Over-the-top comments on Japan

San Francisco

The letters from Patrick Byrne (Feb. 19, “Japanese people deserve better“) and Marvin Motsenbocker (Feb. 16, “Japan remains the best choice“) both contain elements of truth. Motsenbocker’s lyrical fawning over a near idyllic Japan is decidedly over the top — a potentially rosy economy combined with “paid for” protective sea walls no less — but Byrne’s dystopic vision (terrible place to live, seething with xenophobes) is too.

Byrne further shoots himself in the foot when he uses two dreaded E-words — “European” and “elitist” — to describe what Motsenbocker’s letter sounds like to him. “Elitist,” in particular, denies the writer as having any view other than that from an ivory tower. “European” compounds the damage. To update and paraphrase 18th-century author Samuel Johnson’s dictum about patriotism: Using the E-word is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

hugh keith-johnston