19 DECEMBER 1981, Page 26

Asian history

Sir: Murray Sayle may be right in saying that most of us don't know much about Japan, but he doesn't seem to know much about other Euro-Asian relationships (12 December). He calls the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 'the first time Asians had decisively defeated Europeans since the days of Genghis Khan'. After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, the Mongols he had led decisively defeated Russians, Hungarians and Poles, and dominated most of Russia until the 15th century. Meanwhile the Ottoman Turks decisively defeated Greeks, Serbs, Hungarians, Venetians and Austrians, destroying the Byzantine Empire and dominating most of south-east Europe until the 19th century.

He calls the Japanese industrial drive 'Asia's first intellectual challenge to the West since the lord Buddha'. What about Confucianism and Taoism, Christianity and Islam, Gandhi and Mao?

Since Pearl Harbour is American, shouldn't it be spelt Pearl Harbor?

Leonard Newman

103 Commercial Street, London El