Billions of yen in donations for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake have come through a variety of donation websites taking advantage of the Internet to organize people’s humanitarian efforts.
Depending on the website, donations as small as 50 yen can be made, either via mobile phones or computers, through easy-to-use electronic transfer services. Many sites display the total amount and number of donations received and have exceeded 100 million yen in donations. One site had gathered more than 1.2 billion yen. The collected funds are sent to groups like the Japanese Red Cross Society.
For more information: http://www.google.com/intl/en/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html
Below is a comment left on an article about American airline flight attendants being concerned about flying into Tokyo.
My wife was Purser on a flight descending into Narita, Tokyo’s International Airport, when the earthquake struck. Her flight eventually ended in Osaka. When the crews were returned to Narita they visited shelters and left what food they could find as well as their own jackets, scarves and gloves.
Upon returning home, two days later than scheduled, she put out a call for warm jackets and cold weather gear. She and other crew members also purchased, out of their own pockets, as much preserved milk and flashlights as they could carry.
Yesterday the crew returned to Narita with more than 20 large bags of jackets, blankets, gloves and the milk and flashlights. Our entry way is still stacked to the ceiling with more jackets and clothing that will be going in every day with the flight attendants.
Were they nervous about it? Of course. How could one not be worried with the legions of science illiterate reporters spreading hysteria? Still they went to work and are doing far more than their jobs require.
同じように、最近戦況が行った。私がよく読むブログにはこう書いてありました： “introducing political leadership into the budgeting process” and “budget is the key to regime change”. しかし、なぜ予算はそんなに大事かは分かりませんでした。当然大事だけど、政権交代と予算の関係はなにか、よくわかりません。そして昨日そのブログに次のを読みました：
For more on the possibilities of genuine administrative reform, I recommend this essay by Karel van Wolferen, who is aware of the obstacles facing the DPJ without dismissing the possibility that the DPJ will succeed. I particularly like this sentence: “But my impression is that the individuals of the inner core of the party are deadly serious about what must be done to turn their country into what one of them, the most senior and most experienced Ozawa Ichiro, has in his writing called a ‘normal country’.” Exactly so. The DPJ means what it said during the campaign, and is taking the first steps towards a new system of governance.
Karel van Wolferen が書いたessay はどういう内容か？What Can the DPJ’s Overwhelming Victory Mean for Japan? 気になった部分は次です：
The significance of yesterday’s Japanese election results goes beyond a relatively new and untried political party ending half a century of rule by a competing party; if the new leaders turn out to be true leaders and are allowed to carry out their declared intentions, this will fundamentally change the Japanese power system… with few exceptions the elected officials … have played a mostly marginal role, as powerbrokers at best. We can actually single out an architect who set it up this way just before the turn of the century before last: Yamagata Aritomo. … this remarkable man … created Japan’s modern bureaucracy along with its early 20th-century military establishment.
そして２００１年にカレル・ヴァン・ウォルフレンが書いた論文は？Yamagata Aritomo 山縣有朋 についてです。
What better opportunity than the election of aspirant supervisors of Japanese bureaucratic power to bring to the attention of the world a neglected Japanese figure who established that power and ought to be remembered, along with Bismarck, Lenin, Mao, and the two Roosevelts, as one of the creators of twentieth century political reality.
His name, Yamagata Aritomo, may only register with those who have read Japanese history. Even in Japanese minds he may not be more than a shadow, dwarfed by Ito Hirobumi among the Meiji Period architects of Japanese modernization. But he deserves to be known as the creator of what in essence has remained Japan’s political system. In the end, what the world has been learning to think of as Japan’s lack of political will, should be blamed on Yamagata. His legacy endures in a more immediate sense today than, say, Bismarck’s legacy does in Germany.
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UPDATE (2009.09.03.08:20): Thank you to everyone who participated today. Today’s session was about lay judges, a new system introduced into the Japanese courts. We read this article about it , Courting Controversy in Japan, by David Murakami Wood, in the Guardian newspaper, Wednesday August 5th, 2009. We then discussed the origins and purposes of the jury system. This involved learning something about Magna Carta. I feel very grateful to the people who made Magna Carta and forced King John to sign it. The jury system was intended to be a legal protection against the almost limitless powers of the king: Magna Carta states that the king may not punish any freeman except by the consent of his (the freeman’s) peers. The peers does not mean the peerage (the aristrocracy), but “the people”, as opposed to the king or the ruling class. It put a limit on the king’s power.
Before reading the article, I introduced a book about the financial crisis: Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and the Government Bailout Will Make Things Worse and its Japanese translation メルトダウン 金融溶解 The foreword to the book was written by US Senator Ron Paul. Ron Paul has written his own book on the subject of the Federal Reserve: End the Fed. You can read chapter 2 of this book for free on the Mises Institute website (Ludwig von Mises was one of the most important Austrian economists. Read about him in Japanese here). The libertarian website Lew Rockwell.com has announced that Ron Paul’s book “End the Fed is now #4 in non-fiction on Amazon, and #17 overall. End the Fed!”
During August, our Reading Group had no meetings. But that does not mean that members were not busy. Some of them read Atlas Shrugged (some in English, some in Japanese 肩をすくめるアトラス). One member read Emma (Jane Austen‘s classic Pride and Prejudice , or in Japanese 自負と偏見, was the subject of an earlier reading course, and we read the beginning of Emma, or エマ in our first session). She also read City of Glass (in Japanese シティ・オヴ・グラス ) by Paul Auster. (Here is a website in Japanese about the story: シティ・オヴ・グラス.)
The first session after the holidays. To make a change from reading fiction, I have chosen a newspaper article about the new system of lay judges adopted in Japanese courts this year.
As well as discussing this article, we will be looking at the history of the jury system: when and why it was established. To prepare for this, read about Magna Carta (in Japanese here), especially about rights still in force today.
UPDATE: Here is the original Latin from Magna Carta which relates to trial by jury. “Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisetur, aut utlagetur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur; nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum, vel per legem terrae.” According to Lysander Spooner, in his “Essay on the Trial by Jury” (1852),
The most common translation of these words, at the present day, is as follows: “No freeman shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or deprived, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, nor will we (the king) pass upon him, nor condemn him, unless by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.”
As I mentioned during the session, the “law of the land” was also called “Common Law”, and it was different from laws created by the king. In other words, the Common Law is law independent of the king. At the time (the Middle Ages), kings had to promise to protect and respect the Common Law, although many of them did not (and King John was one of the worst in this regard, and the result was the barons opposed him).
Lysander Spooner, in his essay on trial by jury, examines the exact words of the Magna Carta, and other charters of that time, and argues that the purpose of the jury was originally not only to decide guilt or innocence, but also to decide whether the law was just or not. In other words, the purpose of trial by jury is to check and limit the power of the king to do exactly whatever he wants. Spooner gives evidence that King John was extremely angry about the contents of Magna Carta and at first refused to sign it. He even appealed to the Pope, and the Pope replied with sympathy. Spooner writes that this shows that both King John and the Pope understood that the Magna Carta was taking away a very great power from the king: it was not only about deciding guilt or innocence, but it gave the jury the power to express their judgment of the law itself. Obviously, if only the king can make laws but if the jury can decide whether the law is fair or not and refuse to punish anyone who is accused under an unfair law, then this gives the people a very great protection against the abuse of power that any king might make. It is protection for the people against the king, or government, or state.
This history lesson teaches us much about the purpose and meaning of trial by jury, and also throws some light onto the lay-judge system created in Japan recently.
I will also bring an article about the recent elections, to show the point of view from the British media.
UPDATE: In fact, we did not have time to discuss this. I have a list of links to articles in the British press about the election at my other blog Searching for Accurate Maps. A Japanese comedy troupe called The Newspaper has created a comedy skit showing Hatoyama choosing his new cabinet ministers. Watch the video here.
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In the last session, someone asked “what is capitalism?” and said that there are many different kinds of capitalism, e.g. “Japanese capitalism”.
First, it is important to be clear about the meanings and definitions. The kind of economy in Britain, the United States, and Japan, is not pure capitalism because it includes a great deal of government control and regulation. Such an economy should correctly be called “a mixed economy“. “Japanese capitalism”, therefore, should more correctly be called “Japanese mixed economy”, i.e. a mixture of capitalism and statism or socialism.
Secondly, is America a truly capitalist country? Here is a quote from a financial newsletter “The Daily Reckoning” June 3 2009 “The Eye of the Economic Storm”.
Americans are not necessarily in favour of socialism… But the country has clearly moved towards more government intervention in the economy. In 1986, 40% of Americans thought government regulated the economy too much. Now, 40% think it doesn’t regulate enough. And get this… The Economist reports the results of a worldwide poll. When asked if “people [were] better off under free markets,” 75% of Indians say ‘yes’ and so did about 72% of Chinese. But put the question to Americans and only about 69% think so. Even Italians are more in favor of free enterprise than Americans. Go figure.
Another comment, this time from a British libertarian, Sean Gabb:
big business capitalism we see around us is not the same as a free market”
Finally, another comment from a free-market financial commentator, Bill Jenkins, writing in the Daily Reckoning of May 28th, 2009: To Hell in a Bond Basket:
In a larger sense, the US is at war with capitalism…and with nature herself. Markets have natural rhythms. They go from boom to bust…from inflation to deflation…from expansion to contraction naturally. Trying to stop the bust is futile. It is a fight against Fate…a losing proposition. And it is diabolically unnatural. You have to take the bad with the good in life.
“The idea is ‘to make holding money less attractive’ so people will spend it.”
In other words, this is not free-market capitalism: the Federal reserve holds interest rates artificially low to “force” people to spend instead of to save. But where does capital come from? From savings. If people are discouraged from saving, where will capitalism’s capital come from?
Writes Bill Jenkins,
“What we need is to be left alone. The market has been, and remains, the most efficient system for regulating itself. Is it perfect? Not in a moral or theological sense. Not even in a fairness sense. The market will make some men rich while impoverishing others. Many people do not consider that ” fair”. But it doesn’t matter. The market does what it does because it is the most efficient way of doing things. .. The ironic thing is, bubbles are created by regulation.”
Here is what Ayn Rand wrote about capitalism:
Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
We must understand the meanings of the words we use. Then, we must look around at the world around us, and see clearly through our own eyes, not through the eyes of the media, or what we read in the newspapers, or what the politicians tell us.