“The thing I think we fail to see is that Japanese exceptionalism is just American exceptionalism in a funhouse mirror,” said Sato-Gray. “We may not recognize the image, but it comes from a similar place.”

“How do you mean?” the panelist asked.

“Well, for example, if you tell an American that many Japanese people feel that they are exceptional because they are direct descendants of the Shinto sun god Ameratsu, that American will probably laugh and think something about superstition. But then they may go on to claim that America is uniquely blessed by God with nary a thought to how off this may look to an outsider.”

“So,” the panelist continued, “you are saying that these differences are what cause misunderstandings?”

“Not at all,” Sato-Gray replied. “I am saying that the similarities are what cause misunderstandings and conflict. We are very much alike in broad strokes, though different in the details. But there can never be two most exceptional nations in the world.”

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