This is another one of those photos that everyone who spends time in Osaka takes but it is hard to pass by without whipping out a camera.

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Here is an interesting (but badly translated) story from the Dong-a Ilbo about Ikeda Masae and how he has dealt with his guilt from the 1940s.

His guilt stems from when he was a Japanese teacher in Bangsan elementary school in Seoul during WWII.

Towards the end of the war he was ordered by the Japanese General Government to send as many female students as possible to the war plant in Toyama. So he coerced some young Korean students into going to Japan by saying the working and living conditions would be good for them there.

Unfortunately there is a big hole in the article here because it does not say exactly what happened the girls in Japan. It only says that he tried to contact them after the war to say sorry but only one of them would agree to meet him.

The suggestion by the Dong-A is that they ended up working as comfort women but it is not explained clearly in the article.

Also the story goes on to say that he sent between 1,000 and 1,500 New Year’s cards out every year to ensure as many Japanese people as possible read his confession and atonement until his death last December.

The advertising campaign to sell Hyundai Sonata Cars in Japan has been a bit of a non starter according to the Chosun Ilbo.

Apparently they are just managing to flog 20 of them a month despite using Bae Yong-Joon in an advertising campaign.

I bet that most of the people buying Sonatas in Japan are ethnic Koreans too. I just think that the image of Korea and Korean products in Japan makes the sale of cars there almost impossible. 

They would probably have to sell them at a loss to get a foothold in the market.  

This is a very interesting story from the BBC.

A former doctor in Japan’s World War II navy says he was ordered to perform medical experiments on Filipino prisoners before they were executed.

Akira Makino, 84, told Kyodo news agency he performed surgery and amputations on condemned prisoners, including women and children.

I wonder why he chose to tell him story now. It will be interesting to see what the reaction to this is and if any other soldiers or medical staff come forward now that the ice has been broken.

Mr Makino’s testimony is believed to be the first account from a Japanese veteran of the war in south-east Asia describing medical experiments on prisoners.

I think the Philipine government and media will make a lot less noise about this than the Chinese press would have if the doctor had been stationed there.

Mr Makino was stationed on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines during World War II.

He told the Kyodo news agency he had operated on some 30 prisoners between December 1944 and February 1945.

The operations – which included amputations and abdominal surgery – were regarded as part of his medical training, he said.

“I would have been killed if I had disobeyed the order,” Mr Makino said. “That was the case in those days.”

He also said he was disgusted by orders to practise surgery on two Filipino men, rendered unconscious after being captured on suspicion of being US spies.

“I thought, ‘What a horrible thing I’m doing to innocent people even though I’m ordered to do it’,” he said.

I had a quick look to see how the Philipine press reported it. I didn’t expect them to pull out a headline like this:

Japanese doc cut up people during WWII

A lot of their press don’t seem to have it at all. Maybe it will be there tomorrow.

Unfortunately it will be only a cameo role but it is still interesting. He will be paying back Miike for his appearance in Hostel.

The movie title is ‘Sukiyaki Western Django’ and it will be in English.

The story is based on clashes between two rival gangs in 12th Century Japan.

Kaori Momoi from the crap Geisha movie will also be in it.

The BBC has a report on the passing of a bill in Japan’s lower house of parliament that will encourage teachers to boost patriotism and national pride among students.

The bill calls on teachers to instil thinking among students “respecting tradition and culture and loving the nation and homeland.”

Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has strongly backed the bill.

There are opponents that fear this may encourage a resurgence of nationalism and push Japan back towards Imperialism but I doubt it. In fact it could result the opposite because now the exact message can be controlled as part of a state curriculum.

Japan is following Germany’s lead in introducing a “Baby Hatch” to allow mothers to anonymously drop off their newborns so that they can be put up for adoption (from Reuters). It is an alternative to abortion but still something that could haunt a person for a long time.   

Jikei Hospital in southern Japan said it plans to install what it is calling a “stork’s cradle,” consisting of a flap in an outside wall which opens on to a small incubated bed.

An alarm bell would ring within minutes after a baby was deposited so hospital staff could come and care for the infant.

“By installing the hatch, we want to rescue both parents and babies,” said a hospital official. “Maybe there are some people who are suspicious about it, but we should not pretend not to see them and let them die. Babies are innocent.”

According to the BBC, its become a lucrative earner for foreigners in Japan to work as fake weekend priests for Christian style weddings. Only 1% of the population of Japan describe themselves as Christians while 90% of weddings are in the Christian style.

Mark Kelly is originally from Lancashire in England. He has been living in Japan for six years and, at the weekend, he is a fake priest.

“I was living in Sapporo, studying Japanese, and I needed the money. It’s far better paid than teaching in a language school,” he said.

Sounds like easy money to me.

“There are Japanese priests, but most couples are trying to re-create a European wedding, so overwhelmingly ask for a foreign priest,” said Momo, who works at Morito Ishi Kyokai (forest and stone) chapel.

This is the unpleasant story (from the Dong-A Ilbo) of what is alleged to have happened on the Marshal Islands in 1945. I am sure it will be made into a film someday in Korea. It will definitely not help Korean-Japanese relations much.

Japanese and Koreans eked out eating soup with bean leaves. And in early 1945, a Korean who was working for the army disappeared.

Efforts of groups of other Koreans to find the missing person failed. Later, those who went for fishing to a nearby deserted island saw an unspeakable scene. They found the disappeared Korean with slices of flesh in the thigh cut out.

What shocked them more was the whale meat Japanese gave to them a few days earlier. At that time, they felt satisfied because it had been long since they had eaten meat last time, but they quivered thinking they might have eaten human flesh. It was not quite possible the Japanese without any tool caught a whale and gave the meat to Koreans.

Now I am no expect on human flesh but I would imagine it looks and tastes very different to whale meat. It would probably have been better to pretend to have caught a wild boar or something similar.

Several days later, another Korean went missing and was found with similar thigh flesh slices cut out. Koreans were overwhelmed with fear. Eventually, they decided to escape from the island. U.S. warships were around the island, so they thought they could escape if they killed the Japanese.

On the night of March 18, 1945, Koreans carried out their plan and killed 7 Japanese. When they were about to flee, machine guns were fired at them. A Korean informed the army in one-hour-away Lukonor Island about the plan and a 50-strong Japanese patrol came to the island and mercilessly fired bullets into Koreans. The Japanese bayoneted fallen Koreans. Those who took the lead in uprising killed themselves by blowing up dynamite.

The last part is probably what the skeptics will focus on however.

“In 1995, I went back to the Mili Atoll, and I could not find any signs of the massacre. Yet I could not get over the tragic memories so I wrote the memorandum,” said Lee.

According to Reuters, approximately 12 Japanese people a year require psychological treatment after visiting Paris.It is mostly down to unfriendly locals and scruffy streets. 

Fragile travelers can lose their bearings. When the idea they have of the country meets the reality of what they discover it can provoke a crisis.

said psychologist Herve Benhamou.

This year there was a case where two women became convinced that their hotel room was bugged and there was a plot against them going on.

In the past there were also instances where a Japanese man became convinced he was Louis XIV and a woman believed she was being attacked by microwaves.

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