HORSE’S MOUTH: The Richest Countries In The World



(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on September 14, 2010.)


When I read the “Letter to the Editor” by Joyce Okazaki in the Saturday, Sept. 4 issue of the Rafu, referring to a letter written to me by former Long Beach Mayor, Eunice Sato, which I used in my column, she used the term, “She’s entitled to her opinion.”
This is the way Ms. Okazaki put it: “She is entitled to her opinion but when she makes statements that are not true, I must reply to them.”

The issue in question is the use of the term, “concentration camp” vs. “relocation camp.”

Ms. Okazaki says “concentration camp” is the right term for the 10 internment camps where JAs were placed during WWII.
Her “opinion” correct?

First, let’s define “opinion” as found in most dictionaries.

“Opinion: A belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge. An evaluation or judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert.”

So, what makes Ms. Okazaki think her opinion is more valid that the one expressed by Eunice?

Ms. Okazaki in her letter admits that she was a “young child.”

On the other hand, Eunice was an adult and going to college when the evacuation order was issued.

If I didn’t know a thing about evacuation and checked the backgrounds of both Eunice and Ms. Okazaki, I would definitely give the former Long Beach Mayor a decided edge.

However, I do know about the evacuation as an adult and not a “young child” and have the same opinion of relocation camp as Eunice.

If Ms. Okazaki wants to debate the issue with me, just name the time and place.

Another issue brought up by a reader might stir debate. It was written by Kazuo Morikawa who wrote:
“Recently I visited the senior nursing home in Boyle Heights.

“Usually I do not write to newspapers but now that it concerns Keiro and the seniors living there whom you have on several occasions mentioned in your column, well, I want to gripe about Keiro’s situation towards the seniors who reside there. My big gripe which I hope you will mention in your column is that: Seniors at Keiro must often take baths and have much difficulty getting out of the bathtub because they are weak and old. Most of the bathtubs are made for younger people. Why can’t they modify the bathtubs to walk-in type bath and shower? They not only have the money to make the modifications and if the executives would receive less pay and use their money properly for the seniors living there. Wasn’t Keiro established for the seniors?

“I believe, unless you are a senior member living there, the younger generation who work there cannot understand the hardships seniors are going through. Therefore, I suggest they have seniors who live there be on their Board to make suggestions. I really mean the above.”
Thanks to “anonymous” for her letter. It’s letters like hers which hopefully will reach the eyes and ears of people from the facility and they will react properly.

As I always say, thank goodness for readers who take the time to drop me a few lines, the more the better, to touch on subjects which other readers may find of interest.

Most of those who write to me do sign their names, but request that they not be identified.

Here is one of those anonymous contributors:

“Here’s some thoughts from one of your faithful readers who enjoys your column and would like to remain anonymous.

“Yes, we kotonks continue to call it snow cones and get ours at Teri Hawaii on Artesia Blvd. However, this summer I discovered the real shaved ice at the JCI carnival and again at our church ice cream social (surprise shaved ice!). The high tech machinery produces ice so light and fine—it’s like snow falling from the sky. Believe the one at church was from a company with equipment, variety of syrups and “cone” cups. And don’t forget cream that Hawaii-types pour over their shaved ice.

“When we moved into our neighborhood we noticed many from Hawaii. My husband would prefer to call them ‘Hawaiians,’ and I’d correct him by saying ‘Japanese from Hawaii.’ I noticed the difference from us Mainland-raised Nisei (more friendly and outgoing). I have been asked if I was from Hawaii. Do I sound funny when I speak—pidgin English—I thought to myself.

“Where would we Mainland-type be today without being introduced to Spam musubi, poke, ahi tuna sashimi, kalua pork, chichi dango, hula dancing and plumeria plants? My granddaughter goes for ‘open’ hula lessons weekly at the Nakaoka Center and enjoys participating in the ‘hulaus’ performances.

“This month, an annual two-day hula competition was held in Long Beach—various hulaus came from afar. It’s fabulous with  talented dancers of all ages, gorgeous gowns and beautiful leis and flowers. They are judged on everything—not just performance.

“Your entertainment columnist, Guy Aoki, already said it all, but I just wanted to add something more. They say whichever you see (movie) or read (novel), the first seems better. I read about the making of the American film ‘Hachiko’ and waited forever to see it on DVD—my Blockbuster had only one copy. But it was worth it—I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Especially the bond between actor Richard Gere and the various (about five) puppies and dogs. The special effects mentioned that they used the same mature dogs.

“Cherry trees, a subject that came up in your column. I have yet to see cherry trees in bloom in either Japan or Washington, D.C. I missed them both on my visits. Actually, they stay in bloom for only a few weeks. I noticed some young trees along the Honda national headquarters in Torrance and also an area on the El Camino campus (they were planted by the late Prof. Nadine Hata). I imagine in a few years there will be a fabulous group of trees in bloom. But, as you say, Little Tokyo ought to think about planting some cherry trees one day.”

“Yes, hopefully someone will grab the bull by the horn and say, ‘Hey, let’s get some cherry trees.”

Thanks for your letter. The length was especially very helpful to me. As for your suggestion that I change the name of my column (Horse’s Mouth), I get quite a few messages suggesting changing “mouth” to “you know what.”

A little tidbit on the Dodgers.

Now that the local Big League club has seemed to have given up hopes of making it to the championship playoffs (using a lot of minor leaguers in recent games) perhaps they will reduce the ticket prices to the minor league level.

Heck, whenever I watch the Dodgers games these days, I don’t recognize half of the players.

So, if they’ve given up trying to stay in the championship race, why not reduce parking to about five bucks and tickets at about the same price—five bucks?

By the way, there is talk that Hiroki Kuroda is thinking about not returning to the Dodgers next season and he wants to go back to the Japanese league.

The way the Dodgers trade away players, I wouldn’t be surprised if they let Kuroda go.

He’s one of their best pitchers but where the Dodgers are concerned, they don’t seem to pay much attention to stuff like this.

Look at all the players who are starring for other teams who used to wear a Dodger uniform.

The late news informed us that our Gov. Schwarzenegger is in China now.

The natural question would be, “Why?”

According to media reports, the Governor wants to meet with Chinese officials about the possibility of their country participating in the building of our State’s “bullet train.”

This causes me to wonder again, “Why?”

Wasn’t it Japan who invented the bullet train system that China eventually duplicated?

Seems to me, if the Governor wants to tie up with a foreign country to help build California’s bullet train, he would contact the Japanese first.

Oh well, maybe it was the Toyota Motor Company’s problem with their vehicles that prompted the Governor to seek out China rather than Japan.

Perhaps it might be a good thing that after this coming November, we will have a new governor, even it if its Meg Whitman or Jerry Brown.

What’s the old saying which contains the phrase “To forgive is divine?”

That’s the thought which came to my mind when I read that six former U.S. prisoners of war will arrive in Japan this week for an eight-day visit at the invitation of the Japanese government.

It will mark the first government-sponsored trip by American POWs for reconciliation and mutual understanding between the two countries.

The former U.S. GIs, in their 80s and 90s, who were held captive by the Japanese Army during World War II includes Lester Tenny, 90, a survivor of the 1942 Bataan Death March, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University.

The former POWs will be accompanied by eight members of their families.

It is the first time Japan has extended invitations to former U.S. POWs.

Tenny is scheduled to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John Roos, and Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada. He will visit Matsuyama in Ehime prefecture and Kyoto.

The U.S. surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula on Luzon island in the Philippines in 1942 and thousands died walking for a day in the tropical heat to a prison camp about 100 kilometers away.

After being captured in the Philippines, Tenny was forced to work at a coal mine in Fukui prefecture from 1943 to the end of the war.

In May 2009, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., Ichiro Fujisaki directly apologized to a group of former POWs captured in the Philippines, including Tenny, who were calling for apology from Japan.

With the war in Iraq at an end, we will be getting more and more stories about the heroism of our fighting men there.

The following one caught my eye because it’s an almost unbelievable story. It involves GIs who were all volunteers.

A medical staff in a Mash Unit removed a live bomb from a solder’s hip. It’s a display of what the GIs go through to keep us free, so God bless all of them.

The story is about a GI named Channing Moss. He was impaled by a live bomb during an ambush in Iraq while on patrol.

MEDVAC choppers are never allowed to carry anyone with a live round in them. Even though it could explode, the flight crew said,

“Damn the protocol” and flew him to the nearest aid station. Again, protocol said that in such cases the patient is to be put in a sandbagged area from the surgical unit, given a shot of morphine and left to wait (and die) until others are treated.

Again, the medical team ignored the protocol. Dr. John Oh, a Korean immigrant who became a naturalized citizen and went to West Point, removed the live round with the help of volunteers and a member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team.

Moss has undergone six operations but is reported to be doing well at his home in Gainesville, Georgia.

Quite a story, don’t you think?

How many sportscasters are there who left the microphone and took a head coaching job for a baseball team, especially if the sportscaster is a Sansei?

Such is the case with Mike Furutani, a sportscaster for KSBW-TV in Salinas, CA.

Mike Furutani

Furutani was recently named head baseball coach for Alisal High School located in Salinas.

The Japanese American has been behind the mike for about four years in addition to holding a position with Household Finance Corporation.

As a teenager, Furutani played in the Japanese American youth leagues in Southern California and currently plays in a 35 and older adult baseball league in the Salinas area.

Furutani put himself in the unusual position of not only reporting on baseball but also being part of the news, covering high school sports in Monterey County.

According to the Nikkeiwest newspaper, Alisal hasn’t had a winning league record since 1996 and only once then has won more than nine games in the past 15 years.

Furutani, 42, is a graduate of UC Berkeley and has lived in Salinas for the past five years.

During the 2005 Major League season, Furutani also served as an interpreter for the Oakland A’s Japanese pitcher, Keiichi Yabu.

Okay, let me title this “Quiz for the day.”

In a recent survey of the richest governments in the world, 10 were named.

Can you name the top five?

Yeah, I’m sure most of you will put Japan in the group.

If you do, you are right. However, Japan is not No. 1.

That ranking goes to China.

And Japan is 2nd.

Did you get it right?

The next three to make up the top five are Russia, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

If you guess the good old USA, you have to go down to 17th place.

Kind of tough to believe that America would be so low.

America might have the biggest economy, but the American government is not all that rich. In fact, to date, the U.S. government has borrowed $14 trillion, which reminds me that the quickest way to double your money on your next trip to Vegas, is to fold it over twice and put it back in your pocket.

Remember, good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

In closing, I’d like to touch on boxer Floyd Mayweather’s racial ranting about Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao.

While his insults were disgusting, it’s even more so because the media buried his comments where many might not even see it.

Suppose it was just the reverse and Pacquiao used the “N” word in hurling insults at Mayweather.

I guess it was OK for Mayweather to call the Filipino a “little Yellow chump and I’m going to make that (expletive) a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”

Hey Floyd, you’ve got the wrong race when you talk about sushi roll and rice and little yellow chump.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



  1. I’m no great fan of “Ah-nold”, but he did spend time in Japan this week. He looked into Shinkansen technology, and talked trains with Japanese officials.

    Here’s part of the Associated Press coverage:

    While he made clear the focus of his trip was to promote California goods, he is also taking test rides on high-speed trains throughout the region. California has approved $10 billion in funding for a high-speed line that is expected to cost more than $40 billion, and manufacturers from around the world are pitching their technologies.

    On Tuesday he boarded an experimental Japanese “bullet train” in Tokyo and took a 25-minute ride to a station in Saitama, just north of the city, along with U.S. Ambassador John Roos. Japanese trains are known for their advanced technology and high safety, but are expensive and designed mainly for domestic use.

    “I’m very impressed with the technology and also with the infrastructure,” he told reporters on the train platform, but stopped short of saying Japan was ahead of rivals.

    “You have to look at which system is the most alike to the California challenge,” he said.

    He rode the train after a brief meeting with Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, and was to visit a Japanese supermarket and give a plug for Californian wine before leaving for South Korea. On Monday evening he met Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who spoke to him about the strengths of Japan’s train technology.

  2. Pingback: More From Okazaki On Use of “Concentration Camp;” Refutes Rafu Shimpo Columnist George Yoshinaga « Manzanar Committee

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