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Probably the first, only, and last Japanese with
in his given name.
||aru dou de bito
In a way it is unnecessary for me to defend
myself against the likes of
Sugawara Arudoudebito, formerly David Aldwinckle, because so many
people have already objected to his unsavory
attempt at character
assassination. Notwithstanding, I am
deeply concerned and must take action when a name I struggled so
hard to develop has been so
cheaply sullied by Mr. Sugawara.
As Mr. Sugawara has been politely asked by me on two occasions to remove his offensive
page, legal action appears to be the next best step. Unfortunately,
this is not a reasonable alternative until I have returned to Japan. In
the interim I offer the
following as a way to unbug the dissonant hum that Mr. Sugawara has
sought to spread across the internet with regard to my name.
The entire mishap began when I corrected
Mr. Sugawara's economic
interpretation of events on the Dead Fukuzawa Society mailing list. He
did not push the matter, because he was clearly found in the wrong,
but neither did he appear to forget who it was that had set him
straight. He thus grabbed the first opportunity to sully
my own DFSociety reputation and ran with it. To both
his and my dismay what followed was an injurious debate that eventually
Mr. Aldwinckle's temporary disappearance from the society.
The name Hashimori Iwato was a
legally registered Japanese
alias at the time I joined the DFSociety and remained a legally
registered alias until I left Japan in August 2000. Not only did
the name appear on my Japanese alien registration card, but also on my
driver's license, my Japanese seal (inkan or hanko), and
every other Japanese document that required a personal seal as a means
identification in Japan. To the best of my knowledge I was the only
Western foreigner living in Japan at the time with a registered alias
that was written in Sino-Japanese characters. In contrast Mr.
Sugawara's pen name, Arudou Debito, did not
official until he became a Japanese citizen, and I had already left
Japan. Even then, he adopted
his wife's surname to create what must be the most alien-sounding
Japanese name a Japanese has ever heard -- Sugawara Arudoudebito.
Mr. Sugawara's claim that I was some sort of
an imposter and using a Japanese pen-name is not only erroneous, but
By the time I joined the DFSociety I had
already lived in Japan for
many years and was quite accustomed to defending the Japanese position
against individuals with strongly biased Western viewpoints.
Thus, my behavior on the DFSociety was neither unusual nor out of
character. Certainly I was aware that many people in the DFSociety
mistake me for a Japanese. Certainly I did nothing to dissuade them
from perceiving me as such. After many years of keeping my nationality
a secret there was no reason for me to change my behavior just because
the DFSociety and no one could see my face! I had learned very early in
my Japanese career that
claiming one's nationality did far more to build new walls, than to
remove those that were already in place. In fact, I was elated when Mr.
Sugawara told the DFSociety that Mr. Arai had told him that he did not
know my nationality.
Mr. Sugawara's further claim that I was an
English teacher just like
himself is also filled with important missing information. What I
taught at Saitama University and my formal titles shared little in
common. In the Economics Department I taught international trade,
and microeconomics under the same course title -- Readings in English
Foreign Literature. Although I started out as an English instructor in
the General Studies Department at the university, by the time I
joined the DFSociety I was already teaching something that could be
more appropriately labelled cross-cultural
communication. Moreover, by the time I joined the DFSociety all of my
courses -- both in economics and cross-cultural communication -- were
conducted in Japanese.
Certainly my Japanese was not perfect, and as neither Mr.
Sugawara nor myself have ever met, let alone held a conversation in
Japanese or English, we have only his interpretation of what Mr.
Arai told him with regard to his and my Japanese language ability.
Sugawara have cause to lie?
Just read through a few of his many articles that he posts on his debito.org
website and see how many times he contradicts himself.
Where Mr. Sugawara begins his Hashimori
Humbug story is also
noteworthy. Rather than providing his readers with copies of the email
that preceded his intrusive investigation into my employment, he
conveniently interprets them for his audience in a manner that makes
himself appear an innocent victim of fraud and deception. In short, his
entire smear is based on what were then his own feelings of inadequacy
in my regard. In order to make himself appear correct and thus polish
his own tarnished pride, he seeks to demonstrate that he was deceived.
Indeed, Mr. Sugawara had been deceived, but not by me, rather by his
own ignorance. I was the first foreigner he had ever encountered, if
only on the net, with a legally registered Sino-Japanese alias!
What he also fails to
is that his intrusive behavior in my regard was the same
sort of behavior I had taken him to task about with regard to Japanese
culture. Missing are numerous
emails submitted by others and myself that would provide evidence for
this. Moreover, Mr. Aldwinckle misportrays the true dialogue between
him and me by leaving out personal email that was sent to him while the
more public dialogue was in progress. In effect the
only act of fraud in the whole matter is what Mr. Sugawara has
himself perpetrated on his personal website.
One more important point. I joined the DFSociety while it was still
recovering from a scandalous episode regarding certain Japanese
journalists who had quoted participants without their knowledge. It was
for this reason that I even volunteered my department's telephone
number as a means for Mr. Sugawara, then Mr. Aldwinckle, and others to
check my identity.
Little did I know what would follow.
The DFSociety was finally sabotaged by an unidentified spammer --
likely the same person who tried to destroy the Moogoonghwa mailing
list somewhat later. Although once a member of both lists,
I had already left the DFSociety when the spammer struck the DFSociety.
Whoever it was who struck the Moogoonghwa list, I was still a member,
when it happened. Fortunately, the Moogoonghwa list survived. Mr.
Sugawara's reference to spam is likely an attempt to lay the blame for
the spamming on me. I quit the DFSociety before the spamming took
place, because I was exhausted with the kind of debate that supported
-- at least in part -- the likes of Mr. Sugawara. I did not quit on a
particularly friendly note, but neither am I a vandal (pdf document - 164 KB).
Finally with regard to any claim on Mr. Sugawara's part about superior
knowledge of Japanese society, please open to my book draft entitled "Imagine: The rudiments of a book about
Japanese society" and judge for yourself.
So why does Mr. Sugawara insist on leaving the
Hashimori Humbug webpage
on his website and risk criminal proceedings when I return to Japan?
One can only surmise. One explanation might be the following: Whereas
adopted Japanese citizenship, I left Japan. Thus, he might appear the
hero in Japanese eyes, and his side of things would stand a better
chance of winning. I have more faith in my understanding of Japanese
society. Alternatively, he may believe that I will never return to
Japan, or is simply waiting until I do, whereupon he will take it down,
as if nothing ever transpired. Maybe nothing will. I am not a
particularly vengeful person, and I place good faith in my own
credentials -- not what others necessarily make of them.
In truth, what Mr. Sugawara is doing in Japan is
perpetuating the very system of education that is helping to destroy
communication between the East and the West -- East Asia's universal English language
Sugawara's approach to improve Japanese internationality is litigious
and thus repugnant to most Japanese. What it does for Mr. Sugawara,
however, is to draw attention to himself in Japan's international
community, and this in the end appears to be what Mr. Sugawara is most
website for English readers