Over at Observing Japan, Tobias Harris reports on a contest trying to select the top 20 of the world's public intellectuals from out of a list 100 candidates.
Not surprisingly, the list of candidates contains not a single Japanese name -- though 5 Indian citizens and 5 Chinese made the list.
In the comments section of the post, I proposed producing a list of the 100 top public intellectuals in Japan--a task I lack the skills to complete, even at swordpoint.
As an exercise, however, I have produced an initial list of fifty names.
My criteria are not terribly strict--the persons selected must be
- currently active
- well-known to the public
- commenting on current affairs and society
(I love Miyazaki Hayao as an artist. His work frequently contains strong political and social messages. However, he is too much the recluse and too oblique in his criticism to be classed a public intellectual)
- have earned their reputation through published work or activities other than just the carrying out of the duties of a Japanese national government or local government official
The last criteria is convoluted. I wanted to keep Ishihara Shintarō and Inose Naoki on the list--for even though the two of them are the Governor and Vice-Governor of Tokyo, their reputations as maverick thinkers and writers preceed their terms of public service. I also wanted to keep Inoguchi Kuniko on the list--in part because the list suffers from a terrible dearth of prominent women.
I have also excluded active corporate executives and the heads of corporate lobbying organizations. I would appreciate any reasonable explanation for my having done this.
I would appreciate suggestions of further names, particularly from the Davids if they could spare a moment on writers and thinkers in art and music worlds and from Okumura Jun on domestic politics or administration.
Fifty Japanese Public Intellectuals of Note
Gyōten Toyo'o (Toyoo Gyohten)