. Yoshihisa Komori has done it again.. Pretty soon, my liberal friends will stop talking to me. I wasn't aware that they'd bothered to print my letter. Since it may have been edited down, here is my letter in its snarky entirety:
Re: Monday, Nov. 20, 2006
Ideological laundry unfurled
By GREGORY CLARK
Professor Clark has an interesting take on many of the substantive issues he raises in this column. If he'd put them forth in the NBR Forum in the first place, while leaving out some comments and asides, I think it would have led to a much more satisfactory exchange of opinions. Which makes his following comment even more puzzling:
"I sometimes contribute to the NBR (National Bureau of Research) web forum set up to encourage free and frank exchanges of opinion between Japan watchers around the world. It is a completely private forum, with watchers free to say things they would not say before a public audience."
Actually the Forum says:
"Over 800 individuals representing 25 countries are signed up to receive and contribute messages to the Forum, and many others read messages via the Forum's public web archive. "
When you post in the Forum, you put your views in the public domain. Any insinuation that it is otherwise is misleading at best. But more disturbing is the notion that it is some kind of house of intellectual pornography, where you indulge your thirst for thoughts and ideas that dare not utter their names. The single comparative advantage of a posting in the Forum over a well-paid column in an publication with the history and prestige of a Japan Times does not lie in the latter's (sic) imagined secrecy, but in the instant feedback, positive and negative, that you receive from well-informed, if often opinionated, signed-up peers. As for the "watchers", the rest of the world is free to watch, and exercise their right of fair use if they so desire. Besides, I am sure that Professor Clark does not want the world to think that he is apt to blow some smoke in the face of the general public, then go off to this den of inequity (sic) to puff on something more sinister.
As I said, Professor Clark makes many interesting points in his column along the way. But he chooses to close the deal with this:
"They also make for a particularly snide and sinister form of criticism against dissenters. I once lived and worked (as a diplomat) in the former Soviet Union, another collectivist regime. There, too, policy dissenters were automatically attacked as enemies of the nation. There too they were condemned to be nonpersons (in Japan they call it mura hachibu, which means to be excluded from the society). It is time someone stood up to this ideological blackmail."
But does Professor Clark really believe he has been murahachibu-ed? Because that's what this paragraph seems to be saying. Has he lost his job? Is he losing his column? Do his friends no longer speak to him? If so, I do take part in a couple of multinational forums here (including many Japanese) that I am sure would be happy to invite him to take part in a lively debate. Unfortunately, we have very few among us who fit the description of "snide and sinister". Snide, yes; sinister, no. We don't have many right-wingers either, but I'd be happy to play the part of Komori advocate, just for him, since I have been (mistakenly in my view) identified on one occasion as a Komori associate of some sorts. It would also be a good opportunity to discuss what really happened to the "magazine", why it happened, and what the implications are.
This is a bonus for those of you who bothered to read the whole thing:
I believe that Mr. Komori was quite critical of the NBR the first time around. This time, he seems to have a more benign view of the forum. Why the change? Why Mr. Clark is getting the short end of the stick, that's why. So, which is it, Mr. Komori? I don't like inconsistency any more when it's coming from a journalist than from an academic. Guess what, it would be fun to have these two go at each other. Figuratively, of course.
And while I'm griping about Mr. Komori, another thing is, I wish he'd stop calling me ex-president of JETRO New York. It's unsettling. I have nothing but fond memories of JETRO, but you know who they do that to, don't you? Criminals, that's who. Like, "Ex-Policeman Kills Two!" "Ex-Self-Defense Force PFC Serial Rapist!" "Ex-METI Fund Manager"… You see my point?