Dear Mr. Rosenbaum,
I have read your review of Dr. Akagi with much interest [May 7]. One point especially caught my attention: In your discussion of the conflict between WWII and the war against hepatitis you say “To compound the anomaly, Akagi and Piet converse exclusively in German.” This would actually not have been such an anomaly. Many (perhaps most) Dutch at least understand German, and German was an important second language in Japan, particularly among people with interest in the natural sciences. I was told that chemistry textbooks for example were for a long time in German. German would therefore seem a natural choice for communication between a Dutch and a Japanese–English is very difficult for Japanese, Dutch is an unlikely language to be spoken by a Japanese (although there used to be good relations between the countries earlier), and Japanese would be an unlikely language to be spoken by a Dutch (although they are very open to foreign cultures).
I have not yet seen Dr. Akagi myself but plan to do so this week. I am looking forward to it, and, being Austrian myself, plan to pay special attention to the German parts.