Ezra Vogel Obituary

I came to Japan in February 1979 from Hawaii, and at almost the same time, the book, “Japan as Number One” was published by Harvard professor Ezra Vogel. It instantly became a bestseller, and spawned endless discussions on both sides of the Pacific about the ‘new kid on the block’. Naturally, I rushed to buy a copy and despite my preference towards Reaganomics and American-style capitalism, I gradually began to see the benefits of Japanese-style socialism built into their capitalistic corporate system. It inspired serious study abroad among a generation of undergraduate and graduate students — especially in the U.S. — of Japan’s economy, corporate culture and society. It greatly saddens me that Professor Ezra Vogel has died today at the age of ninety. This is a tremendous loss to Japan and America, and to all the scholars around the world whose understanding of Japan he sought to strengthen. I feel certain that his contribution to deepening the understanding of Japan shall be seen as no less than that of the two cultural icons Edwin Reischauer and Edward Seidensticker.

In a January interview with the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, Vogel said that if China proceeded in a peaceful way in regards to military activities in the East and South China seas, Japan and South Korea should be open to cooperation. Is China listening?