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regularly read JapanReview.Net
and am impressed by the quality of the editorial, not necessarily
by the choice of the books reviewed.
Your choice of Chalmers Johnson's Blowback
is a case in point. Basically, this "book," or more
correctly propaganda, deserves little—if any—attention.
As everybody in the know admits, the author is an old-school Sinologist
from the 1960s and touts as one of his past "glories"
his affinity with Maoism and Mao's devastating policies including,
among other things, the Great Leap Forward. As many admit, again,
Chalmers Johnson is more likely to be a proxy for a left-wing
CIA agent than a well-reasoned critic of world affairs.
Moreover, Johnson repeats the same old mantra despite the change
of the times—China's emergence as an economic behemoth and
the real imminent threat to American ideals of free trade and
currency regime. He is not only ignorant to such a change, but
deliberately dismissive of it. Meanwhile, he continues to bash
an irrelevant economy called Japan.
With this CIA-leftist agent at large, America's security will
continue to be at risk and at the expense of American taxpayers.
States of America
Paul Scalise—Agent of Influence?
By: Craig Nixon,
Reply by Paul Scalise
reading Paul Scalise’s review of Dogs
and Demons, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Scalise
falls into the harlot category of the Japanese spin machine. Had
he spent a significant amount of time in Japan without his hands
deep within the pockets of the Japanese financial industry, he
would have a radically different view of Alex Kerr's book. How
the Japanese just love people like him; a Westerner who in a flash—without
thinking—will come to Japan's defense; a mere prostitute who will
all-too-readily “take the goods and not spill the beans.”
I am sure JapanReview.Net editors have read
Ivan P. Hall's book Bamboozled!
How America Loses the Intellectual Game with Japan (M.E.
Sharpe 2003). Very informatively, it demonstrates how powerful
the Japanese manipulation machine is; it makes the unreal, real,
and real, unreal. People like Mr. Scalise are all-too-eager to
give this machine a helping hand for reasons unexplained. What
possesses him—and people like him—to defend Japan
in such a Rottweiler fashion, or come out and say such inane things
as"I love Japan"? Why don't I hear things like "I
love Brazil" or “Kenya” or “Italy”? The only thing that I
can think of is that the spin doctors—the manipulators—are
so incredibly good at their job that people like Mr. Scalise swallow
their propaganda whole.
too often Japan gets away with murder and the rest of the international
community keeps each other in check, while Japan is always able
to get away with "it"—whatever "it"
may be. The Japanese seem to always avoid criticism because this
"Never offend Japan" mentality exists. Meanwhile, Japan
can insult any nation it chooses, and in particular the U.S. (which
happens to be a daily event.) Any nation that even thinks of saying
something truthful about Japan is labeled a “Japan basher” or
“Japan hater” or “racist.” Alternatively, they “don't understand
the Japanese mind.” The latter, in particular, really grates me
the wrong way. The Japanese have come up with a way of being totally
obnoxious, rude, insulting, and racist without anyone even knowing
Case in point: the Japanese like to say "We have taken your
(fill in the blank) and made it better." By saying "better,"
they are saying we have taken your low quality (fill in the blank)
and made it to our high and lofty standards that only "We
Japanese" know and can understand. That's like saying the
California sushi roll is "better" than regular sushi.
Hardly the case, the California roll happens to fit the taste
of the folks in another land; it doesn't necessarily make it "better."
They twist and turn and squeeze out the foreignness and call it
Japanese, thus, "better".
Let me ask you: if Japan is so innocent in world affairs,
why do their neighbors hate them so? For that matter, why don't
they have any friends at all? Please don't tell us that it stems
from economic envy or that the U.S. is really their friend; it
is merely a convenient relationship for the two that is (and has
Why do we never hear about the international child abductions
that are carried out by Japanese nationals? (cf. Children's Rights
in Japan) Why don’t we ever hear about the harboring of Alberto
Fujimori, an international criminal wanted by Interpol? We never
hear about the terrible, overt and blatant discrimination the
Japanese carry out on Japan's minorities; we never hear about
how the police all-too-eagerly lay much too overly inflated blame
on the incredibly small foreign community about the alleged crime
the foreigners have committed; we never hear about international
human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution; foreign nationals
are held to a segregated set of laws that don't fully protect
the foreign nationals simply because these people are foreign
and not Japanese nationals and therefore should not be entitled
to full protection of the law.
one of these topics is just the tip of the iceberg. If Western
commentators knew the true face of the Japanese, they wouldn't
be so forgiving, accomodating, or dewy-eyed.
J. Scalise replies:
seems to have a remarkably long list of things we never hear
of...I wonder how he heard of them.
But in all seriousness, Mr. Nixon's letter attributes things
to me that are simply incorrect. I never wrote that "I
love Japan," never implied—let alone wrote—that
Japan is "unique," or "better," or "innocent"
and certainly never made the argument that Alex Kerr must be
a "Japan hater."
What I did write was quite different: As a work of
non-fiction written for the general public, Dogs and Demons
is a "passionately entertaining, but sadly imbalanced read."
That's a compliment coupled with a few reservations. Part of
the reservation is because the book is full of hyperbole, sometimes
to the point of sloppiness. Such is the nature of the genre
(see the review for details). But another (perhaps more important)
reservation is because Alex Kerr's central argument is difficult
to test, let alone prove. Ask yourselves: If "culture"
and "values" are at the core of Japan's crisis of
the "lost decade," why did the economy suddenly sour
at that particular time and place, and not before? Where is
the clear cause-and-effect connection between Mr. Kerr's cultural
arguments and the crisis of the 1990s?
Mr. Kerr's answer that these "unique" Japanese values
have somehow "mutated" does not help us to understand
why and how certain Japanese politicians, bureaucrats and CEOs
reach particular decisions over time, nor does it help international
corporations (and their respective governments) looking to enter
Japanese markets beat their competitors to the finish line in
materially different sectors. Serious questions need serious
To defend Dogs and Demons with Ivan Hall's abstract
arguments in Bamboozled!—which, by the way, contradict
Alex Kerr's opposite premise of an incompetent Japan (Which
is it, Mr. Nixon?)—will not help your case. It is the
equivalent of a home owner calling a philosopher in to fix his
leaky pipes, when all he really needed was a plumber. After
all, you need someone with a wrench to stop the water from spilling
out onto the floor, not someone with a chalkboard who asks "What
is the true nature of water?"
I have no doubt that many JapanReview.Net readers (myself
included) will empathize with several of the negative anecdotes
Alex Kerr skillfully describes in Dogs and Demons.
Nor do I have any doubts about Mr. Kerr's fondness for Japan;
as I wrote then, "No one can accuse Mr. Kerr of not caring
about Japan." The question is if his Japan is an accurately
reliable (and useful) one. Just as many sensible readers would
question the stereotypical view that 293 million Americans are
Bible-thumping, TV-addled, drug-addicted, gun-totting militants
bent on unilateral world domination, so too would many knowledgable
and objective Japan watchers bridle at the unproven assertion
that 127 million Japanese must only be viewed as weak, incompetent,
artistically hopeless and corrupt.
As for the charge that I must also be corrupt if I
disagree with Alex Kerr, what can I say? I would appreciate
it if someone would please contact the Japanese government for
me. My envelope of yen from the Foreign Ministry appears to
be have gotten lost in the post again...
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