Regarding the April 18 article “Pulvers wins Noma translation prize“: I can’t thank former Japan Times columnist Roger Pulvers enough for his great contribution of introducing Japan’s literary legacy to the world. That said, with all due respect, my thoughts are a little different from his March 31 article, “Last post: Japan’s outdated model is dead; long live the emerging vision.”
Pulvers seems to take the alliance between Japan and the United States, and its great chemistry, for granted. Japan and the U.S. share democracy based on the rule of law, which ensures the sanctity of individual freedom and the security of private property rights.
By contrast, because of the lack of the rule of law, the right of private property has not been established in Chinese society. Last September, a lot of Japanese stores and factories were vandalized by anti-Japan rioters in China; some of the riots presumably were orchestrated by the government. Damage was said to amount to tens of billions of yen, but Beijing has neither compensated anyone nor apologized, saying Tokyo was totally responsible.
On the other hand, just after the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, the quake victims in evacuation centers showed impeccable manners, helping each other without plunder or riot. What’s the secret? I understand it to be high moral character. The evacuees must have assumed that their private property rights were still protected under Japan’s rule of law even during a disaster.
What Pulvers should focus on now is not “the clash of civilizations between the U.S. and China,” but rather that between Japan and China. You can’t escape history, and you can’t give what you don’t have. But tell the men who regard the law [as something that benefits themselves] that the Senkaku Islands are part of Japan’s territory based on international law, and they’ll invent any pretext for their ambition. It’s not just a matter of territory.
Who knows, someday we might not have any choice except to watch our properties, our traditional values and our language fade away under the Orwellian surveillance of a Big Brother government. This is what’s happening at this very moment in Tibet, in East Turkistan and in Southern Mongolia. What Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to do now is not about “national pride”; it’s simply a matter of ensuring our survival as a free nation based on the rule of law, which is a jewel in the history of humanity.
I don’t doubt Pulvers’ friendly intentions when he says, “Japan should forgo its claims to islands whose administration is disputed with” other countries. But, remember, the road to hell is paved with such good intentions.
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.