Race, culture, and history

in American and Japanese popular fiction

By William Wetherall

A version of this article appeared in
The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan
Fourth Series, Volume 6, 1991, pages 87-113

This paper was read by the author before The Asiatic Society of Japan on 14 may 1990 at OAG House in Tokyo. It was preceded by Mark Schreiber's reading at the same venue on 9 April 1990 of his paper "Asian stereotypes in Popular English and American Literature: From 1860 to the Present".


Popular Fiction
Race Mixed-blood heroes: Lone Star series Victimhood fiction: Culture defense in California
Conscientious Pleasures

Popular Fiction

This article is about race, culture, and history as themes in the popular fiction of the United States and Japan. It is not about the art or craft, much less the writers or readers of such fiction. Questions about who produces and consumes it, why and with what personal, social, and other consequences, are as fascinating as they are both difficult and controversial. But their answers are not essential to the present discussion of racial, cultural, and historical themes as content.

Fiction may be defined as an untrue story. But the line between fantasy and fact is seldom crystal clear to either writer or reader. Hence fiction is full of falsehoods about race, culture, and history that unwittingly pass both writer and reader as fact. One purpose of this article is to show examples of how such falsehoods masquerade as fact in American and Japanese popular fiction.

If a work of fiction has to be assigned to a single country, as being "American" or "Japanese" or whatever, then its country of first publication and circulation is generally a better criterion than either the language it was written in or the author's citizenship or ethnicity. All works cited in this article, though, were written either in English by citizens of the United States, or in Japanese by citizens of Japan; and in no work was a writer's ethnicity a factor in its selection.

My observations on racial, cultural, and historical themes in the popular fiction of the United States and Japan may also be true for such literature in other countries. I have examined these themes as they appear in such fiction from only these two countries, because they are the only countries that I know to any extent from personal experience, and because they are the homes of the people, and the locales for the issues, that I wish to discuss.

"Popular" fiction is any fictional work that is published for mass distribution. If a work of fiction can be bought at a corner drugstore or neighborhood supermarket or shopping mall in the United States, or at a local bookstore in Japan, then it is "popular" -- whatever its sold circulation or critical acclaim, which for most works is neither that large nor very great. Practically all popular fiction is produced in paperback. Some titles first appear in hardcover editions, but most are never given this deceptive mark of quality.

Hence "popular" implies no distinction between "serious" and "entertainment" or other qualities that may reflect on the intellectual prowess or purpose of the fiction writer or reader. The only criterion for "popularity" is whether a work of fiction is available to virtually anyone who may want to read it. The factories that bring us titles like Black Samurai [n 1] and White Ninja [n 2] in English, and Nippon Apatchizoku [Japanese Apaches] [n 3] in Japanese, also publish the "great books" of the world that survive time and place, and may have a greater impact on human affairs than shorter lived and less widely read works.



History may be coming to an end for some intellectuals. But for many writers of popular fiction, the past has a lucrative present and future. And thanks to their productivity, the bookstores are full of crystal balls that both replay and forecast history through fantasy.

Two recent American paperbacks project today's editorial concerns on the future. China, America, and energy are the themes of The Steps of the Sun, by Walter Tevis. [n 4] The story is set in 2063 when, as one advertising blurb has put it: "China's world dominance is growing, and America is slipping into impotence. All new sources of energy have been depleted or declared unsafe, and a new Ice Age has begun." [n 5]

Japan, China, and the Soviet Union are at war in Force of Arms, the eighth volume in G. Harry Stine's Warbots series. [n 6] In this story, "The Warbots are off to the island of Sakhalin, where the armies of China, Japan, and Russia battle for control of its mineral-rich land. The solution: the super combat unit of Warbot-equipped Washington Greys -- in a battle that will decide the fate of the world."

By thus turning worst scenarios into entertainment, futuristic fiction can be charged with exploiting our readiness to accept decline and war as permanent states of the human condition. In this they are like Biblical and other Armageddon prophecies.

On the other hand, perhaps such fiction is meant to remind us of what kind of world our children will die in if we keep going as we are. To be sure, most of the fictional futures are too incredulous to take seriously. The real future will undoubtedly be more fascinating than even the most imaginative writers could envision. But the unsettling (more than reassuring) visions of their fiction suggest that we can ill afford to ignore the prophetic qualities of such literature.

Several short stories in The Fantastic World War II, an anthology of science fiction and fantasy written mainly during the war, [n 7] has been advertised as follows:

In 1939 it looked like it would take a miracle to defeat Nazi Germany and Hirohito's Japan. And science fiction writers endeavored to create that miracle-within their fiction. Included here are war stories of a fantastic world war, written before the war was decided at Hiroshima-and the new atomic age changed the course of history.

While "Hirohito's Japan" was not clearly an object to defeat until 1941, Japan had been regarded a threat to the world for half a century before then. Fantasy fiction predicting a Pacific War goes back to at least the turn of the century. In his 1898 novel War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells anticipated the kind of mechanized warfare that came to be seen in the Great War. This war to end all wars was numbered World War I only when World War II became inevitable. And true to the pessimistic nature of futuristic fiction, numerous stories have previewed World War III and even later global conflagrations.

In 1907, a short story entitled "The Yellow Peril in Action" and subtitled "A Possible Chapter in History", written by Marsden Manson from the perspective of 1912, depicted Pearl Harbor besieged by Japanese and Chinese forces in 1910. [n 8] In 1925, a fictional narrative called The Great Pacific War, by British naval expert Hector C. Bywater, described Japanese invasions around the entire Pacific Rim in what the subtitle dubbed "A History of the American-Japanese campaign of 1931-33". [n 9]

A study of futuristic fiction depicting a war between the United States and Japan, including comic strip fantasies like Buck Rogers in the 25th century, would fill a book. But the book would be little more than a list of futuristic scenarios that, in hindsight, turned out to be prophetic; it would not provide a way of predicting which, if any, of our fictional forecasts will prove true.

It seems to me that we stand to learn more about ourselves by looking at how we use fiction to fantasize the past. I do not mean categorical historical fantasies like the Heike inspired Tomoe Gozen saga, a trilogy by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, author of another feminist martial arts fantasy called The Swordswoman. [n 10] Nor do I mean the tales of Gonji, a samurai warrior who, in five bushidoist volumes by T.C. Rypel, rescues medieval central Europe from a menagerie of demons and dragons. [n 11] I mean more realistic historical fiction that deceptively poses as truth.

It also seems to me that we best study the past to understand the present, not to predict the future. This is not to say that probing the past is not concerned with the future. Indeed, unearthing the relics of an ancient civilization makes us keenly aware that our own civilization will someday be the object of archaeological excavation-if civilization itself survives. But how we scrutinize the past will determine what problems we try to solve, and with the help of what historical lessons. And so dishonest history means at best deceptive problems, at worst disastrous solutions.

On the whole, James Clavell is honest. He has been blamed for committing all kinds of historical and literary crimes in Shogun, which was published in 1975. [n 12] Clavell replied to his critics by pointing out that he had given all of his characters non-historical names precisely because he had no intention of writing history. And he reportedly said, "I'm not a novelist, I'm a storyteller. . . . When critics say my books are 'escapist,' I think that's wonderful." [n 13] Yet either Clavell, or his publishers, subtitled Shogun "A Novel of Japan".

And then there are writers like Douglass Bailey, John Toland, and Yamasaki Toyoko, whose works show delusions of historical, literary, and even ideological grandeur. Whereas Clavell let Shogun stand without editorial comment, Bailey appended an author's note to Shimabara, a 1986 novel which, like Shogun, deals with Christian politics in 17th century Japan. [n 14] As a preface to his "list of historical personages who appear in the story as a guide for the reader", Bailey explained:

Someone once described the novelist as a liar who always tries to tell the truth. In that spirit I set out to create a fictional story that tells the truth about a fascinating period in Japanese history.

After the list Bailey added:

Although I took great pains to represent these characters as they are depicted in both history and folklore, and to wrap the story around actual historical events, this work does not pretend to be history. But, inasmuch as it succeeds in conveying a sense of the true nature of those extraordinary times-to that degree truth has been served.

But how can there be truth in fiction that garbles facts about its supposedly historical characters, and then ahistorically animates these characters with an "inner vision" or "mysterious force" called haragei? More about such cultural warps in tourist-class fiction later. Here, suffice it to say that Shimabara, like Shogun, was written mainly to give readers pleasure and escape in return for their money and time-a motive which Clavell, to his credit, was honest enough to admit.

John Toland goes even further than Bailey in his conscious effort to use fiction as a forum for historical truth. Occupation, his 1987 novel about the war crime trials in Tokyo and Yokohama, begins with a four page list of principal characters, divided into fictional and historical. [n 15] It ends with an equally long list of some of the people he interviewed, some of the written sources that support his thesis that Hirohito did not qualify as a war criminal, and a personal account of the memorial monument on the site of the gallows at Sugamo Prison where Tojo Hideki and six other convicted war criminals were executed.

Occupation represents a sub-genre of historical fiction that can be called "revisionist" because, while entertaining the reader with the usual tales of international love, war, and intrigue, it seeks to shift at least part of the blame for Pearl Harbor to Franklin D. Roosevelt and others who some historians have claimed intentionally provoked Japan into resorting to war as a means of resolving its political disputes with the United States. Thomas Fleming's Time and Tide, published in 1987, [n 16] and F. Paul Wilson's 1988 novel, Black Wind, [n 17] are also revisionist in their views of which country started the war, and which side committed the worst atrocities.

Opinions are not at issue here. Nor can there be any quarrel with revising history, which by its very nature is subject to constant review and adjustment. But seeking the truth obliges reader and writer alike to constantly scrutinize their assumptions about the human condition. The writer is free to argue that Japan has been a victim of American entrapment and racialism. But the reader is free to object when the writer has failed to marshal the evidence honestly.

What I object to in Occupation is the manner in which Toland has abused the line between fiction and history in order to historicize his speculations. Toland wants his readers to know that he did a lot of homework, and he wants them to know which characters are historical and which are not. But the distinction between history and fiction becomes confused when real and imaginary characters are brought together in scenes which give the reader the illusion that one is able to eavesdrop on forbidden conversations. And this confusion becomes dishonest when it subliminally tempts the reader to admit such hearsay as evidence.

Fleming is a better story teller and writer than Toland. Time and Tide comes far closer than Occupation to being a novel of real emotions and real behavior. Yet Fleming's fictional disguise is also dangerously thin. His hero McKay, captain of the fictional warship Jefferson City, is simply too close to the real Captain McVay of the real Indianapolis. The Indianapolis was the heavy cruiser which transported the atomic bomb that the Enola Gay dropped on Hiroshima. [n 18] But en route to Leyte Gulf after delivering the bomb to Tinian island, from San Francisco Naval Shipyard via Pearl Harbor, the unescorted ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine commanded by Hashimoto Mochitsura. [n 19]

The real-life McVay was rescued after four days in the water with one-fifth of his crew, and he was court-martialed for carelessly losing his ship and nearly 1,000 men. But Fleming's McKay is a brooding warrior whose death wish is heroically fulfilled when he orders his executive officer to abandon ship rather than stay and pry open the buckled hatches of the cabin where he had been trapped while sleeping.

Fleming recast historical facts in a romantic mold for the sake of story telling. But in doing so, he had to omit the more interesting true drama in which Hashimoto, the alert Japanese Navy commander who torpedoed the unvigilant Indianapolis, was brought to the United States in order to testify in McVay's court martial.

Paul Wilson's Black Wind blends fantasy with reality in a tale that features divided friendships, loves, and loyalties. Part of its revisionist drama shows discrimination against Americans of Japanese ancestry in San Francisco. Another part involves an American-educated Japanese patriot who stows away on the Indianapolis in order to sabotage the atomic bomb, is foiled at Tinian, but escapes to Hiroshima in time to become a hero.

Japanese popular fiction is also beating the revisionist drums. The most salient example has been Yamasaki Toyoko's Futatsu no sokoku [Two ancestorlands], which upset a lot of people when it came out as a book in 1983. [n 20] Yamasaki used Japanese American characters as foils for her message that the United States first provoked the war, and then made the war a pretext for testing the atomic bomb on a racially despised population. The hero is a Japanese American who commits suicide after serving as an interpreter at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Yamasaki expected Japanese Americans to be grateful to her for giving their story of hardship and discrimination in the United States such billing. Some were. But many objected to her racial stereotypes, and her linking of Japanese Americans to Japan on the basis of their putative "blood" and "spirit". The controversy deepened in 1985 when NHK serialized the three-volume novel as Sanga moyu [Mountains and rivers ablaze] in fifty weekly episodes. [n 21] But more about racial stereotypes, and Japanese Americans, later.

If some fictional works attempt to revise orthodox views of World War II, others try to confirm these views. An excellent example of the latter is C.M. Kornbluth's "Two Dooms" in The Fantastic World War II anthology. [n 22] To the extent that it vindicates the development and use of atomic bombs in the war, Kornbluth's story is fantasy literature's equivalent of Paul Fussell's essay, "Thank God For the Atom Bomb". [n 23]

"Two Dooms" shows how the war with Japan would have turned out had a key Manhattan project physicist gotten high on a Hopi mushroom called God Food and slipped some 150 years into the future. Without him, the Manhattan project failed. Japan refused to surrender, and the United States invaded Japan's home islands. A series of military reversals in Europe and Asia result in the war dragging on for ten more years, until 1955, when North America was conquered, and the United states was occupied by Japan and Germany west and east of the Mississippi.

The physicist finds himself in an Orwellian world in which Japan and Germany have enslaved or liquidated all ethnic minorities. As in some intellectual quarters today, historical truth has become a victim of racialist ideology. After experiencing cruelty on both sides of the Mississippi, the physicist concludes that his chances of survival are better on the German side. There he manages to escape the scalpel of a German dissectionist long enough to find a museum storeroom that has a sample of the Hopi mushroom, which takes him back to wartime Los Alamos.

Having thus hallucinated the future of a civil society that was vacillating in its survival fight against fascism, the physicist wastes no time in telling his supervisor that the bomb is now workable because he has solved the final detonation problem. The supervisor, who can think of only an atomic doom, would continue to be philosophical about the bomb, and sigh: "Ah, do we ever act responsibly? Do we ever know what the consequences of our decisions will be?" While the hero, who has seen another doom, one even worse than atomic massacre, must try to subdue his answer: "Yes. This once we damn well do." [n 24]

S.M. Stirling makes the following observation in his introduction to the story:

"Two Dooms" deals with a tendency which sheltered North Americans must always be wary of: imagining that the first horror they stub their moral toes on is necessarily the worst possible in a suburban world far less pleasant than they have been reared to believe. Much has been written on the moral dilemmas of those who worked on the Manhattan project; [this story] is a cautionary tale reminding us of why the Project was launched in the first place. [n 25]

Kornbluth's story preceded others, including novels like Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle [n 26] and William Overgard's The Divide, [n 27] which postulate what would have happened if Japan and Germany had won the war and occupied the United States. Like Kornbluth, Dick also cuts the American pie at the Mississippi, while Overgard's "divide" is the Rocky Mountains. "Two Dooms" also anticipated novels like Alfred Coppel's The Burning Mountain, [n 28] which suggests the loses that both sides would have suffered had there been no atomic bombs, and had the United States invaded Japan's home islands as planned.

Such hypothetical fiction does a "fantastic" job of dramatizing, often more effectively than philosophical essays, the implications of historical "if not" events. Such fiction shows that "alternative" histories merit serious thought when morally judging past choices from the comfort and safety of latter-day armchairs.



Culture is supposed to be what makes people, as members of groups, think and behave in ways that are supposed to characterize those groups. This and other concepts of culture deserve hard critical examination, as do the many ways in which the word itself, like democracy and peace, has become an object of thoughtless overuse by all manner of faddists and of ideological abuse by determinists and relativists. Writers of popular fiction are generally more thoughtless than ideological about culture. Most feed myths of "national character" and otherwise contribute to the "culturalist" industry. A few writers, though, subordinate culture to personality by stressing human rather than cultural qualities.

Many if not most American novels with Asia-related themes, written over the past two decades, involve martial arts. Heroes and villains alike are often masters of kung-fu or karate. Ninja, disciples of bushido, and a menagerie of racists with historical axes to grind, are all but mandatory in most genres of Japan-related stories. But such stories also market vintage Ruth Benedict to readers who have been taught to believe that, especially in exotic places like Japan, "culture patterns" decide how people behave, and even suicide is "ritual".

In 1988, colorado Governor Richard Lamm and advertising executive Arnold Grossman published a novel called A California Conspiracy. [n 29] The story features a California governor who must decide whether to sign a foreign-ownership-limitation bill that would hurt an entrepreneur friend who stands to profit by selling his microprocessor company to a Japanese investor. It turns out that the investor belongs to a diabolical group called Phoenix, which was conceived in the ashes of defeat in 1945, and delivered by militant Japanese officers who, rather than commit suicide, swore revenge on the United States.

The story of the 47 ronin is told on page 18. On page 25, the investor ponders that Americans have underestimated Japan's strengths because of their sense of racial and cultural superiority. Some 20 pages later, the American entrepreneur is unable to read the Japanese investor's face. And by page 50, it is clear that American children need better schools.

On page 155, the Japanese investor, who later buys a major movie company, tells the entrepreneur how unfortunate it is that the United states cannot cope with Japanese competition. He regrets all the anti-Japanese headlines and cartoons, and the Japan bashing that he thinks has become a popular pastime even among more respected politicians. And he trots out Hiroshima and Nagasaki as reminders of American humanity.

When the American entrepreneur finally connects the Japanese investor with a series of murders, he tricks the investor into revealing the identity of the hired assassin, who is an American. After killing the two villains, the entrepreneur jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge with the floppy disk containing the military secrets that Phoenix covets.

Before this bizarre climax, however, the entrepreneur assures the governor that Phoenix's members were hiding "behind the honest efforts of their nation to compete with the United States." Everything they've done has been totally without the sanction of their government, or so the entrepreneur hopes. "It has to be," the governor remarks. "Tokyo doesn't put out contracts to kill innocent people."

Other themes of current interest are woven into the plot of Thomas Hoover's The Samurai Strategy, also published in 1988. [n 30] Hoover features the usual bad loser with a frustrated dream of Yamatoist hegemony. This time its Matsuo Noda, a former Ministry of International Trade and Industry potentate. Noda runs a scam on the imperial family in order to get the emperor to support his racialist scheme, and he tries to buy the United States in a bid to become the world's shogun.

In the end, several people help foil Noda's plans of economic domination. One is the story's narrator, Matthew Walton, an American sword collector who Noda hires to do his legal dirty work. Another is a powerful MITI official, Kenji Asano, who is willing to embarrass his own ministry and commit "professional seppuku" in order to repay his debt to America, where he earned a PhD at MIT.

But the most interesting dragon chaser is Tamara Richardson, PhD, college professor and Japanologist, Asano's former girlfriend, but now Walton's lover. As a bilingual, bicultural, and biracial woman, Tamara plays the role of the intermediator so essential to intertribal fiction.

Tamara is Hoover's "Japanese" name for a staunch American critic of lackadaisical management in U.S. companies. She and Walton, and other Japanophilic Americans in the story, are initially attracted to Noda's call for a Pax Amerippon, a joint hegemony in which "the people of Japan and America can achieve insurmountable strength". And they remain co-opted until they learn the true aim of the "massive Japanese-American consortium" that Noda wants to call "Nipponica" because it has "an interesting ring to it."

Despite its kinky Orientalist sub-plots, The Samurai Strategy comes closer than other Japan-peril fiction to the heart of the debate over the probable decline of the United States and the doubtful rise of Japan into the hegemony vacuum that some critics have predicted. Hoover seems to be warning Americans that they had better become alert samurai like the initially fooled Walton, who in the end uses his attorney powers to turn the tables on Noda and put all those billions of "homeless" Japanese savings into U.S. hands, so that Americans can rebuild their weakened industries and keep them too.

When interpreting such potboilers, one runs the danger of reading too much into them. Certainly their writers are out to make a buck. And undoubtedly most stories present a warped view of race, culture, and history. But many of the stories in this much disparaged genre deserve reading because their writers appreciate the role that individuals, as human beings with personalities that both precede and transcend culture, inevitably play in social, including economic and political intercourse. And they also appreciate the role of power in society.

The Samurai Strategy, like other novels of its kind, is full of conventional explanations of why Japanese people are supposed to behave as Ruth Benedict and others of her anthropological mold have alleged. But also like other novels, it shows people who fail to conform to national character and other "culture pattern" stereotypes.

Most books on Japan speak of "the Japanese" in one breath and "Japanese culture" in another. Many of these books so closely equate the two that even politics and economics are seen as determined by culture. If the writer is also a cultural relativist, then the reader is told not to judge Japan, but to understand it. Too often this does not mean truth-seeking analysis, but rather an acceptance of Japan as described by its self-ordained explainers. Insiders who criticize Japan are called disloyal. Outsiders are called revisionists or bashers.

For all their faults, Japan-peril novels like The Samurai Strategy and A California Conspiracy have the potential of forcing readers to take off the culturalist glasses that they may be wearing. Despite all the fictional hype and cultural illiteracy that mar such books, the reader is apt to come away with the correct impression that, throughout the world, the concept of culture is fast becoming a tool of racialist ideology, as witnessed from "ethnic studies" programs in the United States to "understanding Japan" brochures in Tokyo and New York.

Politicians and other powerholders in Japan are known to take an interest in "culture" because they want to manage its understanding. The most outstanding example of this has been the collaboration between Nakasone Yasuhiro when he was prime minister, and Jomonist philosopher Umehara Takeshi, to create the Ministry of Education's International Research center for Japanese Studies. It is also well-known that vast sums of "Japan money" are granted to non-Japanese organizations and individuals with expectations that the receivers will show their gratitude by "understanding" (read "accepting") Japan as it is.

Given such political facts, stories about hostile Japanese takeovers and other threats are not entirely paranoid. If economic domination means ideological control-from informal incentives for self-censorship to formal restrictions on the kinds of freedoms that Americans, say, are accustomed to-then American writers of popular fiction are doing a great service by showing their readers how some Japanologists and other experts, who are funded by Japanese political parties and other groups that are in the business of social control, are tempted to pull their critical punches. They are also to be thanked for dramatizing how a failure by people in any society to keep their own house in order is an equally pernicious cancer on human potential.



Race, as a word, covers all manner of real and imaginary group traits that are wrongly more than justly imputed to individuals. Most uses of the word in mass media and academia would not bear scrutiny from the standpoint of either the genetic or the behavioral sciences. This lack of objectivity fails, of course, to dampen the popularity of myths about race, or about its more fashionable alternative, ethnicity. But taboos in journalism and academia, against the vernacular rawness of racialist subjectivism, have left such expression to popular culture generally, and to popular fiction particularly. This means that racialism is more subtle in media controlled by press and other professional gate-keeper codes, while popular fiction is more likely to reflect street emotions.

In many works of popular fiction, culture is entangled with race as though the two were inseparable. And the warps and woofs of culturalism and racialism may be interwoven by threads of romantic history. Writers who endorse cultural determinism and relativism may also be nativists who regard racial "blood" as the spiritual vehicle of culture, and who consider culture a property (in both senses of the word) of race.

Some writers mix race and culture according to Mendelian laws. Others amalgamate the two in ways which show that they are independent. In either case, ethnically blended characters have become very prominent in popular fiction involving Japan and other countries.

Next to plot, nothing is more important in a story than knowing who the characters are. The major attribute is sex, but traits like race, class, and age come next. Yet mixtures are essential in at least three ways. In the most trivial way, a character cannot be only, say, a woman; she must also have an age, and be of high or low birth, and be black, brown, red, white, yellow, or whatever label sticks and sells.

A second, more important way in which traits are mixed is between characters, like Cinderella and her prince, or Lolita and her patron. Romeo and Juliet were Shakespeare's equivalents of interracial lovers. A pallet with five colors, two sexes, and homosexuality allows up to 40 combinations. In the real world, where ethnic groups number in the thousands, the possible miscegenations outnumber the population of fiction writers to come for the next several millennia. Already it has become impossible for writers to exhaust the combinations of offspring. Yet judging from the novels I have read, writers will fuel their plots with the rarest mixture in the world if it will explode on compression and a spark. Story tellers have always been aware that racial exotica and taboo have the power to bind the curious reader's attention, and blind the emotionally excited reader to weaknesses in plot.

Curiosity about interracial sex is being exploited in a number of genres of American and Japanese popular fiction. In the United States, plantation and frontier romances feature black, red, and white men and women in passionate love with members of the other (and sometimes same) sex and rival races. In multiethnic Japan, all kinds of mixtures of the many varieties of racial and ethnic minorities who are part of this country appear in popular fiction, as they increasingly do in comic, movie, and TV fare.

Miscegenation is a major subplot in American and Japanese fiction that deals with both countries, just as it is in English fiction set in India. James Michener's Sayonara [n 31] was hardly the first American novel to feature courting between Americans and Japanese, but it has become the classic tragedy of the genre. Though Clavell's Shogun is arguably less American in its view of Japan through the eyes of the Englishman Blackthorne (to say nothing of the Clavell's Australian-born, formerly British eyes), try to image the story without Mariko's cultural asides.

But the third, and perhaps most important way that writers mix traits occurs within a single character that is amalgamated or blended genetically and/or culturally. Such mixture is particularly common in stories involving Americans in Japan or Japanese in the United States. Such stories bring together characters whose compatriots speak different languages, eat different foods, and worship different gods. And so someone has got to be the tour guide, someone has got to explain to the non-native reader what the natives are up to. From the story teller's point of view, the mediator has got to be someone who the vicariously traveling reader can trust. And especially adaptable to this role is someone who has at least one leg in the door of the presumed reader's ethnicity, through either birth or experience.

In order to be a credible guide, the hero or heroine must know the languages and cultures of both countries. A variety of sojourners and natives, from adventurers and missionaries to mistresses and converts, have been pressed into labor as fictional guides on the strength of the cultural and linguistic bona fides they have earned through interethnic contacts of the non-biological kind-by which I mean that they are not the offspring of parents of ethnically different ancestries: they are credible by experience, not birth.

But ethnically (especially racially) mixed characters are often easier to draft into the guide role because they are considered, and expected to be, born bridges. Half-breeds in American frontier lore, while social outcastes, were valued as scouts and interpreters. And so, in a manner of speaking, are people with one Japanese and one American parent, especially when the parents are of different races. Such people are commonly assumed to be better endowed than those born to parents of the same nationality, especially to ethnically similar parents, with the various linguistic and cultural skills that supposedly enable a person to have putatively "intercultural" insights.

Mixed characters are also easy to use in multinational fiction because the writer can assign them a childhood that was troubled by the very kinds of racial and cultural conflict that are part of the story. One common result of such conflict is ambivalence about national loyalty and ethnic affinity. Having personally suffered all kinds of social discrimination, the mixed character has reason to empathize with other people who face rejection. Mixed characters can also be made to embody what the writer believes to be the best of both countries, and thus be freer to criticize the worst of both, with less risk of being called a basher, though the chances of being treated as a traitor are greater.

Few of these uses to which mixed characters are put in popular fiction bear a close resemblance to the real world, where mixed people usually turn out to be ordinary human beings, burdened with ordinary problems, and equipped with ordinary means of solving these problems. Nor are mixed people the only minorities to be pressed into fictional roles that serve the story teller's purpose. Indeed, most works of American fiction involving Japan, and Japanese fiction involving the United States, portray other minorities or use them as characters.


Mixed-blood heroes: Lone Star series

I will now describe two characters who exemplify the two major kinds of mixed intermediaries.

We have seen that fiction writers are very quick to incorporate trendy themes into the standard plots of mystery, thrill, and romance. The most productive writers crank out several books a year. The Lone Star series, for example, debuted in August 1982 and will reach number 100 in December 1990. [n 32] This means one title a month, and the stable of writers who share the house name Wesley Ellis haven't missed a single horse. Figure around 200 pages a book and you get 20,000 pages of western pulp about the blazing adventures of a green-eyed, honey-blond cowgirl and a martial arts sidekick with almond-shaped eyes in a white man's face.

Jessica Starbuck, the heroine of this series, is "a breathtaking beauty with her own cattle empire, who shoots as straight as any man and knows the arts of love better than any other woman". Sworn to serve her, and the code she lives by, is Ki, "her half-Japanese samurai protector whose shining knives and flying kicks can match any guns in Texas". Together this team, like the Lone Ranger and Tanto, or Red Rider and Little Beaver if you go back that far, fights for justice on America's rough-and-tumble frontier. And the "unlikely duo" otherwise conquers the wild west as no other man and woman have, as some of the cover blurbs assure (or warn?) us.

Yet read through any lusty Lone Star tale, and then turn to the sexless pages of The Japan Times. Or read a jaded academic work on Japan and the United States. Beneath their differences in style, you'll find a remarkable resemblance between their cultural and racial stereotypes. Well, perhaps not so remarkable. For after all, story tellers, journalists, and scholars are cut from the same human cloth. And this cloth is typically a weave of culturalist warps that are crossed with racialist woofs.

Jessica was the only child and heir of Alex, an entrepreneur who had been in the Orient before the start of the Meiji Restoration. Alex had liked Japan, and Japanese women. But he married an American woman, and Jessica was born in San Francisco.

When Alex's wife was killed, he gave up his plans to retire in Japan. Instead, he arranged for a dutiful geisha lover, who had melded his body and soul into one when he had been a younger, single man living in Japan, to come to America and become Jessica's spiritual nanny. He personally taught Jessica how to ride and rope and shoot like a man, educated her in the ways of the ranching empire that she would someday inherit, and hired tutors to prepare her for college. And so Jessica's karma was to become a 19th-century superwoman-smart, strong yet sensitive, in pubic a tough frontier survivor, in private a sexually enlightening geisha with long legs, full breasts, a slender waist, a round bottom, a tawny mane of honey-blond hair, and green eyes that flashed daggers when angry but otherwise drove men crazy.

Her companion, Ki, was a mix of a different kind. He was fated to be the son of a Yankee barbarian, presumably hairy, and a mother who had been beautiful and full of life, "the exquisite product of centuries of culture and high, fierce, Nipponese blood." Ki loses both parents when he is five. Disowned by his relatives in both countries, the homeless mongrel joins other urchins outside the monastery gates. But the priests turn him away because his blood was impure.

In the course of his back alley wanderings, Ki meets a vagrant who had been a samurai. Over the next ten years, the ronin teaches Ki the martial arts, and gives him his name, which means "the all-encompassing, indefinable spirit of the universe" that the master of the martial arts is able to control with his body and will.

Thus armed, and fifteen, Ki stows away on a clipper bound for San Francisco, where destiny guides him to Alex, Jessica's father, who had been a close friend of Ki's father and spoke fluent Japanese. Somehow Ki sill remembered the English he had spoken when a boy. When Alex is assassinated, Jessica and Ki vow to get blood and justice. And thus begins the apparently endless saga of Long Star.

Culturally, the Lone Star series is typical of American fiction about Japan, including stories we have already seen about evil Japanese conspirators. One of its subliminal messages, which runs through most other American fiction about Japan, is that certain Japanese ways, like the martial arts and their spiritual foundations, are technically and morally superior to the traditions of other countries.

When American good guys overcome Asian bad guys, or help Asian good guys win, it is only because they have studied and mastered Asian ways of fighting. The use of Asian martial arts as a vehicle for showing the powers of Asian spiritualism is directly connected with the popularization of martial arts in the United States and other, even Asian countries. American magazine racks bristle with martial arts journals, pulp and slick. Television and movies have also made the mystique of the Asian martial arts familiar to Americans of all kinds.

The popularity of Asian martial arts has provided writers with an ideal vehicle for the fictional introduction of other elements of Asian cultures, real and fancied. Asian cuisines and religious cults also motivate Americans in search of themselves, including Asian Americans, to seek the secrets of life in the Orient. But the chemistry of violence and philosophy in the body and soul of the martial artist, friend or foe, is more easily turned into cathartic excitement than health food or meditation.

Efforts to convert the martial arts into provocative thoughts also figure in so-called "contemporary" fiction, which is supposed to be a critical notch above novels that merely entertain. One example of such alchemic fiction is Jay McInerney's Ransom, [n 33] which was published one year after his 1984 bestseller, Bright Lights, Big City. [n 34] Both novels feature lost Americans, Ransom in Kyoto, the bestseller in New York. Richard Wiley's Soldiers in Hiding [n 35] and John Burnham Schwartz's Bicycle Days, [n 36] though not inspired by martial arts, also spotlight culturally (if not racially) lost Americans (and former Americans) in Japan.

In Lone Star, an encyclopedic account of geisha appears in the premier issue around page 100, where Jessica gets into some heavy sex with a federal marshal. The martial arts get a thorough introduction over the several pages it takes to tell Ki's story.

The ethnic empathy card is expressly played in volume 82 of Lone Star. Some of Ki's aristocratic relatives, who had rejected him back in volume 1, have fallen out of favor with the emperor, who is said to have deprived them of their wealth and titles of nobility. Thus ruined, they decide to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of America, and end of in Oregon, where they are killed by renegades. One rumor is that a band of Nez Perce Indians, who had been forced to settle on reservations, had attacked the oriental miners. But Ki assures a Nez Perce man that he believes this rumor to be false. "The people of my country are like yours," he explains. "Here in a land where they are so few, they do not fight among themselves."

This is an example of how fiction writers are tapping the "ethnic" market by weaving its trendy "struggle" ideologies into their stories, here about the past, and exploiting the reader's readiness to believe that it takes one minority to understand another. American Indians have become the most common foil for viewing the past through the artificial lenses of moral hindsight, and with delusions of guilt if one is white. Jessica's, though white, is allowed to sympathize with the Nez Perce people because she is a woman who survives in a man's world. But a non-white immigrant like Ki, who must fight off white bullies who call him a Chinaman or chink, is racially better qualified to understand Indian pain-if one has caught the fashionable wave of victimhood and is able to vicarious suffer through another vicarious sufferer.


Victimhood fiction: Cultural defense in California

In Japan, too, a sizable victimhood industry is feeding the myth that Yamato people have something in common with racial minorities in countries like the United States because, as opinionists like Ishihara Shintaro and Watanabe Shoichi would have it, the "Japanese race" [Nippon minzoku] continues to suffer from white ethnocentrism, from political and cultural imperialism to the aftereffects of atomic atrocities. [n 37] The perennial efforts to equate Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Dachau and Auschwitz are the most infamous examples of the institutionalized forms of such victimhood. But the virus of victimhood proliferates in Japan's mass media, including popular fiction.

1989 was a good year for aboriginal themes in mass media, as many indigenous groups had begun to stir in response to plans for a possible United Nations International Year of Indigenous Populations in 1993. But 1989 also marked the first centennial of Montana statehood. And so TBS television ran a two part program that featured a young woman from Japan with a bubbly personality riding horseback with an old Nez Perce man along the trail, much of it through Montana, that the Nez Perce took in their failed attempt, in 1877, to flee the U.S. Cavalry into Canada.

Over a camp fire, the old Nez Perce said that he is living as the whiteman wants him to live, but that he has no voice in the matter. The Japanese woman reflects on this and says in English:

I feel I understand what you said. I hope they are changing little by little. And we have to make them realize that we are equal, and we are living in our own way on this earth, on this small planet. We have to -- well, I can't express myself well, but I think, I hope you understand what I want to say. [n 38]

It is anyone's guess what the woman wanted to say. Most viewers undoubtedly got her covert message that the Yamato race has also been fighting for its right to self-determination, against a U.S. cavalry that has charged Japan, first in the form of Commodore Perry, then as General MacArthur, and now in the politically and economically (not to be confused with historically) revisionist guise of troop after demanding troop of civilian trade representatives.

Not a few Japanese novels, and television documentaries and dramas, sustain reverse-Orientalism, or Occidentalism, by using the outside world as a foil for proselytizing the ideology that Japan is racially homogeneous and culturally unique. One genre of entertainment literature invites readers to vicariously suffer through Japanese living in America, or through Japanese Americans, who gain sympathy as victims of "white" or "western" racial ignorance and arrogance.

Yamasaki's Futatsu no sokoku, the basis of the television drama Sanga moyu, has already been discussed as a novel that uses Japanese Americans to convey its author's revisionist views of WWII. Another work of Japanese popular fiction that boils race and culture in the same pot is Waku Shunzo's Rosu hatsu: Daiikkyu satsujin no onna [Dateline LA: The first-degree-murder woman]. [n 39] This novel, published in January 1989 (but released in December 1988), was written in conjunction with Asahi Television, which aired a movie version of it on 12 February 1989. [n 40]

The story idea for Rosu hatsu originated with Fukutomi Satoshi, the executive producer of the TV movie. Asahi Television commissioned Waku, a newspaper reporter and attorney before he become an author of suspense and science fiction, to write the book, which was published by Asahi Shinbun Sha as a tie-in. The TV movie had a fairly high audience rating of about 15 percent. [n 41] The book had only one hardcover printing of about 20,000 copies. [n 42]

Producer Fukutomi was interested in showing cultural differences. So he took a 1985 case involving a Japanese woman who had survived an attempt to drown her two young children and herself off a Santa Monica, California beach. Her 4-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter had died, and she was charged with felony-child endangering and first-degree murder, which could have brought a death sentence. At preliminary hearings, however, the woman's attorney presented psychiatric evidence and entered into plea bargaining with the prosecutor. This resulted in a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter, to which the woman pled no contest, the equivalent of a guilty plea, thus recognizing an intent to kill but not with malice. In November 1985, the woman was sentenced to one year in prison with credit for the months, since January, that she had spent in custody while under prosecution, placed on five years probation, and ordered to undergo further psychiatric treatment. Recommendations for clemency brought her an early release in December. [n 43]

In real life, the woman had lived in America for 14 years. She had once been married to a third-generation American of Japanese ancestry, but had remarried a Japanese man who had been living in the United States for about five years. The tragedy was triggered by marital difficulties between the woman and her husband, who had been having an affair with another Japanese immigrant. All three of these Japanese immigrants were racially yellow, and they had immigrated after completing their grade school education in Japan.

In real life, the Japanese woman was defended by a white American attorney who had welcomed the involvement of both Japanese and Japanese American support groups, which called for a "cultural defense" on the grounds that the woman's act had been culturally motivated. But the attorney declined to accept their "cultural defense" argument, which would not have been acceptable in court. Instead, he used psychiatric testimony and relevant legal precedents to argue that the woman deserved a break because she had been under extreme mental duress at the time of her act. The white female deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case also rejected the idea of a cultural defense, but on the basis of the findings of the psychiatric examination, she agreed to reduce the charges in return for the woman's no contest plea.

What did Asahi and Waku do to this story? They simply inverted the truth. In the real world, some Japanese immigrants became victims of their own faults. Asahi and Waku changed most of the crucial facts in a personal tragedy into lies about racial suffering. Yellow people generally, and Yamato culture in particular, became the victims of a "Made in Japan" variety of white (and even black) racism and ignorance.

In the Asahi version, the Japanese woman's husband, who in real life had been the proprietor of a Japanese restaurant, was turned into a high-tech engineer, and he was shown to have been the victim of an intellectual property scam carried out by white bad guys who baited their hook with a foxy white blonde. The husband went into hiding, and when the bad whites visited the woman's home to pressure her into telling them where her husband was, they tried to rape her. This attempted rape is shown to have contributed to the ambiguous conditions that resulted in a tempura fire from which the woman might have escaped but apparently chose not to.

Worth noting here is that the Asahi/Waku drama incorporates a number of elements from another murder-suicide case, which occurred in the United States on 3 April 1988. A 28-year-old Japanese woman and her two daughters, aged 4 and 5, were found dead in the debris of a fire that razed their two-story wooden home in Anaheim, near Los Angeles. The woman was a waitress at a Japanese restaurant, and had been married for seven years to a 33-year-old Japanese man who worked as a cook at another Japanese restaurant. The couple reportedly had chronic marital and family problems. The bodies were found together in a bedroom. The police had reason to believe that the fire, which had broken out in the living room, had not been accidental. The woman's name was Mitsue -- the name of the "heroine" in the Asahi/Waku drama.

And so it seems that Asahi gave the woman who had survived in Santa Monica the name of the woman who had died in Anaheim. And then Asahi turned the woman's white American attorney into a yellow Japanese immigrant who had been legally trained and licensed to practice in the United States. He also felt racially obliged to defend the woman because she had the "same Japanese blood" and was being victimized by American laws that made no allowances for the peculiarities of Japanese culture. The district attorney, who in real life had been willing to plea bargain, was transformed into a hard-headed, ambitious Amazon who was out to score career points by playing to the anti-child-abuse gallery and sending the Japanese "baby killer" to the gas chamber.

In the Asahi version, what in real life had been only a bench trial became a trial by jury. This was a device to allow the Japanese attorney to trot out all the "cultural defense" arguments that in real life had been neither acceptable nor necessary. The attorney appealed to a jury that included a yellow Korean American woman. He selected her as a juror because he expected that she would be racially sympathetic. In Waku's novel, the jury becomes hung because every member except the Korean woman find the Japanese woman guilty. But the Korean persuades the other eleven members to change their votes to not-guilty.

All of this conveys heavily racialist and culturalist messages. The main racialist message is that yellow Japanese should appeal to other yellow people if they want racial support against a putatively anti-yellow America. The primary culturalist message is that even non-yellow Americans will understand Japan once they hear what sympathetic Japanologists have to say about "Japanese culture" and "the Japanese mind"; such an expert appears in both the novel and movie as a college professor who tells the jury that, unlike America's penchant for black and white, Japan is a country of many shades of gray.

The list of sins that Asahi and Waku committed in order to heighten the viewer's and reader's sense of racial and cultural victimization is depressingly long. Nor was this the only Asahi drama that year to exploit the racial persecution complexes of its viewers. [n 44]

Interestingly, Asahi shinbun published a letter from a 41-year old housewife who had seen the TV movie and was surprised at the harsh attitude of its American prosecutor. The housewife sympathized with the Japanese woman who this prosecutor had charged with first-degree murder and praised the efforts of the Japanese attorney. And she hoped for the day when people knew different cultures so that such painful incidents would no longer occur. [n 45] But the paper had previously published a letter from a 24-year-old student named Gary Schwartz (transliterated from katakana), who severely criticized the "culture understanding" stereotypes in the drama, and wondered "where to draw the line between responsible programs and irresponsible programs." [n 46

Perhaps the housewife had read the statement that followed the credits at the end of the TV movie. In this statement, Asahi claimed that the story was based on a real incident. Then it qualified this claim by stating that no Japanese attorney had ever defended a client in an American criminal court. This is clearly not the usual disclaimer which cautions that the drama is entirely fiction, and any resemblance between people and events in the story and those in the real world are purely coincidental. On the contrary, it seems that Asahi wanted to assure its viewers that they were free to believe the general features of the story except the citizenship of the Japanese woman's attorney. Who would ever suspect that Asahi had abused its license to entertain the masses by turning human truths into racial and cultural lies?

The outstanding feature of "race" in popular fiction, but also in other literature, and in journalism and scholarship, is how easily race becomes a criterion for membership in society, as though citizenship had no meaning. Waku, the attorney turned writer, exemplifies this feature in a "court suspense" story called Eizugai no renzoku satsujin [Serial murders on AIDS street]. [n 47] Published in 1987, this seems to be the first work of Japanese fiction to exploit the official discovery of AIDS in Japan the year before.

The story's first victim is a 19-year old nude model who calls herself Dorothy and has tested positive for AIDS. Waku labels her a haafu [half-breed], then proceeds to describe her in the kind of discriminatory language that is commonplace throughout the world: Dorothy had never been abroad, had gone to Japanese schools, and couldn't speak, read, or write her father's mother tongue or other foreign languages; so in the sense that she had been born and raised in Japan, and could speak only Japanese, Dorothy could pass for a kissui no Nipponjin [true Japanese] if not for her face, which "due to the genetic influence of her father had the exotic looks of Latin America"; Dorothy's father was a Haitian-businessman who had abandoned mother and daughter when Dorothy was born; Dorothy's Japanese mother had not been married, and so Dorothy had a family register, in terms of which she was a junzen taru Nipponjin [pure and natural Japanese].

The lawyer-writer is clearly ambivalent about whether Japan is a civil society in which citizenship, not genes, decide who is Japanese. But the same ambivalency continues to plague the United States, where civil society has much deeper roots. In the popular fiction of both of countries, though, race is most unfortunately the culturally dominant theme of history, real and fantasized, past, present and future.


Conscientious Pleasures

Our story of racial, cultural, and historical images in popular fiction could go on. And the same story could be told about such images in journalistic and academic writing. Yet Popular fiction, whatever its artistic and intellectual drawbacks, has certain redeeming features. Most writers of American popular fiction, for example, recognize the role of raw power in the United States and other countries. And so their stories, when set in Japan, are apt to show its worms of truth, which some non-fiction writers in both countries, including academics, are prone to keep a lid on in their conscious if not paid efforts to be favorable to an academic if not political ideology.

Fiction writers too, of course, are capable of filtering the truth through their worldviews. Hence the predominance of culturalist and racialist themes in both Japanese and American popular fiction.

The social scientist in me wants to know what such popular fiction tells us about the psyches of its writers and readers, how it reflects and affects their thought and behavior. Many people have asked the same questions about pornography and comic books. And their answers have run the gamut, with the result that nobody knows.

Any sackful of popular fiction, regardless of genre or linguistic origin, will portray the world's many countries and peoples much like other mass media do. Fictional stories contain the same confusion of honesty and deception that can be found in newspapers, magazines, journals and books, radio and television, drama and film, even the plastic arts. On the plus side, they may hint at the good in human life. On the negative side, their ability to entertain with a minimum of moral disturbance stems from the stock of stereotypes, prejudices, biases, and outright lies about race, culture, and history that they share with other media.

My guess is that popular fiction is no more harmful than school textbooks, or newspaper editorials, or religious tracts. More important than what a story does to a reader is what the reader does to the story. Even readers who claim to have higher literary tastes can be entertained by popular fiction if they allow themselves to drop their pretentious intellectual defenses. In the process of letting themselves out of their critical prisons, they will learn that there is as much (and as little) to truth in the world of pulp as in many slicker works.

It probably comes down to a matter of how much a conscientious reader can afford to trust. Good readers will balance their hard faith in life with soft skepticism. It may be comforting to believe that someone must know what makes the human condition in countries like Japan and the United States tick. But if we overly trust our mentors to tell us the truth, if we are too willing to take the ordained experts of the world at their benign word, then we are going to be vulnerable to the popular fictions in the stories of all writers, be they Shakespeare or Toland, Chikamatsu or Waku. Being aware of the potential for dishonesty in even the most enduring fiction should not diminish our ability to enjoy the more transient pleasures of pulp.



  1. Black Samurai is the title of the first volume of an eight-volume series by the same name, written by Marc Olden, and published by Signet Books from 1974 to 1975.
  2. Eric Van Lustbader, White Ninja, Fawcett Columbine, 1989.
  3. Komatsu Sakyo, Nippon Apatchizoku [Japanese Apaches], Kobunsha, 1964.
  4. Walter Tevis, The Steps of The Sun, Collier Books, 1990 (1983).
  5. Except where stated "cover blurb" or otherwise, all advertisement blurbs have been cited from Paperback Previews, a monthly circular published by a New Mexico book outlet of the same name.
  6. G. Harry Stine, Force of Arms (Warbots 8), Pinnacle Books, 1990.
  7. Frank McSherry, Jr., editor, The Fantastic World War II, Baen Books, 1990.
  8. Marsden Manson, The Yellow Peril In Action (A Possible Chapter in History), San Francisco, California, January, 1907. Preface dated December 1906.
  9. Hector C. Bywater, The Great Pacific War (A History of the American-Japanese Campaign of 1931-33), Houghton Mifflin Company, 1932 (1925).
  10. Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Tomoe Gozen (Tomoe Gozen Saga 1), Ace Books, 1981; The Golden Naginata (Tomoe Gozen Saga 2), Ace Books, 1982; Thousand Shrine Warrior (Tomoe Gozen Saga 3), Ace Books, 1984; The Swordswoman, Tom Doherty Associates, 1982.
  11. T.C. Rypel, Gonji: Deathwind of Vedun (Gonji 1), 1982; Samurai Steel (Gonji 2), 1982; Samurai Combat (Gonji 3), 1983; Knights of Wonder (Gonji 5), 1986. All volumes published by Zebra Books. The author does not have Gonji 4 and has no information about it.
  12. James Clavell, Shogun (A Novel of Japan), Dell Publishing Co., 1976 (1975).
  13. Newsweek (Asia edition), 24 August 1981, page 26. Cover story.
  14. Douglass Bailey, Shimabara, Bantam Books, 1986.
  15. John Toland, Occupation, Tor, 1988 (1987).
  16. Thomas Fleming, Time and Tide, Pan Books, 1989 (1987).
  17. F. Paul Wilson, Black Wind, Tor, 1988.
  18. Information on "the cover-up of America's greatest wartime disaster at sea" has been taken from Raymond B. Lech, All the Drowned Sailors, Stein and Day, 1984 (1982).
  19. Hashimoto describes how he sunk the Indianapolis in his personal account, Mochitsura Hashimoto, Sunk!, Avon Publications, (1954), pages 144-149.
  20. Yamasaki Toyoko, Futatsu no sokoku [Two ancestorlands], 3 volumes, Shinchosha, 1983. Originally serialized in the weekly magazine Shukan shincho in 158 installments, divided into two parts, Zenpen (1-75) from 26 June 1980 to 3 December 1981, and Kohen (76-158) from 7 January 1982 to 11 August 1983. Reviewed by the author in "Japan's pop Roots fails to cast new light on minority problems," Far Eastern Economic Review, 13 October 1983, pages 62-63.
  21. Reviewed by the author in "Dual nationals caught in a storm over their Mt. Fuji inheritance," Far Eastern Economic Review, 7 June 1984, pages 40-42.
  22. C.M. Kornbluth, "Two Dooms", in McSherry (n. 7), pages 187-242. Copyright 1958.
  23. Paul Fussell, "Thank God for the Atom Bomb", in Paul Fussell, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and Other Essays, Ballantine Books, 1990 (1988). First appeared in The New Republic, 26-29 August 1981.
  24. Kornbluth (n. 22), page 242.
  25. McSherry (n. 7), page 186.
  26. Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, Popular Library, 1964 (1962).
  27. William Overgard, The Divide, Jove Publications, 1980.
  28. Alfred Coppel, The Burning Mountain, Charter Books, 1984 (1983).
  29. Richard Lamm and Arnold Grossman, A California Conspiracy, St. Martin's Press, 1988.
  30. Thomas Hoover, The Samurai Strategy, Bantam Books, 1988. Reviewed by the author in "'Samurai Strategy' good for straight pulp fix," The Japan Times, 7 January 1989, page 14.
  31. James A. Michener, Sayonara, Bantam Books, 1955 (1954).
  32. The first volume of the Lone Star series is a title in the related Longarm series by Tabor Evans, Longarm and the Lone Star Legend, Jove Books, August 1982. The Longarm series has featured several other Lone Star titles, most recently Longarm and the Lone Star Rustlers, Jove Books, August 1990.
  33. Jay McInerney, Ransom, Vintage Books, 1985.
  34. Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, Vintage Books, 1984.
  35. Richard Wiley, Soldiers in Hiding, Pan Books, 1987 (1986). Reviewed by the author in "American's utterly lost," The Japan Times, 26 March 1988, page 16.
  36. John Burnham Schwartz, Bicycle Days, Plume, 1990 (1989).
  37. Ishihara and Watanabe, and international political analyst cum military affairs critic Ogawa Kazuhisa, express their views in Sore de mo "No" to ieru Nippon (Nichibeikan no konpon mondai) [Still a Japan that can say "No" (The basic issues between Japan and America)], Kobunsha, 1990. Reviewed by the author in "Still say no: Shintaro Ishihara writes again," Far Eastern Economic Review, 2 August 1990, pages 26, 30.
  38. "Saigo no Indian senshi haruka Rokkii o yuku" [The last Indian warriors go to the far Rockies], TBS (Tokyo, Channel 6), Part 1, 5 November 1989, 2000-2050. Part 2 was telecast on 12 November.
  39. Waku Shunzo, Rosu hatsu, daiikkyu satsujin no onna [Dateline LA: The first-degree-murder woman], Asahi Shinbun Sha, 1989. Waku received the Edogawa Ranpo Prize in 1972. Since then the former newspaper reporter and attorney has devoted himself to writing suspense fiction. He also writes science fiction under the name Natsume Daisuke.
  40. "Rosu hatsu, Daiikkyu satsujin no onna" [Dateline LA: First- degree-homicide woman], Asahi Television (Tokyo, Channel 10), 12 February 1989, 2100-2250.
  41. Information about the origins of the novel and movie, and Asahi TV audience ratings, are based on a telephone conversation with Asahi Television executive producer Fukutomi Satoshi on 3 October 1989. Waku Shunzo did not respond to a letter asking him how he had researched the novel; and on several attempts to reach him by phone, the woman who answered insisted that he was too busy.
  42. Information on the book printing is based on phone conversations with Shibano Jiro of Asahi Shinbun Sha on 28/29 September 1989.
  43. For a detailed account of the case, see the author's "The Trial of Fumiko Kimura," PHP Intersect, July 1986, pages 6-9.
  44. "Rosu keisatsu 1989, Bibari hiruzu satsujin jiken" [LA Police 1989: Beverly Hills Murder Case] was aired by Asahi Television (Tokyo, Channel 10) on 1 February 1989. Appearing less than two weeks before "Rosu hatsu" (n. 40), this TV movie got an audience rating of about 12 percent in competition with six other Tokyo-area VHF channels. In its stereotypes of Japanese in the United States, and of Americans of Japanese and other ancestries, it marked a new low in a medium that is notorious for its racialist standards. But Asahi thought its movie so successful that it made a sequel, "Rosu keisatsu 1990" [LA Police 1990], for showing in the fall of 1990.
  45. Asahi shinbun, morning edition, 25 February 1989, page 28.
  46. Asahi shinbun, morning edition, 20 February 1989, page 5
  47. Waku Shunzo, Eizugai no renzoku satsujin [Serial murders on AIDS street], Kodansha, 1987.