Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

George Herbert Walker Bush
from his memoir, "A World Transformed" (1998)

Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land.

I wonder if his son read this?

Via Markoff

The Japan Times
Ishihara unrepentant over slur
Koreans asked to be ruled by Japan, governor insists

An unrepentant Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Friday reiterated claims that Koreans had chosen Japanese rule rather than face Chinese or Russian governance when Japan annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910.

Speaking at a regular news conference, Ishihara again claimed that political leaders on the Korean Peninsula had made the decision to accept Japanese rule, which lasted until Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945.

According to Ishihara, Japan ruled its colony in a better fashion than Western nations, such as France, the Netherlands and the United States.

Ugh.

Asaba-san writing tonpa script
I'm in Saga right now participating in the "Open College in Saga" organized by Enjin 01. Enjin is a non-profit organization that I participated in starting. I have been a bit delinquent in my participation at the board meetings recently, but I'm still a Vice Representative Secretariat Member of this group. It's an organization of diverse cultural figures and we do a variety of activities. We have seminars, we lobby the government on important policy issues and we organize events in different regions. Last year we did an event at Koyasan. This year, we came to Saga prefecture in Kyushuu. A bunch of us "cultural figures" organized panels and asked local citizens to join us in a discussion.

I moderated a panel on democracy and Japan. My panel was Mr. Morimoto, a former Defense official, Mr. Hato, a management consultant and Mr. Takano, an independent journalist. I think it was the consensus of the group that Japan was not a democracy in the typical sense but really much more like a socialist country. Mr. Hato said he was always appalled when people blamed schools, the government and other organs of the state for their problems. Mr. Takano talked about a front page article in the left-wing newspaper of 1000 students marching in Tokyo protesting the fact that they can't get jobs. ;-)

Mr. Morimoto pointed out that the Japanese people were not individuals but identified more with something similar to the proletariat. The Japanese people have never had to fight for their "rights" and the democracy was put in place by the US occupation and they therefore do not really feel like they are active participants in it. In fact, Takano-san pointed out that the pre-war Meiji constitution is a good place to go to understand what the Japanese think about government. That constitution apparently stated that the Emperor would treat cause people to be "free" and treated fairly and that the bureaucracy was empowered by the Emperor to make sure this happened. (I have not read it myself so my paraphrasing may be a bit off...) What happened after the war was that the US occupation kept the bureaucracy, the former right hand of the Emperor, in place because it was so handy in execution. After the Americans left, the bureaucracy has stayed in place, now with power, but no leadership and a faux democracy that sort of dances around it.

The session after mine was a session on the future of Japan moderated by Oki Matsumoto. It was also interested. Ms. Ogasawara, was on the panel, was the heir of a 700 year old school of Japanese formality. This includes proper speech honorifics and other things. It lead me back to some thinking that I had in Kyoto. Much of Japanese culture would not exist if we flattened society and embraced more diversity. (Which I of course am greatly in favor of.) For instance, the whole school that Ms. Ogasawara represents is basically a way to properly express different levels in society. The Geisha in Kyoto and many of the people and things that I love about Japan come from a deep rooted caste system and intolerance to diversity.

I think that there are many things that become important choices for a country. The balances between privacy and security, openness/diversity vs. tradition/culture, short term economic productivity vs. some quality of life issues. These are things that the people should decide and a good democracy is the only for the people of a nation to make an educated choice on these issues.

I left the drinking party right after the Governor at around 2:30 am. Most of the people were still going strong. I wonder how they feel this morning. ;-)

Went to the Dalai Lama dinner speech today. I'm on the supporters board for his visit to Tokyo. This is the second time. I think the first time was more important because he was having difficulty getting into Japan, but this year it was much easier. He's not yet as popular in Japan as he is in the US, but he is gaining greater and greater support in Japan. The dinner guests were quite an interesting cross-section of Japanese business, political, religious, academic and entertainment related society. Just like las time he was very playful and inspiring.

Today he told us that he will be visiting Ise Jingu, one of the oldest and most famous Shinto shrines. He will do the sanpai, a Shinto ceremonial visit there. He talked a lot about "Human Values" and "Religious Harmony" and "Emotional Religious Relationship." His visit to and honor of a Shinto shrine is part of this push for religious harmony. He talked about the importance of "Global Responsibility" and the necessity for everyone to realize that we are all physically and mentally the same. "Alright, maybe a BIT different physically," he conceded. But he stressed the importance of understanding the huge similarities rather than on focusing on the differences.

At the end, he took questions and answers. A young Japanese man talked about how he was trying to change the world one person at a time and how he hoped Japan would plan in important role in bringing religion and science, East and West together. He asked whether it was OK to make a movie about how the Dalai Lama was reborn in Japan to help lead this movement.

The Dalai Lama smiled and said that the Dalai Lama Institution existed only as long as the people of Tibet felt it was necessary. He has a prayer that as long as his soul was active, he would dedicate himself to helping human-kind everywhere. He said that if for some reason the people of Tibet decided that they didn't need a Dalai Lama any longer and he could find suitable parents in Japan, it was quite possible that he would be reborn in Japan to carry on his mission to help human-kind.

It was obvious that the security team and the hotel hated that he walked through the crowd instead of leaving from the back exit that they were trying to usher him to, but he worked the crowd. Better than any politician I've ever seen. His hand-shakes were obviously much more sincere than most politicians (I should compare, but the image was similar) and everyone who had shaken his hand was left kind of stunned.

One other interesting note was that he talked in Tibetan and there was a translator to Japanese... but when he got excited, he spoke in English. ;-)

Monk Matsunaga of Koyasan was at my table so it was fun to talk about how excited I from my visit to Koyasan. Matsunaga-san told me that the Dalai Lama had visited his temple in Koyasan.

Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing has been down for a couple of days. We're having server problems and working on them -- I hope to be up in a day or so again, but it's exacerbated by my crazy travel schedule.

Please direct your friends to this note, and ask for their forebearance in sending email asking what's up with Boing Boing. I'm getting several hundred of these a day, and it's gotten so that answering those messages is actively interfering with my efforts to reestablish service.

In the meantime, we're still blogging, and the mailblog still works:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/boingboing-mailblog/

Thanks

Cory