Let Him Leave

The Emperor of Japan took to the airwaves today, dropping many a hint that he wants to step down from the throne he’s been on since the death of his father, Hirohito.

The problem is that there’s no mechanism in Japanese law for the Emperor to step down. It’s not like the UK, where the monarch can abdicate with permission from parliament. Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain have all had their respective monarchs step down over the last few years, as has the Vatican.

There’s some concern that if the emperor steps down, it could help push Japan further along their current road to re-militarizing. That may or may not be the case. But I’ll say this: he’s an old man. If he wants to leave and let his son take the throne, let him. Don’t hold the guy prisoner in a job he doesn’t want anymore.


A Little Perspective

So it sounds like there may have been one meltdown at a nuclear plant in Japan and there may be a second. As we learn about this, it’s important to take a step back and have some perspective on the nuclear industry.

No doubt several of my fellow liberals are going to use this as an excuse to rail against nuclear power. Barring this accident, it was quite probable that we’d have some new nuclear plants here in the USA relatively soon. Following this, though, I think that’s unlikely, though still not impossible.

It is true that nuclear plants are risky and they do produce nuclear waste that must be dealt with. When they break, horrible things can happen, but let’s take a moment to compare this with a coal plant, where when it breaks, it stops producing pollution that it otherwise churns out 24/7. With nuclear plants you only get large scale pollution when something goes awry.

It’s also important to remember that nuclear accidents in the more advanced countries are very, very rare. Yes, the Soviet Union had Chernobyl and several other, unreported accidents, but those were in places where they lacked the safety features found in modern nuclear plants. Countries like France have been running dozens of them for decades without any meltdowns. They can be run safely.

The only real lessons to draw from this accident are a: don’t built your power plant right next to the coastline and b: make sure you have some way of cooling the reactor even if you don’t have power or fresh water coming into the plant. That’s it.

Nuclear power is, overall, cleaner than coal. If I had to live three miles downwind from a nuclear plant or a coal plant, I know which I’d pick. What about you?

I’m Digesting Some Tron

Just got back from seeing the new one at the local Imax in the 3-D and stuff. I’m not fully sure what I feel about it yet. So instead here’s an incredibly awesome video showing the music from Space Battleship Yamato being performed on classical Japanese instruments.

North Korea… What a Country!

North Korea (primary export: insanity), has demanded that Japan apologize for 35 horrible years of colonial terror. This is in response to an earlier apology Japan made to South Korea.

Now, I’m actually all in favor of Japan doing this. The occupation of Korea by Japan was, from all accounts, really, really horrible, so they should apologize.

But I do wonder if this means North Korea will apologize for all those Japanese people they’ve kidnapped over the decades. Somehow, I think not.

Bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Back on August 6, 1945, the USA dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Act two was a few days later when we did the same thing to Nagasaki. People have debated the morality ever since. People I respect deeply, like PZ Myers, think it was very wrong. Others think differently.

My take on this is that is was a very evil, unpleasant act. It was also necessary. It’s abundantly clear that the Japanese Military wasn’t going to surrender. The Emperor may have wanted them to and the civilian populus may have wanted them to, but it wasn’t going to happen.

I also believe it saved lives not only for us but for the Japanese soldiers and civilians. Yes, about 150,000 people died in the two bombings. I’m sure it would’ve been far, far more had we invaded. That’s not even going into the lives of American soldiers who weren’t killed in action.

It’s also worth noting that while it was clearly a war crime on our part, it paled in comparison to the incredibly evil things the Japanese did in the war. Everything from the Rape of Nanking to the way they treated POW’s was brutal, nasty and unpleasant. Now their evil does not excuse ours, but our committing a relatively small amount of evil to put a stop to far greater evil is morally acceptable.

There’s also an excellent argument to be made that had we not used the bombs, and had to invade, the Soviets would’ve also invaded and wanted their pound of flesh. I can guarantee you that they would’ve tried to take and hold northern Japan, much as they did with East Germany. Imagine how nasty it could’ve been to have a communist north in Japan, especially since the Soviets were still smarting over the Russo-Japanese War. An occupation by them would’ve been really, really nasty. Ending the war when we did, as opposed to dragging it out for another year or so, prevented this.

Finally, much as it might suck to bring up this argument, can you imagine the political fallout if Truman had not used the bombs to end the war, and hundreds of thousands of Americans had died taking Japan? Impeachment would’ve been the least of what would’ve happened to him, and rightly so. It was his job at that point to win the war with as few American deaths as possible, and doing otherwise would’ve been seriously wrong.

And I do feel the need to point out one rather obvious, but important, fact: we didn’t start the war. Japan started it. They can claim that it was necessary on their part to secure natural resources denied them by a trade embargo, but that embargo came about because of their actions in Manchuria.

It’s sad that thousands of civilians died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I’m not without empathy for them, especially those who died of radiation poisoning or cancer later in life. It’s an ugly, unpleasant way to die. But I strongly doubt the world in general, and Japan in particular, would have been better off if we’d had to invade.

This Damn Well Better Come Out on DVD in the States…

Tokyo5, any help with the translation? Do well by me and I’ll send you a free copy of the non-existent five-volume anime サーバントガールアニヒレーター. 😉

Things That Sound Like Anime/Manga But Aren’t

If I mention to you something called “Servant Girl Annihilator”, what do you think that refers to? If you’re like me, you think to yourself, “I bet that’s some manga about a schoolgirl assassin.” In Japanese it would be called サーバントガールアニヒレーター and would probably spawn a series of side stories and video games, as well as the inevitable hentai. Eventually it would make its way to America where 4Kids entertainment would dumb it down, remove all the blood and change it to a story about a young girl fighting ghosts or some such. In the end [Adult Swim] would start showing it in full, and at SakuraCon you’d have at least eight girls and one boy come dressed as the main character.

Well, it’s not an anime or anything of the like. No, instead it’s a serial killer who preyed on women in Texas back in the late 1800’s. But, man, does it ever sound like something that could be Japanese, eh?

So I’ve decided, since I’ve little better to do at the moment, to come up with a list of things that sound like they could be anime or manga but aren’t. Any suggestions anyone else has would be welcome! Please note: don’t just make something up that sounds plausible. It has to be a real-world thing. For example, for a novel I’m writing I’ve put in mention of an anime that one of the characters is a fan of. I’m calling it Legacy Pandora, because that sounds suitable. It’s completely made-up, and so would not count.

So anyone have any suggestions?