Michal Hoffman

For Michal Hoffman's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

| Aug 16, 2014

The awakening of a nation permanently at peace

There’s something to be said for national isolation. Peace, for example. The very few foreigners allowed into Japan during its 250-odd years of almost total seclusion, from the early 17th century to the mid-19th, were awed by the spectacle of a nation permanently at ...

| Jul 19, 2014

'Leaving the world' to gain freedom

A challenge: Scan Japanese history in search of freedom fighters. You won’t find many. Not freedom but submission was the proud Japanese ideal. It was the “way of the warrior.” A 16th-century poem declares, “For the samurai to learn / there’s one thing only ...

May 17, 2014

Wrong to judge early imperialist Japan too harshly?

“Korea turned out to be this nice, laid-back place…” It’s 1918; Korea has been a Japanese colony since 1910; a Japanese settler recalls with amused relief the extravagant fears she had expressed on the eve of her family’s migration several years earlier: “We might ...

Mar 22, 2014

The sloughing of Japan's corporate skin goes on

“Man is born free and is everywhere in chains.” No 18th-century Japanese thinker could have written that. It is amusing to imagine one even reading it. What emotion would it have called forth? Outrage? Blank incomprehension? Born free? A revolutionary notion! “The Social Contract” ...