High life

Let’s all become Japanese for a while

It will make for a far better world

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

17 January 2015

9:00 AM

This is a good time to write about a nation’s resilience in the face of calamity. I am referring to the stoic discipline with which the Japanese bore hardship and the death of 15,000 people in March 2011 following a nine-magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever known to have hit Japan. I can remember the TV coverage as if it were yesterday. Very young and very old Japanese formed a long orderly line for disaster supplies. There was no looting whatsoever as there had been in Los Angeles or in Mexico City, no weeping on camera so that the world would send more funds, just plucky resolve (gaman in Japanese) and ganbaru (to endure with pride).

As anyone who is familiar with Japan knows, tenacity is highly celebrated both as an individual and a collective trait. The recent outrages in Paris, and the collective dignity of the millions who marched following the murder of innocents, brought back memories of Japanese stoicism, a national trait that has served the country well, especially after the disastrous end of world war two.

Just about the time the earthquake hit Japan, my friend Peter Livanos gave me a gift that is probably the one I treasure most of all my possessions, a samurai sword of rare value and provenance, one that embodies the samurai’s code of bushido, and one of the most outstanding examples of Japan’s highly skilled craftsmanship. The workmanship and quality of Peter’s gift far surpasses that of western Damascus and Toledo blades. His latest gift to me, for my last birthday, was an Imperial Japanese Navy admiral’s flag, finished by hand, and as rare as the sword, as there were apparently only 32 officers who reached the rank of admiral between 1897 and 1945. I keep both gifts in one room, along with any medals I may have won throughout my life — in sport, alas, not in war.


Peter Livanos is a very generous man whose father was a friend of mine and whose mother I’ve known since childhood. (Although rich from both sides, he is a self-made man. That really is rare, and certainly not a trait found in my family.) He and I had a good laugh during dinner about the hachimaki of a kamikaze pilot he had included with his gift. This is the cloth with the rising sun symbol that pilots wore and karate fighters still do to this day. ‘How did this survive him?’ I asked Peter. It did look very worn. ‘How do you know he flew?’ he answered.

Peter has a variety of friends, none of whom is what you might call a socialite, i.e., someone who does absolutely nothing other than go to parties and say dumb things. He reads history non-stop, sails with his wife and four children in faraway places, flies in his G550 on work-related trips, and competes in rallies in his classic cars, a collection of which he keeps in Switzerland. If most billionaires were like him, the world would be a far better place, and I don’t mean the winter resort he and I keep as a base.

At about the time Peter Livanos gave me the samurai sword, and unbeknownst to me, an American friend gave a party in London to raise awareness of the plight of a rare piece of shit of a man, Julian Assange. I went to the party thinking it was to celebrate the host’s birthday. It turned out to be a horror, full of people with dandruff, ugly skin and uglier faces, who were very concerned with civil liberties being eroded while alerting jihadists to our electronic eavesdropping. Now it doesn’t take a coruscating intelligence to figure out that we can’t have both total freedom of information and safety from militant Islam. Ever since I can remember, saying anything against these bearded zealots had know-nothings screaming racism, and we all know the result. It’s much too late to rid our society off these scummy types, but it’s not too late to take extreme measures against them, especially those who finance them. Step forward, the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis.

After the battle of Banu Qurayza in 627, the Prophet Mohammed — in whose name so much innocent blood has been spilled — executed hundreds of prisoners. When he besieged Ta’if in 630 the lives of women and children were put at risk. Going back that far doesn’t whitewash us either, but I write as a European and a Christian, and to hell with diversity and political correctness— and to hell with those who permit maniacs to march in our streets demanding the beheading of all those insulting Islam.

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  • Autolocus

    With you Taki.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    You really are all ovér the shop today.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit. Resident in Japan since 1972.
    These Johnnie-come-lately, what would you do with um!

  • Any irrelevant foreign rubbish (and penned from abroad, no less) to avoid discussing the indefensible position on the EUROPEAN question. Shameful!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      It’s a little difficult to see just who is the target of your xenophobic racism today.

      • I am not, and I never have been, so I fail to see your point. Well, I am not yet a confirmed twit, am I?! Now, that’s your job!

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          Ever since you began posting that I’m Japanese rather than Caucasian British, that’s for over ten years and literally hundreds of times, you’ve been a xenophobic racist bigot. I realise you’d prefer to be an intellectual bully, but sadly for you, you’re just too $hit stupid.
          Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • Suzanne Rojek

            If you really have been in Jap land since 1972, then shut the fuck up about the UK. How have you got a bloody clue about this country and why do you care?

  • Anthony Batiste

    I walked passed a Rare Cartoon /Magazine shop every morning when I stayed in Paris a few years ago.The proprietor was an elderly man who wore a stained grey shirt,very dishevelled looking but he spoke English beautifully due to having been sent there as a child during the war.
    He would often drink a glass of wine at about 11 in his doorway and watch people pass.He never seemed to sell many mags but it was a passion of his obviously.
    We discussed women, hangovers and music.
    We never discussed politics,religion or race.
    Putrid subjects for putrid people to discuss.
    Needless to say I would have nothing to say to Parisians if they became Islamist.
    The one Algerian guy I smoked weed with was a Trainee pilot who despised the French who were training him.
    It was a fast insight into the nature of Modern France.
    These Muslims need their own homeland.
    Out of civilised,sexualised,highly romantic ,enjoyable Europe.
    And as far away from Godless bastards like me as possible.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    I’d never live here if I were Japanese.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  • cromwell

    Never, I remember as an apprentice in Vickers shipyard working with ex prisoners of war of the Japs and hearing first hand the horrors they were put through by the inhuman Japs. Many were only employed by Vickers as a charity their minds having been broken by the cruelty of the Japs.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Racial slurs do so label you as “other ranks”.

      • Are you a Japanese, “Jack”?!

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          For the past ten years and more, literally hundreds of times, you’ve asserted that I’m a Japanese. And now at long last you’ve having doubts. Of course I’m not a Japanese you f@@king moron. Sounds as if the new medication is having a positive affect. But don’t expect miracles: You can’t make a silk purse out of a nutter’s ear.
          Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

          • I know you are. ISIS has obviously had decided that you are too nutty to worth put you to death through slow-slicing of the neck!

  • mikewaller

    If what I have heard on the media is to be believed, although Olympic standard complainers, the British in general do have their own version of stoicism. The aftermath of the Kegworth air disaster was filmed by a passing driver with a video camera from a very early stage, well before the emergency services arrived. When this recording has been shown overseas many cultures apparently find the calm resolve with which individual Britons set about trying to help, very impressive; this to the extent of asking whether we have special training. Apparently we also react – again on average – rather differently following a bomb outrage or whatever. The citizens of many countries cancel forthwith if planning a visit. The Brits are more likely to insist on going ahead if this is possible or if they have not already done so, booking a trip in the hope of getting a reduction.

    This always puts me in mind of something a pal of mine saw. Two pensioners having a punch-up in a supermarket aisle over who should have the best cuts of (possibly contaminated) meat heavily reduced in price during the “mad cow” fiasco.

  • As Ibid said

    Well said, sir!

  • Malus Pudor

    Tell your story to my late father, Taki, who spent over three years banged up by the Japanese and who suffered horrific brutality; not to mention my uncle who was beheaded in front of his troops for trying to stand up for their rights after surrendering.

    The atrocities wreaked by Japan on the Chinese before WW2 was a monstrous atrocity… on a par with the Khmer Rouge, killing many millions with bayonets and shovels.

    Sure, Japan has magnificent traditions and codes of honour, but there is also a dark side and a surplus of drones and worker ants who, when not taking photographs, are ideal fodder for modern politicians.

    • I would suggest to you that the Chinese have done far worse to themselves in the following decades than anything Japan did ..search communist party atrocities and prepare to be stunned …the Japanese probably didn’t help by weakening Chinese authority giving the Chinese red army a nice opportunity to slaughter and take power sending many into exile in Taiwan

  • Daz K

    “…and unbeknownst to me, an American friend gave a party in London to raise awareness of the plight of a rare piece of shit of a man, Julian Assange.”

    Let out a little ‘lol’ when I read that sentence.

  • John Croston

    If the British were like the Japanese, at least we wouldn’t have any Muslim colonies here. The Japanese are not so stupid.

  • Snakes on a Car

    hmmmm……Would it be too politically incorrect to say demographics matter?

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