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Tom Plate

Tom Plate, a veteran American columnist and career journalist, is the Distinguished Scholar of Asian and Pacific Affairs at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His many books include the “Giants of Asia” series, of which book four, “Conversations with Ban Ki-Moon: The View from the Top,” is the latest.

For Tom Plate's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

May 2, 2009

Jackie Chan wears a political jester's hat, too

LOS ANGELES — You might have already known that kung fu comic and actor Jackie Chan was crazy, but is he certifiably insane? Just the other day this legendary does-his- own-stunts man asserted that the Chinese people do not need Western-style freedom and democracy. "I'm ...

Apr 22, 2009

A violent warning for Thailand's urban elites

LOS ANGELES — Until recently (before all the rioting, violence and assassination plotting) Thailand would not have appeared to be a deeply troubled society. Generally speaking, Thais were, as endlessly advertised, scintillatingly smiley, and the country as a whole — vast rolling expanses of ...

Apr 9, 2009

The lighter side of North Korea's launch

BEVERLY HILLS, California — Some things you just don't joke about. Certain developments in the course of human affairs are decidedly not funny. What's a perfect example, right off the top of my head? Oh, how about North Korea's missile launch over the weekend? ...

Apr 3, 2009

Small-scale abductions that can trigger war

BANGKOK — Even relatively small misunderstandings, festering underground over time and eating into the foundations of stability, can cause wars. Some poisons work immediately; other poisons take time. Let us consider a serious current poison that the U.S. media has underplayed — mostly deliberately — ...

Mar 2, 2009

Putting Asia first puts Clinton in driver's seat

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The U.S. secretary of state's recent four-stop swing through Asia led to some accusations of symbolic superficiality. Perhaps — but there can be more real meaning in acts of diplomatic symbolism than what first meets the eye. This is why, notwithstanding ...

Feb 10, 2009

James Brady struck warlike pose for peace

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — If not in memory of the awful Korean War (1950-1953), then in memory of the brilliant author James Brady (1928-2009) — you might want to read, or perhaps re-read, his novel about that war. That's what I did the other day ...

Feb 3, 2009

Opening gestures show Obama's optimism

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Saying the right thing is not quite the same, to be sure, as doing the right thing, especially when you're the president of the United States. But it is much better than saying the wrong thing and then actually going ...

Jan 16, 2009

Right place for a command of composure

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Dennis Blair, the man who is to become the new U.S. director of national intelligence, distinguished himself as chief of the U.S. military's Pacific Command, an important fact behind his appointment by President-elect Barack Obama. He will oversee all U.S. ...

Jan 6, 2009

Prophet of world-culture clashes is dead

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — A giant died early last week. His name was Samuel Huntington, a Harvard professor whose gigantism was intellectual. His ideas left huge footprints on our intellectual landscape, the way giant storms impact the Earth. Minds were shaken, sometimes stirred, and ...

Dec 28, 2008

China destined to be America's best friend

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — When the holiday season ends and Barack Obama takes the U.S. presidential oath of office next month, will he notice that life has become less merry and more naughty and un-nice? This brilliant American politician will soon become aware that ...