Kazuyoshi KITAOKA (President, Japan America Television Inc., Los Angeles)
I attended Governor Ishihara's lecture on "Japan in the world" in Los Angeles on June 30 (http://www.glocom.org/special_topics/activity_rep/20040707_miyao_los2) and was left with some critical feelings toward what he said in his lecture.
While I agree with him when he says that we need to know our relative strengths in the globalized world, I do not understand why we should criticize the U.S., China and other countries for that purpose. There seem to be a lot of contractions in his thinking. If we have confidence in ourselves, we do not have to show hostility toward the U.S. or any other country, contrary to what Ishihara clearly indicated in his talk. Being hostile to other countries and looking inward to domestic history shows that he really does not understand the essence of this rapidly globalizing world, in spite of his pretence otherwise. I also can sense his elitism, looking down upon the masses--including mass societies such as the U.S. and China.
After listening to Ishihara, I feel a kind of relief that Ishihara is just a governor and not the prime minister. If he were Japan's prime minister we might well be fighting with the U.S., China, and many other countries, perhaps even militarily, and contrary to Ishihara's wish losing respect and influence in the world even further. In conclusion, I stick to the following statement about Ishihara from my essay, "Warning: Japan's Ideological Seclusion" (http://www.glocom.org/debates/20040607_kitaoka_warning):
"There are very few people in Japan who can identify their weak points, for example as compared to the United States, and do something about it. Rather, they tend to justify their weaknesses. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara is a case in point. When he became the governor, the first thing he did was to close all the Tokyo government offices in the U.S. He said there was no reason to keep these foreign offices at high costs. And unfortunately, other local governments followed suit and closed down their offices across the U.S. This means that Japan's top leaders are increasingly becoming inward-looking, as bureaucrats as well as politicians are emphasizing the administrative effects of various policies on their own localities and constituencies these days. In this kind of atmosphere, closing down their foreign offices appears to be a rational decision, but it should be a governor's task, especially in the case of an international city like Tokyo, to keep and utilize their foreign offices for human interactions and communications in the 21st century. Governor Ishihara seems to lack a vision and sensitivity for the coming global age, as exemplified by his decision to close these foreign offices, as well as his ultra-nationalistic attitude toward foreigners and foreign countries, including the U.S."