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Regarding the April 1 review of my book “Life and Nihonjin: Dispatches from Japan”: This book is not a novel. How can a book reviewer make such a blunder? If I were a reviewer and I referred to Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” as a novel about small creatures, what would anyone think of what else I had to say about that book?

I am very disappointed in this review for describing my book of “dispatches” as a novel. Mostly I am annoyed that the reviewer describes the essays in the book as containing “blatant racism.” This is something that I take pains to deny in the book, as the reviewer would know if she had actually read it. This book contains a small selection of a decade of written observations of Japan, a country where I have spent nearly half my life (first entered 1993).

As for child abduction, it is something that occurs frequently in Japan, and I am sure that it will increase steadily unless lawmakers step in to intervene. My book argues that [child abduction] happens because the definitions of family and parenthood in Japan differ from those considered normal elsewhere in the world.

I say that, in workaday Japan, children are not raised by parents but rather by schools. This contention is based on everyday visual evidence. I ask readers to look around and see if they can find a family all together, anywhere.

In Japan, fathers work. They have nothing to do with their children’s upbringing. For this reason, their children can be taken away from them if anyone feels like doing so. This is what my book argues. Readers of my book can disagree all they like; it is only a book. But it is not racist, nor am I. This is very inaccurate review of a book that speaks to change for the vast improvement of Japan.

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.

alex kahney

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