I wrote in the Seiron column of the Sankei Shimbun on June hoping my sincere wish for the good of the country and of the people would be understood even a little.

At my discretion, I share with my readers those I received from the heads of municipalities around the country.

************


Mayor Yasuo Kishi, Urausu Town, Hokkaido
There is nothing more I can add to the media coverage of covering political confusion and stagnation. I do, however, want to say that there is much criticism laid against politicians who go to the disaster areas to “encourage victims” for the sake of publicity. I believe we citizens and media have certain responsibilities for the way our politicians are behaving today. We may also have to face the truth about exchanging decency for economic development, lured by our wish for rapid development and disorderly growth.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara caused uproar by saying the disaster was a divine punishment. He may have chosen the wrong moment, but there is truth in it that deserves our soul searching.

The manifesto written by today’s ruling party two years ago was one that I think derided us citizens. It is the parents who are responsible for bringing up their children, and children grow up by learning to stand up against trials and hardships. The so-called national strategy adopted promised across-the-board distribution of child allowance, free toll roads, income compensation for each farming family, redrawing of pension and medical systems, etc. Is this not simply an inept strategy for a country with one quadrillion yen indebtedness?

One hundred days have passed since magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck. Ours is a country that has emerged from the ruins of war. I believe this is the time for us citizens to put our hearts together to stand up as one to rebuild a new Japan.


Mayor Jin Kurikawa, Nasushiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture
Whether it is the national government or municipal administrations, what needs to be done now is to devote our whole energy to the recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Chairman Sasakawa’s newspaper article is a warning against delayed reconstruction due to the confusion at the national government. He has my empathy.


Mayor Katsumi Iijima, Otaki Town, Chiba Prefecture
I would like to express my sympathies to all who are suffering from the recent disaster and pray for as early as possible recovery.

I also express my renewed respects to the B & G (Blue Sea and Green Land) Foundation for immediately calling a relief and recovery meeting and losing no time in initiating supports of all kinds, raising donations and dispatching members of its staff to the disaster areas.

While political situation continues to be unsettling regarding the disaster management, the proposition of Chairman Sasakawa is precisely a “Seiron”, a fair argument. We urge the government to make decisions and act from the perspectives of the disaster areas and the citizens.


Mayor Michihiro Kunishima, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture
We know that the north-eastern region of our country has been ravaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and that even today many people live in terrible circumstances.

Our city of Takayama also suffered from a drop in the number of tourist right after the earthquake.

Today tourists are slowly coming back, but there is still negative impact left, not the least our economic activities.

Reconstruction from the disaster is an important challenge that is linked closely to the survival of our country. It therefore requires the government and all related organizations to work as one. The present situation, however, makes me concerned due to the lack of roadmap for reconstruction and its potential negative impact on national economy.

I pray for the earliest possible recovery of the areas. Takayama City will do our very best to provide support by opening our doors to welcome persons displaced by the disaster as well as dispatching members of our staff to disaster afflicted municipalities.


Mayor Mitsushige Yamanaka, Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture
In sharing reality of the present situation, we should as heads of municipalities commit ourselves to do what we can do now rather than criticizing the government and politicians who will never do anything.


Mayor Hideki Okamoto, Shin-onsen Town, Hyogo Prefecture
Not all politicians hopefully are do-nothing people, but the present situation must not be continued.

Strong political leadership is needed at a time of national crisis like this.

As Chairman Sasakawa rightly stated in his argument, disaster reconstruction is the most important issue regarding the survival of a nation. What we need are all kinds of policies and measures to overcome the national crisis. Urgent assistance is needed in municipalities suffering from enormous damage, and municipalities alone cannot provide all they need now and continuously over time. There is a need especially for the government to provide multi-faceted and continuous support.

Our town, as a member of the Union of Kansai Government, is devoted in providing support to afflicted regions.


Mayor Katsuhito Noshi, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture
After three months since the unprecedented major disaster, the unimaginable situation continues in the devastated areas, and as for the nuclear power plant accident, there is no plan in sight for the resolution of the problem.

I visited Minami Sanriku town in Miyagi prefecture, and saw for myself the situation of the damage and the shelters. I was deeply moved by the efforts made by members of the staff of the Minami Sanriku town and the volunteers working earnestly for reconstruction. And seeing so many of the victims still having to bear unbearable life in shelters, made me realize the need for long-term national support is essential. As for myself, I felt the essential mission of those of us in the administration to protect the lives and property of the local residents.

This is to say, the damage is beyond any conventional expectation and therefore, there is a need for an urgent national response.

The other day, the first supplementary budget with expenses required for the immediate relief was adopted. In putting together the second supplementary budget to cover the full-fledged reconstruction plan, I feel there is a need for a full assessment of the present situation, and in addition to the continued discussion between the ruling and opposition parties, I hope that politicians will live up to their responsibilities with genuine sincerity.

Lastly, the Japanese economy as a whole must be energetic for the disaster areas to recover its vitality, and for that to happen it is essential that local economies are revitalized.

As for our city, we will not only continue to support disaster areas, but also devote our full energy to vitalizing local economies.
read more...
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
My duty also includes signing and fixing my seal [2011年06月29日(Wed)]


My duty also includes signing and fixing my seal


My daily chores include an important job of signing my name, fixing my seal and writing thank you notes.

Just the other day I spent three hours signing and placing my seal on 500 certificates for the scholarship students completing teachers-in-training program in Cambodia. I have been advised to print them and be done with, but I have always hand-written these for all these years and I simply don’t have the knack of giving up now.

However, just recently I had to reluctantly ask my secretary to do the honors of fixing my seal because for some reason or another, and I hope it has nothing to do with my warped nature, my seal always tends to be slightly off center to the right.

I sign and seal thank you notes and certificates for sixty–nine universities around the world, the World Maritime University, scholarship students of Bangladesh, Turkey, etc., freshmen from Asian countries at Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) and deaf students studying overseas.

Other happy honors for me include signing certificates of appreciation to goodwill participants of Dentists’ TOOTH FAIRY Project and Dream Vending Machine Project from which ten yen is donated for each bottle of drinking water sold.

These days I am writing additional comments on the thank you letters for the donations received on behalf of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, “thanking” in my mind each person I write to. I have been strictly brought up to write personal notes of appreciation as good etiquette. These days I receive emails with photographs of recipients with personal notes from me obviously pleased to have received them. I wonder sadly if what used to be good Japanese etiquette has now become rare.

After all, it is an added bonus for me to get engaged in writing thousands of happy correspondence every year.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Activities [2011年06月27日(Mon)]


Great East Japan Earthquake Relief Activities
--The Third Support Package: The Nippon Foundation Press Briefing--


2p.m., Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The Nippon Foundation Building, Second Floor Conference Room

Great East Japan Earthquake, Third Support Package was announced at the press briefing to which 72 reporters from 68 media organizations were present.
While some items have already been reported by media, others have not, therefore, let me briefly introduce the contents of the package.

1) International Expert Conference will be organized in Fukushima to discuss: Radiation and Health Risks concerning the unprecedented Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident.
At present rumors concerning the Fukushima nuclear power plants have circulated throughout the world, to an extent far beyond the imagination of us Japanese. The government, however, has not provided the world with effective information in this regard.
The conference will be supported by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Economy, Trade and Industry; Health, Labour and Welfare; Land, Infrastructure Transport, and Tourism; Environment; and the Fukushima Prefecture. The Conference has already received applications for participation from world renowned authorities on radiation.
The Nippon Foundation has a ten-year experience of providing support to Chernobyl. Through this conference it is hoped that concrete measures for Japan to take would emerge, as well as disseminating throughout the world the actual and correct state of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

2) Twenty under water robots will be used to conduct seabed investigation of the sunken rubble jointly with the University of Tokyo and others to pursue the feasibility of reopening fishing activities. We hope to be able to give even a small light of hope to people whose livelihoods depend on the sea.

3) Donation of teaching vessels will be made to high schools related to the sea. They will include practical training vessels for the acquisition of small vessel operation license and teaching vessels for acquisition of sea technology licenses. Without these teaching and training vessels students will not be able to undergo practical training and be ready on graduation to find sea-related jobs. Thirteen boats, to the cost of 80 million yen will be donated to five schools.

4) A total of 1.35 billion yen will be donated to 37 shipbuilding companies employing 2100 people and 150 ship related manufacturers employing 2200 persons aiming at a minimum level of plant operations. This package will ensure employment of 4300 persons.

5) The auction held in London for Stradivarius “The Lady Blunt” fetched 1,274.2 million yen, four times the price of the previous sale. With the whole proceeds donated by Nippon Music Foundation, The Nippon Foundation will establish “Traditional Culture Promotion Fund” and plans to support mainly the revival of Matsuri festivals of disaster areas and other traditional cultural events.


6) As already introduced in my blog dated June 20, we will be collaborating with gal moms to organize support projects for young mothers in the affected areas.

7) The million yen promised and presented to NPOs in the immediate aftermath of the great earthquake has reached to date a total of 447,448,000 yen given to 471 projects of 456 groups. Three months from the disaster, we have decided to support groups that will provide professional activities needed in the disaster areas. Incidentally, a million yen ceiling will be removed.

8) Projects providing mental and all-round pre- and post-natal care for expecting mothers in the disaster areas will be conducted with the cooperation of Natural Lawson.

9) The Nippon Foundation will build a temporary welfare house named “The Nippon Foundation Home” for the disaster stricken persons with handicap. This barrier-free temporary housing will be opened with resident helpers with professional qualifications in welfare service.

10) Mr. Masayoshi Son has personally donated 100 million yen.

For further details please visit “the Nippon Foundation’s Great East Japan Earthquake Support Measures”.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Politicians, straighten up! No.6 [2011年06月24日(Fri)]
Politicians, straighten up! No.6
— Comments and Reactions —


I have received words of encouragement and sympathies to the open letter I wrote, as an amateur writer, hoping that my sincere wish for the good of the country and of the people would be understood even if a little.

I have posted those that I have received from the leaders of municipalities throughout Japan, at my own discretion.

Mayor Teruo Honbo, Minami-Satsuma City, Kagoshima Prefecture
Three months have already passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. In the wake of the worst national disaster hitting our country since WW II, the relief work of the self-defense forces of Japan, the police agency, the fire-fighters and the activities of NPOs, the youth volunteers have received high praises from the public. Yet the anger and irritation of Mr. Chairman, I and the public alike have burst towards the continuing confusion and chaos within the government and the legislators who shoulder the responsibility of governance.

I have doubts as to whether they are fully aware of the suffering of the victims who are desperately trying to rebuild their lives and to continue on living in the aftermath of the unprecedented disaster.

The lifeline services such as electricity, gas and telephone operated by private sector have recovered to a large extent except along the coastline. However, the government has not yet even shown the full-scale vision of reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas. As it has been mentioned by Chairman Sasakawa, the confusion and the stagnation in the government are the causes of not only all the delay in their action, but consequently have brought about economic slowdown. The incompetent government has even brought about a loss of trust by the international community for the lack of responsibility in the areas of diplomacy and security. I feel strongly that speedy political action is what is required more than ever before.

The government needs to pass the basic law on reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and other earthquake related bills. The government also needs to secure financial resources for construction, deregulation in the disaster areas and transfer of central authority to local municipal governments. All decisions must be made from the survivors’ perspective.


Mayor Kosuke Ohisa, Amagi Town, Kagoshima Prefecture
I had the opportunity to visit the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden and Poland as a member of the former Ministry of Education delegation on an overseas education program survey during 1981~1982.

I saw Japan as a country of “stable politics, nationwide education system even in the remote areas of the country, safe and secure public peace and order.”
29 years have passed since and it seems that Japan is lagging behind the international community in education and politics.

It is truly regrettable that the disaster areas of the unprecedented massive disaster have not yet received government reconstruction assistance. We, in this area of Amami Islands, also have every possibility of a major earthquake as the Ryukyu trench is close by. Therefore we, islanders feel all the more sympathetic to the victims of the disaster.

I am deeply moved at the leadership and relief assistance given to the disaster areas by Chairman Yohei Sasakawa.

To save Japan, it is the hope of every single citizen to have politicians with courage and mettle that we see in the man, Chairman Sasakawa. It is our hope that such a politician would appear and aim at building a first-class nation and, once again, to be recognized by the international community that we are first class citizens of a first class country.


Mayor Yoichi Nishino, Hokuryu Town, Hokkaido
I have read the entire article in the Seiron column and I could not agree more.


Mayor Seiichi Ui, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
I have read your article Politicians, straighten up! Is this right?
Katori City also received a great deal of damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Notably we had damages to an area of 3500 ha. due to liquefaction from diastrophism (movement of earth’s crust) which seriously damaged not only houses but farmlands, schools, roads, water supply and sewage, rivers, bridges in addition to radioactive damages from the nuclear accident.

Today the local municipalities must respond immediately to many issues that continue to affect the lives of the citizens. Through this disaster I have felt the importance of being attentive to the situation in the ground in whatever situation we might be placed and always take action as it were our very own problems.

However when we turn our eyes to the national politics we cannot help but be skeptical as to how much the government is aware of the realities in the sites. I feel that both the national and the local governments must investigate the actual situation and take things seriously.

In any case, we will continue to submit our demands to the national and prefectural governments to give technical assistance for the liquefaction damages, redress the relief measures for the victims of liquefaction, extend fiscal measures on municipal mergers, and we will continue our path of reconstruction.


Mayor Takeyoshi Onoue, Odai Town, Mie Prefecture
Indeed a sound argument.
You have put our thoughts on the government into exact words.


Mayor Yasumasa Okada, Soni Village, Nara Prefecture
I have read your article in the Seiron column.
Soni Village was met by an immense damage from the Ise Bay typhoon and the resulting mudslide that took many lives 50 years ago.

The local citizens love their homeland and only wish for a speedy recovery to regain the life as before. The mayors of cities and towns, regardless of size, are working day and night undertaking various problems wishing to bring back to the citizens their safe and secure life. Deep bond is among the people is what builds a community. Communities grow into villages and eventually to form a nation. The communities are the foundation of a nation. This unparalleled disaster that befell on us has brought the community members, many volunteers, and many citizens of Japan to stand up to take action soon after the disaster. The people working in the disaster areas are sweating unselfish sweat only with a sole wish to regain the life as it was before this calamity. Disasters come unannounced. What is important now is for each one to be aware of their role and to fulfill that role to the end.

I pray for the speedy reconstruction of the disaster areas. I would also like to express my respects to Chairman Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation and ask for his continued support.
read more...
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Politicians, straighten up! Is this right? No.6 (Continued) [2011年06月24日(Fri)]
Politicians, straighten up! No.6 (Continued)
— Comments and Reactions —



Mayor Masakatsu Hidaka, Satsuma Town, Kagoshima Prefecture
Many survivors of the disaster areas have stood up and taken action despite their deep sorrow, and the whole country is with them praying for the regeneration of Japan. The role of politics is to support all these efforts of the citizens and to give hope and light for a better tomorrow. Yet the politicians who should be dedicating themselves to the nation and to its people are in a disappointing state as Chairman Sasakawa has written.

To have the top leaders as “third class politicians” is a grave concern for our country. This is a time for the politicians to be fully aware of what their responsibilities are, and to fulfill their mission as a united force.


Mayor Eiji Yamashita, Ozora Town, Hokkaido
The prospects for reconstruction in the disaster areas are still far from certain, and there is still much manpower and material assistance needed. Ozora Town will continue the relief assistance to the best of our abilities.


Mayor Hideto Murakami, Zao Town, Miyagi Prefecture
The March 11 unprecedented earthquake and the resultant tsunami brought about massive damages to the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate and have devoured many lives and buildings in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant has given an additional blow to the already damaged areas.

The disaster areas are currently desperately working to reconstruct and awaiting immediate assistance from the government. Zao Town where I live was not as damaged as the coastal areas, but roads, water systems and educational facilities have been seriously damaged, and we are working to rebuild from the damages. Under such situation, it is our wish that the parliamentarians in Tokyo would work with us citizens who are toiling with all our might towards reconstruction.


Mayor Susumu Kojima, Fukaya City, Saitama Prefecture
In early April I visited Tanohata Village in Iwate Prefecture with whom we have a friendship city agreement. I have seen tragedy beyond words yet all the villagers were united working to rebuild their land. It was a most moving experience. Self-help, mutual cooperation and public assistance are the words that we hear very often, but here in Tanohata Villlage was an example of everyone doing their role for the benefit of all. As Chairman Sasakawa points out, we cannot help but to think that the government is only surviving being saved by these national traits.

There are city and town mayors who are politicians in the local municipalities. They are the ones that are slaving themselves to death. As I read the article of Chairman Sasakawa, I also feel that they must take this opportunity, too great a sacrifice involved to call it an “opportunity”, for the politicians to realize that their mission is to dedicate their lives for the country.


Mayor Yasumi Arai, Yoshimi Town, Saitama Prefecture
We, Yoshimi Town made our donation at the end of March to the disaster areas.
It has been approximately three months since the devastating disaster, yet I have heard that the financial assistance to the disaster areas is not yet delivered in full. I do understand that the procedures are very complex to allocate the public donations fairly and equally, but their work is to overcome those complexities and deliver the financial assistance without delay.

We would also like to contribute whatever we are capable of doing in helping to bring about the restoration and the reconstruction of the damaged areas.


Mayor Yoshiyuki Sakurai, Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture
It has been three months since the Great East Japan Earthquake. There have been much assistance and encouragement from all over Japan and from overseas to the disaster areas, yet the plight of the survivors is beyond imagination. Their imminent anxiety such as to the uncertainty of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the whereabouts of the missing, worries about housing and employment and other surmounting problems that weigh heavily upon them.

As Chairman Yohei Sasakawa points out, the political power should be used now to give hope to the survivors and to indicate a clear road for recovery. This is the mission that we politicians must fulfill. Regularly decisions are made at all levels of government from the prime minister, the parliamentarians, governors of prefectures, mayors of cities and towns under each one’s responsibility, yet at a time like this I believe that the national government must take the initiative.

In any case, we must put all our wisdom together to overcome the unparalleled disaster and reconstruct the region and the nation.


Mayor Akio Matsumoto, Hokuei Town, Tottori Prefecture
It is indeed shameful that our government is immersed in party and personal interests and it is indifferent to the interests and the voices of the citizens. If this is to persist, Japan will be yet further mocked and forsaken by the international community.


Mayor Kunio Saito, Watari Town, Miyagi Prefecture
Watari Town was damaged seriously from the Great East Japan Earthquake. We are very grateful that many volunteers as well as material assistance were sent to us.

Especially the Nippon Foundation has supported us so speedily and much above our expectation especially giving us donations of condolence money and establishing the disaster broadcasting stations. We are also grateful to the government for the dispatch of the self-defense forces that have supported us with extensive search of those missing and removal of debris.

I believe that the assistance needed now is diverse in areas and I would like to ask the government to be united in the reconstruction work.


Mayor Takeshi Hosaka, Kai City, Yamanashi Prefecture
I have been a member of the House of Representatives (Heisei Kenkyukai-a Liberal Democratic Party faction) during the years 2000-2009, and left the national administration at the age of 63.

There had been debates relating to the reduction of the number of Diet members (proposed by Seishiro Eto) within the Liberal Democratic Party, but there has not been any further discussion after the transfer of government. It was to reduce the number of lawmakers to 350 and 150 in the Houses of Representatives and Councilors respectively as well as the number of seats in the proportional representation over the period of between 10 to 20 years.

My city, Kai, is the birthplace of Daini Yamagata, a Confucian scholar of the Edo Period who was executed by the Shogunate at the age of 42, and is enshrined in Yamagata Shrine (Yamanashi Prefecture), Zensho Temple (Tokyo) and Tainei Temple (Ibaragi Prefecture).

Daini Yamagata advocated and wrote in the Ryushi Shinron, an anti-shogunate and pro-emperor political philosophy publication, that a country must always be governed by those who wish for the happiness of the citizens. Whether it be local, central government or the world governance, a statesman always needs to be one that seeks true happiness for all, and that there is no happiness when power is rotated from one power to the other or just changes of ideologies. He was advocating democracy as it should be.

We have gathered our staff, and started a study group on Daini Yamagata in May.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Demotion of Iconic Confucius statue -2 [2011年06月24日(Fri)]
Demotion of Iconic Confucius statue
Its significance -2
On the eve of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party



In my last blog I ventured an amateur’s analysis that the countdown had begun for Hu Jintao’s exit, and that accounts for the sudden installation of a huge Confucian statue in Tiananmen Square and its mysterious disappearance a hundred days later, which might also be a prelude to a new power struggle.

Recent nervous media intervention by the CPC’s central authority and oppression of intellectuals are becoming extreme as they were at the time of the Tiananmen Square incident.

The organization I am related to has donated over 2,500,000 books to Chinese universities. Recently there has been an abrupt change in the regulations governing the importation of these books. That is to say, the importation of books containing any criticism of China is now totally prohibited. This may be a small but sure evidence of the sense of crisis the authorities must be experiencing for the magma-like growing discontent of the people.

Bo Xilai, the son of late Bo Yibo, a leader of the CPC, and a possible leader of the next generation of the Crown Prince Party, is riding on his successful campaign against the corruption in Chongqing City to consummate his ambitions by promoting the revolutionary Red Song campaign in praise of the CPC and the PRC, and with the promise to bring happiness to the lives of the people. He is replaying the past by popularizing the revolutionary songs, and to date he has conducted 150,000 rallies mobilizing a total of 940,000 people. As if in response, the CPC’s central propaganda department and the China Central Television have selected 36 representative Red Songs and are initiating their nation-wide dissemination.

Henan Normal University plays Red Songs in student canteen. The university explains that the songs will encourage appetite and ideological purification.

In Wuhan City, the authorities instructed all street-cleaning cars to play the Red Songs. The purpose, they explained, was to inspire drivers with revolutionary tunes and help them overcome the fatigue of night work.

In Szechuan province, a mental hospital claimed that its patients' symptoms improved after they took part in a Red Song contest for two continuous months.

In Shandong province, outside the Red Song Convention site, tax department officials made a successful pitch for people’s obligation to the state to pay their income, real estate and automobile taxes. The fever of the Red Song campaign reminds me of Mao Zedong’s slogan: “Learn from Dazhai in agriculture,” a small hamlet in Shanxi Province where Mao advocated “close planting of rice”. It was said that the rice was so densely planted that Mao could lie on it.

The Red Song campaign conjures up the Great Cultural Revolution of forty years ago when many people were persecuted. Now it is attracting a lot of criticism, particularly on the Internet: “That’s so stupid!” “The Communist Party is in its last days,” “The regime’s in a terminal condition," “It’s sickening!”

The return of the Red Song mass campaign, hopefully, is not a prelude to the reemergence of the Red Army, but it certainly reflects the dark sides, of which there are many, of the high economic growth: the three agricultural problems (the state of agriculture, rural areas and farmers), the extreme gap between the poor and the rich, the unemployment of university graduates, the lack of a welfare policy and medical and health care in a rapidly aging society, and the oppression of freedom of expression of civic activists. These discontents are signs of a build-up of volcanic pressures in Chinese society, and the Party core faces serious policy divisions in responding to these developments. I maintain the seriousness of the conflict is symbolized in the revived adulation of Mao together with the demotion of Confucius and reemergence of the Red Song campaign.

There is a big possibility of China returning to the hard Mao Zedong line. We should watch carefully how things play out.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:00 | URL | comment(0)
Politicians, straighten up! No.6 (Continued) [2011年06月24日(Fri)]
Politicians, straighten up! No.6 (Continued) 
— Comments and Reactions —


Mayor Masakatsu Hidaka, Satsuma Town, Kagoshima Prefecture
Many survivors of the disaster areas have stood up and taken action despite their deep sorrow, and the whole country is with them praying for the regeneration of Japan. The role of politics is to support all these efforts of the citizens and to give hope and light for a better tomorrow. Yet the politicians who should be dedicating themselves to the nation and to its people are in a disappointing state as Chairman Sasakawa has written.

To have the top leaders as “third class politicians” is a grave concern for our country. This is a time for the politicians to be fully aware of what their responsibilities are, and to fulfill their mission as a united force.


Mayor Eiji Yamashita, Ozora Town, Hokkaido
The prospects for reconstruction in the disaster areas are still far from certain, and there is still much manpower and material assistance needed. Ozora Town will continue the relief assistance to the best of our abilities.


Mayor Hideto Murakami, Zao Town, Miyagi Prefecture
The March 11 unprecedented earthquake and the resultant tsunami brought about massive damages to the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate and have devoured many lives and buildings in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant has given an additional blow to the already damaged areas.

The disaster areas are currently desperately working to reconstruct and awaiting immediate assistance from the government. Zao Town where I live was not as damaged as the coastal areas, but roads, water systems and educational facilities have been seriously damaged, and we are working to rebuild from the damages. Under such situation, it is our wish that the parliamentarians in Tokyo would work with us citizens who are toiling with all our might towards reconstruction.


Mayor Susumu Kojima, Fukaya City, Saitama Prefecture
In early April I visited Tanohata Village in Iwate Prefecture with whom we have a friendship city agreement. I have seen tragedy beyond words yet all the villagers were united working to rebuild their land. It was a most moving experience. Self-help, mutual cooperation and public assistance are the words that we hear very often, but here in Tanohata Villlage was an example of everyone doing their role for the benefit of all. As Chairman Sasakawa points out, we cannot help but to think that the government is only surviving being saved by these national traits.

There are city and town mayors who are politicians in the local municipalities. They are the ones that are slaving themselves to death. As I read the article of Chairman Sasakawa, I also feel that they must take this opportunity, too great a sacrifice involved to call it an “opportunity”, for the politicians to realize that their mission is to dedicate their lives for the country.


Mayor Yasumi Arai, Yoshimi Town, Saitama Prefecture
We, Yoshimi Town made our donation at the end of March to the disaster areas.

It has been approximately three months since the devastating disaster, yet I have heard that the financial assistance to the disaster areas is not yet delivered in full. I do understand that the procedures are very complex to allocate the public donations fairly and equally, but their work is to overcome those complexities and deliver the financial assistance without delay.

We would also like to contribute whatever we are capable of doing in helping to bring about the restoration and the reconstruction of the damaged areas.


Mayor Yoshiyuki Sakurai, Kameyama City, Mie Prefecture
It has been three months since the Great East Japan Earthquake. There have been much assistance and encouragement from all over Japan and from overseas to the disaster areas, yet the plight of the survivors is beyond imagination. Their imminent anxiety such as to the uncertainty of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, the whereabouts of the missing, worries about housing and employment and other surmounting problems that weigh heavily upon them.

As Chairman Yohei Sasakawa points out, the political power should be used now to give hope to the survivors and to indicate a clear road for recovery. This is the mission that we politicians must fulfill. Regularly decisions are made at all levels of government from the prime minister, the parliamentarians, governors of prefectures, mayors of cities and towns under each one’s responsibility, yet at a time like this I believe that the national government must take the initiative.

In any case, we must put all our wisdom together to overcome the unparalleled disaster and reconstruct the region and the nation.


Mayor Akio Matsumoto, Hokuei Town, Tottori Prefecture
It is indeed shameful that our government is immersed in party and personal interests and it is indifferent to the interests and the voices of the citizens. If this is to persist, Japan will be yet further mocked and forsaken by the international community.


Mayor Kunio Saito, Watari Town, Miyagi Prefecture
Watari Town was damaged seriously from the Great East Japan Earthquake. We are very grateful that many volunteers as well as material assistance were sent to us.

Especially the Nippon Foundation has supported us so speedily and much above our expectation especially giving us donations of condolence money and establishing the disaster broadcasting stations. We are also grateful to the government for the dispatch of the self-defense forces that have supported us with extensive search of those missing and removal of debris.

I believe that the assistance needed now is diverse in areas and I would like to ask the government to be united in the reconstruction work.


Mayor Takeshi Hosaka, Kai City, Yamanashi Prefecture
I have been a member of the House of Representatives (Heisei Kenkyukai-a Liberal Democratic Party faction) during the years 2000-2009, and left the national administration at the age of 63.

There had been debates relating to the reduction of the number of Diet members (proposed by Seishiro Eto) within the Liberal Democratic Party, but there has not been any further discussion after the transfer of government. It was to reduce the number of lawmakers to 350 and 150 in the Houses of Representatives and Councilors respectively as well as the number of seats in the proportional representation over the period of between 10 to 20 years.

My city, Kai, is the birthplace of Daini Yamagata, a Confucian scholar of the Edo Period who was executed by the Shogunate at the age of 42, and is enshrined in Yamagata Shrine (Yamanashi Prefecture), Zensho Temple (Tokyo) and Tainei Temple (Ibaragi Prefecture).

Daini Yamagata advocated and wrote in the Ryushi Shinron, an anti-shogunate and pro-emperor political philosophy publication, that a country must always be governed by those who wish for the happiness of the citizens. Whether it be local, central government or the world governance, a statesman always needs to be one that seeks true happiness for all, and that there is no happiness when power is rotated from one power to the other or just changes of ideologies. He was advocating democracy as it should be.

We have gathered our staff, and started a study group on Daini Yamagata in May.
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Politicians Straighten Up! No.5 (Continued) [2011年06月23日(Thu)]
Politicians Straighten Up! No. 5 (Continued)
—Comments and Reactions—


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Mayor Masataka Ishihara, Komano Town, Mie Prefecture
The parliament has put its priority on playing political power game at the sacrifice of the people. I believe as politicians they must question the raison d’etre of the political parties.


Mayor Hidekazu Oguchi, Shima City, Mie Prefecture
I have read Chairman Sasakawa’s “Politicians straighten up! Is this right?”. I concur with his genuine anger and at the same time offer my respects for his brilliant expose.

I have started my political life as a member of Shima town assembly at the age of 37 and today at 60 I have been elected as the mayor of Shima City. I take the liberty to share with you my political principles that have guided me.

I have devoted my efforts, from the time I was in my twenties, to the chamber of commerce activities dedicated to improving local economy. I was an inaugural member of the Shima Junior Chamber in my late thirties. During those years I felt there was a need to be involved in politics to advance our activities further. I stood as a candidate and was elected. Since that time, I have thought that a seat in the assembly or the role as a mayor was the most effective tools to promote building of city and community according to my ideas and values.

I have therefore not only at my own election but when my acquaintances run for a political office, I told myself and others each time that the goal is not getting a seat; don’t ever forget the seat is an efficient tool to promote one’s lifework of town building. Perhaps persons who betray their supporters’ trust have mistaken that wearing a parliamentary badge was their goal and not a tool.

As a mayor, I am at all times mindful of this principle as I act and speak in conducting affairs of the city. As Chairman Sasakawa says, for all of us who have become politicians with a vision, retaining that youthful and innocent intentions or recalling them, is needed in dispelling the mistrust of politicians today. I wish to continue to remind myself that the badge is not a goal, but nothing more than a tool in building our city and the country, and devote my drive and energy to the city governance.


Mayor Satoru Yamamoto, Kamigori Town, Hyogo Prefecture
Looking at the present government’s response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the state of confusion it shows, you are exactly right in saying what you did about the lack of ownership and the sense of the need for a speedy response.

As a town mayor, I will learn from the lessons of this disaster and commit myself to building a safe and secure town while continuing to provide the best support we can to the affected areas, and praying for their earliest possible recovery and reconstruction.


Mayor Mitsuru Shirakura, Hirokawa Town, Wakayama Prefecture
At a time when the country faces an emergency, the national political scene is at its worst confusion. The proposition made by Chairman Sasakawa appears to represent the feelings of all citizens.

As a town mayor, I ask myself daily what can be done for our town and the residents. I am determined to manage town administration convinced that the energy and action of municipal authorities will contribute to raising those at the national level.


Mayor Yasuhiko Kuriyama, Asakuchi City, Okayama Prefecture
I was moved by reading your proposition and at the same time felt acutely where it applies to me in person. I resolve once again to return to my original objectives, think what needs to be done now, and work vigorously for the citizens of Asakuchi City.


Mayor Yoshitaka Ando, Mimasaka City, Okayama Prefecture
Given the biggest national crisis after the war, the present political confusion is in shambles. I urge the quick return to political normalization and to initiate reconstruction support.

City of Mimasaka, was hit by torrential rains a year before, what is expected of the local government on the scene is to flexibly deal with unpredictable disaster. I urge the government to put in place the necessary laws as well as financial resources and provide the greatest level of support that will lead to a smooth assistance to the affected areas.

I would like to question members of parliament what needs to be done now, not as a politician but as a citizen of Japan.

We will continue to do our level best to support the affected areas with the whole of Japan resolved to reconstruct the country.
And I pray for the earliest possible reconstruction of the disaster areas.
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Politicians Straighten Up! No.5 [2011年06月23日(Thu)]
Politicians Straighten Up! No. 5
—Comments and Reactions—


On June 9, I wrote an open letter in the Seiron column of the Sankei Shimbun hoping that my earnest wish wanting the best for the people and the country would be understood. I am now sharing with my readers the many empathetic and encouraging letters received from the heads of municipalities around the country at my own discretion.

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Mayor Shigeyuki Matsumoto, Kanzaki City, Saga Prefecture
As I observe recent changes taking place in the national government, I am truly in agreement with all the things the Chairman pointed out. I have no idea whether Japan will be all right, or what the government plans to do for the people will be right. As for the political situation, the changing hands of the government have brought uncertainty, not at all certainty. In fact, situation remains unclear as the Chairman rightly pointed out.
I strongly urge the creation of Japan we can be proud of, as well as the building of a country that gives priority to the safety and security of the people, and at the same time the emergence of politicians with the ability to implement them.


Mayor Masakatsu Shingai, Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture
Yours was indeed a fair argument concerning the state of governance. You have challenged me by questioning the ultimate motive and resolve of a politician. Thank you for saying what you did. I am in full agreement.
The Hon. Takao Saito whom you referred to in your article is a person who has my full respect.
At present few know of him and I am thrilled that you referred to Takao Saito. Chairman Sasakawa, you have my heartfelt respects.


Mayor Katsumasa Oshiro, lie Village, Okinawa Prefecture
The Great East Japan Earthquake has brought about an unprecedented disaster. I pray for the repose of the souls of those who perished and sincerely pray for the earliest possible rebuilding of the lives of persons who still languish in temporary shelters.
Please allow me to offer my most sincere respect to the Nippon Foundation Chairman Sasakawa for immediately going to the disaster stricken areas to provide material, spiritual support and relief.
Volunteers, private sectors, municipalities and many organizations are supporting the reconstruction efforts united under one slogan-Let’s get it done! However, the road to reconstruction is long and hard. There is a demand for an immediate response from the government for the support and reconstruction of the ravaged areas. I imagine that you have a strong commitment to rebuild the lives of the people and their communities since you have personally been there and seen the reality on the ground. On the other hand, the government that should be the beacon of hope, leading the reconstruction work and giving energy and courage in the face of this national crisis, is far from responding to the desires neither of victims nor of our people.
As one responsible for the governance of my municipality, I can say it is really beyond my imagination what my colleagues in the disaster stricken municipalities are doing day and night to reconstruct their communities so that people under their care can live again in peace and security.
Our village, united at this time of national crisis, is determined to provide support for their reconstruction to the best of our ability.


Mayor Takashi Baba, Shari Town, Hokkaido
Truly, I cannot imagine what on earth is going on these days in the national parliament.
Indeed there may be something wrong with the way things are conducted; however the priority now has to be how quickly and surely measures can be adopted to support the disaster affected areas.
I can only think that the members of parliament have forgotten for whom they have been elected.
We too must remain full of energy in order to continue giving our heart to the support.
And for this, what I can do and must do is to implement what I promised in the last election, to manage government for the citizens of my town.
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Demotion of Iconic Confucius statue-1 [2011年06月22日(Wed)]



Demotion of Iconic Confucius statue
What does it signifyIts significance -1
On the Eve of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of
the Communist Party


This January in a most conspicuous place of the Tiananmen Square in the Capital city of Beijing, no less than the front entrance of the State Museum near Mao Zedong Memorial, a 9.5 meter-high mammoth statue of Confucius appeared. One hundred days later on April 21, the statue was gone as suddenly as it had come. No explanation was given for his sudden appearance or the reason for it to be moved to the backyard of the museum. It was a bizarre happening that invited a great deal of speculation.

The director of the national museum explained that the appearance of Confucius had nothing to do with politics. A sculpture of the historically great man had been temporarily placed at the front of the museum. According to this, the official place for Confucius was in the backyard here he does not have much presence.

The department of state archives excused itself by saying that the Forbidden City and the State Museum were beyond its management. The Tiananmen Gate District Management Committee explained it had received no communication from anywhere and knew nothing about it.
A strange happening, indeed.

This amateur writer volunteers an analysis.
Hu Jintao implemented various policies in line with his vision of building a harmonious society. Confucius represents a moderate authoritarian form of governance which is somewhat close to Hu Jintao’s ideal. It was obvious from the sudden emergence of Confucian Academy throughout the world that Confucius had once again been revalued.
Hu Jintao may have instructed that Confucius be publically displayed to head off, with the Confucian virtues of courtesy and benevolence, the lack of morality, warped sense of values and the worship of money prevalent in Chinese society.
The appearance, and the disappearance of Confucian sculpture may be a message that Hu Jintao’s retirement is now in a countdown stage and that a curtain is now lifting, all be it quietly, on a new power struggle.

A study of Chinese history tells that Confucius is overturned during insurgency and revolutionary times. He reappears when government maintains stability and returns to traditional ways. During the Cultural Revolution of the early 70s, to drive Chou Enlai from his power, Mao criticized Lin Piao and Confucius. Even then, however, there were cultured persons to whom Confucius represented philanthropy, peace and humanity. The removal, then, of the statue of Confucius may mean an attempt to return to Mao’s class struggle in line with the emergence of the left wing leadership.

The Red Song, the revolutionary song was brought back to the scene by Bo Xilai, the CPC Chongging Chongqing Committee Secretary and the son of Bo Yibo, the Communist Party’s top official, who wants to be a standing member of the Party. He has flared up Mao’s philosophy to reach abnormal levels.

On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party will celebrate its 90th anniversary. With growing gap between the rich and the poor in China, corruption of the bureaucrats and the control of the freedom of speech, people’s dissatisfaction agglomerated like the magma. This perhaps accounts for the frequent violence and demonstration against the government taking place in Inner Mongolia, Guangdong, Hubei, Huanan Henan and Hunan provinces.

Hu Jintao’s harmonic society remains an ideal with the present political regime showing its limits. The Communist Party, with its 90th anniversary coming appears to be trying desperately to maintain stability with Mao Zedong type of authoritarian politics and ideology.
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