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Regarding Michael Hoffman’s Timeout April 3 article, “Renewed national pride will shape Japan’s future“: The Japanese never lost their “Japanese spirit” after World War II. Nor did they become “Americanized” and lose their unique culture. We might have whipped them, but all America did was point Japan toward prosperity and peace. This article contained more misinformation and reinforced ugly American stereotypes.

I’m a well-informed American, a third-generation Japanese from Los Angeles whose dad fought in World War II with the all-Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team. While I’m not intimately aware of modern Japanese society, I have lots of contact with Japanese citizens here in California. It is mind-boggling dumb to suggest that Japan’s postwar success was due to something other than its inherent, strong and indelible values and culture. Although this disaster will certainly define Japan’s current and future generations, the Japanese people will overcome the obstacles.

By comparison, if this earthquake and tsunami had hit Los Angeles and the California coast, I think total chaos would have resulted. It would have been a thousand times worse than the Rodney King Riots (1992) in Los Angeles, and uglier than the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2005) in New Orleans.

Hoffman’s article ignores the resounding character and discipline that the people of Japan have displayed since March 11. I find it insulting to both the young and old of Japan.

I love America and American culture and there’s no place else I’d rather live, but it is a mistake to give the United States credit for the modern success of Japan.

peter wakamatsu

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