Setting the record straight with Gordon Guthrie Chang (章家敦)

Thursday, June 21 2012 @ 10:23 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
- Thomas Jefferson

The mainland Japanese
deserve all this humiliation.
But my heart keeps aching
for the Okinawans until
it stops beating.
I still have several backlog issues to discuss with my audience before I close down my shop for good. Since I'm uncertain as to exactly when time runs out for me, I thought I should set the record straight, before anything else, with G. G. Chang, the most despicable person I've ever met in my lifetime.

All I know about Chang is that he is a total sellout. But it looks as though he is holding something back when talking about his personal background. For instance, Chang has never disclosed the year of his birth, and he seldom talks about the Vietnam War. This arouses your suspicion about what he was doing in the depth of the Vietnam quagmire. He can well be one of those war-mongering neocon hypocrites who dodged the draft themselves in their late-teens or early-20s.

But for now, I'll leave out the personal aspects of our working relationship in order to focus on the role the small-time racketeer in New Jersey has been playing as a cat's paw or mouthpiece of Washington under the guise of a political "analyst."

Hopefully in a separate post, I'll elaborate on his attempts to exploit this blogger as his irreplaceably reliable Tokyo correspondent at a bargain price. It didn't cost him any more than a retainer of a cheap Cross ballpoint pen and a plate of sushi. But for my part, his habitual lies, which have amounted to a serious breach of trust over time, caused me a costly loss of time, money and opportunity.

In May 2004 at a sushi bar in Roppongi, downtown Tokyo, Chang confided to me that he had felt an urge to write a book about the fate of his father's home country before turning 50, which he did in 2001. To tell the truth, I was favorably impressed by The Coming Collapse of China (Random House, 2001.) Not that I was convinced, or unconvinced, of his prophecy that the People's Republic of China would collapse by the year 2011. I just thought the author raised a very valid and relevant question when he boldly asked whether the world's most populous country can be considered a going concern just by virtue of its monolithic system. As I quoted Voltaire as saying, where to identify the real question is much more important than how to answer it.

In fact, though, neocons in the U.S. jumped at his answer. The emboldened Chang went on to write his second book under the title of Nuclear Showdown (Random House, 2006.) An old proverb says a fox isn't caught twice in the same snare. Even the empty-headed neocons in the U.S. could now see right through to his total inability to analyze intricate things such as international politics.

Traditionally the Japanese publishing industry doesn't give a damn about an American book which received poor reviews at home. Small wonder Soshi-sha, the publisher of the Japanese version of The Coming Collapse of China, or any other publishing company, hasn't printed a Japanese version of Nuclear Showdown.

On February 26, 2006, a staff writer of the Daily Yomiuri by the name of James Hardy gave a review to Chang's rubbish under the title of Radioactive Rhetoric. Hardy wrote: "More often than not, our own Clouseau of Counterproliferation - hey, this alliteration thing's easy - misses the point, and Nuclear Showdown is a sensationalized, contradictory, jumbled, half-baked mess of a book."

Early on, the Commentary magazine, the haunt of diehard neocons, welcomed him as a star contributor to its blog named Contentions. Now Chang learned he could add extra bucks to the fortune he had already made from The Coming Collapse of China, and Nuclear Showdown to a lesser degree, just by capitalizing on the vast intellectual vacuum prevailing in the U.S. This is the only thing the learning-disabled guy could learn as a parvenu in the American chattering classes.

Unfortunately for him, though, it didn't take long before Chang's neo-conservatism revealed itself to be a mercenarily-motivated fake. The poor wreck of the makeshift neocon was sacked by Contentions two months after the Kenyan monkey was sworn in. He wrote in his March 14, 2009 mail to me: "I'm really curious why Commentary cut my blog." But to me it was obvious he was cut simply because the unprincipled guy had now started flirting with the Obama administration.

He still desperately clings to the likes of Wall Street Journal and Forbes in order to stay in the lucrative monkey business. The only thing he has to do to that end is to constantly revise the timeline for China's demise. But basically the con man is sunk by now.

All this while, I tried very hard to build a productive working relationship with Chang from which both of us might have benefited had it not been for his inability to do so. It lasted about 5 years since mid-2003. In early 2008, I submitted a 10,000-plus-word outline of a book I wanted to publish in the U.S. to Chang's literary agent named Rosalie Siegel.

From the beginning, I had told Siegel that I hadn't established myself as a professional writer here because I had devoted my entire career to business. She assured me that shouldn't be a problem. It was only after the hag read my outline that she said there was no way for a locally unestablished writer to make inroads into the publishing industry in the U.S. I should have known before investing a tremendous amount of time and money in research and actual writing that I was promoting something that they were determined not to hear, and had never heard in the past, from a vassal of America's Far Eastern fiefdom. In order to prove she'd had no intention to cheat me, she had to resort to nitpicking over minor problems with my writing style as if she were licensed to teach English composition. Especially she carped at the fact that there were too many "run-on" sentences.

I belatedly realized that the fraudulent literally agent and her client were there to keep at bay any idea that would seriously undermine the status quo with the American dominance in Northeast Asia. They were, and still remain, censors virtually on the payroll of Washington.

A week or so after I had the last telephone conversation with Siegel, I said to Chang that his literally agent was too stupid to understand that thoughts and words are inseparable twins; there's no such thing as a brilliant thought expressed by a banal word, or a fresh word to describe an insipid idea. In response, he wrote to me: "You are wrong when you write that words and ideas are inseparable twins. Writing and thinking are two different talents, and few people possess both. Just think of the reverse of you: the world is full of ill-conceived ideas that are communicated flawlessly." He spilled the beans. This was the final confirmation that Chang is yet another empty-headed flapjaw.

For all this revelation from me, he may file a defamation lawsuit against this 76-year-old blogger who is dying in dire poverty. But the former shyster should know he would lose much more than he would get out of it.

In mid-2011, someone in Arkansas strongly suggested I revive the once-aborted book. He introduced me to his friend who had started a publishing company in New York a couple of years before. He even volunteered to proofread my manuscript. But before I could complete rewriting, I gave it a second thought: now it's for sure that I was dealing with exceptionally honest people; but the rest of the Americans are all small-time crooks like Chang and Siegel. That is how I finally gave up trying to get my simple message through to American readers: they should elect a President who would invoke Article 10 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty to send his Japanese counterpart a termination notice as soon as he is sworn in.

If you are interested, please take a peek at the outline of the Preface below. I'm also thinking about inserting the outline of Chapter 1 if and when I have a chance to post Part 2 of my allegations against Chang.


Initially I thought I was going to write a book to be titled something like The Coming Collapse of Japan as Gordon G. Chang would certainly do if he had a brain to understand the dead-end situation facing this country. That would sell because most American readers want to look away from the fact that the relationship between their country and its Far Eastern fiefdom is "financially unsustainable and morally obscene" as the late Chalmers Johnson put it. They never want to listen to a level-headed diagnoses of the two failing countries. I asked myself: “Can a book be truthful and sell at the same time?” The answer was clear: there is no such thing as truth that does not hurt. And very few people want to pay for something that hurts them. After many months of deliberation, I came to the conclusion that it would be more important to have a small number of people understand the untold truth about Japan than to help millions of people scratch the surface of the problems deep-rooted in the soil, where I have spent most of my life.

More specifically, the reason I finally dropped the sexy title is threefold.

Firstly, I do not know how to define the collapse of a country any more than Gordon G. Chang did when he wrote The Coming Collapse of China (Random House, 2001.) Does it mean the total disappearance of statehood, or is it just one of those regime changes? Intentionally or not, the prominent writer has remained very unclear on that point. Sometimes he specifically talks about the end of the single-party system without mentioning a post-collapse scenario, such as what if the Chinese people, when given suffrage, wanted the Communist Party of China to stay on in power with a different name. And some other times, he would talk about much more than that.

Secondly, in this era of “globalization,” it makes little sense to single out one country and discuss its fate. Now leaders of the G-8 or G-20 countries are all trapped in the “swim together, sink together” mindset. Among these nations, they regard each other as too big to fail. Against this backdrop, they have put state-of-the-art life-support systems in place everywhere. That is why a dead country can sometimes show weak vital signs.

In the West, especially in America, there are hordes of Japan experts, who have a large chunk of vested interests in the failed country. Just like starved vultures flock around a decomposing carcass, these self-proclaimed Japan experts are playing a pivotal role within the life-sustaining mechanism for the country. Capitalizing on their gullible patients, who are dying for assurances that their country is not yet done for, they keep disseminating one comforting illusion after another.

One such example is Joseph Nye. Just two months before 3/11, the Harvard professor told the managing editor of the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, one of their most important sponsors, that “Japan is an amazing society that reinvented itself in the Meiji Restoration, and became the first Asian power to deal with globalization.” He went on: “After 1945, it did it again and became the second largest economy in the world. I remember [International Court of Justice President Hisashi Owada] saying [around 2000] that it was time for the third reinvention.”

The third reason I thought The Coming Collapse of Japan would not be the right title of this book was that every nation-state that has its origin in the 18th or 19th century has already outgrown its historical raison d’etre. That should also mean the United Nations and all other groups of nation-states have ceased to function properly.

With all this in mind, I have chosen the title of this book.

But this is not to say I don’t know where Japan is heading. My argument that this country and its people are terminally ill is based solely on historical evidence and my firsthand experience living in this country in the last three-quarter century.

Robert D. Putnam once theorized that the trajectories for some countries to follow are “path-dependent.” The public policy professor at Harvard explained his coined word this way: “Where you can get to depends on where you’re coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here.”

I wouldn’t call his theory determinism, but in the last 150 years, Japan has time and again proved a change-disabled country which always returned to where it had started. In this book I highlighted only four epochal events as cases in point because I thought that would be more than enough. They are: 1) Commodore Mathew Perry’s surprise port calls in the 1850s, 2) the launch of the unwinnable war against the West in the 1940s, 3) the burst of the bubble economy in 1990, and 4) the natural calamity of 3/11 that quickly turned into a full-fledged man-made crisis.

I would not be surprised if most of you think it is totally counter-intuitive that the country, which still boasts the world’s third largest GDP, is unviable. In this relation I want to point out that when the media try to influence you, they single-mindedly target your intuitive faculty like Joseph Goebbels did as Hitler’s propaganda minister. Goebbels not only believed but also proved that repeating the same lie over and over again gives it an indisputable credibility.

Also I am aware that a variety of conspiracy theories have been circulating about spectacular incidents, such as 9/11 and 3/11. I don’t know if these allegations are sometimes fully substantiated. But I do not really care because in my definition of the word “unviable,” it simply means a total inability to cope with any threat, be it internal or external, and be it natural or artificial.

All you can say about Japan’s modern history, where it has always remained on the victim side, is that had it not been for the submissive and defeatist traits of the Japanese, any potential conspirator in the West would have realized that the benefits from virtually conquering the small archipelago, extremely poor in natural resources, would never be commensurate with the costs involved there.

In his 1988 book titled The Presence of the Past, British biochemist Rupert Sheldrake writes: When any particular organized system ceases to exist, as when an atom splits, a snowflake melts, an animal dies, its organized field disappears from that place. But in another sense, "morphic" fields do not disappear: they are potential organizing patterns of influence, and can appear again physically in other times and places, whenever and wherever the physical conditions are appropriate. When they do so, they contain within themselves a memory of their previous physical existences.

The real implication of this intriguing passage is that the demise of a country is a much more complex matter than these arrogant, superficial, and sometimes fraudulent, political prophets seem to think when talking so lightly about the fate of a nation and its people. But if you are sensitive enough to read the subtle and mixed signals being sent from “morphic fields,” you can even see a ray of hope beyond the death of a country.

Actually there are some, if not many, people and things that I still remain committed to in this country. Without these faces I would never have thought about writing this book. In this context I really hope this book will help you wake up to the reality of the doomed country named Japan.

Comments (5)