First of all , make sure to watch these videos, that will shed even more light on the current state of relations between Japan and the Vatican: the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD, the JESUIT GENERAL, SPENT MOST OF HIS LIFE IN JAPAN! Something is mighty fishy down there....
The Growing Closeness of Japan and the Holy See (Part 1)
Interview With Ambassador Kagefumi Ueno
By Miriam Diez i Bosch
ROME, JUNE 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See and Japan established diplomatic relations in 1942. Some 67 years then passed with no Vatican dignitary making an official visit to the Asian nation. But in March, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti changed that. And the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See affirms his visit shortened the "sense of distance" between the two states.
ZENIT spoke with Kagefumi Ueno about the visit from Archbishop Mamberti, secretary for Vatican relations with states, and about another big event for the Church in Japan: the beatification of 188 martyrs last November.
Part 2 of the interview, on a Buddhist view of economics, will be published Wednesday.
ZENIT: We celebrated the beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs in Nagasaki last November. Did it seem a strange ceremony for the Japanese culture?
Ueno: I personally witnessed in Nagasaki that the ceremony of the beatification of the 188 Japanese martyrs who were executed four centuries ago took place very solemnly and honorably, [and the ceremony] was deemed successful by the majority of Japanese Catholics.
Besides that, in terms of the response by Japanese society at large, my impression is that it by and large the news and reports of the beatification were received warmly and calmly. To be more precise, I would like to point out the following four positive phenomena that are worthy to note:
First, major local religious groups such as Buddhist and Shinto denominations, which by far constitute the majority of Japanese society, sent representatives to the ceremony to pay tribute, as did Japanese non-Catholic Christians such as Protestant and Episcopal churches. To paraphrase, all the major religious groups of Japan showed their solidarity with the Japanese Catholic Church.
Secondly, last year's beatification was given considerable publicity by national and local media -- newspaper and TV. In this way, in every corner of the country, Japanese citizens came to be aware of the historical occurrences, and of course as well in Nagasaki, where 15% of Japanese Catholics reside.
On top of that, in 11 provinces where the martyrs were executed, local papers gave special reports on their stories, thereby arousing people's attention to the local history of four centuries ago.
As a consequence of the above, many Japanese were given an opportunity to consider the meanings of religiosity and human dignity, as well as the significance of dedication to others, through reflection on the tragedy of four centuries ago.
Fourth, it should not be overlooked that many Catholics came to Nagasaki from a number of neighboring Asian countries. I was impressed, in particular, by the following remarks given by a participant from India:
"The ceremony eloquently demonstrated that the (Catholic) Church does not just belong to Europe, but to the world. The way the Japanese martyrs adhered to their faith gave us power, encouragement and hope."
ZENIT: What do you think of the G-8 summit to be held soon in Italy on poverty and climate change?
Ueno: At the G-8 summit in July, two issues will emerge as particularly important, to which Japan and other G-8 nations should give a specific focus. One will be the impact of the economic crisis on Africa. The other will be climate change. I briefly touch on the present endeavors extended by Japan in this respect:
First, as African countries are experiencing severe and negative impacts as a result of the sharp decline in the world economy, it should be stressed that Japan shares with the Holy See the view that the poorest countries in Africa should never be made victim of the present crisis, for which they are not responsible.
Second, in this context, Japan hosted the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) last year and announced various initiatives, including doubling Japan's official development assistance for Africa by 2012 and providing support for doubling private investment to Africa. Japan will faithfully fulfill these commitments.
Third, Japan co-hosted the first meeting of a TICAD follow-up mechanism in Botswana in March, where we discussed the impact of the economic crisis on Africa and how we could overcome it. Later on at the London summit of G-20 nations in April, Japan did its best to present the African concerns expressed at Botswana.
ZENIT: And climate change is also a concern.
Ueno: Last year, as the chair of the G-8 summit, Japan demonstrated its leadership in shaping an agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emission at least by half by 2050.
This year is the year when we G-8 nations decide on concrete actions. The international community should share the understanding that the problem will never be solved unless all countries share the burden equitably in keeping with their respective responsibilities.
ZENIT: After nearly 70 years, a Vatican official has visited Japan.
Ueno: In mid March -- from the 15th to the 20th -- Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign secretary, made a 6-day visit to Japan as an official guest of Japanese Foreign Ministry. I participated in almost the whole official program in Japan. By the way, the archbishop is the first Vatican top diplomat to make an official visit there in the 67 year-history of bilateral relations, which were established in 1942.
First, [let me] briefly touch upon the foreign minister meeting that took place on March 17 in Tokyo between Archbishop Mamberti and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, which was a highlight of the archbishop's stay in Japan. During the 150-minute dialogue, the two ministers covered a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from the world economic crisis and its impact on poor countries, notably those in Africa, to regional situations such as North Korea, China and the Middle East, to bilateral relations.
On North Korea, in response to the concerns expressed by Nakasone on the possible launching of a ballistic missile together with hostage problems, Archbishop Mamberti replied that he sympathized with Japan on these issues, appreciating the efforts of relevant countries to bring relaxation to the region, and expressing the desire that hostages be returned at the earliest possible opportunity. I found that the bilateral policy dialogue was rich, condensed and profound, i.e. a success.
Second, Archbishop Mamberti's two-day visit to Nagasaki was another success in that, firstly, at the atomic bomb memorial, he conveyed messages of sympathy and peace toward citizens of the region and, secondly, with messages from the Pope, he impressed and moved many local Catholics who warmly welcomed him. At a meeting with the governor of the Nagasaki prefecture and the mayor of the City of Nagasaki, who referred to their desire that historical churches there be recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the archbishop responded by expressing his accord with their interest. After he went on to Tokyo, he had a cordial meeting with representatives of the Japanese Catholic Church.
Third, Archbishop Mamberti had moments to be introduced to Japanese culture and religiosity at the Urasenke Tea Chapter's tea house as well as at the Meiji Shrine of Shintoism. At the shrine, Chief Priest Reverend Nakajima heartily welcomed him, speaking of the dialogues he has carried out with Catholic priests for the last decades.
All in all, I am more than sure that the successful visit of Archbishop Mamberti to Japan assisted in shortening a sense of distance existing between the two countries.
The Growing Closeness of Japan and the Holy See (Part 2)
Interview With Ambassador Kagefumi Ueno
By Miriam Diez i Bosch
ROME, JUNE 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Catholicism and Buddhism might have a new area for cooperation: a joint resolve to fix the problems that caused the global recession.
According to the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See, Kagefumi Ueno, dialogue between proponents of so-called Buddhist economics, and those of a Catholic orientation, could give interesting results.
ZENIT talked to the ambassador about this proposal for healing some of what's gone wrong with the global economy, and how Buddhist economists have been sounding a warning for years.
Part 1 of this interview, focusing on certain elements of the Church in Japan, as well as climate change and African development, was published Tuesday.
ZENIT: Lately, the Pope and the Vatican have issued a number of messages in which they lament the lack of moral considerations on the part of many business leaders. How do these words sound to Buddhism in the Japanese context?
Ueno: In Japan, similar voices were heard for decades, inter alia, among some economists with a Buddhist orientation. In fact, over the last decades some economists had started to amalgamate Buddhist philosophy with economic analysis, thereby founding a new discipline called "Buddhist economics." I am happy to introduce the basic thoughts that shape this discipline:
Buddhist economists are, by and large, critical of the neo-liberalism that sustained the economic policies of major world economies during the last decades, thus bringing about the aggravation of economic disparity, inequality, absolutizing of profit making, and the deterioration of the global environment.
Whereas there are divergent views among Buddhist economists, I understand that they share basically eight key tenets as smallest common denominators. These are respect for lives; nonviolence; Chisoku (awareness of enough); Kyousei (a sense of living together); simplicity, frugality; altruism; sustainability and diversity.
Each of them is the antithesis of the following notions which, as some argue, characterize contemporary economy: neglect of lives; violence; greed; isolation; division; extravagance; luxury; self-centered interest; un-sustainability and uniformity.
For instance, E. F. Schumacher, a German economist and one of the founding fathers of Buddhist economics, author of the famous “Small is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered," gave specific focus to Chisoku and simplicity.
Likewise, Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmentalist and the winner of the Nobel Peace Price in 2004, has a philosophy similar to Buddhist economics. She is well known as an advocate of the “Mottainai campaign," i.e. the international campaign with three Rs: Re-use, Reduce and Recycle.
Some years ago, while she stayed in Japan, she learned the Japanese word “Mottainai,” which basically means, "Never waste even petty things since even the smallest things have intrinsic value.” At that moment, she had an inspiration for the campaign, i.e. she was inspired that the "spirit of Mottainai" that embodies the spirit of the three Rs should be diffused globally. She keeps saying that to ensure the protection and preservation of the global environment, the “spirit of Mottainai" is indispensable. This spirit she advocates is obviously in accord with the basic thought of Buddhist economics.
ZENIT: How do these values become concrete?
Ueno: They (Buddhist economists) are advocating policies that are conducive to, inter alia, detachment from a growth-conscious approach, detachment from oil-driven production, and the establishment of a new international mechanism to do away with violence.
In Japan, Komazawa University, a renowned Buddhist university in Tokyo, established a Research Institute on Buddhist Economics in 1966. Some other universities such as Keio University (Tokyo) and Ashikaga University (Gunma) from time to time offer special lectures about this.
With the current instability and uncertainty about world economy, which intensified skepticism regarding free market principles, Buddhist economics is gathering more attention.
It may be an interesting idea to arrange a dialogue in this sphere between economists of Buddhist and Catholic orientations.
Last but not least, in this respect, it should not be overlooked that under the framework of the 24th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB), which took place in Tokyo last year, a symposium was held on "The Economics of Happiness."
[Part 1 of this interview was published Tuesday.]
Let us not forget , also, this very important item: THE PRIME MINISTER OF JAPAN IS A CATHOLIC!
Japan installed its first ever Roman Catholic prime minister this week, a milestone that has attracted media attention around the world — but hardly a word in his home country. It is doubtful whether most Japanese citizens are even aware that their flamboyant, manga-cartoon reading new leader, Taro Aso, has any particular religious beliefs.
Mainstream Japanese media have not touched on the fact that Aso is a member of a tiny religious minority — about 0.4% of the population — in a country where both Buddhism and Shinto rituals are a part of every day life for many. Aso himself rarely mentions his Catholicism, except when speaking to foreign audiences.
One of the foreign audiences that noticed was the Vatican daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, which enthused: "The nomination of a Catholic as prime minister is a turning point in Japanese politics, where religion has never had a real influence on public life, but the respect for traditions is shared by all sides. Recently, breaking with the proverbial reserve that Japanese politicians have on religious issues, the new prime minister said that his family has been Catholic for four generations."
Christian-founded schools and universities are commonplace in Japan, and many brides dream of a white wedding in a church. But converts are few.
Aso was born on the southern island of Kyushu, where Catholic missionaries gained a foothold in the 16th century, before being suppressed by a government that feared the conflicting loyalties religious faith might bring. He is the grandson of Shigeru Yoshida, prime minister during the U.S. occupation after World War Two, who is said to have converted on his deathbed, under the influence of his Catholic wife.
Though the first Catholic, Aso is the third Christian to serve as prime minister, following Tetsu Katayama and Masayoshi Ohira. Like Ohira, Aso has attended ceremonies at Yasukuni , a Shinto shrine in Tokyo that honours Japan's war dead but is seen as by Asian critics as a symbol of the country's past militarism.
See also this latest piece of news:
UPDATE Japan raps Citi for lax money laundering controls
Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:34am EDT
* Japan bans Citi from retail banking promotions for month
* Cites problems with governance, internal controls
* Regulatory action follows similar violation in 2004
* Citi apologises, promises plan to improve compliance (Adds Citigroup comments in paragaph 3, 12, 13)
By Taro Fuse and David Dolan
TOKYO, June 26 (Reuters) - Japan ordered Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to suspend sale promotions for a month at its retail bank for lax oversight against money laundering, in the struggling U.S. bank's second brush with Japanese regulators in five years.
The Financial Services Agency said Citigroup had not developed adequate systems to detect suspicious transactions such as money laundering, citing the same violation that led the regulators to close its private banking business in 2004.
Citigroup, which has 35 branches and generates about $2 billion in revenue a year from its retail and corporate banking division, Citibank Japan, apologised for the breach, saying it stemmed from the way it reported suspicious transactions.
"If Citibank cannot get its house in order, its operations in Japan may come under threat," said Neil Katkov, head of Asia research for financial services consultancy Celent.
"We have seen banks in the U.S. shut down for alleged loose money laundering compliance, and this is a sign that Japanese regulators are getting tougher."
The suspension comes as Citigroup tries to sell assets in Japan, an integral part of its efforts to raise cash after suffering more than $85 billion in losses on toxic assets and receiving a U.S. government bailout.
The bank agreed last month to sell its Japanese brokerage and investment banking assets to Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (8316.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Japan's third-largest bank, for about $5.9 billion.
It is also looking to sell its Japanese asset management arm, Nikko Asset Management, and telemarketer Bellsystem24 Inc, sources have told Reuters. The deals are expected to raise more than $1 billion each. [ID:nBNG457249]
The FSA said Citigroup had not made improvements since the last regulatory crackdown in 2004, which prompted then-chief executive Charles Prince to make a public bow of apology in Japan, a custom for Japanese executives showing remorse.
The FSA said the lack of compliance showed Citigroup executives "... lack an understanding of the rules applied in Japan, such as laws and regulations, and an awareness of improvement".
Citibank Japan, which handles retail and corporate banking operations, had 299 billion yen in net assets and 1,548 employees as of the end of March, according to its website.
Citibank Japan promised to submit a plan to the Japanese regulator by the end of July to remedy the problems.
While Citibank Japan cannot promote its retail products for the next month, customers can still initiate transactions with the bank, the FSA and Citigroup said in statements. (Additional reporting by Mayumi Negishi, Nathan Layne and Noriyuki Hirata; Editing by Michael Watson)
Japanese Prime Minister to Visit Vatican
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will receive in audience the prime minister of Japan next month, which will be the second high-level meeting between the Vatican and the Asian country this year.
The Union of Catholic Asian News revealed Friday that Japan's Catholic prime minister, Taro Aso, will visit the Vatican on July 7, the day before the opening of the Group of Eight Summit in L'Aquila, Italy.
Last March, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign secretary, became the first Vatican top diplomat to make an official visit to Japan in the 67-year-history of bilateral relations, which were established in 1942.
Japan's ambassador to the Holy See, Kagefumi Ueno, told ZENIT last week that Archbishop Mamberti's 6-day visit "assisted in shortening a sense of distance existing between the two countries."
The last Japanese prime minister to visit the Vatican was former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, who visited Pope John Paul II in 1999.
There are 1 million Catholics living in Japan, out of a total population of 127 million.
2 days after the announcement that the prime minister of Japan will visit the Vatican, Japan takes the heat for the story of the $134 billion in US bonds, which suddenly ARE REAL - until now, there was a doubt -now no more, and Japan is the guilty party.
Of course, the PM's visit to the pope has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS "SUDDEN DISCOVERY".
So to clarify the story, it seems that the US government is not too pleased by these revelations of Nazi Hal Turner about the coming AMERO, and is threatening all bloggers with imprisonment for revealing the plans of the NWO.
In addition, VATICAN NEWS are hard at work, putting up smokescreens, and making sure that JAPAN is mentioned as the guilty party. Not the INNOCENT MAFIA, God forbid; and specially , NO CONNECTION TO THE VATICAN FINANCES EITHER. The Catholic Japanese PM's visit announced two days earlier has NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING to do with the story, of course. And neither does the JESUIT GENERAL WHO HAILS FROM JAPAN, of course, of course.......
» 06/30/2009 13:13
Everything suggests that the American bonds seized at Chiasso are real
Official U.S. sources continue to say they are fakes, but there is no news that American experts have inspected them in person. Arrested for another matter, the director of a U.S. radio who says the bonds are real and Japan was trying to sell in Switzerland, not trusting the ability of the United States to honour its debt.
Milan (AsiaNews) – Four weeks have passed since American bonds were confiscated from two Japanese men who were travelling on a direct train to Chiasso, Switzerland, and while there has been clarification of some - very few -points, Italian authorities have remained silent on the rest of the episode.
In addition, a strange coincidence in the timing of the arrest of a director of an internet radio who had made revelations regarding the incident ,increases the already strong oddities surrounding the case. This added to the revaluation of the fact that among the evidence seized there were "Kennedy Bonds", all points toward the authenticity of the items seized by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF) in early June.
The major English-speaking newspapers ignored the story for a couple of weeks. They only started to report on it after the Bloomberg agency carried a story on 18 / 6, in which a spokesman for the Treasury, Meyerhardt, declared that the bonds, based on photos available on the Internet, were "clearly false." The same day, the Financial Times (FT) published an article whose title laid the blame for the (alleged) infringement at the feet of the Italian Mafia, despite the fact that the article failed to make even one possible connection with the episode in Chiasso. Nevertheless, the version of events as reported in FT was taken up by others as being "appropriate" (given that it is a very common cliché about Italy and it is a sequester that took place in Italy) and in the end "colourful." It’s a pity that it goes against all logic: that the Mafia tried to pass unnoticed in its attempt to dump fake bonds amounting to 134.5 billion dollars and moreover were to "stung" a mere step from their gaol, is not very credible.
Most recently last week, 25 / 6, the New York Times reported on the story in particular, the allegations of CIA spokesman, Darrin Blackford: the U.S. Secret Service carried out inspections, as required by the Italian judiciary, and found that they were fictitious financial instruments, never issued by the “U.S. government”. It is not clear, however, how the checks mentioned by Blackford were carried out and whether they were also are carried out via internet. In fact according to official Italian sources the Commission of American experts, expected in Italy, have yet to arrive. Furthermore, the bonds were accompanied by a recent and original bank record. It is therefore unclear how the U.S. authorities can declare fake documentation that does not originate from the Fed or the U.S. Department of Treasury.
On the contrary, claims in support of the bond’s authenticity were made 20 / 6 on the Turner Radio Network (TRN), an independent radio station broadcast via Internet. On that date in a massive exposure, TRN stated that the two Japanese men arrested by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF) and then released in Ponte Chiasso were employees of the Japanese Ministry for Treasury. AsiaNews had also received similar reports: one of the two Japanese arrested in Chiasso and then released is Tuneo Yamauchi, is the brother of Toshiro Muto, until recently vice governor of the Bank of Japan. On its website, the creator and presenter of the Radio, Hal Turner, had also claimed that his sources had revealed that the Italian authorities believe the evidence to be authentic and that the two Japanese officials are from the Japanese Ministry for Finance. They were supposed to bring the bonds to Switzerland because the Japanese government had apparently lost confidence in U.S. ability to repay its debt. Japanese financial authorities therefore were trying to sell a part of the securities in their possession through parallel channels ahead of an imminent financial disaster, thanks to the anonymity which, Turner said, is guaranteed by the laws of Switzerland.
AsiaNews does not know to what extent Turner’s revelations can be held as credible, given that in this case too, it is difficult to believe that $ 134.5 billion would pass unnoticed anywhere in the world. It seems far more logical to assume that the bonds, if authentic, were directed to the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, BIS, the central bank of central banks ahead of the issuance of securities in a new supranational currency. Turner had in any event added that as evidence to support his revelations he would have provided the serial numbers of the seized bonds. Before he could do so, however, was imprisoned. Hal Turner is the journalist who long ago first broke the news of a secret plan to replace the dollar, after a severe financial crisis, with a common North American currency, the Amero. In a dramatic phone call from inside the prison in which he is detained pending trial, relayed via internet, Hal Turner claims that his arrest is political and it is in relation to the securities seized in Chiasso, because the authorities are terrified by his revelations of the bonds’ authenticity. Of course, the allegations made against him have to nothing to do with the story and thus an already intricate story becomes ever more complex. Turner maintains that he did not personally formulate the disclosure for which he has been imprisoned. Although it was clearly his responsibility to remain vigilant, it is also true that blogs from around the world and the U.S. themselves are full of threats and provocations. The coincidental timing, the unusual diligence and the details of his arrest arouse suspicions about the true motives of the American federal police. Indeed, this very arrest suggests that the evidence seized from GdF are truly authentic.
One more element in favour of the bond’s authenticity is found in the securities, which in the June 4 statement, the GdF termed "Kennedy Bonds” with photos provided. These photos reveal that the securities under discussion are not bonds but Treasury Notes, because they are securities that can be immediately exchanged for their worth in goods or services and because they are devoid of interest coupons. One side carries a reproduction of the image of the American president, the reverse side that of a spaceship. From confidential, usually well-informed sources, AsiaNews has learned that this type of paper money was issued less than ten years ago (in 1998), although it is difficult to know whether those seized in Chiasso are authentic. But the fact that the release of this particular State Treasury was not completely in the public domain tends to exclude the possibility of counterfeiting. It highly unreasonable to suppose that a forger would reproduce a State Treasury not commonly in circulation and of which there is no public knowledge. For this reason, it can be concluded that the 124.5 billion dollars divided in 249 bonds of 500 million each are authentic. These titles, although referred to as "Federal Reserve Notes" are actually bonds, because they accrue interest and are redeemable at maturity. But one question remains unsolved regarding them. It is somewhat hard to understand why the securities, which were from the outset indistinguishable from the original to the GdF, all have their coupons. Any ordinary investor, even a state, would have cashed in the interest coupon every year, so as not to lose purchasing power.