Japanese Academe Is More Open Than It Looks
Ivan P. Hall's criticisms of Japan's "cartels of the mind" are a bit exaggerated ("The best business books of 1997," Books, Dec. 15). National universities may deny tenure to foreigners, but private universities (by far the majority) have no such restrictions. Likewise, most foreign reporters in Japan find it easy enough to live with Japan's press-club system. And so on.
If Japan is so eager to keep out foreign researchers, why do the education ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry's Japan Foundation spend so much money subsidizing foreign students and academics here? True, some of this money is used to "tame" academics. (I am blackballed by the Japan Foundation, for example, for criticizing Japan's foreign policies.) But the voracious media and publishing appetite here for foreign views guarantees that "cartels of the mind" cannot exist.