Believe it or not, I have been writing columns for The Japan Times for more than 30 years. Often I have uttered quite controversial views about the world that a tolerant editor has kindly carried — my hope being to get some reaction from readers and provoke a good debate.

I have to confess almost total failure in this regard. Despite having seen around 500 articles published, the feedback has been minimal — except in one notable case.

This was when I rashly criticized bishops of the Anglican Church for treading too far into politics — I think it was in the early 1990s during a British general election. For some reason this sparked a real furor throughout Japan and a veritable flood of responses. I do not know how many Anglicans there are in Japan, but it seemed a great many, all of them writing to denounce my views and saying that, on the contrary, the views of religious leaders on political issues were most welcome, and a lot more valuable than those of many politicians.