A LEADER in Japan’s student Christian movement and one of Tokyo’s outstanding young liberals. Torn Matsumoto openly opposed the expansion of militarism in his homeland. Arrested and tortured by the “thought police” as a suspected Communist, which he decidedly was not, Toru was released and allowed to return to his college studies through the intervention of a descendant of the southern branch of the royal family who claimed to be the sole legitimate heir to the throne. Upon graduation. Toru came to this country to prepare himself at Union Theological Seminary tor the life of a Christian educator. Again he was arrested; this time by the FBI on December 7, 1941,
As a civilian prisoner of war. Tom was given the choice of repatriation via the Gripsholm or internment for the duration. Most of his fellow prisoners elected to return to Japan, but Toru wanted to remain on the side of the United Nations, even if it meant supporting democracy from the inside of a barbed-wire enclosure and being condemned as a traitor by his friends at home. His reasons for his seeming disloyalty are given in A Brother Is a Stranger, an autobiographical account of the frustrations which beset any nonconformist in Japan who tries to put individual freedom ahead of ancient traditions.
Here is no vitriolic denunciation of a totalitarian country by an expatriate. Mr, Matsumoto loves his countrymen and has dedicated his life to the promotion of a liberal arts education in Japan. His book is a rational, welltempered report on those inherent aspects of Japanese family, school, religious, and social life which nurtured fascism before 1941 and now stand in the way of post-war democracy. While admiring the changes wrought by General MacArthur’s administration, he believes that Japan will still fail to become democratic unless certain fundamental psychological and religious stumbling blocks to democracy are removed. The nature of these stumbling blocks is clearly revealed in Toru’s story of his own struggles against the oppression of a society ill which no two persons consider themselves to be equals.
Toru was assisted in his writing by an American educator. Marion Olive Lerrigo, who harbored his wife and child during his internment and utilized her co-authorship to draw out the intimate answers to so many of the questions about Japan which trouble the Occidental layman. Prefacing the narrative. Pearl S. Buck states: “This is the truest and most complete hook of life in Japan, with all its good and evil, that I have ever read.”While I myself have only a foxhole acquaintanceship with anything Japanese. I should like to add that it certainly is the most readable, sincere, and human explanation of Japanese conduct which I have ever encountered.
EDGAR L. JONES