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Volume 1, Number 1
Spring 1994

In This Issue:Index of other issues

(Japanese names are presented western style, family name last, except for historical figures and bibliographic entries.)

Who We Are

The Manjiro Society, founded in late 1993, is the United States counterpart of a similarly-named Japanese organization launched in 1991 at the initiative of President Bush and Prime Minister Miyazawa. They agreed in the Tokyo Declaration "(t)o encourage exchange programs at the regional and grassroots level." The Japanese nonprofit Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center has conducted three major "Grassroots Summit" exchanges alternately in the U.S. and Japan. The Japanese commitment to the concept of exchanges between ordinary Japanese and ordinary Americans has survived the 1993 seismic shift in Japanese political leadership. The present chairman of the Japanese Center is The Honorable Ichiro Ozawa, a Diet Member and prominent leader of the coalition that took over the government of Japan in 1993. Then Prime Minister Hosokawa participated in the homestay activities of the 1993 Japan "Summit."

Americans who have participated in the Grassroots Summits now wish to reciprocate the Japanese commitment. In the U.S., we do not, of course, look to the government for the funding of educational initiatives in the private sector, no matter how worthy. We do as the Manjiro Society has done: form a nonprofit corporation, seek tax code protection for contributions under Section 501(c)(3), and enter the competitive American marketplace where programs are exchanged for private support.

The founders of the Manjiro Society have high admiration for the activities and programs of the Japan-America societies and other organizations which work toward the improvement of mutual understanding between Americans and Japanese. In many cases we are active contributors to these organizations, and it is not part of the purposes of the Manjiro Society to detract in any way from the vital and important work that they do. Rather, we will seek to reinforce and supplement their work in helpful ways.

Thus, our programs and activities are designed to interest and involve a defined categories of Americans. The Society is established as a national membership organization seeking to attract and retain members who: (A) have a serious, but perhaps not professional, interest in Japan; (B) wish to visit Japan and meet Japanese in the U.S.; and (C) may prefer to concentrate their involvement in annual sessions of no more than ten days, keeping in touch outside the "Summits" through Society publications.

As its first objective, the American Society, working in close cooperation with its Japanese counterpart, will support the continuation of the annual Grassroots Summits. The 1991 Summit was held in Tokyo and Kyoto, 1992 in the U.S. (Montana, Wyoming and Boston), and 1993 in Tokyo and Nagoya. Preparations for the October, 1994 Summit in Virginia are almost complete. The 1995 Summit will be held in late fall in Kagoshima. There are several candidates for the location of the 1996 Summit in the U.S., and the Society's Board is putting together a policy statement to set criteria (degree of local support, etc.) for selections among competing sites.

Just a word of self introduction. I am originally from Brazil, Indiana, but went to college in Charleston, S.C. at The Citadel and in Boston at The Fletcher School. I spent the decade of the 1960s in the Foreign Service, learned Japanese and served in the embassy in Tokyo and the Consulate General in Osaka. I left the Foreign Service in 1970 to serve as executive director of the Japan Society in New York as they built Japan House and launched new programs. From 1974, I have been a private businessman, and am now the president of a computer software company. I served as the volunteer president of the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. in the late 1980s. I am honored to serve the membership in this new capacity, as we build together what I am sure will become an important new contribution to understanding between Americans and Japanese.

Rodney E. Armstrong, president

Mrs. Susan Allen accepts the Chair of the Virginia Advisory Committee, 1994 Grassroots Summit

Mrs. Susan Allen, wife of the Honorable George Allen, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, has accepted the chair of the Advisory Committee that will oversee the program of the Fourth Grassroots Summit, to be held October 7 through 14 in Williamsburg, Richmond and Hot Springs (The Homestead). Other prominent members of the Advisory Committee are mayors McConnell of Williamsburg and Kenny of Richmond (both of whom attended the 1993 Summit in Nagoya), and mayors Obendorf of Virginia Beach and DuVal of Newport News. The president of the Japan Virginia Society, Inc., Mr. Malcom McDonald (professionally he is the president of Signet Banking Corporation) is another senior member of the Advisory Committee. The Virginia hosts have also put together a very clearly labeled "Working Committee," with members in Hampton Roads, Williamsburg, Richmond, Hot Springs, and Northern Virginia. Japanese visitors will recognize many Virginia faces from Nagoya among the "worker bees," but they will be joined by such welcome new volunteers as Mr. Jack Boyd, Assistant to the President of Canon Virginia and two of the Manjiro Society's new directors, Ambassador Robert Fritts, Ret.)., (now a Senior Fellow at The College of William & Mary) and Mrs. Barbara Nesbitt, executive director of the Japan Virginia Society, Inc.

Interview with Taeko Floyd, Executive Director

Part of this interview appeared in the initial issue, November 1993, of a Japanese language newsletter, Letter from America, published by the newly-established Manjiro Society for International Exchange, Inc. The issue was a special one for prospective Japanese participants in 1994 Virginia Summit. Interviewer: Hatsue K Armstrong (Hka) Hka: I have heard that you have been involved with the Manjiro Society for quite some time now. Are you from Manjiro's family?
Tf: No, I have no relationship to either Manjiro's family -- now called Nakahama -- nor to the Whitfield family.
Hka: So what got you involved with this Society?
Tf: In the early 60s, an older American woman, Miss Emily Warinner, came to my father, who owned a publishing company, and asked him if her book about Manjiro could be published in Japanese.
Hka: Tell me about Miss Warinner.
Tf: She was then an editor for an Hawaiian newspaper, The Friend, which often ran stories about Manjiro and his American host families, one of which, the Damons, were an early missionary family in Hawaii when it was an independent kingdom. She was fascinated by the Manjiro tale and started her own research.
Hka: She had already written a book about Manjiro, then?
Tf: Yes, it was called Voyager to Destiny, and it was already published in the United States.
Hka: What was Miss Warinner's sales pitch to your father regarding Manjiro?
Tf: She told my father how important his role was when Commodore Perry came to Japan; she argued that all of the Tokugawa Shogunate's initial knowledge of the western world and its American representatives knocking on the door came from Manjiro. She wanted the Japanese people to know about him.
Hka: How long did it take before your father agreed that he would publish her work?
Tf: About two years. In the meantime, I got involved; staying at Miss Warinner's home while I attended the University of Hawaii.
Hka: Being with Miss Warinner, were you fascinated by Manjiro's story?
Tf: As a matter of fact, no. I was young, and I couldn't have cared less. I was to hear almost every day about Manjiro -- sometimes about one of this wonderful old lady's new findings, but often just some old, familiar story. I said to myself "not again!" many times. Nevertheless; I can answer anything -- absolutely anything -- I'm asked about Manjiro.
Hka: So eventually Miss Warinner's research was published in Japan. What was the reason your Father changed his mind?
Tf: I asked him the same question. He said, "every time Miss Warinner talked about Manjiro -- this lady in her seventies -- her eyes sparkled like those of a young woman; she conquered me with her sparkling eyes...."
Hka: Did you also help Miss Warinner in Japan?
Tf: Yes, I once accompanied her to Tosashimizu in Shikoku, where Manjiro was born, for a ceremony to unveil a statue of Manjiro. Mr. Damon's descendant from Hawaii also attended.
Hka: Have you been involved with the Manjiro exchange movement from its start in 1990?
Tf: No, one day in 1991, when I was working at the American embassy, Mr. Takahashi walked in and asked for "Floyd-san." As you know, "san" does not have a gender; I was in the lobby, and I answered "that's me!" Actually, he was asking for my husband to issue an invitation to the opening of the Manjiro Society, picking up on Walter's visit to Tosa.
Hka: Who is Mr. Takahashi?
Tf: He is the executive director of the John Manjiro/Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange in Japan. After this chance introduction, I started as a volunteer in Japan during my spare time.
Hka: You just can not get away from Manjiro?
Tf: That's right,
Hka: Is your Father still alive?
Tf: No, he passed away, and so has Miss Warinner. I wish they were alive. Miss Warinner was given some recognition, including an imperial decoration, during her lifetime. She would have been very happy to know that we now have Japanese and American organizations commemorating Manjiro and Captain Whitfield's friendship, although I suspect that she would have not been in the least bit surprised that the world eventually came around to her opinion about Manjiro's importance. My father too, would have been delighted to see his small contribution to the Japan-US relationship recognized. Even if sometimes only by chance and coincidence, I seem to be following in their footsteps. I want you to know that I am more serious now than when I was a young girl in Hawaii....
Hka: Thank you, Taeko, for this fascinating background.

The Manjiro Story (Part I)

Manjiro's story starts 150 years ago. As a fisherman's son, his beginnings were humble, but his unique destiny brought him remarkable achievements. Assisted by great good luck in everything but politics, he was a genuine hero of the turbulent final days of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

1841 At fourteen, Manjiro set out to sea with four other fishermen. Like all non-samurai (and American slaves of that time), he had no family name. In rough weather, he was cast away on a tiny, uninhabited island, east of Japan. Six months passed before he and his four companions were rescued by an American whaling vessel, the John Howland. Young Manjiro impressed Captain William Whitfield by his eagerness to learn and his bright intelligence. Calling at Honolulu, the castaways' fate was discussed. No one thought they could return safely to Japan; common knowledge was that returned castaways were severely punished, or worse, killed. At this time Japan was a frozen, feudalistic society, and its doors were closed to all foreigners, with the exception of a few Dutch traders at Nagasaki.

1843 On the long whaling voyage, Manjiro took the name John Mung, and accepted Captain Whitfield's invitation to come with him on the return voyage to Fairhaven, Massachusetts (south of Boston, near New Bedford). The Whitfields brought Manjiro into their daily family life. In the report by the Shogunate authorities of their interrogation of Manjiro after his return, he is quoted as saying of his experience in America: "Man and wife are very loving and families are peaceful and affectionate. The happiness of their homes is not matched in other countries." (translated by Miss Warinner in an appendix to her book). Manjiro went to the country schools of the area, and did well. He continued his education with surveying and navigation at Bartlett's Academy. While the Captain was away at sea, an aunt took him in, and there he learned something about farming. A friendly neighbor was Captain Delano, a part owner of the John Howland. Captain Delano's grandson was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who often mentioned his grandfather's affection for the young Manjiro.

1846 Now nineteen years old, Manjiro went back to sea, on a whaler named Franklin, this time without Captain Whitfield. In Honolulu, he met his old castaway friends, and also began a lifelong friendship with the Reverend Samuel Damon, the editor of a newspaper called The Friend. On this whaling expedition, Manjiro had his first experience with rough-and-ready American democracy. The captain became insane; the crew held an election to replace him. To his surprise, Manjiro came in second, and was suddenly elevated to first mate.

1850 Manjiro did not miss the California gold rush. He managed to come away with $600 in savings -- perhaps $12,000 or more in today's dollars. Manjiro then went to Honolulu, where he picked up two of his three surviving friends.

1851 Generously, Manjiro used his Gold Rush savings to buy passage on an American whaler willing to put them off on a small island in the Ryukyus. They were sent to Nagasaki for ten months of imprisonment and interrogation. Manjiro's comments on American family life have been noted above, but he passed on all sorts of information about grassroots American culture. In response to a query about Americans' toilet habits, Manjiro is reported by the Satsuma authorities to have replied: "Toilets are placed over holes in the ground. It is customary to read books in them." (translated in Miss Warinner's book).

At last, the travelers returned to their village in the feudal domain of Tosa on Shikoku. Unbelieving, and yet curious, people wanted to hear Manjiro's stories. The Lord of Tosa was so impressed that he gave Manjiro a sword and promoted him to samurai status. The Kano school painter, Kawada Shoryo, copied the world map Manjiro brought back. Later he wrote a book, based on Manjiro's experience and knowledge, which included information on the American system of democratic government. It was influential with many Tosa Samurai.

To be continued in the next issue.

The above is based on: Emily Warinner, Voyager to Destiny (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1956) and the Japanese version, Emily Warinner [translated by Tanaka Itaru] Shin John Manjiro Den (Tokyo: Shuppan Kyodosha, 1968). Also useful were: Hirao Michio, Sakamoto Ryoma, Kaientai Shimatsuki (Tokyo: Chuo Koronsha, 1976) and Sir Ernest Satow, A Diplomat in Japan (various publishers). There is a new English-language biography of Manjiro which was not available to us at the time of writing, by the late Donald R. Barnard, The Life and Times of John Manjiro (New York: McGraw Hill, 1992).


The Nagoya Keynote Address

The Importance of the U.S./Japan Relationship to Japan's Diplomacy

by The Honorable Hisahiko Okazaki, Ambassador of Japan, Rtd.

The grandson of a prominent prewar politician, Ambassador Okazaki served in many important posts in the Japanese Foreign Ministry having to do with U.S./Japan relations, including one tour of duty as counselor in the Japanese Embassy in Washington. He retired in 1992 after assignments as Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Thailand, and is currently a senior adviser to Hakuhodo, Incorporated, the advertising and public relations firm. Ambassador Okazaki has published many books and articles in English and Japanese. This summary of his address has been made from the simultaneous translator's tape and the original Japanese-language text.

Perhaps you will say that I am not "grassroots." But I retired from the Foreign Ministry a year and a half ago, and am now in "limbo." I think I deserve to be called "grassroots."

I have been involved in Japanese-American relations for four decades, and I have always held firmly to the view that the Japan/U.S. relationship is the most important relationship in Japan's diplomacy.

If I may, I would like to give you some personal background. At the end of the war, I was about 15. Since my family had been in politics, many old cronies came around the house to talk, and I listened. Much like the situation I found on a recent trip to Russia, the old value system had been destroyed, and there was chaos. There was a lot of confused babble: "It will take twenty years to build ourselves up so we can lick the Anglo-Saxons!" Or: "No, they are too strong for us, we should never confront them again!" Even at 15, it seemed to me that the last point of view made the most sense.

As Japan stabilized, something of a national consensus on democratic values was achieved. When I began work in the Foreign Ministry, I found that the importance of the Japanese relationship with the leading "Anglo-Saxon" power, the United States, was well appreciated by both my contemporaries and my seniors.

Still, there have always been Japanese critics of a policy of giving first priority to the successive great democratic leaders, England and the U.S.. When Imperial Russia expanded to East Asia, there were those, Prince Ito Hirobumi among them, who felt that Japan should ally with Russia. There were no doubt cold war balance-of-power and economic reasons why we allied instead with England, as urged by then Foreign Minister Komura Jutaro. Not the least of these were access to the great English commercial system and market and England's special relationship to the rising giant, the U.S.

In the postwar period, there have been those who wanted again to bow to the rising power of Russia as the Soviet Union or who have argued that an alliance with the U.S. raises tensions with China.

In the 1960s and 1970s, as a young section chief in the Foreign Ministry, I wrote in an annual "white paper" that the Japan/U.S. relationship was the most important bilateral relationship for Japan. Unspoken was the fact that this relationship included an alliance, but even this vague phrasing drew much criticism. I was called a ghost from the old days of the Japan-British Alliance.

Of course, the Japan/U.S. relationship can be justified in terms of pure power politics. But when Soviet power threatened us so closely, were we all that confident of the power and willingness of the U.S. to defend us? Something more is needed to explain the quality of our relationship past and present. I confess that I am really not prepared to define precisely what it is.

Perhaps we can go back to the life and times of the late 19th century Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu for a hint. Mutsu was imprisoned at one point for his political activities and he used the time to read widely in world history. He then wrote a number of books to give his conclusions to his countrymen. As is so often the case in the Japanese culture, around 1880 he distilled his thinking into a poem:

Six continents, at war and at peace, at home and abroad,
For over three thousand years, powers rise and fall,
There is no just war in this universe.

The way the strong feed on the weak resembles a slaughterhouse.

Even so, tears well up in one's eyes, reading one chapter -- American Independence!

This was written, of course, at a time when the U.S. was introverted and isolationist. But it conveys why the U.S. was important in Mutsu's thinking, and why America retains a special place in the Japanese mind today. Power politics offers a realistic basis for the alliance, but there is something more -- the American experience -- that draws all of us who are Japanese friends of America.

Here is a grassroots story from a 1992 article in Chuo Koron by one of my juniors in the Foreign Ministry. While doing his graduate training in the U.S., he was called over by an American and suddenly quizzed: "Young man, do you Japanese still respect your elders?" The unhatched diplomat assured him that the Japanese still practice their Confucian filial piety. The American said, "Good! Good!" and went on to other things.

What was the reaction of my young friend? He thought (and wrote in his article) that a country where people knew and admired aspects of his culture of which he was proud should never have its expectations betrayed. A puzzling reaction? No, in my opinion a valuable grassroots exchange.

I admit that I had not realized Manjiro's achievements until the Yomiuri newspaper ran a year-long series on his life last year. His life and work are a wonderful symbol and model for the work of your organization.

This is not an era of great power struggles like some that I have mentioned today. Despite the occasional trade friction, we are blessed with the peace and security to exchange our views and thinking at the personal level. I know that you all will learn much in homestays. I wish you and your organization a rich and productive success.


The PM's "Kitchen Cabinet"

It was our honor and pleasure to have our "homestay" at the 3rd Grassroots Summit last November with an unusual host family -- Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa and his wife and three children, Morimitsu, Satoko, and Yuko. The relationship began some ten years ago, when we were introduced by Mike Mansfield, the former American ambassador to Japan and, like us, a Montanan. Prime Minister Hosokawa was then Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, with which Montana has a sister state relationship.

Starting in 1988, the eldest of the Hosokawa children, son "Mori," came to our home in West Yellowstone, Montana, to live with us for one year. He was followed by his youngest sister, Yuko, and eventually by his other sister, Satoko. All the children helped entertain us in Tokyo.

Some of our "homestay" entertainment was perhaps on a bit higher level than that of our fellow Grassroots Summit delegates. We were taken to the Imperial Palace and Gardens. But the family functions were informal and pure fun.

The political whirlwind that was going on throughout the weekend was astounding. Prime Minister Hosokawa leads a complex reform coalition that was just beginning that weekend the final negotiations on the most important package of political reform measures in the postwar history of Japan. The talks went on late at night, and the Japanese media was fighting for news tidbits from the PM's circle on a 24-hour basis.

One night we had a family dinner in the kitchen of the Prime Minister's Official Residence for the simple reason that the dining room was the site of an important political meeting. The press, had been curious from the start about the comings and goings of two gaijin, but with our presence in the Official Residence, the interest grew rabid. Mrs. Hosokawa took the liberty of telling several members of the press that we were official members of the Prime Minister's "Kitchen Cabinet." The poor, confused reporters could not know, of course, that we had not been in the political powwow, but literally in the kitchen.

These are wonderful memories. We feel that we have been privileged observers at a key moment in Japan's modern history.

Lewis & Linda Robinson
(Mr. Lewis Robinson is a director of the Manjiro Society for International Exchange, Inc.)

Editor's Note

During my visit last November for the Nagoya Summit, the cab drivers treated me like a fragile piece of porcelain. Gone were the petulant faces I remembered. My destination was confirmed in a civilized voice, and this courtesy was followed by friendly conversation. At the height of the "bubble economy," cab drivers who worked their full 45-hour weeks (15 hours on alternate days) grossed upwards of Y500,000 monthly. In the belief that comradely drinking after work was a key element for successful sales and work unit bonding, companies authorized almost unlimited entertainment expenses.

After midnight, cabs were the only way home. With such captive demand, drivers preferred long distance fares. To be honored with an open door, local passengers had to hold up fingers to signal their willingness to double or triple the meter.

The "bubble" shattered in 1991, and stock market and real estate prices dropped at least 50 percent. Japanese are feeling the squeeze in every way. The recession brought severe limits for company entertainment budgets. In the once crowded entertainment district of Ginza, cabs stand empty, waiting for customers.

One of my drivers had a secure white collar job until only a year ago. Shortly after the bust, he was told to choose either early retirement or a position in a small subsidiary in Kyushu. He chose retirement, mainly because his two children were happily in school in Tokyo. Retirement came with a small annuity and a lump sum equivalent to several months salary. Now he drives a cab and grosses Y300,000 a month. Cab prices have gone up by 28%, but driver income, paid as a percentage of daily gross, is down by 40%. (Of course, the exchange rate for the Yen has shot up since the bubble, but Tokyo cab drivers have very little interest in imported goods.)

Even though his wife works for the first time as a part-timer, this driver said he hardly makes ends meet. Employment opportunities are scarce for middle-aged men like him, and the numbers of cab drivers are increasing.

For my ride to the Waseda neighborhood from Tokyo station, my downwardly mobile driver went by the back streets and used an amazingly efficient route. It was my most pleasant cab ride in twenty years -- but what an upheaval it took to provide my luxury!

Hatsue K. Armstrong

Nagoya Was Yesterday...

Our records show more than 1,500 people participated in the 3rd Grassroots Summit Symposium in Nagoya on November 13th, 1993. Participants from the United States who landed November 9th had lots of activities during their stay other than the formal Symposium: welcome parties, sightseeing, study tours, and home stays. In spite of jet lag, they managed to take part in everything the Summit had to offer and survive happily through to the end in Kyoto.

Now, back in the office, for us, the American volunteer coordinators, it is time to read the thank you notes and comments participants sent. The responses are varied, interesting and useful. We appreciated them all very much. First timers or non-first timers in Japan, it sounds as if it was a memorable gathering for all. We were exhausted, but it was an event we will always remember.


My Experience at the Summit

I was unfamiliar with your association and program, but responded with interest when I saw it mentioned in Ann Pepper's column in The Japan Times. So I went into this with an entirely open mind. I attended the special panel called "Towards Cross-Cultural Understanding -- Shinto." I felt it was a very worth-while discussion from which I learned a lot. I was amazed to find a professional and highly skilled translator present to facilitate communication. The highlight of the afternoon for me was having an opportunity to view the excellent videotape produced and presented by Peter Grilli. I found it to be a most vivid and moving portrayal, not only of Shinto, but of various aspects of Japan itself.

My only regret was that I was unable to participate in more than one of the excursions. I now have a lifetime regret -- not having joined the Ise Jingu tour and had the unique opportunity to tour the interior of the still-standing but no longer sacred building there. That was a once-in-a life-time opportunity, and I missed it!

Rebecca Ann Marck, Shinshu University, Nagano, Japan

American Volunteers at Nagoya

November 13 last year was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day in Nagoya. The huge Congress Center, with its several acres of atrium space, was filled with more than a thousand Summit participants. We were a hardy band of four American volunteers from the McLean Office, working with dozens of volunteers (from several regional committees) on the Japanese side. We really had no "heavy lifting" to do. The Japanese volunteers' arrangements were perfection.

We did bring along a Japanese-language newsletter about Virginia, site of the next Summit. We thought it was pretty good, with in-depth articles on Virginia history, episodes of the Civil War (War between the States, if you prefer), the Commonwealth's economy and trade relationships with Japan, and the hot springs our 1994 Japanese visitors will soak in. While we would have liked to give the newsletter away in reciprocation for all the hospitality we were receiving, our expenses in putting it together exceeded our humble budget, and so we decided to peddle our publication on the Congress Center floor.

We sold our newsletter at Y200 a copy (about $1.90). There were some complaints about our pricing, but we urged the unique value of a Japanese-language publication printed in the US. It was a lot of fun in the festival atmosphere to try our hands at plain, old-fashioned hawking. Walle Hargreaves was the hands-down champion. We declared a victory after selling about 200 copies.

One of the ingredients of the wonderful atmosphere was the contribution of the Nagoya Folk Dance Society. The Society either concentrates on American square dances, or has a large section of the membership who do. Making full use of the central area of the vast atrium, the Nagoya dancers, all togged out in American western wear (a real export opportunity for bolo ties), pulled everyone into the fun. One sight to behold was Minister Blackburn of the US Embassy in Tokyo trying to dredge up his "do-si-do" memories from what was obviously a long time ago.

Yoko A. Wiles has written about American culture in: Shirarezaru Amerika Seikatsu (Tokyo: Nichijo Shuppansha, 1988) and Hibi no Amerika (Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun Shuppankyoku, 1990).


The Postal Exchange

The postal exchange panel was very professional and a true learning experience. The similarities of our systems were apparent, and I wish we had had more time to explore our differences.

To me this was the summit! It provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to share on a very professional and personal level our many likenesses. You learn very quickly that you do not need an interpreter when it comes to the expressions of respect and love.

Donald T. Coats, U.S. Postal Service, Virginia Beach, VA

The Fifth Japan-U.S.Grassroots Summit

Fall, 1995, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan

According to Japanese mythology, Kagoshima prefecture is the place the first Japanese descended from heaven. With year-round nice weather, clear skies, and hot springs to soak in, it is certainly the perfect place to be. Kagoshima Prefecture is situated at the southernmost tip of the island of Kyushu, one of the four main islands of the Japanese archipelago. Kagoshima itself includes lots of islands, and stretches for 600 kilometers (360 miles) of land and sea from South to North. "It is beautiful and pleasing country, and has an abundance of trees and scented flowers.", wrote a Portuguese merchant and sea-captain, Jorge Alvares, who visited Kagoshima in 1547. The first Europeans to set foot in Japan were three Portuguese "adventurers" who in 1543 landed on Tanegashima island in Kagoshima peddling firearms. This was the first time Japanese saw the arquebus, a matchlock musket -- or, indeed, any firearm at all. Apparently the Portuguese gave (or sold) the locals two arquebuses. The Japanese promptly copied them and went on to make improvements. Some 60,000 firearms were used in the great battle of Sekigahara in 1660. At this time the King of France had the largest army in Europe, but he only had ten thousand firearms. Why and how the Japanese gave up their mastery of the technology and returned to the sword is an instructive story (told by Noel Perrin in the book listed below in the bibliography).

St. Francis Xavier, the Jesuit priest, met Jorge Alvares in Malacca. Xavier arrived in Kagoshima in 1547, and got full permission from the feudal Lord of Satsuma to preach: the first converts were 150 Kagoshima people. Even during Japan's long isolation from the 17th to the mid-19th century, Kagoshima, the domain of Satsuma, had been engaged in secret trade with foreign countries through Okinawa. This made the people of Kagoshima aware of western civilization.

The domain of Satsuma was ruled by Shimazu family, which dates back to 1197 and is still one of Japan's great aristocratic families. The present head of the family, the 31st generation, is Shimazu Tadahide, and resides in Tokyo. The heir apparent lives in Kagoshima. (The Emperor's sister is married to a Shimazu, who is from a cadet branch). When Manjiro returned to Japan, The Lord of Satsuma was Shimazu Nariakira, a bright and unique personality, with a great yearning for western knowledge (Manjiro could not have been luckier in his contacts with daimyo: the then Lord of Tosa was also a lively and intelligent man).

Lord Shimazu was eager to meet Manjiro, and absorbed what Manjiro said about the country called America. Within 45 days Manjiro, with a help of a local craftsmen, presented Lord Nariakira a model of an American whaling ship.

An unpleasant contact between Kagoshima and foreigners came in 1863, when a small British fleet bombarded Kagoshima in retaliation for the "Namamugi (village) Incident." Four Englishmen, not accustomed to traditional Japanese manners, were assaulted and one of them was killed. Then at the height of its empire, Britain levied swift (and disproportionate) punishment. The Satsuma Domain was compelled to pay an indemnity of ¥25,000. Soon after this experience, Kagoshma set up a Domain naval training school, appointed Manjiro as an instructor, and sent 14 men to England to study, thus laying the foundations for the Imperial Navy and a later alliance with the British. Kagoshima people played a very important role in building modern Japan.

The prefectural seat is Kagoshima-City, population 536,000, facing Kinko Bay. Only four miles away from the city in the middle of the bay is a real, live representative of the "Ring of Fire," an active volcano, Mt. Sakurajima. Its circumference is 31 miles, with a great lava field. Its last major eruption was in 1914. This is Kagoshma's beloved landmark.

Kagoshima's topography resembles Hawaii, and was used as a training ground for the air attack on Pearl Harbor. Not knowing what was going on, Kagoshima people complained about the noise. But the fighter pilots themselves did not know the real purpose for their training. Nearby is a sad place, Chiran, the base for young Kamikaze pilots in the last stages of the war.

The biggest recent news from Kagoshima was last February's launch of Japan's first world class rocket using purely Japanese technology, the H-2, from the Tanegashima Space Center on Tanegashima Island 69 miles off Kagoshima City. The launching cost $181 million. Unfortunately, the market for commercial launches using the H-2 appears slim and grim: ten long years of development and a strong yen made its cost enormous. Moreover, an agreement with the local fishermen limits launch site operations to 45-day periods twice a year. Still, the Japanese are proud of their own national rocket (which the London Economist called "a turbo-charged boy-racer of a rocket"). For the fiscal year beginning the first of April, 1994, the Japanese Diet has approved a budget of over $2 billion for space related projects. (the corresponding US budget is over $14 billion for USFY 1994).

In addition to launching rockets, the Tanegashima islanders mark each September the anniversary of the 1885 shipwreck of the Cashmere, an American freighter from Medford, Massachusetts. The Cashmere's 15 crewmen were rescued by villagers. Pleased by this news, President Cleveland sent gold medals to the rescue party, and later Congress awarded them $5,000 -- a very large sum for those days. The surprised islanders used this for the maintenance of the local school and an educational trust fund. The centennial in 1985 was observed with a visit from some present-day citizens of Medford.

Down at the real grassroots, sweet potatoes, called "Satsuma" potatoes, are the number one agricultural product. These are the potatoes, grilled on charcoal carts, that are sold by street vendors in Tokyo and the big cities ("Yakimoooo..."). Pigs and chicken are also grown widely. The favorite alcoholic drink is shochu. This potent drink is distilled like brandy -- mainly from potatoes, though rice or sugarcane are sometimes also used. It has been a big yuppie drink throughout Japan.

This fall, Kagoshima representatives are coming to the Virginia Summit to show us a little bit of Kagoshima culture. Their long history has taught them how to welcome foreigners and relate to things foreign. You will only understand when you visit why the first Japanese picked Kagoshima for their descent from heaven.


Bibliography

  1. Noel Perrin, Giving up the Gun: Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879, (Boston: Godine, 1979)
  2. Endo Shusaku, Silence; [Tr. by Van C. Gessel] (Tokyo: Kodansha International,1982)
  3. Sakaiya Taichi, What is Japan? Contradictions and Transformations [Translated by Steven Karpa] (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993)
  4. Nakasuga Tetsuro, Lawrence Oliphant, William Willis, Eikoku koshikanin no ishinsenso kenbunki (Tokyo: Azakura Shobo, 1974)

Mansfield Center Does a Good Job on the Media

"How the West Was Dumb" said the Washington Post headline on a March 24, 1994 story by T. R. Reid out of Tokyo. The headline itself was enough to attract attention. But when the story went on to describe the research on American and Japanese media being done by the Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs of the University of Montana, we enjoyed some of that feeling of shared pride when a friend gets favorable newspaper coverage. The Mansfield Center people were great hosts during the 1992 Summit, and Thea McKinney of the Center also joined us during the 1993 Nagoya Summit.

The Washington Post article was a popularization of the Center's work -- in 1993 on the press and in early March of this year a Tokyo seminar on television coverage. It made all the easy points: that there is a "yawning information gap" between the two countries, with the "the Japanese people saturated with news about the United States, (while) Americans -- at least those who depend on TV for their news -- get almost none about Japan."

To somewhat modify the picture of the American side as total ostriches, the Post did quote Professor Ellis Krauss of the University of Pittsburgh, one of the American participants, as noting that the earlier Mansfield Center study of press coverage had shown that: "there is less of an information gap in the print media, but still a formula problem. Japan tends to land back on the business page."

The Japanese participants in the March Tokyo seminar seem to have spent considerable time on the lack of basic information about Japan by ordinary Americans. It is very easy to show that Americans -- particularly young Americans -- have little factual knowledge of Japan in comparison with the facts about America possessed by Japanese. But this is like shooting fish in a barrel: the entire "salaryman" population of Japan has been heavily dependent on the American export market. Japanese students are studying for fact-based examinations that establish their entire personal futures.

The actual Mansfield Center studies are more nuanced and useful than the Post article reports. In studying television coverage in the two countries, the period September 1992 through May 1993 was chosen. The evening news on five American and five Japanese networks was surveyed, and each story was coded for content analysis by ten Japanese and ten American graduate students who were trained to estimate such factors as the category of coverage (political, cultural, etc.), whether the visual images matched the substantive story (they did -- on both sides), whether the story was critical of the policies of either government, whether the story was likely to contribute to a positive or negative image of the other country, etc.. The entire process was done with the guidance of a statistical expert (although the Japanese side apparently did not perform some of the control checks recommended).

Dr. Stanley Budner summarized the results of the massive content analysis as follows (Page 11 of Creating Images: American and Japanese Television News Coverage of the Other (Missoula: The Mansfield Center for Pacific Affairs, 1994):

  1. American and Japanese television differ from each other in their general coverage of international news -- Japanese television tending to concentrate upon coverage of the United States and Asia, and American television tending to cover more areas of the world. Further, while American coverage tends to emphasize conflicts between nations, Japanese coverage tends to focus upon scandal, crime and violence within other nations.
  2. American and Japanese television also differ in their coverage of each other's country, not only in extent but also in the issues emphasized. Further, they differ in their approach to balance and objectivity, with American television more likely to depart from absolute balance and objectivity than Japanese television but Japanese television far more likely to show a negative bias when it departs from either balance (or) objectivity. And these characteristics appear to be characteristic of the print as well as electronic media of the two countries.
  3. Lastly, they appear to differ markedly in terms of the elements of their coverage which communicate positive or negative images of the other country, these differences quite possibly reflecting differences between the two societies.
Dr. Budner's summary leaves out some interesting underlying data: Japanese departures from objectivity almost never include criticism of the Japanese Government, whereas a very high proportion of the greater number of American departures are in the direction of criticizing their own government. Indeed, overwhelmingly, Japanese officials are the sole sources cited for Japanese stories

Certainly the quantitative gap shown by the Center study -- 4,500 stories on Japanese TV about the U.S. and only 2,706 stories about Japan on American TV -- is striking. But the study points out that a high percentage of the Japanese reports were short, factual pieces, whereas the American reports tended to be longer.

The fact that Japan came in behind Great Britain, Germany and France in terms of total number of stories shows the perils for the media scholar of relatively short period of analysis. Great Britain is not normally a major subject of American TV coverage, but this was the period the House of Windsor chose to come apart. In France, this was a period of highly telegenic turmoil and the election that threw the Socialists out of power. In Germany, there was tragically visual anti-foreigner rioting and burning of Turkish immigrant housing. The participants in the Mansfield Center study give a number of good reasons why they believe that there will always be a quantitative imbalance in mutual TV reporting between the U.S. and Japan. It seems likely, however, that over the long run Japan will at least be given quantitatively greater coverage than Great Britain or France. Russia and China would seem more likely as leaders in the battle for American attention.

The period did cover the tragic shooting of young Japanese exchange student Masaichi Hattori in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and his family's heroic struggle against the American gun culture to secure justice and meaning for their son's death. Setting aside scholarly analysis, the American media unquestionably played an important role in showing the American people the ghastly image America has for those abroad who live in nonviolent societies such as Japan. There is little doubt that the coverage had an important and even historic role in breaking the political logjam on gun control legislation. Horribly, we now have the March, 1994 Los Angeles murders of two more young Japanese students. All Americans must hope that their deaths will also be given some meaning by further American efforts to reduce violence by handguns.

A thoughtful reader of the Post article and the Center study would have to ask: how is it that the American people have allowed Japanese trade surpluses to persist for so long if they are so poorly informed? How is it that Japan and the Japanese come out so well in American public opinion polls? Polls show that Americans seem to have a clear-eyed sense that the Japanese are their greatest economic competitors and think that they are "unfair" traders. But Japan is at or near the top of the polls with respect to "countries vital to U.S. interest," and polls of Americans' "personal feeling" always give very positive readings.

Our same thoughtful reader would have to ask how it is that American culture so dominates Japan, if one-third of the Japanese media reports about the U.S. focus on "scandal, crime, and violence" and are heavily critical. Japanese aficionados of all forms of American high and low culture vote with massive purchases of movie and performing arts tickets, translations of American books, American records, and American travel and education.

On the American side, the answer seems to be mediation by American media and political elites and favorable, personal, grassroots experiences with Japanese and Japanese products. On the policy issue of most concern to the Japanese -- liberal and open trade -- there is also the well-established view among economists that Japanese mercantilism hurts Japan more than it does the U.S. As a result of these balancing factors, "bashing" of the Japanese can sometimes bring startling opposition. President Clinton and trade ambassador Kantor's recent protectionist moves have drawn powerful reactions from editors, from unexpected political quarters such as Senator Bradley (D-New Jersey) and even, arguably, from the American stock market.

For the Japanese, reality seems to be that their media reports provide interesting raw material for their ongoing evaluation of the U.S., but that they also compare media reports to their actual experiences with Americans and American products and policies. Japanese media interpretations often seem not to convince their Japanese readers and viewers. Japanese consumers and voters make their own decisions.

We have something new to worry about. American television is changing rapidly. The network news component of American media is being downgraded, as cable television and new technologies for the delivery of news and commentary fragment the American attention span. For example, it was possible to receive over C-SPAN during last year's Japanese elections full coverage of the principal party spokespersons' full length policy speeches as delivered on street corners. The coverage was complete with English simultaneous translation and intelligent commentary by experienced, Japanese-speaking American analysts. Unfortunately, a busy American simply does not have the hours to spend on this kind of programming unless he or she is a Japan specialist.

In a Washington Post commentary of April 3, 1994, the American anchor Ted Koppel of "Nightline" predicts that in the new era of 500-channel cable television, educated viewers will pursue their own interests (as with the C-SPAN program above). National network news, he predicts, will descend to "lowest common denominator" reports on sex, scandal and violence."

Will fragmentation of the American audience mean the loss of the reasonably balanced national coverage that has produced a favorable American consensus about Japan? That coverage may not have taught enough facts to satisfy Japanese analysts, but it has produced a livable and satisfactory "bottom line" for all of us who wish the relationship well. The Mansfield Center should keep its team together and continue its mission -- so well begun -- of informing us about this vital area of concern.

-- Rodney E. Armstrong conducted studies of postwar American media coverage of Japan for a joint Keio University/Fletcher School project in the mid 1970s.


Society Program

On May 4, 1994, the Manjiro Society will join with the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. in co-sponsoring a luncheon meeting at the National Press Club in honor of the visit of the Honorable Sadao Hirano, Member of the House of Councillors.

Mr. Hirano is from Manjiro's home town of Tosashimizu, has long had an interest in his famous fellow "clansman," and had a great deal to do with the formation of the Manjiro/Whitfield Center in Tokyo. In relationship to more current concerns, Mr. Hirano is a founder of the Japan Renewal Party, and a leader in the coalition that took power from the Liberal Democrats in 1993. He will speak on the current Japanese political situation, and answer questions from the audience. Mr. Hirano is also speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the College of William and Mary (an event hosted by Manjiro Society director Ambassador Robert Fritts).


The Manjiro Society for International Exchange, Inc. is a not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization incorporated under the laws of the State of Virginia.

Officers

President: Mr. Rodney E. Armstrong

Executive Director: Mrs. Taeko F. Floyd

Directors:

Mr. Rodney E. Armstrong
President, hibernation software, Inc
Herndon, VA

Mr. Izumi Asano
Japanese Practice Director
Arthur Andersen & Co, SC
Washington, DC

Mrs. Taeko F. Floyd
McLean, VA

The Hon. Robert E. Fritts
U.S. Ambassador (ret.)
Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy
The College of William & Mary
Williamsburg, VA

Mr. Junji Kitadai
Senior Advisor
Tokyo Broadcasting System International, Inc
New York, NY

Mr. George Knox
Vice President, Corporate Public Affairs
Philip Morris Companies, Inc.
New York, NY

Peter L. Malkin, Esquire
Wien, Malkin & Bettex
New York, NY

Mrs. Barbara Nesbitt
Executive Director
The Japan-Virginia Society
Richmond, VA

Mr. Lewis S. Robinson, III
Chairman, International Grizzly Fund, Inc.
West Yellowstone, MT

Norihiro Takeuchi, Esquire
Squire, Sanders & Dempsey
Washington, DC

As of April 2, 1994.
Affiliations are listed for purposes of identification only.

Editor: Mrs. Hatsue K. Armstrong

(c) 1994 by Manjiro Society for International Exchange, Inc. All rights reserved.


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