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Japan slams China over mushroom cloud map in newspaper By Demetri Sevastopulo in Hong Kong [image: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida ...Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pauses as he holds a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on July 4, 2014. Japan on July 4 slammed China over its effort to highlight the past of Tokyo's wartime aggression amid a territorial dispute between the two countries, saying it is "utterly useless." AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images]©AFP Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister Japan has hit out at China over a newspaper story that said Tokyo wanted another war and included a map showing mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in the latest ratcheting up of tensions between the two countries. The Chongqing Youth Daily, which serves the western metropolis, ran a map on July 3 titled “Japan wants a war again” in English and Chinese. It included mushroom clouds over the western Japanese cities that remain the only places to have been hit by an atomic bomb. The map appears to have been removed online since publication. “It is truly thoughtless to depict a mushroom cloud,” Fumio Kishida, Japan’s foreign minister, said on Tuesday. “As the foreign minister of the only country to suffer a nuclear attack and as a politician from Hiroshima, I cannot tolerate it.” The Japanese foreign ministry on Wednesday said that Tokyo had made a protest with the Chongqing newspaper. “We would like to refrain from saying the details of the conversation but the editor-in-chief said that the Chongqing Youth Daily itself decided to publish the map in the newspaper,” the ministry said. The incident marks the latest deterioration in relations between the countries whose ties have been severely strained since a bitter row over the Senkaku Islands – a chain in the East China Sea that Japan controls but China claims and calls the Diaoyu – broke out in late 2012. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, and Xi Jinping, Chinese president, have yet to visit each other’s countries in spite of having both been in office for more than a year. Tensions started to ease late last year but rose again after December, when Mr Abe visited Yasukuni, a controversial shrine to Japan’s war dead, including a handful of convicted war criminals. During a visit to Australia on Tuesday, Mr Abe said Japan’s “fundamental position” was to improve relations with China, saying that, “the door to China is open from the Japanese side and we hope that the Chinese side take the same posture”. FT Video *China v Japan * March 5 2014: The stand-off over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, consumer boycotts and nationalist rhetoric have all increased the pressure on the relationship between Japan and China. The FT’s bureaux chiefs from the two countries, Jamil Anderlini and Jonathan Soble, talk to David Pilling, the FT’s Asia editor, about the possibility that the war of words could escalate into something more serious. His comments came a day after Mr Xi attacked Japan for failing to face up to its wartime past. Speaking on the 77th anniversary of the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which sparked the Japanese invasion of China, the Chinese president said: “Anyone who intends to deny, distort or beautify the history of aggression will never be tolerated by Chinese people and people of all other countries.” Speaking in Beijing at a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday, Chinese premier Li Keqiang also hit out at Japan, saying peace required countries to learn lessons of history. China likes to compare Japan to Germany, which is seen to have shown full contrition over Hitler and the Nazis. The comments by the Chinese leaders come on the heels of a decision by Japan to reinterpret its constitution to allow Japanese self-defence forces to defend allies under attack. While the change brings Japan closer into line with other countries, it has been vilified in China and South Korea because of its wartime history. China also reacted angrily last month when Mr Abe said at a defence forum in Singapore that Japan was willing to help countries in Asia that were facing threats from China , particularly in the South China Sea where China and Vietnam are mired in a dangerous spat over a disputed group of islands called the Paracels. *Additional reporting by Julie Zhu* Japan protests China newspaper’s map showing atomic clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki July 10, 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Japan protested on July 9 to China over a newspaper’s depiction of exploding mushroom clouds in a map of Japan , calling it offensive. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan, as the only nation to have suffered atomic attacks, will “never tolerate” such a depiction. It was “extremely imprudent” of the newspaper, he said. “And it rattled the nerves of atomic bomb survivors and their families.” The Chongqing Youth News carried a full-page color map of Japan, with the cartoon drawing of an exploding mushroom cloud over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a title saying “Japan wants a war again.” In the map, the green Japanese archipelago on the blue background was marked with the names of the two cities and Tokyo, in both English and Chinese. It was unclear if the map was an advertisement or a graphic meant to accompany a commentary on the following page. The commentary, titled “Have we been too friendly to Japan in the past?” criticized Tokyo’s decision to allow Japan’s military to use force to defend its allies, an action previously banned as unconstitutional. The newspaper was published on July 3, two days after Japan reinterpreted its war-renouncing Constitution to allow a greater role for its military. A man identifying himself only by his surname, Zhang, who answered the phone at the editors’ office of the Chongqing Youth News, said the paper had no comment on the matter. The paper is run by the city of Chongqing’s branch of the Communist Youth League, an organization that grooms university students for roles in the Communist Party. Japan lodged protests to Beijing and the government of Chongqing, where the weekly paper is based. Tokyo also protested to the paper the day before. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, called the paper’s allegation groundless and said Japan’s defense policy change is not intended to wage war. The two Asian rivals are major economic and trade partners, but have been disputed over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea and wartime history. Relations worsened in December after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the war-related Yasukuni Shrine that honors Japan’s convicted war criminals among the 2.5 million war dead. At the news conference on July 9, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei refused to comment directly on the map, while repeating Beijing’s position, saying recent Japanese actions have raised concerns among its Asian neighbors that suffered under Japan’s wartime aggression. He criticized Japan for repeatedly creating provocations over historical issues. “We hope Japan can learn lessons from history, go down the path of peaceful development, and avoid the repetition of historical tragedies,” he said. In the closing days of World War II, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing 140,000 people, and a second one on Nagasaki three days later, killing another 90,000, prompting Japan’s surrender. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Japan upset as Chinese paper prints mushroom clouds on map [image: Photo] Tue, Jul 8 2014 TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday vowed to make a stern protest to China after a regional Chinese newspaper printed a map of the country with mushroom clouds hovering over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and accused the Japanese of wanting war again. The neighbours have a long history of tense relations. Beijing bristles at Japan’s inability to properly atone for its invasion of China before and during World War Two, and its occupation of large parts of the country. The newspaper, the weekly Chongqing Youth News from the southwestern city of Chongqing, printed the picture in its latest edition, Chinese media reported, though it appeared later to have been removed from the paper’s website version. The picture showed a map of Japan with mushroom clouds over Hiroshima and Nagasaki – both of which were hit by nuclear bombs at the end of World War Two – and the words in Chinese and English, “Japan wants a war again”. A picture of the page was carried on the website of the Global Times, a widely-read tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily. “As the butcher of World War Two, the blood on Japan’s hands has yet to dry,” the Chongqing Youth News wrote in an accompanying article that remains available on its website. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the paper’s comment and the accompanying map were regrettable. “As foreign minister of the only country that has suffered nuclear attacks, and as a politician from Hiroshima, I cannot tolerate this,” he told reporters. “I issued an instruction to check the facts with the paper in question speedily through the consulate in Chongqing and, if it turns out to be true, to lodge a stern protest.” Calls to the newspaper seeking comment went unanswered. Its website says the newspaper is published by the Chongqing branch of the party’s Youth League. Japanese leaders have repeatedly apologised for suffering caused by the country’s wartime actions, including a landmark 1995 apology by then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama. Japan’s government, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has repeatedly said that Japan has faced up to its past sincerely. But contradictory remarks from conservative politicians have cast doubt on that sincerity. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takanaka and Ben Blanchard ; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

> Subject: Xinhua: Abe using ‘Nazi tactics’ to change Japan’s constitution > > > v > Xinhua: Abe using ‘Nazi tactics’ to change Japan’s constitution > Xinhua 2014-07-01 16:52 (GMT+8) > > Protesters display a cartoon rendering of Shinzo Abe during a protest held in Tokyo against a decision by Japan government to allow its military a larger international role, June 30. (Photo/Xinhua) > > Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is manipulating a dangerous coup to overturn the country’s post-war pacifism and democratic ideals, as he hones in on releasing the shackles of the nation’s legally tethered military and war will from its war-renouncing constitution. > > It is no coincidence that the prime minister is seeking the green light to Japan’s military being able to exercise the right to collective self-defense on July 1, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF), as the move will drastically change Japan’s defense stance since the end of World War II and possibly see the country dragged back into bloody conflict in the future. > > Apparently, fighting for countries that have close ties with Japan cannot be accounted for under the auspices of self-defense, but for the SDF to be potentially deployed to every corner of the globe to engage in battle, surely means that Abe has “upgraded” Japan’s SDF to a national military. > > Japan’s new collective self-defence stance, flies in the face of Japan’s internationally-recognized anti-war constitution, whose Article 9 reads “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” > > Due to the existence of Article 9, previous Japanese governments’ interpretation strictly defined terms like “self-defense” as well as “self-defense forces” and “national defense army.” > > Abe, however, has shunned the normal procedures to amend the constitution and bungled a broad “conditions for the use of force” instead of the original “conditions for the launch of self-defense”, brutally violating the spirit of Japan’s current constitution. > > Abe’s coup against the constitution also exposes his scorn over public opinion as many surveys conducted by Japanese mainstream media have shown nearly 70% of Japanese oppose Abe’s plot to exercise collective defense through reinterpreting the constitution and over 60% said they were against allowing the SDF to engage war outside Japan through any means. > > It is ironic that “rule of law” and “democracy” are seemingly pet phrases of the prime minister used for international discourse, but what the leader is doing is trampling on the country’s supreme law and abandoning Japan’s basic democratic fundamentals. > > Abe’s trusted follower, deputy prime minister Taro Aso talked earlier about changing the constitution, suggesting Japan should do it quietly. “Just as in one day the Weimar constitution changed to the Nazi constitution, without anyone realizing it, why don’t we learn from that sort of tactic?” Aso suggested. > > Now, Abe is very close to his goal through such “Nazi tactics” and his move has already hollowed the constitution’s Article 9 and fundamentally overthrown the country’s peaceful path in the postwar era. > > Abe’s anti-constitution plot poses a great challenge to the seven-decade-old postwar international order, which was based on a series of international treaties and declarations, including the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. > > Abe’s visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, which honors 14 convicted Japanese war criminals during WWII, also challenges the judgments of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and his claim to islands disputed with neighbors, challenges the essence of both the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. > > Now, Abe’s final volume of his “postwar remilitarization trilogy” will be complete–tearing up Japan’s peaceful commitment to the international community–if the resolution on collective defense is approved Tuesday. > > Abe has hijacked the nation, eager for combat and has cast a gloomy shadow over security in the Asia-Pacific region and the entire world. > > A Japanese lawmaker bemoaned that the “dusk of the Weimar Constitution” will be repeated in Japan. One can only hope that the dusk of Japan’s pacifist constitution will not lead to the entire collapse of the postwar international system.

April 11, 1984 | MARK STEPHEN DOERRIER ISSUES| LAW OF THE LAND Nasty, brutish and short?: The brief life and times of ‘Happy Bob’ 1980s Japan Times cartoon following the exploits of a hapless foreigner illustrates how little debate has moved on among the expatriate community BY COLIN P.A. JONES FEB 19, 2014 ARTICLE HISTORY PRINTSHARE March 1984: Ronald Reagan was U.S. president, Yasuhiro Nakasone Japan’s prime minister. Afghan rebels were struggling to rid their country of foreign invaders (deja vu!). Break-dancing was a global craze. Tokyo Disneyland was so new it hadn’t even been visited by Michael Jackson yet. Pay telephones were yellow or pink and couldn’t dial overseas. I was in my first year at International Christian University in Tokyo, struggling with elementary kanji. And for a few brief magical weeks, Japan’s foreign community was transfixed by “Happy Bob.” The creation of artist Mark Stephen Doerrier, Happy Bob was the title character of a single-panel cartoon whose brief life in The Japan Times stoked intense controversy. The first anti-Bob missive appeared in the letters column just two weeks after the cartoon’s March 19 debut, wondering aloud why the paper had chosen to run the comic: “Do you actually think Doerrier’s grotesque drawings, with their obvious anti-Japanese slant, are humorous?” Uh-oh. The cartoon quickly disappeared, but not before generating a storm of such letters (and a few in support) until the editor declared correspondence on the subject closed on April 27. The last cartoon appeared the next day, showing an empty commuter train seat, captioned “Happy Bob missed his train today.” The cartoon always stuck in my mind, mainly because of the storm it managed to generate. I thought a 30th anniversary “Happy Bob” retrospective might be interesting and, given recent events, even timely. One reader declared it to have “less than mediocre drawing, which few high school papers would tolerate” but I won’t presume to opine on the comic’s aesthetics, being in awe of anyone who can generate a daily strip more sophisticated than stick figures. (The expat cartoonist talent pool apparently wasn’t very large in any case: “Happy Bob” was the fruit of a three-month search!) As for the humor, The Japan Times has kindly reproduced some of the cartoons for the sake of this article, so you can judge for yourself. To me, the majority simply weren’t very funny. Yeah, kotatsu heaters are a quirky piece of furniture from the Land That Insulation Forgot, and the juxtaposition of bowling with “Oh my god, shoes on the tatami!” is mildly amusing, but this is hardly Far Side material. In fact, Doerrier probably suffered from the contrast presented by Gary Larson’s wildly popular cartoon, which was also appearing in the JT at the time (though one fan declared “Happy Bob” to possess a profundity lacking from Mr. Larson’s work). A few panels have some timeless appeal: Pachinko and hostess bars are still mystifying, and prime ministers persist in visiting controversial shrines. Yet some really struck a nerve — a sensitive one, too — though mainly amongst people with first names like Lou, Robby and Jeff and similarly Western surnames, the letters column suggests. But were the cartoons really “anti-Japanese”? Did they “display not only bad taste, but revoltingly offensive taste,” as one irate reader put it? I confess to having a soft spot for the “Japanese logic” cartoon that generated this particular complaint, but only because I have been asked the same question about chopstick skills many times myself. To characterize it as “Japanese” is wrong, of course, but it nicely captures a particular type of thought process. Similarly, I rather liked the debut strip’s “this is a pen” derivative, because it again resonates with my own experience of having children shouting the phrase at me from afar. One reader was offended by the panel about old ladies looking for coins in the gutter when they bow. Unfunny, perhaps, but a “blatant attack on Japanese”? Others objected to the “hiring interview” cartoon. That may well have crossed the line, though 30 subsequent years of political correctness and supposedly heightened cultural sensitivity have not been kind to Japanese salarymen, a demographic that is apparently still fair game for generally negative comedic stereotyping — not only abroad but within Japan as well. (Perhaps they are all at the office too much to complain?) In fact, some of the readers’ responses were funnier than the cartoons themselves, though not intentionally. One reader complaining about the “Japanese logic” cartoon asked, “By what distorted process does Doerrier call this ‘logic?’ ” (If that reader is still around, the imissthings.com domain name is still available.) Another writing to complain about the panties cartoon points out that “on the comic page there is another cartoon on girls’ panties.” Issues ahoy! One even took it upon himself to explain humor itself: “Firstly, good humor is never at the expense of an individual, an ethnic group or cultural differences. . . . Secondly, and most important [sic], good humor is funny.” Well thank you, Professor Jocularity. I also have to take exception to this first condition: Almost all humor that is actually funny is at somebody’s expense. This is not to justify the use of humor to bully or perpetuate offensive stereotypes based on attributes such as race, over which people have no control. But if you are an expat offended by humor about cultural differences, you should probably pack up and go back to Blandsville (no offense intended to people living in actual towns of that name). I suspect one of the reasons “Happy Bob” annoyed expats was that it skewered them as much as it did the Japanese. At least one reader appreciated this, though perhaps not coincidentally, he described himself as a visitor rather than a resident. Looking back, the idea that Japanese people somehow needed to be “protected” from an obscure, amateurish cartoonist whose work appeared in an English-language newspaper is both ridiculous and reeks of the self-importance that can infect some expats, perhaps even more so back then. In reality, what foreigners write or draw about Japan in the local English-language press is probably irrelevant to the day-to-day realities of most Japanese people, none of whom appear to have written in to complain about “Happy Bob” anyway. Having followed readers’ letters to the JT off and on for over 30 years, a number of recurring themes and the way they are debated — mostly between expats — have come to seem almost generic: “The way English is taught in Japan sucks.” “Japanese people don’t need to learn English.” “They should stop using kanji.” “No, kanji is great; you are just lazy.” “Why do so many Japanese people assume I can’t speak Japanese?” “What is wrong with these people?” “No, what is wrong with you?” I wrote a few of these letters myself in my younger days, but I am not going to take on any of these views here because nobody probably gives a sh-t. “Happy Bob” may have inadvertently attracted special controversy because it touched on not one but two similar recurring themes. The first is the notion that there is some “correct way” to be a foreign resident of Japan, and if you can’t stop complaining, you should go back to your own country. I won’t say much about this theme, other than to suggest that debating it is about as productive as watching a small dog try to mate with his squeaky toy. The second is how we poke fun at others in the society around us — the Japanese people in Doerrier’s cartoon. This in turn relates to how they poke fun at us — me, so perhaps I should give a sh-t about this one. Or maybe not. All Nippon Airways recently generated controversy of its own through a TV commercial advertising its new international routes from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The ad portrayed two Japanese businessmen having a dialog in English, and then one of them turning into a stereotypical Westerner at the end through the addition of a blonde wig and a big false nose. Predictable outrage from abroad followed (Debito Arudou also devoted a column in this paper to the subject) and ANA pulled the ad. The airline may indeed have made a stupid business decision, though the ad probably generated countless YouTube shares and other free publicity abroad. Either way, was it really “offensive”? I once had a student ask me point-blank why my face was so three-dimensional (the best translation he could find for the Japanese phrase “hori ga fukai” — literally, “deeply carved”). He continued in earnest to explain how he wished he could take a clothes pin to his nose to make his face less flat. Perhaps he was taking the p-ss, but this sort of experience leads me to see the ANA ad not as a demeaning racial stereotype but a misplaced form of idealization — one that equates us Caucasians with some sort of Holy Trinity of “international”: blond, English-speaking and nasally adequate, to which at least some Japanese seem to aspire. I am not suggesting this is a good thing, but with so much money being dispensed on English lessons, hair treatment and rhinoplasty in Japan, is ANA any worse for trying to exploit the same motivation behind at least some of this spending? That’s just my view, and it shouldn’t lessen anyone else’s offense. That said, I think being offended involves a conscious effort: “What were they thinking?!” should elicit thought by the speaker even when uttered rhetorically. For my part, I try to limit my offense to serious depictions that seem harmful, such as simplistic associations of foreigners (of any race) with crime, disease or the inability to use a public bath. Beyond that, as far as I am concerned, a joke’s a joke, and don’t most of us have better things to do? Anyway, ANA canceling its ad is a mere drop in the torrents of less flattering TV and cartoon depictions of big-nosed, blond, effusive katakana-speaking Caucasians that flood Japan daily. And before having a go at those depictions, I would want to think more about how the Japanese themselves are stereotyped: the harried salaryman, stubborn old man, demure housewife, buchō (department head) with the bar-code pate, and countless others. The Japanese media is full of these archetypes, which are used to convey reality-lite to the masses for profit. Yet are any of them less offensive, harmful or negative in their reduction of complex people to a limited range of predictable attributes? Are they any better than the depictions of Japanese people in “Happy Bob”? Perhaps we should all just get better at laughing at ourselves first. That way, when we do poke fun at each other, we will already be more than halfway to laughing together. Colin P. A. Jones is a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto. Law of the Land appears on the third Thursday of the month. Send your comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp. Is “Happy Bob” offensive in this day and age? It’s inoffensive — and still funny. It’s inoffensive but the quality of the artwork offends me. It’s inoffensive but the quality of the gags offends me. It’s offensive to Japanese people. It’s offensive to non-Japanese residents and/or visitors. It’s just all-round offensive. View Results


Real Estate JOBS 転職 STUDY IN JAPAN Japan Showcase Sign Up | Login » Twitter Facebook Newsletter RSS 22 P/SUNNY TOKYO (8 a.m.) Markets 101.52 ¥/$ (5 p.m.) Community Sign Up | Login » Email Updates Home Delivery Today’s Stories MENU Search News Opinion Life Community Culture Sports Search Search Voices Issues Our Lives Events Event Listings How-tos Columns Sorry, but your browser needs Javascript to use this site. If you’re not sure how to activate it, please refer to this site: http://www.enable-javascript.com/ Two of Tim Ernst’s recently remastered ‘Gaijin’ strips. | COURTESY OF TIM ERNST Our Lives| TELLING LIVES Cartoonist Ernst captured ‘fish-out-of-water’ gaijin as they floundered by Patrick Budmar Special To The Japan Times Jun 29, 2014 Article history PRINT SHARE Having often been told by the Japanese that he would “never understand” their culture because he was not one of them, American cartoonist Tim Ernst decided to embrace this notion and deploy it creatively. Ernst relocated permanently from California to Akita Prefecture in 1981, following an earlier stint as an English teacher in Yamagata Prefecture, where he met his wife of 34 years. It was during his time in Yamagata that he came up with the idea for a comic strip focusing on the daily struggles of a Western everyman with the local culture. Ernst says much of the inspiration came from his own real-life encounters with the Japanese and their customs. “I was — and even after all these years, still am — the bumbling, awkward, mistake-driven gaijin (foreigner),” says the 61-year-old. As well as collecting and compiling ideas for the comic based on his own follies, Ernst also observed the plight of other non-Japanese “fish out of water” around him who seemed to be floundering in similar unfamiliar situations. Ernst initially pitched the concept to The Japan Times in the early 1980s, but he came up against resistance because of the name of the strip, which was simply “Gaijin.” The newspaper deemed the word — the shortened version of gaikokujin (“foreign-country person”) — as “too derogatory,” he says, though Ernst disagreed with this assessment, arguing that it was appropriately “descriptive.” Unwilling to change the name, Ernst then pitched the project to the now-defunct Mainichi Daily News, then the second-largest English-language newspaper in Japan after the JT. Ernst says the newspaper “embraced the concept immediately” and began publishing the strip in April 1984. An aspiring cartoon illustrator in the U.S. before he moved to Japan, Ernst found the regular gig at a major newspaper both exciting and challenging. “I saw the opportunity here to create a character which kind of mirrored an adult version of Charlie Brown from ‘Peanuts,’ ” he says. “Once I established the character, I simply put him in situations I had experienced or was informed of by other gaijins who had.” As computers were not widely used by cartoonists in the ’80s, the drawing and lettering of the comic strip was all done by hand, while the tone screens for shading were cut and pasted. When a batch of six or eight strips was finished, Ernst would send the content to his editor at the Mainichi for publishing. Ernst says the “Gaijin” strip became an instant hit with the English-speaking community at the time, as well as with the growing number of travelers visiting Japan. “It seemed I hit a raw nerve and people could identify with my follies and laugh at themselves, which was the primary goal of my cartoon,” he says. With Ernst at the Mainichi, The Japan Times chose to publish “Happy Bob” by Mark Stephen Doerrier the same year. Doerrier’s short-lived comic strip generated controversy for what some foreign residents saw as negative portrayals of Japanese culture (see “Nasty, brutish and short?: The brief life and times of ‘Happy Bob,’ ” Law of the Land, Feb. 19), but Ernst says he did not encounter a similar reaction from readers. “I did not design the series to make it controversial in any sense of the word,” he says. “My aim was not to lampoon Japanese culture but rather to poke mild fun at ourselves in this bewildering society.” After 2½ years and having survived several changes of editor, “Gaijin” came to an end in The Mainichi Daily News in October 1987. However, Ernst continued to work for the newspaper for the next two decades, creating the Illustrated Idioms feature for their weekly edition. Ernst’s arrangement with the Mainichi meant he held sole copyright over the strips, so he began exploring other avenues for “Gaijin” when the serialization ended. “I suggested compiling them into a book, but the editors at The Mainichi Daily News felt it would not sell,” he says. One of the editors at the paper introduced Ernst to Tomy Uematsu, a fan of “Gaijin” who had connections with the publishing department at The Japan Times. With Uematsu’s help, Ernst was able to pitch the book version of “Gaijin” to The Japan Times, where it was subsequently accepted for publication. Instead of merely compiling the strips into a book, Uematsu added Japanese translations and explanations for each of Ernst’s drawings. “It was Tomy’s Japanese translation and his delicious sense of humor that made the book very appealing to the Japanese public,” Ernst says. “After he helped introduce our follies to the Japanese public in the book form, I think the Japanese came to appreciate our adaptation to their culture and our struggles a little more humorously.” The book was followed by a second, “Gaijin II: After Shock,” four years later, in 1991, though this time Uematsu was not involved with its creation. “The editors felt, against my opposition, that it did not need Tomy’s Japanese explanations anymore,” Ernst says. “They were wrong, and the second book did not do nearly as well as the first one.” Despite that setback, Ernst says he and Uematsu have remained close friends over the years, working together on other publications and “enjoying many good laughs together.” The original “Gaijin” went through more than 30 reprints in the following years, including translations into Chinese and German, until the mid-2000s, when The Japan Times returned the copyright to Ernst. Ernst is currently working with another author to revive “Gaijin” in color and adapt the strips for use as English-language teaching tools. “The problem is, some of the humor involves things of that time that don’t exist or aren’t funny anymore,” he says. “It will be a real challenge for us.” Looking back at his strips from that period, Ernst admits that the 1980s and ’90s were a great time to be in Japan. “I lived here in a time when this country was just finding itself, still rebuilding after the war years and growing stronger year by year,” he says. “The younger generation has made their mark on the world stage in terms of their music, movies, fashion and anime.” Today, Ernst continues to draw cartoons for both children and adults, while teaching English on the side. Ernst may have been a gaijin — an outsider — when he first settled down in Akita, but he feels much less of one these days. “Now that I have lived here in Japan longer than I have lived in my home country, all the newness and freshness has warn off,” says the father of two. “I’m too familiar with life here now.” Ernst characterizes that period as the “golden years” of his publishing career, before the “advent of the Internet age” and the “slow death of printed books.” “I miss the journey of producing books people would like to hold in their hands and read,” he says. 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