August 15

15 Aug

Today is August 15. 終戦記念日 (Anniversary of the War’s End) in Japan.
In America and other Western countries it’s called “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan Day) and celebrated on August 14 (due to the time difference).
Anyways, on August 15, 1945 (Japan Time) Japan surrendered and the World War 2 ended.

So, every year on August 15, many people go to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) in Tokyo to pay respects to those who died in the war. Among these people are numerous Japanese politicians (including, usually, the Prime Minister of Japan)…this angers Japan’s neighboring countries, because among the war dead enshrined at Yasukuni are the military officers that were found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war.

Because Japan colonized much of Asia before and during WW2, and committed war atrocities in those countries. They protest the annual visits to the shrine by the Prime Minister of Japan.

Today, former-Prime Minister Koizumi visited the shrine, as he did when he was the Prime Minister. But the current Prime Minister (Fukuda) didn’t want to upset Japan’s neighbors, so he didn’t go.

It’s a tricky decision for a Prime Minister to make whether to visit Yasukuni on August 15th or not. If he goes, Korea, China and other countries will see it as Japan “glorifying their war-time past” and strongly protest. But if the Prime Minister doesn’t go (as P.M. Fukuda did), then the descendants of those who died fighting for Japan will feel offended.

Speaking of the descendants, Hideki Tojo who was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War 2 was found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war and executed.
His grand-daughter, Yuko Tojo believes her grandfather was innocent and the trial was unfair. She also believes that Japan was only defending itself and Asia in general during WW2.
She visits Yasukuni Shrine every year on August 15 and gives a speech to like-minded listeners.

I saw her when I visited 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) on August 15th a few years ago.

I put this post up today not to try to get angry, political responses. I hope noone posts any comments that are rude or insulting toward any nationality.

I’m not saying that the grand-daughter of former Prime Minister Tojo is wrong or right.

There are some right-wing extremists who say shocking things about Japan and other countries (especially on occasions such as V-J Day), but most Japanese people admit that Japan did terrible things during the war (as did other countries) and they want the world to just be a peaceful place.
War is no good. But today’s Japan is quite different from the Japan of over sixty years ago.

Let’s all get along.

++++++

Anyways, let’s change the subject.
Are you watching the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

Right now, China has the most medals.

The top seven countries (as of 2008/8/15):

  1. China – 22 gold medals (35 total)
  2. USA – 13 gold medals (40 total)
  3. Germany – 8 gold medals (13 total)
  4. Korea – 6 gold medals (16 total)
  5. Italy – 6 gold medals (13 total)
  6. Australia – 5 gold medals (18 total)
  7. Japan – 5 gold medals (11 total)

You can see the most up-to-date listing (and all countries) at the Official Beijing Olympic Website. (Click here for the Olympics’ medals page.)

Have you seen the logo for the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

The red mark at the top of the logo is a 印鑑 (name stamp) that is used in lieu of a signature in China and Japan. The white mark inside looks like a man running…but it’s also the second 漢字 (Chinese / Japanese character) in the name of the city 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)).

The character is 「京」 (can your computer show it?) and, if manipulated, resembles a person running…as in the logo above. But I guess only people familiar with the Chinese or Japanese writing system can see the meaning in the logo.

By the way, the name of the Chinese capital, 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)), translates to “Northern Capital“. And the capital of Japan (where I live), 東京 (Tokyo), translates to “Eastern Capital“.

The written characters are often the same in China and Japan…but the pronunciation is usually quite different.

Also, the 東京マラソン (Tokyo Marathon) logo is the character for “big” (looks like: 「大」) arranged to look like a man running also.

Here’s the Tokyo Marathon 2007 logo (it’s the same one every year):

++++++

Here’s another slideshow of some photos I’ve taken at various times and places around Tokyo:


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22 Responses to “August 15”

  1. A (Mb's Husband) August 16, 2008 at 3:12 am #

    Great post! I always wondered how Japan felt about the end of WWII.

  2. tokyo5 August 16, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    >Great post!

    Thanks.

    >I always wondered how Japan felt about the end of WWII.

    So, what impression do you get from my post that Japan feels?
    I hope you don’t think most people feel as the right-wing extremists do. They are a minority group. Most people feel it was an event in the past to be learned from and not repeated.

    Actually, most people today don’t even think about WW2 in their daily life (as I’m sure is the same in every country).

  3. rzapanta August 16, 2008 at 2:39 pm #

    Nice post as usual.

    In terms on the Beijing Olympics, I really feel very sad for Canada, who has yet to win a medal – quite a poor showing for a G7 country.

  4. tokyo5 August 16, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    rzapanta…

    How was your trip to Australia?

    >Nice post as usual.

    Thanks for that.

    >In terms on the Beijing Olympics, I really feel very sad for Canada, who has yet to win a medal – quite a poor showing for a G7 country.

    Yes, Canada doesn’t show up on that medals listing.
    Japan moved up to 6th place past Australia…six gold medals now.

  5. A (Mb's Husband) August 19, 2008 at 12:06 am #

    >> So, what impression do you get from my post that Japan feels? I hope you don’t think most people feel as the right-wing extremists do. They are a minority group. Most people feel it was an event in the past to be learned from and not repeated.

    I’ve always seen Japan through rosy glasses, so I am a bit biased. I remember when I was 12 or so, I spent some time trying to learn Japanese. I figured if I wanted to make video games, I’d better learn the language. Eventually a shiny object distracted me, however, and I gave it up. Still stuck with the game design, however.

    If I had to give an completely uneducated synopsis, I would say: “Japan is a mythical land of industrious little people. The people are naturally healthy, education and performing well are critically important, and there are no middle achievers – either you conform well, or you flunk out and become a criminal.”

  6. tokyo5 August 19, 2008 at 12:15 am #

    >I spent some time trying to learn Japanese.

    Really? Do you remember any? Please “speak” Japanese!

    > Eventually a shiny object distracted me, however, and I gave it up.

    Sorry. I don’t get it. What’s that mean?

    >Japan is a mythical land of industrious little people.

    “Little” means “short”? Japanese people are as tall as Americans.

    >The people are naturally healthy

    I’d say it’s the diet. And walking / bicycling short distance rather than driving.

    >education and performing well are critically important, and there are no middle achievers – either you conform well, or you flunk out and become a criminal.

    That’s a simplified stereotype. Westerners think that Japanese people are forced by society to conform and women here are oppressed.
    It’s incorrect, though.
    America is the self-proclaimed “land of the free”…but Japan actually is.

  7. A (Mb's Husband) August 20, 2008 at 3:35 am #

    > Really? Do you remember any? Please “speak” Japanese!

    I only remember the three main greetings, Ohayo Gosaimas, Kononichiwa, and Konbonwa. (Note: I just butchered the Japanenglish spelling) I also vaguely remember Gomen Nasai, o nama e wa? (Nice to meet you, what is your name? ?) It’s all very fuzzy, though. And for a little while I could count to ten, but I can’t remember any of it now.

    Are you fluent?

    >> Eventually a shiny object distracted me, however, and I gave it up.
    > Sorry. I don’t get it. What’s that mean?

    It’s just a joke for being easily distracted as a child.

    >>Japan is a mythical land of industrious little people.
    > “Little” means “short”? Japanese people are as tall as Americans.

    Really? I thought the average Japanese male height was 5’6″

    > That’s a simplified stereotype. Westerners think that Japanese people are forced by society to conform and women here are oppressed. It’s incorrect, though. America is the self-proclaimed “land of the free”…but Japan actually is.

    I claim no contradictory knowledge, minus a few episodes of Sailor Moon. :)

  8. tokyo5 August 20, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    “A”…

    >I only remember the three main greetings…

    Where did you learn that Japanese? School?

    >Gomen Nasai, o nama e wa? (Nice to meet you, what is your name? ?)

    ごめんなさい (Gomen-nasai) doesn’t mean “Nice to meet you”…it’s “I’m sorry“.

    >Are you fluent?

    After 18 years here, even someone as thick-headed as me learns the language.

    >Really? I thought the average Japanese male height was 5′6″

    Old stereotype. Japanese have been “drinking their milk” for generations.

    >episodes of Sailor Moon.

    I know “Sailor Moon” because I have three daughters in Japan (they’ve long outgrown interest in that cartoon years ago, though). But how do you know it??

  9. rzapanta August 20, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

    > Old stereotype. Japanese have been “drinking their milk” for generations.

    Yes, that’s the problem with stereotypes – I break it myself being a 6′ 1″ Asian, aren’t all Asian people short? :-). There are tall and short people in Japan, just like there are tall and short people in the US and other countries. But, if we do compare average heights, then the Japanese and other Asians are a little shorter than North Americans.

    Also, if you pardon another generalization, I think people around the world are getting taller in later generations. I am taller than my father and I know my 12 year old son will be taller than me, and I don’t even want to think how tall my grandkid will be (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here).

    Please no short jokes :-)

  10. tokyo5 August 21, 2008 at 12:06 am #

    >6′ 1″…Please no short jokes

    How could I? You’re taller than me!

  11. A (Mb's Husband) August 22, 2008 at 2:25 am #

    > Where did you learn that Japanese? School?

    No, I just picked up books from the library. I have an inclination towards self-teaching. Never went to college either. All those years of programming games for myself got me in the corporate door, and now I lead a team of seven. Good times.

    ごめんなさい (Gomen-nasai) doesn’t mean “Nice to meet you”…it’s “I’m sorry“.

    Ha! Good thing I’ve never said it out loud.

    > After 18 years here, even someone as thick-headed as me learns the language.
    :)

    > Old stereotype. Japanese have been “drinking their milk” for generations.

    I hear they’re slowly growing larger as well. I remember a news report of growing bra sizes, as well as waist sizes in Japan.

    > I know “Sailor Moon” because I have three daughters in Japan (they’ve long outgrown interest in that cartoon years ago, though). But how do you know it??

    When I was a teen, my then-girlfriend and I were fans. It was one of the first major anime shows to come to the US in the 90s. At least since Voltron.

  12. tokyo5 August 22, 2008 at 2:59 am #

    >When I was a teen, my then-girlfriend and I were fans. It was one of the first major anime shows to come to the US in the 90s. At least since Voltron.

    I don’t know about in the U.S., but in Japan, only pre-school girls liked “Sailor Moon”.

    >waist sizes in Japan

    Maybe. But there’s still not much of a weight problem in Japan.

  13. A (Mb's Husband) August 23, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    >When I was a teen, my then-girlfriend and I were fans. It was one of the first major anime shows to come to the US in the 90s. At least since Voltron.

    Probably true here as well. :) Gues I just thought it was cool.

  14. tokyo5 August 23, 2008 at 1:01 am #

    >Gues I just thought it was cool.

    If you like it…then it is! Don’t mind me or worry about what I think…

    Have you ever seen anime by Miyazaki-先生? (For example: 「となりのトトロ」 (“My Neighbor Totoro” ) or 「千と千裕の神隠し (“Spirited Away”)?)

  15. tony9 August 25, 2008 at 1:51 am #

    The right-wing is said to be a minority, but I beg to differ. I believe they are in fact growing in another form of expression.

  16. tokyo5 August 25, 2008 at 2:37 am #

    >The right-wing is said to be a minority, but I beg to differ.

    You don’t think that the majority of Japanese agree with them, do you?
    They are in the minority.

  17. A (Mb's Husband) August 26, 2008 at 11:18 pm #

    “Have you ever seen anime by Miyazaki-先生? (For example: 「となりのトトロ」 (”My Neighbor Totoro” ) or 「千と千裕の神隠し (”Spirited Away”)?)”

    I’ve seen Spirited Away, and another one of his movie – something about a cloud castle. Both were pretty good movies, from what I remember.

    The first anime movie I remember seeing was Vampire Hunter D. I’m not sure how popular it is/was in Japan, but it is a cult classic here. That, Akira, and Ghost in the Shell.

  18. tokyo5 August 27, 2008 at 12:50 am #

    >another one of his movie – something about a cloud castle.

    I guess you mean 「ホウルの動く城」 (“Howl’s Moving Castle”).

    >Both were pretty good movies, from what I remember.

    They are good. Miyazaki-先生 is the master. I’m not much of an anime fan…but his movies are classics.

  19. awesometalks December 9, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Hi T5: I wanted to tell you that I love your style of writing. It reminds me a lot about my own. If I’ve got it correct, you report the facts and try hard to not ruffle feathers. This is especially true in areas of politics, political conflicts, wars, etc. A prime example of this is your article here on the August 15 celebrations of the war’s end in Japan. It really is a fine line that one has to balance on when addressing a subject that is still quite volatile in some sectors of the world. I think you did a wonderful job on it and I learned a lot in just a few short paragraphs. Keep it up please. I really look forward to corresponding with you more often.
    Best
    Barry
    “A Little Touch of History”

  20. tokyo5 December 9, 2008 at 11:30 pm #

    awesometalks…

    Thanks for the nice words! You’re too kind!

    My writing isn’t as thorough or professional as yours!

    But, anyways, please comment on my site often!

  21. tony9 January 13, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    >The right-wing is said to be a minority, but I beg to differ.

    You don’t think that the majority of Japanese agree with them, do you?
    They are in the minority.
    [End]

    The majority of Japanese have nothing to do with what really goes on here in Japan on a political scale, so in such a case you are wrong. The right-wing is growing, just in a different way. Stop thinking about the little black buses and the loudspeakers, that is so outdated. Most Japanese no nothing nor understand anything about politics, and most could care less for that matter.

  22. tokyo5 January 14, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    tony9…

    As I mentioned in the post above, I’m not trying to make this blog political…

    but, I don’t agree with you. Japan is a democracy, so the majority do indeed have everything to do with Japan’s politics.

    I hope the right-wing isn’t growing…and I don’t think they are. (In fact, I can’t see how they could if the majority of people are apathetic, as you said).

    Actually, as I said, this isn’t what I made this site for…I don’t really want to have a political debate.

    Thanks for visiting, though.

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