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August 27, 2006

Pleasure seeking, maintainance of stability, and sacrificing others

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It is still very hot in Osaka. I don't recommend you to come to huge cities like Osaka, Kobe or Tokyo in August. It's so humid and hot that you can't go out and see around the city on foot. October and November are the best season to visit Japan.

By the way, the translation of some new paragraphs in Chapter 1 of Painless Civilization was uploaded. In this section I discussed the nature of "desire of the body," which serves as a driving force to develop "painless civilization." "Desire of the body" is something that lurks behind the deep layer of our existence, develops the stream of painless civilization, and gradually kills our deep joy of life.

The five dimensions of "desire of the body" are as follows:

1) Pleasure seeking, agony avoiding

2) Maintenance of stability and the status quo

3) Expansion and Exploitation

4) Sacrificing others

5) Control of One’s Life, Living Beings, and Nature

And this five types of “desire of the body” mentioned above profoundly determine patterns of human behavior. Furthermore, the “desire of the body” has become the set-in-motion driving force of our civilization.

"Desire of the body" is a term I coined. I tried to explain in the translated text the reason why I chose the word "body" for expressing this concept. Please visit and read the details of my speculations.

We are now proceeding to the central discussion of Chapter 1 of Painless Civilization. It takes a lot of time to translate a Japanese book into English. Please be patient and wait for the next part.

Related post: Administration of pleasure and pain in the future society

Photo: Albany, NY, USA.

  -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

August 23, 2006

Censorship in the Chinese mass media

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It is well-known that there is a strict censorship in the mass media and the Internet in China. When I was staying in Beijing, I experienced an interesting and scary event.

I was staying at one of the most beautiful and gorgeous (probably) hotels towering in the Wangfujing area. Inside the hotel there were a number of foreign travelers, mostly from European countries and the US (probably). The lobby was beautiful, the swiming pool was beautiful, and the hotel staff was frank and polite. This was surely one of the best hotels I have stayed at up until present.

One afternoon I was watching TV in my room. It was surprising that I could see not only Chinese channels, but many foreign channels such as CNN, BBC, MTV, and Japanese NHK. And more surprising was that those programs were aired live. I could watch Japanese NHK news and weather report live. CNN and BBC were live too. What surprised me was that if we could watch foreign programs live, then we could also see, for example, another Tien An Men incident live in CNN or BBC without censorship. Wow, how thrilling!

I turned the channel to BBC. It was broadcasting a weather forecast. Then, a BBC reporter began a report from Beijing, China. He was talking to the camera with his laptop computer in a Chinese garden. His report was about the current situation about the Chinese media and the Internet. An interview with a Chinese girl started. She talked about her own blog. She said in English that it was very interesting to have communications with unknown people on the Internet. And then, another story began. A middle-aged man was riding on a train. He was a journalist of a Chinese newspaper, but he quit his job and became an independent journalist. He made his own website and continued to expose the dark side of Chinese society.

I came near to the TV set. The report went on. This man interviewed a Chinese woman whose husband had been physically abused by a member of the Communist Party. The woman appeared on the screen. After chatting with this woman, the Chinese journalist started to talk to the BBC camera about the background of the incident, and ....... suddenly the TV screen turned black and silent. I was shocked and changed the channel. CNN and other foreign channels were aired without problem. I returened to BBC. The TV screen still remained black. I was waiting in front of the silent TV set. Then suddenly the program resumed. The report from China had already ended, and another report from another country had begun.

I am worried that something unfortunate might have happened to the Chinese journalist and the interviewed woman.

Related article: Unit 731 and atrocities in China during World War II

Photo: Albany, NY, USA.

   --- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

August 20, 2006

Unit 731 and atrocities in China during World War II

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As I wrote in the previous post, the most impressive presentation in IAB was that of Takashi Tsuchiya. In his lecture he talked about what Japanese physicians did in Unit 731 and other facilities during World War II. He began his talk, saying, "I don't talk for the sake of a nation. I will talk for the sake of victims." I don't want to repeat the content of his talk because it was too heavy and bloody to write down here. He concluded his speech saying:"The Japanese medical community has not reflected on what their colleagues did in China, They have a responsibility to make public the atrocities, and apologize to the victims of human experimentation." I was shocked to hear that all Chinese victims in Unit 731 were killed by the Japanese army when the war was over. There were no survivors. More than thousands of victims were captured and experimented on and killed.

Tsuchiya's speech was greeted with long applause, which showed that the audience was deeply impressed with his talk and his sincerity. Many people raised their hands. A Chinese young woman asked Tsuchiya what he had done to provide ordinary Japanese people with information about the atrocites committed by Unit 731. He replied that he had published some academic papers, but admitted that those papers had not reached ordinary people. A Japanese participant asked the chairman, Daniel Wikler, how he thought about this "unfair" and "politicized" symposium in which only Japanese war crimes were blamed before an international audience. Wikler replied that Unit 731 was well-known in China and Japan, but not in the rest of the world, hence it was nessesary to hold such a symposium in this conference.

Another important topic was secret deals behind closed doors just after the end of the war, made by the US and Japan, about scientific data acquired by Unit 731's human experimentation. The US decided not to prosecute Japanese physicians who had performed human experimentation for war crimes, in exchange for gaining precious data on biological weapons, diseases, etc. Most of the doctors returned to Japan and became professors, researchers, and executives of pharmaceutical companies. They have kept silent since then. The US gained the human experimentation data, created biological weapons, and used them in Korean War 1950-53 (See Wiki). The US was also an important player in the history of Unit 731.

Till Baernighausen said in his speech that a number of scientific papers to date have cited papers published by Unit 731's researchers. This means that even today data acquired by human experimentation (including vivisection) are utilized in the scientific community. Most authors are probably just ignorant of the historical facts. The problem here is whether it should be morally acceptable to use those data in order to promote medical science. Baernighausen proposed that major medical journals examine the citations appeared in their jounals, and investigate whether some of them might have cited Unit 731's papers in their reference lists.

A female participant (probably came from South Asia) raised her hand and said that in the case of Japanese Army's comfort women, Japanese women have supported a movement to bring the issue into the open, and asked whether there is a similar movement in Japan concerning Unit 731. Tsuchiya replied that there are individuals and groups who try to shed light on this issue, but there has been no such movement comparable to the problem of comfort women.

She also asked what the panelists thought about Japanese victims killed by the atomic bombs dropped by the US army. There were no responses. Another participant pointed out that the bargaining by the US was similar to the current US attitude towards war against terrorism.

Anyway, it was a very interesting and impressive symposium. I would like to say thank you to the chairman and IAB for their courageous attempt.

(Continues...)

Related post: "Unit 731 and medical ethics in Japan"

Photo: Albany, NY, USA.

    -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

August 19, 2006

Osaka, Beijing

I am going to write about my trip to China and the Yasukuni shrine soon. It’s very hot and humid in Osaka these days. I didn’t imagine that Osaka would be hotter than Beijing.

August 09, 2006

Beijing bioethics conference

The 8th World Congress of Bioethics is over. I am still in Beijing, but will soon go back to Japan. Since the Internet access is not so convenient here, I couldn’t upload a live report from Beijing. The most interesting and moving presentation I have heard in the conference was that of Professor Takashi Tsuchiya about Unit 731 and its legacy in the post-war Japan. I am going to write about his presentation after I come back home. Beijing is a beautiful city. I have experienced some interesting happenings here. I will talk about them, too, in the next post.

August 01, 2006

Beijing bioethics conference, and Americanization

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I have just finished preparing for my presentation at the Beijing bioethics conference. I will fly to Beijing on August 3rd, and stay at a hotel near Tien An Men for a week. This is my first trip to China. I am a little nervous because I can't speak Chinese..... Japanese and Chinese share similar Chinese characters, however, pronuciations are "completely" different, and our cultures are also different (probably). Anyway, I will walk around Beijing and see how people are living in this changing metropolis.

Last month I was in Albany, New York, a city in the most "wealthy" country in the world, and this week I am in Beijing, another most important city in the world. Every time I come back from the US, I feel that Japan is becoming more and more a mini-America in its materialism and commercialism. Then, what about China? What's going on out there?

In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, I have made a leaflet that shows an outline of the criticism of painless civilization. I am thinking of handing out the leaflet to those who show interest in this topic. You can download the leaflet (PDF).

I am going to attend sessions on "Unit 731." It is going to be an exciting experience for me to hear presentations and responses from the audience.

Related post: "Unit 731 and medical ethics in Japan" http://www.lifestudies.org/weblog/2006/03/unit_731_and_medical_ethics_in.html

Photo: Night in Osaka