BRIAN LAMB, HOST: T.R. Reid, author of "Confucius Lives Next Door," what is the Wild
Mr. T.R. REID, AUTHOR, "CONFUCIUS LIVES NEXT DOOR": Wild Blue
Yokohama is a beautiful beach where you can go with your family and
gamble in the surf and swing on vines and fall into jungle lagoons,
sit out under the bright sun in a--in a beach chair. And you know
what, Brian? It's beautiful, warm and sunny 365 days of the year at
Wild Blue Yokohama because it's inside. It's an indoor ocean that was
built by a steel company in Japan and it's an amus--it's one of these
thousands of fascinating Japanese amusement parks. My kids--I loved
it. It's--it's really fun.
The title is completely wrong. There's nothing wild about it. It's
all manmade. The vine is plastic. The--you know, the waves are made
by a machine. It's not blue and it's not in Yokohama. It's in
Kawasaki, but Kawasaki's pretty near Yokohama.
LAMB: How big is it?
Mr. REID: It's--it's bigger than our capital. It is a huge metal
box and it has beaches, it has swimming pools, it has a river with a
current that runs around the perimeter. It has water slides. As I
say, it has this jungle pond. And usually you just gamble in the slow
surf, and every 15 minutes they announce (Japanese spoken) `The surf's
up.' (Japanese spoken). And then big waves keep co--start coming and
guys on surf boards--you can rent a surf board and go surfing there.
And, of course, they're manmade--they're machine made waves. They're
the most perfect waves in the world.
LAMB: Why is it there?
Mr. REID: It's there because of the Japanese commitment to the
notion of community and society. It's there because NKK steel used to
be the biggest shipbuilding company in the world and as the yen got
strong against the dollar, most ship--most shipbuilding and
particularly icebreakers, which they made, are priced in dollars. So
now they were selling their product in these weak dollars and had to
pay their employees and pay their costs and expense again and they
couldn't sell icebreakers competitively anywhere in the world. So
this is--in America, OK, you let--you downsize. You lay everybody off
and that's it. This is Japan. You're not going to lay anybody off.
That's a fundamental rule. So they had a meeting in 1985 of all the
1,800 employees of this company and said, `We've got a problem. We
can't sell our product anymore so we're going to give you 10 years and
all the money you need to find another profitable product.'
OK. So what could NKK steel do? They were really good welders. They
were really good at making big boxes, which is what a sh--an
icebreaker is. They started making fish farms, you know, which is a
big metal box and they couldn't make it any better than the
established fish farm makers of the world. Then they thought, `Well,
you know what? We could really make these stretch limousines. We're
very good welders.' And for some reason the limousines they made were
not as comfortable as the ones made by Toyota and Mercedes, some
So they went back to the drawing board and they said, `Well, what else
do we do?' Well, the reason they were a good icebreaker maker was they
had the best test tanks in the world. They could make really good ice
and really good waves to test these models of st--of icebreakers.
`Can we sell waves?' `Yeah.' So they welded this huge, giant metal box
and they put an--an ocean in it, an indoor beach. It's been
incredibly successful and they now have two others in Japan. They're
building them all over East Asia.
The interesting thing about Wild Blue Yokohama is it's about--it's a
10-minute walk from a beach. I mean, a real beach, you know. But
people go there by the thousands, and, you know, it's really fun.
LAMB: Would that work in the--in the United States?
Mr. REID: I think an indoor beach might go, don't you think? I
mean, it's fun. I mean, in Nebraska or Kansas where they don't have
beaches. The interesting thing is the effort the company made to keep
its people employed. I mean, nobody in that company ever had the
threat of being laid off. They certainly had the threat of coming
up--they had to come up with a competitive product. But I think the
commitment that company made to keep people on--and by 1995, because
of this product and one other product they came up with, they had more
employees in the shipbuilding division, even though they don't make
Now the other thing they built was another kind of amusement park,
which I thought was really fun. They were very good at making ice
for--to test icebreakers and so they learned how to make snow. They
put a t--made one of their big metal boxes, they put it up on high
stilts. They made snow and it's an indoor ski area of which there are
about eight in Japan. We used to go there. I'm a really fanatic
skier and snowboarder. I found it boring as all get-out. I mean,
you'd go up and down in 40 seconds. My kids loved it. They were...
LAMB: How many kids?
Mr. REID: We have three kids. And they are always saying, `Let's go
back to this place.' Now NKK steel has built one of these indoor ski
areas in Hong Kong, you know, where it's hot and they didn't even have
to put it on the stilts. You don't have to ski there. People pay
just to go in and throw snowballs around because it's such a rare
experience in Hong Kong.
LAMB: What are your kids' names?
Mr. REID: My kids' names. They have many names, but Homer, Willa
and Penelope are basically their names. We gave them a lot of names.
Mr. REID: Well, because we wanted to give them each an Irish name,
because my wife is Irish. We wanted to give them each a Greek name,
because I happen to love Homer. I love "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey."
So I have a Homer, a Penelope and an Andromache. And then we gave
them family names. And, you know, Brian, it's kind of worked.
Because my son is now on the third one of his names. He grew up as
McMann--his name is McMann Reid. When he was in high school he
thought that was a weird name, so he became Tom Reid, that's my name.
And now he's Homer Reid. When he went to college, he became Homer
Reid and I can see my girls moving to new names, too.
LAMB: How old are they now?
Mr. REID: He's 23 and the girls are 15 and 13.
LAMB: And when they first went to Japan with you and your wife, you
were--they were how old?
Mr. REID: The youngest was five. So they were little kids and I
remember Willa saying--telling her friend she was going to become
Japanese. This is--she almost did. No, she didn't really. And
nobody wanted to go. I wanted to go. I thought it would be exciting.
The rest of the family was reluctant and, you know, six years later
when we came home, nobody wanted to come home.
LAMB: What did your kids think of the `kissing crisis'?
Mr. REID: The kissing crisis is so strange. The kissing crisis in
Japan is every few years. It happened while we were there. They have
a crisis in which people believe that they see people actually kissing
in public. Like a man kisses his wife goodbye at the park 'n' drive,
or you see a young couple kissing on the subway or something late at
night. I don't think this happened. I never had an actual sighting
of a public kiss myself, but this becomes a big issue in Japan. It's
in the newspapers, letters to the editors, sociologists. And the
strange thing about this is, there's a lot of pornography in this
country, you know? I mean, if you stay up late at night, as my
teen-age son and I did, and watch the really late shows, there's a lot
of nudity on Japanese TV.
They have a show called--at about 2:30 in the morning on Saturday
called (Japanese spoken) which means, `Kiss me in a bathing suit.' And
they have these pretty young women running around, sometimes in only
half a bathing suit, and they run through the audience. Kids get--so
why is public kissing a big crisis in Japan? And I think the reason
is they have a very strong sense of not imposing embarrassment or not
imposing on others. And this is alleged to be embarrassing for you to
see someone else kissing. It's painful for others. You're not
allowed to do that to other people and, therefore, don't kiss in
LAMB: The section: Make Greeting. I want to read it and have you
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: `Honorable section mates. I plan to work so hard for this
section that I collapse from stress or a heart attack, so please
welcome me as a member here.' Where was that?
Mr. REID: That was a TV drama that was--would have been shown on
April 1st or March 31st, because on April 1st in Japan, that's a big
day in their society. This is the day when everybody who's going to
be hired by a company enters the company. Their school year ends in
February, so these kids have graduated from high school or college in
February, they get a month off, and April 1st is the
entering-the-company ceremony and every company in Japan has this.
LAMB: Every single company?
Mr. REID: Just about. There are probably some that don't. But
company--any company with more than five employees will have one and
most of them do it this--that--that same week, April 1st. And the
reason is, joining a company, joining any group, is really important
in that group-oriented society and they want to make a big deal of it.
This was a TV drama that was on TV that same week because the whole
society's focusing on this. And it was about a young girl, Nishida
Hekayti. If there are any Japanese drama fans here, Nishida Hekayti
is this--is this cute, perky, peppy, darling girl--I love her--and she
always plays cute, peppy, perky, darling young women on these TV
dramas. She graduates from college, she lays aside her jeans and her
T-shirts, she goes and buys what's known in Japan as the (Japanese
spoken), the three-point seto, which is the blazer, the skirt and the
blouse that match. For men they have a six-point seto, which is the
suit, the pants, the socks, the shirt, the tie, the shoes. They want
to make sure you're right.
She goes to her entering-the-company ceremony, which is a very
important event in Japan, pins on the company broach, gets her
business card, takes the company pledge, sings the company song. And
now she gets her assignment and her assignment is to the number three
administrative division. It's a place that buys paper clips for this
company. She wanders through the company and she has to now make a
greeting to the fellow members of her section. She's going to join
this group. And the greeting she gives is--she says, (Japanese
spoken). Which is to say, `I'm going to work so hard, I have a heart
attack and die of the stress, so please welcome me.' Which I found
And the next day I went into my office at The Washington Post and said
to my Japanese employees, `Did you see Nishida Hekayti last night?
What a funny show.' `No. What'd she say?' And I said, `Well, she went
into the new division and said, "I'm going to work so hard I die of
overwork."' And they said, `Yeah.' They--they didn't find it funny. I
mean, you're supposed to say that, I guess.
LAMB: Wha--what's the coming of age ceremony?
Mr. REID: The coming of age ceremony is a very important ceremony in
Japanese society. On January 15th, this is a national holiday,
everybody in Japan who's going to turn 20 during that year is--20 is
the age of adulthood. On January 15th, you're considered to be an
adult, and that means from that day on you can, you know, bet at the
track, you can buy liquor legally, you can vote. And you get all the
privileges of adult society, but there are a lot of responsibilities,
So they have these meetings and every 20-year-old in every little
village or big city, they gather together in a hall somewhere. And
the reason they do it is, you know, people give them free CDs or free
briefcases, you know, and--I mean, that's why they show up, and they
see their high school friends. But they get lectures. They get
lectures saying, `Congratulations on being adult members of society.
And boy, do you have responsibilities. Boy, does our society have to
work hard. We have no resources. We have to work hard. And we have
to get along with each other. And we have these low crime rates here.
We want to preserve that. We want to make sure that we remain
I really like this. I really think it's important for societies to
say to people, `We have values. We have things that matter to us and
we're holding a national holiday and a big ceremony to remind you that
some things are important.' What happened to you when you became an
adult? Do you remember? Did anybody do anything for you?
LAMB: No, no. No.
Mr. REID: I remember turning 18 in Michigan and I got a mimeograph
card from the draft board that said, `You've got to be in here in 30
days or you're going to jail' kind of thing. That was it. That was
the only recognition that I had become an adult member of society. I
think it's good for societies to find ways to remind people that we
have values that matter to us and we want to stick with them.
LAMB: What was the point of your book? Why did you write it?
Mr. REID: I went to Japan, went to Asia at a time--in 1990--when
most Americans thought Japan was going to take over the world
economically. They entered this long recession and people started
saying, `Well, we can ignore Asia. There's nothing to learn there.'
I'm not writing about the economic up and down. What I found was
something very valuable we could learn there, which is sometimes
called Asia's social miracle. These are societies that have the
lowest crime rates in the world, very low rates of divorce.
They--they have no broken homes. About 1 percent of the babies are
born to single mothers in those societies. It's about 33 percent in
America. It's even more in Britain. These are societies--by many
social stand--levels, they're pretty successful. They're civil and
peaceful and harmonious. They have very good schools judged by, you
know, standardized tests around the world. How did they do this?
That's what I was interested in.
If you want to know how I really first got interested in it, it was
Penelope Reid. She was nine years old when we went there. She was
in--the girls were in a Japanese elementary school and Penelope came
home one day and said, `On Saturday, I'm going to Tokyo Disneylando
with my friend Mikiko, just the two of us.' And she was so proud of
this. Two of them were going to go to Tokyo Disneyland together.
LAMB: Nine years old.
Mr. REID: Nine years old. And I look at my wife and my wife looks
at me--this is three trains, it's a 90-minute ride, three switches
through the biggest city in the world, three stations. They're going
to come home at night, they're nine years old. She was so proud about
this and I'm looking--`Are we going to allow this girl to come home
late at night through the city of 27 million when she is nine years
old by herself?'
So I called Mikiko's mother, Mrs. Watanabe and I said--she said, `Oh,
I hear the girls are going to Disneylando.' And I said, `Yeah.
Watanabe-San, are you going to go with them?' `No. Why?' `Why,' she
says. And I'm thinking, `Why? Lady, they're nine years old. They're
going to get robbed, they're going to get kidnapped, they're going to
get mugged, they're going to get raped. Who knows what's going to
happen in a city of 27 million.'
But I'm--I'm thinking during this conversation, `Yeah, why?' This is a
city where you can send your nine-year-old on three trains for 90
minutes and have her come home at night and nobody thinks anything's
going to happen. And don't you think I thought to myself, `This is
the way it should be.' You should be able to send your kid down the
street late at night to get a quart of milk and know she's going to
And sure cloff--enough, at about 10:00 that night, Penelope Reid comes
home with her Mickey Mouse ears on and her big doll and everything.
`We had a great time.' And I'm thinking to myself, `Some things work
in this society.' And that's why I wrote the book, to explain how
they've done this.
LAMB: Where did you write it?
Mr. REID: I wrote it mostly in Colorado. I took leave from The
Washington Post when I finished my tour and we--well, I'm Coloradan.
We went back to Colorado. I'm a fanatic skier and snowboarder. And
so it's a good opportunity. And, you know, I really struggled with
this book. I had something really important--maybe that's why. It
was something I really wanted to say. I wanted to make it convincing
and appealing and interesting to people and I've written seven books.
It was just--I don't think this was the hardest. The easiest book I
ever wrote was the great literary blockbuster, "Ski Japan." This is a
guide book to the ski areas in Japan. I had a wonderful time with
LAMB: How did you struggle with it?
Mr. REID: I struggled because--I'll tell you why, because I love our
country and everybody in my family has found that living overseas
makes us better Americans. You know, you live here, you see all the
problems, you complain. You go overseas and you realize what a free
and open and friendly and decent society we've built here and how
integrated it is, more than any country in the world. America looks
fantastic from afar, believe me. And--but in some ways, these
countries, in social terms, are more successful than ours.
And I didn't want to write a book saying, `Oh, man, America's a wreck
and we should be like them.' I don't believe that. But at the same
time I was trying to say to Americans, `These are countries that have
done some--some things more successfully than we, and maybe we could
learn something.' And it was that balance of not trying to trash our
country because I--every time I live overseas, I come home and love
LAMB: In your book you have reference to a grave site, Confucius'
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: And I looked in--this morning before we...
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: ...recorded this and it was just interesting because at the
grave site it says, `Confucius gravest yard.'
Mr. REID: Yeah, in English.
LAMB: In English.
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: But the first thing that amazes you is you're into the Web site
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: And it's in China.
Mr. REID: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: Where is Confucius' hometown and grave site?
Mr. REID: Well, the town is called Qufu. Or at least Qufu is the
town that claims it was Confucius' hometown. This is 2,500 years ago.
At the time it was known as Liu and Liu is considered to be Qufu.
It's in Shandong province. This is directly south of Beijing, maybe
an hour's drive south of Beijing. It's a part of China during the
many years of Western imperialism that was controlled by the Germans
and, therefore, it produces beer. This famous Chinese export Qingdao
beer. Their most famous beer is produced in Shandong. And if you
look on the Shandong province Web site, they say, `Our two most famous
exports, Qingdao beer and Confucius' are the two things they have.
LAMB: Did you go there?
Mr. REID: Yeah. I went there. I went there during--on the day,
September 28th, when they celebrate his birthday--allegedly his
birthday. It's called Teacher's Day. It's a national holiday.
LAMB: Who was he?
Mr. REID: Confucius was a--he was a--sort of a Washington type,
Brian. He was k--a frustrated office seeker. He was a guy who had a
lot of ideas about how to run good government and he couldn't get
anybody to hire him for a real job. He kept trying to get some duke
or some emperor to give him a job running a province and nobody would
do it because he was too honest. And so he became a teacher. He
became like Socrates or like Christ, an intinerant teacher. He walked
around and taught people and he had a group of disciples. Just like
Christ and Socrates, everything we know about him was written down
later by the disciples. And he was a great ethical teacher. The
reason that he's still revered 2,500 years later is his students would
come to him with problems, ordinary problems of life or big problems
of government, and he always came up with an ethical answer, a decent
answer. You can read it today and say, `Yeah, he's right.' Great
And he's been--he's been revered on and off in China. One of his
problems for the Chinese was that he's a, small D, democrat. That is,
he was an early advocate of the notion that the government has to
serve the people and if it doesn't it should be overthrown. In our
Declaration of Independence, there's a sentence that says, `If any
government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the
people to alter and to abolish it.' Shocking notion in 1776.
Confucius had said it in 550 BC. And if you're in China then and
you're the ruling dynasty, you don't like this. You don't like the
idea that somebody can overthrow you. If you're the group that's
trying to overthrow the dynasty, then they're always quoting
Confucius. `Yeah, they failed the people. They don't have any right
to serve anymore.'
So he had his ups and downs. The outs always liked him. And then
when they got into power they didn't like him anymore. In this
century, the--after the fall of the last dynasty in 1911, Confucius
was considered outmoded and ancient. Mao and the Communists thought
he was a capitalist … and a counterrevolutionary. But
in the last 20 years, they have gone back to realizing that Confucius
had a lot to say for their society. And, once again, he's a hero.
And you go to Qufu now and they have big temples erected in his honor.
LAMB: Why did you call your book "Confucius Lives Next Door"?
Mr. REID: Two reasons. First of all, I lived in a neighborhood--a
pretty ugly, but ordinary neighborhood--in Tokyo and got to know my
next-door neighborhood very well, Matzetada Hedoshi--Tedau, Matzetada
Tedau. He's a 76-year-old man. And he started coming over and
chatting with me in his very quiet way.
LAMB: In Japanese?
Mr. REID: In Japanese, yes.
LAMB: You always talked Japanese? Did you speak Japanese when you
Mr. REID: Yeah. I--I spent 25 years working on Japanese and I'm
definitely going to use my Japanese if I can, yeah. And
they--they--they're not like the French. They have a low standard. I
mean, if you can, you know, converse roughly, they're flattered that
anybody tries. So they're very nice if you speak Japanese. Anyway,
he--he started telling me about what it meant to be a member of our
neighborhood. Now do you think of yourself as a member of the
neighborhood? I don't know that I had before. I thought I lived in
this house because, you know, somebody had rented it for The
Washington Post 30 years earlier and that's where I'm going to live,
kind of thing.
But, no, it didn't matter why I was there. Since I lived in Herro
3--section 3 of Herro, I was a member of the neighborhood, I had
responsibilities, I had duties and I had benefits that were going to
come from that. And he was very strong on reminding me of this. He
had a lot of ethical rules; a very smart man. Whenever I had a query
about Japan, I could go ask Matzetada-San, `Why do you do this?' And
he would say in his quiet little way, `Well, Reido-San, that's the way
societies work.' He's a very smart man.
And we left Japan in late '95, and in November of '95 I got out a
black-bordered card from Matzetada-San that said, `Please excuse me,
but I won't be able to send you a New Year's card this year.' The New
Year's card is a big deal in Japan. They have half our population and
they send twice as many New Year's cards as we send Christmas cards.
This is really a big deal. And there's only one reason why a man
can't send you a New Year's card and that's because there's been a
death in his family and he's not allowed to celebrate. So I knew--I
knew it had to be his wife because she had been sick when I lived
And about two months later, I was back in our old neighborhood and I
knocked on--on Matzetada-San's door and he had a altar set up in the
living room--he's Buddhist, of course--and he had an altar set up.
They always do this. And there's a picture of his wife framed in
black with black ribbon over the--over the edges and she's set up in
the middle in front of the altar. I had bought some flowers. I know
what to do. We got down on the floor and prayed for a minute.
He said a very nice thing. While I was praying, he said,
`Chiako'--that's his wife's name--`it's Reido-San, come back to say
hello to you,' which I thought was very touching. And then we sat
down and had a drink and here's what he said to me. While we were
sitting there, he said, `Isn't it a pleasure to have friends come from
afar? And isn't it fun when you can use the things that you've
learned in the past?' That's what he said. And this really resonates.
This is like `Four score and seven years ago,' in Asia. These are the
opening lines of the analects of Confucius. I was thrilled because I
knew it, because I could spot this allusion. He didn't seem so
thrilled by that. I think he thought it was normal that you would
know who this was.
And I said, `Oh, Matzetada-San, you're a Confucian.' And he sort of
said to me, `What do you think I've been teaching you all these years?
Where do you think I got these rules? They come from the great
teacher.' So he was my introduction into Confucius, so Confucius lived
LAMB: A couple of little things. You're--you're referring to
Matzetada-San and Reido-San.
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: What does `san' mean?
Mr. REID: San means Mr., Miss, Mrs. It's just an honorific title.
It's like Mr. Lamb.
LAMB: Can you call anybody by their last name and then use `san'?
Mr. REID: Yes. And you can call people--people called me Tomo-San,
Tom San, which I thought was very friendly. You can call them by
their first name and san. I have a very good friend, Chiahiko, whom I
call--that's his first name. I call him Chia-San. I don't think
anybody else does, but he kind of likes that. Yeah, and it's a
nice--they're polite in Japan. I mean, they really go out of their
way to be polite to you.
LAMB: Why do they add the O--Reido?
Mr. REID: Oh, because they--in their pronunciation, they--they can't
end a word with a consonant. There's no word in Japan that ends with
a continent--consonant except N. So if you think about Japanese
words, they all have a vowel sound on the end. They can't--it's very
hard for them to say Reid or Lamb. Yours--your name would be
Lambo--Lambo. They just come out that way. Becau--when I went to
Japan, I--I had studied a lot of Japanese and was kind of
brie--and--and I knew that if you go into a restaurant and order
take-out, it's called (Japanese spoken). (Japanese spoken) is hold
and (Japanese spoken) is go home. So holding it, go home. OK, so I
would say (Japanese spoken) and the woman would turn around to the
chef and say, `Two soup, take-outo.' They just took our
word--take-outo. They can al--they can't end a word with a consonant
so it became Reido-San.
LAMB: And you referred to him as being a Buddhist...
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: ...but also a Confucian. Is--explain...
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: Are they both religions?
Mr. REID: I don't think Confucianism is a religion. It's--it's
a--it's like, you know, Paracleten democracy or something. It's a set
of moral rules, but it's not religious. But here's the important
thing about these Asian societies. They don't have the feeling that
you can only have one religion. You don't have to have one to the
exclusion of all others. Everybody in Japan has at least two. They
have this indigenous Shinto faith. It's the Japanese kind of
Pantheistic faith and they're Buddhist. They got that from China in
the 7th century, AD.
And basically what happened was when--when the Buddhist missionaries
came over from China, Shinto was too weak to resist this strong
impulse. And so instead of resisting, the Shinto priests said, `Sure.
Go ahead. You can do that, too. We'll have both.' Every Japanese
person has a--you know, they go to the Shinto shrine for some events
and the Buddhist temple for other events and they have no problem with
this. And when they get married--this is a 1 percent Christian
society and 60 percent of the weddings are in Christian churches with
a priest and they have a choir singing and everything. For that one
hour of their life, they act like Christians and this is fine. They
think Christians have a good wedding service so they'll take it.
They're--they're quite sin--sin--sincrist--what is the word? Anyway,
they--they don't have any problem with blending.
I think one of the reasons Christianity has not won a lot of converts
in that part of the world, at least not in Japan, is because the
Christian missionaries went over there and said, `It's our way or no
way.' But Buddhist and Shinto don't do that. And Confucianism is kind
of a set of moral rules laid on top of these local religions.
LAMB: You say about 126 million, 127 million people...
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: ...27 million people in Tokyo.
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: In your house--if I came to your house a--or any American would
come to your house, what are the things they would begin to notice
that are unlike what we have here?
Mr. REID: First, that you're coming to my house, because the
Japanese have very small houses and they don't entertain at their
house. You just--it's pretty rare to be invited to somebody's house.
I used to get invited to people's houses because they know that
Americans think you're supposed to do this. But generally, if some
Japanese friend wants to have you over, he'll say, `Let's meet at this
restaurant,' and then he picks up the tab kind of thing.
So the mere fact that I had picked a house big enough to have people
come visit us, and that I invited them over, that--right there, that's
LAMB: How many square feet did you have?
Mr. REID: Oh, it's just--in 27 years of marriage, it's the smallest
house we ever had. We had six people in there, and it was tiny. I
don't know, but y--very few Americans would be comfy in it. I mean,
you learn to be comfy. You learn to except these things. But it
was--it was tiny. The Japanese would come in and say, `Oh, what a
house,' you know. But to us, it was quite small.
Other than that, we--we lived a pretty Japanese life. We definitely
took our shoes off at the door, you know. The Japanese take their
shoes off so as not to trek mud and dirt into the house.
LAMB: Is that the pur--reason why this cover has the...
Mr. REID: It must be. I think that must be.
LAMB: ...sandal? Did you have anything to do with this?
Mr. REID: Random House did that. I think they did a beautiful job
on it, don't you?
LAMB: Is that your shoe there on the left?
Mr. REID: I wouldn't have a shoe that b--that's my geta on the--on
the left there, yeah.
LAMB: Did you wear that kind of a sandal?
Mr. REID: I wore geta, I mean, sort of as a joke, but I wore them,
yeah. They're good in the rain, you know, 'cause they're up off of
the--they have two wooden teeth under there that you walk on. And the
nice thing about geta is there are--there are two wooden teeth
sticking under the wooden platform, and they click--click, click,
click, click. And if you're sitting in a Japanese--any Japanese city
at night and people are coming home from the public bath, this is what
they wear. And this is what you hear at night. You hear the click,
click, click, click of the geta going by. It's a very--very Japanese
LAMB: So your home--I--several references that you've had, the--the
washer out on the back porch or in the front somewhere and...
Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's very common. People are rich in
Japan, they have a washer and dryer and there's no room in the house
for it. So they put it out on the front porch. And they're
putting--they're putting beautiful clothes in this washer on the front
porch because they just don't have room for it in the--in the house.
LAMB: What about the sewage? Do they still have the sewage truck
come by and plug in outside?
Mr. REID: You know, only 40 percent of the homes in Japan have flush
toilets--have--so--but where I lived in central Tokyo, yeah, we have
toilets that work just like Western toilets. But in a lot of--the
first house we lived in in Japan had the truck that came and sucked
out the tank every three days. Yeah, it's--it wasn't like Western
LAMB: Is there an address on your house?
Mr. REID: No, no, there's no...
LAMB: There's no street...
Mr. REID: No, there's no street name. This is--this is some sort
kind of Western advance they haven't hit on yet, right? The high-tech
developed society, no street names. It just drove me crazy. My
friend, Elizabeth B. Miller of The New York Times, was in Tokyo when
we were there and she said, you know, she now understood why it was
the Americans invented the fax, the fax machine, but it was the
Japanese who developed it into a consumer product. And the reason is
you can't invite anybody in Japan anywhere without faxing a map to get
there because there are no addresses. It just used to drive me crazy.
And once when I was in Tokyo, I had the opportunity--I was asked to
address the Japanese Society of City Planners. And as you know,
Brian, I like Japan. I mean, I was--I was a happy camper there. I
thought it was a good society. But I hated this notion that there was
no map, no t--cabdriver can find where you're going. They say, `Well,
it's--it's somewhere in the general direction of the Dioni Hotel,' you
know. OK, so you get to the Dioni Hotel, `Now what?' you know, kind
of thing. You--you lean out the window of the car and ask people,
`Where is'--you know.
So I said to these city planners, `You know, you got a really good
city here, but you can't find anything. Why don't you put names on
the streets? Why don't you put addresses up?' The addresses--Japanese
houses have house numbers, but it's the house--it's sequentially
applied as to when your house is built. So number 3-41 is right next
to number 3-4238, you know. There's just no order to them. You can't
tell from the house number. And these people said to me, `Oh, yeah.
Well, you're a Westerner. You don't understand our ways.' I mean,
they just didn't--yeah, that was really maddening. No name on the
street, no house number.
LAMB: You talk a lot about your kids' school, and you also say that
if they were to go on the 8:17 train, it was 8:17 every day.
Mr. REID: Yeah, the trains really run on time. The--you know, it's
a top-down society in many ways. And when I sent my kids to the
school, the principal, sh--you know, she doesn't just send us a map
for how to get there, which you have to do, as I say, in Japan. She
said, `You will get on the 8:17 train--bus at such-and-such a stop.
You will go to the train station. You'll get on the 8:31 train.' And
the reason she could do that was that bus left at 8:17 every day.
They really leave on time. They're very, very good at this. They
aren't late. If it--if you ride a two-hour train and it's five
minutes late, they give you a refund.
LAMB: What was the first thing you noticed when you took your--your
two girls to the--What is it?--number--school number 6?
Mr. REID: Yeah, (Japanese spoken) number 6. (Japanese spoken)
number 6 is a Tokyo public school, and like every Tokyo public school,
on the outside it looks like a prison or maybe a factory at best.
It's a gray concrete block. And...
LAMB: Where is it, physically, near Tokyo?
Mr. REID: It's in West Shinjuku, which at the time the school was
built was farm country. It was built 70 years ago. And now it's the
Madison Avenue of Japan. It happens to be an area of Tokyo that has
really good bedrock underneath. It's not gonna have an earthquake.
And, therefore, this is where the Madison Avenue kind of skyscrapers
of Tokyo are. And the best one of all, this fantastic building, the
new Tokyo City Hall, looms right over my kids' school in West
I love this building. It was designed by Tanja Kinzo, who's their
greatest postwar architect, in my view. This new city hall was built
in the '90s at a time when Japan was really rich. And the whole point
of it is to say, `We're rich. We've made it.' It's a huge city hall.
It's designed after Notre Dame cathedral. You can see the two towers.
It has this kind of blue-gray look to it that looks like it's made out
of microchips. Some people hate it. I love this building. And it
was incredibly unpopular in Tokyo because it cost $1 billion. They
built a $1 billion city hall. And they actually had to raise taxes to
pay for it. So it's called--it's known as (Japanese spoken), Tax
So my kids' school, which 70 years ago was out in the woods--the
school song has a--a line in it about how we sit in our pretty verdant
school and look out at lovely Mt. Fuji in the distance. And I think
70 years ago, you could have seen Mt. Fuji. Now you see the city
hall and the other skyscrapers.
The most striking thing about that school, from our point of view, was
that the principal--we met the principal somewhere, and she asked us
if we would send our American kids to this school. She wanted the
experience for her students. We were worried about this because, you
know, the Japanese, they're--they're group-oriented. And if you don't
fit in the group, they can be quite cruel to outsiders. There's a
term for this in the school. The Japanese word is (Japanese spoken).
If you look it up in the dictionary, it's usually defined as
`bullying.' It's much worse than that. It's persecution. It's
cruelty. It's kind of organized cruelty against the outsider. And,
you know, who's gonna be more outside than my two little blond
American kids, you know, in this Japanese school. So I said to the
principal, Abbe Senzei--she's a tough woman, she's a strong woman.
LAMB: What's that name mean, by the way?
Mr. REID: Abbe? Abbe is her name and `sensei' means `teacher.' So
it--you don't call a teacher `san,' you call her `sensei,' Abbe
Senzei. If she were a nurse, you'd call her Abbe San. As a teacher,
you call her Abbe Senzei. Actually, if I were Japanese, I would
probably call her (Japanese spoken), Abbe school principal. But I
call her (Japanese spoken).
Anyway, I said to Abbe Senzei, I said, `Look, we'd really to send your
kids to our school, but we're worried about (Japanese spoken).' And
this is a tough woman, and she said, `There will be no (Japanese
spoken) at our school.' And somehow you knew it with her, you know.
But we were a little worried. But the kids, they were willing to try
and we wanted to try.
So we sent our kids, the first day, to this school. And we walk in,
and Abbe Senzei has an assembly for the entire school. She has a
ceremony, Brian, because if two new kids are gonna enter your school
community, that's important. You gotta have a ceremony for this. You
just can't have them walk down to the classroom. The kids are all
gathered in the gym, and they've learned a song in English, "Hello, My
Friendo," "Hello, My Friendo." They sing this to my girls.
And then the principal says, `We're all gonna be friends of little
(Japanese spoken),' that's what my daughter--who was using that name
at the time, `and little (Japanese spken).' `Chan' is the--it's the
friendly form of `san.' And s--for a little kid, instead of saying
`Kate San,' you say (Japanese spoken),' `dear little Kate,' `dear Miss
Kate.' `We're all gonna be friends of (Japanese spoken), but her first
friend is gonna be Mikiko.' Mikiko was assigned by the principal to be
my daughter's friend. Mikiko stands up--I'll never forget this. She
had a T-shirt on that said on it in English `Let's surfing Waikiki,'
which they think is English. She takes my daughter's hand, they're
all singing "Hello, My Friendo," and these two little girls walk down
to the classroom. And in the back of the gym, these two American
parents are crying their eyes out. It was such a moving scene. And
you knew there was not gonna be any (Japanese spoken) in the school.
It was a very good--a very good situation for my girls. They liked
LAMB: When they--when you think back of what that school did to them,
what--what did they take away, after how many years in the Japanese
Mr. REID: They didn't have much. They only went during the summer
from their regular school. They went three summers, so--What?--six,
eight months in all, six, seven months in all. Here's what they took
away from that. They took away the sense, for the rest of their life,
if somebody throws them into a truly bizarre situation they can handle
it, because here they were plopped into this Japanese classroom, their
Japanese was not that strong, and got a lot better while they were
there. They knew nothing about how to operate in that school setting.
And they handled it. They not only handled it, they loved it. And I
think--I hope what they learned from that is--well, they--they saw
different ways for schools to work. But mainly what they learned is,
`It doesn't matter what somebody throws at me all through life, we can
do it.' That's what we always tell them, you know, `If you learned
anything from living around the world, it's that you can handle any
challenge people throw at you.'
LAMB: What was different about the school system there than what you
Mr. REID: Much more responsibility placed on the kids. I mean, Erin
was in--Willa was in third grade at this time, so how old is that?
Those are eight-year-old kids. You--she would go into school in the
morning. I--I went a lot just to watch, and my wife went a lot, just
stand in the back of the room. They didn't care. And before the
teacher shows up, the kids who are the two--the boy and girl who are
in charge of the class that week--they've been assigned--they stand up
and announce the school's--the day's schedule, what they're gonna
teach. They say, `OK, for the first hour, we're gonna need this book,
and you gotta get this piece of homework out from last night. And we
need this color pencil and we need your ruler,' or something. And
only then do they then go down the hall and say to the teacher,
`Everybody's ready.' And the teacher walks in. The student leaders
say, (Japanese spoken), which means `stand up and bow,' and they bow
to the teacher. The kids ran everything.
At lunch, the teachers disappear. The kids put on these chefs' hats
and these aprons, and they served the lunch. Did you notice there are
no janitors in Japanese schools? Because at 4:00, they do (Japanese
spoken), `honorable cleaning.' And the kids get brooms and the
ki--kids get mops and buckets, and they clean that school, which I
think is a brilliant move because they don't dirty up the school
during the day. They don't throw stuff on the floor 'cause they know
who's gonna have to pick it up later. My kids actually liked
(Japanese spoken). I thought they would hate it, but they--that was
fun, too. So a lot more responsibility placed on the kids at--in
first grade this is true. I was quite impressed with that.
And then the other thing is the--the groupness. Everything is done in
groups. Willa's class--her third-grade class--every class is divided
into groups called (Japanese spoken). You know, like the head honcho?
`Honcho' means the head of the (Japanese spoken) in a...
LAMB: Is that where that came from?
Mr. REID: That's where it comes from. `Honcho' is a standard
Japanese word. It means the head of the group, the head honcho. And
it was a big deal for my girls. One of my girls became the head of
her (Japanese spoken) for a week. She was the honcho. Big deal. In
Willa's class, the (Japanese spoken)--sometimes the (Japanese spoken)
are named, you know, the Wisteria, the Tulips, the Roses and the
Dogwoods. Sometimes they're named the Elephants, the Snakes, the
Crocodiles. But in hers, they were named after Disney movies. So
there was (Japanese spoken)--that's "Aladdin"--and her group was
called (Japanese spoken), which is cuma the bear--Pooh the bear san.
Pooh Bear san. And everything was done by groups.
So they would say, for example, `What's the'--the teacher would say,
`OK, now in your groups, I want to know the capital of the United
States, the capital city of the United States.' Hey, my kid knows
this. She lived here, you know. She was born here. And I'm thinking
as an American parent, `Willa, raise your hand. You know this
answer.' No, you can't do that. The point is the group--the group has
to come up with the answer. And if the six kids in the Pooh Bear
group decide that Hollywood is the capital of America, which they did
decide, that's the answer, you see?
So my kids are learning how to work in a (Japanese spoken), how to get
a successful result for the entire group. They're learning to be
little Confucians. And it was fine. I mean, it was--it was worse for
me as a kind of competitive American parent than it was for them.
They liked it.
LAMB: Where is your oldest child--Is it Homer?--or what is
he--what--what--what is he...
Mr. REID: Yeah, Homer has graduated from college last June. He was
lucky in Japan. He had this Japanese girlfriend, so he got perfect
Japanese. It's much better than his dad's, I guarantee you.
He--while he was in college, he tried to take Japanese, but they
didn't have a course for him.
LAMB: Where'd he go?
Mr. REID: He went to Princeton. And as a freshman, he went down and
signed up for fourth-year Japanese. And it was just--you know, he had
been in Japan for five years. He didn't--I don't blame Princeton for
this. But as a--just sort of joshing, I called a professor I know at
Princeton and said, `You know, I'm paying $28,000 a year for this and
they don't even'--this guy was so embarrassed, you know. He was so
embarrassed that they didn't have a class.
My son, very wisely, went down the hall and started Chinese. He took
Chinese 101. He already knew all the characters 'cause they use the
same character alphabet. And he got quite good at Chinese over the
four years. So he has both languages. And now he's working in Tokyo
designing microprocessors. So he's trying--he's working for an
American company, offsetting our trade deficit by selling them
LAMB: Where are your two daughters in school?
Mr. REID: I'm now the--as you know, the London bureau chief of The
Washington Post and they're in school in a school in London.
They're--you know, they're American teen-agers. And we had to put
the--we put them in a school that kind of aims towards the American
system 'cause they're gonna come home to go to college, I think.
So--and that's working fine. It's been fine. It's the first time my
girls have been in a co-ed school. I've always had them in Catholic
girl schools with Mass every day. It's just what I want. They wanted
no Mass, no uniform and boys, and they got it.
LAMB: How long have you been in London?
Mr. REID: Been in London a year.
LAMB: And how long will you stay there?
Mr. REID: I'll stay there till I get Willa out of high school. So
that's--What?--three more years and a little bit.
LAMB: And does your wife have a profession?
Mr. REID: My wife is a lawyer. And she--when we were in Tokyo, she
was an international securities lawyer. So we were rich for that
brief period in our life when she was working for outfits like Lehman
Brothers and Swiss bank. What--she goes back and forth like many
modern women do, between being a lawyer and being a mom. We need a
mom in our family at the moment. If you move around the world, you
need somebody who can care for the family, and she's doing that now.
And she's really happy. She likes it better than she liked Tokyo.
LAMB: How long have you been married?
Mr. REID: Twenty-seven years.
LAMB: Where'd you meet her?
Mr. REID: I met her right in front of the White House, walking down
the street in front of the White House. And the reason was we were
both walking to GWA University to take the law boards that day. She
became a lawyer, I became a lawyer, but I was never a good lawyer, so
I became a journalist. And my wife is a good lawyer.
LAMB: How did you meet her in front of the White House?
Mr. REID: It--it was a setup, as it turned out. A friend of hers
knew me and knew I was going to the--to the law boards. And we were
both kind of reading our cram material at 7:30 in the morning walking
in that direction, and she figured out it had to be me. Her name is
Margaret McMann. I'm Tom Reid. Very fortunately for me that day,
George Washington University had set up all the M's through R's in the
same room to take the test. So I met her. Oh, that was so lucky,
best thing that ever happened to me.
LAMB: Wow. And where did you grow up?
Mr. REID: I grew up in Michigan. My dad was in the auto industry.
LAMB: What did he do?
Mr. REID: He worked for Ford Motor Company and his job was basically
to convince people in Ford Motor Company that they ought to work with
the government as opposed to against the government. He succeeded
LAMB: How long did you live in Michigan?
Mr. REID: My mom's still there. I lived there, you know, until I
went away to college.
LAMB: And Colorado, though, played a role in your life.
Mr. REID: I married a Coloradan. I feel I'm a Coloradan. Do you
know any native Coloradans, Brian?
LAMB: No, I don't...
Mr. REID: They're real snobs about it, let's face it. If--if you
weren't born in Colorado, you'll never be a native. This is my wife's
rule. One of my kids moved to Colorado at age six weeks, and Peggy
will never call her a native.
But we've been out there a lot. I went out there to write two of my
books. And for seven years, I was The Washington Post Rocky Mountain
correspondent. Thank you, Ben Bradlee. It was the nicest thing he
ever did for me. And so I've been in Colorado more than 10 years.
And I argued to my wife, `Look, I ought to get more points for
voluntarily choosing the place as an adult.' Anybody can be born
there. No, I'll never be a native.
LAMB: Where'd you go to college?
Mr. REID: I went to Princeton, and it was really good. I majored in
Latin and Greek. Have you had Robert Fagals on this show, the man
who's translates "The Iliad" and "The Odyssey"? He is magic, and his
"Iliad" and "The Odyssey" are great. And I had a course in Homer from
him. And it was so good that I ran down the street and signed up for
ancient Greek, and spent four years learning ancient Greek so I could
learn--so I majored in Latin and Greek. And I guess you could say I
threw it over for Chinese and Japanese. But I don't feel that's true.
Learning those two very structured languages has always made it easier
to learn a foreign language. You--did you learn Latin?
LAMB: I had it in high school.
Mr. REID: Yeah. And do you remember the ablaut of absolute?
`Caesar, having dispatched the troops and having cleaned the uniform,
dined.' I always hated that construction. It was so complicated. I
hated it. And then I--30 years later in my life, I start taking
Japanese. There's a very complicated grammatical construction that no
American can get, and I realized it was the ablaut of absolute. I am
great on this construction because of my Latin training. So just like
your high school teacher and mine promised, it's always helped me all
LAMB: And why did you get a law degree?
Mr. REID: I was in the Navy at the time.
LAMB: How long did you spend in the Navy?
Mr. REID: I spent six years in the Navy, and I'm glad I did. I
didn't want to go in, it wasn't my choice. I really wanted to get out
towards the end.
LAMB: What years?
Mr. REID: '67 to '73, during the Vietnam War, so you couldn't get
out, and--anyway, I was assigned--I was on a nuclear sub. And then I
was assigned to Admiral Rickover's headquarters here. And I loved
Admiral Rickover. He was a great, great American. The phrase he
hated most in the world was this phrase `Good enough for government
work.' He hated that. His argument was if it's government work, if
you're doing it for the people, it has to be the best work in the
world. There's no--there's no standard higher than the government's
standard. Don't you like that? I really admire that. Anyway, I was
assigned to him. The war was going on. You couldn't get out of the
Navy. I was gonna be in Washington. The GI Bill was there, so I
started going to law school, which didn't do me much good in career
terms, but I met my wife. That was pretty good.
LAMB: Now I've seen a lot of endorsements of books, but I don't know
that I've ever seen two that were so far apart in--and I want to ask
you why they're there.
Mr. REID: OK.
LAMB: The first one is Joe Klein...
Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah.
LAMB: ...author of "Primary Colors." And he says, `T.R. Reid
approaches Asia with humor, humanity and humility,' and he goes on.
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: And the other one is Congressman James Leach.
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: And he says, `Like Tocqueville, who demytholo--mytholig...'
Mr. REID: Yeah.
LAMB: Help--help me.
Mr. REID: `Demythologized.'
LAMB: `Demythologizes American culture to a wondering Europe a
century and a half ago.' He goes on, anyway. Why those two men?
Mr. REID: Well, you know this, Brian. I think--personally, I feel
the blurb business on the back of books is--it's kind of dishonest. I
mean, if you look at blurbs, Joe blurbs Mary, and two years later,
Mary's book comes out and Mary blurbs Joe kind of thing. And I have
always said to people when they ask me to blurb their book, I've said,
`Gee, I--I loved the book, I'd like to do it, but The Washington Post
has a rule saying we can't blurb.' That's not true, but I use it as a
way to get out because it--and so Random House published this book.
They were very nice to publish a book that I really, really wanted to
write. And they wanted to put blurbs there. And I didn't want to go
to people that I'd be in debt to. Joe Klein and I are really, really
good friends. And he became a famous, rich, successful author because
of a great book. And Jim Leach and I have known each other forever.
He's the House banking chairman. And he--he was on the Asia
Subcommittee of Foreign Relations in the House and really liked my
coverage. I mean, he--he--I think he really carefully followed my
coverage of Asia, and believed it. He trusted me. And so that's why
I asked him to do it.
LAMB: You--you talk a lot in here about a man named--and this may not
be the correct pronunciation, Mabo Bani?
Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah. Keisor Mabo Bani, yeah.
LAMB: Who was he--who is he?
Mr. REID: Is he. He's--Keisor Mabo Bani is a diplomat and he's the
highest ranking diplomat in the Singaporean foreign service. He was
their ambassador to the United Nations. I'm sure he'll eventually be
their ambassador to the US. He's brilliant. He went to Harvard.
He's smart. He's engaging. And he's a very sharp critic of America.
LAMB: Let me read you a--a quote...
Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah.
LAMB: ...that--that you have in your book from him.
Mr. REID: Yeah, yes.
LAMB: Where did you get this, by the way?
Mr. REID: Oh, that one--I think I was in a debate with Keisor in New
York. I'm pretty critical of Singapore, you know. It's a closed,
statused place. And I think we're such an open, free society, but he
sees it differently.
LAMB: He says, "Yes, it's true if standard of living means the number
of square feet in your home or the number of channels on your
television set or the number of horsepower in the driveway, then, yes,
America leads the world. But if standard of living means not being
afraid to go outside that home after dark or not worrying about what
filth your children see on those channels or not wondering when you
get up in the morning if all the horsepower will still be there in the
driveway, if the standard includes safety and decency and security,
then our East Asian societies have the higher standard."
Mr. REID: Yes, this is Keisor's argument. Keisor feels very
acutely--like many East Asian leaders, he feels very acutely the fact
that he was born a subject of the queen of England. Colonialism is
not ancient history in East Asia. Most of those countries only won
their freedom in the '50s and '60s, and they don't like colonialism.
They don't think the West ever had a right to come in and take over
their countries. And many of them have a chip on their shoulder about
the size the Great Wall of China, and Keisor is one of them. And he
happens to be quite articulate.
And his argument, which I set forth in the book, outrages me. But
there's a germ in there of something, and his argument is that America
is too free. It never occurred to me that our country could be too
free. To me, freedom is the ultimate good. He argues that America is
too free, and that by protecting the political freedom of everybody,
we've denied the sort of physical freedom. We've denied physical
safety, and made people prisoners in their homes at night. It's a
really interesting argument. That is, because you have so many
protections for individuals, including individuals who want to do
crazy things, the whole rest of the society has to get car alarms and
put The Club on their steering wheel and lock themselves in their
house with the--with the chain lock at night, and don't go--dare go
out. Well, it's a caricature of America, but there's something to it.
I mean, I will certainly tell you when I'm home in America I hear a
lot of car alarms at night, and I never heard one in Asia.
LAMB: We haven't got much time left, but I want to know from you if
Chief Petty Officer Prendergast will be surprised that he had this
kind of impact on you. You got a quote from him. Where did you know
Mr. REID: Hey, I was the best navigation student at Navy OSC in
Newport, Rhode Island, and he was the navigation teacher.
LAMB: All right. Here's what he said: "The best thing is to know
where you are. It's a little worse not to know where you are. But
the worst thing is to think you know you are someplace when you really
Mr. REID: Don't you think? This is great wisdom. The--it's good to
know what you know, but it's more important, in a way, to know what
you don't know, to realize that you don't know. And he said if you're
out in the middle of the Pacific on some Navy ship and the captain
says, `Where are we?' it's much better to say, `God, I don't know,'
than to say, `We're here,' and not be there. And that's right.
LAMB: Why do you think you remember that?
Mr. REID: Well, I don't remember Chief Prendergast saying that. It
was true when he said it, and I had read Socrates in college, and he
said it. And a couple of years later, I read Confucius and he said
it. It's true. That's why I remember it. You know it's true when
you hear it. It's good to know something, but if you don't know
something, it's really valuable to realize you don't know.
LAMB: One--one minute left. What's the bottle man?
Mr. REID: The bottle man. A Japanese businessman with a nice suit
on is walking down the street in New York. Unfortunately, he bumps
into some nice young American. A brown bottle--a brown bag the
American has crashes to the sidewalk. A bottle of wine bursts. The
wine spills on the sidewalk. The American says, `You idiot! That's a
300-dollar bottle of Lafite Rothschild. How can you--that's a very
valuable bottle of wine you broke. What are you gonna do?' He's a big
guy. He's lording over this Japanese businessman. The Japanese
businessman allegedly reaches into his pocket and hands the guy a
300-dollar bill. And actually, of course, it was a $2.99 bottle of
rotgut. It was cheap wine that the guy had set up deliberately for
this scam. And in Japan, they teach you that this is a common
occurrence in America, that Americans are always looking for ways to
scam vulnerable Asians.
LAMB: Are they right?
Mr. REID: I don't think so. But in saying that, I do have to admit
that every year or so, some poor Asian tourist gets murdered in
America, and that's what they remember.
LAMB: Our guest has been T.R. Reid, known as Tom Reid. And here is
the book, "Confucius Lives Next Door." Thank you very much for joining
Mr. REID: Thank you. It was great, Brian. Thank you.
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