Back to This Month's
have received no more than one or two letters in my life that were
worth the postage.”
--Henry David Thoreau
We value your feedback. Actually, it makes
our day more than anything else.
I read with interest your interview of Dr. Hall in the JapanReview.Net,
including his comments pertaining to the review I wrote of his
book, Bamboozled: How America Loses the Intellectual Game
with Japan and Its Implications for Our Future in Asia, in The
Asian Wall Street Journal.
Allow me to make a couple of comments of my own.
First, it is unfortunate that my careless error with a couple
of dates when paraphrasing from page 70 of the book have provided
a convenient escape hatch for Dr. Hall. In fact, the dates are
not germane to my argument, but the mistake provides the opportunity
for Dr. Hall to discredit my analysis. That’s too bad, because
the analysis is right on, as Mr. Geoffrey Tudor—who first brought
the mistaken dates to the attention of the Journal editors—implied
when he called my review “thoughtful.” But the best evidence is
Dr. Hall’s feeble effort in the Review to discredit my conclusions
about his book.
In defending his argument that telephone calls to Tokyo Mayor
Shintaro Ishihara—in response to his use of the pejorative term
“sankokujin”—point to increasing racism in Japan, Dr. Hall asks,
“If the moderates are so numerous, why didn’t more of them call
in to be counted?”
As Dr. Hall well knows, of course, unorganized moderates don’t
generally participate in spur-of-the-moment public debates, and
that would be especially so when the dustup involves a loose political
canon like Mr. Ishihara, who is well known for his wild, off-the-cuff
remarks (It might be another matter if Mr. Ishihara said something
that wasn’t outlandish, which would be a shock!). Rather, it is
activist minorities who resort to such—obviously organized, undoubtedly
by Mr. Ishihara’s support group—tactics to fight an uphill battle
for acceptance and respectability. By giving credence to a small
group of outright fanatical racists, Dr. Hall does exactly what
they wanted: He makes their cause a legitimate issue, which Dr.
Hall then attempts to institutionalize.
Second, Dr. Hall gets personal, stating that I am “ignorant of
Japan,” as evidenced by my unfortunate carelessness with dates.
Maybe so. But I can say that I lived close to a decade in Japan,
completing my undergraduate studies at the same Ichigaya Campus
of Sophia University which, I must admit tickles me pink, decided
it could do without one of Dr. Hall’s lectures. I was an active
participate in the business community in the city where I lived,
Maebashi in Gunma prefecture, not a mere observer and fund raiser.
I founded and ran a successful business, joined and played a key
role in local business associations, and taught at Gunma University.
So while I may have some embarrassing problems with dates, and
should have been more careful, that doesn’t mean I can’t recognize—or
reasonably competently review—a bad book on Japan when I read
Michael Alan Hamlin
Asian Wall Street Journal
Metro Manila, Philippines
Copyright 2002-2005 JapanReviewNet, All rights reserved.