Reader Mail

U.S. textbook defender lacks an open mind

The article “50 Japanese scholars fire back in McGraw-Hill sex slave row” in the Dec. 12 issue about professor Eiji Yamashita’s well-worded and eminently reasonable rebuttal to the American academics’ year-long histrionics over the “comfort women” makes a nice capstone to this disheartening affair.

Throughout this past year, some of the most highly respected professors in Japan have consistently called for a revision of a badly flawed American textbook, and an open and honest public debate on the actual historical facts at issue. In return, they have gotten the obfuscations, insults, and amateurish politicking of the likes of Alexis Dudden. The Japan Times has, regrettably, slavishly followed the American herd — will no one among the academic and journalistic left take up the challenge and respond to the Japanese professors’ enumerated points with sincerity?

Professor Dudden’s latest broadside, in which she likens the Japanese government during the Pacific War to the barbarians in Boko Haram, should put paid to the idea that she has ever been interested in having a real debate.

For those who still think Dudden is an unbiased watchdog willing to call a spade a spade, wherever she finds it, let us wait for her response to South Korea’s recent indictment of Park Yu-ha, whose scholarly, balanced and well-researched book on the comfort women may very well earn her a prison sentence in the same country that also arrested a Japanese journalist just one year ago.

The frustration that the Americans feel over their failure to find even one-sixtieth the amount of evidence for Japanese “war crimes” as for Nazi atrocities is very real. What it really reveals, though, is that the Americans have accused and convicted the Japanese long before they bothered to start looking for the evidence. A professional scholar would have started with an open mind first, and seen what the documentary evidence had to say. But this is not what Dudden has done.

Jason Morgan
MADISON, WISCONSIN

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.