June 17th, 2005

[BRIEF NOTE] Two Foucault Links

one_serious_cat links to Michel Foucault's 1978 "What Are the Iranians Dreaming About?", originally published in Le Nouvel Observateur in October of 1978. Based on what Foucault wrote at the time and on what we know about the outcome of the Islamic Revoltion, it is certain that he was tragically mistaken in believing that the country which had invented the state in the first place was now in the process of demolishing it. Refer to my post of earlier this evening about the inevitable adulteration of theory by reality, in this case, the desire of revolutionaries to have their ideology triumphant.

Tom Epps' essay "The Body of Foucault" is an innovative piece of writing that borrows the style of Foucault's famous description of the 1757 execution of Robert François Damiens, attempted assassin of Louis XV, at the beginning of Discipline & Punish to describe the decomposition of the author Foucault, literally and otherwise. It's a significant accomplishment.

[BRIEF NOTE] The ongoing deterioration of the Yasukuni situation

The Japan Times reports that the Taiwanese are becoming upset over Yasukuni.

In the latest example of such international repercussions, a group of indigenous Taiwanese embarked Monday on a trip to Japan to protest the enshrinement at Yasukuni of their kin who died while serving in the Imperial Japanese Army.

Before their departure from Taipei, the party of some 60 relatives, led by legislator Kao Chin Su-mei, shouted slogans at the airport calling on Japan to openly apologize for its wartime behavior.

"This is a decades-old issue left unsolved," Kao Chin said. "The Japanese government should sincerely take actions by stopping worshipping at the shrine instead of just paying lip service."

Kao Chin urged that the names of indigenous Taiwanese be removed immediately from Yasukuni's list so their souls can return home.

They plan to protest outside the shrine in central Tokyo beginning Tuesday.

"It is ridiculous that our ancestors' names are put together with those (of) war criminals," Kao Chin said. "They are victims, not killers. Their dignity should be restored."

The Japanese colonial government recruited more than 400,000 Koreans and Taiwanese, who were sent to Southeast Asia and the Pacific as wartime army laborers. Korea and Taiwan were under Japan's colonial rule at the time.

Around 27,000 Taiwanese soldiers were conscripted into the Aboriginal Volunteer Army and became known for their exceptional physical condition and ability to fight in jungles and mountains.

They were mostly sent to the front lines and two-thirds did not survive, while many of those who did spent the rest of their lives heavily disabled or seriously ill.

The Taiwanese aboriginals later abandoned the effort in order to avoid clashes with Japanese ultra-rightists. Their cause is finding some support among Taiwanese in general and the Taiwanese government.

This Taiwanese anger should be treated as a sign that Japan's relationship with Asia in general is deteriorating sharply since, as Lam Peng-Er and Ja Ian Chong write in "Japan-Taiwan Relations: Between Affinity and Reality," (PDF format), the relatively benevolent half-century of Japanese colonial rule and common concerns about the People's Republic of China have combined to make the Taiwanese decidedly fond of Japan and Japanese culture. When the Taiwanese are getting angry with Japan, you know that the visits paid by Prime Minister Koizumi to the Yasukuni shrine have almost purely destructive effects.