Secret Hand Signs of the Japanese (Part the First)
Wherever inebriated Japanese men congregate, secret hand signs are exchanged silently until dawn.
One sign in particular is a self-explanatory depiction of the ages of virility in men (other than the Pacster).
Tempis fugit, vita brevis.
|10/2003||Googling the Rim
Later one night than earlier the next morning, as PacRim Jim ruminated on lost youth or some such fiddle-faddle, it occurred that the search engine Google (www.google.com) could be used to obtain a rough idea of the share of one Pacific Rim countrys mind that is occupied by another.
Among the results tabulated below, that the U.S. and Japan are the most-linked pair was to be expected. Of disappointment, however, was the apparent mutual disinterest between the dozens of cultures of the thousands of islands of The Philippines and the dozens of islands of the thousands of cultures of still-mighty Russia.
(At this point, the more perspicacious reader might expect a discussion of the rigorous methodology upon which this research was based. Well, expect again, Poindexter, because the very thought of exactitude completely enervates the once indefatigable PRJ. Suffice it to say that Korea includes the South as well as the hell to its north, and US and United States were used for such rocky dirt and dirty rocks as keep Canada and Mexico from fatal embrace.)
|11/2002||Rice to Rhinestones
Why the flaccid Fuji that is Japans population curve?
When a willy-nilly rummage through his exhaustible archive of books about Japanwhich he has meant to read for decadesfailed to turn up the answer, Pacrim Jim resorted to a pell-mell scan thereof. No luck.
Could the tabloids be right? Is it an Ainu curse? (After all, Fuji is an Ainu word.)
PRJ can think of no other explanation for the impending scarcity of Japanese.
Take a look at the graph below. What's immediately apparentaside from the Pacster's flair for graphic designis that, after scrambling for millennia to international prominence in straw sandals, the Japanese population hovers at its historic inflection point, on the verge of descending halfway to oblivion tottering aboard rhinestone-encrusted platform shoes.
Whence Japanese vitality?
Whither Japanese genes?
So ka na....
(Source: Japan Statistical Yearbook, Statistics Bureau & Statistics Center, Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications)
|1/2002||China, Indonesia, and Australia Unite to Crush Japan!
According to evidence uncovered Dr. Christopher R. Scotese of the University of Texas at Arlington, Japan's fate has been sealed.
Based on this top paleogeologist's data—collected at absolutely no danger to himself—China, Indonesia, and Australia will stealthily invade Japan's territorial waters to deliver the Land of the Rising Sun a crushing, albeit slow-motion, deathblow within precisely 250,000,000 years.
The incontrovertible proof is all too evident in semi-dramatic animations of future continental drift, developed by the PALEOMAP Project.
I, for one, plan to visit Japan while it remains unsubducted.
|9/2001||60,000,000 Japanese Vanish!
Tokyo, January 1, 2000Japan's National Institute of Population and Social Security Research forecasts a sharp drop in the nation's population, from 127,000,000 at present to 67,000,000 in 2100.
Tokyo, January 1, 2100According to Japan's most respected junk news e-mailer, the Tokyosaka e-Webstar Midnight Enquirer, Japan's population has finally dwindled to 67,000,000, exactly as forecast a century ago.
At the present rate of decrease, Japan will reach its target population of 65,536 in 2157, just in time to celebrate the centennial of robotic vasectomies via the World Wide Web.
When asked about the uneasiness most Japanese feel toward the exploding population of robots, R81-417-993, a spokesbot for the Ministry of Robots, repeatedly vowed that there is no plan to revise the National AI Cap adopted in 2056, that limits robotic artificial intelligence to the human level.
E-mail confirmation came quickly from the spokesbots for the Chinese Imperial Robotics Agency and the U.S. For-The-Children Robotics Commune.
Succumbs to the Internet
Your obedient servant had a hunch that the Internet was exploding over Asia like an old bottle of kimchi. As usual, I was right...and not so right.
Such was the conclusion that patiently awaited my discovery after I queried a major search engine to determine the number of Web pages in various Asian top-level domains (see Note). As is evident from the Web-pages-per-person ratios in the following tables, part of Asia has succumbed to Netmania. Overall, however, Asia remains less addicted than is the West.
So, while the Internet promises to be the American invention most widely adopted in Asia, PacRim Jim postdicts that this will occur only to the extent that Asian countries have some degree of political and economic freedom as well as the wealth that results therefrom.
Note: The top-level domain of a domain name is the two- or three-character identifier following the last period. A two-character TLD is the national TLD (nTLD, such as .jp for Japan). A three-character TLD is the generic TLD (gTLD, such as .edu for a educational institution). Keep in mind that companies and organizations in many other countries often use a gTLDparticularly .comrather than their nTLD.)
|1/2001||Unbidden Prognostications: Japan in 2001
Well, it's January—again. That means it's time to set aside the swimsuit edition of Kristi Yamaguchi Weekly and...what was I saying? Oh yeah, it's time to fire up my particular tangle of intracranial neurons and come up with 11 events that will—finally—cause the world to notice and admire the Switzerland of Asia.
Hellfire, that will never happen. (That is, I won't be able to predict the future and Japan will remain unnoticed for another trip around the sun.) So, instead, I'll just guess what will happen. De gustibus and all that.
• Russia will return to Japan the four disputed Kurile Islands (Habomai, Shikotan, Etorofu, Kunashiri) in exchange for Taiwan, which the Japanese will obtain beforehand from China in exchange for 3.5 million pachinko machines and either Guatemala or France.
• Another 5,400 members of the Japanophile underclass will complain about being called gaijin (foreigner), and will insist that they are simply Canadian.
• The first Japanese Web page without a single pastel color will appear. There will be several unsuccessful attempts to develop Web pages lacking cutesy, round-headed cartoon characters. Maybe next year.
• The first 1,000-kg sumo wrestler will debut in the summer tournament. Lives will be lost during attempts to extricate his opponent from a deepish blubber fold.
• Pink Lady will undergo sex change operations and make a comeback as Pink Flamingos.
• Japan will invent its first real cussword.
• Mexican wetbacks will begin appearing along the southern coast of Japan.
• A Japanese man will marry an American woman, raising the JII (Japan Indignation Index) to levels unseen since the Great Stroke Wave of 1945.
• A one-third-hectare patch of old-growth forest will be discovered on a remote Hokkaido hillside.
• On NHK's Freaks Among Us television program, a Japanese will eat cottage cheese and a foreigner will eat konnyaku—and neither will choke!
• Sukiyaki, the title of Kyu Sakamoto's song, will finally be changed to something close to its original Japanese title: Sound Check...Testing 1, 2, 3....
Fearlessly into the future. (What choice do we have, after all?)
|11/2000||America, the Erstwhile Ally
As this editorial is being written, the United States is undergoing a coup d'etat at the hands of unprincipled, power-grabbing judges and politicians who put party before nation. If the coup succeeds, the Clinton-Gore incubus will have decoupled the U.S. from the rule of law, for which so many thousands of Americans have died.
Given, too, that the American President prefers to hobnob with the Communist dictators of China and Cuba, it would be foolish for Japan to depend upon the assistance of a principled United States in any future crisis.
If Japan desires to remain independent in the shadow of this now venal superpower, its only alternative is to rearm—rapidly and conspicuously. Without principles, America—like China and Russia—will respect only power.
|8/2000||Land of the Setting Sun?
Late in the 20th century, the Japanese economy grew rapidly to the second largest in the world, and even threatened to overtake the largest economy, that of the United States.
For this and other reasons, such as America's military ties with Japan and the strong Japanese-American lobby, Japan remained the ally of the U.S. in the Far East.
This will soon change.
Despite—or perhaps because of—the increasing economic and military rivalry between the U.S. and China, the U.S. will find it in its national interest to consider China the voice of the Far East.
Consider the following trends:
• Many predict that because China has four times the population of the U.S. (and ten times that of Japan), its economy will rival and eventually surpass that of the U.S. in the 21st century.
• China is building ships, rockets, and thermonuclear weapons to better project power abroad, while Japanese "Self-Defense Forces" languish.
• The influence of the Chinese lobby in the U.S. already has surpassed that of the Japanese lobby. There are more than 1.6 million Chinese-Americans, compared with 850,000 Japanese-Americans. Each year over 40,000 Chinese immigrate into the U.S., while only 6,000 Japanese choose to do so. Moreover, the aggregate family income of Chinese-Americans has far surpassed that of Japanese-Americans. Obviously, the Overseas Chinese will prove to be a source of strength to the Middle Kingdom.
Therefore, although Japan could count on the military support of its U.S. trump card in the 20th century, in this century the Land of the Rising Sun would be unwise to do so.
Diaspora strengthens. Insularity weakens.
After a brief respite from the Cold War, humanity now is experiencing the Asian version of brinksmanship.
Today China threatens Taiwan with thermonuclear holocaust. Can anyone doubt that tomorrow it will be Japan, as China seeks to weaken U.S. influence in the region?
What is Japan to do? Article 9 of its Constitution will be of precious little help against belligerent China.
An important part of Japan's 21st-century geostrategy will come from a just-in-time source: the Internet (and World Wide Web).
America developed the Internet in order to distribute its network servers throughout the U.S., thereby making them less inviting targets and ensuring the robustness of its communications network. One benefit therefrom has been the distribution of U.S. technical assets throughout the world, although they remain overly concentrated in Silicon Valley.
With its Technopolis strategy, Japan has adopted a similar strategy of dispersing human and equipment assets, by locating miniature Silicon Valleys throughout Japan instead of concentrating them in the vulnerable metropolises of Tokyo and Osaka. Indeed Japan has dispersed assets worldwide, both physically and via the World Wide Web, partly in order to ensure their survival and minimize the number of potentially crippling targets.
No doubt Japan also will prepare for retaliation via the World Wide Web using computer viruses, intelligent agents, etc., via both wired and wireless links.
The important point is that by making all of Japan the target, there is no target.
After all, one cannot attack fog.
|1/2000||Japan's Two Futures
Having avoided destruction at the hands of Godzilla, foreign imports, and the Y2K gremlin, 125 million Japanese are now safely into the 21st century.
However, with an aging population and an increasingly pugnacious China within missile-lobbing range, Japan would seem to have only two possible near-term futures: It could abide by Article 9 of its constitution, which limits rearmament, and become a de facto Chinese province. Or Japan could leverage its world-class technology and manufacturing expertise to equip itself with a thermonuclear bodyguard.
Because Japan has no illusion about U.S. willingness to sacrifice Los Angeles to protect Osaka, Japan's only choice seems to be the latter, in which case Japan would no longer need the putative American umbrella.
Japan will have time to rearm because, after digesting Taiwan, China will not turn its attention east to Japan. Instead, the 1.2 billion inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom will look north to the endless lebensraum of Siberia.
This will give Japan time to develop the offense and defense required to deter even the most adventurous neighbor, perhaps in cooperation with a nervous Russia.
|12/1999||Pocket Monsters Indeed!
In a formal ceremony held at Nintendo headquarters in Kyoto, Santa Claus and the Pope formally and unconditionally surrendered Christmas to the Pokemon. Nintendo plans to rechristen—an unfortunate choice of words—the day "Pokemas." This is doubly disturbing because, to an adult's eye, these 150 or so Pocket Monsters are nothing but uninspired drawings of unimaginative characters. But there is something about them that opens the hearts of children—not to mention our wallets and purses. Get used to it adults, you'll be working several weeks this year just to pay for all the Pokemon thingamajigs cramming the ships GPSing their way to our ports. Maybe by next Christmas we will be able to start a back-fad that will seduce Japanese children.
Fad wars, anyone?