Japan's new 'normal' not welcome by all

Regarding your Sept. 13 editorial, "Japan's leap to be a 'normal' nation": I've spent the last six years in Japan and know that most people living there do not see Prime Minister Koizumi's electoral victory as moving Japan toward "normal."

In the West, this may look like a "leap" to normalcy, but Mr. Koizumi ran on the need to strengthen Japan, and received his greatest support from right-wing supporters who believe Japan acted correctly in WWII. They have been beating the drums to confront both China and North Korea militarily. This election crushed the opposition to his reform plans, which include strengthening the Japanese corporate elite and the military.

Koizumi's plans to privatize the postal savings accounts will give the corporations financial power to maintain their domination of the Japanese and Asian economies. These reforms will only hurt Japanese consumers, who will lose both the minimal interest they earned on savings, and their low-cost postal life insurance.

The landslide victory gives credence to Koizumi's agenda to oppose women's rights. Though some reform possibilities do come from the newly elected women, many expect that a lot of these women will oppose Koizumi's male-oriented policies.

It will be interesting to see the West dealing with a "normal" Japan with a more strident military policy and fewer protections for women and minorities.
Jack Strahan

Your editorial on Japan's parliamentary elections requires a more cautious tone. Although the Japanese electorate has every right to vote for their party of choice, Japan has been governed by an essentially one-party system for the past 50 years. The landslide victory by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party may embolden the party to ignore the concerns of the minority and forge ahead with controversial economic and political reforms. Anything resembling a one-party system would be viewed with great suspicion in the United States, so it is surprising that you suggest we welcome the results with open arms.

Your claim that Japan as a "pacifist" nation would now more likely stand up to a "bullying China" may ring hollow with many Asian readers whose families were victimized during Japan's brutal conquest of Asia. They certainly don't see an increasingly nationalistic, unapologetic Japan as a welcoming sign.
Ray Wan
Oakland, Calif.

Elephants in the Great Plains? Try bison.

Your Aug. 30 editorial, "Rewilding America, Pleistocene Style," concerning reestablishing the vanished Pliestocene fauna in America, implies that human arrival caused these extinctions.

Research indicates that as early as 10,000 years ago, climate changes caused the gradual extinction of plants, which many species of the megafauna relied upon. As the plant varieties declined, the species that had become dependent upon them faded away as well.

An attempt to introduce elephants, which have adapted to the warmer equatorial regions of the earth, together with other species no longer found on America's Great Plains would be cruel to the animals.

Let's instead establish a Great Plains National Park that will restore the plains to what they were before the great slaughters of the mid- to late-19th century. Bring back the bison, elk, bighorn, wolves, grizzlies, prairie dogs, pronghorn, and a host of other species just barely hanging on today.
Bruce Keegan
President, Committee for the Preservation of the Tule Elk
San Francisco

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