BETWEEN FIVE WORLDS: CHINA, RUSSIA, JAPAN, LATIN AMERICA, AND AUSTRALIA;
BETWEEN FIVE CAREERS: DIPLOMAT, ECONOMIST, JOURNALIST, AMATEUR DEVELOPER AND JAPANOLOGIST;
BETWEEN FIVE LANGUAGES: ENGLISH, CHINESE, RUSSIAN, SPANISH AND JAPANESE
Access to Foreign Media, and My Yugoslavia Problem
1. Foreign Media Access -CNN, IHT etc.
2. Yugoslavia Breakup - Croatia. Bosnia, Kosovo
3. Japan Times
By now it should be clear that my existence in Japan depended very much on access to media outlets, and that access was far from guaranteed.
I have already described my opportunities, and problems, with the Japanese media - the problems beginning after my argument with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun about the economy, and continuing during Japan's love affair with Koizumi's suicidal structural reform.
I would have more of the same up-and-down experience with foreign media.
But here my problems were largely of my own making - my distress over the events in Yugoslavia in the late nineties especially.
1. Foreign Media Access
Initially my access to foreign outlets had been good.
The world had wanted to know about the Japanese economic miracle and the trade problems it was causing.
The world was beating a door to any available commentator with a few ideas and a voice.
I was usually available in Tokyo. Quite a few came to my door.
CNN was one outlet. They used me quite a lot, until they cut back their intelligent, hard-working Tokyo operation.
All the other US channels also used me at one time or another.
I could also run occasional articles, even columns, in various English language newspapers and magazines in Japan.
But apart from the International Herald Tribune (see below) I never had any regular and serious foreign outlet.
At the height of the Koizumi nonsense I tried to get a carefully considered piece into the Financial Times, pointing out the mainly cultural reasons for Japan's chronic lack of domestic demand and the need for fiscal stimulus.
I knew that journal too was in love with the promised Koizumi 'structural reforms'. But I thought it had enough integrity to run something different.
I did not get even the courtesy of a reply, let alone access.
That was bad enough. Far worse was having eventually to end up in much the same situation with the International Herald Tribune.
International Herald Tribune
For over twenty years I had had a good connection with that Paris-based US newspaper of quality.
They had approached me in the early seventies, back in the days when their coverage of Japan was weak.
They would run almost anything I sent them, especially on foreign policy.
One reason, I guess, was that I was one of the few outside contributors willing to type up my copy and head for the central post office to mail it off to Paris. In those days we did not even have fax machines.
IHT articles invariably produced a reaction in Japan, especially with the Gaimusho.
Indeed, one rumor said that the two papers regularly delivered to Gaimusho desks were the IHT and the Far Eastern Economic Review, and I was writing for both of them.
But all that was soon to finish. The FEER ended up under rightwing US control and has lost authority as a result.
The IHT too started to turn conservative, with many of its articles taken directly from the Washington Post.
Outside contributors were cut heavily. I was not excepted.
But it was the Kosovo question that finally finished me, in much the same way that the Koizumi problem had finished me with the Japanese media.
Kosovo was also to leave me profoundly disgusted with Western politics, which was to create something of a problem for me since I was already fairly upset with the Japanese version too.
2. Yugoslavia On My Mind
In the early 1990's, fresh from their disastrous meddling in post-Soviet Russia, our Western policy planners (and the Vatican, it appears - see Emperors Clothes website) turned their attention to Yugoslavia - a country I had been involved with back in the fifties and had followed closely ever since in the context of Soviet bloc politics.
Having wrecked the economy of the former USSR and encouraged its breakup, the policy-planners had quickly realised that here was a chance to weaken the independent-minded but still pro-Moscow Serbs.
And by encouraging Yugoslavia breakup they could also in one swoop gain four extra fiefdoms in central Europe.
Independence for Slovenia I could just understand. I had been there in the fifties and could sense its cultural identity.
But when I heard that the West was determined to support and encourage Croatian independence, despite its large Serbian minority, I knew there would be trouble.
We Australians had long known about the Ustashi, that Serb-hating, fascist-leaning, Croatia-based organization. Its attacks on Yugoslav government facilities in Australia and elsewhere were both frequent and deadly.
The Serbs had lost one million people during World War Two, mainly at the hands of pro-Nazi Ustashi Croatians whose atrocities are said to have shocked even the Germans. Now postwar they were at it again.
Clearly the idea of making the Serbian minority accept Croatian domination again was out of the question, or so we thought.
True, as Serbian militants tried to assert independence and recover some of towns and villages from which they had been ethnically cleansed by the wartime Croatians, there were atrocities, by both sides, with the Serbian atrocities gaining almost all the publicity in the Western media.
'Ethnic cleansing' it was called. But only the 'cleansing' by the Serbs was noted.
Clearly separation of the two peoples was the only possible solution, with Serbs retaining some autonomy or the right to link up with Serbia proper.
But that was not to happen. With Western approval and support the Croatians were able to expel the Serbs completely, with no mention of Croatian 'ethnic cleansing' in the Western media.
Later, the bloody expulsion of almost half a million Serbs from Croatia’s Krajina area - the largest, least ambiguous, least publicised and arguably the cruelest example of ethnic cleansing during the entire post-Yugoslavia troubles - was also to be seen as acceptable by the West.
In all, Belgrade was forced to accept close to one million refugees from its former territories, mainly from Croatia.
And yet it was the Serbs, not those responsible for the refugees, who were supposed to be the 'ethnic cleansers.'
As yet another example of black being converted into white, this one deserves some sort of prize.
Bosnia saw much the same Western hypocrisy.
No one seemed to want to realise that Bosnia, like Croatia to some extent, was an artificial entity, in which Tito had deliberately included a large Serbian minority in a bid to portray Yugoslavia as a multi-ethnic state where everyone could live together happily (provided Belgrade had firm control).
The Serbs there had also suffered their share of wartime atrocities, this time at the hands of both pro-Nazi Croatians and pro-Nazi Muslims
Demanding that they accept Muslim majority rule plus a Croatian minority input was insanity - murderous insanity as it proved to be.
Here too quick and early separation of the peoples was the only answer.
And since no one was willing to do it peacefully - "we must respect the integrity of the (artificial) Bosnian state", was the excuse - it had to come about through massive slaughter, by both sides.
Needless to say, the Western policy-makers responsible for the slaughter were delighted to blame the Serbs for the bloodshed.
(I once asked Akashi Yasushi, whom I knew quite well and who had been the UN representative there in charge of peace-keeping forces, about his Bosnian experiences. In a sad voice all he could say was that 'whatever you do there you will end up being criticised by someone.'
(He was to be ousted by the West, the US especially, for the sin of seeming to be too fair-minded and neutral.)
True, Western protests against the Serbian revenge killings of Muslims in the Srebrenitsa area were justified - several thousands were taken away and killed, it is claimed.
But no one bothered to look at the killings of Serbs in scattered villages in that once Serbian-majority area that had been going on for some years beforehand, also in the thousands.
In Kosovo it was even worse.
The Serbs there had already suffered one bout of massacre at the hands of pro-Nazi Muslim Albanians during World War Two, which had effectively reduced them to a minority in an area sacred to the Serbs for historical and religious reasons.
Even so, Belgrade was willing to give autonomy to the postwar ethnic Albanian majority there.
Tensions between the two peoples continued, however, and control was returned to Belgrade in 1991.
But with the Serbs in control, the Albanians moved to total non-cooperation.
Soon a guerrilla war was underway, with Western-armed ethnic Albanians, operating from Albania as the Kosovo Liberation Army, beginning activities by wiping out defenceless Serbians living in isolated rural areas - ethnic cleaning in the purest sense of the word.
However, when the Yugoslav army finally took some very justified defensive and retaliatory measures to put an end to this atrocity, it was they who were to be condemned as the 'ethnic cleansers' (by this time and after Croatia and Bosnia the word was very much in vogue among the Western commentators, almost none of whom seemed to know anything about the situation on the ground in Kosovo, or Bosnia for that matter).
(I once asked one of them whether he knew that much of the territory being fought over in Bosnia had been Serbian territory prewar. He showed surprise and promised to check. I never heard any more from him.)
This in turn gave the West its excuse for the vicious, vandalistic bombing of Serbia, to force Kosovo independence.
The excuse for this bombing was the 1999 Rambouillet meeting where the West tried to force on Belgrade one of the most disgracefully one-sided documents ever imposed by the West on a victimised nation, which is saying a lot.
Apart from anything else, its original version had included a clause which would have required Belgrade to allow NATO troops free movement throughout all of former Yugoslavia.
As even Henry Kissinger put it: “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing. Rambouillet is not a document that an angelic Serb could have accepted. It was a terrible diplomatic document that should never have been presented in that form.” (Daily Telegraph, June 28th 1999)
Later the inclusion of that clause was admitted to have been a 'mistake.'
But once again, don't expect our policy-makers to apologise for the mistake. They had already used Belgrade’s reluctance to accept that mistake as an excuse to justify the vandalistic bombing of Serbia they had been wanting to do from the beginning.
Nor expect anyone, apart from Wikipedia, to look at what actually happened at Rambouillet. Yet even they do not look at the strange relationship between the US representative, Madeline Albright and the young handsome KLA leader Thaci.
For that feisty lady, the moderate Ibrahim Rugova whom Belgrade had accepted as a leader in an autonomous Kosovo, was dull, old and boring.
Partly on the basis of that personal whim, much of Serbia’s infrastructure was to be destroyed and several thousand of its citizens killed.
And the West talks about morality in foreign affairs.
Soon, with the KLA in control, more ethnic cleansing was underway in Kosovo, this time not only of the Serbs but also Jews, gypsies (both favorite targets of pro-Nazis around Europe) and even moderate Albanians who had tried to coexist with Serbs.
In little more than ten years, the Serbian population had been reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent though killings and forced expulsions.
But the Europeans continued to gloat and boast how they had had bravely to resort to 'robust measures' (their favorite word nowadays for any form of brutal force) to put an end to the evil of Serbian 'ethnic cleansing', even though the remaining ten percent Serbs now have to live in protected enclaves to avoid being further ethnically cleansed.
The Europeans today boast how as a result of their union and cooperation they have not only made a complete break from Nazi Germany days. They also claim to have prevented the outbreak on any war on the European continent since 1945.
Somehow they manage to forget that what they did to Serbia was not only war. It was a direct throwback to pre-1945 Nazi anti-Serb hatreds, bombings and atrocities, with massive weaponry and phony excuses used to force a small European nation into submission.
Does it get any more degrading than this?
In a long career involved with foreign affairs I had seen any number of instances where Western propagandists had managed to change black into white and vice versa – all the way from the 1962 Sino-Indian border war and the 1964 Tonkin Gulf affair, to the Georgian attack on Ossetia being presented as a Russian attack on Georgia and the Ukrainian refusal to pay for Russian gas being presented as a Russian attempt to blackmail Europe.
But few were as bad as Kosovo.
Indeed, for me this was as ugly as Vietnam, with every day bringing fresh news of the dreadful destruction being rained down on a brave people - the only European people west of Russia to have resisted the wartime Nazi invaders.
Worse, its attackers included a large number - Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, not to mention Germany itself - who had gone along with the Nazi invaders. The alleged Vatican role was especially ugly.
I had to try to get something into print, even though it was clear that IHT went along with the Western view of events, as did almost all the commentators.
But one after another, my agonised articles to the IHT went to the rubbish basket.
In desperation I asked whether I could at least be allowed to have a letter to the editor, which they ran but with a garble that made it seem weird.
From then on all further copy from me on any topic - on the Japanese economy mainly, but also something trying to set the record straight on Tiananmen - was axed automatically.
I seem to have been put on a kind of black list of weirdo wannabe contributors to be avoided.
3. Japan Times
Fortunately I was still able to get my material, including Kosovo, published in the Japan Times.
Though based in Tokyo, its online version had global reach. Indeed, I often got the earliest and best comments from overseas rather than domestic readers.
(The reactions to my Kosovo piece ranged from the Serbian ecstatic to Albanian excruciating.)
Here I was able to write about any topic I liked, with a minimum of censorship.
I was, for example, able to dig out the facts of the so-called Tiananmen massacre (yet another major black information distortion victory for our Western propagandists - see my JT articles on this website).
Getting out the facts over another distortion - this time Georgia and South Ossetia - was also a satisfaction.
Even better I was able to use the articles, with good Japanese translations by the still uncomplaining Yasuko, as the basis for this website kindly set up by one of my former Nakadaki residents.
Later I was able to include some Russian translations by a Russian journalist friend in Tokyo.
There is a special pleasure in having one's articles preserved in this way.
The only problem I ever had was when I wrote a piece saying it was understandable China distrusted Japan if an outfit like the rightwing Nippon Zaidan held such political sway.
The Zaidan got its funds from a highly dubious motorboat racing gambling monopoly given to Ryoichi Sasagawa by the LDP, who in turn had got his funds and political power thanks to wartime plunder activities in China.
The Zaidan protested violently, threatening legal action, claiming (falsely) that it, like Sasagawa, was a great friend of China.
JT got rather agitated; the Zaidan was an important customer. The problem was eventually solved, but only with some damage to myself.
In seeking more detail about Sasagawa I discovered something interesting.
The many volumes of Kodansha's Encyclopedia of Japan carry biographies of anyone and everyone relevant to Japan, no matter how unimportant, going back centuries.
Even haiku poets of the 16th century get a mention.
But there was no mention of Sasagawa - a key man in Japanese postwar politics and in helping the LDP maintain its control.
No doubt Kodansha too had run into the Zaidan's hostility and preferred to stay away.
Using its immense financial and political resources, the Zaidan has since moved even further into the mainstream of Japanese society.
Which means that people like myself have to move even further out, I guess.
I talk more about this problem in my next chapter.
Please join the Online Forum for Discussion about this Chapter.