I assume that one purpose of publishing The Washington Post article titled “English-language education proposal has French up in arms” on The Japan Times’ front page May 20 was to stimulate the ongoing debate about English education in Japan.
Although ours is the information age, very few people seem to understand the complicated nature of the various issues of modern society, much less the likely future consequences of decisions we make now. For example, many countries adopted stringent methods to control population; many others did not and face runaway population growth.
Now we are dealing with aging societies and the lack of infrastructure and manpower for them. Those countries with runaway population growth are viewed as young nations, but as some experts have pointed out, these young generations will be old one day. What then? We don’t want to think about it.
We don’t know what kind of old age the young of today are likely to have. We can only make wild guesses. If some foresaw the situation today, their opinions were conveniently swept under the rug by other “experts” and majority opinion. Many die-hard optimists don’t accept the existence of our worst social problems.
Deciding what languages will be more useful also is going to have far-reaching consequences. So, aren’t we just making wild guesses to inflate our enormous insatiable egos? Most “experts” today won’t be around to answer for the future consequences of their decisions. Why then are we in such a hurry to somehow “change” the world when even a lifetime is not enough to understand a fraction of what we already have?
Our thought processes steer us away from real issues. For example, we boast of technology, read science fiction and talk of robots that will make life easier for humans — when, in reality, we have societies where people work hard just to eke out a living. And in developed societies, all the technologies that were supposed to have made life easier have not reduced overtime hours one bit.
In my humble opinion, debates in their current form about language policies won’t lead us much further. Aren’t we trying to “impose” something that should actually be an individual’s choice?
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.