By Michael Tracy
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Extra resources for A European Life: From War to Peace
4 From this and a later, private visit, I came to have great admiration for the best aspects of Japanese culture, so different from our own. One notable feature, related to their respect for tradition and for their elders, is the emphasis on “schools” in each artistic or intellectual sphere. At the end of my stay at Kyoto University, some of the staff said they had found my lectures interesting, but they had a problem: to what “school” did I belong? I said I had never thought about that: I tried to teach the facts as I found them.
But I was young and idealistic, and I quit. 4 It had much more relevance to the real world than anything I had received at Cambridge. And I earned some money translating articles from, of all things, a bulletin published by a German cosmetics firm, for which I had to acquire a specialised chemical vocabulary. In the meantime, European integration was making its first tentative steps, and a new opportunity arose. 1 The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 had imposed on defeated Germany both humiliating conditions and punitive reparations, which contributed to the rise of Nazism.
All this was in stark contrast to British priorities, and seemed to make the prospect of British membership even more remote. Another important issue was “Commonwealth preference” (formerly “Imperial preference”). Under this scheme the Commonwealth countries were supposed to grant preferential tariffs on their imports from each other. Its existence was another reason why Britain was so reluctant to join the EEC: applying the common external tariff would mean the end of Commonwealth preference. But was it really so important?