• Tokyo


Elizabeth Warner’s March 8 letter, “Student individuality gone to seed“: Being opinionated should perhaps not be confused with having opinions. Beware of opinionated people anywhere, anytime. But my main point has to do with the notion, much debated over the years, that the merits of individuality should be pursued at all cost. Why NOT wear school uniforms at Disney Sea? I wonder. Is a fashion statement required?

No doubt Japan’s education system needs to rethink its fundamentals, but that’s asking too much, given the realities. For the bureaucrats in charge, making the latest round of “changes” will take years to implement, and doing something is much more fun than actually thinking about what is being done.

These people have the same motivation as the great graduates of Harvard and associated universities who have dominated economics, finance and politics for so long in the United States. The main purpose is to line one’s pockets while protecting oneself from being prematurely kicked off the team. And haven’t they all succeeded brilliantly!

It just goes to show that a degree from Harvard or the like may not necessarily qualify one for an office in any of these fields. Yet, these people are there! Could the teaching be flawed?

The quiet swell of opinions in Japan is well at work in big corporations, thousands of small concerns and at many other levels, but perhaps this cannot be so easily appreciated by students on a mere two-day stint out of their “Western” ghettoes.

nicholas maync-matsumoto

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