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.”

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