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Henry Scott Stokes dies at 83; Japan opened for English speakers


Henry Scott Stokes, a Tweedy British-born journalist who died in April as head of the Tokyo bureau for three major newspapers for English-speaking readers and a comprehensive book awakening its venerable samurai values ​​and right-wing nationalist elements, died in April. 17 at the Tokyo Hospital. He was 83.

The cause was a complication of Parkinson’s disease, said Scott-Stokes in his son Harry Sugia.

In 1964 Mr. Scott Stokes, three years of college, moved from London to Japan to open the Tokyo Bureau of the Financial Times, which he led until 1967. He was the bureau chief of The Times of London from 1968 to 1970. The New York Times from 1978 to 1983.

After leaving daily journalism, he became embroiled in controversy with sympathetic remarks about the views of right-wing Japanese nationalists, one of which he portrayed in his most famous book, the touching biography of elite novelist Yukio Mishima. Mr. Scott Stokes met Mishima in Tokyo in 1966 at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, and later tied the knot for brandy at Mr. Scott Stokes’ favorite shelter, the Orchid Bar at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo.

In “The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima” (1974), Mr. Scott Stokes explores the evolution of the novelist from a lonely child to a mad nationalist who in 1970 gathered four members of his private unarmed militia, attacked military installations, and kidnapped them. The commander pleaded in vain with the indifferent armies of the base to restore the sacred tradition of emperor worship, and then committed suicide in a ritual known as seppuku, falling asleep. He later ordered a follower to cut off his head.

Mr. Stokes Scott ran to the scene but arrived too late to rescue his friend.

Describing Mishima as “the most famous Japanese of his day”, he wrote: “There’s a saying here. ‘ The Japanese do not like to get up and shout for fear of being hit.

Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Christopher Lehman-Hupp wrote that it “begins with the end of Mishima, and naturally eats away at Henry Scott Stokes’ study in search of an explanation for that ending.” (“The explanation for Mishima’s death,” concluded Mr. Scott Stokes, “is contained throughout his life.”)

During his career, mostly spent in Japan, Mr. Scott Stokes could only speak or write Japanese. That disability contributed to a great deal of controversy.

It included the 2013 book “Fallacies in the Allied Nations’ Historical Perceptions as Observed by a British Journalist”, published in Japanese and embraced by right-wing apologists for the atrocities committed by the Japanese military during World War II. It sold an estimated 100,000 copies in just a few months.

While the book contained the ambiguity of a credible Western journalist, in fact, according to Mr. Scott Stokes, it was synthesized from a 170-hour interview given to a Japanese translator from an educational institution supporting revisionist history. Moreover, Mr. Scott Stokes said that although the book was credited to him, he had never read it, much less was written.

The most explosive section of the book was the conclusion that the Nanjing Massacre, which many historians have said that tens of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed in 1937 by the Japanese army for more than six weeks, was “rather” exaggerated. Or Chinese nationalists and later communist preachers.

Mr Scott Stokes told a Japanese news agency he was “shocked and horrified” by what he called the “evil way” in the book. He then reversed himself, issuing a statement through his publisher in which he effectively defended the offensive clause, calling the massacre an “incident.” In subsequent interviews he retreated, agreeing that “terrible events” had taken place in Nanking but that the Japanese were not the only ones responsible.

Credit …Charles E. Tuttle Company

As recently as 2017, he was quoted as saying, “The notion that Nanking has been favored as a historical event, due to eyewitness reactions, is really difficult to sustain.” But he also called the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki “monstrous” by the United States, calling them “war crimes at a level that makes the alleged crimes of the Japanese in that war seem insignificant.”

“Henry was both talented and controversial,” said Bradley K. Martin, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Asia Times, said: An obituary about Mr. Scott Stokes Published by Japan’s Foreign Correspondents Club. “I appreciate his willingness to reconsider his position if he concludes that he made a mistake, and to try to correct it.”

Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes (as an adult he rarely used a hyphen) was born on 15, 1938 in Glastonbury, Somerset, Southwest England. His parents were Quakers – his mother was a pacifist and his father, who served in both world wars, was a businessman.

After graduating from New College, Oxford, he joined The Financial Times in 1961 and moved to Tokyo three years later with his new wife, Charlotte. The marriage ended in divorce.

His second wife, Akiko Sugiyama, who served as his unofficial translator, died in addition to his son, a television talk-show host and commentator in Japan.

Mr. Scott Stokes also edited with Lee Jae-il about “The Kwangju Uprising: The Miracle of Asian Democracy Seen by the Western and Korean Press” (2000), a violent rejection of the popular uprising against an unelected South Korean government. In 1980.

In addition to writing books, he worked with artists Cristo and Jane Cloud to set up hundreds of giant umbrellas – about 20 feet tall and over 28 feet in diameter – in 1991 in Japan and California. The blue umbrellas went up. Near Tokyo, there are rice fields and yellow sprouts in the mountains of California. Mr. Scott Stokes was the project director in Japan.

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