I've received a number of responses to my series on the problems we encountered with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 variations. Several people have inquired about how to disable variations without losing their content. It's actually quite simple: simply delete the variation labels. For example, if you follow my repro steps in part 1, you can subsequently delete the ja-JP and en-US variation labels, but the corresponding sites will not be deleted (i.e. you will still have /en-US/foo and /ja-JP/foo sites).
Note that in the time since my original posts, the issues have been repro'ed by PSS and it sounds like several hotfixes are in the works. If you can "hang in there" for a few more months, the variations story should improve dramatically.