Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I had to catch my breath with a gasp when I read Ryuichiro Hosokawa’s odious remark, “Whoever talks about respect for human rights is talking about respect for his or her own selfishness” (Popularity of cults reflects Japan’s gaping spiritual void,” Dec. 22).
We know that Hosokawa is a conservative, and we know that he yearns for the old days when females were chattel, the family was defined by the father-son relationship along and the Emperor was a god. But the truth is that there never was any golden age in the past. That is a fool’s ideology. About the clash between Japan’s traditional culture and the modern culture that has emerged since 1945, it is easily arguable that Japan’s defeat by the United States and its Allies, and the subsequent introduction of all kinds of American ideas and behaviors, was the best thing to ever happen to this country.
Human rights advocates believe in the dignity of humanity. Although humanity harbors both good and evil, to nurture the potential for dignity (in the form of human rights) enhances the foundation of our potential for good, even though evil and excess will never expire. Many would say that alone makes human rights a worthy, ethical and even moral course.
So why does Hosokawa despise it so? Is it because the idea of human rights, individual sovereignty and dignity originated in the West? Maybe it is because, as a conservative Japanese, he denies the legitimacy of the individual and sees only the collective as the ground of our being. If so, he is really out of step with reality.
Published on Sunday, January 9, 2000 as “Hosokawa out of step.”
Ryuichiro Hosokawa was a frequent contributing essayist to the paper. A retired university history professor or some such, he presented in his writing the entire menu of conservative ideas about politics, history, society, education, etc. - the sort of ideas I came to associate with The Daily Yomiuri, a distinctly more conservative paper than The Japan Times. I suspect that Hosokawa is one of the “Asian Values” advocates that briefly became so popular in the 1990s.