Wednesday, November 27, 2013

China's Dangerous Game

Over the past month the People's Republic of China have been engaged in a war of words with neighboring Japan over the long disputed Sankaku Islands in the East China Sea. As the saber rattling between the two nations escalated, the PRC declared a "Air Defense Identification Zone" which over lapped into Japan's existing Air Defense Identification Zone which includes the small group of tiny uninhabited Islets claimed by both nations. As part of our security alliance with Japan, the United States has chosen not to recognize the new PRC zone over the Senkakus.

In a move that was meant to demonstrate where the USA stands on the issue, two USAF B-52's were dispatched to enter China's declared zone and deliberately fly over the disputed resource rich islands. This of course does not sit well with Beijing's Defense Ministry. While unarmed, the B-52's flying from their base in Guam has sent a clear message to the PRC that the United States stands by it's ally Japan. This has been met with a formal complaint from Beijing calling the move both unjustified and irresponsible effectively telling us to but out and not take side with Japan.

Japan and the People's Republic of China normalized relations in 1978 but up until now Beijing has turned a blind eye to Japanese administration which dates back to 14 January 1895 during the Meiji era. It is possible that the recent speculation of potential oil resources may be the real motivation for the dispute. In any case, no one is anticipating an out break of war between China and Japan. However with the PRC moving it's one aircraft carrier into the region and with continual escalation of tensions between the two nations, incidents can happen. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the naval forces of the PRC continue to come within close proximity of each other with each nation scrambling fighter jets with each further escalation. We at American Mishima hope for the sake of all nations that a peaceful solution can be found.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Royal Affair in Japan : Caroline Kennedy Meets Heisei Emperor

America's newest ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy arrived via horse drawn carriage in an elaborate procession full of pomp befitting royalty to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials to Emperor Akihito. People lined the downtown Tokyo streets to get a glimpse of the lone surviving member of the Kennedy Family of former US President John F. Kennedy. As reported in Japan Today, many well wishers greeted her with "Kennedy-san!" While she may have her critics for her lack of Diplomatic experience what she represents is far more significant.

What many people do not know is that her father was supposed to visit Japan shortly after leaving Dallas. He would have been the first US President to do so but tragically this never happened. For many Japanese of the Post War Era, their first glimpse of the Kennedy's on television was through the live broadcast of the slain president's funeral procession that was viewed around the world. The image of his grieving widow and two heartbroken children made a lasting impression on the people of Japan many will never forget.

Ambassador Kennedy carries more than her father's legacy, she represents just how far Japanese-American Relations have come since the end of the Pacific War. It had been 70 years since that moonless night of August 2nd, 1943 when then LTJG. John F. Kennedy's PT-109 was sunk killing two of his crew mates after colliding with the Imperial Japanese Destroyer Amagiri in what best could be described as being one of the most famous small boat engagements of the war. Kennedy of course, survived the war and would enter politics. While the war might had ended, his back injuries from the collision plagued him for the rest of his life. And despite his experience, he sought to put the war behind him. Just prior to his assassination, it was proposed that the surviving crews of the IJN Amagiri and PT-109 reunite late 1963. We do not know if this ever took place but we do know JFK could not have made it. And so it is that JFK's lone surviving daughter would represent him and our country before His Majesty so that they together can open a new era in Japanese - American friendship. As an American, I can not state how proud I am of Caroline Kennedy. She has come a long way since losing her parents and her brother John Jr. and so has our country. While there is still much to improve in both our relations with Japan and problems here at home, this sole survivor of Camelot represents that spirit of hope so long lost on that fateful day in Dallas 1963. The people of Japan understand this and are happy to receive her.

 We at American Mishima wish her all the best and say:
We love you and がんばってください- Kennedy-san!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Japan Deploys Troops to Philippines

Did we just say Japan was sending troops to the Philippines? Yes, for the first time since World War II Japanese SDF Troops are being sent to the Philippines but this time not to invade, conquer, or to subjugate, they are being sent there to help the people who have suffered as a result of Typhoon Haiyan. In a bold move sidestepping Article 9 of Japan's Post War American Drafted Constitution restricting Japan's "Self Defense Forces" to strictly home island defense, Prime Minster Shinzo Abe issued the following statement: "I made the decision to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces to the Philippines at a scale of approximately 1,000 members, Japan’s largest relief dispatch in history. We are providing an ongoing stream of assistance to bring relief to the people of the Philippines from the enormous typhoon damage. A medical team began its activities in the affected area yesterday. Last night, rescue workers from the Self-Defense Forces also arrived in the area. Today, medical equipment will also arrive in the local area on an SDF aircraft. The hardship of the destruction from a major catastrophe is not simply someone else’s problem."

Under Abe's orders, Japan is sending three warships, transport aircraft, helicopters, and 1000 SDF Troops to help in the disaster relief efforts. Tokyo is also providing $10,000.000 in emergency aid in addition to an advance team of 25 medical workers who had been sent ahead of the SDF. This is the largest deployment of Japan's SDF in what could be seen as a further move by Prime Minister Abe's to expand Japan's non-combat activities in what Japan Times calls a "more pro-active role for the military overseas." While we have long supported Japan's right to defend itself, its about time that a real movement within Japan's current government for lifting the self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or aiding an ally under attack has gained momentum. Abe has pledged to bolster Japan's military to cope with the new demands of the ever changing regional stability particularly with recent issues with the PRC's Navy and North Korea. We at American Mishima applaud Prime Minister Abe for coming to the assistance of the Philippines. Our hearts go out to the many devastated families of the people living there in the worst natural disasters since the Tohuko Disaster that killed over 10,000 people in Japan March 2011. Japan has not forgotten how the world came out with an outpouring level of support. We are happy to see Japan's government coming to the aid of another stricken people who needs the worlds help. While people will always be critical of Japan for it's wartime past, humanitarian relief efforts such as these in the 21st Century is something Japan can do now. Please continue to be of assistance. どもありがとうさま!

If you would like to help, Please visit:
American Red Cross PhilippinesTyphoon Response

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Captain Kirk's New Cloaking Device

If you're a fan of Star Trek, you'll recall that original series episode where Captain James T. Kirk steals a cloaking device from the Romulans to hide his ship from danger. We'll today in the 21st. Century if Captain Kirk needed a cloaking device the US Navy can now simply issue him one. Seriously? All joking aside, yes! And that's exactly what happened this month. Yes that's right!

The US Navy gave Captain Kirk a cloaking device. That is Captain James A. Kirk of the United States Navy. He has been given command of the first DDG-1000 Class Destroyer with stealth capability, the USS Zumwalt.
Named after Admiral Elmo R. “Bud” Zumwalt who was chief of Naval Operations in the early 1970's, this new warship (the first of three being built) is longer and faster than the current Arleigh-Burke class destroyers. The Zumwalt is equipped with the latest and deadliest array of weapons that can strike targets more than 60 miles away.
Wrapped in a high tech light weight carbon fiber composite, this new ship is 50 times harder to spot on radar. While not quite the 23rd Century cloaking device of James T. Kirk, this new vessel under the command of Captain James A. Kirk represents the new direction of the US Navy's quest for an efficient warship capable of meeting the ever changing needs of the 21st Century.
We at American Mishima would like to wish Captain Kirk and the yet unnamed crew of the USS Zumwalt much success in thier upcoming sea trials and missions to come!
Anchors Away Captain!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

While many people know the famous American born Nisei actor George Takei who played Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek, many people still do not know that during his childhood his entire family was forcibly interned in Rohwer prison camp (An AMERICAN Concentration Camp) deep in the swamps of southeast Arkansas. And why was this? Simply because they looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. "My friends at Arkansas State University are working hard to make sure history is not forgotten. They just launched a wonderful website on Rohwer; I'm honored to provide an audio intro." Check it out here:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

American Mishima looks at (風立ちぬ) Kaze Tachinu – The Wind Rises

How far would one go to follow their dreams? This is the moral dilemma vividly told in the 2013 Ghibli / Toho Studios animated masterpiece written and directed by famed animator-director Hayao Miyazaki in what he declares to be his last film which has been described as a animated historical fantasy. The Wind Rises follows the real life aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi who developed Japan's most famous fighter plane the Mitsubishi A6M Zero into the historical chronological order of Japan's airplane development and that of the fictionalized personal life of the plane's chief designer.
Inspired by the manga and further based on the short story by Tatsuo Hori, Miyazaki sought out to create the world of Pre-War Japan. Starting in the Taisho Era we are introduced to Jiro as a young boy who dreams of climbing atop the roof of his rural family home and taking flight aboard a small bird-like airplane which he alone pilots over the pastoral picturesque countryside of Japan. A literal flight of fancy any boy could have had dreaming of soaring through the skies. But then his dreams are rudely intruded upon by the dark specter of a large Zeppelin with Iron Crosses raining down bombs destroying Jiro's beautiful dream. It is the first of many dreams Director Miyazaki will take the audience through to illustrate Jiro's moral dilemma he had yet to understand. And to set upon this vision Jiro is inspired by the latest aviation magazine that features an article of the famed real life early Italian aeronautical engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni.
At first Jiro dreams of seeing skies filled with heavy Italian bomber planes lumbering overhead. But when Caproni makes an unexpected appearance demanding to know what this young Japanese boy is doing in his dream, the two realize they both share the same dreams. And then Caproni makes one observation of the near-sighted boy. “You'll never fly with bad sight. But that does not mean you can not design planes that will!”
Upon awakening, young Jiro declares to his mother that he will become an aeronautical engineer! From that moment forth, Caproni serves as both inspiration and as his dream mentor who will advise him throughout the film's progression thus embarking Jiro onto a quest to build the airplane of his dreams. But as fate would have it, Jiro would not embark on his quest alone.
It is by fate that Jiro rides aboard the train to the University where he catches the attention of a young girl named Naoko Satomi. But before the young engineering student can get acquainted, tragedy strikes in the form of the Great Kanto Quake of 1923. As the train was forced to come to a halt, it's boilers became in danger of blowing thus forcing the evacuation of it's passengers. In doing so, Naoko's handmaiden's leg is injured. Jiro comes to their aid and without giving his name delivers Naoko and her maiden to their family home in Uneo. As Jiro returns to the university he is joined by his chain smoking friend Kiro Honjo (designer of the GM4 bomber) who had exhaustively saved the mountains of text books from the burning buildings that have engulfed both the university and the Tokyo Cityscape in flames and ash. While Honjo is convinced that Tokyo is finished, it is Jiro's mentor Caproni who asks him “Hey Japanese boy! Does the wind still rise?”
Like Tokyo itself, Jiro's dreams of becoming an engineer are revived with new life and vigor. But as he continues on his path he has not forgotten the young girl he had met on that train and is further thought of when a mystery woman delivered a token of gratitude for saving the Satomi girls. Instinctively, he races home to his apartment to find the woman but instead discovers his own younger sister Kayo awaiting to scold him for not visiting home. It is Kayo's desire to become a doctor and in such Jiro offer's his support so she may go on to study medicine. A decision that will play an integral role in his future.
Upon graduating university, Jiro lands himself a job with Mitsubishi. It is there he meets his new boss Kurokawa. Mr. Kurokawa is short in stature and large on demands as he tells Jiro on his first day that he is late. “Late? I was told to come anytime in April.”-“If we told you April that means get you here in March!” Kurokawa scolded. Undaunted, Jiro gets right to work on a airplane strut he has been handed by his boss as a test to which he knows is an inferior design. As Jiro later dines with his old classmate and fellow engineer Honjo, he discovers the curved shape of a Mackerel bone in his Saba dinner. This proves inspiration for a flexible strut design. But ultimately, the plane breaks apart in flight nearly killing the pilot leaving Jiro with a moment of doubt when out of nowhere his old mentor Caproni appears. “What kind of world would you like to live in? Do you prefer one with pyramids or with no pyramids? You know airplanes are fated to slaughter and destruction, So what kind of world would you live in?” asked Caproni. “I prefer one with pyramids,” answered Jiro. And in such he remains ever committed to designing the perfect airplane. But as the Army contract is awarded to a rival aircraft company, Jiro and Honjo are sent to Germany to obtain license to Junkers designs.
While Germany displays it's most technological achievements in aeronautical design, it proves to be a very unfriendly place. At this point of the story history will recall the rise of the Nazi party, it's thugs and racial attitudes are present even if the Swastika and uniformed storm troopers are not. The visiting Japanese Engineers are not given the welcome or access to the all metal Junkers planes they were promised. In one unauthorized up close inspection of a partially disassembled wing, Jiro realized just how far behind Japan was. Honjo complained how in Germany the plant is right next to the air field and planes are towed unlike in Japan where their planes are pulled by oxen. It became Jiro's mission to somehow close the technology gap.
Upon Jiro's return to Japan, he is awarded the position of chief designer for a new Japanese fighter commissioned by Japan's Navy. But for some unknown reason, Kurokawa and the Company's president has to smuggle Jiro away from the plant as he is now wanted by the Special Police. Kurokawa decides to send Jiro to hide out at a countryside resort until the situation dies down. It is there while making paper airplane models he catches the eye of a young woman.
She turns out to be none other than a grown up Naoko who instantly recognized Jiro. And thus begins a most romantic courtship as the two become reacquainted. But as fate would have it, not only were they brought back together, the appearance of a strange German Engineer named Castorp seeking to forget Hitler's thuggery who prompts Jiro through German song that “This moment will not last Forever.” Seizing upon that notion, Jiro spontaneously asks Naoko's father for her hand in marriage to which she joyously accepts.
But before bliss can ensue, Naoko reveals a most tragic revelation. She like her mother has contracted tuberculosis and wishes to live apart until she can be healed, something no one wishes to acknowledge can be done.
As Jiro comes ever closer to making his design prototype of the Mitsubishi A5M (the fore runner of the A6M Zero) into a flying reality, Naoko's condition becomes worse. Noako decides to leave the Sanatorium and join Jiro still in hiding at Kurokawa's house. Not approving of an unwed couple living together, Jiro and Noako ask the Kurokawa's to marry them which his boss reluctantly agrees. Knowing fully that she will die Jiro declares that every moment is precious. This of course does not sit well with his sister Kayo who as a medical intern knows her condition is far worse than Naoko admits to. “This marriage will end badly,” she warns. And in a tearful gust of wind, he knows.
Much has been said of The Wind Rises from the usual bitterness of Beijing to the constant condemnations of Korea. All from which critics have likely not seen this film nor will do so under the same tired old cries of Japan trying to gloss over it's wartime past. In regards to this film, none of these things are true.
Jiro is haunted throughout the film by apocalyptic visions of Japan's inevitable fate. And as Jiro contemplates the cost in human lives his creation had swallowed, it is his dream mentor Caproni who reminds him that in the end he had achieved his dream to build a perfect plane. And in doing so we can say in the defense of this film to it's American critics who demand to know “why would you want to make a film about a man who built the plane that killed so many Americans?” Miyazaki could quote the real life Jiro Horikoshi when he most famously said; “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful." We could not agree more.

Please Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Loss for our Family: The Passing of Enrique Rosas

Death is never a welcome stranger in any house of any family and for our family we are no exception. Yesterday, I got word that my dear long ailing uncle Enrique Rosas had succumbed to his condition and passed away at 10:00 AM in San Diego California. It wasn't so unexpected. His blood pressure was dropping so low during dialysis it was now only a matter of time. So when I got the news, I spent a part of the day reciting the Sutras and offering candles and incense which I will continue on with today at the Buddhist Temple in his honor as his ashes are cremated today. As a Catholic, it was not his way but he knew this was my way to pray and would take comfort that I did indeed thought of him throughout his decline and crossing over the Sea to the Shores of Liberation and beyond to a heaven he will find awaiting him.

My uncle Enrique was many things, A loving father, husband, my dad's younger brother, my godfather, and would be second father to me. A complicated man who for over forty years would have a complicated relationship with. A complex man with rather simple principles when it came to family. His love for such exceeded his own ego and personality. He was in some respects a man of mystery who never revealed quite how he truly made his money, yet always provided for his loving wife Lucha and three children Pilar, Marisol, & Enrique Jr. Unlike my own little family, Enrique made sure his family never knew a day without food or being without lights, or to go without money. Somewhat strange for a man who left the impression that he never left his house. But in the end, none of that really mattered. What mattered was he was always able to provide for his family which he loved so much.

Enrique could tell you some fantastic stories. Some of which you were never too sure if they involved truth but that being my uncle, I always gave him the benefit of a doubt. For example during the 1970's he once told me a wild story about his alleged involvement in diamond smuggling in Europe but with him you could never be sure if it was just a story or did he really make a fortune in some illicit business. In the 1980's I got into an argument with him because he promised me help to stave off an eviction but then forced me to go through some shady contact to get only half the money I needed. In the 1990's he talked much about owning a vast fishing fleet which I never saw. In fact that is the basis of my current dispute with his stubborn two younger children over some stupid boats. What they don't get is that I like boats. Hell, I watch Deadliest Catch & Wicked Tuna for fuck's sake so what's the big fucking deal? No they won't even talk to me about this like reasonable adults, just cut me off without saying a word. Rude! The whole family has been saying this past year how they are very sensitive and can't say anything to them. Really? What are they five years old? They are almost 40! Seriously, I would have liked to see a picture of one of these boats. Hell, he once offered me a job on one of them with as he put it “with cousins I never knew existed” which I reluctantly passed on in my youth long before I knew what kind of money was involved with them. But to my cousins, they will always see me as nothing more than an opportunist shaking him down for money and then accusing him of being a liar thus taking offense. What they will never understand is that from age 5 all the way until I turned 40, he always told me if I needed help to please come to him first and no one else. TRUTH! But hey, such is family bullshit and because of such I have not been welcome to visit my uncle in his last year of life. This falls on his two youngest children and that is all I will say on it until I can find peace and let it go.

My uncle was no different than the other of the Rosas men who are ruled by their passions and often their tempers. For much of my life he was either estranged with my grandfather, or my own father, (and sometimes his drama prone sister Rosa Mendoza), or with even myself. He prided himself that he could care for his family and often mocked my father's hard fought achievements with a degree of jealousy yet at the same time loved my dad. He had many strong opinions and yet compassion for my struggles which led him to often defend me more than so often when I became estranged from my own father. With my uncle, no matter how much I pissed him off his door was always open to me and I always had a family in Tijuana. Now that door is closed. I will miss mi' Padrino. He always wished he could have raised me and offered to do so many times throughout my life. While in life he could not understand who I was, he could recognize after so many years of hardship where I was going and expressed pride and comfort that I would indeed find my way. While his guidance was rare and often useless, his heart was always in the right place. In my life he made me over 100 promises and only kept three of them. But one thing he never waivered on was his love for his quasai-tragic nephew who writes to you today.

I will miss my Uncle. I miss him already. I will miss the sound of his deep voice much like the smell of his old pipe he used to smoke out of in my youth which he had long given up before succumbing to the deteriorating effects of diabetes and the daily rigors of dialysis. Much like his father before him who was in and out of hospitals for the last four years of his life, he too suffered a great deal. He had often talked about losing his mother at the age of seven and how it affected him. How he had been so angry with my father for bringing her ashes to be with my grandfather so they could be together for once and all. Now, that is immaterial. He is with his parents now. I could see him for a moment being that seven year old boy returning home to his beautiful mother Rosa Blanca who died from Lou Gehrig's Disease at the young age of 33. I can see him jumping into her arms and my dear grandfather smiling from a backlit door frame. Their suffering is now over. I will miss my uncle, mi' Tio' Enrique, Mi Pardino. I extend my condolences to mi' Tia' Lucha, mi' prima Pilar, and to her siblings Marisol & Enrique Jr. As my own parents get older and health become questionable, I feel for their loss and that of my dear father's as I deal with my own. Vaya con dios Tio'. I will see you again.

Enrique Rosas
Via con dios Tio'.

Friday, November 1, 2013

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Seen here is the famous Itsukushima shrine. Awe inspiring is it not?