Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Japanese Policy Category

I find that the Japanese, myself included, use the phrase, "Japan is the world's second largest GDP" as some sort of mantra to try to keep Japan relevant in a world that is exceedingly uninterested in Japan. I was talking to Oki Matsumoto, a good friend and the CEO of Monex about this. He told me about a talk he gave at Keio University about the increasing irrelevance of Japan and showed me the following slides which I post with permission.


This first slide is the percentage of the world GDP of various countries in 2004 and projected in 2050. On the far left is the US at 38.3% in 2004 and a diminished but significant 20.3% in 2050. Japan however goes from 15.4% in 2004 to 4% in 2050. Still 2X that of Italy's projection, but not the mammoth we seem to think will will continue to be. The first yellow block is China and the second one is India. Clearly they are the big growth markets according to the predictions.

You may say, well that's 2050. That's a long time from now.

The second image shows Japanese GDP plotted from 1980 to 2006. It shows our once 18% GDP down to a a modest 9.1% in 2006. Furthermore, the text on the right explains that we've gone from the world's highest GDP per capita to the world's 18th.

It's really no wonder we're having a hard time getting attention in Japan. With an aging population and a less-than-competitive economy, there are ways to manage, but you don't get there by denying the facts and continuing to beat you chest IMHO.

I was going to write about this earlier, but I let it slip and now it's old new... but I still find it funny/sad. First the Chief Cabinet Secretary and now the Minister of Defense of Japan announce that they believe in UFOs. The Minister of Defense is trying to figure out how to prepare for an alien invasion under the current Japanese pacifist constitution... *sigh* Don't they have better things to do?

Bloomberg and Yahoo both covered it.

Shibuya Toyoko Line I ended the work day with a study group and an expert guest where we discussed the Japanese legal system. Although there were some small signs of hope, I find that the more I learn about how things really work, the more pessimistic I get about causing actual change in Japan.

As I pondered the futility of revolutionary activities in Japan, I jogged to try to catch the train to connect to the commuter train for my 1.5 hr shlep back to my home. As I entered the station, I noticed an unusually large crowd of people on the platform.

The PA system announced a delay due to an accident. Japan has over 30,000 suicides a year (one of the highest rates in the world) and 800 or so of them as a result of “train accidents”. As I crammed myself into the standing-room-only train full of drunken businessmen, tired “office ladies” and shriveled old people, I thought about what kind of person might have jumped in front of the train this time.

As we approached the station where the accident occurred, the train came to a stop and the conductor apologized again for the delay. They shut down the motors as we waited and the everyone was silent and still. As I looked around at the tired people with their blank looks, it felt like we were all involuntarily mourning the death of another person in Japanese society who had to give up.

When I arrived at at my home train station, Mizuka was there to pick me up. I shared my depressing thoughts and she scolded me for being so down. When we got home, our dog Pookie yapped away and almost blew these thoughts away, but I decided to share them with you anyway.

From the Magazine.
In Japanese it says:
"Oi Nigger!
Don't be touching a Japanese girl's ass!"
Ejovi, Fukumimi and JapanProbe blog about a mook (magazine/book) published by Eichi called "Gaijin Hanzai Ura File" or "Foreigner Crimes Secret File".

Crimes by foreigners have been a central talking point of the right wing in Japan including Governor Ishihara of Tokyo. This story of foreign criminals being a public issue is a very old political position. For instance, after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, The Home Ministry declared martial law and blamed the Koreans for crimes. Rumors spread blaming Koreans for looting, arson and even poisoning the well. A great number of Koreans were killed/lynched. The official number is around 231 killed but independent studies put the number closer to 2,500. (Wikipedia reference). In Jr. High School, I visited the graves of these Koreans, which exists today in the Arakawa district of Tokyo. If it wasn't for this visit lead by our wonderful Japanese Social Studies teacher at the time, I would never have known about this incident. (Thanks Ms. Anami!)

Several years ago, the Governor of Tokyo made a very controversial speech at a graduation ceremony of the Self-Defense Force telling the young soldiers that during a time of national emergency, they may be called upon to protect the people from people of the "third country" - another name for people of Korean descent.

So while I have sympathy for Ejovi and others, I believe that this "good old fashioned racism" in Japan is pretty deep rooted and held by people in high places in government and corporate Japan. I believe this is one of the most important and fundamental ailments of Japanese society today and we need general awareness to increase on this issue. Many foreign business people in Japan look the other way because talking about such things is "bad for business"... The American Occupation decided to let the right wing movement in Japan survive and thrive choosing it as the lesser of two evils compared to the threat of communism from the USSR. The end of the war would have been the perfect time to squash this thing, but we missed that and now we're stuck with a daunting task that will possibly take generations.

I raise this issue whenever I can and have been labeled a "public enemy" by at least one prominent politician because of this. More people need to speak up spread the word.

People interested in copyright and P2P will have already seen the news but the developer of the P2P file-sharing software called Winny was arrested in Japan. A Japanese court recently found him guilty because his software "assists" people in committing crimes. This reminds me a bit of the FLMASK case where the developer of reversible "mosaic" was found guilty of operating a pornography business for linking to his pornography customers. (I testified as a expert witness back when I was chairman of Infoseek Japan.)

This time it is about copyright.

This trend of charging the developers of software for crimes of their users is very dangerous. While I'm not sure how important Japanese legal precedent is at a global level, if not checked, this trend will undermine the basic architecture of how we build software and the Internet.

CPSR Japan
Immediate Release

Comment on Copyright violation assistance case Shinji R. Yamane, CPSR/Japan president December 17, 2006 version 1.1

[History] Mr. Isamu Kaneko was the first file-sharing software developer arrested in Japan. He developed and posted Winny, quasi-anonymous P2P file-sharing software(*) still runnung on more than 400,000 nodes today. He was claimed to 'assisted' two users who illegally uploaded copyrighted materials using Winny. As soon as Mr. Kaneko arrested, starts supporting activity ( CPSR Japan chapter (CPSR/Japan) has been supported and its successor, Lesgue for Software Engineers (LSE).

[Problem] The judgement passed down on him was guilty. As the ruling statement will be published some days later after the judgement in Japanese criminal court and no recordings allowed, nobody has the ruling statement yet. So some commentators in news/blog talks uncertain information.

According to the ruling, Mr. Kaneko has no willing to support copyright violation and Winny is "significant" technology that can be applied to various uses and characterized "value-neutral." However, it became guilty by expanding the concept of "assist" in criminal law and Mr. Kaneko fined 1.5 million yen.

[Future concerns] As the court recognized that Mr. Kaneko is NOT malicious developer, Winny ruling shocks Japanese industry including hobbist programmers. The border of guilty and innocent software developer is not clear.

CPSR/Japan will also support and co-operate Mr. Kaneko and LSE. CPSR/Japan will held a chapter's conference in Tokyo to discuss the effect of Winny ruling on January 13 Saturday 2007.


* Research paper on Winny network contents is available in English: Tatsuo Tanaka Does file sharing reduce music CD sales?: A case of Japan Hitotsubashi University IIR WP#05-08 (2004/12/13)

-- Comment by Isamu Kaneko December 13, 2006 (Originally in Japanese, available at )

Today, I have been found guilty as an accessory to copyright violation. Winny's usefullness is somthing that will extend into the future. Therefore, I believe that it's true value will be recognized in the future. I am dissapointed with the present ruling.

I have repeatedly warned, "do not exchange illegal files" when releasing Winny. And I have repeatedly warned against illegal file exchanges in my commnets to 2-channel and other forums. I am not sure what more would be needed to further make my case.

My biggest concern about this ruling is the chilling effect that many software developers may shy away from developing useful technologies, fearing prosecution based on this vague possiblity of becoming an accessory. This saddens me the most. Times are changing, and we need to cope with that.

I am going to appeal this ruling, in order to raise awareness on the role of technology in these times.


I heard an interesting theory that I'd love for any Japan experts to confirm or debunk. Apparently, during the drafting of the Japanese constitution, the phrase "freedom of the press" was proposed by the US team. This was a big problem for Japan which had never really allowed any free speech. Instead of translating it as "freedom of the press" in terms of free speech they changed the meaning to freedom of "printing press" sort of press.

Later, there was a movement to prevent consolidation of power in press, but instead of making meaningful unbundling, the then Minister of Communications, Kakuei Tanaka, reinterpreted this initiative and broke up the licenses for local newspapers and TV to be delineated by prefecture (voting units) and made sure that the media in each prefecture was owned by someone affiliated with the ruling party. They also allowed the newspapers to own the television allowing the state (the ruling party) to essentially control the media.

Things are of course changing, but if this is true, this does explain a lot about the Japanese media...

Just watching the news. The CEO of Life Live Door and 3 others have been arrested. The TV is flooded with this news.

I spent part of the day today in court. I was defending myself against the landlord of a friend of mine who has been unable to pay rent. I am the guarantor on the lease and the landlord has decided to come after me for the money. This is probably the fifth time that I've had debt collectors of various sorts come after me because of guarantees that I've made. I'm sure people wonder why the hell I keep guaranteeing things. The odd thing is that it is so common in Japan. It is as good as required for any significant transaction such as renting an apartment or borrowing money from a bank. Even government affiliated loans require personal guarantees by people other than the principles.

My first experience with these guarantees was back when I was just starting to work in Japan over 15 years ago. I signed a document that listed a transaction breakdown between two affiliated companies. I thought I was a witness. Later, when one of the companies closed down, the other company (owned by the same parent company) came after me as the guarantor of the transaction. I quickly learned what "to guarantee" means and ended up having to pay.

Since then, briefly as the headmaster of a small school, as the CEO of various companies and the friend of people starting companies, I've been asked to and have signed as guarantors for various contracts. The really horrible thing about this Meiji era practice is that it is so common. People seem to think nothing of asking for it and without it it is almost impossible to function. I've spoken with various people in government and business about the damage that this system causes and most people agree. However, I don't see any changes.

When Digital Garage was still not public, the bank required the two founders including myself to guarantee all loans. At one point I had millions of dollars of guarantees outstanding. The crazy thing was that the bank made me sign a "and all lines of credit in the future" form. Even after I left Digital Garage to be chairman of Infoseek Japan, I was still a guarantor for Digital Garage and was only released at the IPO.

One of my portfolio companies failed several years ago. As the lead investor, I went around to the other investors and explained the situation. Two of the other investors asked me to PERSONALLY cover their loss. Both of these companies were public Japanese companies. I didn't pay of course, but they seemed to think that it would have been nifty if I had. I've never heard of such a thing happening in the US.

As I blogged before, this is a major source of suicides since bankruptcies cause a cascading serious of bankruptcies to friends and family. The shame often drives entrepreneurs to suicide. It is no wonder that entrepreneurship isn't very popular in Japan.

Anyway, I was reflecting on this and remembered that this was on my list of "one of the things we need to change here" as I sat before the judge trying to defend a case that I know I have no chance of winning.

Per a request in the comments of my previous post, let me post a few more of my notes about Yasukuni Shrine.

First of all, it is an independent religions organization not directly affiliated with the government. Over 2 million soldiers are memorialized in Yasukuni. The votes of these relatives have value, but it isn't since the Koizumi days that the media have started picking it up as a big deal. Koizumi ran for office three times before he was successful. The first two times, visits to Yasukuni were never part of Koizumi's campaign, but starting with the third try against Hashimoto, he promised to visit Yasukuni as Prime Minister to try to take this swing vote from the Hashimoto faction. Some believe that this was key to his winning the fourth election. There appears to be some "logic" in domestic politics for his action. However, I think there is a consensus that it makes no sense from a foreign policy perspective and even the US which has been rather neutral on the issue in the past seems to be concerned. On the other hand, some polls show the Japanese public divided on the issue. The Sankei newspaper is currently the only newspaper supporting Koizumi's visits the Yasukuni Shrine. The Yomiuri, which once supported his visits, now criticizes them. Some people believe that maybe there is some secret plan to use this as a bargaining chip with China in the future. However, most people believe that even if this ends up happening it was not particularly planned by Koizumi.

One expert in Japanese religion at this meeting pointed out that the original Nara Buddhism does not memorialize the dead or believe in heaven. He argued that the religious underpinnings of the necessity of memorializing the war dead didn't make sense under real Japanese Buddhism and that we should stop making such memorials in Japan... that Japan should go back to Nara Buddhism where once you died, you were dead. Full stop. Another person commented that there is a division of state and church under the Japanese constitution and these visits are a violation.

This is reiterating the obvious, but the two main point are the class A war criminals memorialized there and probably the war museum. The war museum tries to argue that the WWII was justified.

One member of our group pointed out that there was a discussion among G8 members about dropping Japan from the G8. One of the possible reasons is that Japanese foreign minister is often the only one who doesn't speak enough English to participate directly in the conversations. Several of us pointed out that it was bad policy in this day and age to appoint people who don't speak any English as Foreign Minister. One surprising comment was another member asserting that there was nothing wrong with a non-English speaking Foreign Minister. Doh. It's this sort of block headed pride/nationalism that gets us into trouble. English is currently the primary language for international diplomacy like it or not. I think we should have Foreign Ministers who speak English, French and Chinese.

It reminds me of when I was interpreting for the chairman of NHK (The Japanese public broadcast company) in a meeting with Jack Valenti. He told me to tell Jack that "the more English a Japanese speaks, the less power he has." He was pointing out the fact that traditionally people focused their energy on gaining power in Tokyo and people who lost political battles were typically sent overseas as punishment or to get them out of the way. This was over a decade ago and things have changed, but this insular thinking continues in part because as the world's second largest GDP it is still possible to pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist. sigh...

Karel just sent me an article he wrote for the Asahi about the recent election. I've posted it on my wiki.

Karel van Wolferen via email
Dear Joi,

The widespread -- and I mean truly widespread -- misconception that Japan has been pushed by Koizumi in a market-capitalism direction should teach us something about the function of the world's media as agents of ignorance. Like with subjects such as Iraq or Russia those who ought to know do not have a clue of what is actually going on.

Herewith my article as it appears this morning in the Asahi Shimbun.

best wishes


Will the Next Elections Save Japanese Democracy - by Karel van Wolferen - September 12, 2005

I was in a cab in Tokyo last night having a interesting conversation about the recent elections and the future of Japan with a very educated and opinionated cab driver. The conversation turned to the pension system. He told me that he would be retiring soon and because of the of the way that he had done his pension, he would be retiring with a monthly payment less than enough money to pay for room and board. He told me that he was now designing his homeless shack. He figured he could afford an air-conditioner and some real panel, but that the price of the roofing material had gone up so he might have to use those blue plastic sheets. He was serious. He was also considering several different places to locate. He said that until he had found his current cab company employer, he had been homeless so this wasn't new to him.

It was a bit sobering for me. We then discussed how people of my generation should expect none of their pension coming back and we wondered what the average young person was going to do...

I spoke to the son of the man who died in or neighborhood. He told us that the doctor mentioned that it was possible that the cancer was caused by heavy metals. The doctor, the head of a hospital nearby, told him that there were dangerous levels of heavy metals in all Japanese water and that this information was being stifled by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health in Japan is notoriously corrupt and have probably been under investigation for one thing or another for the last 30 years. I totally and completely don't trust them.

I also once met a toxologist who said that toxologists were coming to Japan to study because Japan was immersed in lots of chemicals that were illegal in other nations and there was a lot they could study.

My neighbor checked his well water for heavy metals and found enough to be a long term health concern. However, he was told that city tap water was even worse.

I don't have much expertise in this area, but it sounds like a good reason to leave Japan long term. I can only image it getting worse. Does anyone know more about this?

In an effort to cut down on energy consumption, Japan has implemented "Cool Biz". Cool biz facilities keep the temperature at around 28 degrees Celsius (approx 82.4 Fahrenheit) in the summer. It often feels hotter than that. In these offices, people don't wear suits. Most government buildings and many public facilities are now cool biz. First of all, 28 degrees is hot, even with a t-shirt. Second, when you travel around buildings requiring various dress codes, this system doesn't really work.

This isn't a new thing, but it appears that it is being implemented with renewed vigor this year. I blogged about this back in 2002. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, they think that it will save about $1B.

I suppose I'm a schmuck for complaining about something so socially and fiscally good, but for some reason this kind of suffering feels very Japanese and annoying. There is something very ceremonial and inefficient about it. Maybe it's just that I'm sweating my ass off in a cool biz zone. Maybe this is a signal to me to figure out a way to save $1B for the Japanese economy and help the environment. Maybe we can start by firing all of the retired bureaucrats that they force companies to hire who get paid a mint and driven around in black limos.

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about the rise of more aggressive nationalist Japanese politicians. The article gives the example of the recent decision to willingness to challenge China, for instance, in the dispute over natural gas drilling in the East China Sea. These politicians, according to the article, are taking leadership away from the bureaucrats who traditionally ran most of the foreign policy. I haven't read much about this and have been away from Japanese politics for awhile, but if this article is accurate, it's a disturbing trend. I think the move for Japan to become more "normal" is a good thing, but I don't think that a nationalist position is a good one.

However, the Asahi reports that 52% of Japanese polled say Koizumi should halt shrine visits and the Japanese Emperor Akihito made a surprise visit to a Korean war dead memorial in Saipan on Tuesday.

So it appears to me that once again, the central government and the LDP are out of touch with the people and even the Emperor and it's the politicians who are fueling this nationalist mood. I wonder what we can do about it... It's clearly a bad idea.

The night before last I had dinner with Karel van Wolferen at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. This was a very appropriate place to meet. Karel van Wolferen is the author of The Enigma of Japanese Power. Although it was written in 1990, it remains one of the best books in understanding the way the Japanese government works. I recommended this book in addition to Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons as two essential books in understanding the dilemma the Japanese face today. Karel said that, in a way, Dogs and Demons is a followup book to The Engima of Japanese Power. We both agreed that Japan has changed a great deal since he wrote the book, but that most of the basic arguments in his book are still valid today. Japan still lacks one of the fundamental requirements of a healthy government - political accountability. We both agreed that people don't understand how the Japanese system works, including the Japanese.

Although Karel is a professor at the University of Amsterdam, he spends a great deal of time in Japan, writing for various publications, debating Japanese politicians and working very hard to try to help Japan. He had read some things that I had written and I was happy to have Karel say I was a "kindred spirit."

We discussed the history of postwar Japan and how Japan had missed an opportunity to build a more functional democracy because of the focus on fighting communism driven in large part by the American occupation. The US Occupation helped fund the conservative "Liberal Democratic Party" which co-opted or crushed most of the so-called "left-wing" liberal groups that were trying to emerge. A particularly unfortunate victim of this effort was the The Japan Teachers Union. Many teachers in postwar Japan felt a great deal of guilt for having taught children Imperialist warmongering based on the right-wing central government produced texts of the time. There was a strong desire among teachers to turn this guilt into something constructive. The Teachers Union confronted the LDP and the Ministry of Education and pushed for decentralization of education and fought against textbook censorship. The conservatives attacked them and marginalized them, effectively crushing the effort. In light of the recent discussion on Japanese historical revisionism and the festering right-wing, it is really a pity that this movement was crushed since it could have become a positive movement to help face the facts of Japanese Imperialist history. (The union still exists, but is taking a much more moderate stance on reform.)

We talked about the Internet and Wikipedia and how facts and history are being collectively created online. One interesting problem that he has is that many people spell his name as "von Wolferen" instead of "van Wolferen". Even editors of major newspapers consistently "correct" the spelling and change it to "von". It has gotten so bad that there are more results for the wrong spelling than the correct one on Google. It's funny to imagine people who are so sure of their spelling that they would change the spelling of someone's name without checking.

We promised to keep in touch and try to collaborate in the future.

The Japan Times
Promotion just for Japanese: supreme court

South Korean civil servant's suit fails

The Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a high court ruling and supported the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's decision to bar a civil servant from taking a managerial promotion exam due to her South Korean nationality.

They are upholding a Tokyo ban on allowing foreigners to take positions of authority in public services. the ruling is "Based on the (constitutional) principle of national sovereignty and in view of the fact that the people should in the end be responsible for how the central and local governments govern, (the Constitution) should be viewed as presuming that Japanese nationals in principle will assume local civil service positions." This is basically a paranoid notion that involving foreigners in running the country or performing important national services is a threat to sovereignty and national security. She was a NURSE for God's sake. She is a second generation Korean, her father forced to leave Korea for Japan and her mother a Japanese national. I don't know what's worse, this sort of discrimination against foreign workers in Japan or the fact that many third generation Koreans can't even naturalize.

This reminds me a bit about Richard Curtis who joined the volunteer fire department in Kanazawa and became an a true member of the team, but cannot participating in official ceremonies or drive the fire trucks because he's not a Japanese citizen. (Mirror of WSJ article on him here.)

Ugh. We're going to figure out how to make foreigners more welcome in Japan before we turn into a bankrupt and forgotten country with a lot of starving old people.

Thanks Ado for the link to the JT article

Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) just won a case against the karaoke bars and is now going after clubs.
CHANGING ITS TUNE: It's closing time

"I thought it was a new kind of fraud," said Naoki Kasugai, who runs Daytrip, a nightclub that offers live music in Nagoya. He received a letter from JASRAC in summer 2003 along with an invoice for a monthly charge of 28,350 yen in copyright fees, covering the entire time his bar has been open since 1997. It totaled a whopping 2.32 million yen.

Kasugai was shocked and puzzled. He had never heard from JASRAC before. He figured someone was trying to con him.

But after receiving a second invoice from JASRAC, he called to find out what was going on.

A JASRAC official came by in person to explain: "The bands you hire have likely played covers of songs by other composers. We want you to pay the copyright fees on those songs."

"How many cover songs does this account for?" asked Kasugai.

"We don't know how many copyrighted songs were played here," the official replied. "So we are not charging for each of them. Instead, we are charging on a monthly basis."


But JASRAC is ready to rock and roll, even resorting to court battles.

"Lawsuits in themselves are an effective way to spread our message," a JASRAC official says.

Lawsuits as a communication form seems like a common practice in this industry these days...

Ejovi was prevented from giving his talk by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Ejovi did the security audit on the local government system connected to the Japanese National ID system (Jyukinet) for the prefecture of Nagano. I audited his audit and wrote an opinion for Governor of Nagano last December. It does suck that they blocked is talk, which I think would have been fair and balanced as Ejovi says. However, I can easily imagine the government taking a hard stance on this considering all of the trouble they are having controlling the spin. Anyway, welcome to my world Ejovi. Ejovi, if you really want to give this talk, I think you need to do it with some political backup like Nagano or another local government.

It turns out that the typhoon has downsized to a category 2 instead of the predicted category 4 typhoon by the time Ma-On hit Japan. The Japanese evacuated a few thousand people. Many people were standing around outside. Similar category 4 hurricanes in Florida can cause will be cause for the US government to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. So why so few evacuations in Japan? Less floods because of the mountainous Japanese terrain? Better buildings? Or should the Japanese government have evacuated more people and we are just got lucky that it wasn't a category 4 in the end? I drove to dinner after the two notch downgraded typhoon and saw trees blown across the streets, and minor but visible damage. If it had been a category 4 storm, I can image many of the buildings that I saw around having been blown away. I just wonder how prepared the Japanese were and if we were just REALLY luck that the storm shrank just as it approached the islands...

Technology Review
Japanese Schools Use Computer Chips to Keep Tabs on Children

TOKYO (AP) - Cutting class just got harder but schools are safer thanks to computer chips that help track students, Japanese officials say.

Some schools here this month began trial runs in which students carry chips that have tiny antennae and can be traced by radio, with some of the kids attaching the tags to their backpacks.

The chips send signals to receivers at school gates. A computer in the system shows when a student enters or leaves.

School officials say rising concerns about student safety prompted the idea.

But student safety is still MUCH better than the rest of the world. Elementary school first graders still take public transportation to school by themselves. I think tagging is a bit over the top.
"And the kids love it - they think it's cool," he added.
Yeah. Right...

And when are they going to start tagging everyone else...

via Smart Mobs

Cory @ Boing Boing
ACLU and EFF strike down part of PATRIOT Act

EFF has helped the ACLU overturn one of the worst elements of the USA PATRIOT Act, the "National Security Letters," which were secret warrants that the Justice Department could write for itself without judicial oversight and then bind the recipients to indefinite silence. That's right: secret, no-oversight warrants with perpetual gag-orders. The ACLU brought suit against the DoJ on this one, and we filed briefs on their side, and today, a federal court struck down this part of PATRIOT as unconstitutional. BooYAH.

"Today's ruling is an important victory for the Bill of Rights, and a critical step toward reigning in the unconstitutional reach of the Patriot Act," said Kurt
Opsahl, EFF staff attorney. "The Court recognized that judicial oversight and the freedom to discuss our government's activities both online and offline are fundamental safeguards to civil liberties, and should not be thrown aside."
Once again I wish we had the EFF and the ACLU in Japan. Or rather, the kind of people and government that would encourage the creation such organizations. The US government is capable of insanity like the US PATRIOT Act, but it also has corrective mechanisms which work. Anyway, good going folks!

Two years ago I marched in protest against the Japan National ID. Last year, after we failed, a few cities and prefectures resisted. Yokohama took the position that the bill was illegal because it required privacy protection and the privacy bill had not passed. They allowed citizens to opt out and an whopping 24% of their citizens opted out. Now that the privacy bill of the central government is in place, Yokohama is being forced to "normalize" with the central government. Last year, I accepted an appoint to the Yokoyama personal information protection committee which would oversee their integration of the national ID system with the hope that I could help them in their resistance. Today, almost a year after the first meeting, I spent the afternoon in what was basically a rubber stamp session. We voiced our opinions, but at this point there really wasn't much choice. These inquiry committee are constitutionally defined organs for people to interact with the law making process, but I felt more like a cog with a rubber stamp than a participant in a democracy.

Japan Today
Creator of file-sharing software pleads not guilty to piracy

KYOTO — The creator of a program for anonymous file-sharing over the Internet pleaded not guilty on Wednesday at the Kyoto District Court to the charge that he developed the software knowing it would facilitate Internet piracy.

Isamu Kaneko, 34, who developed the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing program, is the first person in Japan to stand trial for creating software that can be used for the unauthorized reproduction of movies and video games over the Internet.

In the US, they are trying to pass a law making it illegal to induce people to break copyright law. In Japan, they act like such a law already exists. I hope the Japanese take a look at the recent US 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Grokster. It is a really bad idea to be going after the creators of technology. P2P is a VERY important technology for the future of file sharing and its application goes way beyond merely pirating commercial content. P2P architecture will enable communities to create file sharing networks without having to invest in and build centralized file servers which can be extremely expensive. It also prevents the creator of large audio and video files from having to pay for all of the bandwidth to share their work.

As PCs become more powerful and hard disks cheaper, sharing of video produced by amateurs will be a very important use for broadband Internet. P2P makes the most sense for sharing these files and banning P2P will stunt the growth of this market. It will also stunt the development of the use of large multimedia files in citizen journalism.

See the FreeKaneko site for how you can help the Isamu Kaneko.

BBC News
Accident at Japan nuclear plant

Monday, 9 August, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK

At least four people have been killed in the worst ever accident at a Japanese nuclear power plant.

Ooops. Why is it that I don't trust them when they say stuff like, "In the aftermath of the accident, no evacuation order was given to residents living near the plant, and city official Nobutake Masaki denied there was any danger to the surrounding area." This is probably because they lie. At least some people are brave enough to blow the whistle.

Rebecca is blogging from about the Japan sessions at the World Economic Forum meeting going on right now in Seoul. The theme seems to be about recovery. This year at Davos, I was in the audience and Rebecca was moderating a similar panel. Unfortunately, I'm not there this time to heckle. ;-)

Rebecca blogs:

World Economic Forum Blog
... However he [Takenaka] also said that further agressive reforms are necessary if Japan is to pull itself fully and completely out of its decade-long economic slump. He said that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is fully committed to such aggressive reform.


Takenaka concludes: "There is no excuse to postpone the reform, or to stop the reform at this moment." He says the greatest fundamental danger to economic expansion is a "kind of complacency." People who say that further reforms are unnecessary because the economy has improved are "totally wrong." Japan, he says, now has an opportunity to create a "virtuous cycle" of reform and growth.


At the Annual Meeting in Davos this past January, I moderated a panel titled Making Japan's Recovery Last . Panelists were generally optimistic that the recovery could be sustained, as long as the government continued with structural reforms. However some members of the audience including venture capitalist and WEF GLT Joi Ito expressed concern that the economic upturn would be used as an excuse not to forge ahead with tough reforms. It appears that Takenaka is determined not to let that happen. He says he has the Prime Minister's support. But what about the rest of the Japanese bureaucracy?

I hope Takenaka is right. I'm still quite concerned that economic recovery will cause people to be complacent about reform, but as Rebecca points out, the drivers for the current recovery might be different from the past. I suppose that if Takenaka and Koizumi continue to focus on this aggressive reform at home, we might have a chance.

Japan Today
Chips may be implanted in imported dogs to prevent rabies

TOKYO — Japan plans to implant microchips under the skin of imported dogs in order to prevent rabies from making inroads into the country, government officials said Tuesday.

The plan intended for strict individual recognition of imported dogs was confirmed the same day at a meeting on the nation's quarantine system against rabies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the officials said. (Kyodo News)

via Louis

I wonder when we'll be start getting records in our chips instead of stamps in our passports...

this web site '' was created by official Isamu Kaneko supporters. We are consisted by software engineers who deeply concern our freedom to create and research software.

We are conducting a publicity, and fund raising. We need a lot of attention from the people of the world. You can help us by telling the issue to your family, friends, and co-workers. Also, translation volunteers (and English proof readers) are needed to let the people know this issue. marked a million hit only a day after an opening. Also, we raised 10 million yen ($100,000) in 2weeks

Isamu Kaneko is the guy who got arrested for developing P2P software. More details about that in my earlier post.

via yonderboy

The Japan Times
Kidnap crisis poses a new risk

In Japan's case, laws are being proposed to punish those entering designated "danger zones" without an official reason.

Victims -- or their families -- will foot the bill for their rescue, which will amount to airfare, if not more. "This is standard practice for mountain rescues," one line of reasoning goes.

But consider two things: One is that an aid mission to a danger zone is not a forest stroll gone astray. The very comparison indicates a misunderstanding of what aid missions do.

The second is policy overstretch and political abuse. This law would place a degree of government control over aid organizations, something many don't want. Particularly NGOs (by very the nature of their title) eschew government support, especially when they take on problems governments would rather avoid.

Under this law, they would effectively need official permission to work in some places overseas. Those "unsponsored" who get unlucky will face a "rescue fine" -- which could bankrupt the person or the organization. Thus this new system of rents will curtail Japanese volunteerism.

The Japanese government is taking this way too far and totally agree with the author of this article that this is a bad bad thing. As I've said before, legislation during emotionally charged times often ends up being stupid and poorly thought through. The ramifications of such a law would be devastating for NGO's and aid workers from Japan, just when such activity is becoming recognized. It almost feels like some stupid conspiracy to use this incident to squash the NGO's in Japan. Bah. I have less and less respect for the Japanese government every day.

Today, an associate professor at the most prestigious university in Japan, Tokyo University was arrested today for developing a tool that enables piracy. The program is a P2P system cally Winny. Previously two of the users had been arrested. I got a call from Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) today asking me for a comment for the morning news tomorrow. I hope the print it. I think it's an absolute disgrace to Japan. While the US is fighting in congress, Hollywood pushing to ban P2P and Boucher et al are fighting for DMCRA, Japanese police go and arrest someone developing P2P software with a VERY sketchy case. The thing is, it's quite likely he will be found guilty.

I once served as an expert witness on the FLMASK case. FLMASK was a program that could be used to allow password protected scrambling of areas of an image so that porn sites could post pictures that passed the Japanese censors, but allowed users to unscramble them. The police were so upset that they cracked down on the hardcore porn sites with the argument that even with FLMASK'ed "clean" images, they would be deemed hardcore. The problem was, this left the developer of FLMASK free from claims that his software enabled anything illegal. So they busted him for LINKING to these porn sites that got busted as users of his software. They deemed linking to a porn site as the same as actually running a porn site. I was the chairman of Infoseek Japan at the time so I obviously had a lot to say about that. The amazing thing is... after overwhelming evidence of the stupidity of the allegations, the guy was found guilty.

Anyway, Japan is yet again leading the world in stupid Internet policing.

more on slashdot

AP, Reuters, NYT
Scandal drives out Koizumi aide

Fukuda, 67, the son of a prime minister, had been widely regarded as a conservative pillar in a government dominated by Koizumi's freewheeling style. His resignation highlighted the damaging disclosure over the past two weeks that a third of the cabinet members have failed to pay their pension premiums - just as the government is trying to pass a bill that would increase most citizens' premiums and reduce retirees' benefits.

I rarely say "fuck" on my blog, but "Fuck you Japanese politicians!" (Lucky the FCC doesn't control my blog... yet.) I've paid about 1/2 of all of my life earnings in tax to the Japanese government and have paid my premiums to the national pension system even though studies that I worked on at the Association of Corporate Executives showed that I would most likely not benefit from these pensions. Now it turns out many Japanese politicians don't pay their national pension premiums. Actually, a third of the cabinet members haven't paid their pension premiums. The "Vice President" of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda just resigned for not paying his premiums. This is all amid a move by the government to increase premiums and lower pay-outs. The study we did showed that unless you were about retirement age today, would would most likely not benefit from the pension system.

What's worse is that they use strong arm tactics like using the agricultural union (which hires retired bureaucrats and takes a commission) and other semi-public organizations to collect premiums from average citizens.

This is totally disgusting and I really wonder why I live and pay taxes in such a corrupt country.

An Iraqi man claiming to have spoken to the kidnappers says the hostages will be executed one by one from later tonight if the demands are not met.

Via The Command Post

The New York Times
U.S. Won't Let Company Test All Its Cattle for Mad Cow

The Department of Agriculture refused yesterday to allow a Kansas beef producer to test all of its cattle for mad cow disease, saying such sweeping tests were not scientifically warranted.

The producer, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wanted to use recently approved rapid tests so it could resume selling its fat-marbled black Angus beef to Japan, which banned American beef after a cow slaughtered in Washington State last December tested positive for mad cow. The company has complained that the ban is costing it $40,000 a day and forced it to lay off 50 employees.

The department's under secretary for marketing and regulation, Bill Hawks, said in a statement yesterday that the rapid tests, which are used in Japan and Europe, were licensed for surveillance of animal health, while Creekstone's use would have "implied a consumer safety aspect that is not scientifically warranted."

I don't know whether I trust the Japanese or the Americans more on this issue. The Japanese say they're testing all of the cows, but frankly, I have my doubts. On the other hand, the Americans won't even LET them test all of the cows so obviously, they're not all being tested. On the other hand, more people are dying in Iraq than from Mad Cow in Japan or the US so we should keep this in perspective...

via Plastic

Japan Today
Abe wants to revise Constitution to use SDF in hostage crisis

Monday, April 12, 2004 at 06:47 JST
TOKYO — Shinzo Abe, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, called Sunday for amending the Constitution to enable the government to mobilize the Self-Defense Forces in such eventualities as the current hostage crisis in Iraq.

Obviously the US doesn't have a monopoly on using tragedies and fear to push their political agenda. I personally am not against revising the constitution and I can see how it makes "political sense" to do it now, but it still bugs me. People make such stupid laws when they're emotional.

Chinese being frozen out of student visa process - The Japan Times

A poll by the Japan Times shows that the Japanese Government is making it hard for Chinese to receive student visas. Out of 3,818 Chinese applicants polled, only 27.1% were granted visas, compared to 87.6% of the 2,332 non-Chinese applicants polled. The paper quotes a Tokyo Metropolitan Police official saying, "In particular, heinous crimes committed by Chinese make up 65 percent of the total, showing an exceedingly high percentage compared with other nationals."

This trend of bashing the Chinese for criminals in Japan is a trend lead by Mayor Ishihara of Tokyo. Statistics may "show" this trend, but being unfriendly to the Chinese is not going to increase the quality of Chinese applicants. I think that in an environment where we need to increase communication with our exceedingly powerful neighbor, this policy of calling them criminals and shutting out their students is just plain stupid.

Japan Today
Friday, February 6, 2004 at 14:00 JST

TOKYO - Tokyo police sent papers to prosecutors Thursday on a businessman over use of the U.S.-made Segway scooter vehicle on a public road, an unusually strict move that marks the first time in Japan that police have taken action over people riding the two-wheeled novelty.

The police allege that the 42-year-old president of an import company in the capital's Setagaya Ward violated the Road Traffic Law by having a person drive a Segway on a public road in July last year for advertising purposes.

Last year I tried to get the government to relax its regulations to allow people to ride Segways, but they wouldn't. I gave up the idea. I actually know this guy and he was insistent that he could build a business importing Segways. I guess not. This is pretty "unusually strict" but the police hate it when you make money doing stuff that they don't approve of.

Thanks for the link Chris

japanpanelbeckyRebecca MacKinnon is moderating a Japan panel this year.

Last year, when I was on a Japan panel and MC'ing the Japan dinner, Japan was still looking dismal and my role as risk taking agitator was a good card for the Japanese to play to try to show that they were trying to change.

This year, the economy is "recovering" and the panel is populated by more of the old-school participants who are cautiously trying to explain the "turn-around" and how the "recovery" will continue.

I think the consensus is that the engine of the recovery is the restructuring of private companies and that the government policy and reforms are the oil.

I personally think that we need more fundamental changes in Japan, but I think that the incentive to make big changes will decrease as long as this fragile recovery continues. I think it's probably more constructive for me to spend my efforts on global issues and blogging until Japan needs my subversive energy again. ;-)

Comment from the audience: It's not the number of women in the women in the Japanese workforce, but rather their role in the workforce.

UPDATE: Ack! Rebecca glared at me, I shook my head, but she called on me for a comment anyway. I asked whether the more painful reforms are going to get less attention now that people are focused on the recover and making people feel comfortable.

One of the panel members disagreed with me and asserted that with political will, many of the fundamental changes will continue to happen and might even be easier.

Hmm... maybe in some areas, but I doubt it. Maybe I should have defined "fundamental changes."

Japan officially bans imports over U.S. mad cow disease case

TOKYO — The health ministry officially banned imports of U.S. beef and beef-processed products Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Thursday that a British laboratory confirmed initial U.S. test results indicating the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare notified the quarantine stations across Japan of the decision. On Wednesday, Tokyo halted imports of beef products after the USDA revealed the discovery of the case in Washington State. (Kyodo News)

I remember when Japan was first warned that we may have a BSE risk. I read about it in the Japan Times but didn't see any of the Japanese media covering it. Several months later, the first case in Japan was discovered. The country went into a panic, the government coverup machine went into overdrive but the issue punched through layer one. The had to act like they were going to do something about it. They implemented nationwide testing and tracked of the cows.

The meat packing industry is one of the most "organized" industries in Japan. I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no faith in the Japanese government's claim that they have checked all of the cows. The Japanese are claiming that since they check all of the cows, Japan is the safest in the world. The Japanese bureaucracy has rarely shown itself to be trustworthy on self-regulatory issues. For instance, the health ministry has been under investigation for some sort of ethical issue almost continuously ever since I was born.

I saw one ripple in the fabric when talking to a source I can not reveal here. Although they are supposed to tag and track all of the cows that are born and shipped around Japan, in fact the networks are prefectural and do not track the cows as they cross prefectures. When said acquaintance complained about the ineffectiveness of such a system, he was told to look the other way and move on. They said that it was a "dangerous area" he was treading in. I have no idea whether they fixed this system, but I doubt it.

So please excuse me if I laugh when the health ministry so proudly claims that Japan's beef is safer than American beef because of all of the effort they have put into this.

Yesterday's discussions opened with a speech by Murata-sensei about the US. Here are some of my notes.

His main point was that the Japanese do not understand the US and should study more before making assumptions and decisions about the US.

There are notes that I took during the talk. Some of the figures and statements may have been misheard. If anyone has better stats or knows the sources of these stats, please let me know.

There are basically three ways to look at the strength of a nation. It's military force, the economy and the values. Values include information and culture. The US clearly the military leader, is 1/4 of the world economy, 80-90% of the Net is still in English and Hollywood is 75% of the world cinema market.

Bush has shifted a great deal from his original position of focused alliances and not sending troops to a "coalition of the willing and able" and sending troops.

Before Bush there was a great deal of focus on the Blue Team/Red Team (Anti-China/Pro-China). You rarely hear these terms these days.

The Japanese talk a lot about American Neo-Conservatism without really understanding it. The Japanese don't realize that it's specific term referring to people like Leo Strauss.

US nationalism, unlike most any other country is focused on the political system and system of government which makes it quite unique.

The US is quite religious. (not sure if I got these numbers right) 72% of Muslims polled think religion is "important" whereas 85% of Americans thought religion was "important".

18% of people in a poll thought they they were "Religious Right Wing". 12% of Americans are African-Americans. Approximately 9% of Japanese are Soka Gakkai which back the Komeito Party. His point was that even at 9% the Komeito Party is able to exert a great deal of influence over policy in Japan and this shows how powerful a force religion is in US politics.

Some people clump the neo-cons together with the religious right, but that's not very accurate. The neo-con's are rather elitist and focused on foreign policy and military issues. Most religious right are populist and more concerned with guns, religion and domestic issues.

There are approximately 6 million Jews in the US, approximately the same as the population of Israel. However, most Japanese over-estimate the influence that Jews have on US politics.

There are around 5 million Muslims in France and Germany compared to 60 million total population putting them at around 6-7% of the population. This affects their differences in opinion about the Middle East.

The US thinks there is a great deal of anti-semitism, whereas the EU and Japan feel that the US is too pro-Israel.

In a recent European poll about who was the greatest threat to world peace, 59% said Israel. Second place was a tie between the US, Iraq and Iran.

He felt that the Bush administration was changing in a positive way to adapt to the current issues.

Many well known people in Europe predicted that such a diverse country as the US would never be able to conduct global diplomacy or become a super-power because of the lack of culture, diplomatic tradition and diversity. They were obviously wrong.

If Japan today at the power that the US had, would Japan be as humble as the US is today? Historically, military might was abused during WWII and during the bubble, Japan abused its economic power. Therefore, the US is handling its power better than Japan would. China is still not ready to wield super-power. The only other country that MIGHT be able to handle itself is the UK.

Regarding the US/Japan relationship. it is asymmetrical and regardless of what the Japanese think they are not equal. There is nothing in Japan's power that will reverse the relationship regardless how well Japan does. The only chance that it would change is if there is an internal failure in the US system. This asymmetry is understood logically by Japan, but not emotionally and causes a great deal of frustration. One risk is that even if Bush stays for another term, Powell will probably leave, taking Armitage. There will be no obvious Japan expert on the team. Also, there is no obvious Japan expert on the Democratic side either. This could hurt relations between the two countries.

The Japanese understanding of the US is shallow. Most Japanese law students haven't even read the US constitution. Most of Japan's understanding of the US is economic or cultural.

"People who know only one country could not even understand their own country."

Japan is maybe lucky because the bubble burst at the end of the cold war. There was a risk that Japan could be cast as the next enemy, but the new weaker Japan did not become a target.

People complain that the US has too much power, but if it had total power, it would also be able to control the UN, which it does not.

The EU looks at the US and Middle East as immature nations which have not been able to separate the Church and the State. Europe had many bloody years of history to achieve this and the US and Islam are still coming to terms with this.

It's likely that Japan will send troops to Iraq. 60% of the people are against it, yet 60% of the people support Koizumi who has vowed to send the troops. It's likely that some of the soldiers will die. The question that is on everyone's mind is how many dead Japanese soldiers will it take before Koizumi's cabinet unwinds.

Just had an interesting lunch conversation about the Japanese military. There is a famous Japanese military head. (I didn't catch the name...) who wrote a book about the retreat from China. In it he remembers the military leaving all of the Japanese civilians behind. Okinawa was similar, where the military used the civilians as shields and ran away. This is in contrast to the image from the US where the battle of Iwo Jima and others cast the Japanese military is tough and stick-to-your-guns type. I think Iwojima was a anomaly because the tunnel network required on the island caused the US to underestimate the strength of the resistance.

The Japanese remember the military as a cowardly and powerful and remember the police state during wartime Japan and do not want to relive it.

I asked another question that came up during the Japan Society meeting about why the Japanese have so much difficulty accepting war responsibility compared to Germany. Japan was united under the Emperor and at the end of the day, all Japanese are guilty whereas in Germany they could blame it on the Nazis. Also, Japan was never invaded so people don't remember the war much, whereas Germany and other countries who were invaded with land forces remember family being killed, etc. There are other reasons, but these were rather interesting.

I will post my notes the main session in a bit.

The session on the second day of the Japan Society roundtable was amazing. It was so full of interesting opinions by so many experts that I really had very little to add. I uncharacteristically just sat there and took notes.

Here are some of the notes.

It appears that there are two risk scenarios for the ascension of China as a super-power. One risk is that it doesn't happen and a failure in the Chinese economy would cause a global crisis. The other risk is that China is so successful that it becomes so powerful that it is a threat to the region. It appears that the Chinese are much more worried of failing whereas the rest of the world is more afraid of their success.

Regarding US/Japan relations. There was an interesting opinion raised that some Japanese believe that the Chinese reaction to the Prime Minister visiting Yasukuni shrine is an over-reaction. They believe that the Chinese are intentionally difficult about historical issues to keep a rift between Japan and China for political and other purposes. The LDP which is based on economic grown and a strong relationship with the US has failed on the economy so is working very hard to deliver a good relationship with the US in light of the difficulty with China. Other people opined that relations between China and Japan have never been better in the last 100 years.

It was pointed out that 60% of people in Japan are against sending Japanese troops to Iraq. Koizumi has stated that he will definitely send troops to Iraq. Still, 60% of people support Koizumi.

Japanese people are generally supportive of the strong personal relationship between Bush and Koizumi.

Another interesting observation was that when Japan was confident and economically strong, many people were afraid of any addition expansion of the Japanese military. Now with Japan weaker and less confident, people seem to be positive of expanding Japan's role in security.

The issue of why Japan was so different from Germany in acknowledging history and deploy troops in peacekeeping operations was raised. The paradox of Japanese not feeling guilty for the war, yet being pacifist or negative about sending troops was raised. It was noted that this is an old discussion. There were arguments that Japan and Germany were actually very similar and other arguments that they were not. The regional difference of neighboring countries in in Europe urging Germany to participate in peacekeeping in Europe vs. most Asian countries relatively negative about the idea of rearming Japan also played a role.

One opinion about why the Japanese people do not want to expand the military was that the Japanese people did not feel that they could trust the government with addition power and did not like the image of the police state. In fact, they remember the pre-war Japanese police state and also the military being out of control. They feel that politicians and civilians can not control the bureaucracy. I personally feel this way.

The issue of the revisionist right wing text books was raised. One opinion was that these right wing revisionists were actually not the main stream, but a reaction. Only 0.3% of school actually ended up using the revised texts and the movement is considered a failure.

The issue of whether the strong US/Japan alliance was actually a good thing. Several people opined that allowing Japan to have more multilateral relationships might allow it to become more "normal." Everyone had difficulty defining "normal" but someone observed that "normal" usually meant countries willing to use force. Having said that, there were negative opinions about the UN as a multilateral relationship vehicle and the idea of a Pacific NATO like security organization was raised. Several people said that it was difficult since NATO was based on a very specific threat, the Soviet Union, which countries rallied under. There is really not a very strong trigger for such an organization now. Others disagreed. They felt that if the US was a referee and supported this in the way Clinton supported the formation of APEC, it might happen, but that the US didn't seem very interested.

It was pointed out that since Japan is aging so quickly, it can not be motivated very strongly to grow its military. Most countries which expanded security forces were usually countries that had a lot of young people. It was noted that the Kim Jon Il said during his trip across Russia on the train, that he had "too many people." This is one reason why he might be happier to send troops to war than Japan where there are so few young people. Another point was that people-to-people contact and tourism has increased significantly. Visas to Korea from Japan have been dropped and many people are traveling to China. The third point was that the economies were becoming increasingly integrated. For these reasons, it was unlikely that Japan would become a military threat or that a war in Asia was likely (other than the North Korea risk.) In counterpoint, another person pointed out that there were no visas and there was a great deal of economic interdependence in Europe right before World War I.

It was also pointed out that until 10 or 20 years ago, the Japanese were always forced to choose between interest in Asia or interest in the West. Recently this is no longer the case. Japan can be close to Asia as well as a strong US partner. In fact, a strong China/US/Japan multilateral relationship could be truly win-win.

We talked a lot about FTA's. An opinion was raised that if Koizumi was able to win this coming election, that he would probably have enough political power to push back on agriculture to open FTA and would revise the constitution.

Participated in an interesting roundtable discussion this morning organized by the Japan Society. I was told I could write about it but I couldn't attribute quotes without permission.

There were representatives from the US, China, Taiwan and Korea.

An interesting point that was raised was that the older generation conservatives in Japan were unrealistic because they had been protected by the US, whereas the conservatives in South Korea were realistic enough to deal with the unrealistic Japanese. On the other hand, the younger generation in South Korea were unrealistic because they had not experienced the Korea war and the threat of North Korea, whereas the Japanese younger generation seemed to be more realistic. The point was that when the South Korean younger generation became more realistic, a stronger tie to Japan might be realized.

I think it was the consensus of the group that the constitution of Japan should be revised to allow Japan to participate in peacekeeping operations, improve self-defense and improve the alliance with the US. Everyone agreed that the relationship with the US was in good shape right now, but that failure to deal with the North Korea situation could lead to a disagreement about whether Japan should go nuclear, the US should attack or a variety of issues on how to deal with North Korea. However, the North Korea crisis in any event is helping the US/Japan relationship for now and the trend is probably to push for strengthening the alliance and try to get Japan included in the US missile defense system. The other area where the relationship my become problematic is if the US is not supportive of Japan's efforts to help organize ASEAN+3 and other Asian economic trade organization that exclude the US. Both of these seemed to be manageable issues.

With respect to the "identity of Japan"... There was an opinion raised that Japan should push to democratize Asia as the leading democracy in Asia. There were some opinions that "democracy" was politically touchy since there were friendly non-democracies in ASEAN countries and words like "governance" or "open and tolerant societies" might be better. I argued (as usual) that Japan was not a democracy so it was strange for Japan to that democracy was Japan's identity. Also, democracy requires embracing diversity which we do not do at home. Until we embrace diversity at home, we will not be very convincing when going to try to promote democracy abroad. I said that we should focus on dealing with diversity and racism at home and become and example rather than trying to push it abroad. I said that I thought we shouldn't under-estimate the emotional rift between Japan and other Asian countries and that we needed to deal with this before trying to be an Asian leader.

I also pointed out that the baby boomers were still in power in Japan and the bureaucracy including the foreign ministry didn't represent the young people in Japan. I said that until the changing of the guard it was unlikely that things would really change much. I thought that social entrepreneurship, weblogs and other non-traditional foreign relations between young people was probably going to have a larger effect on reaching out to Asia. I asserted that I thought the grassroots movements and activating the voice of the people, not more bureaucratic deliberations about foreign policy were probably more important.

Also, the point of whether national identity should have anything to do with foreign policy was raised.

The Japan Time
'REGAINING PUBLIC SAFETY' - Cops to sniff out illegal foreigners in Tokyo


Immigration authorities, police and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Friday they will take joint action to halve the number of foreigners without visas in the capital within five years.

The Justice Ministry's Immigration Bureau, the bureau's Tokyo branch, the metropolitan government and the Metropolitan Police Department issued a joint statement saying they would cooperate more closely toward this goal.

They believe that half of the estimated 250,000 undocumented foreigners in Japan live or work in Tokyo.

"An increasing number of visaless foreigners engage in serious crimes, and it is pointed out that the problem is closely linked to organized crime by foreigners," Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa asserted during Friday's news conference.

This is all part of Governor Ishihara's ethnic cleansing of Tokyo thing. He's blaming all of the horrible crimes on "foreigners" and using that to ramp up police force and will probably lead to increased intrusions of privacy.

I do know that there have been increased activity of foreign organized crime groups in Japan, but his talking about "criminal DNA" in foreigners is horrible and will just help justify people in looking away when heavy handed police tactics are used on foreigners in Japan. Bad bad bad...

Right on Gen. Rock on Funabashi-san. I met Yoichi Funabashi back in May 2000. He was getting started on the "make English Japan's second language" thing, which I was obviously extremely supportive of. ;-)

Yoichi Funabashi's a smart, balanced guy we should listen to who can speak/write in English. We should get this man a blog...

Karl-Friedrich Lenz explains the new Japanese copyright law reform on Lenz blog.

I was just appointed committee member of the Committee for the Protection of Identification Information for the City of Yokohama. I was appointed by Hiroshi Nakada, the mayor of Yokohama. Yokohama is one of the most active opponents of the Japanese Basic Resident Code system and has made it optional for the residents of the City of Yokohama. Mayor Nakada argues (rightly) that the current Basic Resident Code law is illegal because there is not sufficient privacy protection as originally mandated in the law. This argument is quite valid until the privacy bill passes. The privacy bill is being deliberated in the Diet at this moment. I believe, and have said publicly, that this privacy bill currently being drafted is too strong on business and too lenient on bureaucrats and would not constitute strong privacy vis a vis the issue of National ID.

Currently of the 3,450,000 residents of Yokohama, 845,000 people have opted out of receiving national ID's. When the privacy bill passes, it is likely that Yokohama will have to hook its network up to the national network. Yokohama has passed a local bill and created this small committee of five people to advise the mayor who has made it clear in the bill that Yokohama would disconnect their local system from other prefectures and the national system in the event that there was evidence of privacy failures in the system. The bill states that the mayor will seek the advice of the committee to judge whether such privacy breaches have occurred and what they should do about it.

The press conference just ended so there is no press yet, but I will provide links if there is any press coverage.

Mayor Nakada is 38 year old, young for a Japanese mayor. He was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum this year.

So, after a discussion about fair use and copyright, I decided to upload a short rant that I did on the panel in Davos about the Blueprint for Japan 2020 this year. It is a QT .mov file and is 4MB. It was taped from an NHK broadcast of a Davos special. The audio is stereo with Japanese on the left channel and English on the right.

I received the following email on the GLT list from Matthew.

Date: Tue Feb 18, 2003 12:01:37 AM Japan
To: GTL's
Subject: Truth, Childish Behaviour and War

1 Truth
The French maintain that Saddam is "a spent force", the Americans are saying "millions may die"; both leaderships have access to the same data on Iraq, but the statements are contradictory. Maybe neither is lying, but surely the "truth" is more than the mere absence of a lie? Doesn't the "truth" means telling things the way they really are without distortion or exaggeration? The lowest point for truth in the Iraq debate was the UK's "intelligence report" which contained bits of an old doctoral thesis pirated off the Internet (with the language altered slightly to make it more exciting).

A London magazine had this to say at the weekend "As war approaches, it will be safest to assume that every statement issued by Washington, London or Baghdad is absolute nonsense".

2 Childish Behaviour
To make things worse, Western leaders have started to use the language of the school playground to describe each other and their respective countries.

3 War
War is a serious issue and needs to be treated with a little more respect, I think this is the main reason why 5 million people protested against war on Iraq at the weekend.


I think the key phrase is "War is a serious issue and needs to be treated with a little more respect". This war is a VERY complicated issue. In fact, it is a COMPLEX issue. It highlights the fact that our representatives CAN NOT understand or communicate the issues. The attention span of the mass media is like the movie Memento and can't remember what it was saying a few minutes ago. It is a structured process breaking down as a chaotic world engulfs it.

I argue in my emergent democracy paper that maybe blogs will enable a process of demoracy similar to the way ants, slime molds and brains "think." The difficulty is that we humans think we're pretty smart and don't trust things that we can't understand or think for ourselves. That's what trust is for. You have to think locally and trust that everyone is doing that. Then you can build a network where no one node knows the whole of it, but it works. Dee Hock who writes about chaordics designed the Visa network to be this way. So if you're an ant, how do you know if your colony is smart? I guess if you're happy, that's a good sign. How do you measure emergence?

Maybe this war is a good opportunity to test whether the war blog debate, the mass media debate, the UN debate or the US government's own internal thinking is the smartest. How do we measure this? I guess you can't... but maybe we can examine the "quality" of the debate.

I posted this back in 1998, but I'm going to post it again. Tocqueville was a Frenchman who visited the US and wrote a book called "Democracy in America" in 1835.

Alexis de Tocqueville
From time to time, indeed, enterprising and ambitious men will arise in democratic communities whose unbounded aspirations cannot be contented by following the beaten track. Such men like revolutions and hail their approach; but they have great difficulty in bringing them about unless extraordinary events come to their assistance. No man can struggle with advantage against the spirit of his age and country; and however powerful he may be supposed to be, he will find it difficult to make his contemporaries share in feelings and opinions that are repugnant to all their feelings and desires.

It is a mistake to believe that, when once equality of condition has become the old and uncontested state of society and has imparted its characteristics to the manners of a nation, men will easily allow themselves to be thrust into perilous risks by an imprudent leader or bold innovator. Not indeed that they will resist him openly, by well-contrived schemes, or even by a premeditated plan of resistance. They will not struggle energetically against him, sometimes they will even applaud him; but they do not follow him. To his vehemence they secretly oppose their inertia, to his revolutionary tendencies their conservative interests, their homely tastes to his adventurous passions, their good sense to the flights of his genius, to his poetry their prose. With immense exertion he raises them for an instant, but they speedily escape from him and fall back, as it were, by their own weight. He strains himself to rouse the indifferent and distracted multitude and finds at last that he is reduced to impotence, not because he is conquered, but because he is alone.

Sounds pretty lonely. Luckily, being a leader today doesn't mean you're along. In fact, you're just one of the catalysts. I felt a bit strange leading the emergent democracy "Happening" when we were trying to find emergence where there was not supposed to be a leader or a pacemaker. Mitch mentioned that management as defined by Dee Hock was about being lead by the group and managing things above you. (versus the tradition notion of management being something that leaders do to followers) You're a leader as long as people look to you to be the catalyst. So, I wonder... Do leaders "emerge"? What does leadership have to do with Clay's power law discussion? My sense that people who are "different" and express their point of view will be discovered when society needs that point of view. It's like some antibody or some catalyst waiting for the right situation to be useful. This is very different from the single source of power/power broker sort of control oriented leadership. The old way to lead was to find the source of power, take it over and then control. Now maybe it is to find some point of view, feel strongly about it and blog blog blog. Be the difference that makes a difference.

I've posted a two movies clips I took at the anti-war parade in Shibuya. The first one is a 1.7MB QT movie of the Japanese drummers and the second one is a 780K QT movie of the big black flags of the anarchics waving in the air walking down Koendori in front of the Marui department store. I imagined that we were marching for the overthrow of the Japanese government for a moment. ;-)

I plan to attend the anti-war demonstrations on February 15th in Shibuya, Tokyo. This is likely to become the single largest day of protest in world history.
I'm going too. Thanks for the tip Karl-Friedrich. Should we try to organize a blog mob? Who else is going? Is there a poster party before?

I did an interview with Irene a couple of months ago about the government's idea about bailing out small businesses. I blogged about how throwing it around or letting so called "experts" doesn't make sense. Having said that, we received funding from a government backed fund which is managed by professionals. Singapore also has a variety of well manged government funds. If the government is going to put money into the market, choosing the right people to run the fund is essential. The "old way" just greases the political machine. The difficulty is choosing the people who choose the companies and make the investments. Transparency is probably a good place to start. Incentives are also important. The devil is in the details and it's quite difficult.

Business Week
FEBRUARY 7, 2003
By Irene M. Kunii

Don't Stifle Your Entrepreneurs, Japan
The bureaucrats and politicians who have presided over a decade of economic woe need to encourage startups, not stymie them

Koizumi seems to understand that Japan can only benefit from more entrepreneurial activity. Now he needs to realize that serving up fresh pork isn't the way to nurture the young business leaders the country so desperately needs.

In September last year, I blogged about the Tokyo Electric Power Co., lying to the government about the cracks in the nuclear power plant. This was a huge scandal where the president and the chairman of Tokyo Electric Power resigned. Asahi had reported that the whistleblower was fired after the whistleblowing and METI had reported that he was fired before.

As you know, I am a strongly in favor of figuring out how to protect whistleblowers. They may seem "unethical" to typical Japanese small group oriented ethics, but when thinking about global ethics, it is essential that people think ethically outside of their groups and speak up when necessary... I've been working on the Japanese whistleblower protection bill. (Although the final version seems quite weak and not at all what I had recommended...)

Sakiyama-san wrote a comment in the entry today about this and also mentioned that Asahi has removed their article about the TEPCO incident. Coincidentally, I have been exchanging email with the whistleblower and just got permission to post the email exchange.
Disclaimer: I have no way to confirm for sure that I am interacting with the real whistleblower, but I can't think of a motive to lie to me and he sounds sincere.I have confirmed the identity of the whistleblower.

Date: Fri Feb 7, 2003 06:52:53 Asia/Tokyo
Subject: Tepco Scandal

To Joi

I saw an article off the Internet that stated the individual who brought to light the Tepco scandal was fired from his job. That is incorrect. I was laid off in June of 1998 and due to GE's overwhelming integrity throughout my career I was compelled to reciprocate in June of 2000. GE Nuclear is rampant with cronyism, riddled with nepotism and racism in my over 20 years of service with them.

Former GE Senior Field Services Engineer

--- Joichi Ito wrote:
To clarify... You were laid off before the scandal, but you participated in the whistle blowing in June of 2000?

When you say, "overwhelming integrity" at GE, what are you referring to?

I'd love to write something about this if possible.


- Joi

Date: Fri Feb 7, 2003 15:37:05 Asia/Tokyo
To: Joichi Ito
Subject: Re: Tepco Scandal


Overwhelming is my sarcastic reply actually meaning they GE have no integrity. I gave GE a chance to show integrity for two years after my layoff but they refused to come to the table.I had no choice but to come forward with integrity. I had no idea it involved so many but I am not surprised.

Date: Fri Feb 7, 2003 15:38:13 Asia/Tokyo
To: Joichi Ito
Subject: Re: Tepco Scandal


I don't want my name released to the public at this time although Japanese news agencies received leaks and contacted me in California last September. No interviews were given. METI will not even release my name or allegation documents. I just wanted to make a correction to the Internet article.

I wonder who leaked the information about him/her to the press. What prevents the same sources from leaking information to other sources? Doesn't sound like very good "protection" to me.

I gave a presentation about Japan last year at the Trilateral Commission which ended up in the Wall Streeet Journal and also did a presentation with Oki Matsumoto for the GLT Annual Meeting which are both a bit more fact based than the current essay I have written...

Here are some supporting figures about the aging population and the lack of diversity and risk taking in Japan.

(1) Population
A quarter of the population will be over 65 years old, and at the same time, children 14 years or less will represent only half of the population of 65 or older – Japan will be the oldest nation in the world.

(2) Financial burden of this ageing population:
The current average annual burden on a worker (taxes, medical insurance and public pension): approx. 2.5 million yen, or about 20,000 dollars US. By 2020, this would have more than doubled, to 6.2 million, or about 50,000 dollars US.

(3) From 2024, the actual GDP growth rate might become negative as an on-going trend: by 2025, current account will be in deficits, which, combined with the already aggravated fiscal account deficit, will result in Japan having a twin-deficit problem as a permanent burden.

Entrepreneurship is not socially accepted
Percentage “yes” on item: People you know respect those starting a new business - 1999
Japan 10% US almost 100%

Lack of diversity
4% of the top universities provide 32% of the CEO's for public companies

Mitch Ratcliffe comments on my essay and writes about how the US faces similar problems. He makes some great points about how corporate interests are taking over the political system.

Interesting article in the Economist entitled: "A pervasive web will increase demands for direct democracy"
Good article that points out a variety of ways the Net moves democracy to the next level.
first seen on JD's Blog

I have been criticized as being a "Japan Basher" for my comments about the dysfunctional Japanese democracy. I'd like to point out that I criticize everything that I think is wrong and don't discriminate by nationality. I don't think Japan is the only country with problems. In fact, I think that many countries have similar problems with their democracy.

Joi Ito has posted some thoughts about Japan's problems, and he could just as well be speaking about the USA.

Some notes from Colin Powell's talk.

Colin Powell is turning the weapons inspection debate around and is saying that Iraq needs to account for the anthrax, the mobile labs, the delivery weapons and other weapons that the UN knows that it had. There are no tell-tale signs of disarmament. Iraq need to account for the weapons. The inspectors can't be expected to find the weapons. "Iraq must participate in disarmament process or be disarmed."

"We will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction."

"United States has no intention of invading North Korea... At the same time, we keep all of our options on the table."

Powell, is a great speaker and very convincing. He should be the President of the United States. He made me feel more supportive of US actions with his remarks about the thought process behind his decisions.

Comment from a fellow GLT: "Maybe Bush made Powell say he wouldn't run for President since he is so much more eloquent and much more likely to be successful in creating partnerships in Europe that he would be a threat to Bush and undermine his power." Interesting thought. That may be true. If that is true, maybe Powell will run for President once it becomes evident that Bush will not be able to win the next election.

As the US starts to spin up towards the war, the bloggers are starting to take positions. One of the things that Larry Lessig and I talked about a lot was the feeling that it was OK to talk about politics on blogs. Well, as thoughts turn to feelings and feelings turn to action, I think that we will start testing and stressing the little network of blogs we call a home. When I wrote about the Iranian round-up, I found some of my good friends disagreeing with me and even got email pointing out the irony of discussing US problems on a Japanese blog. Kuro5hin has an article bashing O'Keefe human shield. What's interesting is that just because we all agree on copyright, open standards and MetaWeblog API, it doesn't mean that we all have the same politics. I've generally been avoiding the topic of war and the peace movement and have been feeling VERY guilty that I haven't been writing more about Lisa Rein's activities in protesting the treatment of immigrants. I just sensed that it was a "hot" area and that I needed to prepare before going there…

Over the last few months I've heard arguments from some of the most persuasive pro-war advocates. My belief after hearing the arguments is that the war will probability be a long war with lots of stuff to do afterwards. (No clear opposition group in Iraq to rebuild Iraq after they oust Hussein.) If you consider the cost (human and financial) of what happens after the beginning of the war it's just not worth it. It looks to me like a re-election campaign for GW Bush causing America to make a very stupid decision which will cost the world money and grief. This is another Vietnam. I am against the war and anyone who is not should think carefully about the motives of the president of the United States and think step-by-step about what happens to freedom in the US after Total Information Awareness spins up and what happens in Iraq and the rest of the world after you have started the war. THINK ABOUT IT.

Saw this first on Boing Boing

Well, you know you're onto something BIG when China bans what you're doing...

Blogistan, 2000[GMT] 10 January, 2003:

"Bloggers" from all over China are reporting that they are unable to access their on-line journals or "blogs".

Journals hosted at and other blog providers have joined a growing list of sites blocked by Chinese authorities.

Idei-san pondering the future of Japan...
We had a meeting of the members participating the World Economic Forum panel at Davos on the Blueprint for Japan 2020. It's such a huge issue... I showed everyone the picture that we drew (on my Mac... oops! ;-) ). Idei-san has been using the term "quantum leap" instead of "reform" and shared some of his views of Japan's problems with us. We still have some more homework to do before the panel, but I think we all agreed on the major points. I was appointed to be join Heizo Takenaka, the Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy and for Financial Services on his panel which will follow our panel. There are three panels on Japan and I'm the messenger from our panel to his. I wonder who's on the other panel. Anyway, we're the first one so I think we can set the tone.

Saw this on David Farber's IP list.

The Biggest Threat To Peace
Which country really poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003? TIME asks for readers' views

Interestingly, I found this on Mitch Ratcliffe's blog. Now I'm reading US blogs for Japanese news.

Mitch Racliffe
I wonder what Joi Ito thinks about this approach.
Ministry wants techs to go it alone - The Asahi Shimbun

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is looking for ways to motivate technical experts working for large companies to start up their own businesses.

The measure is an attempt to make more efficient use of skills that remain underutilized in corporations.

The ministry intends to establish a 10-member study group comprising academics and industry experts this month. The group will discuss specific rules and measures for supporting technicians who are willing to set up new companies. The results will be compiled in a March report.

Well, I think people's first impression is probably the right one. Sometimes these study groups are interesting to participate in, but usually no one reads the reports. It may end up turning into funding, regulatory waiver laws or something like that, but it won't change the basic underlying reason people don't spin out of big companies. Big companies are comfortable, low risk, still relatively high returns (big retirement bonuses) and very prestigious. There is a survey by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor that shows that in 1999, people asked whether "people around you respect entrepreneurs" 90% of Japanese answered "no". Almost 100% of the people interviewed in Spain and about 80% in the US answered "yes". Why? Because, you have to be damn stupid or a loser to not keep your cushy job in a big company. Japan is still low-risk / high-return for people following the "elite" path. There's not much a committee can do about this, and most people are already aware of this.

Alex posted a comment in Lessig's blog that since Japan has an over 90% conviction rate, it didn't matter that you are guilty until proven innocent. ToastyKen else said it was because the government prosecutes only when they know they are right. Both have some truth. The problem is that judges are reviewed by the bureaucrats and their careers depend on not rocking the boat. It is NOT an independent judiciary.

I found an interesting paper about this. Too bad I can't download the whole thing.

Ramseyer & Rasmusen
Why Is the Japanese Conviction Rate So High?

J. Mark Ramseyer (Harvard Law School)

Eric Rasmusen (Indiana University)

Conviction rates in Japan exceed 99 percent -- why? On the one hand, because Japanese prosecutors are badly understaffed they may prosecute only their strongest cases and present judges only with the most obviously guilty defendants. On the other, because Japanese judges can be reassigned by the administrative office of the courts if they rule in ways the office does not like, judges may face biased career incentives to convict. Using data on the careers and opinions of 321 Japanese judges, we conclude that judges who acquit do indeed have worse careers following the acquittal. On closer examination, though, we find that the punished judges are not judges who acquitted on the ground that the prosecutors charged the wrong person. Rather, they are the judges who acquitted for reasons of statutory or constitutional interpretation, often in politically charged cases. Thus, the apparent punishment of acquitting judges seems unrelated to any pro-conviction bias at the judicial administrative offices, and the high conviction rates probably reflect low prosecutorial budgets instead.

So this Blueprint for Japan 2020 that Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum got us started on is not ready, as you can tell from my sloppy postings still groping for the question, let alone the answer. But January is the due date and we're on primetime now.

Next Sunday, Sony's chairman, Idei-san, has invited me to join him on Hodo 2001, a Sunday morning news program which is fairly widely watched to talk about the future of Japan. The week after that, I've been invited by Idei-san to to join the Sony Open Forum in Hawaii where I will be one of two speakers. My topic is... "Blueprint for Japan." The other speaker is Richard Smith, the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of NewsWeek. It's a small but interesting group of a dozen or so outsiders and Sony top management. The theme this year is "Management in the Era of Uncertainty". Also participating are Rob Glaser, the Chairman of RealNetworks, Yoshihiko Miyauchi, the Chairman and CEO of Orix Corporation and Hisashi Hieda, the Chairman of Fuji Television. Unfortunately, the details are confidential so I can't blog much. (I got approval to blog the above.) Then I've got the panel at Davos which I think will be moderated by Carlos Ghosn, the president of Nissan Motor Co., and Oki Matsumoto, Idei-san, maybe a politician and I will be on the panel. Later that evening, we will be presenting the Blueprint at the Japan dinner hosted by the Association of Corporate Executives. So... I'm not asking for sympathy, but at least you know why I'm in a bit of a pickle since I don't know exactly what my position is on "this whole thing." It's really both an opportunity to sound really smart or look VERY stupid over and over again... I will write another entry about the style on my blog, but I just want to apologize in advance for possibly dragging everyone through a rather sloppy thinking process as I try to figure stuff out.

As I struggle to prepare my thoughts for the Davos Blueprint for Japan 2020 panel, I keep ending up at the conclusion that Japan is not a functioning democracy. Although it is a loop, the lack of transparency, the lack of an open function market, the lack of a free and independent media, the lack of a functioning judiciary... All of these things point to the fact that we don't have a democracy. I'm not blaming anyone for this and I think that many people are sincerely trying to reform Japan, but I do believe that it is much deeper than just some stimulation packages and lip service to transparency.

Larry talks about the "Framers" in "The Future of Ideas" and what he says about them sounds pretty good. It sounds like the "Framers" really tried very hard to structure a democracy that is robust against corruption and able to self-correct. So, I decided to ask Professor Lessig about democracy. (It sure is nice having a comparative constitutional law professor in the neighborhood. ;-) )

Professor Lessig gave me some great things to think about which I thought I would share. (This may not be very new to people who don't live in a totalitarian state... if there is such a think these days...)

The first thing he said that made a lot of sense is that a democracy requires multiple points of authority to criticize and check power. This may seem obvious and is the spirit behind the separation of the three branches of government, but it goes beyond that. It's giving power to the states. (In Japan's case, the governors.) It's a free media. It's a bunch of different points of authority which structurally allow a competition of ideas and well-regulated criticism. For this, authorities with a strong sense of the ethics of independence are necessary.

Professor Lessig defined democracy as a competition of ideas. I think he is right on.

So this is where blogging comes in. We both agreed that there is a sense of well-regulated critical discussion about politics and other important topics on blogs. Blogging has been around for awhile now, but is still in its infancy. If we can develop the Internet into a method that enables a competition of ideas and a well-regulated critical dialog, we may be able enable one of the key factors missing from many non-democracies. A public dialog which engages the people. (By the way, the "press" when the Framers were writing the Constitution were individuals with printing presses, not the massive media companies.)

Sorry about this sloppy entry. I just wanted to get this out before I forgot. I'll post more over the holidays as I prepare my presentation, but the key lesson of today's lunch was: Focus on the "competition of ideas" and MAYBE everything will follow. Maybe it's a blog-enabled public and a league of powerful governors that will lead Japan into the next stage...

Doc Searls writes about an article in the Santa Barbara News-Press about UCSB history professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa and his theory. The newspaper says:
Santa Barbara News-Press
The historical record holds that Japan surrendered in response to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. Revisionists argue that the Japanese were already defeated at the time, and the atomic bombs were used simply to intimidate the Soviet Union.

Mr. Hasegawa dismisses both views as "very, very American-centric."
It was Josef Stalin's final-hour declaration of war on Japan that marked the end of the conflict in the Pacific, according to Mr. Hasegawa, whose specialties include Russian and Soviet history as well as Russo-Japanese relations.

Obviously, this is very relevant to the current "War-on-Terror" and is an important part of Japanese history. Japan is still struggling with Russia over the islands that the Russians claimed as theirs after the war...

Doc's entry has a bigger quote and some interesting thoughts. Go there for more info...


Penn's trip into the heart of enemy territory disgusted many Americans and won him the nickname "Baghdad Sean," a takeoff on the "Hanoi Jane" moniker Jane Fonda earned by visiting North Vietnam in 1971.
Good for Sean. It tooks guts for him to go to Iraq and I commend him for it. Shame on Iraq for screwing it up.

I first met Sean in 1991 or so when I was associate to the executive producer for the movie, Indian Runner which Sean Penn directed. The movie did OK at Canne, but ended up not doing well in the box office. The movie was a lot of fun starring people like David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Patricia Arquette, and Valeria Golino. It was my first and last job on a movie set, but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Later, when we were promoting the movie in Japan, I also took care of Sean in Tokyo and acted as his interpreter. I found Sean to be a really funny and very intelligent guy who I now greatly respect. He also introduced me to Heather, a good friend of Winona Ryder's, who was living in Tokyo at the time and who I still keep in touch with.

Anyway... I think this took a lot of guts and makes my previous entry about my fear of criticism seem quite trivial.

saw Xeni's post on Boing Boing

Top Stories - Reuters
Hundreds of Muslim Immigrants Rounded Up in Calif.
Wed Dec 18, 8:47 PM ET
By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of Iranian and other Middle East citizens were in southern California jails on Wednesday after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with immigration authorities only to wind up handcuffed and behind bars.

Shocked and frustrated Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 people have been arrested in Los Angeles, neighboring Orange County and San Diego in the past three days under a new nationwide anti-terrorism program. Some unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as 1,000.

The arrests sparked a demonstration by hundreds of Iranians outside a Los Angeles immigration office. The protesters carried banners saying "What's next? Concentration camps?" and "What happened to liberty and justice?."

According to Xeni, "Representatives of some local Iranian-American groups were quoted yesterday as saying they understand that the detainees may be shipped off to Arizona." There is an LA Times article as well.

I remember after the arrests following 9/11, the Japanese-American community made a public comment condemning the unfair imprisonment of Arab-Americans. This is really the 1940's all over again. And I was just starting to think about moving back to the US again. When are the American people going to wake up, read history and realize that they're headed down a pretty well trodden and terrible path? I complain a lot about the Japanese people being apathetic and unaware, but I wonder if this might be better than thinking you're aware and wishing for war and treating immigrants as if they were "enemy combatants" with no rights. Amazing.

Japan Times
The Japan Times Online Microsoft to reveal source code to Japan, which has eyed Linux

Microsoft Corp. will disclose the source code of the Windows operating system to the Japanese government in line with the government's e-Japan project, company officials said Wednesday.

I recently made a public comment on the record at the oversight committee for the National ID about Microsoft and trying to get them to open up the source code. I wonder if this had any effect. I guess we must all have had an effect. I assume many people have been saying this. It's a great step forward, even if it is just MS trying to keep Linux out.

P504iS01289.jpgSo yesterday's discussion with Hiroo Yamagata and Lawrence Lessig went well. It was a lot of fun and I think a constructive discussion. Hiroo was in good form. But he usually is... in person. ;-) He had written something negative about Mr. Ikeda in the afterward of translation of "The Future of Ideas" and had gotten in a dispute with Mr. Ikeda. He had just finished the battle and I guess they have both gotten over it now. Maybe Hiroo was just tired from that. I do generally agree with Hiroo's position, although maybe not the way he said it. I think Mr. Ikeda and others had inferred that Larry was against privacy policies. In a mailing list Mr. Ikeda had said that my efforts to stop the National ID were futile and that we didn't have any privacy anyway. The struggle for privacy is a struggle of data structures and can be achieved without destroying the end-to-end nature of the Net. It think it is simplistic to equate privacy with control of the Net. I just finished reading Hiroo's English translation of his afterward. It's quite good. He should post it on the Net.

Hiroo Yamagata
Freedom is supposed to be a good thing. People say Communism died and Freedom prospered, so freedom should be good. But when you ask these people to explain the actual benefits of freedom, hardly anyone can give you a meaningful answer. This isn't (necessarily) because they are stupid. It's because freedom itself doesn't do anything. Freedom is just an environment that allows you to do something.

We talked about the issues from the book and the Japan context. When is going to happen to physical layer, code layer and content layer in Japan?

Are the wires, the spectrum and fiber going to be opened up in Japan? It sure looks like we're headed that way. The government seems quite incapable of stopping the ADSL players from eating NTT's lunch and there is serious discussion of opening up the spectrum.

The code layer is a mess. I talked about the National ID and the fact that lack of understanding about the architecture of the Net is causing Japan to launch itself into a direction without much discussion about the policy of code. We talked about how many people talk about end-to-end, but don't really understand it's high level political ramifications. On the other hand, it's better to have people believing in it and writing code with that philosophy to fight off the circuit-heads who try to make the Network smart and make connections look like circuits. I think education and discussion about the political ramifications of architecture and code are essential, but having a lot of people educated with the right philosophy vis a vis network architecture, security, privacy, and free software (even if they don't understand all off the political issues) is better than nothing.

Content... We don't have MS or Hollywood and most patents and copyright extensions hurt Japan economically. It is very frustrating that Japan tries to "harmonize" with the US and doesn't realize that if they are going to give up something that is a net loss for Japan, they should negotiate for something in return. This is at the government level. At a more basic level, I think Japan should try to run an end-run around these guys with some new idea about how to deal with content. I guess the fact that Sony has a content business in the US and that big Japanese technology companies have "figured out" the patent thing puts these guys in a neutral to hostile position on this issue and doesn't help move this forward...

I gave a copy of Dogs and Demons to Hiroo who knows the construction industry well. It will be interesting to see what he thinks of it.

I think the Japanese are very non-active right now and has Hiroo points out in his afterward, Japan didn't have "the Framers" like Thomas Jefferson who "got it" to inspire the legal professionals to pound the table like Larry. I think it's going to take a lot of luck to get it right in Japan... but for better or for worse, the "other side" is not very smart either so we just MIGHT get lucky. Does this sound depressing?

Tanaka-san's office is in a see-through case in the waiting room of the prefecture building.
Tanaka-san greets our team
Presenting our vision to Governor Tanaka and the division heads
Today, Seki and I visited Nagano with Goto-san and Yamazaki-san of the Ministry Economy Trade and Industry special region group. This special region project was created by the central government to allow local governments get waivers on regulations and laws in order to build new businesses.

My pitch was/is heavily influenced by the discussion with David about who should run the network and Larry Lessig's thoughts on The Commons. I talked about trying to get an experiment going in Nagano involving VoIP, high powered 802.11, UWB and non-phone number based voice calls. (No Australian ENUM please!) With Tanaka-san's no-compromises reform position and the support of the reformists inside of the bureaucracy, I think we might have a chance of creating an interesting network in Nagano where voice will be free, and high powered WiFi and eventually UWB will allow networks to propogate without relying on the phone company. This is quite a subversive project, so please keep this confidential. ;-p

Yikes. I'm glad I stopped smoking. We were just talking yesterday about smoking in Japan.
Gen Kanai
Update on Japan smoking

LA Times - The Land Cigarettes Call Home
In Japan, half of all men smoke, and lung cancer is a leading killer. But then, the government owns 67% of the big tobacco seller.

The Finance Ministry owns 67% of Japan Tobacco, or JT, which until 1985 was a government monopoly. In an era of tight budgets, tobacco contributes $19 billion a year to government coffers in taxes and dividends, making it among the largest revenue sources. The ministry, not health authorities, controls tobacco policy, and promotion of the industry is an explicit national goal.
Japan's warning label is among the world's weakest: "Please remember to follow good smoking manners. As smoking might injure your health, please be careful not to overdo it."
The greatest source of industry clout is the Tobacco Business Law, one of a string of related measures dating to 1904. The law says the government must own at least 50% of JT in perpetuity and, as a matter of national policy, "promote the healthy development of the tobacco industry and ensure stable revenue in the interest of a sound national economy."
In contrast to the Finance Ministry's large tobacco section, the Health Ministry doesn't have a single full-time official working on smoking issues ・even though smoking accounts for the nation's highest level of premature deaths, triple the number of suicides and nine times that of traffic fatalities.
The national health budget this year for anti-smoking awareness is $180,000, for a practice that kills 95,000 Japanese a year. By comparison, the budget for the prevention of AIDS, which kills approximately 45 people a year, is $94 million.

Horrific stuff- gruesome. I don't even know where to start pulling it all apart.

I just gave my opinion at a government meeting about considering alternatives to Windows. I've been pushing them to do this for years. I'm glad they are finally taking a serious look at it. China is far ahead with their Linux project, but it's never too late to start!

Kyodo News
Gov't considers abandoning Microsoft Windows
Sunday, November 17, 2002 at 07:30 JST

TOKYO The Japanese government is reviewing the possibility of no longer using Microsoft Corp's Windows operating system as part of its plans to boost computer security within the government, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported Saturday.

Most of the government's servers and personal computers use Windows software.

But the government is interested in studying alternative operating systems, especially open-source programs such as Linux, the newspaper said.

Open-source programs do not require licensing fees and can be modified because their source codes are made available for free.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will set up a panel of experts to study the alternatives and what systems other governments use in the next fiscal year beginning April 1, the newspaper said.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party's panel on promoting electronic government asked the government in August to develop or introduce an open-source program for security reasons, it said.

Okada-san is on the left and Suzuki-san is on the right
Okada-san and Suzuki-san from the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry came to visit today. The Japanese bureaucracy is one of the things I often criticize, but I really like many of the individuals. I first met Okada-san when he was working for Governor Domoto. He had been seconded by the Ministry to Chiba to help the Governor. I liked him a lot because of his straight forward and aggressive style and he was one of the main reasons I decided to work with Chiba. He recently returned to the Ministry and is now in charge of venture business and SME related affairs there. This was very lucky for me because this post is probably the most relevant post for Neoteny inside of the Ministry. He manages the Ministry activity for the New Business Forum that I wrote about and is also quite active in trying to create tax incentives for venture investing. We talked a lot about the laws that bog venture businesses down such as the registration license tax, bank fees, etc. Since Koji Omi, one of my favorite LDP politicians is now running the venture sub-committee inside of the LDP as well as the head of the tax reform group, it's a good time to push for some changes. Another change that should be done soon is a waiver of the minimum capitalization of new companies. One is currently required to have a minimum capitalization of 10mm yen. The new law that should go into effect at the beginning of next year will allow companies to be created with only 1 yen in capitalization. This should help entrepreneurs who want to start companies. Go for it Okada-san!

I'm sitting on the inquiry committee where we are revising the consumer protection law. We're discussing provisions to protect whistleblowers. I'm very passionate about this issue. I think that with increasing ability to track people and profile them, we need to protect the identities of whistleblowers. I am proposing that anonymity and pseudonymity using privacy technology should be considered when writing the new law. Certain types of interactions with the government should be allowed in an anonymous way. Currently all whistleblowing and FOIA is on a fully disclosed ID basis without clear protection of the "list" that is created as a result...

The press are here in numbers. Probably because whistleblowing is more common in Japan these days and it is quite clear that they need to be protected.

Pete Wilson
I've joined the Pacific Council Task Force on Japan as a guest. The Pacific Council is affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations. They do reports on a variety of countries and this year they are working on Japan. The Task Force on Japan is being headed by Pete Wilson, the former Governor of California. We had breakfast today at the American Club and Mr. Wilson gave a great speech about Japan which was "off the record"... ;-)

I was originally asked to join this group by Mr. Toyoda of the METI who was the chief trade negotiator for MITI at the time. Mr. Toyoda and became friends when Dr. Ishiguro of Tokyo University invited me to join a study group for Mr. Toyoda on preparing for the WTO negotiations the year that AOL proposed a bunch of e-commerce related deregulations. It's interesting how my being dragged into a government study group to protect Japan against American IP and IT imperialism ended up with me criticizing Japan at the American Club. ;-)

Yesterday, I met the John Wheeler and Daniel Rosenblum from the Japan Society who are also working on US/Japan stuff.

It's great that there are all of these groups helping to try to save Japan, but it would probably make sense to coordinate and have each group focus on a different aspect...

A poll done by Oki Matsumoto and Monex shows that 86% of people polled support Takenaka. The LDP, the opposition, the banks and the Japanese media are picking on Takenaka. The foreign are focusing on the "injection of public funds" rather than the most important point which is the fact that Takenaka is trying to force banks to mark down their bad debt. He's getting it from all sides and I don't think Koizumi is sticking up for him enough. The amazing thing is, the public (at least those who go to Monex's site) supports him. It is so typical for the Japanese media to be taking mean swipes at him and making him look weak and stupid when he is really the main person trying to get people to face their problems. I hate to say this, but if all of the people who voted on the Monex site had blogs, maybe the media wouldn't be able to get away with the horrible spin doctoring. How can they say people don't support him when at least one poll shows him having major public support. Bah!

Photo from Mainichi Shimbun
When politicians who speak up against corruption get stabbed to death in front of their homes, you know you are in trouble. I NEVER trust the press on this sort of thing. We'll see what they end up saying REALLY happened. Japanese politicians are regularly pushed around by the media and gangsters. How can we expect politics to get better if the job of being a politician in Japan is so un-rewarding and so high-risk? There are some politicians who are smart and honest, but most end up becoming merely a mouthpiece for some ministry or local interest. How do you get people to play in a game where the bad guys win?

Governor Tanaka has shown that you can win, for now. I think his case is really important in getting more people to have the courage to stand up. I think the Ishii case is a blow in the other direction. We really need to support good politicians and punish the media when it does not report the truth.

I don't know if the Ishii case is as simple as they say or whether there is more behind it, but I do know for a fact that the media often covers up murders committed by the powerful. I once heard that 50% of deaths reported as suicide are actually murders. The media is often used by politicians and bureaucrats to strip opponents of their public image. I think that the corruption of the mass media in Japan is directly responsible for a great deal of the corruption in Japanese society, but I don't really know how we're going to change this. Blogs?

I'm sorry if this entry sounds like media bashing or if it sounds like I'm questioning the reporting of this particular murder. I have no idea whether the reporting of this incident is correct. It just reminded me to beware of the media on issues like this.

Anyway, Ishii-san, may you rest in peace.

Articles from Mainichi Shimbun:

Oki striking a pose...
Had dinner last night with Oki Matsumoto, Yu Serizawa and Yasukuni Ichikawa and his brother Takayoshi Ichikawa... We ate at Kanayuni, one of my favorite restaurants that I've been going to since I was about 13 years old...

It was kind of a wrap-up and what do we do next meeting after the Blueprint 2020 presentation Oki and I did in Geneva. Yu works for the World Economic Forum and is organizing this whole thing. Yasukuni Ichikawa did a lot of research for the presentation and prepared it for us. His brother was tagging along. ;-)

Oki Matsumoto is the CEO of Monex, an online brokerage firm. He and I were the only Japanese "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" who went to the Geneva Summit. I asked Oki what he thought about the market. He didn't think it would go down to 6000. I think we all agreed that Japan was a bit different than Argentina in that it has been able to keep people and it's GDP from fleeing. (So far.) The biggest short term problem was the balance sheet and Oki thought that with the right reforms we could fix that. The "flow" problem was a long term problem and the "stock" problem was a short term problem. I'll leave the "stock" problem up to the bankers and the economists. I'm very worried about the long term "flow" problem. Ageing, competition in manufacturing, political, military, education, media, etc.


Think... think...
I was supposed to see Lawrence Lessig a few weeks ago, but he cancelled the meeting because he was busy preparing his argument for the U.S. Supreme Court. I forgive you Lawrence. ;-) This is a very important case for the future of copyright. As the digital world and all of our blogging and links show that copyright is less important when everything is live, the copyright manufacturers are trying to push the law in the other direction. All hands on deck to prevent a serious step backwards in the way we think about information.

1790.gifI am doing my part in Japan organizing study groups and lecturing, but the US laws always tend to be "globalized" so I think the real battlefield is the US at this point.

This site collects material related to the constitutional challenge of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended by 20 years both existing copyrights and future copyrights.

Eric Eldred is the lead plaintiff on the case (for other plaintiffs, click here), and on May 20, 2002, opening briefs were filed in the Supreme Court. Arguments will be heard October 9th, 2002, and a decision is expected next spring. Watch here for the latest news, and click on "how you can help" to join our (e) campaign.

Saw this on Scripting News.

Larry Lessig admits it: he’s nervous.

I was a bit suprised when I read the morning paper and found that Koji Omi was replaced by Hiroyuki Hosoda as minister for Okinawa, Northern Territories and science and technology policy. I had been working closely with Mr. Omi on high tech ventures. I hope Hosoda-san turns out to be good. I don't know him personally. The head of science and technology policy is quite important in my view.

Mr. Katayama, the minister of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications who I had been battling with on the National ID issue suprised me and retained his position. They say it is because Koizumi-san is counting on him to push forward the postal reforms. Actually, Koizumi-san said he was in favor of the National ID so they probably agree on that. I wonder who is giving him that bad advice. Well, now I'm stuck working with the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications on trying to get them to think more about privacy so I will have to figure out how to communicate with Mr. Katayama I guess.

Finance czar gets shove in Cabinet reshuffle

Heizo Takenaka, who was reappointed as minister for economic and fiscal policy, emerged victorious in his bitter power struggle with Yanagisawa after he was ordered to double as financial services minister to replace Yanagisawa.

I think Takenaka-san is a good guy and quite smart. I get along with him quite well. Having said that, I think that people have criticized him for being a bit academic and macroeconomic oriented. He is being put into position to dump government money into banks which I think is generally a bad idea. On the other hand, I'm not a macroeconomist so what do I know...

Sakiyama-san is a co-founder of the Japan chapter of CPSR and one of the few privacy activists in Japan. He mentioned this issue at the last CPSR meeting, and I've been meaning to look into it. The perp of this whole thing, the Electronic Network Consortium, merged with the Internet Association of Japan (IAJ). I WAS a Councilor of the Internet Association Japan and was on their web page the when I check at the CPSR meeting, but I just checked and noticed that I am no longer on their web page. Hmm... I was going to threaten to quit if they didn't do something about this, but maybe I have already been fired. (or maybe I quit and didn't know it) In that case, threatening to quit is a pretty idle threat. ;-)

In any case, I will call the IAJ and let them know that I think this censorware project is a BAD IDEA and the way that they have been dealing with the criticism is also pretty poor.

Nobuo Sakiyama

Censorware funded by the Japanese Government

Recently, censorware - content filtering software becomes widely used in Japan, particularly on schools, offices, and public libraries. There are already many criticisms against censorware, so I don't repeat the same discussion.

Here in Japan, several commercial censorware products developed in the U.S. are localized and used, but in this article, I focus on a censorware product funded by the Japanese Government. That censorware is developed by an auxiliary organization of the Government and funded by the Government, and its rating database is operated by another industry-based organization which represents Internet Industry in Japan, and the operation business is fully funded by the Government. The feature of the censorware lacks transparency, and the operating organization plainly ignores the accountability. In this August, I released a tool which decrypts the rating labels in the censorware right after the release of the new version of the censorware, because its license did not prohibit reverse-engineering. Now a minor-upgraded version of the censorware was released. That is not compatible with the previous version, and the new license prohibits not only reverse-engineering but also any criticism against the product.

The government-funded censorware project does prohibit criticism by users of the product! So I decided to write a whole story in my poor English.

As the rapporteur of this session, I was supposed to take notes on a brainstorming session facilitated by Ted Halstead, President and CEO of the New American Foundation, a think tank, and Philippa K. Malmgren, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council, USA. There were about 11 other participants. The description of the topic was:

Public interest continues to wane in almost every industrialized democratic country. What needs to change in terms of political priorities, accountability, ideology, organization and leadership in most democracies? Will the next generation of leaders be able to reverse the trend from within existing political frameworks?

The discussion went all over the place with a variety of plans like creating an international organization to consult to new democracies and a variety of ways to wake up the voters and chase away the bad politicians. With the help of everyone, I tried to boil the discussion down into some concrete issues and things that we might be able to do to address these issues.

Here is a draft version of my report that I submitted to the World Economic Forum. I think and edited version of this will end up in the briefing package for the participants of the forum next year.

Different problems in different countries

There are "mature democracies", "emerging democracies", and "waiting democracies" in the world. Each country has a variety of problems and there is no single "plan" to "fix" every democracy. Too much focus on the GDP can undermine a country's democracy. Too much focus on the democratic process can undermine the economic development of a democracy.

There are issues common to most democracies and some practical initiatives to address these issues.

Issues faced by most democracies regardless of the stage of the democracy

Control of agenda by extremists

In most democracies, for a variety of reasons, extremists have control of political agendas.

In the United States, the two party system and the ability of extremists in the parties, the religious right in the Republican Party and the minorities in the Democratic Party are able to exercise power through the ability to mobilize people while the moderates are not active and don't vote.

The referendum process in California that was initiated in part to try to bypass the extremist in the legislature has ended up being used primarily by the extremists.

In them Middle East, the extremists have taken charge of the agenda on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.

Lack of choice of politicians

The two party system and the electoral system in the United States does not give people a choice of alternative politicians.

The inability to displace incumbent politicians and the unwillingness of politicians to allow succession in other countries limit the choice of politicians.

Most politicians are professional politicians and it is difficult for new politicians to enter the process.

Lack of participation and apathy by young adults and moderates

Young adults and moderates do not vote in most countries.

In the US, polls show that most young people are independent, neither Democrat or Republican.

Lack of ideology in politics

Most politicians lack ideology and are focused on special interests and the interest of powerful extremists. There are few politicians willing to risk their political careers for strong policy or ideological views.

Initiatives to address issues

Better legislature

We must improve the quality and the behavior of politicians.

Encourage more politicians willing to risk their careers for ideologies and policies

There are several ways to encourage politicians to risk their careers for ideologies and policies and to encourage people willing to take these risks to become politicians.

We must encourage more non-professional politicians to become politicians or join public services.

There are several specific policies that would help.

Pay politicians more money

Currently, the cost of campaigning and the low financial incentives for politicians and public servants hinder people without the sufficient financial resources from become involved in politics. In addition, the funding requirements cause politicians to rely on funding from special interest groups.

Change election system

The election systems in many countries make it difficult for independent or new politicians to be elected. The "winner takes all" electoral college in the US forces a choice between the two parties and independents cause votes to be distributed between similar candidates diminishing their ability to win.

In other countries such as Japan, the numbers of seats in the proportional system is not balanced and cause certain regions to be unfairly represented.

"Instant run-off"

The "Instant run-off" system which has been enacted in California allow voters to vote for several candidate in order of priority so that votes from candidates which can not win can be diverted to the second choice candidates improving their chances of winning creating a more fair outcome.

Mandatory voting

Several countries have implemented successful mandatory voting. Mandatory voting will cause the moderate and the young to vote diminishing the ability of the extremists to control the election process.

Bypassing legislature

In many cases, it is impossible for politicians to resist the extremist forces and it is necessary to bypass the legislature and empower the people to organize and affect policy directly.

Technologies and methods to empower people

New technologies provide access to information and ability for the people to be empowered to learn and organize themselves into forces to back policies.

In the Middle East, The Peaceworks Network has reached people directly through multiple media forms and polled them on political issues providing a public view of the opinions of the public. These views of the public provide feedback to the public and also legitimize the moderate position of the public. This can provide politicians hampered by hardliners a position of strength when taking the moderate stance.

Media is essential component for empowering individuals

The media is an essential element in inclusion of the public in the political process and in empowering the public to take action. Liberating the media in a nation is essential, but the practical methods for such liberation is unique in each country.

John Markoff quoted me in his New York Times article (thanks John!) on the lawsuit between Shuji Nakamura and the company he was working for when he did the research on and filed the patents for the blue LED. This is a landmark suit for Japan and should have some interesting reprecussions in the relationship between Japanese corporations and its researchers.

The New York Times
A Rebel in Japan Is Hailed as an Innovator in U.S. By JOHN MARKOFF

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Ordered to stop the scientific research he thought extremely promising, Shuji Nakamura hid the work from his superiors at a Japanese chemical company. He secretly obtained patents in the company's name.

Dr. Nakamura's mission paid off: his inventions revolutionized the world of consumer electronics. One helped make possible an array of products, from flat-panel computer screens to video billboards to long-lasting, efficient flashlights. Another will make it possible to store 5 to 10 movies on a single DVD-like disk.

Dr. Nakamura has been celebrated in the United States as an innovative pioneer. But in Japan he is more controversial. After it was clear his inventions would make a lot of money, his bosses took them to market without additional compensation for him. So Dr. Nakamura sued the company, claiming that the patents were a result of his efforts and he should receive royalties.

Joi's quote in the NYT

"This will teach researchers and companies alike to negotiate and make explicit rights and compensation in advance," said Joichi Ito, president and chief executive of Neoteny Company, a Japanese investment firm. "This is great because it will help force technical people to think about business and companies to think about incentives."

Generally researchers in Japan think that business (some call it the "money game") is dirty and I think the thought of suing a company or fighting for compensation is a bit beneath some researchers... Many researchers feel that the lack of compensation is a tradeoff for getting to do what they want without having to worry about business. This is changing. Companies are pushing researchers to think about returns and many there is general support to spin ventures out of universities and corporate research labs. The rights and the compensation are very unclear at this point and this case should push the debate forward...

Mainichi Interactive
TEPCO lied over cracks at nuke plants Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) repeatedly lied when the government questioned the firm about cracks at its nuclear power plants, sources said Tuesday.
Mainichi Interactive
Heads to roll over reactor cracks Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) president and chairman are set to resign over the covered up of cracks at three nuclear power plants, sources said Saturday.
I heard a rumor which I will investigate that 10100 people knew and covered it up. The person who blew the whistle was an American. There was a new law in place that was create to encourage whistle blowing in the nuclear industry by protecting whistle blowers from being fired or treated unfairly. Even so, the Japanese didn't talk.

I argue often that with the National ID and even more profiling, whistle blowing will become even more risky for the individual and will probably have such a strong chilling effect that it won't be an effective method. I think we should include a provision to allow pseudonymous or anonymous whistle blowing. Also, the information about whistle blowers should be more explicitly protected. Japanese are ALWAYS leaking this kind of information to the press and industry from the government...

I am on the inquiry committee working on rewriting the basic consumer protection law. We are discussing enforcement. I mentioned the FTC action against MS Passport. We talked about how something like the FTC is essential in Japan. Currently the privacy bill being contemplated doesn't link with the consumer protection law and there is no body that can attack a problem like the MS Passport issue from the fair trade, consumer protection and privacy aspects as the FTC did in the US. I have 45 minutes left until the end of the meeting so if anyone has anything that I should mention here, please comment on my blog.

I'm practicing blogging during government committees. One problem... my wireless access card interferes with the microphone in a big way. Pretty embarassing... when I tried to talked, I emitted a BIG howl.

This is scary in many ways. On the one hand, the Chinese are trying to "cleanse Yahoo". On the other hand, the RIAA is trying to cleanse the US of Chinese copyright pirates. The RIAA is attacking the Internet backbone. Andy Oram and I talked before about the idea that the Internet may break up into a bunch of networks, each with different rules and much less end-to-end connectivity. It feels like it is starting to happen.

Maybe the great push for connectivity is going change to the great push for division. I guess alternative networks may emerge in the way that alternet emerged to carry the Usenet "alt." traffic, but I suppose this is much harder to do in a transnational context. I have a feeling that the Net may turn into a bunch of separate networks. On the other hand, most of the traffic in China is local within each province, I heard, so maybe it doesn't matter to most people. This push for dividing the Internet may be one of the main hurdles for our push for personal publishing, like blogs who don't have the political power to push through transborder doors when the filters come crashing down. Maybe only Time-Warner will be able to "get into" China in the future... And even then, they get banned every once in awhile.

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 19, 2002
Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates
Lawsuit Would Extend Great Internet Firewall of China to US

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

New York, NY - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) asked a court Friday to order four Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who maintain the Internet "backbone" to prevent access to a Chinese website that provides unauthorized copies of copyrighted music.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) opposes the RIAA action because it seeks to establish a precedent that anyone alleging piracy could shut down access to parts of the Internet, resulting in inappropriate shutdowns, undue administrative burden for ISPs, and imperiling the basic principle of unfettered exchange of information on the Internet. "This latest lawsuit, along with the recently proposed Berman bill, demonstrates that the major record labels have declared war on the infrastructure of the Internet in their campaign to stop the digital music revolution," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann. "The Business Software Alliance and software industries, who have for years battled overseas pirates, have never resorted to lawsuits against Internet backbone providers that is both pointless and dangerous to innocent bystanders."

"We shouldn't be copying the Great Firewall of China here in the United States," noted von Lohmann. "Offering U.S. consumers a compelling, fairly-priced alternative to the black market will stop illicit traffic to Chinese websites far more effectively than dragging ISPs into 'whack-a-mole' Internet blocking efforts."

EFF expresses its concern that attempts to shut down parts of the Internet will spread to "proxy services," like, which are crucial to privacy and free expression online.

EFF Media Release: Recording Industry Attacks Internet to Stop Chinese Pirates

From the Cato Daily Dispatch
August 14, 2002

The American Bar Association voted yesterday to oppose the Bush administration's secret detention of foreign nationals after the Sept. 11 attacks, urging that their names be disclosed and they be given immediate access to lawyers and family members, Reuters reported.

The nation's largest lawyers group joined civil libertarians and others who have criticized the government's policy of secret and prolonged detentions.

In "Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Protecting Our Liberties While Fighting Terrorism," ( ) Timothy Lynch, associate director of Cato's Center for Constitutional Studies, argues that government officials have typically responded to terrorist attacks by enacting "antiterrorism" legislation designed to assuage public fears by making "the dubious claim that they can prevent terrorism by curtailing the privacy and civil liberties of the people."

I just received mail from an old friend who has become active on the issue of North Korean refugees and I have attached the email from him. I think the Japanese have a much higher level of sensitivity with regards to North Korea since they have influenced the extreme left wing in Japan and have harbored terrorists who have highjacked Japanese planes, etc. Having said that, Japan has basically a no-immigration policy and therefore have not accepted refugees from anywhere as far as I know.

I don't think going around labeling countries as "evil" is really very smart, but addressing the North Korea issue is definitely something that should be high priority. I don't think Koreas really like or respect Japan very much and with Koizumi paying homage to war criminals, I think it will be difficult for us to get much clout on this issue. I think China and South Korea really have to work this out, but I'm definitely not on expert. In October, I will be in Beijing for the 30th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic contacts with Japan and will be in Kuala Lumpur at the WEF meeting where the Asia young leaders will be talking about Asian issues. I will try to raise the issue at both conferences and report back if I can find out anything or make any progress on this issue.

Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 10:50:01 -0800
Subject: IMPORTANT NK refugee issue..


If you have some time to read a bit about an important issue and maybe lend a hand, please take a look at a (still just a list of links) web page which I'm starting to build at about the terrible situation of the people of North Korea's human rights.. their insane government, and the plight of the thousands of terrified and starving people who are trying to defect to other countries via China (really, the only way out of the country..) China, in want of a better thing to do, is repatriating all of them which they can catch, to North Korea.. (Not all of them are summarily executed any more, just some.. but it is still very very scary what happens to them upon return.)

So, my request to you is that you please read some of the stories of the refugees to see what they are running from. read about the situation in China and the current political situation.. And then what you do is up to you..

Here is the URL of one escapee's story that is particularly chilling.. this is the one that shocked me into attempting in my little way to help..

(No, I am not affiliated with any of these groups that are actively helping them, Christians, or whatever..etc..) I just read the stories and then I had to do something..

So why am I writing YOU? Because you are a human being who can see what is happening and care, and because you are smart and influential..

(I hope you don't feel I am spamming you.. If so, I apologize profusely.)

Important*** If some of the other countries in the area (like Japan) ***would be willing to set up refugee camps*** where some of these fleeing people could stay *in safety*, it would be a VERY good thing.

South Korea (or perhaps the US---working on that..) are the obvious ultimate destinations.. but South Korea has been at times strangely indifferent to the refugees from the North.. (they have been supporting the status quo in fear that NK would suddenly implode.. which would be expensive for them, they feel.. yes, it would be, but it is also necessary..)

Plus, it would be a way for Japan to build goodwill in an area where they could really benefit from it. I know that they have (in the past) given NK lots of food.. but the reality is that the NK government siphons off the food and precious little of it reaches the people it is meant to reach.. (Giving food aid is good, but monitoring it's distribution should be a *required* precondition of this aid.)

North Korea's people are now the 11th in the world.. (in malnutrition status..) In other words, they are starving to death.. No other countries on Earth with 99% literacy are anywhere near them...

Anyway, I know you are busy.. but this issue is really important.. Perhaps you could say a word to anyone you know who is influential enough to have some input into the government's decision-making process..

Nobody should have to live through the hell these people are going through.. It is a humanitarian nightmare comparable to the worst aspects of Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia and Mao's China.


Thanks in advance..


Atrocities in american airports, a London Daily Alert

A Brazilian man wrote about an incident where he was extremely abused by INS in LA. It has gotten a lot of airplay on the Net so you may have seen it, but in case you haven't, here it is.

Brock Meeks confirms with the INS that the incident actually occured although the details are unclear.

Brock Meeks is a respected journalist and a google on Ricardo Abude will give you some references. He is aparently a real person.

If this story is true, it's very scary. I recently met someone from Israel who was strip searched coming into the US and in transit althought there was no apparent reason other than the fact that she was from Israel. She wasn't bitter about it though. I think with the increased security, the risk of the "police" becoming un-naturally brutal is a great risk and something we should all keep an eye on. I remember feeling very unfairly treated when I lived in Michigan when "Japan Bashing" was "in" by a variety of official personnel and those memories still haunt me.

Atrocities in American Airports

By Ricardo Abude

If you, or someone from your family, have any plan to visit the US in a near future, I strongly suggest you to continue reading this text, where I describe the experiences I had in LA International Airport, late Feb 24, 2002.

My name is Ricardo Abude E. Da Silva, I'm an Electronic Engineer graduated in 1982 and today am managing our family's businesses in the farming sector. My email is

Throughout my 42 years of age I've travelled several times to the US, both on business and tourism. Late Feb 23 I embarked in Rio heading to LA, in possession of my third Visa to the US, issued in November 1999, and valid until November 2009.

I was aware of the increased airport security for US trips, due to Sep 11 attacks, and in Rio International Airport one can already notice the routine change, but I could have never imagined what would happen next.

From now on I describe, step by step, the horrendous and unimaginable nightmare that I went through :

Saturday Feb 23 21:50 hrs I depart from Rio with Varig flight RG 8836, going to LA.

Sunday Feb 24 07:00 hrs I arrive in LA and proceed towards passport control. The officer looks at my Passport for about five minutes, and asks me to proceed towards an INS office known as Secondary One. It is the first time something like that happens to me, but I imagine I危 going to be interviewed for additional information concerning my stay. Extra safety measures.... I thought.

Sunday Feb 24 07:30 hrs A Second officer asks me to collect all my luggage and accompany him inside Secondary One. ...the interview is going to be in there... I thought again. All of a sudden, I am brutally pushed inside a 2x2 yd cell, all my luggage, money, documents and personnal belongings are confiscated, and they take away my belt and shoe strings.

As I protest against the unexpected treatment, the two officers respond with loud screams and threats of beating me and keeping me confined. I am violently pushed against the wall, they frisk me from head to toe, and all my personnal belongings are searched.

Again I'm pushed against the wall, my picture is taken, I'm fingerprinted and am finally thrown into a filthy, stinky, unventilated hall, already crowded with people. I notice, by their looks, that they've gone through the same ritual, and even though I am still stunned by the long flight, the jet lag, and mainly by the violent, outraging disrespect of civil and human rights, I face the crude fact of life ...there's no such thing as interviews. I'm a prisoner.

Sunday Feb 24 09:00 hrs - The scene resembles a Greek tragedy, a 4x4 yd room, filthy chairs, a stinking black carpet, no ventilation, huge 50 TV turned on all the time volume blasting. Tired, hungry people, sick people, people throwing up....worried about a friend, who was waiting for me outside the airport I ask for a phone call.

- Shut up! No phone calls. - They answered.

Sunday Feb 24 10:00 hrs - Arrested, hungry, thirsty, no communication, and without the slightest ideia of what was going to happen next, I noticed the continuos flow of tourists coming to our cell and I face the degrading scandal the very same treatment is given to women, teenagers, children even elderly people - a truly barbarian act!

Revolted, I witness two INS officers disputing the priviledge of frisking the prettiest ladies, without any concern of hiding their sickening lust from their respective fathers, husbands or brothers, doing their commentaries, invitations, and obscene declarations right on their faces.

- I've just frisked a disgusting it's my turn to frisk this Italian fox! - stated an Officer to his coleague, refering to the wife of an Italian tourist. The blunt disrespect made my stomach churn in revolt....

Kicking, pushing, screaming, threathening, heavily armed bullies displayed their brutallity, prejudice, and arrogance upon the constant flow of tourists coming into our cell, getting more and more crowded by the minute, holding an unbearable stench....

Sunday Feb 24 14:00 hrs - After seven hours of ordeal, I'm finally taken to an almost surrealistic interview with Officer Sanchez, and Officer Lee, both subordinate to Officer Green, from INS. He explains to me that since all my papers and my Visa were in perfect order, he would kindly give me two options:

- The first was to sign a document in which I requested the withdrawal of my Visa, returning to Brazil in the first available flight.

- If I refused to sign the hoax I'd be arrested for an undetermined period and he'd start a compulsory deportation process, sending me back to my Country thus.

A important detail on the deal - while I refused to sign the document I'd not receive any food, or water. What would you choose? Oh well, me too.

Sunday Feb 24 16:00 hrs - I am taken, with another five prisoners, to a different cell. We are all handcuffed, and escorted by armed officers, we are made to stroll through the airport lounge. The terrified tourists make way, frightened by the grotesc scene. They take us all to a Van, parked outside the terminal, and transfer us to the other cell. The humiliation is suffocating ....

- Sunday Feb 24 17:00 hrs - Apparently, they have forgotten to make me sign a few forms at the Secondary One, so I'm taken again for a couple of strolls ( going there and coming back ) in the Airport Lounge. Those strolls remember? With cuffs and escorts?

Sunday Feb 24 18:00 hrs - Due to my unceasing protests, they finally allow me to make a phone call. I contact a Lawyer in LA, in the hope he'd get me out of that hell, but the information I get from him is even more surprising, and disheartening:

- Ricardo, the INS grounds at the Airport are not legally considered American soil, so I cannot invoke any civil right to take you out of there.... he tells me. How about that ???

In other words: I realize I'm in a no-man's land, a lawless place, arrested by arbitrary Nazis in the guise of INS Officers, that, due to this legal technicality, have the power to do whatever they please with you - and what is worse - with your family. I start to dream of the moment of catching a plane back home to Brazil.....however, before that, I'd still go through the worst night of my life.....

Night of Sunday to Monday Feb 25 I start to dread the moment in which tiredness is going to win the battle and make me lie down on those filthy chairs. It寄 very cold, but even so, the prospect of using the slimy blankets is not at all attractive.

Five officers are in the night shift, and feeling bored, they pass time kicking disgusting Chinese's , cursing stupid niggers, threatening filthy latinos. Our uneducated officers are unable to articulate three consecutive words without using the F.. word, and we spend the night immersed in this sea of racial prejudice, brutallity, violence, arrogance and cowardice.

A curious note: our cell had two immense posters hanging on the walls. Look at that - one was a huge map of Brazil, and the other was a picture of Ouro Preto - a historical city in Central Brazil. Both seemed to convey a silent, but eloquent invitation .....

Monday Feb 25 13:00 hrs - After the worse 30 hours of my life, two armed officers escort me to my plane ( Varig flight RG 8837 ) and deliver my passport to the stewardess. They set guard by the plane door until take off. Just a last minute humiliation I guess....

Tuesday Feb 26 07:30 hrs - I arrive tired, but immensely happy in Cumbica International Airport, in SP. I call my girlfriend Sarah in Belo Horizonte. After her recovery from the initial shock and the necessary explanations I invite her to celebrate our unexpected meeting with a trip - to Ouro Preto - of course!

I relate this unfortunate episode hoping to bring these facts to light, to a wider number of people. Maybe those who, like me, were planning an innocent trip to this country might think twice before permitting their wifes, parents and children to be subjected to this infamous tribe of uncivilized barbarians.

Daily, in every American Airport, hundreds of people from the four corners of the world are falling into the claws of these arrogant, racist, brutes, barbarian Nazis, and I think every single citizen of the globe shall contribute in whichever way they can to end this grotesc stain from the face of the free world.

The terrorists put down WTC's twin towers, but they will achieve a far greater victory if they succeed in bending down the spirit, the values and ideals that guided America since it's very birth as an independent Nation.

Having visited the US so many times, and knowing with reasonable depth the history of this Country, I must say that the attitudes and methods of the INS Officers do not reflect the way of being and thinking of the majority of the American People, and surely do not reflect the values and ideals I referred to above.

However, the overwhelming majority of the thousands of tourists that are going daily through this sad experience in American Airports do not have this perspective, and they are going back to their countries carrying in their hearts the seeds of hatred, violence and intolerance that end up germinating in tragedies such as Sep 11.

To Mr G. Bush one suggestion: in the attempt to erradicate the World of terrorism and it's Evil Axis, start at home - in the American Immigration and Naturalization Service - INS.

A very important note: this narrative would not be complete without doing justice to Victor - one of the INS officers. He came into our cell Monday morning. Right when I lay my eyes on him I noticed a different glow, quickly explained by his attitudes: he'd take care of one of us, feed and give water to another, he was always ready to help, at least send a smile, say a friendly word....

He moved like a star, shedding light into the darkness. I had the priviledge to talk with him for a few minutes, when I had the chance to convey my admiration, respect and gratitude for what he was doing for all those people, brutally subjected to such a painful experience.

Son of Mexican Immigrants, educated in India, and possessing a spirituality impossible to hide behind such shinning eyes, this man, who represents so well the best of the East and the West told me simply .. Ricardo, I don't do much, all I can do is try to transmit to these people a little compassion, a little love....

May God always guard you and bless you Victor, as you guard and bless so many.... A last suggestion to the US President consider promoting Victor to the post of Foreign Relations Minister, what he deserves more than anyone. I'm certain that, in a very short time, he'd reverse the already beaten up image of the US with the rest of the world.

His attitude reflect perfectly the spirit and the values that have created America, and proves that one cannot possilbly combat terrorism by becoming himself a terrorist one should employ that ancient technique - turning the other cheek.

Finally, I want to say that I have already done the following :

1. Filed a formal complain at the American Embassy in Brasilia.

2. Filed a formal complain at the Brazilian Foreign Affairs Ministry

3. Send a copy of this text in Portuguese and in English to the Internet, newspapers, magazines, websites, and Human Rights International Institutions.

I hereby authorize any individual or corporation to divulge or reproduce this text partially or in its entirety, making it a public domain, as I believe this case is.

May God bless us all.
Ricardo Abude E. da Silva

I first started to work with China when we invested in a company that was trying to get a wireless permit in China and I had the opportunity to meet many Chinese officials. Some told me that they thought I made a mistake spending time in the US for the last 18 years and that I should focus on China which will obviously have more influence over Japan than the US. On the other hand, it's not too late.

So, this is a result of many long discussions with Leonard Liu...

First of all, Taiwan will become part of China eventually and we should look at how Taiwan Inc. operates. They bootstrap. They first make displays for calculators, then they made calculators, then PC's and now Quanta makes more laptops (designs them too) than any other company in the world. DVD's because of the popularity of DVD's caused by the lack of copyright regulation in China are mostly produced in China. DVD's are one of the most profitable components of the living room appliance suite. Japan is working hard on high end things like video cameras and might end up in a similar situation to the Americans who invented the TV, but didn't benefit from the business. China will probably make most of the DVD's and TV's and make all of the money.

The risk here for Japan is that Japan is 5 years behind the US and have not been able to take the "shallowing" strategy that US companies such as Compaq and Dell have been able to take. This strategy is to shallow the products and not give up market share. They now outsource almost everything to Taiwan. Japn is going down the deadly path that IBM and GM went down. Japan is trying to go high end. You can't buy a Japan PC under $1200.

On the other hand, Japan is losing competitiveness in manufacturing. Taiwan has 12 inch wafer fabs, Japan doesn't. So Japanese cell phones have cool applications, but deep down inside, they are not that smart and may not be able to compete long term with phones designed by Taiwanese with access to the most advanced semiconductors.

It is obvious that China will learn the Taiwan Inc. business model and will start from the bottom and bootstrap up and take over much of manufacturing from Japan. Japan needs to assume that they will lose manufacturing to China and focus on services, IT and bio, all sectors where we currently suck.

We need to purge the system of banking and government relationships that are causing Japan to be focused on the sector at extreme risk from the Chinese.

Yasunobe-san, formerly of MITI said that the ATI-Stanford students were very motivated and interesting compared to many similar groups and that I should therefore accept the request from them to give a keynote at their upcoming conference. They then asked me to publicize it, so here you go. ;-)

I've been asked to talk about "Preparing for success as a global entrepreneur". I've been preparing for a long time, so I'm probably an expert on it. I wonder when I will eventually become successful. ;-)

To find out more about the program, take a look at their web page.

Event Information

Saturday, August 24, 2002
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Time 24, Tokyo Odaiba


This is a letter I got from Prime Minister Koizumi asking me to join the cabinet consumer policy committee. Actually, the reason I was invited to this committee is because professor Iwamura suggested I be added to represent the position that the Net provides a new way for companies to interact with its customers. This is a pretty important committee and I feel a bit out of place, but it's a great opportunity to try to get stuff about the Net built into some of the basic laws governing information disclosure and corporate governance.