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Regarding Charles Muller’s March 6 letter, “Dissenting review was welcome” (in which Muller welcomes reviewer Anthony Fensom’s criticism of “Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan,” a volume that I edited): Muller misunderstands my earlier objection, which focuses solely on Fensom’s suggestion that Japanese contributors could have improved our analysis of Japan’s history problems.

It is unclear why that would be so since the arguments in our book are consistent with mainstream Japanese historians’ critical perspectives. Rather than dismissing views based on nationality, Fensom should engage the substance of the arguments.

It is important not to conflate Fensom’s emphasis on more Japanese contributors with Muller’s support for dissenting opinion. Muller makes an unfounded generalization about the similarity of viewpoints in a volume of 22 chapters by 21 contributors covering many subjects from a wide range of social science disciplines. There is considerable disagreement, and not only on energy policy.

Muller suggests that including at least one dissenting scholar even if his or her position is difficult to swallow. My contributors, regardless of nationality, have helped me exceed that quota considerably, and I have a sore throat to prove it.

jeff kingston
temple university japan
tokyo

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.

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