Thursday, December 29, 2016

Japanese PM Visits Pearl Harbor

This week marked the historic visit of the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit Pearl Harbor. PM Shinzo Abe in keeping good with his promise to honor the those who lost their lives in the opening salvo between our two great nations 75 years ago, joined President Obama in an act of reconciliation. Much like President Obama's earlier visit to Hiroshima, PM Abe met with survivors and laid wreaths where appropriate. Following President Obama's example, no apologies were made but instead offered his "sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls" of those who were lost on December 7, 1941. He said the Japanese had taken a "solemn vow" to never again wage war.In his concluding statements, Shinzo Abe said: "It is my wish that our Japanese children, and President Obama, your American children, and indeed their children and grandchildren, and people all around the world, will continue to remember Pearl Harbor as the symbol of reconciliation," Abe said. "We will spare no efforts to continue our endeavors to make that wish a reality. Together with President Obama, I hereby make my steadfast pledge." We at American Mishima hope that in spite of what has happened in our recent election that the United States and Japan will continue to be strong allies for years to come and furthermore that we may never go to war against each other again.
To PM Abe, we at American Mishima say: 
ども ありがとう ございまして!

Mockery Served Mandarin Style

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2017 will be known as The Year of the Rooster. In response to what some are calling The Year of the Donald, Beijing hilariously erected a 40 foot Rooster with Little Twitter Fingers and a do reminiscent of our new Twitter-happy Amateur in Chief. As we said before, there is no Sun Tzu for Dummies and the Chinese have this man clocked. Normally, we don't approve of foreign nations mocking our leadership but in this case we as a nation have definitely earned it.
All fun and games aside, we would rather see the PRC use humor as a weapon than armed conflict to get Little Twitter Fingers attention. We imagine this man will make it too easy for the Chinese to get under his skin. We suspect they will have many good laughs at our expense. All we can say is WELL PLAYED BEIJING. WELL PLAYED.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ultimate Chinese Finger Trap For Twitter Fingers?

For many reasonable Americans, we have only begun to live through a bad dream we can't wake up from. The "Donald" as he is known had used every underhanded means at his disposal to win the American Presidency. This is a man who outside of an International Beauty Pageant has absolutely no experience in international diplomacy and is way in over his head but can't get past his own. So what does he do to handle tough situations such as the recent moves on the part of the PRC? He goes to Twitter and rants like a third grader at China. This is bad for a lot of people and not just Americans. For the first time since the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War, the People's Republic of China has America at a serious disadvantage. 4000 years of Chinese Culture versus an unstable Reality TV Host who can't stop attacking people on Twitter. This could not be any more embarrassing or dangerous. America and China while at odds over the South China Seas have interdependent trade balances of which the PRC has underwritten much of our debt and does not take too kindly by the Donald's Twitter rants. This of course plays right into Beijing's hands requiring little or no effort on the part of the PRC. This is a man anyone even yours truly can bait with a single Tweet. Just imagine what the skilled strategists in the PLA will have in store for this amateur who lacks the temperament to lead the free world. It will be the ultimate Chinese Finger Trap and America's interests are going to take a serious hit from a predictable self inflicted wound. Anyone who has ever watched Chinese Martial Arts films can tell you that you never tread lightly against a skilled master. They don't make Sun Tzu for Dummies and if they did this man would not read it. And with the circle of "advisors" (such as his own children) the Donald has surrounded himself with, we pray that our young people serving in our military do not pay the ultimate price of this man's narcissistic ego which will get the better of him and make other Americans pay for his foolishness. 
These are dark times for America. We expect the Chinese to do whatever it is in their interests and we can not fault them for doing so. While we may have differences of opinions, we do need to continue work together. Our new "Leader" however seems determined to undo years of cooperation to satisfy his right wing political base at home while ignoring the consequences of his name calling abroad. It would be foolish for him to rant like a school yard bully on Twitter and then ignore the consequences. This is no longer Reality TV nor is it a game show where he can say "You're Fired" and walk away. This is a dangerous world we live in. We only hope that those in Beijing who visit our page to read this know that many of us here DO NOT want a war with the PRC. But with aggressive moves made on the part of the Chinese Navy in the South China Seas, we can only expect a war of words from our side that could potentially get seriously out of hand. The Donald loves to point his undersized fingers and the worst thing he can do right now is point them at China. We hope the skilled masters in Beijing exercise patience for this new learner is going to make mistakes. Let's just hope no one gets killed because of it. In the event this does happen, we Americans who opposed this reckless demagogue in our 2016 Presidential Election apologize in advance. 抱歉

Monday, December 5, 2016

PM Abe to Visit Pearl Harbor

On the eve of what some are predicting to be a series of troubling times ahead for the United States under the control of an unstable president-elect, a gesture of good will from Japan comes our way. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor making him the first Japanese PM to visit there. He will be joined by outgoing President Obama in what many are calling a great symbolic gesture on the part of Japan in recognition of it's wartime past so it never happens again. This announcement coincides with the 75 anniversary of the Japanese attack on the Naval Forces of the United States that took place there on December 7th, 1941 that led to an all out war between the United States and Japan. PM Abe is quoted as saying: ""I will visit Pearl Harbor with President Obama. This will be a visit to soothe the souls of the victims. "We should never repeat the ravages of the war." As we had earlier blogged last August 2016, Abe's wife Akie Abe had earlier made the trip to the Arizona Memorial and prayed for those lost on that day. Japan is our number one ally in Asia and the Pacific and such gestures of healing & reconciliation are as symbolic to how far we have come as they are meaningful. We at American Mishima appreciate this significant gesture.
For those who still can not let go or those who ask what difference that any of this makes, we defer this answer to the words humbly spoken by President Obama during his visit to the Hiroshima Memorial: "We come to mourn the dead. Their souls speak to us and ask us to look inward. To take stock of who we are and what we might become."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Failure to Bow and Other Little Details: Trump Meets Abe

Last week Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe flew to Trump Tower in New York to meet with the new President-Elect. Right off the bat, Trump failed to show respect with his failure to bow (a detail not lost on the Japanese) and further violated protocols when meeting foreign dignitaries. This should come as no surprise as this demagogue who spoke harshly of Japan during the election suddenly comes face to face with our most concerned ally who he has promised to abandon. It's clear who is the amateur here. But let's not waste anymore type on a man who shows no respect for anyone or the office of which he by which through the help of his friends in the Kremlin helped win by illicit means (who during the campaign demanded his political rival be locked up for using an unsecured email server) has the downright gall to allow his daughter Ivanka in the room and talk on an unsecured cell phone. It's outrageous and downright embarrassing. Now for Mr. Abe. We know he is skilled at diplomatic poker as he has been seeking deals with both Russia and China. Our hope is that he will use Trump's own ignorance and lack of political experience to his advantage and for the benefit of Japan's interests. Trump wants to arm Japan with nuclear weapons but we doubt this will happen. Abe will have likely went to see this man to get assurances as to the state of our Pacific Alliance with Japan. What we are hoping for is an increase of political leverage on the part of Abe to scrap Article 9 and perhaps seek the acquisition of a nuclear carrier capable of carrying strike aircraft. If Trump is to follow through with his threats that will most undoubtedly destabilize our alliance with Japan, they will need those military upgrades. This of course will not be popular at home as are many of Abe's military policies but they are a necessity in the face of growing threats from the PRC and a rearmed Russia. But this is in the long term interests for Japan's security. Will Abe succeed? It is difficult to say at this early stage. Abe has to work with a dangerously loose cannon that has hired a junta of right wing extremists looking to start a war. As Trump himself has said "I love war." We certainly hope this does not happen. It is our hope that Abe can give Trump a pause and a heavy does of reality that can not be served in Trump Tower or anywhere else on this planet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Toshiro Mifune Hollywood Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony

In a largely long overdue accolade owed to the late great Japanese film giant legend Toshiro Mifune, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented a star on Hollywood Boulevard this Monday November 14th 2016. We were fortunate to have been there to cover the event which was attended by Mifune's eldest son Shiro Mifune, his wife, and Mifune's grandson Rikiya Mifune of which we were happy to meet. This coincides with the 2016 AFI Film Fest screening of Academy Award Winning Director Steve Okazaki's documentary MIFUNE: The Last Samurai the night before at the Chinese Theater. 
This ceremony was well attended and included other Hollywood actors such as Martin Landau and Actress Tamlyn Tomita. But for us we had the opportunity to speak with and present a copy of our last Samurai epic The Setting Sun to Steve Okazaki, Mifune Productions head Rikiya Mifune, and Shiro Mifune who we found to be a true Gentlemen who took time out to speak with us and graciously accepted our book in appreciation of his father's work that heavily inspired our characters. Here are some photos we took. Please enjoy!
Steve Okazaki & Shiro Mifune.
Actress Tamlyn Tomita.
Grandson Rikiya Mifune.
 Shiro Mifune receiving our book.
This was an honor! 
Steve Okazaki & Shiro Mifune.
Then we gave a copy of The Setting Sun to Steve Okazaki.
Great guys both!
Academy Award Winning Director and Future Academy Award Winning Writer!

New Mifune Dcoumentary Makes AFI Film Fest 2016

This years AFI Film Festival had a much anticipate treat for fans of the late Japanese Film Legend Toshiro Mifune with the the debut screening of MIFUNE: The Last Samurai. Directed by Oscar Winning Director Steve Okazaki who grew up watching Samurai Films starring Mifune here in Los Angeles on a bed sheet at a Japanese Community Center. As quoted by the director himself, he thought this was going to be great to go through old film clips but it turned out to be more than anticipated. You could say this documentary was more than a labor of love. We would say it was a unique insight to the origin of Samurai Film recounting the golden age of Japanese Silent films. 
Those early films now mostly lost to time and war were initially based on Japanese Noh plays and later became known as "Chambara" films. The word "Chambara" comes from the sounds of clashing swords in film making. Up until Mifune entered his near accidental career, Japanese Samurai films were at best predictable and very formulaic. Enter fate. It was at the outbreak of war with China that young Manchurian born & raised Toshiro Mifune was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army and sent to Japan for the first time. Like many conscripts, he was mercilessly beaten by his superiors for his rebellious attitude. 
Mifune later is assigned as an Aerial Photographer. Being that his father was a studio photographer who often used him as a model. At some point in World War II he was taken off flight status and assigned to a crew chief position for the Kamikaze. This is where the documentary gets deep. Director Steve Okazaki reveals in his film with the help of interviews from both family and former cast & crews that knew him that his role in the war was to see the young pilots off before their desperate suicide missions. He would tell them: "Don't say you are doing this for the Emperor. Say good bye to your mothers. Now off you go." This may have played a role in his heavy drinking after the war. It was said by his family that when the war came up he would break down in tears. One can only imagine the faces of the young pilots he unwillingly was tasked to send to their deaths. It was clear in his eyes when he played Admiral Yamamoto in Tora Tora Tora this sense of guilt and burden he carried.
Like many returning soldiers returning to Japan after the war's end, Mifune sought to find work in Tokyo. Being that he had been a photographer, he applied at Toho Studios. But for some reason his application was submitted for an acting position instead of the photographer position he had wanted. He failed miserably and became enraged. Lucky for us that legendary director Akira Kurosawa saw something in him and cast him for his early post war films. It would not be until after 1950 when the American Occupation ban on films made with swords that the most iconic Samurai film of all time directed by Kurosawa starred Mifune in The Seven Samurai. 
Seven Samurai became an international hit and back home in Japan it redefined Samurai film. No longer were "Chambara" films made. Rather, films explored what became known in the West as "The Anti-Hero." Mifune's presence was so large, he would star in many films with Kurosawa such as Rashomon, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Red Beard, and The Hidden Fortress which became the inspiration for Star Wars. This documentary contains a literal who's who of Japanese acting greats and former crews who worked with Mifune. They got everybody they could find but Tatsuya Nakadai. Trust me, we asked! We feel that as far as documentary films go, Steve Okazaki has presented Mifune fans a real treat. Just seeing film clips from the Samurai Trilogy on the big screen makes you want to leap out of your seat with excitement and joy that only a Mifune film could inspire. This film which surprisingly is narrated by Keanu Reeves (Whoa!) is a must for any Toshiro  Mifune fan. We at American Mishima congratulate Director Steve Okazaki for this cinematic delight! That beinbg said, we have to let you know that this will be screened on limited release in December 2016 in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. If you can not see this in those cities, we recommend you look out for it when it becomes available on Amazon or Netflix. Please Enjoy!

The Red Turtle: Studio Ghibli's Bold Experiment or Squandered Opportunity?

Last night we attended the 2016 AFI Film Festival screening of Studio Ghibli's The Red Turtle at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. This much anticipated film from Studio Ghibli was the first non-Japanese film they produced by Belgian-Dutch director/animator Michael Dudok de Wit in a French-Japanese collaboration. Right from the get go we are introduced to the sounds of a dreadful storm on the high seas where a shipwrecked man struggles to stay afloat in the walls of water of which only the strong can survive. Going into his you know this will be a story of survival and there will be hardships. Studio Ghibli founder Hayou Miyazaki loves powerful scenes of nature for his backdrops and for this project Dudok de Wit does deliver. So early on this film scores very high on a technical level with incredible hand drawn animation.
No sooner than our castaway acclimates to his new circumstances on a small uninhabited tropical island, he immediately seeks to escape it. You'll note that he makes no effort to build a shelter or collect rain water but does make a minor effort to find food. This struck us as odd. In order to escape an island, you'll need provisions and good preparation but our castaway makes none of these necessary steps for survival. Instead, he builds a raft and tries to escape with no delay. No sooner than he is into open waters, his raft is destroyed by a massive red sea turtle. The man has no choice but to return back to the island. He will make two more attempts to flee by raft but will be thwarted by the same turtle marooning him to his fate back on the island. Out of frustration, the man gives into despair and flights of fantasy.  So far so good right?
Up until this point, Dudok de Wit's film is firing on all cylinders living up to the high standards that is Studio Ghibli's well earned reputation. You have nature, struggle, and the human condition following a well envisioned story arc audiences who grew up on Robinson Caruso or had seen Tom Hanks in Castaway will be well familiar with. But here is where the story goes into a direction we had trouble buying. As our castaway attempts to build his fourth raft to escape, the red turtle comes ashore. Out of rage, the man turns the turtle up onto his back and kills him. This we get. What we don't get is why a half starved man would not attempt to cook the turtle and eat it. This made no sense. Instead, he has a crisis of conscious and decides to administer water in hopes of reviving the dying turtle but it is too late. Prior to this we see the man suffering from hallucinations. The film only gives you partial clues that he is losing his mind. Now we find a woman lying unconscious in the shell of the turtle. At first there is an uncomfortable distance and then romance.
As time goes on, the man forms a bond with this mysterious woman who exchanges no dialog with him. They eventually have a son together and the find happiness on the island. You want desperately want to believe this. You want this film to work. This man has suffered so much you root for him and his little family. But in the end, it is all a lie and a third of the audience left before Dudok de Wit opened the floor for the post film Q&A. I was upset and wanted an answer so we stuck around. Dudok de Wit described getting that phone call from Studio Ghibli to produce a full feature film as a "Opportunity of a Lifetime." There we agree. But what he chose to do next looked like an ambitious animated film with powerful themes, excellent animation, and everything you would expect from a Studio Ghibli film only to be ruined by the conclusion of the story arc. Instead of giving you hope, Dudok de Wit gave you a pretentious French Art Film that left you feeling empty. In Dudok de Wit's own words, he did not have a story but a concept. So far so good. He described how the castaway theme has been popular over the last two centuries. Check. But instead of redemption he chose to bum us all out and go with a sad ending you had wished he had avoided. Only Rod Serling was able to successfully pull such a story line off in his remake of a short French Film on his Twilight Zone episode titled An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. But there, you know it's all fantasy. It's a hard task to pull off and Dudok de Wit went this French Art Film route and potentially squandered an Opportunity of a Lifetime. We would have went with a different ending that gave both redemption and hope but American Mishima did not get the call from Studio Ghibli, Michael Dudok de Wit did so there you have it. Perhaps we are wrong about this bold experiment but this anger we woke up with the morning after says no. As we had previously mentioned, The Red Turtle scores highly on a technical level but fails us on a story level. Only you the audience will have final say at the box office. This has just been one man's review. We are sure Studio Ghibli will hope you'll be more generous But see it for yourself and then you decide.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Pervasive Fear

In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election outcome, a wave of fear and loathing has gripped many non-whites and people of all persuasions. Acts of vandalism, racists taunts, and violence against Blacks, Muslims, Latinos, and LGBTQ have occurred with an alarming growing frequency and there is no sign that this will wane anytime soon. In reaction there have been protests and counter vandalism. Neither of which will change the outcome of what has occurred. Until the next presidential election cycle begins in 2018, we must live with a vindictive man who keeps a list of enemies now control of the highest office in the land. What is more frightening is the collection of a who's who of  Republican extremists that are being vetted for Cabinet positions. What we are witnessing is in essence what Bill Maher describes as a Right Wing Coup that embraced racist extremists and fanned the flames of racial & social divide. With vulgar calls from Mr. Trump himself to "knock the shit" out of people and other UN-presidential examples of his erratic behavior that has only encouraged the darker elements of our society to act upon their desires to wage terror on non whites, Muslims, and LGBTQ peoples. This is not what America stands for. And with Mr. Trump making no effort to restrain his more unstable supporters, his recent call for national unity comes off as insincere.
Anger and intolerance has made an ugly return. This happened once before in this country. We go to our Buddhist Temple with people who as children were forced from their homes and put on trains to be sent to concentration camps. This was the result of Executive order 9066. This is an idea that Trump himself said he was open to. This is a frightening prospect and more so for our Muslim citizens who Trump had said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering this country. Whether he follows through with that threat is yet to be seen. As of yesterday, he removed the Muslim Ban from his campaign's website. But the damage has been done and the racists have only become further emboldened to commit acts of violence and intimidation. This is a dark time in America. One could only wonder what it must have been like before EO9066 was issued. People thought it couldn't happen here but it did. The Isei who lived here in those times used to say "Shigata ga nai" which translates "It could not be helped." The fallout from the election has left this country more fiercely divided. We are fortunate that we live in the Free Thinkers states but for those who do not, we fear for them. We hope we are wrong but as the days go by and scarier news makes it ways, we are less than optimistic. With the Pervasive Fear replacing anger and disgust, one must ask if it too early to say Shigata ga nai? We'll soon find out. Pray for the USA. We're going to need it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

America's Most Dangerous Game

As everyone by now knows, a vulgar Reality TV host with absolutely no political experience governing was elected the 45th President of the United States. It was done so through a vile campaign of fear and hate inflamed by a reckless demagogue who has embraced our country's enemies and scorned our allies abroad. While the effects will not be immediate, fears of what may come in the form of future wars and disastrous policies at home loom large among the free thinkers and those who reject racism and culture wars brought on by the religious right. We have survived bad presidents before (George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon) and will do so again as we have in the past but first we must get through this with the eyes of the world nervously watching. It is not with bitterness that we write this but with sadness that the question of how a nation could elect such a man who lied with impunity and who had shown incredible disrespect for our outgoing president could come to life. Our worst fears of history repeating itself have only begun. While this is not Nazi Germany, this is not supposed to happen here in the United States. Those who vehemently rejected Barack Obama on the basis of the color of his skin (and not the content of his character or his polices) as some secret Muslim have now come out of the shadows and shamelessly helped bring racism into the mainstream. They have gone so far as to legitimize such vile behavior and violence as entertainment. Reality TV has replaced common sense and responsibility in the name of American Exceptionalism or as the rest of the world knows as Arrogance. It is also in part the failure of the Media who held the new President-Elect to a lower standard than his Democratic opponent that the facts were often ignored or sensationalized for higher ratings than fair reporting that this has happened. 

Where this ship of state will go now is anyone's guess. The United States has been up to until now a beacon of stability and a leader for World Peace. Never before had the outcome of an election brought about so much fear and loathing that our standing in the world is so threatened. We now have a man who regularly throws childish temper tantrums on Twitter at former beauty queens and anyone else he doesn't like at three in the morning in control of the Nuclear Codes. Worse, he has threatened during the campaign to use them without giving any thought of what that could actually mean. This is a frightening prospect that as of this morning became real. If your reading this from Russia or from The People's Republic of China, you should not be celebrating. This should worry you as much as it worries us. The World already has one Kim Jong Un and does not need another yet here we are. We who have stood against the "Trump Train" have absolutely no confidence that the weight of such responsibility would temper such a man given the keys to the world's most powerful military. Particularly since he has vowed to fire the entire General Staff because as he puts it "they know nothing." This is as Bill Maher called it "A Right Wing Coup." Sounds a little too dramatic? Arguably it is when you consider the forces that backed Trump that include War Criminal Allen West famous for violating the Geneva Convention in Iraq with the use of torture of prisoners. It will be now up to our standing Military Officer Corps to live up to their oaths of protecting us from all enemies foreign & domestic (and I do stress the word Domestic) should things go terribly south. We are counting on them to reject illegal orders such as the promise during the campaign use of torture and far worse that our fragile democracy will need to survive this Right Wing Coup that threatens not only American Democracy but World Peace in an already unstable world. 

At some point we will get past the shock of this electoral outcome and come to grips with the new realities facing the home front. We now have a new leader with a hot temper and a fragile ego who will likely come after us who criticize him as he routinely threatens to do like some two bit third world dictatorship. Well, America is not a Banana Republic and we still have many good people here despite this nasty election. (Good going John Oliver!) We hope that those who still view Americans favorably do not judge us as a whole for what folly our recent election has done. And perhaps those who have fought for freedom will one day forgive us for embarking on this Most Dangerous Game Show where people don't just get kicked off the island, they go home in flag draped coffins or they are strung up by ropes and hung from trees in the amber glow of burning crosses. While some Americans will rejoice, the rest of us are filled with dread and nausea and unyielding sense of national shame that this has happened in our country. We are better than this but it seems we may take a hard fall from a self inflicted wound to realize this. The brief unity that brought this country together after 9/11 has been long forgotten and the nightmare of a Trump Presidency has only begun. It's like a bad dream we would like to wake up from but can't. Thus, the Free Thinkers of America will continue to write and voice their opinions and people will find a way to go about their lives. But will it be the same? It's too soon to say but it is clear we are now a more polarized divided nation than ever before that must together endure what we have so foolishly wrought. The Far Right has no interest in uniting the nation or representing all of its citizens nor does its new leader. We've lived through bad presidents before and hopefully we will get through this again. As actor Robert Whul once said in his famous HBO Assume The Position lecture: "Bad Presidents are as American as Apple Pie." In the unlikelihood we are offered a slice in Mr. Trump's Noninclusive America, We at American Mishima shall pass.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sad End for Heroic Icon Turned Castaway

It has been 79 years since legendary female aviation icon Amelia Earhart went missing on her ambitious around the world flight with her navigator Fred Noonan. Over the years there had been many speculations as to what became of her and her famous Lockheed Electra. Some had speculated that she crashed into the sea while other suggested that she died as a prisoner of Imperial Japanese Forces in the South Pacific during WWII. Neither is true and the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has sought to prove that. TIGHAR has recently revealed a new theory based on evidence found on Nikumaroro Island. A skeleton recovered there in 1940 was initially ruled out as that of the iconic flier on the grounds the British Doctor at the time ruled to be that belonging to a male castaway. Using photo comparisons and Earhart's own measurements, TIGHAR has concluded that the recovered skeleton was indeed female. Other items such as a shattered mirror from a woman's compact, beauty products from the 1930's suggest that a woman had been on the remote atoll which had no drinkable water. Clam shells and the bottoms of bottles were laid out to collect rain water and it is likely that the bottled were used to boil drinking water. It is commonly believed that Fred Noonan did not survive long after the crash. What became of his remains is unknown. 
In 2012, TIGHAR announced that a photo taken in 1937 by a British Survey team showed the landing gear of what is believed to be a twin engine plane flipped upside down to be that of Earhart's Lockheed Electra. While this photo had been seen many times, the photo checked by U.S. State Department experts determined the component in the picture is the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra. Further evidence revealed that Earhart made over 100 distress calls in 1937 but no airline at the time responded. There are records of bon fires on the island at that time. TIGHAR now believes that Amelia Earhart survived weeks if not months after the crash but ultimately starved to death or died from dehydration. TIHHAR's executive director Ric Gillespie told CNN: "We believe she survived heroically, and alone, for a period of time, in terrible circumstances. History needs to tell her story right." We at American Mishima could not agree more. 
Godspeed Amelia Earhart. Godspeed.

Strange Bedfellows or Spirit of Cooperation? US-China Plan Joint Excercises

With all that is going on in the region, a most unexpected move was announced earlier this week. CNN had posted reports that spokesmen from both the United States and the PRC have both announced that the two countries plan to hold joint military exercises this November 13-18th 2016 to focus on Disaster Relief Missions. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that China's military spokesperson Wu Qian said in a recent briefing: "The scenario of the joint exercise and exchange is professional disaster relief in high-altitude regions. It consists of three phases, namely, academic exchange, command post exercise and live troop exercise." While only a small number of PLA and US Military personal will take part in this exercise, it is our hope that this spirit of cooperation can be built upon and perhaps the current tensions could be eased. With rising climate related disasters on the rise, it is up to the nations of the world to put aside their petty differences and come together in times of need. Whiles these exercises won't solve all the outstanding issues on the South China Seas, it can in some small part lay the ground work for future cooperation in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts where our two great countries resources can be used in tandem for good. We at American Mishima hope to see more of this.

2016 Election Essay

A little over a year ago, I traveled to our nation's capital to honor my late father's service in Vietnam. While I was there, I made an astute observation of the people there. You could say there was two groups of people of which one vast group was both culturally and intellectually diverse. They were full of optimism and forward momentum. The other smaller group of people I witnessed were largely tourists who consisted of frightened white people largely from the South. They looked on to the White house with deep fear (as if someone shot the family dog) and stinging resentment for things they could not control nor embrace. It's safe to say a year later that I see much of this in this 2016 Presidential Election. I can see this alone from my friends list on Facebook alone these two groups at play with one bearing that sense of optimism in the face of perceived fear while another bears white resentment for a country they no longer control or can return it to. A world where people like me a Latino where my Muslim & Central American neighbors are not welcome or encouraged to take part in. A world where my Japanese, Chinese, & Vietnamese friends don't have a voice. A world where what few LGBT folk I have known must live in the shadows. A world where intellectualism is distrusted as elitism. It's sad that such unwarranted fears exists for these people. Worse, it is repugnant that demagogues (people who preach what they know not to be true) stroke the flames of fear and hate in a time where we could for better or worse become a stronger united nation. My family came from Mexico and my late father fought in Vietnam for a country he could barely speak its language or was a citizen of. How lucky was I to be born here in the United States! How unfortunate, those who have lost their connection to their immigrant roots can not see this. I say this because I believe such people have lost perspective. A perspective so critical to think clearly and see past the electoral bullshit and campaign rhetoric where lies are passed as truth, and truth distorted by those seeking to undermine our electoral process.
For me, it was like that moment two days after 9/11 2001 that I and a friend I had at the time carried an American Flag down the Sunset Strip and we stopped traffic. 500 people marched with us and a couple thousand cheered us on. People of all races, religions, creeds, and orientations joined with us as Americans. How powerful that moment of unity felt. You can never have that in an All White Controlled Society. How fair would it be to go backwards to the 1950's where my black neighbors could not attend the same schools and instead be sicked on by police dogs? What strokes this fear and hatred in the modern age? You can not blame it on President Obama as some in this country do. This rage was always there for some and now it's reared its ugly head once again. Ask any soldier who has fought in combat whether a skin color made a difference in the field in the face of a determined enemy. They know but some strangely within the ranks have strangely forgotten when they returned home and thus joined the angry ranks of the Far Right. And while many of you may not agree with my views, it is natural to agree to disagree. It can be done so without becoming uncivil or a "my way or the highway" diatribe that settles nothing. This country has so much to offer when you look past the cynicism and indifference of those who sit on the sidelines and argue as arm chair pundits hiding from the safety of their computer screens. We won't cure racism and economic inequality over night nor will we solve age old problems of balancing freedom and democracy on the scales of a Capitalist system that encourages both greed and innovation. But the challenge for every citizen is out there. Partake in our electoral process and fight for what you believe in. If that belief is to fight me, well here I am. Unarmed and easy to find but do so at your own peril. The war we wage is not against ideas but fear and indifference. While not everything in Washington directly impacts your personal life, change can be made right at home. I applaud those people who take up such challenges be it in small ways or giving largely of themselves to the community around them. We are stronger together than we are at odds apart but we will have a long way to go before we can become that "More Perfect Union." Regardless of what happens on November 8th, life will go on. How you choose to live it as a Citizen is up to you.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Imperial Passing: Prince Mikasa Dies at 100

On October 27th 2016, Japan's Imperial Household Agency reported that Prince Mikasa had passed away. He was the oldest living member of the Imperial Family. Born in December 1915, he was the son of Emperor Taisho and the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito (Showa) and lived through the reign of three Emperors (Taisho-Showa-Heisei). The late Prince Mikasa served as an Officer in the Japanese Imperial Army and fought as a Captain under the name "Wakasugi" in the Second Sino-Japan War. He is noted for being very outspoken critic of Japanese wartime atrocities in China. In a 1994 interview he said he was shocked by the use of live Chinese prisoners for bayonet practice. What impact his protest had is not known.
In 1940, he was shown films of using germ warfare in China that outraged him enough to force his brother the Showa Emperor top watch it. After the war he opposed After the war the Prince spoke before the Privy Council strongly urging the Showa Emperor to abdicate and take responsibility for the war. While the Prince is still seen as a controversial figure in China, one must give him credit for speaking up to what Japan's forces in China had done. While much of Prince Mikasa's wartime history is disputed in China, he became a figure for peace in the post war years. Men who have seen the horrors of war tend to do this and the Prince was no exception. He would go on to pursue academia in Tokyo University and is noted for his Middle Eastern Studies. On 2 December 2015, Prince Mikasa became the first member of the imperial family to live to 100. On his 100th birthday, he was quoted as saying: "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old. I'd like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years." He spent his final moments with his wife Princess Yuriko Mikasa (seen in photo below). It is said he outlived all of his siblings and all three of his sons.
We at American Mishima wish the Prince peace and farewell.

Chinese Checkers: JASDF Fighter Intercepts Draw Ire

Japan's Air Self Defense Forces have been really busy this year. It is reported that the JASDF has had to scramble fighters 407 times between April 1st and September 30th to intercept Chinese warplanes encroaching on Japanese Air Space. This is double the amount of fighter intercepts for the year of 2015. In a sense of irony, this has drawn cries of foul from Beijing who accuse Japan's pilots of recklessly endangering their pilots and interfering with their activities in or near disputed air space and territorial waters. Activities of which has included the militarization of international airspace and the building of artificial islands for military purposes that The Hague has since ruled unlawful. Despite the ruling, Beijing refuses to recognize it and continues to provoke and complain when someone call them on it. This is like that scene in the film Goodfellah's where Joe Pesci's character kicks Billy Batts to a bloody pulp then has the nerve to complain about what Batts did to his shoes. Well Japan is far from being a bloody pulp and it is up to the JASDF to make sure the PRC's warplanes are met to discourage any hostile action or mistaken intention that could start a war nobody wants. 
Earlier this year, several nations took the PRC to court at The Hague which as fore mentioned above has since ruled against the PRC. We have written about this many times and still do not understand why such provocations are taking place. But it is what it is and it's up to both the JASDF and the US Navy to give the PRC a pause and somehow keep the peace. We don't expect this situation to go away anytime soon and things are just getting increasingly dangerous for the pilots of both China and Japan. There have been incidents in the Miyako Strait and near Okinawa where JASDF fighters have had to turn on their electronic counter measures. In an article posted on CNN Col. Wu Qian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense said "Such high-frequency reconnaissance against China not only disturbs the routine training of the Chinese military but also undermines the security interests of China." Japan's Defense Ministry has responded by saying: "It has not taken any provocative actions against Chinese military planes nor endangered them as claimed by the spokesman of the Chinese Defense Ministry."
To be continued....

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Changing of the Guard: USS Wasp Heads to Japan

As times move on, so do ship deployments. As such, the recently modernized amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) heads for it's new home port in Sasebo, Japan. The Wasp will be replacing the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) so it may return to San Diego and undergo much needed upgrades. The USS Wasp's upgraded it's defense systems to include the MK 2 Ship Self Defense System, SPQ-9B horizon search radar, MK 57 NATO Sea Sparrow Missile System, and a host of computer LAN systems to meet the ever growing challenges to their mission as part of the Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Japan.
Of the Wasp's most prominent upgrade, none draws more attention that it's new accommodation of new USMC F-35B Variant Joint Strike Fighters of VMFA-211 "The Green Knights" Fighter Attack Squadron. This is the first deployment of the new controversial Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft that is best known for it's 5th Generation Stealth technology. This upgrade in combination with the Wasp's on board compliment of attack helicopters and V-22 Osprey's should give anyone thinking of challenging this ship some pause. We at American Mishima wish the crew and pilots of the USS Wasp fair seas and safe travels.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

History Restored: Japanese Naval Flag Donated to Pearl Harbor

There have been many cases since the end of the Second World War where the children of Veterans discover old war treasures and choose to return such items to history. For the Hartman family of Robert Hartman who served in the US Navy during WWII, such a treasure had been kept in their possession. It had been taken by Robert Hartman when the US took possession of the Nagato. What they had was the Admiral's flag of the IJN Battleship Nagato which served as Admiral Isoroku's Flagship during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was said the flag was used by the family as a blanket years ago but after Mr. Hartman passed away, his daughter Dianne Hall having realized the historical significance of this flag choose to donate the flag to the US Park Service (which oversees the care of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center) so that it will honor the veterans who fought on that day. The Park Service says it will seek to preserve the flag for future generations. No word on when it will be on display but know that it is in safe keeping.