Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Do it. Do It Now!

So monday was one of the more frustrating City Council meetings I've been to. Not because it get derailed as often happens but rather because I was disappointed that many of the Council saw the point in going to both Japan and Korea.

And that requires a lot of context.

Sister City
Way back in the tail-end of 2012 the City of Southfield was approached by the Koran-American Cultural Center about a sister center relationship with the City of Dongducheon South Korea.  While the sister city agreement was never signed things had progressed far enough that when the City Admistrator tried to couple the promised trip to Korea with a trade trip to Japan to save money I was actually kind of shocked they hadn't done that already. 

See a delegation from Dongducheon had come to the city in 2013 and the city had unofficially agreed to fly over to South Korea and sign a formal agreement. That didn't happen. I kind of missed it because it's been a busy year for me.  

Woman of Comfort Memorial
Tangentially related is that in 2014 a Comfort Woman Memorial Statue was pegged to be installed in the Southfield Public Library and one of big companies, headquartered in Japan in the city, Denso, objected so it was instead installed in front of the Korean-American Cultural Center. I'm hazy on the details here but evidently it caused "a thing".

Now would be a good time to talk about why it would. We Americans think of the pacific theatre in WWII as starting with Pearl Harbor but part of the reason why Japanese-American relations had broken down is that Japan was already occupying parts of China and Korea. And by all accounts they did some pretty nasty stuff that still effects relations between all three countries. Comfort women were a part of the "pretty nasty stuff"

Recently there have been a series political movements in Japan that in an attempt to restore its cultural identity kind of ...

Look I am neither Japanese nor Korean but I occasionally read news reports about Japanese revisionism and it kind of bugs me. Especially since I absorb a lot of Japanese technology, movies, video games and TV shows. I was raised on Sega and Nintendo. I was raised watching Dragon Ball Z and Power Rangers. I was raised listening to a Sony Walkman and playing a Playstation 2. 

A lot of what I hear about right-wing Japanese conservative nationalist movements "concerns" me. Though the same could be said for right-wing European conservative nationalist movements. But all the same in both cases I am an outsider and have more domestic concerns. 

On a "quasi" lighter note that back drop influences  one of my favorite movies. IP Man.  Hell once you scrape away all the fancy fights that movie is more or less about China finding and reaffirming its national identity (Something something revolution) during the Japanese occupation. 

Aaand some good old fashioned audience catharsis as Donnie Yen kicks ass.

So the governor has been trying to increase Japanese investment in Michigan via the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association conferences. It kind of makes sense. Even outside of the big three Michigan has lot of car part manufactures, and they could all benefit from contracts with Japanese auto-manufactures. 

Denso (the one mentioned earlier), a Japansese car part manufacturer that has a facility in Southfield requested members of the council accompany it and the governor to Tokyo for this year's conference.

In an effort to save money the City administrator decided to try to couple that trip with the trip to South Korea.

Don't Be Nintendo At CES in '91
At monday's meeting it seemed most of the Council was luke warm to the idea at best. Okay now I have to go into the subjective area of my read of the room. Most of the staff considered the sister city thing with the South Korea a done commitment.  But the official agreement never got signed...probably because the trip was planed in 2013 (I was wrong it was planned for early 2014 so my mild griping over how elections interfere with policy was pointless and has more to do with Prop 1 angst than anything else.

That said I'm still mad about Prop 1.

Anyway, bringing it up all of a sudden opened the gates for some members of Council to try to dodge the deal.

It's been a while and I'd say that only three of the Council members who were originally there when the South Korean Delegation visited the city were in the room so there isn't really a feeling of personal commitment.

But man that would suck. Again things had moved so far that I kind of assumed it was a done deal. Gifts were exchanged. The South Korean Delegation was hosted in the city and offered to do the same.

That right there is at least a gentlemen's agreement.

Okay I'm making generalizations that may be mildly racist, but almost everything I've heard about the Japanese business world implies that breaking a gentlemen's agreement is serious business. You DO NOT do it.

Oh and for a quicky video game history lesson MovieBob did it pretty well. Though my childhood owes more to the PS2 than the NES so I disagree with his conclusions.

And in a more general economic sense we need to project trust and stability. Our business partners must know that...

I was getting a little too ...serious yeah let's go with serious rather than uh upp no not going there especially with all this talk of World War II. So enjoy that clip from Excel Saga while I talk myself down from wishing for "a strong leader" to say to everybody else, "shut up this is what we're doing".

And for balance here's the trailer for Volcano High. I need to watch Oldboy already.

Where was I? Right trade mission to Asia. Apart from the obvious cool factor. If things go well it could mean jobs down the road. Even if they don't if it's not an outright catastrophe the exposure itself would be great.  It would get the city's name out there in the international business community.

And as far as the Korea trip goes,  there is something to be said for honoring commitments even the soft ones.

But beyond that there are a lot of other reasons for honoring the agreement. As I walk around town I fear, and I include myself in this, that we think too locally and the world doesn't work like that anymore. The cultural exchange with South Korea could help the younger generation get over that.

I got to get out of Michigan.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.