Mid-American Guide

Trans-Pacific Viewpoints

Japan Policy Research Institute

January 29, 1996

Mid-America Guide
c/o Japan Arts and Communications
203 North Wabash, #1520
Chicago, IL 60601

Dear Sirs,

As the organizer of the conference that Dr. Hajime Fujiwara attacks in your
 most recent issue (Trans-Pacific Viewpoints), I feel I must respond. I can
 assure him that all of the speakers, with the exception of one Australian
 professor who spoke about his specialty - Indonesia, both read and speak
 Japanese and are as qualified in this field as E. Herbert Norman was. As a
 former professor at the University of California for over thirty years, who
 guided and examined more than forty-five Ph.D.'s in political science and
 Japanese studies, I can testify that a research ability in Japanese is still
 a requirement for the Ph.D. and that the students I trained, who are now
 reaching their mid-thirties and early forties, are probably better qualified
 than the prewar or immediately postwar scholars because they have had
 extensive opportunities to live and work in Japan.

What Dr. Fujiwara really seems to be upset about is the fact that our
 conference, which dealt with Japan's economic system, was critical of
 certain Japanese trade practices which are tantamount to nineteenth century
 mercantilism. Because I am a leading exponent of this view, I have sometimes
 been dubbed a "revisionist," in that I was revising the earlier, America-
centered view that Japan's economy was no different from that of the U.S. Dr.
 Fujiwara also seems to believe that 'revisionism' is a form of 'Japan-
bashing,' whereas it is actually quite the opposite.

I believe that Japan is a powerful, independent nation-state with a long and
 fascinating culture and history that was influenced only briefly by the
 United States in the immediate postwar years. It is really quite absurd to
 imagine that such a place should or could be a clone of the U.S. I am also
 convinced that since World War II is now fifty years behind us, and since
 Japan has one of the most powerful economies on earth, it is time for U.S.
 troops to be withdrawn from Japan and for that nation to become responsible
 for its own military defense. Recent opinion polls show that more than fifty
 percent of the Japanese public agrees with me - particularly in light of
 recent event in Okinawa. Far from making me anti-Japanese, I believe this 
demonstrates that I respect and trust Japan - far more so than those who
 argue that American troops must remain in Japan as a kind of 'cork in the
 bottle," to keep it from becoming militaristic again.

The great danger to future Japanese studies in universities will not come 
from 'revisionist' scholars but from a new fad called 'rational choice
 theory.' This theory, which derives from economics, holds that all human 
behavior - in any culture, and of any sort - can be reduced to economic 
calculations of personal cost-benefit. It is this theory which is producing
 scholars of the sort Dr. Fujiwara decries:… scholars who have no notion of
 Japanese history or culture, and who do not read the language because this
 is not necessary in order to apply their universalist formulas, I have also
 been arguing against this kind of dogmatism in the universities, because it
 is producing scholars such as Jeffery Sachs (at Dr. Fujiwara's much-vaunted
 Harvard), who recommended economic policies to the former Soviet Union so
 inappropriate and politically unacceptable that Russia seems well on its way
 toward reconstituting Communism (or Fascism) as a better alternative. I hope
 that what I and my students have been vis-a-vis Japan is well-informed

At the conference Dr. Fujiwara referred to, several participants talked to
 Dr. Fujiwara at length in Japanese and in English but they did not
 necessarily agree with his many racist and cultural prejudices just because
 he uttered them. This is called the free exchange of ideas. Instead of
 answering what was said at the conference, Dr. Fujiwara instead attacks the
 people who made presentations, a fallacy Aristotle identified long ago as
 argument ad hominem.

Yours sincerely,
Chalmers Johnson 


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