Think Tanked

Perhaps the reason that the world (outside Japan) has not heard of Kimindo Kusaka is that he has nothing to tell the world. (See People, page 11, June 2000.)

Your publication is about as good as it gets in its genre (and I don't just mean the Internet, but as a business publication as well). However, I think your editorial control lost it with this one. Yes, Mr. Kusaka's Institute of Softnomics just about says it all. First, it implies that here we have one of the curious pseudo-think-tanks which the bubble economy produced (but this one miraculously survived). Then we have the word soft, which is suitably woolly like its principal. As for the nomics part, this could be read "gnomic" -- meaning to make comments which are bizarre, veiled, and formulaic.

I don't agree that Japan's cultural orientation is peaceful. How to account for the fact that Mr. Kusaka's father and grandfather, even if reluctantly, were part of one of the most bloody and aggressive war machines of this century?

OK, we can all agree that Japan is flexible, but is this a virtue here? It's certainly one reason why so many Japanese wound up worshipping the Emperor before they ended up worshipping consumerism, and while it does allow them to "jettison religion" and ideologies, it also allows them to embrace hundreds of dangerous pseudo-religions. In fact, it's positively frightening what a Japanese is willing to believe. I don't think any of this is healthy in the way that Mr. Kusaka seems to imply. Indeed the opposite.

So where's Mr. Kusaka's head? I assume he's picking up the vibe of his brave new Japan by brushing past all the good, buzzy things going on in the richer and fashionable parts of Tokyo. He'd have a shock to find the "middle classes" of Osaka, lying on the underground walk-ways below the Stock Exchange Building, or the obviously working-class orientation of a growing number of youth around the shopping arcades, or a heap of other images if he could change his lenses from soft to hard. The only thing I would agree with about Mr. Kusaka's assertions are that the "Japanese have an excessive quality commitment." That's a strength. Most of the rest is a problem, waiting for a better answer than Mr. Kusaka supplies.

Alex Stewart
Kansai Capital Access
Nishinomiya, Hyogo-ken

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