Thursday, July 09, 2015

"will he give him a stone?" - The Only Imperial Family Prime Minister of Japan


The Only Imperial Family Prime Minister of Japan

Naruhiko Higashi-kuninomiya (1887-1990) was the only imperial family member of Japan who became prime minister.  He assumed the office of prime minister from August 17 to October 9, 1945, while the Imperial military surrendered to the US on August 15, 1945.  Naruhiko Higashi-kuninomiya was one of key figures who took the helm of Japan in the difficult time immediately after WWII.

Though the Emperor announced his decision for the surrender by radio to all the Japanese people and Imperial troops stationed in and outside Japan, some extreme Imperial Army officers were still determined to fight till their death.

To persuade those die-hard officers, the Emperor and his aids thought it was necessary to appoint an imperial family member as a successor of prime minister admiral Suzuki who resigned after the Suzuki Cabinet successfully unified opinions of the Imperial Government for acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration to surrender.  No matter how bigoted those jingoistic military officers were, they would obey the order for surrender issued by a prime minister who was a clear deputy of the Emperor, thought the Emperor and his entourage.

Indeed, the Empire of Japan still had millions of soldiers and 3,000 military planes when the Emperor expressed his will to surrender in August 1945.  There was a possibility that a military coup could occur in Tokyo.    

Prime Minister Higashi-kuninomiya did his best.  So, it was his Cabinet that signed on the instrument of surrender on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  But, he resigned in a month after the historical event.

It was because he thought he lost the trust of General MacArthur.  It was about handling of the famous picture of the Emperor and General MacArthur taken when the Emperor visited the US embassy in Tokyo to see General MacArthur on September 27, 1945.

The Higashi-kuninomiya Cabinet thought it was not appropriate to allow newspapers to show the picture to the general public.  The Emperor looked like a civilian without wearing military clothing he had usually put on during and before WWII.  But he was in formal dress, while MacArthur wore casual military clothing.  The picture simply told that the Emperor was not a sacred man but a defeated man.  It must have been so shocking to the general public, thought the Higashi-kuninomiya Cabinet.  They tried to forbid Japanese newspapers to present the picture.  But, the General Headquarters of the allied forces led by General MacArthur forbade the Japanese Government to forbid publishing of the picture.  So, Prime Minister Higashi-kuninomiya decided to resign.

Higashi-kuninomiya was a general of the Imperial Army during WWII.  He was familiar with General Tojo who was prime minister when the Empire decided the execution of the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941.

One day before the Pearl Harbor Attack, General Higashi-kuninomiya met with General Tojo to persuade him to stop launching war against the US.  Higashi-kuninomiya told Tojo his experience in Paris when he had been in an overseas assignment in France between 1920 and 1927.

In Paris Higashi-kuninomiya talked with Georges Benjamin Clemenceau, a former prime minister of France.  Clemenceau told him that the US was preparing for war against the Empire of Japan.  Higashi-kuninomiya was surprised, saying that Japan never considered a possibility of making war against the US.  But, the old French politician said, "Japan is not good at diplomacy, and Japanese are quick-tempered.  If the US Government should drive the Imperial Government into the corner, the Imperial military would start war.  The US must surely take this strategy.  But, American industrial power far surpasses Japan's.  If a war broke out between the two countries, Japan would surely lose.  Therefore, Japan must be patient to avoid the war."

However, Prime Minister General Tojo said that he could not withdraw Imperial troops from mainland China (which was requested by the Roosevelt Administration) and it was just a difference of opinion between him and Higashi-kuninomiya as to the prospect of the coming war between the Empire and the US.

According to one theory, there was a possibility that the Emperor and his advisers would appoint Higashi-kuninomiya as prime minister before the Pearl Harbor Attack instead of naming General Tojyo for the position.  But, it is said that some advisers thought it was not appropriate to have an imperial family member take responsibility for making war against the US and the UK.  Accordingly, General Tojo took the bold course of opening war with the US and the UK with consent of the Emperor in December 1941.

Naruhiko Higashi-kuninomiya

Emperor and MacArthur in newspaper on September 29, 1945

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Mat 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

"take nothing for their journey" - The First Japanese that Traveled Tibet


The First Japanese that Traveled Tibet

When a Japanese Buddhist monk had some doubt about Buddhism, say, 100 years ago, he had to go to the original place where the religion had been first established around the 5th century BC.  But India had long lost traditions of Buddhism.  So, he had to go to Tibet, since Tibet had imported important part or some essence of Buddhism between the 7th and 14th centuries before it was lost in India.

Indeed, Japan imported Buddhism through China since the 6th century, but Chinese themselves had first imported Buddhism about 1st century.  Even in the 7th century, a notable Chinese priest made an adventurous journey to India to bring back many Buddhist sutras.  Therefore, if a Japanese monk had any doubt on Buddhism, it meant there was a need to refer to Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures which Chinese monks translated into Chinese versions, since Sanskrit was a classical language of India.  Or, he must refer to Tibetan scriptures as Tibetans must have more faithfully translated Sanskrit scriptures.

So, Ekai Kawaguchi (1866 – 1945)  traveled to Tibet as the first Japanese that had ever entered the Himalayan country closed to foreigners.  Specifically, he secretly reached and stayed in Lhasa from July 1900 to June 1902, and then from 1913 to 1915.

He brought back to Japan a large collection of Tibetan scriptures, but had a lengthy and public dispute with the other pilgrims about who the Dalai Lama had intended to give them to, causing him to lose some face in the Buddhist world.[17] He did assist the German Theravada monk Nyanatiloka in the 1920s. 
After this Kawaguchi became an independent monk, living with his brother's family for the rest of his life, and earning an income from scholarly publications. He refused to assist the military police when they sought intelligence on Tibet, and died in 1945.[18]
He was a friend of Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, who encouraged him to publish the English text of his book, Three Years in Tibet.[19] The Government of Nepal issued a postage stamp in 2003 commemorating Kawaguchi's visits to that country.

Ekai Kawaguchi was a faithful Buddhist.  He never ate meat and fish.  He never tried to make money by selling his experiences on a commercial basis or establishing a new faction of Buddhism in Japan.  After his adventure in Tibet, he tried to edit a Tibetan-Japanese dictionary, which was however never be accomplished when he died in the last year of WWII.

More importantly, through his observations of Buddhist communities in Tibet and other Asian countries as well as Japan, Kawaguchi concluded that there were no truly righteous monks and orders today.  Temples were no more sacred places.  Buddhist organizations were rotten.  Buddhist rituals turned to be false acts.  So, Kawaguchi renounced his status as a Buddhist priest.

Kawaguchi then claimed that people must not respect Buddhist priests and orders.  But people should practice Buddhism in their daily living.  It is just like a Christian priest who has traveled to Rome and Jerusalem to study Christianity starts to claim that churches and priests are useless or anti-Christian so that people must practice teaching of Christ Jesus in their daily lives.

Indeed there is a Buddhist tenet predicting the decline of Buddhism, called "the latter days of Buddhism."  According to the tenet, Buddhism would be correctly practiced and understood for 500 years after the death of the Buddha, but would not be understood, even if practiced superficially, for the next 1,000 years.  And after these 1,500 years, no more correct practice and understanding of Buddhism would be observed.

Ekai Kawaguchi seems to have believed in this theory.  His countermeasure to this state of lost belief in Buddhism is for everybody to practice the teaching of the Buddha in their daily lives.

However, Kawaguchi died in the last year of WWII.  And, after WWII, American Christianity along with American democracy was widely and openly introduced into the Japanese society.  Even the Constitution of Japan was drafted by Christian Americans subject to General MacArthur, the supreme commander of the allied forces that occupied Japan after WWII.  It might suggest that it is Christianity but not Buddhism that the Japanese people should seriously turn to as the means to save their souls.

Today, in Japanese schools, Ekai Kawaguchi is not introduced as a unique Buddhist but simply as a great adventurer who traveled Tibet 100 years ago where no foreigners were allowed in the country at the time.

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Ekai Kawaguchi

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Mar 6:8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

"called unto him the twelve" - Buddhist Homeless Man in Nagoya


Buddhist Homeless Man in Nagoya

Several years ago, a homeless man was arrested and indicted for violence on a public official in Nagoya City, Japan.

When the homeless man was preparing a meal in a public park, city officials came to him, requesting evacuation from the place.  As the homeless man got angry, he allegedly poured soup on one of officials and grab and locked his head with the arms.

The homeless man was put in a house of custody for one year and five months till a court ruled the case.  He was sentenced to pay a fine of 300,000 yen ($2,500).  But as his term in custody before the verdict translated into 5,000 yen per day, he was immediately released after the judgment without paying the fine.

In some public parks in big cities, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya , in Japan, homeless people can be sometimes spotted.  Most of them live in very humble tents built using timbers and blue sheets on corners or among bushes of public parks.  But, public administration often tries to drive them out.  Especially when a big official event is held, such as a Summit Meeting, homeless people living in public parks are forced to evacuate the places for a security reason.

The above stated homeless person in Nagoya may be unique in his statement in the court.  He claimed that people in the world were brainwashed.  People are taught to believe in war and wealth as God. And there is competition in the society on how much one believes in this God.  Those who are disqualified in this competition are forced to become lambs to be simply controlled by winners in society.

He further argued: To fight against this evil brainwashing people have to live as homeless persons like the Buddha.  His living as a homeless man is the very practice of this principle.  So, it is a right thing for him to live in a public park; and in terms of his case, he didn't harm the public servant in real.

Of course, a judge in charge was not moved by his statement.  Usually, in such a case as this involving a homeless person, judges simply accept assertion by public prosecutors, the police, and public officers.

However, there are some organizations who support homeless people in big cities in Japan.  Most of members are humanitarians, religious activists, or politically leftists.  But, it is unthinkable today that any radical extremist group mobilizes homeless people to cause social unrest or a riot in Japan.  

According to a survey by the Japanese Government, the numbers of homeless persons in big cities are as follows as of January 2012:
Tokyo.....  2,069
Yokohama..... 595
Kawasaki..... 502
Nagoya..... 249
Osaka..... 2,132
Fukuoka..... 211

Nonetheless, these figures seem to be underestimated.

Anyway, Christ Jesus and His disciples were homeless, too.

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Mar 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

Monday, July 06, 2015

"trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy" - Methane Hydrate Causes Tsunami


Methane Hydrate Causes Tsunami

On December 21, 1946, a big earthquake (M8.0) occurred in the Pacific Ocean 50 km off Cape Shiono-misaki situated at the southernmost tip of the Kii Peninsula, south of Kyoto and Osaka.  It is called the 1946 Nankai (south sea) Earthquake.

It caused 1,330 deaths in regions of western Japan on the Pacific Ocean.  As it was just one year after the end of WWII, there was some confusion in handling this disaster.  But it was reported that some towns and villages were attacked by tsunamis as high as 6.5 meters.  The tsunami also reached Hawaii and the US west coasts.  This earthquake was reportedly triggered by a rise of an undersea mass of land stretching 250 km.

One thing particular in this earthquake is that some people saw a lightening phenomenon called earthquake light.

For example, notable Japanese actor Hisaya Morishige (1913-2009) wrote about his experience of encountering this earthquake and a following tsunami in his essay.

Morishige traveled to a seaside town to make business of trading fish.  Though Morishige was living in Tokyo in 1946 with his family after coming back to Japan from Manchuria, where he had worked as an announcer of a radio station during WWII, he happened to travel to Osaka, his hometown, to find a job as he was unemployed at the time.  In Osaka, one of his friends introduced a man living in the seaside town who was familiar with a boss of the fishing industry in the seaside area.  So, Morishige traveled to the seaside town of Tokushima Prefecture.

The earthquake happened before the dawn after a night Morishige met the boss withe the mediator in an inn.  As the boss promised to help Morishige's planned business to sell fish in Osaka, Morishige was sleeping happily.  But the big earthquake and tsunami destroyed his plan as well as many homes in the town, including the mediator's.  

In the darkness, quaking Morishige somehow climbed up a hill behind the inn; then he saw some weird light over the sea.  Workers of the inn told him that some wells had dried up the day before or so.

Some scientists wrote a paper to analyze this earthquake in 2009.  Their conclusion is that Methane Hydrate accumulated on the sea bed gushed out due to the huge seismic activity.  The frozen material consisting of Methane and water molecules jolted so hard delivered the Methane gas which exploded and came up to the surface of the sea, pushing up the surface to cause the tsunami.  It also triggered earthquake light as the gas could take fire when it was mingled with the air and chlorine.


Today, a great amount of Methane Hydrate has been found on the sea beds around Japan.  It is expected to be a big future energy source.  However, as the scientific report tells, it can also trigger or augment a tsunami accompanying an undersea earthquake.

After this experience of the natural disaster, Morishige pursued his career as a comedian and then a movie star.  He became a very successful actor, exhibiting various talents.  One of his successful roles in theatrical performances was Tevye of Fiddler on the Roof, a story of a Jewish family in Ukraine.  Morishige played Tevye 900 times in Japanese theaters till 1986.  He was awarded the Order of Culture, the highest prize for scholars and artists, by the Japanese Government as the first case for performers in the genre of popular arts in 1991.

However, Hisaya Morishige did not encounter the 2011 Great Earthquake and Tsunami of the Pacific Coats of East Japan.

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Luk 7:6 Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

"neither did his brethren" - Murder Case of a Japanese Film Director


Murder Case of a Japanese Film Director

Kenzaburo Oe (1935-) was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1994 as the second Japanese winner in this field.  It was one year before the Aum Shinrikyo cult group launched a sarin gas attack in Tokyo subway lines in 1995.

Oe had an old friend who was then a film director.  Oe and his old friend Juzo Itami (1993-1997) once studied in the same high-school in western Japan.  Oe respected Itami who showed great talent in literature.  Oe even wrote some novels as he wished to be praised by Itami when Oe was a student of the University of Tokyo and Itami was working as a commercial artist in Tokyo.  Then, Oe won the Akutagawa Award to be publicly recognized as a professional author, and Itami subsequently became an actor (first calling himself Ichizo Itami and then Juzo Itami).

Itami's father was a film director, too.  And, Oe later married a younger sister of Itami. Oe and Itami are brothers in law.

Juzo Itami became a popular actor, though not a big star, as well as a writer and a reporter for some TV works.  He even acted in some American movies such as 55 Days at Peking.  But in 1984 he directed a unique Japanese movie titled O-Soshiki (The Funeral).  Then he became a very popular film director in Japan.

Itami made some films on unique issues such as tax evasion and civilians' fight against gangsters.  His films were not merely for entertainment but also related to serious social issues if not social justice.  And some gangsters got angry to see his film depicting foolish and dangerous gangsters.

Specifically in 1992 when his sixth movie titled Minbo-no On-na (The Woman Fighting Civil Violence), Itami was actually assaulted by members of a big criminal organization, since the film depicted workers of a hotel fighting against yakuza gangsters.  Itami suffered severe cuts on the face and arms; it took three months for him to recover.  The police arrested five members of the Goto-gumi group subject to the nationwide syndicate Yamaguchi-gumi group.

Juzo Itami publicly announced that he would never be intimated.  And he continued to produce and direct his unique films.  Then, the terror by the Aum Shinrikyo cult occurred in 1995.  The Japanese society was alarmed at cults in general, since Aum Shinrikyo's sarin gas terror killed 13 passengers and injured 6,000 commuters near the government district in Tokyo.

In 1997, movie director Itami produced a new film featuring an act of terror by a cult.  It was titled Marutai-no On-na (The Woman under Police Protection), presenting a story that an actress happened to watch a killing of a lawyer and his wife by a cult member, so that she was put under police protection.  It was based on Itami's experience that he had been put under police protection after the gangsters' attack in 1992.  And as was usual, his wife, an actress, played the leading part.

This film apparently was based on behaviors of the Aum Shinrikyo cult.  There had been some murder cases conducted by the cult, or so suspected, before and after the 1995 sarin terror.

Actually a lawyer fighting the cult was murdered with his wife and young son in 1989.  In early 1995, an old man who was a brother of a rich woman whose assets were targeted by the cult was abducted and killed as he was hiding his sister from the cult.  Even Aum Shinrikyo was trying to use anthrax germs to kill its enemies.

But what was more weird occurred after the large-scale police investigation of the cult in the wake of the Tokyo subway sarin-gas attack by the cult in March 1995: one of top executives of the cult was killed by a gangster-group associated man before the cult's headquarters in Tokyo.  This victim, named Murai, made many TV appearances after the terror in subway lines, so that the general public was very much surprised and alarmed.  As Murai was close to the guru of the cult, Asahara (ne Matsumoto), it looked like a warning to Asahara given by some gangster group that had secret linkage with the cult.  Indeed, there was a rumor that the the Aum Shinrikyo cult was making money by producing and selling drugs through gangsters.

So, Itami's 1997 film might irritate some gangsters that had been some secret business with the Aum Shinrikyo cult that had had tens of hundreds of followers and $100 million assets in its prime.  And Juzo Itami died in December 1997 in a mysterious manner.

The police judged that Itami committed a suicide by jumping from the roof of a condominium building in which he had an office.  There was no trace of struggles.  Even a will written with a word processor was found in his office.  Furthermore, at the time, a magazine reported his adultery with a young woman, which must have made him suffer.

However, it is said that an autopsy found a large amount of alcohol in his stomach.  Itami was not a stupid man who would commit a suicide only because his adultery was publicly reported, and usually a man never drank so much when he was committing a suicide.  Itami was most probably killed by gangsters.

Moreover, it is said that at the time Itami planned to make a film related to the Soka-Gakkai Buddhist Association closely linked to a political party, Komeito.  There was a rumor that Soka-Gakkai sometimes used gangsters to harass their enemies.  In addition, Itami was reportedly interested in the dark side of industrial waste disposal business around which some gangsters were allegedly acting secretly for big money.  Furthermore, some gangsters who had attacked Itami in 1992 had been released from jails around 1997.  It cannot be simply denied that they tried an assault again.

Nonetheless, today, there are no big voices in society that cast doubt on Itami's apparent suicide of 1997.  Even, Itami's brother-in-law Kenzaburo Oe, a Nobel prize laureate and strong peace advocate, doesn't express his doubt about Itami's death.

This is one of difficult case deeply related to the dark side of the Japanese society to which even a Nobel prize seems useless to address them.

Juzo Itami.jpg
Juzo Itami

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Joh 7:5 For neither did his brethren believe in him.