This was a B-film from 1970, the let’s-milk-it sequel to the iconic Planet of the Apes with Charleton Heston, Maurice Evans et al. I am sure you’ve seen it. It used to run on Channel 9 in New York at least once a year in around 1980.
The actor above, Don Pedro Colley, portrayed one of the mutant characters who lived underneath the rubble of the destroyed New York of the future. (I hope I am not spoiling the plot for anyone.) His character was perhaps ineligantly referred to as Negro in the credits, but online he has become also known as Ongaro.
The mutants use mind reading to communicate, and also to attack people. But they claim to be “peaceful”. Here is a line that is sticking in my own mind, by Ongaro:
Mr. Taylor, Mr. Brent, we are a peaceful people. We don’t kill our enemies. We get our enemies to kill each other.
If you look at the factional fighting among the Left Behind Parents, and other situations “Japan” gets involved in, how often are the circumstances turned so that, in the end, it’s more about foreigners fighting each other than Japan doing what’s right and fixing problems?
It goes on a lot, doesn’t it? A lot, in the context of fights.
Let me back up a bit and preface it: contrary to what you read on the internet, most international things in Japan happen very well. Most international couples get married and stay married. Their kids are well adjusted, without major issues. There are any number of foreigners working in Japan, even if it’s much more likely that they don’t get the labor law benefits, as I have been telling you.
Writers about Japan, online, focus on the things that the news focuses on: the unusual things, the noticeable things, and the things going wrong.
So I just want to say this before you as a reader might think I am trying to cram “Japan” into one phrase of a 1970 movie.
When you look at what has happened to the Left Behind Parents, Japan has sat on its hands, and let the group go at each other, for the various participants foibles, and what they’ve done or haven’t done. It’s more about who thinks what about fellow Americans, or people associated with us, than it is about what the J-government and the runners of Japan are doing. “Japan” really changed the conversation.
The parents who are active on the internet, (which is by no means all the parents), pick at each other–the same as what Japanese do—for the ways that they don’t measure up. It’s like I say, you could present the Lord Jesus to some Japanese, and they would criticize him as being an outcast with the more signficant people in his own group and in trouble with the Romans. And needs a haircut and a shave.
[More in a bit.]
In principle, I see this as a big problem whenever it comes down to resolving an issue in Japan. That desire to go looking for other foreigners to enter into the matter, and to try and push the interaction into the foreigner community.
Even the end of World War 2 was like this. Before surrendering to the Allies, what was the thing the military Japanese government did? Go send cables to the Russians to see if they could cut a different deal with Stalin. Many people believe that only when Stalin made it clear that it was “no way”, then did the junta become resigned to ultimate defeat. (I know this is a point of controvery, and I’m just laying out the one theory.)
When I was in Japan, I saw this with so many things. A lot of the trouble with Eikaiwa is due to the Japanese—through agents like the ALT Dispatch companies—inviting too many foreigners into Japan, of different sorts, and all different skill levels. They do this with the social insurances. Rather than enforce the supposed rule, they turn around and let there be a big debate about it, which they know will end in foreigners underbidding each other for labor and mostly not getting the pension coverage.
I am damn certain that when it comes to discussing Left Behind Parents with the State Department, they then go over to the Defense Department people from us, and try to get a different understanding. The Defense Department people are occasionally worried about where the golf course is going to go in Okinawa, not whether the parents get to see the kids. (I am exaggerating here, of course, but the point is that the DoD people do not have a State Department agenda. They really should be in the same room when child abduction issues are discussed.)
From the recalcitrant Japanese government/runners position, it must be great to sit on their hands and let the years pass by, while nothing gets done. And say “nema-washi” (consensus seeking), when it’s really “taraima-washi” (passing people around in a big circle, like what happens on the phone with big companies).
I know there is a big argument about how to solve the child abduction problem. And internet fighting is the worst to resolve–it’s worse than face-to-face argument. But it seems to me, the ultimate problem is still that the Japanese won’t solve the issue, and keep trying to pick at the flaws of whoever is petitioning for relief.]
[Update 1/7/12: A reader recalls to my mind a post I did about the Russo-Japanese war, from 2009. There, Roosevelt can be seen as the convenient gaijin to bring into the dispute at just about the time the Russians had turned the military action to its favor. The peace that Theodore Roosevelt mediated was seen by observers to have been a masterstroke by Emperor Meiji. Of course, not everyone agreed and it led to the Hibiya Riots.]