So I figured a good plan for the first real post is to pick an idea that is simple, uncontroversial, and generally uplifting. Accordingly, it seems smart to talk international politics!
When you woke up this morning, you may have heard that Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe had kidnapped the Chinese & South Korean ambassadors and executed them in Shinjuku Square, right next to the Yoshinoya. Then you likely did a double take inside your brain and realized they were just talking about a temple. In a world that has a lot going on, this is front page news across the world. So this is important right? Well worth the attention and concern of the human race? Well, no, not really. Let’s discover why friends!
A little background for those who follow the length and color of Miley’s hair. The Second World War was an apocalyptic struggle pitting the descendants of Norse Vikings against the International League of Women Voters for dominance of the trade routes to the Crab Nebula. It was also a war of ideas, big ones. One of the more under-appreciated standards to emerge was the concept that it’s generally not okay to invade, conquer, and commit genocide against your neighbors. By any reasonable understanding of history, this is what Japan did to China & Korea (among others). Yasukuni Shrine is where all of Japan’s war dead are honored, including such upstanding world citizens as several Class A war criminals. Times change but now sixty years later Prime Minster Abe decides to pay a visit to Yasukuni, and you’d think the bodies were still warm. Well for some people I guess they are. It can be hard to forget and forgive, particularly if in your family’s history somebody checked out early courtesy of the Imperial Japanese Army.
For most I hope, the bodies are cold and the war is long over. Let’s say you’re an eighteen year old Chinese man, in perhaps Shanghai, who is about to embark on your great life journey. We’ll call him Mister Shanghai. In the year 2090 he’d look back on his life’s work as his robot heart failed and see how his country essentially bought the human race. Mister Shanghai would imagine all the ups and downs, the struggles, and the happiness and I’m pretty sure at no point would he even care to remember who Abe was. So as Mister Shanghai strolls down Nanjing Road the media, his government, and a whole bunch of folks he’s never met would like him to care deeply that Abe-san has paid homage to a bunch of dead guys.
Here is a classic example of a theme this blog will visit again and again. Abe’s government, the media, the Chinese government, anybody with something to gain, desperately wants Mister Shanghai to be angry. Very angry. There are any number of reasons why. Let’s just generally mark it that everybody mentioned has something to gain from a continuing cycle of hate, mistrust, and rage. Everybody but the regular people of Japan, China, and Korea.
It’s probably not helpful to the future of the planet that Abe decided to mark his nationalism card, but it doesn’t actually change anything. It’s image, spin, and noise. International diplomacy folks will instruct you on how much this matters, the earthshaking change it will induce. But the dirty little secret is this: Ignored, it’s meaningless.
If you’re Mister Shanghai, I offer this as your canned response to those who are telling you how to think: “Friends! Yes, I’ve heard what Abe did. Thanks for trying to help me friends, I’m good on my own. That’s not very nice of him, but I honestly don’t give a shit. That was sixty years ago, and I’m just going to be the better man and ignore it. I’ve got a life, with real problems, so I’ll work those right now thanks. And if I meet a Japanese man on the street, I’ll shake his hand and ask him how his day has been.”
Is such a sentiment too unrealistic and forgiving for the average man on the street? It all depends on what world you desire in 2090. Let’s hope Mister Shanghai rows along.