Civil society in the United States responded swiftly and loudly to President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily halting the flow of people from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from everywhere. Americans took to the streets and airports in protest. Cornell University, where I teach, issued a statement declaring the order "fundamentally antithetical" to the university's principles.

The relative silence in Japan has been notable. Perhaps that is because the restrictions were said to be temporary, or because they did not apply to Japanese citizens. Or perhaps it is because it is hard to imagine that protests in a faraway place can have any effect.

Yet I have learned that creative citizen action can have far-reaching and long-lasting impact, even if it is sometimes less than direct.