ERISA TAKEDA WRITES – It was quite a familial setting – he sat at the head of the table over lunch as he recounted episodes in his 83 years of life in a calm but assured manner. No, this was not my grandfather, but renowned Japanese journalist, Fumio Matsuo.
There is always something to be learned from the older generation precisely because they have lived longer and experienced more. In his 83 years of life, Mr. Matsuo has experienced what we Millennials call “history,” so for obvious reasons, he has a better sense of what will come in the future.
He dressed rather casually, with a jacket over a button-down shirt and comfortable shoes. He also wore glasses and had his dark hair grey slicked back. Nothing about him would make it obvious that he’s a highly respected journalist until you hear what he has to say and see the things he brought. In his big plastic bag – the kind you get from airport Duty Free shops – were hard copies of his previous works: his books, an LA Times newspaper, and souvenirs of origami cranes. Everything is paper. His reaction to FaceTime was like watching a Samurai transported to the 21st century.
But he does not need IT to do his work. Why change his methods when his old ones have worked just fine – excelled, even – at providing news before IT? His voice matters on paper, and paper is how people read and listen to him.
Ever since working as a foreign correspondent to New York and Washington from 1964-1969 to cover the Vietnam War and the anti-war movement’s reaction to it, he’s developed an eye for US politics. In his article “Nixon’s America: Its Skillful Approach to China,” written prior to Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to China in 1972, he correctly predicted that Nixon would visit China. He has also written an outside perspective about America’s relationship with guns in Democracy with a Gun: America and the Policy of Force.
Prior to this luncheon at the Pacific Century Institute (a new partner of Asia Media International, held at its Chatsworth headquarters in Los Angeles,) he had visited Ohio, the ultimate swing state, to cover the upcoming elections. He told us about his experiences at Youngstown State University in Ohio, where he asked the students in a class which candidate they were planning to vote for: the outcome was half red, half blue. But most importantly, he told us that he predicts Ohio will be going red.
Mr. Fumio Matsuo’s age does not prevent him from traveling across the globe or continuing to write. In his next book he will be analyzing current US-China relations by comparing it to their historical relations from the time of the Opium War. History determines what will happen next – depending on what was done in the past, relations can grow or fall.
Having the opportunity to speak to Mr. Matsuo – who’s lived a long, full life – was an honor, but it was also a reminder: history lives and walks and breathes in people like Mr. Matsuo, so we would do well to treasure them and the insight they possess.