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T.R. Reid
T.R. Reid
Confucius Lives Next Door
ISBN: 0679456244
Confucius Lives Next Door
Those who've heard T. R. Reid's weekly commentary on National Public Radio or read his far-flung reporting in National Geographic or The Washington Post know him to be trenchant, funny, and cutting-edge, but also erudite and deeply grounded in whatever subject he's discussing. In Confucius Lives Next Door, he brings all these attributes to the fore as he examines why Japan, China, Taiwan, and other East Asian countries enjoy the low crime rates, stable families, excellent education, and civil harmony that remain so elusive in the West. Reid, who has spent twenty-five years studying Asia and was for five years The Washington Post's Tokyo bureau chief, uses his family's experience overseas, including mishaps and misapprehensions, to look at Asia's "social miracle" and its origin in the ethical values outlined by the Chinese sage Confucius 2,500 years ago.

When Reid, his wife, and their three children moved from America to Japan, the family quickly became accustomed to the surface differences between the two countries. In Japan, streets don't have names, pizza comes with seaweed sprinkled on top, and businesswomen in designer suits and Ferragamo shoes go home to small concrete houses whose washing machines are outdoors because there's no room inside. But over time Reid came to appreciate the deep cultural differences, helped largely by his courtly white-haired neighbor Mr. Matsuda, who personified ancient Confucian values that are still dominant in Japan. Respect, responsibility, hard work--these and other principles are evident in Reid's witty, perfectly captured portraits, from that of the school his young daughters attend, in which the students maintain order and scrub the floors, to his depiction of the corporate ceremony that welcomes new employees and reinforces group unity. And Reid also examines the drawbacks of living in such a society, such as the ostracism of those who don't fit in and the acceptance of routine political bribery.

Much Western ink has been spilled trying to figure out the East, but few journalists approach the subject with T. R. Reid's familiarity and insight. Not until we understand the differences between Eastern and Western perceptions of what constitutes success and personal happiness will we be able to engage successfully, politically and economically, with those whose moral center is governed by Confucian doctrine. Fascinating and immensely readable, Confucius Lives Next Door prods us to think about what lessons we might profitably take from the "Asian Way", and what parts of it we want to avoid.
—from the publisher's website

Confucius Lives Next Door
Program Air Date: May 16, 1999

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: T.R. Reid, author of "Confucius Lives Next Door," what is the Wild Blue Yokohama?
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 icebreaker company.

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 ships anymore.

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.
LAMB: Why?
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 public.
LAMB: The section: Make Greeting. I want to read it and have you explain it.
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 really funny.

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, too.

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 law-abiding people.'

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 come home.

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 that book.
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 America more.
LAMB: In your book you have reference to a grave site, Confucius' hometown.
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 within seconds.
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 teacher.

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 were there?
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 there.

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 next door.
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 unusual.
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 sound.
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 living, but...
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 Shinjuku.

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 Tower.

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. And...
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 it.
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 school?
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 see here?
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 American.
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 sometimes.
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 my life.
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.
LAMB: The first one is Joe Klein...
Mr. REID: Yeah, yeah.
LAMB: 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 him?
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 ain't there."
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 us.
Mr. REID: Thank you. It was great, Brian. Thank you.

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