Cartels of the Mind: Japan's Intellectual Closed Shop

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Cartels of the Mind: Japan's Intellectual Closed Shop

By Ivan P. Hall
W. W. Norton, 1998
208 pp. $25.00

An analysis of the most profound barrier that isolates Japan from the rest of the world. Hall, who has spent nearly three decades in Japan as a correspondent, cultural diplomat, and academic, says Japan systematically blocks access by foreign professionals to intellectual discourse and debate. American lawyers are presented with great difficulties in hiring or forming partnerships with Japanese lawyers. Foreign correspondents are systematically walled off from the most important sources. Foreign scholars are marginalized by a kind of academic apartheid, and foreign students and scientific researchers encounter a variety of institutional and psychological barriers. Finally, Japanese intellectuals and cultural spokesmen manipulate their dialogue with the outside world to deflect scrutiny, squelch criticism, and raise false hopes of intellectual decartelization. The author concludes that the prospects for a more open society, the healthy development of Japan's democratic institutions, a firm refusal to retread the old militarist path, and a constructive role in Asia will be worsened if this "exclusionist mentality" is allowed to persist.

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