Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I think Debito Arudou is an asset to The Japan Times. Love him or hate him, Mr. Arudou is certainly an interesting and provocative writer. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don’t, but at least I always get his point and if some readers have learned not to like him they don’t have to read him. Or me, either. He is consistent and he scrupulously applies the (correct) definition of nationality as a feature of citizenship rather than ethnicity. It is not inappropriate to compare Japanese conventions to those of other nations or even to international law - especially if they are international agreements that Japan has signed or which it ignores or flouts either on scurrilous or suspicious grounds. His detractors criticize him overly harshly and even sometimes retreat to the maddeningly obtuse go-back-where-you-came-from-if-you-don’t-like-it redoubt. It seems that his strict observation of definitions of terms as a measure of things is taken as condescension. What do people resent more, the pedagological tone or the restriction of their thought to defined terms? Hmmmmm ... but I don’t doubt that he is motivated by love of his (adopted) country and a genuine desire for it to be the best that it can be. It’s not that other countries are so much greater than Japan. They aren’t. Japan is great, but not lacking in its own peccadilloes. As a naturalized citizen Arudou has a unique position from which to apply pressure for solutions, as have others if they, too, want to be that way.
Published on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 as “Debito stands out,” on the Community Page.