Jan 18, 2014

Japanese seek Asian friendship

Regarding the Jan. 12 Kyodo article “Abe Yasukuni trip aim not lost on U.S. leaders“: It is extremely regrettable that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a surprise visit to the war-related Yasukuni (Dec. 26). He said it was not his intention to hurt the ...

Jan 18, 2014

Peace-restoring role for Emperor?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine was an act of mischief by a peacock of patriotism. Two Japan experts who live on the East Coast of the United States seem less alarmed than distantly concerned. Harvard professsor emeritus Ezra Vogel has called ...

Jan 15, 2014

For starters, an encouraging word

Any foreigner who has lived in Japan for any length of time and struggled to learn Japanese knows that the language barrier looms large here. Those of us chipping away at it as English teachers know that our students often feel the same way, ...

Jan 15, 2014

Dodgy contracts cost ALTs

In the Jan. 3 article “Schools fret about assistant teachers ahead of proposed 2020 reforms,” the principal of an elementary school praises an assistant language teacher for eating lunch with the children, and seems to imply that those who decline the “offer” to eat ...

Jan 15, 2014

Recreational reading will score

Regarding the Dec. 31/Jan. 1 article “English to get 2020 push but teachers not on the same page“: Experts have criticized Japan’s reform plan for English for not including enough hours of English instruction to accomplish its goals. They’ve also noted the lack of ...

Jan 15, 2014

Giving students a chance to soar

As deputy head teacher at the school referred to in the Jan. 6 article “English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul” (about the challenges facing educators in meeting the expectations of the new national English syllabus): I would like to thank The Japan ...

Jan 15, 2014

Hints for winning over tourists

We’ve just finished hosting some Australian family members for two weeks in Tokyo and Minakami, Gunma Prefecture, including two elementary school-aged children. They were shocked at how many people smoke in restaurants despite the presence of children, wide-eyed and coughing, at adjoining tables. They ...

Jan 15, 2014

If only neighbors were customers

On a light note — without any reference to Yasukuni Shrine, the Senkaku islands, “Abenomics,” school textbooks, history, etc. — I’d like to say that after living and working here for more than 17 years, I am always interested to discover a facet of ...

Jan 11, 2014

Connect the dots on English study

The Jan. 5 article “English fluency hopes rest on an education overhaul” leaves a logic gap as to why Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should dream of a nation “that will actively re-engage with the global marketplace.” The new fiscal year (come April) will bring ...

Jan 11, 2014

How one treats Yasukuni is key

The politicians who persist in visiting Yasukuni Shrine say they visit it to pay their respects to the war dead who sacrificed their lives for the benefit of the nation. Upper House lawmaker Aiko Shimajiri (an Okinawa Liberal Democrat), in response to a reporter’s ...

Jan 8, 2014

Discovering the Okinawan dialect

For the past year I’ve been researching, as a school project, the decline of the Shimakutuba dialect spoken in Okinawa. We even went on a trip to Okinawa for three nights and four days; one night was spent in home stays with host families. ...

Jan 8, 2014

A simple remedy for inequality

There recently has been debate on this page about whether economics is a science or not. It looked ridiculous to me, since every economist bases his or her economic theory on personal beliefs about humanity and society, and often on unrealistic hypotheses, none of ...