Thursday, January 09, 2014

"Bystander's Vantage Point"

There is a Japanese expression that I was reminded of at the beginning of the year, which I liked.

傍目八目 or 岡目八目 (oka-me-hachi-moku)

My dictionaries give me "Bystander's vantage point" or something related to watching a game of go, and as such, it is much easier to see the game unfolding some eight steps ahead, as it where. "Observing objectively" comes some way to explain the expression, although that is neither here nor there.

I blog here at Kurashi with some ideas of what I like and what I do not like. I am obviously just a bystander, but after some time in Japan, I am also a player. I do wish the best to all people, and try to put my finger on what are the right steps to take, as we all plod ahead.

So when I see news that Japan is about to enter a trade agreement that gives no regard to this country's amazing agricultural heritage, just for a few people to export more cars, and whatever, I find that so shortsighted. When I see the mass media play into that by not asking the right questions at the big meetings where negotiations are going on, and not publishing the answers and explanations they no doubt get, I try to think further ahead. Well, I was there, I was asked questions. I tried to provide some sense of the situation. And yes, there are many qualified people, including some journalists, attending such meetings and press conferences.

But this was not about them, they thought, until suddenly the government last December pushed through new legislation about data sharing, about whistle blowing, about "secrecy" and transparency. Suddenly, telling the truth in Japan got a lot more difficult.

Also, I think we all mostly understand that the Abe government and its backers wanted stricter secrecy rules so that its industries can start exporting weapons and weapons systems that involve components from a certain other country, that previously did not want Japan to be involved in the global arms trade anyway.

Good, well, you see, Japan has had strict rules prohibiting sales of arms since after WW2. Much better in fact, than Sweden, my native country, that ranks very high on the list of arms exporting countries. Something I really liked about Japan, so far.

If we try to stay objective, as observers, we may still be able to watch the game as it unfolds and predict the 8 steps ahead. But it just got a lot more difficult to decide what to do about the conclusions we draw from being an objective bystander; one who does not necessarily benefit from whether the game goes this way or that.

Except we all know that we stand to lose a lot if things start to unravel. So we want to speak up. And that is what they just decided they don't like.

OK, end of rant, for now.

(Top image from Ethics Resource Center with much more over at www.ethics.org)

1 comment:

kenelwood said...

Good rant, Kurashi.

If Japan’s new Designated Secrets Bill hasn't changed since I last read it, basically it’s a law that criminalizes the solicitation of leaks concerning defense, foreign affairs, weaponry, and anti-terrorism efforts (防衛、外交、特定有害活動の防止、テロリズムの防止に関する情報).


Taro Yamamoto said this about it: "The path that Japan is taking is the recreation of a Fascist State".

I think he's correct. And sadly I think the majority here will be OK with it because most of their wants (not needs) can be met with mountains of new money.

ken