New Book “Song of War”

14 Aug
Song of War (2020)

My new book “Song of War” was published in July 2020.

If you’re wondering why I wrote this book and what it’s about, check out the article, Why I Wrote “Song of War.”

You can read more about the book in “Japanese music therapist shares unique war stories recounted by US veterans in new book” published in The Mainichi Shinbun.

Song of War

What’s the difference between “anger” and “hate”?

7 Aug

It’s been almost a year since the deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville VA.  “I think there’s blame on both sides” said U.S. President Donald Trump after the incident, which evoked anger in America and around the world.  At the same time some people seemed to agree with his sentiment.  Perhaps they don’t see a clear difference between the two groups; white supremacists and counter protesters.

My friend, Yuki Arai, is a professor of Japanese literature in Tokyo.  When we spoke the other day, he said, “We’re not angry enough about discrimination,” but quickly pointed out the difference between “anger (ikari 怒り)” and “hate (zouo 憎悪).”  Anger is an emotion you have towards a person (or a group) you’re willing to live alongside, whereas hate is an emotion you have toward someone (or a group) you refuse to live alongside.  In other words, you wouldn’t be angry if you don’t care about your shared destiny.

“I can support anger, but I can’t support hate,” said Arai.  His explanation helped to clarify the difference between the white supremacists and the counter protesters in Charlottesville.  One was motivated by hate, while the other was motivated by anger.

Discrimination is on the rise worldwide, and Japan is no exception.  Two years ago a man killed 19 people and wounded twenty-six others at a care home for people with disabilities in Kanagawa prefecture.  And last month a politician named Mio Sugita came under fire for calling LGBT couples “unproductive.” Both incidents have evoked anger and sparked conversations about prejudice in society.

I’m reminded of Martin Luther King Jr’s life.  During his lifetime he fought against hate, but he never displayed hate towards others.  In fact, he emphasized that our fate is tied together, and that our existence is interconnected:

“We must all learn to live together as brothers – or we will all perish together as fools. This is the great issue facing us today. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone. We are tied together.”

~Martin Luther King Jr.



Prejudice Towards People with Disabilities

31 Jul

I recently spoke with Yuki Arai, a writer and a researcher of disability in the arts.  We talked about two of his books: One is about the art studio in the psychiatric hospital in Tokyo, and the other about Hiroshi Yokota, a leading figure in the Japanese disability movement in the 1970’s. We talked about the role of arts in healing and prejudice towards people with disabilities in Japan.

Arai is deeply concerned about the recent trend that gives people permission to discriminate against others.  It seems that we’re seeing this trend worldwide.

Two years ago a man killed 19 people and wounded twenty-six others at a care home for people with disabilities in Kanagawa prefecture.  It shocked the nation where crime rates are so low. But what was perhaps more shocking was the reactions followed by the incident.  In social media some people voiced empathy not for the victims but for the perpetrator who claimed that those with severe disabilities had no purpose to live.

“Why aren’t we more angry about this?”  said Arai.  “Mr. Yokota would have been very angry if he was alive.”

Yokota was born with cerebral palsy with speech impairment.  He is often considered as a “radical activist,” but Arai says that Yokota’s main message was simple: People with disabilities want to live, too.

You can listen to the episode here.


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