Did you know that there are Japanese 桜 (cherry blossom) trees in Washington DC?
And that they have an annual Japanese-style cherry blossom festival when the flowers bloom in the spring?
And did you know that those trees were a gift to America from Japan about sixty years ago?
Well…did you know that both Japan and America crown a Cherry Blossom Queen every year?
It isn’t a beauty contest type of competition. Each state in America and each prefecture in Japan enters a young woman into the competition based on community service that she has done.
And then the country’s Cherry Blossom Queen is chosen by a random draw.
Every year the U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen comes to Japan and meets the Japanese Prime Minister along with the current Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen.
Last year, the 2012 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen was an African-American woman for the first time.
She made headlines in Japan!
The 2013 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen, Mary Anne Morgan, just came to Tokyo and met Japanese Prime Minister Abe and 2013 Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen, Chiori Kobayashi yesterday.
First of all, today (2013 March 26) is the fifth anniversary of my blog.
I wrote the first post on 2008 March 26.
As of today, my blog has gotten about 1,600,000 hits … that averages to about 895 hits per day over the five years – - but that’s not really accurate because my blog averages 1000 hits a day now, but less than 50 a day when I first started it in 2008.
Thanks to all my site’s visitors … especially you! Please leave a comment!
Anyways, I found out about a new movie about post-WW2 Japan titled “Emperor” starring Tommy Lee Jones as U.S. Army General Douglas McArthur.
Do you know who Gen. McArthur was?
He is very well-known in Japan.
General McArthur was in charge of the U.S. military during the war against Japan … and also during the occupation of Japan after the war ended.
Japanese people respect McArthur because he respected the Japanese people.
Tommy Lee Jones is also respected in Japan.
He is known to everyone here as the “face” of Suntory’s Boss Coffee.
In the Boss Coffee TV commerials, Tommy Lee Jones acts and sounds like a Japanese man.
He’s an excellent actor.
Have you seen the movie “Emperor” ?
Yesterday (2012 August 15), was the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II.
And, as is done every August 15th in Tokyo, some Japanese politicans went to the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)… which is the shrine in Japan that honors all who died defending Japan in war… to pay tribute.
All who died in Japan’s defense are enshrined there … including those who were found guilty of war crimes by the U.S. war tribunals.
For that reason, many of Japan’s neighboring countries don’t like Yasukuni Shrine … and get upset when Japanese politicans visit it.
But really, the shrine doesn’t exclude war dead based on another country’s war court verdict … in the same way that all of America’s soldiers who die in battle can be buried at Arlington Cemetary, all of Japan’s soldiers are honored at Yasukuni Shrine.
But that isn’t the only political debate neighboring countries have with Japan.
China, Russia and South Korea have border disputes with Japan.
After their victory over the Japanese team at the Olympics, a player on South Korea’s Olympic soccer team held up a sign declaring that the disputed Takeshima Island is Korean territory. The Korean team almost lost their medal because of that.
Then, the South Korean president visited the island – - unannounced visits to disputed land by a political leader isn’t probably a wise move.
And then, yesterday … the anniversary of the end of World War II, some Korean men attempted to swim to the island. They didn’t make it there, so Japan didn’t need to take any action … but their attempt made the news.
And then yesterday, a Chinese boat was intercepted by the Japanese Coast Guard as it tried to head to the Senkaku Islands … which is disputed land between Japan and China.
The Chinese people onboard are currently in a Japanese jail. China is demanding that they be freed.
This seems to happen every year at this time.
Yesterday (2012 August 6th) was the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (August 9th will mark the same anniversary of Nagasaki).
Harry Truman was the U.S. President in 1945 who ordered the atomic bombings of Japan.
Every August, there are ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to remember those who died in the bombings…and to try to ensure that no other nuclear weapons are dropped on any other city in the world.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, a member of former U.S. President Harry Truman’s family attended the ceremony in Hiroshima.
Harry Truman’s grandson laid a wreath of flower at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.
Harry Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, is an anti-nuclear weapons activist. When he attended the ceremony in Hiroshima, he said ““I’m two generations down the line (from former President Truman). It’s now my responsibility to do all I can to make sure we never use nuclear weapons again.”
It is now the evening of 2011 December 31st in Japan…a few hours ’til New Years Day 2012.
So, what do you think the five biggest news stories of 2011 were?
I think I’d say:
● The 2011 March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, Japan.
● The ten year anniversary of the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
● The death of Muammar Gaddafi on 2011 October 20.
● The death of Osama bin Laden on 2011 May 2.
● The Occupy protest movement.
Which events epitomized this past year to you? Tell me in the comments section of this post.
Here’s a YouTube video that shows many photos and videos of this year’s biggest news through a series of “Google searches“:
It was reported on the news yesterday that the self-credited mastermind of the 2001 September 11 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in America, Osama Bin Laden, was killed by the American military.
Without a doubt, anyone responsible for crimes against humanity such as Bin Laden was should be brought to justice.
But I’m not sure I agree that the celebrations and cheering across America that was shown on the TV news yesterday is appropriate.
A crowd in Washington DC cheered the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with the U.S. military.
The Americans crowds that were shown on TV were chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and singing pro-America songs such as the American National Anthem.
It reminded me of the images of the reaction in some Middle Eastern countries about ten years ago after the WTC attacks on America.
There were some anti-American crowds in some countries who were cheering America’s loss.
It was quite offensive to see!
I certainly wouldn’t compare a villain such as Bin Laden to the innocent lives lost on 2001 September 11th…but seeing Americans cheering may fuel “anti-American” feelings in some countries.
John Lennon had a Japanese wife and they were both strongly opposed to war. So isn’t it ironic that he was killed on the thirty-ninth anniversary of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor?
On 1941 December 8th, the 日本海軍 (Japanese Imperial Navy) attacked the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (It was December 8 on the Japanese calendar but since Hawaii is on the other side of the International Date Line, it was December 7th there).
It’s the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Also on this date thirty-nine years later John Lennon of the English rock band, The Beatles, was assassinated in New York.
Today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.
Click here to read a more detailed post that I wrote about these two events
Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, went to New York yesterday and had his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama
For the U.S., the issue of Japan continued help with the “War On Terrorism” is of top concern.
For Japan, it’s the issue of reducing the number of the U.S. military stationed in Japan…and abolishing nuclear weapons in the world.
But for this first meeting, the only major issue raised was about ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Both Hatoyama and Obama said that they’d like to see an end to the nuclear threat in the world.
As the only country that has ever been attacked by nuclear weapons, this issue is important to Japan.
Prime Minister Hatoyama reiterated Japan’s stance that all nuclear weapons should be abolished and invited the the American president to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he comes to Tokyo next November.
No U.S. President has ever visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki .
At the moment, all that is on the TV in Japan is either the 台風 (typhoon) that is hitting the Tokyo area today, and the national election results.
Tokyo is in the path of the approaching typhoon.
Be careful if you’re on the east coast of Japan and you have to go out today.
The weather will be bad all day today, but it’s forecast to be nice tomorrow (normally, after a typhoon passes the sky is very clear).
Regarding Japan’s election today, the results are still not all in yet, but it’s winding down and the 民主党 (Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)) is winning in a landslide.
This is an upset victory because the 自由民主党 (Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)) has won nearly every national election in Japan since the end of WWII. The current Japanese Prime Minister (Taro Asou) is the president of the LDP.
The next Prime Minister of Japan will more than likely be 鳩山由紀夫 (Yukio Hatoyama).
鳩山由紀夫 (Yuki Hatoyama)