Show your Happy Face

From March of this year, Japan will be hosting the World Expo in Aichi. This is a premier public diplomacy event for Japan - a real chance to showcase the country to the world. For this event, a new airport has been built offshore south of Nagoya. The location, near Toyota Japan in northeastern Aichi prefecture, is also near where I used to live in Gifu.

There is only one small problem. The central park in Nagoya is actually full of hundreds if not thousands of homeless people. The linear park runs through the central part of the city, much like Sapporo. The homeless have built very elaborate homes out of cardboard and tarps. Most of these "homes" even have entranceways where the homeless men take off their shoes at night. Using old car batteries, they even have lights and televisions. I have never seen such interesting homeless engineering before.

However, thousands of people are due to arrive in the next few weeks, so today is reckening day. All the homeless in this park have been evacuated. The homes have been destroyed, packed up (in garbage bags), and hauled away. I don't know where the men are going to live. This is public relations at its best - just like New York city before the Republican Convention. Certianly a prime example of honne and tatemae, truth and image.

Center for Public Diplomacy

I could not have asked for more. For a few months I have been searching online for just the right PhD program for me. I have been looking for a program that is relatively broad based in the political sciences, but also has a strong communications department so that I can draw on their resources to look more deeply into public diplomacy.

For nearly two years now I have been following issues related to public diplomacy, also known as propaganda. Generally speaking the term describes all strategic communications conducted by states directed at the people of other nations. It also includes educational exchange programs such as Fulbright and the International Visitor Program. In recent years it has been given more attention, especially since America is hugely unpopular across most of the Muslim world. Apparently, the new secretary of state, Condi Rice, will work to improve what is taking place.

But now, the University of Southern California has founded the Center for Public Diplomacy. It combines the efforts of the Annenberg School of Communications and the schools of Political Science and International Relations. It is the perfect match for what I have been seeking. From 2006 they will offer an MA in Public Diplomacy.

So now, I must overcome my aversion to living in LA and get my application ready.

Violence of Terrorism(?)

The following is a reaction to readings for a class of mine, "Anthropology of Violence."

It’s yellow, no its red, no its yellow again. I think it’s orange
today… Does anyone actually pay attention to the United States
Department of Homeland Security Threat Advisory? Just so you know, it’s
officially yellow as of 9:30 this evening. You can check it when you
feeling worried by going to:

It is just one sign of America’s paranoia regarding “terrorist threats.”
So, what does that mean exactly? Should I buy duct tape and plastic,
or run for the hills? Oh no, there goes a dark skinned guy in a U-Haul

It’s gotten crazy. Who is really paying attention to this? By the way,
have you heard the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf? You know, the
people stopped listening to him after awhile. The difference here
though is the screaming by “anonymous government officials” is much more
shrill than any real attack can ever be.

Granted, more people died in the continental United States on September
11, 2001 than all wars since the Civil War. Only seven people were
killed in the US during World War II. This was serious. However, are
the warnings realistic?

How about these warnings that would actually save lives:

Ok, the last one doesn’t apply to Japan, but apparently several hundred
people die every year in Japan from eating Fugu.

Looking at these readings, it seems that violence is directed at the
other, the unknown. In the case of terrorism, there is no way to win.
There other is a mysterious bogeyman that we are constantly reminded of.
It is time to reconsider what we’re being told, and look at reality. It
is time to start saving lives not by crying wolf about terror, but by
looking at what causes terror and by saving lives where they can be
saved. So, next time you ride your bike to the station, stay to the
left, ring your bell, turn your light on at night, and forget about the

Keep Talking

Today I wrote an essay on whether Matsuoka Yosuke, Japan's delegate to the League of Nations in 1933, should have walked out as he did or not. At the time it shocked the world. Today, it still bewilders me.

The entire episode began when the Japanese Kwantong Army in Northeast China exploded a railroad, framed the Chinese, and used the incident to create the puppet state of Manchuria. The League of Nations investigated with the Lytton Commission. The League found both sides in the wrong, but ordered Japan to withdraw from Northeast China. In retaliation, Japan walked out of teh League in 1933, leaving permenantly in 1935 (after the two year waiting period).

So, why did they leave? They didn't have to leave. They could have stayed.

I argue that had they stayed, perhaps they would have maintained a dialogue with the Chinese. Perhaps by creating a dialogue, the nature of the war would have been different. Counterfacts are fun, but I still wonder why they HAD to walk out. We'll see tomorrow in class - but loa, I am leading the discussion!

Summer Internship

I recieved an email this week from the US Embassy here in Tokyo. I've been selected as an intern at the Tokyo American Center. This is located separately from the US Embassy, but is a vital office for the conduct of Public Diplomacy here in Japan.

Today, I visited the building to see what kind of commute I'll have. It is located in the vicinity of Hammamatsucho. My father visited this neighborhood in 1969, after he was stranded en route between the US and his Army post in Korea. Hammamatsucho is where the Tokyo Monorail terminates - when he visited it was relatively new. Today, it is a tired neighborhood of Tokyo, not like the nearby Shiodome or Odaiba neighborhoods.

The ABC building is quite plain. I somehow found it near the Shibakoen subway exit. I entered the plain lobby to find a lonely security guard. He showed me the small sign that said it was closed for the New Year holiday. Other than that, there was no indication of what exists on the 10th and 11th floor. The directory lists it simply as the "AC Library." I am guessing that is for American Center, and not the air conditioning. It is impossible to know what is there unless you know what you are looking for. This is not the result of recent security measures, but seems to be the way it was planned from the beginning. The only other interesting feature were the tables obviously used to search people's bags when they enter the hall for lectures.

How does this rate? I have been to symposiums at various locales in the Tokyo area. These include the hall at Japan International Cooperation Agency the United Nations University, both non-private facilities without this overbearing security.

If I weren't American, I'd wonder about the message being sent. Access to the services provided by public diplomacy officers vary from corners of host libraries, such as in Jakarta, Indonesia to corners tucked away in various US Embassies (i.e. armed camps). This is slowly changing, but is a nondescript building better? We'll see this summer.

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