Haruki Murakami, one of the world’s foremost novelists, waded into the territorial row between China and Japan recently, warning of the peril of politicians offering the “cheap liquor” of nationalism.
The Japanese author of Norwegian Wood said cool heads should prevail.
Writing in the liberal-leaning Asahi Shimbun, Murakami, who has been tipped as a future Nobel laureate, said disputes over land existed because of the unfortunate system of dividing humanity into countries with national borders.
“When a territorial issue ceases to be a practical matter and enters the realm of ’national emotions,’ it creates a dangerous situation with no exit.
“It is like cheap liquor. Cheap liquor gets you drunk after only a few shots and makes you hysterical. It makes you speak loudly and act rudely ... But after your drunken rampage you are left with nothing but an awful headache the next morning.
“We must be careful about politicians and polemicists who lavish us with this cheap liquor and fan this kind of rampage,” he wrote.
“You soon sober up after the buzz of cheap liquor passes,” he said. “But the path for souls to come and go must not be blocked.”
Murakami has never shied away from controversy. When he received the 2009 Jerusalem Prize, Israel’s highest literary honor for foreign writers, he obliquely criticized the Middle East conflict.
“If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg,” he said at the ceremony in Jerusalem.