Cartels of the Mind: Japan's Intellectual Closed Shop (英語) ハードカバー – 1997/11
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As Washington and Tokyo continue to clarify their relationship and roles, Japan continues to block the access of foreign professionals, Westerners and Asians alike. These market barriers serve neither the professed goals of Japan nor those of the United States. Despite repeated promises to open up, Japanese legal, media, academic and research organizations run an intellectual closed shop. Western lawyers are stymied in efforts to help firms enter the Japanese market. Foreign correspondants are systematically walled off from the most important resources. Resident Asian academics in search of stable and productive careers and education find the roads blocked. Non-Japanese scientists and engineers are kept out of state-of-the-art laboratories. Japan aspires to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and a larger political voice, but its intellectual parsimony is simply not worthy of a world economic power, argues Ivan Hall. This book looks into the causes of these cultural and institutional barriers and examines ineffective past attempts to challenge them.
Ivan Hall has spent nearly three decades in Japan as a correspondent, cultural diplomat, and academic. He was the first associate director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and spent nine years teaching as a professor in Japanese universities. He lives in Tokyo.
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All in all reading the book was like watching one of those polemical documentaries that exhaustively argue one side of an issue - at first you are wrapped up in the damning evidence and thrill of wrongs being exposed, but after the same point is made over and over and over in the same way, you gradually grow skeptical about whether the situation could really be so simple. It would have made a fine magazine feature, but at this length I was hoping for more.
Thank you very much, Bryce King II
Personally, I am in the medical profession, and in my personal contact with the medical world in that society, the impression I have is that that same Cartels of the mind exist. I was very surprised to learn that while many of the latest drugs are readily available in Singapore, once the licensing authorities in the major advanced countries have given the go ahead, such as approval by the FDA in the USA, in Japan, these new drugs are not available maybe until some years later, Viagra being the notable exception. In the case of Viagra, it seems that within six months of its approval in the USA by the FDA, the Japaense Ministry of Health approved of its use in that country already, (because the old men in power there need it?)
Many years back, in the 80s, the scandal of HIV tainted Factor VIII in Japan was due to exactly the same kind of protection mechanism. Factor VIII is a product required for the treatment of Hemophiliac. Before the discovery of the method for inactivating the HIV virus, quite a number of Hemophiliacs became infected with that virus. In the mid 80s, the Americans learnt how to inactivate the HIV virus and the Americans produced Factor VIII became relatively safe. It was not allowed to be imported into Japan citing tests were required to prove its safety for use by the Japanese. Result? A large number of Japanese hemophiliacs became infected by that virus.
The result of these protectionistic measures might be good for the Japanese firms, but not good for the Japanese citizens and consumers.
This book by Ivan Hall is timely in illustrating how the intellectual world in Japan managed to protect itself from too much outside influence using the three professions: legal, journalism and academia, to illustrate that point. I am sure if Mr. Ivan Hall should decide to look into the medical world, the same situation applies.