Although it is sometimes a dirty word, I consider myself as "a kind of" intellectual. (Meaning I am prepared to be "dirty" in disturbing the well-meaning implicit assumptions in society from time to time.)
One of the enigmas of Japan is the silence of its intellectuals in the global domain. I feel personally responsible for it by the portion of "one over one hundred twenty-seven million" (which is the current population of Japan, roughly speaking).
Japan has been exporting automobiles and electronics in the peace of the postwar era. Recently, Japan has been the source of influential popular culture waves led by manga and anime. In terms of serious world view issues, however, it has been more or less silent, becoming effectively a "black hole" in this regard.
It is not that Japan does not have its share of intellectuals ("dirty" people). I know many of them in person. They write books (in Japanese), teach at universities, and conduct interesting research, think original thoughts. It is not that there are no unique or original ideas being generated here. Every country has its own traditions, and the explicit and implicit enrichments brought about by the long history of Japan should surely be a basis for adding something valuable to the world heritage of intellectual endeavors.
There are many missing pieces. For example, the Japanese concept of nature is very different from one in the West. While the western protection of nature tends to be a total withdrawal of human activities from a certain area, the Japanese tend to aim at a harmonious co-existence, as exhibited in the beautiful "satoyama" areas all over the country. It would constitute a great service to the human race to express and explain the Japanese philosophy of nature in the modern context.
There are many areas where a contemporary treatment would greatly improve the situation. Areas covered by three great books written in English originating from modern Japan ("Book of Tea", "Bushido: The Soul of Japan", and "An Introduction to Zen Buddhism") badly need a contemporary update, although these classics certainly continue to provide valuable readings today.
This particular blog is a humble test-bed to try out what I could possible say in the global context being a person based in Tokyo. I know sometimes I am clumsy, but I have to do this all the same. It is the duty of my own choice.
Japan has a relatively large economy (2nd in the world, to be overtaken and surpassed by China this year), and many intellectuals are likely to feel, although I have not interviewed them personally, that they can lead a more or less comfortable life focused on the Japanese "market" only. (I would feel the same had I been more settling.) Hence the presence of many university professors who (especially in the humanities) remain essentially domestic. I find myself increasingly uncomfortable being in this situation, both as an individual and as a member of a nation.
Thus, the (perhaps foolish) activity of writing this Englush blog persists as a practice in prose and a demonstration of spirit, although sadly at present its readership is much smaller compared to my Japanese blog. Let's see if there comes a day when the Qualia Journal would attract more readers than its Japanese brother.
While doing this, I must confess, I sometimes feel very lonely, as not many people consider the expression of their ideas in the lingua franca as a necessity of life in this country. That is actually fine with me. Ever since my childhood, I always felt lonely, when confronting essential issues.
The presence of the readers of this blog continues to be a solace for my soul. I thank you all for your kindness, from my heart.