Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Enemy Of My Enemy Is Not My Friend

The World Uighur Congress is holding its triennial conference in Tokyo this week, the first time the conference is being held outside Germany or the United States, the home-in-exile of the movement's leader and former delegate to the People's Congress Rebiya Kadeer (E). The Chinese government is, true to form, completely beside itself over Tokyo's hosting this conference. The conference's opening , along with the recent waking up sleeping dog that should be left to lie, the status of the Senkaku islets, poisoned the atmosphere at the weekend's vitally important trilateral meeting. (J)

It is hard to not feel some sympathy for the Uighur cause. A host of nation states emerged out of the collapses of the Chinese, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires in the period 1912 -18, only to be reabsorbed in their successors in the world-wide descent into madness of the late 1930s and 1940s. Almost all of these absorbed nations have since been reestablished as independent and autonomous states, with the exceptions being the continental Asian states on China's periphery: Tanu Tuva, Tibet and East Turkestan. The Tibetan and Uighur claims on their homelands are being undone by the irrational (the Cultural Revolution) and rational (urban development) destruction of the physical traces of their distinctive cultures and mass Han Chinese immigration into these formerly undesirable areas. That the Han immigrants, sick of the altitude (in the case of Tibet), the lack of water and isolation will likely move out again in a few generation's time is pretty much a given, but hardly a salve for the present generation of Uighurs and Tibetans. (E)

[The Tuvans, due to the extreme isolation of their land, the lack of a demographic need for ressetlement of Russia's population -- which is indeed collapsing at an alarming rate -- and the lack of Russian government interest in stirring up trouble with any of its dozens of ethnic oblasts or republics, given what has happened and is still happening in the Caucasus Region, have shown zero interest in reestablishing their independence, limited as it was.]

However, the Uighurs are courting real disaster by coming to Tokyo. Their hosts here are not a coalition of conservative and liberal organizations and individuals, as would be the case were the conference being held in the U.S. or Germany. Instead, their hosts and likely underwriters of the costs of holding the Congress in Tokyo -- where the hard yen would blow the budget of any normal non-profit - are the most retrogressive of this blessed land's hard right wing. The above linked article's mention of:
"Several members of the Japanese political opposition participated in the opening session and expressed support for the Uighur cause."
is a very bad sign. Arch-conservatives parliamentarians Hiranuma Takeo (J) and Fukuya Keiji (J - personal blog) and three other Diet members have been reported as having attended sessions of the conference. Fellow traveler Yamatani Eriko (possibly one of the attendees) and other MPs have hosted their own gatherings publicizing the Uighur struggle for self-preservation and self-determination. (J - personal blog)

[Incidentally, several of these MPs made a Golden Week pilgrimage to Palisades Park, New Jersey, to buttonhole the mayor there into removing a monument commemorating the Comfort Women (E). All the members of this expedition into enemy territory -- ironic really, given that during the Bubble Years, Palisades Park and its neighboring town of Fort Lee were home to the expatriate Japanese community -- documented this brave endeavor (J - personal blog and J - personal blog), part of the GWOSG (the Global War On Symbols and Gestures*). Given that the present population of Palisades Park is 50% Korean-American, the mayor told the visiting members of the Diet they were wasting their and his time. (J)**

These same Diet members were flabbergasted when they visited Washington, this time to publicize the plight of the families of the DPRK abductees, only to be greeted by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and the Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell telling them, "We here in the U.S. have our own abductee problem of young American citizens being abducted to Japan, often against the custody rulings of U.S. courts (J)." Hiranuma's blood pressure probably hit the roof, which is bad for him, as he has already had one debilitating stroke.]

As for the claims that disgraced Air Self Defense Forces Chief of Staff Tamogami Toshio has attended conference sessions or that members of the attending Uighur delegation visited Yasukuni Shrine, these seem to be inventions of Chinese news organizations (I invite evidence of my being wrong here).

[Later - Reader MP has pointed to the Channel Sakura coverage of the conference (J and U - You Tube). Not only was Tamogami Toshio present, he addressed the conference, as did Hiranuma, plus a long list of the usual suspects: members of the House of Representatives Shimomura Hakubun and Takaichi Sanae and author and critic Sakurai Yoshiko. Tamogami clocks in at 7:28 into the broadcast.

As for the visit to Yasukuni, it is hard to argue with the video of Kadeer's visit to the shrine starting at 10:45 in the broadcast.

Interesting how the mainstream media did not report these two stories.

To the members of the Chinese news media, my apologies.]

The association of Japan's ultra right and Islamic nationalism goes back a long way. As scholar of Japan's historical relations with Islam Michael Penn reminded me in a private communication, Japanese support Islamic self-determination movements was a staple of 1930s Japanese involvement in Asia, though by private rightist organizations, not the Imperial government (E). This support was often carried out under the rubric of Pan-Asianism (Yoshikawa Yukie has produced a comprehensive survey in English of pre-1945 Pan-Asianist writing. Scholars of China will likely fault the paper for its unfortunate indiscriminate switching from pinyin to Wade-Giles and back again) which a cynic would, in the Uighur case, put down to a de facto desire to keep China weak.

One hopes that Kadeer and her movement realize that joining hands and accepting the support of Japan's right, because of historical resonances, is a one-way ticket to illegitimacy.

The signs, however, are that she does not:
"The 63-year-old leader said the international community seems more interested in trade with China than in human rights. But she noted that Japan’s support in hosting the general assembly illustrated a growing awareness of the Uighur issue."
Not exactly, Madame President.

--------------------
* To which South Korean organizations, with their crusades to rename the Sea of Japan and their bolstering of South Korea's de facto hold on Tokto/Takeshima through full-page ads in U.S. newspapers, are hardly strangers to.

** Which is not to say that the visit of the arch-conservatives to Palisades Park did not have any affect. According to the Sankei Shimbun, the government of Japan has lodged a formal protest against the monument. (J)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tamogami Toshio actually mentioned on his Twitter account that he attended the opening ceremony of the Uighur gathering.

http://twitter.com/#!/toshio_tamogami/statuses/202165275162976257

D said...

"These same Diet members were flabbergasted when they visited Washington, this time to publicize the plight of the families of the DPRK abductees, only to be greeted by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and the Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell telling them, "We here in the U.S. have our own abductee problem of young American citizens being abducted to Japan, often against the custody rulings of U.S. courts."

Sorry, this may be a bit beside the point, but would it be wrong to offer to kiss Kurt?

The Chrysanthemum Sniffer said...

Lots of parallels with Taiwan too. The DPP would not normally associate themselves with the type of policies that the paleo-nationalists in Japan advocate, but they are quite happy to shake their hands to get support for independence issues. Also, nationalists like Kobayashi Yoshinori and Kin Birei (a naturalized Japanese citizen from Taiwan) hold up the Taiwanese independence flag often. Not to mention fmr. president Lee Teng-hui's visit to Yasukuni.

Like Kadeer, you can probably lump much of the Taiwanese encouragement of Japanese conservative love of independence (while sticking it to the PRC) in the "get support where you can" category.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_ethnic_minorities_in_the_Second_Sino-Japanese_War

This article might also interest you, in which the Japanese tried to court the Hui and Uigher warlords, but most decided to put their lot with the Kuomintang (the Communists OTOH did very little guerilla fighting, unlike what their propaganda would like everyone to think), and treating the war as a Jihad against the Japanese.

MTC said...

The Chrysanthemum Sniffer -

There are parallels. However, many of the realist members of the World Congress seem to know that independence is a pipe dream and what they need right now is to halt the physical destruction of Uighur cities, stop anti-Uighur police and vigilante action and the reverse the government policies encouraging Han immigration.

Note what Alim Seytoff, the World Congress vice-president, says in the VOA article, the third link in my post:

"We hope there will be some political reforms within China, a recognition of the human rights of the Chinese people, the Uighurs, the Tibetans, that there will be a more moderate government that we can talk [with] about our issues and find a political, peaceful settlement," said Seytoff.

Allowing Rebiya Kadeer to be tricked into visiting Yasukuni and the Uighurs can forget about the above.

As for Lee Teng-hui's visits to Yasukuni, he always has the excuse that his brother is among those enshrined.

Aceface said...

Why blame Hiranuma et al who actually spend time and effort for the cause instead of those who took blind eyes like say,Fukushima Mizuho and Oe Kenzaburo?

I know you hate Japanese rightst as much as Chinese politburo hates Rabiya Kadeer.But even the broken watch can tell time correctly twice a day.

Besides,if there weren't any oppression from Beijing government,Uyghurs wouldn't need these conferences.

liberation movement is all about realpolitik.Nelson Mandela took money from Gadaffi and trained freedom fighters in the back yard of Robert Mugabe to fight apartheit.Simply because they are the only meaning support he could get at the time.

"Sorry, this may be a bit beside the point, but would it be wrong to offer to kiss Kurt?"

Apart from confusion between abduction by the state with bruised mom running away from violent dad,isn't Washington responsible of the abduction of 22 innocent Uyghurs from Central Asia and their imprisonment at Gitmo for more nearly a decade?Water Boarding and all that?

Strange Hiranuma didn't retort to Campbell on that one.

MTC said...

Aceface -

Thank you first of all for visiting. I know this is well outside your usual haunts.

1) "Why blame Hiranuma et al who actually spend time and effort for the cause instead of those who took blind eyes like say, Fukushima Mizuho and Oe Kenzaburo?"

Did the organizers invite Fukushima and Oe? Hmmm, I don't think so.

2) "I know you hate Japanese rightst as much as Chinese politburo hates Rabiya Kadeer."

This is probably hyperbole.

3) "...even the broken watch can tell time correctly twice a day."

Are you aware that this is a sarcastic put-down, not a compliment?

4) "Besides, if there weren't any oppression from Beijing government, Uyghurs wouldn't need these conferences."

Hypotheticals are not an argument.

5) "liberation movement is all about realpolitik. Nelson Mandela took money from Gadaffi and trained freedom fighters in the back yard of Robert Mugabe to fight apartheit. Simply because they are the only meaning support he could get at the time."

Did the armed struggle accelerate or retard the collapse of apartheid? The jury is still out.

Nelson Mandela entered prison in 1964. Colonel Gaddafi overthrew the Senussi monarchy in 1969.

6) "Apart from confusion between abduction by the state with bruised mom running away from violent dad..."

Where there is an exemption from the law due to victimization, there is a strong incentive to lie to acquire immunity.

7) "isn't Washington responsible of the abduction of 22 innocent Uyghurs from Central Asia and their imprisonment at Gitmo for more nearly a decade? Water Boarding and all that?"

You and I are in complete agreement on this counter-argument. I cannot recall ever defending the violations of the doctrine of habeas corpus, the right to a speedy trial, the right to confront an accuser or the guarantee to be safe while in custody from the use of torture or any form of physical intimidation.

Vincent Amato said...

I had the good fortune to visit Xinjiang province twice, in 2001 and 2003, on educators' tours of the Silk Road. Seen as mostly desert to outsiders, China's largest (and least populated) province is actually one of great beauty; it has many important historical sites and great cultural importance. As a visiting American, I was approached by a group of Uighur English teachers having a conference in the hotel where we were staying. One man looked directly at me and said, "When you get home, you will tell people, won't you?" He did not need to elaborate. Uighurs are essentially an oppressed majority in their own home land. Their culture and language are largely discounted. Only Mandarin speakers can get anywhere in Xinjiang; the bookstores contain mostly Chinese texts, the Uighur language texts being relegated to a small bookcase or two. China has, of late, paved over the market district of Kashgar, long a popular site internationally famous for its Sunday bazaar. As is the case in other non-Han minority areas, the Chinese government has lured many Han Chinese to the area in an effort to "sinofy" what is in reality a caucasian, Turkic (and Muslim) culture. Evidence of U.S. interest in Xinjiang is in all the major hotels of the province's major cities. Both government and business interests are clear. Short of independence, which most Uighurs would clearly prefer, even true autonomy, (which exists only nominally) would be preferential to the colonial status which Xinjiang now endures. Full disclosure of what I witnessed compels me to point out that the Han attitude toward the Uighurs often has a distinct tinge of arrogance and racism of a sort common to colonial masters.

Aceface said...

1) "Did the organizers invite Fukushima and Oe? Hmmm, I don't think so."

Why not?Fukushima could join the Japanese Uyghur parliamentary group in the National Diet anytime she wants.

Oe was active for supporting the human rights and democracy movement of South Korea back in the 70's and protested Chinese nuclear test in 1964.(the test was conducted in Xinjiang)He's also very keen to socialize with fellow Novel Laureate to strengthen his cosmopolitan cultural figure.Could've drop by and say "Hi" to the strong candidate of Peace prize,Raviya Kadeer.

3) "Are you aware that this is a sarcastic put-down, not a compliment?"

Sarcasm is well intended.What other use can you find with likes of Hiranuma and Tamogami?My point is they can be wrong on one thing or another.But they can't be wrong all the time.And this time,they stood up against Beijing for the right cause regardless of their motivation.

4) "Hypotheticals are not an argument."

Kadeer was not only a successful busineswoman,she was also a delegate of People's Political Consultative Conference from Xinjiang.

Erkin Alptekin,the president of WUC before Kadeer,is a son of Eysa Alptekin,who was a member of Kuomintang and served as high ranking official in Xinjiang government.

They all had good lives in Xinjiang before going exile.It's not a hypotheticals,but a concrete historical facts.
5)"Nelson Mandela entered prison in 1964. Colonel Gaddafi overthrew the Senussi monarchy in 1969."

Mandela had been the leader of ANC and it's military wing,Umkhonto we Sizwe during his time at Robben Island.

More on Mandela-Gadaffi ties.
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/09/south-africa-stands-with-qaddafi/244584/

You can call it from wide range of terms from strange bedfellows to useful idiots.WUC may wish to have better partner then Japanese rightist like Amnesty Japan,which was the host of last Kadeer visit to Japan.But this time,Hiranuma et al helped Uyghurs to get the visas from MoFA and allow them to use the facility at Diet like Kensei Kinenkan,run by House of Representatives.

6) "Where there is an exemption from the law due to victimization, there is a strong incentive to lie to acquire immunity."

I'm sure Hiranuma has likely view on the Korean confort women.....

At least those duel passport holding youths will live happily in one of the wealthiest nation in Asia under the good hand of their mothers,while some Japanese parents have to suffer the thought that their loved ones taken to the land where people starve to death and could be sent to gulag at any moment.....
Kurt Campbell could tell that to the angry American dads and try to convinvce them that they are not the one who live under the unfortunate stars.

MTC said...

Aceface -

1)You dodged the question. Since neither Fukushima nor Oe are members of the parliamentarians' league in question, they would have had to have received invitations or at least notice about the World Congress meeting. If the organizers had wanted them there, they should have issued invitations or sent information packets.

Did they? I do not think so.

3) So you admit the possibility, nay, the likelihood that Hiranuma's and Tamogami's intentions were evil and by accident, they ended up on the side of the angels.

I believe we are on the same page here.

4) You misunderstand yourself. You posited that if there were not oppression from the Beijing government, Uighurs would not need these conferences.

Unfortunately there is, so they do.

5) According to your assertion, Rebiya Kadeer should be seen as Nelson Mandela, Hiranuma as Muammar Gaddafi and Furuya Keiji as Robert Mugabe.

If you insist...

6) Re: the comfort women

Prostitution was not illegal in Japan or any where under Japanese jurisdiction during the period in question.

Your analogy has just died.

Re: abducted children

In your view, what is important is not that a parent can provide love and care for a child but whether or not that child lives in an advanced industrial democracy.

Interesting sentiment...and only a week after Mother's Day...

You have just been checkmated. Thanks for playing.

Please pass on my regards to Bill.

MTC said...

Mr. Amato -

Thank you for your thoughts and observations. Uighurs are undergoing cultural extirpation. That official actions disrupting or demolishing Uighur civilization do not strengthen China but weaken and impoverish it remain outside the accepted discourse, whether within the confines of Zhongnanhai or the public sphere.

Aceface said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"That the Han immigrants, sick of the altitude (in the case of Tibet), the lack of water and isolation will likely move out again in a few generation's time is pretty much a given, but hardly a salve for the present generation of Uighurs and Tibetans."

I don't think anyone thinks the Han Chinese are going anywhere after they come to Xinjiang. Cities that were once entirely Uyghur are now majority Han. China has too many people in the east and needs the resources in Xinjiang too much not to continue its "Develop the West" policy. To say that they'll be gone in a few generations is not a fair forecast.