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Although the whole nation has been dismayed by the recent wave of reports of serious crimes committed by 17-year-olds, everyone must have been excited and impressed by the teenagers playing in the high-school baseball championship tournament held at Koshien Stadium, regardless of who won and who lost.

In particular, the national final between Chiben Wakayama and Tokaidai Urayasu was such an exciting seesaw of a game that it had millions glued to their television screens.

Competing in the two-week tournaments were 49 teams, which had qualified after winning local primaries featuring 4,119 schools. All the players were boys aged 16 to 18. The earnest way they played brightened and invigorated the entire nation.

It must be recognized that juvenile criminals constitute a very small minority and that the great majority of today’s youngsters today are both both physically and spiritually healthy.

Yet it is also a fact that before the war we never experienced the kinds of cruel crimes now being committed by teenagers. Is it not reasonable to conclude that major shortcomings in the postwar education system are to blame for the appearance of these few youthful criminals?

The education policy of the Occupation forces in the immediate postwar period was aimed at emasculating the Japanese and causing them to lose their ability to judge right from wrong. Every time I hear of a juvenile crime, I cannot help but feel that the policy of the Occupation forces has succeeded.

All citizens must work together to right social wrongs. But at the same time, it is incumbent upon politicians to implement reform, a task that calls for breadth of vision and depth of insight.

Legislators are justified in spending taxpayers’ money to gain knowledge and experience abroad. This summer, about 100 members of the House of Representatives and about 60 from the House of Councilors traveled overseas, spending an average 2 million yen each for a nine-day trip visiting other countries in groups to study political, economic and educational systems. That in itself is unobjectionable.

There is a serious doubt, however, as to how productive these overseas trips have been. I say this because I fail to see substantive results from those trips. For example, there must have been a number of legislators who went overseas to study constitutional and educational issues. Yet it is questionable whether what they learned on their travels has been effectively referred to in considering either the Constitution or the Fundamental Law on Education.

This only gives rise to the suspicion that politicians have used taxpayers’ money to have fun abroad under the pretext of studying other countries’ systems.

I am worried about the future of this country. College and high school graduates are finding it difficult to get jobs. Can the nation’s teenagers feel secure about their future? If not, the blame goes primarily to politicians, but also to the mass media — who bear a greater responsibility for the nation’s future than they realize.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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