Sent as email attachment to Jonathan Britten on 13 Dec 2006. (cc’d to Arudou Debito, Patrick O’Brien, Evan Heimlich, and Joseph Tomei)


PALE LECTURE delivered on 3 Nov 2006



“Communities or Cartels of the Mind?”


Ivan P. Hall


My very real thanks to you, Jonathan, for your kind introduction; to the members of PALE for inviting me all the way down to Kitakyushu to speak on a topic that remains very close to my heart; and to all of you who have taken time from the myriad offerings of an annual JALT conference to attend this particular event.


As I look out and see in the audience friends new and old like Arudou Debito, Patrick O’Brien, Evan Heimlich, Joe Tomei and others, I never cease to be amazed at the dedication, courage, perseverance, and sheer psychological energy and stamina of the small group of PALE activists here that has committed itself in a continuing way to challenging discrimination against foreign scholars and university teachers in Japan. A task, as we all know, that is doubly uphill since upon the Mt. Ossa of Japanese exclusionism is piled the Mt. Pelion of foreign apologia for that exclusionism.


Sometimes, however, cultural gaps can bring a chuckle – and perhaps we could use one here at the start. As Christmas approaches I am always reminded of the story a British lady friend told me not so long ago, when she was asked to check out the English pronunciation of one of those huge university glee clubs in Tokyo that was rehearsing its annual Messiah, including Handel’s glorious chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain.” Appalled to hear the young Japanese singing “waaazy” is the Lamb, she finally got it corrected to “worthy,” only to have the German conductor fly in at the last minute and undo all her hard work.“No, No,” he insisted in English, “you must sing ‘VOERRzzy! VOERRzzy is the Lamb!’” Ah, the sheer delight of cultural gaps – sometimes – in this case, trilingual!


(I) MY MOTIVATION – “Why Even Bother?”


We can all be grateful to Debito for the way his website has kept up with and preserved for us every twist and turn of the Academic Apartheid issue in the opening years of this new century. As to what seems to be coming out of the universities and the Monbusho (or, if we now must, the Monkasho) today by way of new terminologies or alleged new departures, most of it strikes me as little more than a superficial arabesque, a mere fretting of the waters, a sound and fury signifying very little -- including that catchy new monicker, “Monkasho.”


Arudou-san is the great expert on these most recent developments, so I feel the greatest contribution I can make with this lecture would be to set out for you the broader context of the situation in which you all still find yourselves today. And to arrange that in terms of the three great axes – institutional, historical, and ideological – along which the Academic Apartheid issue is situated – or, more accurately, “mired”!


(A) Wartime Idaho


But first, I think I should give you some personal background as to where I myself am coming from. Why even bother to write about “intellectual closed shops” in Japan – the subtitle of my book? First, and basic to it all, is the deep personal revulsion I feel about Academic Apartheid here or anywhere – and I am not about to apologize for my non-relativistic opposition to that! That gut instinct has roots in my childhood as a faculty brat growing up during the World War II years on the campus of a small sagebrush college in Idaho where my father was president.


In a book of reflections back on those wartime years, Dad (who had previous experience in Turkey and as dean of an American college in Bulgaria, and had once interviewed a very young Gandhi in India) wrote: “I felt that there was a particular advantage in having a foreign language taught by instructors to whom the language was their native tongue, regardless of whether language was taught as a tool or for cultural purposes.” (My italics -- exactly the two functions we so often discuss at conferences like this one.)


My father added: “I had the advantage of adding several Europeans to the staff, some of whom had come to this country as refugees…They brought great stimulation… [William W. Hall, Jr., The Small College Talks Back, p. 47] I myself remember the brilliant young Jewish lawyer from Vienna, fleeing Hitler, who stayed on for decades and as head of the political science department saw several of his students crowned with Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships – in Idaho of all places! As to the student body, one tenth of it during World War II was Japanese-American, the highest proportion on any Mainland U.S. campus, after the Japanese-Americans were forced to leave the West Coast. [21 out of the ca. 200 reduced enrolment, p. 67] Indeed, the College of Idaho (now known as Albertson College of Idaho) welcomed several West Coast kids whom Dad finally persuaded his reluctant board of self-proclaimed “Christian”trustees to accept out of the internment camp at Minidoka, in the southern Idaho desert, to which they had been removed after Pearl Harbor. Dad had asked for tuition assistance, but the trustees finally agreed to let them come as long as they paid their own way!





(B) An Archipelago of Barriers


A more immediate motivation to start writing about cartels of the mind in Japan arose when I came to see that the quandary of foreign university teachers here was just one link in a much broader chain of deeply rooted cognate barriers. By writing Cartels, I hoped to make that wider connection abundantly clear.


I also wanted to advertise the striking parallel to Japan’s much better known market barriers. In an era of incessant trade disputes, the foreign parties seeking to open Japan’s closed market were for the most part unaware of this complementary set of “softer” intellectual barriers that powerfully reinforce those ‘harder’ economic barriers. They do so by impeding the free flow of dialogue and disputation with the outside world, and through their encouragement of a defensive, insularist attitude on the Japanese side.


More than anything else, however, I was motivated by the egregious discrepancy between all those assurances regarding the impending opening up of Japan’s intellectual industries, and the actual performance on those promises. What I had been hearing at the stratospheric level of a U.S. Embassy and Harvard University go-between with Japanese universities in the 1970s and early 1980s bore no relationship to the unrelenting insularism that I encountered when working as a foreign scholar (and briefly, as a foreign correspondent) in the actual, muddy, reality of Japan’s academic and journalistic institutions. So, having worked both the high and the low sides of the cultural street, I felt myself well-equipped to write about those discrepancies from the inside – “a mole’s eye view” or “notes from the underground” so to speak.





(II) COMMUNITY – The Other Cartels (Social Axis)


Turning first to the non-academic cartels, I like to think of them as strung along a horizontal line, all reflecting the closed nature of Japanese society. There are Others!! You are not alone!! Like Academic Apartheid, these fall under your conference theme of “Community” – negatively, of course, since cartels by definition limit togetherness.



Journalism: Perhaps closest to the university barriers in the intellectual damage they inflict are the exclusive kisha clubs (or “reporters’ clubs”). These clubs are laced throughout the entire fabric of Japanese journalism. Both have a crimping effect on ideas -- both the flow of ideas between Japan and other countries, and their flow among the Japanese themselves. Over the entire postwar era – and with very little ‘give’ even now -- these kisha clubs have barred not only foreign correspondents, but much of the less-than-elite Japanese press as well, from access to key governmental and business-sector sources. In most advanced democracies, press conferences and background briefings are run and controlled by the sources. Not so in Japan, where it is the kisha clubs that run and control them, functioning in effect as a spin filter between news sources on the one hand and the broader press and public on the other.


One of the silliest but all too typical examples of the lengths to which this system can be taken was the barring in 1988 of an American photographer for the Associated Press (an American outfit and the largest wire service in the world) from a Simon and Garfunkel concert in Tokyo (two American star performers) by the Japanese-only kisha club attached to the concert’s sponsoring organization!


Law: The restrictions on foreign lawyers have been more abstruse, but they were bitterly fought over -- including GATT-sponsored talks -- and enjoyed active concern and support at the high corporate level back home. How different from the lonely struggle of the individual foreign scholar – or even that of the collective foreign journalists, who from time to time have organized themselves to plead quixotically for remedial action!


As to lawyers, so bizzare is the us/them, Japanese-versus-Gaijin mentality that Japanese nationals who have qualified as bengoshi [lawyer] within their own Japanese system – and then gone on to pass an American bar exam, join an American law firm, and return to Japan at that U.S. firm’s Tokyo office – must surrender their Japanese bengoshi status (which allows them to practice the entire range of Japanese law) and submit to the same severe professional limitations as their American bosses and colleagues!


What was particularly tell-tale in the case of foreign lawyers was how – even in this tough, hardheaded profession, and, indeed, exactly as with foreign correspondents and teachers – the Japanese legal profession trotted out all the old culturalist mush about foreigners not being able to understand Japanese culture. As leading American lawyer activist Robert Grondine put it in 1993, the prohibitions on Japanese-foreign legal partnerships and employment relationships seemed to be justified– and I quote – “solely on the basis that [Japanese] bengoshi and foreign lawyers somehow are different species and therefore cannot work together and should not be allowed to commingle.” [Cartels of the Mind, pp. 35-36]. Sound familiar? You are, indeed, not alone….


Researchers, Students, Cultural Exchange: Shorter chapters in my book dealt with three quasi-academic-types of barriers. First, with the nonavailability of longterm stays for foreign scientific researchers in Japanese government and private laboratories (the most interesting data in this case coming from British sources).

Secondly, with the plight of Asian students, and the student imbalance as between Japan and the United States– about 50,000 to 1,500 at the time -- which greatly exercised the then ambassador Walter Mondale. And, thirdly, with barriers in – mirabile dictu, of all places! – the cultural-exchange and good-will industry itself.


Working out of the U.S. embassy from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties as an American “cultural diplomat,” as well as earlier as a Harvard University representative in Japan, I was well-placed to observe the way in which Japan’s cultural factoti so often work to protect, rather than open up, Japan’s intellectual institutions to the outside world. How, for example, they preferred to tout progress on the academic periphery – remember all those tiny so-called “international” universities in remote snowy prefectures? --rather than work to jimmy open the great central institutions of Japanese learning. It was as though the U.S. – in proclaiming the “internationalization” of its tertiary education – had established a spanking new campus in North Dakota which was to be especially foreigner-friendly – while keeping the doors to its great private and state universities tightly closed!! (With my apologies to North Dakota!). For all types of Japanese universities, the pertinent question is the treatment of long-termers committed to Japan. Apologists for the status quo – so rife among the “cultural exchange” enthusiasts -- like to stress the number of new arrivals on short-term stints. But that is irrelevant to the problem at hand.


(III) COMMUNITY – The Academic Cartel (Historical Axis)


Now, for the Academic Cartel. What progress has there been since my descriptions as of 1997? Very little, I would judge, in terms of system changes that really count. Although there may have been a little more “give” at the private schools, the gears at national universities seem to be stuck on “Parking” if not actually slipping into “Reverse”!


The quickest way to get an overview of the Academic Apartheid question is to think in terms of those three intersecting axes I mentioned: (1) the societal axis (a horizontal line, if you will) of all the other intellectual cartels, as just covered; (2) the historical axis of the academic cartel (our vertical, so to speak), focusing on the development over time of the systems and attitudes that the universities have enshrined; and (3) the ideological axis, a sort of 3rd dimensional line intersecting the other two.


The most meaningful litmus test for integration and equal treatment lies, I think, in the following three things (1) the provision of equal tenure opportunity to foreign scholars serving long term, (2) particularly in the case of substantive disciplines, and (3) especially at the major national universities (however they may have been redesignated). This may sound like a rather rarified, even elitist recipe, but it actually corresponds most faithfully to the full meaning of the tenured status that is open to Japanese nationals and all other foreigners in Western universities. That is to say:


n    “Number One -- No Glass Ceilings! We are not going to keep you forever on contracts if you are tenure-level performers, but will allow you to compete on the merits equally with Japanese scholars.”

n    “Number Two -- We are not going to confine you to teaching your own native language if you are qualified in a substantive discipline (unless, of course, language teaching is your particular life-commitment métier).”

n    “Number Three -- We will permit you to be fully tenured at our most prestigious institutions.”


A tall order, these three types of openings to foreign academics taken together – the Full Monte! – and, believe you me, they are unbearably unattractive to the universities themselves, and the ones sure to raise the greatest bureaucratic and xenophobic hackles.


In the national university sector there are four key historical dates to bear in mind on the discrimination front: 1893, 1982 (100 years later), 1992 (a decade after that), and 1998.


(A) Gaikokujin Kyoshi System


1893 marked the start of the Gaikokujin Kyoshi system. Although 1893 was the beginning of today’s segregation, it also marked the end -- the final capstone -- of a gradual process from the mid-1880s of dismissing that great generation of Western scholars who had helped to lay the foundations of Japan’s modern higher education from the 1870s. And in the 1920s -- during the decade esteemed for Taisho Democracy and post-World War I “internationalism” – the total number of Kyoshi peaked at 41. Hardly an invading army!


What about the attitude involved here? The way of thinking behind the exclusionary system of 1893 was best stated by Inoue Testujiro, the well-known Tokyo University philosopher and Dean of the Faculty of Letters in the 1890s, reflecting back on that time:


“In principle…professors at Japanese universities should all be Japanese. Accordingly, we managed to dismiss the foreign instructors from the Faculties of Medicine, Law, and Science, so that there was not one of them left.” “…every field should be taught exclusively by Japanese staff…the number of foreigners should gradually be reduced and ultimately eliminated altogether.” [Cartels of the Mind, p. 102]


Foreigners, Inoue continued, were to be hired only for the one thing they presumably could do better than the Japanese – to teach their own native languages.


As to the drawbacks of that old Kyoshi system, with which many of you will be all too familiar, here are just three of them: (1) in exchange for higher pay, no job security and only one-year contracts with no guarantee of renewal; (2) no faculty meetings or supervision of student theses -- “Hallelujah!” you may say, but that means no participation in decision making relating to your own curriculum, administrative duties, or personal career; and (3) the lowly, even pejorative-sounding, title of Kyoshi, something on the order of mere “pedagogue.”


As an example of how little Japanese society esteems the Kyoshi title, I recall with wry amusement my invitation to be a panelist at a prestigious symposium in Tokyo organized by Simul, Inc. at the time that I was a Gaikokujin Kyoshi at Tsukuba University. Embarrassed by such an inferior-sounding status, Simul insisted on using my previous katagaki (title ), billing me as “Former Associate Executive Director & Japan Representative, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission”(!)


Demand to change the Kyoshi system first came from the resident Korean community as part of their broader anti-discrimination push. There were (and still are) academic married couples, both spouses with PhDs, where the Japanese wife is tenured while her Korean husband moves around from contractual pillar to short-term post.


Pressure from the U.S. and Western Europe started from the early 1970’s, in tandem with growing market opening demands. Given Japan’s new status as the world’s third largest economic power, there was a growing feeling among her Western partners that, in academic and other cultural exchanges, the one-way cultural financing of the early postwar decades was outdated and should be replaced by a reciprocal, two-way street. In 1971, the OECD requested Japan to open its academic institutions to a level commensurate with the other advanced industrial democracies. By that time the universities of the U.S., the U.K. the British Commonwealth, and West Germany -- and the French universities, except for deans and presidents -- were all open, at the level of formal system and policy, to the hiring and tenuring of foreign academics on the same basis as their own citizens.


From the Japanese side there were two responses to these invitations to put on academic long pants and join the club. The establishment of the Japan Foundation to fund Japan’s side of cultural exchanges, and the plans for a new, internationalized, university at Tsukuba -- both in the early 1970s – addressed the respective Western requests for burden sharing in cultural work and a reciprocally open academe. For Europe and America, the opening of Japanese universities to foreign scholars was important for leveling the playing field in scientific and intellectual flows and for the fair treatment of their own nationals. For Japan, it was a matter of image and credibility as the new global player.


(B) Gaikokujin Kyoin System


Ninety years later, in 1982, the Diet passed the new Gaikokujin Kyoin law establishing at the national universities a new system that was supposed to integrate the foreign and Japanese staffs. Had this law achieved the objectives of its original drafters, it would have brought Japan up to speed with the other industrial democracies. Many of you are now living with the features which the 1982 law did manage to equalize -- same salaries, same faculty duties, and same status as “Kyoin.” The most important equalizing factor, however, was in the end left out – namely the same job security (perhaps after some trial period) as that enjoyed by all Japanese scholars, who were in effect tenured from the start of their full-time appointment, not by term-specified contracts but by letters of appointment without reference to time limits.


Led on this issue by Dietman Nishioka Takeo, the LDP’s nationalistic right wing, in tune with the reactionary wing of the Monbusho, was dead set against any tenuring of foreigners, and insisted on fixed-term contracts for all non-Japanese. The argument was loaded with non-sequiturs -- for example, that international exchanges would be “facilitated” by a “rotation” system; that there was anxiety over the foreigners’ qualifications or “compatibility;” or, that Westerners just loved signing contracts! (Many observers, by the way, suggested at the time that all this was just a trial balloon for shifting the pesky left-leaning Japanese professoriate itself to contract status, and sixteen years later, in 1998, the Ninkisei law encouraging contractual hiring for Japanese scholars was, indeed, passed by the Diet.)


What emerged in 1982 was a compromise that left it up to each individual university to choose how it would hire its foreign staff – be it tenure like the Japanese, or fixed contract like the old Kyoshi system. By far the greater number of national and “public” (prefectural and municipal) universities that were covered by this new law opted for continuing the fixed-contract system, although with a variety of term lengths. This meant that the bolted portal of the closed shop had merely been replaced with a revolving door! The escape hatch provided by that compromise was to generate much mischief in the years to come.


Take for example, the terrible example set by Tsukuba University, which had been specifically established to become Japan’s showcase campus -- cutting-edge, world-class, and internationalized. From 1985 Tsukuba opted for five-years as the term limit for its new Kyoin system, soon to be introduced, but did so only after throwing out at the last minute its four longest-serving and most qualified old Kyoshi – a Korean, a German, a Taiwanese, and an American. All four held PhDs from top-drawer universities in their own countries, and had been officially vetted and approved for transfer to the new Kyoin system, but they fell victim to a bitterly contested presidential election in which no foreign staff, of course, took part. [See Chapter 3 of Cartels of the Mind, from which we have a brief printed excerpt available here.]


Entering this century, too, Kyoin at that majority of schools which opted not to tenure continue to find themselves as precariously placed as the old Kyoshi. Like the American twelve years at Gaidai (Tokyo Gaikokugo Daigaku) who survived three three-year contract renewals only to be thrown out before the fourth, to make room for the young Japanese protégé of a Japanese colleague. Again, the attitude here was critical. As one of the Japanese professors reportedly put it, “Twelve years is long enough to have been nice to a foreigner”(gaijin no sewa suru), as though the American had been kept on under previous renewals as their personal favor toward him, not because of his performance!


Tokyo University was one of the minority that decided to offer tenure -- perhaps because its own scholars depend heavily on the hospitality of blue-ribbon universities abroad. Todai opted, gingerly, for the tenure track in some cases. The main Hongo campus tenured two American nationals in the 1980s, one a volcano expert in Geology, the other a Taiwan-born professor of Chinese Law, and in the 1990s a Japan-born Korean political scientist. All were fluent in Japanese and therefore fully functional. The Komaba campus put a number of its foreign teachers of languages into tenured Kyoin slots, too, but with the anomaly that most of them know little Japanese, yet have to attend faculty meetings, where they sit in Stoic silence – or so I am told!


(C) Private Universities


Private universities have always been free to establish their own employment systems, but the proportion of tenured foreigners in regular departments remains miniscule. Allow me to compare two universities with which I myself have had an intimate connection.


Princeton University, my own alma mater, with a student body of about 4,500, had on its campus as of April 1993 over 900 foreign students and some 300 foreign faculty members and researchers. This contrasted with a Japanese brand-name campus where I once taught, the school that traditionally graduates the Imperial family, namely the Gakushuin University. During that same year of 1993 there was not a single foreign student or full-time foreign professor to be found at the twelve-story building housing the Law and Economics Faculties, serving 81 scholars and about 4000 undergraduates, many of them specializing in subjects like international politics, international economics, international law, and intercultural relations!


Private universities, however, can be sued under the Labor Standards Act, and the number of court cases we have seen there simply underlines the failure of the national universities to set a positive example after 1982. On the contrary, Japan’s most elite universities indicated to all the others that there was no opprobrium attached to firing foreign staff at will!


The third key date is 1992, when under Monbusho pressure – however much disclaimed – the national schools started an extensive purge of their older and most expensive Kyoshi in the top two salary brackets, some of them only a year or two short of their pensions. By 1995 those dismissals had given birth to the first multi-pronged protest movement, which I will come back to in a minute. And the fourth key date, of course, is 1998, which saw the passing into law of the new Ninkisei (Fixed-Term Appointment System), which allegedly has been pushing Japanese scholars toward a completely contractual system somewhere in the future.


1992 and 1998 have launched a definitive turning back from the spirit, however ambiguous, of the 1982 Kyoin legislation, and indeed have ushered in a process of dismissals that is reminiscent of the great cleansing wave of the 1880s-1890s. I would argue that right now, and with the new Ninkisei Law, we are still riding that wave – or should I say, “undertow”? Placed in the grand historical perspective, I think that what we are really witnessing today is a transitional period of fits and starts, and backings and fillings, as Japan gropes its way toward another long-lasting, stable, system like that of 1893, in which the curbs on foreign academics will be spelled out a lot more clearly and definitively than they are right now. I predict that the eventually stabilized university hiring system will, in the area of foreign tenures, make the minimal concessions forced on it by Japan’s need to participate in the hi-tech global economy and the rapid growth of nearby Asia, especially China. But that it in the engagement of foreign talent it will never, ever, be anywhere near as open as the tertiary education sectors in the West.


Indeed, I never cease to be amazed at those foreign observers who predict an imminent “Third Opening” of Japan. The first having been under the outside pressure of Perry, the second under the foreign occupation of Macarthur, and the third now – coming soon to a campus near you! – this time under Japan’s own internal initiative. Certainly not in higher education, nor in any of the cognate cartels of the mind!


(IV) IDENTITY – Gutting Your Role (Ideological Axis)

Ever since foreign teachers first came to Japan in the Meiji Period they have (with greater or lesser degree of intensity over the decades) run up against a second, and more subjective, type of limitation in addition to the objective restrictions of their employment terms. And that has been – both a century and a quarter ago, and as many of you are experiencing it right now – the crimping of your personal and intellectual roles as scholar and teacher. This is a matter not only of what and how you are allowed to teach, but more basically of the way in which Japanese academics conceive of your function in their university system.


The old Meiji notion that foreign staff should be allowed to teach only those subjects where they clearly have a lead on the Japanese, namely their own native languages, is alive and well. And even where foreigners have been brought in to teach substantive disciplines, they have been viewed more as the temporary mechanical transmitters of Western expertise – functions to be taken over at the earliest possible moment by Japanese staff – than as intellectually interactive partners in a mutual quest for new knowledge and truth. Since the resistance here is to the exchange of ideas per se, and to the foreign teacher as the direct purveyor of ideas from abroad, we now come to the ideological dimension of the Academic Apartheid problem.


(A) Curriculum – The Retreat of Content Teaching


For language teachers, the second door that seems to be closing today (along with the prospects for long-term job security) is the door to substantive content teaching.


One university trend clearly in sync with Japan’s rightward ideological swing is the now well-advanced barring of native speakers from the decades-long practice in many places of having them -- as enrichment to their language instruction -- convey some substantive knowledge about their own countries and cultures as well.


One of the leaders of university English language instruction in Japan is the Komaba campus at Todai, where there is great distress about the way PhD-holding foreign scholars are now strictly forbidden to digress from the new textbook. I have a copy here -- it’s called On Campus -- and it’s full of lessons on subjects like “Walking off Your Fat,” “Coffee and Globalization,” or “Why is Mauna Kea Sacred to Native Hawaiian People?” Not only are these teachers being forced to serve up something close to intellectual pap, but, more significantly, a pap that is devoid of any reference to the history, society, or culture of the English-speaking countries themselves– matters which I understand are deliberately downplayed if not off limits.


It’s hard not to deduce an anti-Western, pseudo-multiculturalist, impulse here. But the worst aspect of all – as its strikes me -- is the way in which the new vocabulary and explanatory remarks for each reading are given in Japanese which occupies the entire page opposite to the English text. This is reminiscent of how students learned English before they got to university – either through self-study with English-Japanese dictionaries, or in a high school classroom with the teacher explicating all the English words and story content in Japanese. That is to say, without the student’s brain processing any of the contextual material in English! So foreign staff who once upon a time were free to spice up the discussion with a bit of Shakespeare, Nietzsche, or the French Impressionists, have now been reduced to walking tape recorders -- to the mechanical function of a language machine for repeating and drilling their own native tongue.


You only have to think of how we teach (and how I learned) the Japanese Language in Western universities, to see the absurdity of all this. From the very start our instruction was swathed in general discussion of and enthusiasm for things Japanese, and our reading assignments were directed as soon as we were capable of it to excerpts from Japanese literature or on Japanese history, politics, society, or ideas -- you name it! Whereas the whole purpose of Japanese language instruction at Harvard University was to enable us to interact with Japanese culture and the Japanese people as quickly and effectively as possible, the new tack in foreign language teaching represented by Tokyo University seems to be aimed at hobbling the students’ capacity to interact in a serious intellectual fashion with foreign cultures or peoples – including their live embodiment in the teachers right there in the classroom.


The double-whammy for foreign language staff of job insecurity plus the intellectual scrunching of their function in the classroom demands from Japanese educational authorities today an upward, not a downward, re-evaluation of the contributions of this large population of foreign language teachers whom they have invited over here -- on their own initiative,


I should add that, specifically as regards American staff -- especially those with higher degrees in American Studies -- this new discouraging of substantive teaching goes against the entire spirit of the binational cultural agreement between the two countries, in force ever since 1962, to encourage the expansion of Japanese Studies in the U.S., and of American Studies in Japan. The U.S. Government’s Japan US Friendship Commission (JUSFC) – of which I was the first associate executive director, stationed at our embassy – gave considerable financial support to American Studies over here. Of course, more Japanese Americanists in Japan, and more American Japanologists in America, was the chief goal, but it seems a gratuitous slap in the face to that intergovernmental commitment when Japanese universities force American PhDs trained in some aspect of American Studies to function here as mere language machines.



(B) Teaching Roles – Shades of Meiji!


This degrading of the English-teaching curriculum (what else can we call it?) ultimately rests on a degraded concept of the function of the foreign professor or instructor both as pedagogue and as person. The attitudes and assumptions held by Japanese academics regarding the proper role of the foreign teachers and scholars working in their midst are an uninterrupted legacy from the Meiji Period. For over a century and a quarter now there has been deepset standoffishness toward foreign teachers among both Japanese teachers and Japanese students.


(The standoffish passivity of so many Japanese students in the classroom is a bit off our subject here. But let me just say that I believe much more is in play here than mere “shyness,” unfamiliarity with foreigners, or the dread of making mistakes. It reflects above all the reluctance to seem too assertive, too self-expressive, or too taken with one’s own superior language skills in front of one’s fellow students -- especially in the presence of an enthusiastically approving foreign instructor. Judging by my own experience at Tsukuba and Keio Universities, the so-called kikokushijo – those students returning to Japan following a secondary education abroad -- get a frosty reception from their stay-at-home peers not so much because of their sometimes rusty Japanese language as thanks to their uninhibited display of ego.)

Far more corrosive has been the reluctance of Japanese academics over the decades to associate with foreign staff as scholarly colleagues, together with the tendency to view them as no more than mechanical transmitters of Western knowledge or foreign languages. This prejudice has tenacious historical roots going all the way back to the late 19th century, and it was the Western scholars in Japan during that era who have left behind for us the most trenchant analyses of this disturbing phenomenon -- insights that are as on-target today as they were in the time of our own great-grandfathers.


Most eloquent was the diary of Erwin Baelz, the noted Leipzig physician who came in the late 1870s to lay the foundations for the Tokyo University Medical School and its affiliated hospital – the granddaddy, in other words, of modern Japanese medicine. Ten years later the old glow of enthusiasm in his diary changes to indignation as he watches the growing number of foreign colleagues – of distinguished, disciplinary foundation-layers like himself – who have been fired and sent home without appropriate thanks for their contributions. Sickened by all of this Baelz himself was ready to go home by the early 1890s but was enticed to stay on to 1902, repeatedly giving in to promises -- consistently broken -- that he would continue to share in the decisions of the medical faculty and hospital that he had been instrumental in founding.


Baelz found the root of Japan’s shabby treatment of foreign scholars in their mistaking Western science itself for a machine – a machine that could be moved around at will and made to do the same work everywhere -- rather than seeing it as an organism, like a tree, that required careful nurturing. That was what the Western scientists had come over to do, but the Japanese had treated them as no more than peddlers of the final fruits, the latest plums that could be plucked off the outer branches and carted away without paying attention to the entire process of horticulture. In his farewell address Baelz concluded with an admonition:

“Soon there will be very few foreign teachers left…let me urge you to keep in close touch with them … in that way you will learn more of the spirit of science … [which you can learn] only in daily association with those engaged in research.”


A century later, and reminiscent of that very warning, I recently learned that the Todai campus at Komaba does not provide its English language teachers with computers on the official grounds that they are not there do research. Which is silly, because most of them are PhDs who cannot imagine a professional life without serious research – even if that means being too audacious for a mere language machine! So Baelz’ wheel has come full circle!



(C) Political Ideology -- Today’s Chill from the “New Old Right”


Let me turn briefly now to the broader environment of political ideology in Japan today, to the recent rise of those right-wing nationalist forces that I have dubbed the “New Old Right.” This development is all too sadly relevant to the goals of PALE because the traditional leverage that Japan’s ideological right enjoys on educational matters can only serve to dim the prospects for improving the situation of foreign teachers at Japanese universities.


The forces typified by Prime Minister Abe and Tokyo governor Ishihara represent an ideological regression to the anti-liberal, anti-individualist, and anti-cosmopolitan values and notions of the pre-World War II Old Right -- just dressed up in modern guise. Their way of thinking is fundamentally different from that of the more moderate, long-ruling conservative mainstream of the LDP and Japan’s business community.


The key difference between the two lies in the way they have processed (emotionally and intellectually) Japan’s defeat in WW II. No one likes to lose a war, but the more moderate conservatives wrote it off as a bad job and redirected their energies into getting on with reshaping Japan into a reasonably democratic, non-saber-rattling, economic powerhouse. The right-wing conservative politicians and intellectuals, on the other, have never been able to free themselves psychologically from the national shame of a lost war, and go on and on rubbing the wound. Ideologically, that translates into visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, a strong and perhaps even nuclear military stripped of its present constitutional restraints, beefing up the role of and respect for the Emperor, public disdain for other Asian countries especially China and Korea, a penchant for more authoritarian values altogether, and a deep contempt – true of most right wings – of the “bourgeois,” commercial, pacifist, and democratic values of postwar Japan.


Ideas count, and the reason I want you to know about this powerful ideological trend is because many of you here today might be in securely tenured positions by now, had these right-wing conservatives not intervened so destructively in the 1982 Diet debates on foreign tenure.



(V) YOUR MOTIVATION – Fighting Back


Foreign teachers protesting Academic Apartheid must at some point be willing to embark on time-consuming and all too often discouraging practical action – frequently ending up with at best a public airing of the issues. (But that is still better than nothing!) One can fight back with both action and argument -- they are of course mutually supporting. But I would like to conclude with the suggestion that, while nearly all the conceivable routes of action have been tried since 1995, the weapon of argument remains woefully underdeveloped.


(A) Action -- The Wheels Already Invented


First, very briefly the wide variety of organized protests and demarches that took place along the diplomatic, governmental, legal, labor-union, and media fronts in the mid to late 1990s, in many of which I was directly involved. (This is all in my book). A brief checklist of how much already has been tried, through so many approaches, against such an adamantine opponent, may suggest the best arenas on which to concentrate finite energies for organized activity in the future.


Professional (Organizing): The organized, multi-pronged protest against the firings of older Kyoshi that had begun in 1992 was catalyzed by a survey of affected teachers exposing the extent (and mean manners) of those dismissals. This was undertaken, on the advice of his Japanese lawyer, by a single American teacher who decided to fight back (John McAteer of Nara Women’s University). The circulation of those survey results inspired the gathering together in 1995 of a dozen or so other foreign Kyoshi who, while fighting their own cases at their own universities, formed a group to alert the profession as a whole and to take concerted action at the national level (Teachers Against Discriminatory Dismissals, or TADD), generously assisted on a pro-bono basis by the Tokyo-based Japanese lawyer, Sheena Shigeru). Other support groups for individual teachers followed, but as far as I know, PALE today is the sole legatee of those earlier instances of organized professional effort which was the key to all of the following approaches. As such, you are really and truly today’s “keepers of the flame.”


Diplomatic: In April 1995 TADD visited the American embassy to lay the problem before Ambassador Walter Mondale, an event covered by an embassy press release and an NHK interview upon exiting the building. Not long after that Mondale deplored the situation at several meetings with American businessmen and others, and in March 1996 he brought up this matter among others in a routine visit to Minister of Education Okuda Mikio. The British and German embassies were kept informed of the plight of their respective nationals, and in the case of the U.K. the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Alastair Goodlad,

raised the matter during his visit to the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs in May 1995.


Parliamentary: In February and June of 1996 the TADD group called twice on the sympathetic socialist Parliamentary Vice Minister of Education, Kusakabe Kiyoko of the Social Democratic Party of Japan to lay out the issue and petition for redress. She was joined at those meetings by a phalanx of less-than-sympathetic Monbusho higher education bureaucrats who, in the end, refused to give ground on any of the essential points. In May 1996, following Mondale’s visit and the TADD petition, Minister Okuda submitted to an hour’s interpellation in the Diet by Kamiya Kazuto, also of the SDPJ, who used term “Academic Apartheid,” having picked it up from an article I had written for Ronza magazine a year earlier. And by September 1996, Senators Jeff Bingaman and William Roth in Washington, D.C. had drafted a bipartisan, non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution to create awareness of the issue on the U.S. Congressional side as well.


Courts: Those of you here probably are most familiar with the legal road, the one taken in the well-publicized court cases of Gwendolyn Gallagher at Asahikawa University, by Cynthia Worthington at Kumamoto Prefectural University and – one of several less well known -- by Rebecca Pickett at the Shizuoka Institute of Science and Technology. All three suits failed, but the first two were notable for their extensive support networks involving many Japanese and their regional impact through the media. Best of all – for future use, and we may hope an eventual vindication of sorts—they left behind in their indelible court records those Kafkaesque decisions and reasonings by Japanese judges and university administrators that would be laughed out of court – the apt expression here – if they were to become widely known by legal experts in other countries.


Trades Unions: Some individuals took the labor union route, joining and trying to work from the inside -- an option some of you here know a great deal more about than I do. A few years back we found that, despite a good deal of personal sympathy, the unions simply were too focused on their Japanese members’ agenda, with discrimination against foreigners a peripheral interest at best. But more recently I have heard that, as more and more Japanese are affected by the new Ninkisei legislation, and as the unions build up experience in contesting these issues, this may increasingly be the way to go.


Media & Publications: Media activity, reinforcing all the other approaches, is, of course, a sine qua non. For its part TADD held a zadankai (televised group discussion) on NHK, a press conference luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, and wrote articles for Japanese and foreign publications. Once Cartels was published I had something concrete to take on lecture and book-signing tours in the U.S. and U.K., speaking to university and public affairs organizations from Berkeley to Harvard to Oxford, and from the Japan Society of Los Angeles to The Smithsonian to the venerable Institute for Economic Research in London. Reviews appeared in serious journals in France, Britain and India, not just in Japan and the United States. Indeed, as I will elaborate in a moment, one simply cannot overstate the mileage added to a cause by getting it all out in a book. It not only of gives your cause a second wind, so to speak, but above all nails things down for posterity. This is particularly important for this issue in Japan, where so many of the victims have withdrawn in defeat, and where the authorities are so adept at sweeping unpleasant incidents under the rug!




(B)         Argument --The Rusting Rhetorical Weapon



There is one area, however, where those of us fighting these issues are constrained only by our own lack of intellectual resourcefulness, honesty, and courage—and that is precisely this crucial arena of ideas and public persuasion. This means, more than anything else, writing – and, above all, the writing of books, for the simple reason that only books can be so thorough, so long-lasting, and so widely disseminated and reviewed (as long as you and/or your publisher work hard to promote it).


Indeed, for proof of that today, we need look no further than the impact of Arudou Debito’s globetrotting book, Japanese Only. Indeed, I have always regretted that the court cases of Gallagher, Worthington, Pickett, and others – so rich in facts recorded and so revealing of the official mentality, but known only to local or personal groups of supporters – never got organized into something like an anthology (an Elson Basic Reader!) to preserve all that sweat and tears for posterity, and to take the issue worldwide.


The urgent task in this arena is neither organizational nor legal, but rhetorical – and that goes well beyond merely publicizing the discrimination we encounter. It means not only articulating our own cause in as powerful and logically compelling fashion as possible, but also challenging the arguments of the opposition head on and not letting them pass by default. Much was written at the time of the 2004 U.S. presidential election lamenting the failure of the Democrats to maintain the initiative in “framing” the terms of the political debate by controlling its language. Admonitions all too relevant to our own situation!


As holds true for all Japan’s “intellectual cartels,” the crying need on the academic discrimination front right now is for an aggressive and sustained counter-rebuttal of the entire range of hostile arguments that continue to be raised by the respective Japanese vested interests and their foreign apologists. This includes their attempt to discredit the very effort to protest against the barriers, a line of attack that can be savage even as it is being carried out at a very high and “respectable”intellectual level. This particularly perverse phenomenon is something that I called attention to in your JALT newsletter On Cue for May 1997, in my article “Protesting against Discrimination vs. Protesting against Protest.”


In a word, what I am urging here is a much more active “protesting against the protest against protest” – if you follow me! That is to say, a much more active counter-attack on the apologia for continued discrimination – including all those special pleadings, culturalist copouts, and wacky non-sequiturs (some of them even from the judicial bench) that have gone without challenge for so long as to have gained the status of common wisdom – thereby inflicting real damage to the cause.


I suspect that only your most experienced activists in PALE have any idea of the enormous intellectual forces that can and will be marshalled against you the moment your quest threatens to have some practical impact. You will be subjected to the sort of put-down strategies that self-defending Japanese institutions and their foreign cheerleaders (all too often Americans) have for years directed at intellectual dissenters both foreign and Japanese. Indeed, I have called this binational group of Japan apologists “the Sixth Cartel.”


Drawing ever so briefly on my latest book, BAMBOOZLED! – How America Loses the Intellectual Game with Japan and Its Implications for Our Future in Asia. (M.E. Sharpe, 2002), let me leave you with just a hint of the sort of ostracism, special pleading, and other forms of emotional blackmail that I am talking about here -- together with a couple of suggested counter-ripostes.


First, ostracism. When the critic gets to be too embarrassing, the attempt is to suppress his or her published work directly. The classical example of a foreign writer striking too close to the Japanese quick was the late Iris Chang. The entire Japanese diplomatic establishment in the United States, from then ambassador Saito Kunihiko in Washington to Honolulu consul general Ogata Gotaro, took to TV and newspapers to discredit among American readers her 1997 best-seller, The Rape of Nanking – the Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. In Japan, right-wing ideologues put pressure on the intended publisher to make a Japanese translation conditional on the simultaneous publication (in a two-volume set) of a companion volume rebutting her book. Chang of course refused the deal, and the Japanese never got to read her story in their own language – only the argument against her, which was published!


Riposte? – A belly laugh that should have been heard around the planet.

Something similar happened to the Japanese version of my own Cartels of the Mind. Within half a year of the English-language original the Mainichi Shimbun Press had brought out a faithful Japanese translation entitled Chi no Sakoku (roughly, “The Closed Country of Intellect”). That quickly sold some 20,000 copies in hardback, with nice little stacks of it even in medium-sized book shops, when sales suddenly fell off due to the internal consensus of Japan’s five great dailies to blacklist it for reviews. According to my own Mainichi editor who reported this intellectual ostracism to me, it was not the government that had decreed the censoring but the press establishment itself, which had taken umbrage at my expose of kisha club apartheid, especially my open and repeated criticism of the Nihon Shimbun Kyokai (Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association), in effect defaming the Deity of Japanese journalism!


Riposte? – So much for a free press in Japan.


Second, special pleading. (1) The charge of “Japan Bashing.” This Mother of All Guilt-Inducing Gimmicks has become the favorite bromide in everything from trade disputes to (I am sure) JALT’s own internal dialogue. The accusation here is of ignorant emotional excess, and hides an implicit charge of “racism.”


Riposte? -- You can expose this one as a deliberate propaganda ploy thought up by an American then working for the Japanese Embassy in Washington. He (my good friend Dr. Robert Angel) later (in a Columbia Journalism Review interview in 1992) regretted having launched that guilt-inducing blockbuster after noting the apparent success of Washington’s pro-Israeli lobby in using the reproach of anti-Semitism to neutralize U.S. critics of Tel Aviv’s policies. “Those people who use [the term “Japan Bashing”],” Angel insisted, “have the distinction of being my intellectual dupes.”


(2) Ad hominem attacks. These are legion in argumentation everywhere and their standard refutations well known. What is extraordinary in the Japanese case is the way the basically culturalist framing of this argument – that the foreign critic is either intellectually ignorant of Japanese culture or emotionally unhappy in Japan, or both – has been extended far beyond the personal realm to disputes in areas like law, journalism, and commerce. Foreign teachers are the easiest to tar with this brush because their personal contact with the Japanese goes the deepest.


Riposte? – You have to expose both the factual inaccuracies (i.e., that teachers aren’t ignorant or unhappy as accused) and the logical fallacy (i.e., that this is a non-sequitur, since ad hominem). Love that Latin!


(3) “Guestism.” My hat is off to those of you who invented this marvelous expression. It is a perfect example of what I just pleaded for: the control of language framing the debate. It’s a corollary, of course, to the ad hominem ploy as applied specifically to the foreign teachers’ situation.


Riposte? – You are already the past masters against this ploy. In that PALE article, I viewed “Guestism” as deriving from “some half-baked notions about cultural sensitivity mixed in with semi-digested chunks of value relativism and stirred briskly into a one-sided sentimentalism about Japan.”


(4) The Italian nonsequitur. This is part of the broader “they do it everywhere” argument. I felt honored when one of Harvard’s top intellectual historians came to my lecture on Cartels, then dismayed in the Q and A by his (totally irrelevant) intoning that another nationally famous scholar had been treated miserably during his year as a visiting professor in Paris. Italy has recently been the subject of a range of serious academic comparative studies arguing the similarity of the two countries in the political, technological, and other aspects of their development. Some of the “protesters against protesters,” especially those in Europe, defend Japanese academic exclusion on the grounds that Italian universities have been notorious in their refusal to offer foreign teachers long-term job security.


Riposte? – Here, as elsewhere, the basic point is that two wrongs don’t make a right. In the Italian case the key difference is that of scale – of Japan’s mammoth role in the world’s economic and technological order – as well as in its repeated promises in response to repeated international entreaties (both unlike Italy) to open up its academe.


(5) There are a number of similar rhetorical challenges scattered throughout this talk, like the skill with which apologists conflate the significance of short term exchanges – where a person rooted in a foreign institution comes here briefly – with that of long-term security for persons rooted in Japan.


IN CONCLUSION ---“Let Them Teach English”


Finally, I would like to make just one monster recommendation – specifically to the professional foreign language teachers here in Japan -- offering it to you in all seriousness as potentially the most deadly arrow in your rhetorical quiver.


Tell the Japanese parties responsible for the perpetuation of Academic Apartheid, that, if they are not willing to extend decent professional treatment to decently qualified foreign academics – people whom they themselves have invited over here -- then perhaps the time has come for Japanese universities to send all foreigners home and fall back on their own Japanese staff to do all the English and other foreign-language teaching. To work at all, of course, such a scheme would require Jumbo-jetting planeloads of Japanese teachers abroad for lengthy institutional stays (not just vacation junkets!), indeed long enough to pick up the real language – as she is actually spoke! That, however, would expose those teachers – and through them, their students – to an unacceptable degree of foreign cultural contamination. This phrase, by the way – “a fear of cultural contamination” -- was the very one used by the legal activist (whom I quoted at the start of this talk) in his analysis of the resistance to foreign lawyers working in Japan. [Grondine, Cartels p. 36]


For a century now, the limitations on tenured employment sufficed to keep that contamination at bay. Today, however – in a world globalizing ever more rapidly, and communicating ever more openly – Japanese educational authorities seem to have taken a huge step backward in introducing a second type of limitation on top of the first, namely that ban on content teaching. It’s the perfect double-bind – whatever cultural viruses may have gotten past the first barrier can now be stopped dead at the second, namely by the reduction of the foreign instructor to a mere culture-and-value-free language machine!


Well, my friends, you have listened very patiently. I have gone on much too long, and it’s time now to hear from you. So let’s go on to the question period.


Thank you!