Aug 9, 2009

Contention over the tenno system

This collection of 14 essays by 12 scholars, ranging from academic, journalistic, speculative, to advisory, makes an excellent introduction to the scope of arguments presently made about tenno, Japan’s “emperors.” THE EMPERORS OF MODERN JAPAN edited by Ben-Ami Shillony. Brill: Leiden, 2008 348 pp., ...

| Jul 26, 2009

Blunderbuss followup to the invasion of Iraq

NEW YORK — The New York Times editorial on June 30, “The First Deadline,” showed America’s egocentrism at its worst. Dealing entirely with a single subject — the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraqi cities, with 130,000 soldiers still remaining in the country ...

Apr 5, 2009

Looking at history: the argument for facts over theory

Positivism in historiography means an emphasis on facts over theory, documentary evidence over deductions from premises. It may also be called “nitty-gritticism,” George Akita suggests in “Evaluating Evidence,” a book that recounts the author’s dealing with primary sources and the problems he has come ...

| Mar 1, 2009

What 'prohibition' has wrought

NEW YORK — When I read the news that the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy “blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point” (Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12), I thought: Someone is ...

| Jan 25, 2009

Repercussions of war gone bad

NEW YORK — A young friend of mine, Rie Nakano, who did some archival research for a university professor, has given me a small batch of documents prepared by the Special Higher Police, known by the Japanese acronym Tokko. (I had told Rie that ...

| Dec 29, 2008

Suppressing more than free speech

I recently read a book that, a decade ago, created a controversy in Japan about homosexuality. In it the prize-winning writer Jiro Fukushima described his sexual relationship with Yukio Mishima dating from 1951. Because of the book, Mishima’s surviving family sued the publisher and ...