Talk:Yasuhiko Asaka

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one of the commanders during the atrocity was Prince Asaka, an uncle of Emperor Hirohito, but none of the Emperor's family was ever tried for war crimes [1]

I guess that is what they mean by "friends in high places". Will do so, although it is more Iwane than Asaka that appears to be the devil of Nanking. It reminds me of the Nuremburg defence - who is more evil? - the man who gives the order, or the man who carries it out? --KotomiTnandeyanen? 09:49, 21 February 2009 (EST)
We'll let the reader sort that out. I actually have a lot of respect for Japan, because it is the first nation in history to move from "Satan's side" to "God's side", as we Unificationists suppose. It remains only to correct the official historical accounts in school textbooks and then to make the apologies. No big deal, really.
I wonder how much the Christian concept of forgiveness can be understood by Japanese. You would be in a position to give us much insight on this. --Ed Poor Talk 10:03, 21 February 2009 (EST)
I think forgiveness is a universal term; but what would probably count more, would be the Buddhist concept of karma, "what I do today will influence me tomorrow" sort of thing. On the subject of forgiveness itself, as an act, I do not think the Japanese are an unforgiving people. However, there are things that might make it appear as such - even until recent times, the supplicant had to be sincere in his appeal for forgiveness - it is sometimes too easy to say "forgive me". Thus, seppuku was a good way to ask for forgiveness (of one's family in this case), or to show remorse. Likewise, there is a story of a daimo who would request those begging forgiveness to kneel in front of him, foreheads pressed to the ground. The difference was, they were on a metal plate, heated from below. If they could carry out their supplication in such conditions, they were sincere and forgiven. We are a strange people - it is all about "honour" and "saving face" and such things, especially when you have to move in the upper echelons of society. Many would have rather died than ask for, or expect, forgiveness. The same with the Code of Bushido - which took the 'death before dishonour' mantra very seriously. If you surrendered, you had lost your honour and were not human. I am not saying that is right, but it does explain some actions during the War. --KotomiTnandeyanen? 10:31, 21 February 2009 (EST)

Polite... or Not

Thank you for your thoughtful observations, particularly on the warrior code. It reminds me of "The Last Samurai", particularly the scene where Tom Cruise is clearly defeated but refuses to surrender. Impressed, his Japanese adversaries decide to make him a captive instead of killing him. Do we have a Bushido article?
While we're at it, have you heard of this? The various ways of saying "Thank you" in Japanese translate into degrees of resentment. Also, a Japanese Christian businessman told me (a quarter century ago) that bowing is not necessarily a sign of respect.
As always, my inquiries and comments are not meant to condemn but to shed light. Remember John 3:20. --Ed Poor Talk 15:25, 22 February 2009 (EST)
No offence taken - I am happy to try and lift the veil on our somewhat strange culture (although seeing as I have been "corrupted" by Western culture over the last 11 years, I might not be the best to comment! *grin*). As for your question, I am not sure "resentment" is the right work, but there are certainly ways to be impolite, or to show disdain, in the way you thank somebody, or apologise, or bow.
In it's simplest form, there are two things to remember - your social standing in relation to whom you are talking and being polite. Both combine to determine what you will say to a person. Take "thank you" for an example. A rule of thumb is that the longer a phrase is, the more formal it is. Of course, you might not know the other's social standing (and age is not always an indicator - for example, a young person from an important family would be shown the same respect by an elder person from a lesser family, as the youngster would show her elder). Here, politeness takes over - that is where the honourifics come in - if you call somebody name-san, you can not go wrong. Even if you have to speak to strangers, calling them "ojisan" or "obasan" (lit. middle aged man or lady, but closer to Sir or Ma'am in meaning) would not be remiss. Omitting the honourific can mean two things - affection, as it is only really family, close friends or partners that would drop the -san, -chan, or -kun suffix - or lack of respect. Calling somebody by their family name only is perfectly acceptable (for peers and seniors talking to juniors), but without the suffix it implies a less formal relationship between you, or out and out lack of respect. Think of it as somebody saying to you, "Do this, Poor."
Back to the initial point - thus, if I was thanking somebody superior to me, I would say "doumo arigatou gozaimasu" (lit. "thank you thank you for what has happened" - although it is quite acceptable to drop the "doumo"). To a friend, or peer, I could get away with saying "arigatou" and not cause offence. To a junior, I could even say "doumo" which on its own can translate as "thanks". However, just saying "doumo" to a senior would be impolite, and quite rude, depending on the tone of voice used. The same with saying "sorry" - "gomennasai" (accompanied by much bowing) would be the proper response in almost all situations, just saying "gomen", again unless to friends, peers, or juniors, could be taken as a brush-off.
Bowing too, can show disrespect. The deeper the bow, the more respect you are showing. Thus, a nod of the head, where a bow is required, would show disrespect towards that person, or that you do not consider what you are bowing for (an instruction, a request, etc. - remember, we bow for everything) important or worthy of your time. Conversely, giving a deep bow could be done in a sarcastic manner - almost over-emphasising the other person's status. Think of it as somebody saying, "Do you know who I am?" being responded to by bowing deeply and saying, "shirimasen" (I do not know). Aligned with this is a Samurai challenge that runs along the lines of "wash your neck before we meet again" (still used to psyche contestants up in some kendo matches). It implies that the challenger does not want to dirty his sword any more than he has to, when beheading you. A sarcastic reply to this, would be a deep bow, exposing your (hopefully) clean neck to your opponent.
As an aside, I heard a while back that our "arigatou" is a corruption of the Portuguese "obrigado", picked up from early traders, but I can not find any confirmation and the words are really too dissimilar, even for us to have appropriated it as a loan word.
PPS The Bushido article needs some work, I think. --KotomiTnandeyanen? 03:55, 23 February 2009 (EST)
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