There was the two separate quotes from Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the LDP in the interview to TIME appearing in the article titled, “Return to the Samurai” (October 7): http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2153060,00.html

“The constitution says Japan doesn’t possess an army, navy or air force. Is it true? Japan does have an army, a navy, an air force. We have lots of warplanes and tanks. Let’s stop telling a lie."

And later, he says:

“We would be happy if everyone in the world is good, and therefore we have no military force.”

To me it appears as if he is admitting Japan have military force in the first quote and denying it in the second quote.

Though I think Ishiba is saying that we are happy not to have military force if everyone in the world is good, but we have military force as it is contrary, is the above two statements grammatically congruent? If no problem, the case is closed. If not, how should it be rephrased in order for avoiding a confusion that I was induced to?

Please understand that I have no intent to discuss political implications of the above quotes at all. I’m only interested in the grammatical correctnessn of them.

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    I need more context to say confidently, but I think if I read those two quotes in the same article, I would assume that Mr. Ishiba means to say that Japan would be pleased not to need the military that it has, but it does need one and does have one, and pretending it doesn't is hypocritical. I would write off any infelicities of grammar as poor translation and/or non-native speaker errors. I'm sure a politician of his caliber is quite eloquent in his native tongue ;-)
    – zwol
    Oct 13, 2013 at 1:53
  • @Zack. I added the link to the article. Oct 13, 2013 at 3:19
  • The grammar in both of these quotes is very bad. Were all of these mistakes in the original article? Oct 13, 2013 at 3:37
  • @Ernest Friedman-Hill. That's the reason why I posted this question. I typed in the quotes in the the above TIME article as they are. I rechecked the original text. It was exactly the same with what I transcribed. They’re the statements in TIMe magazine article. Oct 13, 2013 at 5:54
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    @Yoichi Oishi. I have not read the article, but does the author draw attention to this discrepancy and offer any possible explanation? My guess would be that Isiba meant to say 'We would be happy if everyone in the world was good, and then we wouldn't need military forces'. Sounds as though something has been lost in the translation. Has the Japanese press noted the discrepancy in the article?
    – WS2
    Oct 13, 2013 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


“We would be happy if everyone in the world is good, and therefore we have no military force.”

I would paraphrase it like this, If I understand it correctly:

"We would be happy if everyone in the world was good. Then, we wouldn't need to have a military force."

I don't think it was meant to be a contradiction to the earlier statement.

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    Grammatically that would be ... and therefore we had no military force. It's true, though, that if everyone in the world is good is wrong (it should be were, or was at worst), so it may well be that this is what Mr Ishiba meant and he was ill-served by his translator. Oct 13, 2013 at 11:31

I have lived and worked in Japan, and they often appear to give contradictory statements. Partly this is due to their great difficulty with English, and partly it has to do with quite different thought patterns to our own. Whilst western, especially Anglo culture, celebrates ideas such as clarity and focus in policy statements etc, the Japanese tend to preoccupy themselves with creating conditions of harmony. It is not unusual for harmonics to override clarity. It happens all the time. Many things that are said, especially at an official level cannot be taken at face value, at least not as we would understand it. The Chinese, who were the tutors to the Japanese from about the 4th century are not dissimilar. Refer to Feng Shui and the 'eight-life aspirations'.

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    The asker is Japanese, so he is probably well aware of this. Oct 13, 2013 at 18:11
  • Yes, but all I can say is that none of this surprises me. See my comment to Yoichi Oishi.
    – WS2
    Oct 13, 2013 at 18:52
  • @JanusBahsJacquet. Perhaps.
    – WS2
    Oct 13, 2013 at 19:12

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