I suppose if I were POTUS (President of the United States) and my life revolved around cruising at my Texas ranch, denying “youthful indiscretions” and telling people like Michael Moore to “go find real work,” I too would have the time to sludge my way through the red tape and somnifacient bureaucracy required to order reclusive chess grandmasters to be deported from Japan and immediately brought back to the States.
The chess master under focus is Bobby Fischer, who has been on the run from the United States government for well over a decade after breaking U.S. and U.N. international sanctions in order to participate in a match in Yugoslavia in 1992. A man known for his ability to disappear for years at a time only to randomly resurface to challenge old opponents — most notably Boris Spassky in the controversial match in the 1992 Yugoslavian tournament — Bobby Fischer had been living quietly under the radar in Japan for several years. Unfortunately, his wish to remain anonymous was blown on the 13th of July when he was detained at the Narita airport on his way to the Philippines with an expired passport.
Fischer had made it clear he no longer wished to be an American citizen, and in fact wished to apply for citizenship and now political asylum in Japan. Both his requests have thus far been denied.
As far as I can understand, it comes down to this expatriate winning a ridiculous amount of prize money. When Bobby Fischer warred against Boris Spassky, the defender of the world title, the award money in balance was approximately a quarter of a million dollars. This time around in 1992, it was three million.
I believe that if Fischer had lost his match against Spassky, the U.S. would not only have allowed this slight indiscretion to have passed, they may even have lauded his effort with the effect of praising Spassky’s genius (ah, the tangles of politics). See, no one likes Fischer, especially Bush, who is still trying desperately to not let John Kerry win the minority (in this case, Jewish) votes. Fischer, a notorious anti-Semite and vicious anti-American, has made his views on the “Jewish conspiracy” and the “Jew-controlled U.S.” well known. He has been known to even deny the Holocaust. He has praised the Sept. 11 attacks, and said on a radio interview that “America should be wiped out.”
Methinks it would be an unwise move for the U.S. not to expunge as publicly as possible such a character. If Fischer had lost the 1992 match, Spassky, who was a citizen of the former Soviet Union, would have won the three million and international gratuity for defeating such a character as Fischer. I have few doubts that Bush would have gone so far as to skip a night of drinking and choking on pretzels so as to heap praise upon the former Communist. But my question is, what is Japan getting out of this brouhaha? In England, after a citizen has made a significant revenue for a country, such as Mick Jagger or Elton John, they are knighted. Think of the gold bars Japan could stockpile if they were to become the homeland to the third match between Spassky and Fischer. Iceland made a fortune. They’re still selling chess souvenirs in the stores commemorating the first match, and hell, that was over 30 years ago. Yugoslavia undoubtedly made quite a profit as well.
So, if the Japanese government lost a massive tourist attraction and thus, a major source of revenue, then I suspect Japan, who has a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government, was given some kind of power boost, and maybe the in on the oil pipeline going through Iraq. But then, I may be overestimating the political think tank of our “misunderestimated” POTUS; it could just be another whim of our “west Texas girl” to play the greatest chess player of all time.
Leah Ricker, Ka Leo O Hawaii, University of Hawaii