Thursday, April 24, 2008

100 Japanese Public Intellectuals List - A First Fifty

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

Ishihara Shintarō
Inose Naoki
Yamauchi Masayuki
Nakanishi Terumasa
Yayama Tarō
Sakakibara Eisuke
Satō Masaru
Gyōten Toyo'o (Toyoo Gyohten)
Sakaiya Taiichi
Sakurai Yoshiko

Setouchi Jakuchō
Iokibe Makoto
Nakanishi Hiroshi
Tanaka Akihiko
Kitaoka Shin'ichi
Umeda Mochio
Ōe Kenzaburō
Inoguchi Kuniko
Tahara Sōichirō
Takenaka Heizō

Ōmae Ken'ichi
Kobayashi Yoshinori
Takemura Ken'ichi
Morimoto Satoshi
Funabashi Yōichi
Hama Noriko
Kawamoto Yuko
Ogata Sadako
Shimada Haruo
Katō Hiroshi

Nishio Kanji
Nishibe Susumu
Izumi Hajime
Fujiwara Masahiko
Yōrō Takeshi
Hinohara Shigeaki
Murakami Ryū
Uchida Tatsuru
Ikeda Nobuo
Kusaka Kimindo

Ando Tadao
Kokubun Ryōsei
Yanai Shunji
Okazaki Hisahiko
Sassa Atsuyuki
Inoguchi Takashi
Miyazaki Tetsuya
Miyadai Shinji
Kayama Rika
Katsuya Masahiko


Anonymous said...

Uh, dude, you left out the entire left wing.

Kang Sangjung
Mori Tatsuya
Sato Masaru (might have the name wrong-I think it is 佐藤優.)
Takahashi Tetsuya
Karatani Kojin

And if you're setting the bar sufficiently low to include Kobayashi Yoshinori as an 'intellectual', you should really include people like

Tahara Soichiro
Amamiya Karin

I'll think of more later.

Anonymous said...

Hosaka Masayasu
Tanaka Hitoshi
Soeya Yoshihide
Tachibana Takashi
Tamamoto Masaru
Hata Ikuhiko
Ozawa Ichiro
Okonogi Masao
Ebata Kensuke
Komori Yoshihisa
Beat Takeshi

Anonymous said...

Ishiba Shigeru!

Martin J Frid said...

Just curious, why did you not think Oe should make the top 10 list? Not that I usually care about top 10 lists, but he recently had that rather Oe-esque Osaka Court victory regarding Okinawa suicides:

"It can be said the military was deeply involved in the mass suicides," presiding Judge Toshimasa Fukami ruled, turning down the demand by the plaintiffs that Oe, 73, and Iwanami Shoten Publishers halt the publication of Oe's 1970 essay, "Okinawa Notes," and pay them ¥20 million in compensation.

Incidentally, I met Oe in Lund, Sweden when he was visiting to receive his Nobel Award. His lecture on "ambiguity" was universal, and not, as some observers have tried to infer, only a metaphor for Japan.

Why would he be left off the list? Too radial for FP?

Ken said...

Oe is top 10, hands down.

Jonas said...

I also came across the FP list and found it very strange that not a single Japanese was included. I think there are two main reasons for that.
Firstly, to influence public opinion globally it helps to publish in English, which most Japanese intellectuals don’t do. And secondly, issues debated by Japanese intellectuals may differ from issues that are being seen as important in the US and Europe....That may explain why the editors of FP neglected Japan’s thinkers....