NEW YORK — So Roger Cohen, a relatively new columnist with The New York Times, concluded after a brief stay in Tokyo earlier this month that Japan is a society laid low by “a tremendous conformity” and trivialized by “otaku” (“Japanese Obsessions,” Dec. 14).

I don’t remember when American transients in Japan started taking delight in characterizing Japanese society as conformist, but it certainly is not recent. I wrote a piece on this topic more than two decades ago. The surprise is that there remain people who resort to that mantra.

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