• Okinawa

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Although I am a non-churchgoing Westerner, I am still at a loss as to how to respond to slurs — like that delivered by ruling Democratic Party of Japan secretary general Ichiro Ozawa — that Christianity is “exclusive and self-righteous” and that Western society is “stuck in a dead end.”

Japan has a big problem: its political caste. These people — Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara also comes to mind — seem to have a crippling inferiority complex toward the West, and now perhaps China as well. Thus they fall over themselves making inane comments about the superiority of the “Japanese spirit,” which is quite a different thing from possessing a healthy sense of pride in one’s country and culture that includes respect for other countries as well.

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