Guido, my new friend, asks: "My girlfriend Ranko rejects the idea of raising our kids — if we had any — in Japan, saying it would be too severe for them because they're different. What do you think?"

Guido, an African American who spent some years on the Special Forces, says he has "dealt with many very harsh conditions" and he has "a tough skin."

I left Japan in the late 1960s and am not current with the pulse of my compatriots. So I asked four Japanese friends of mine who spent three to a dozen years in New York before going back to Japan. Here's how they responded.