• Kobe

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I find much more good sense in James Hicks’ Jan. 20 letter, “Speak out for ‘universal’ standards,” than in Bryan Hunt’s vapid retort Jan. 30, ” ‘Gender equality’ not universal.”

To avoid offending culturally sensitive souls like Hunt, how exactly are we to reply to the often totally gratuitous criticisms of our own societies by the Japanese without comparing them to the state of affairs in Japan? I have heard the following instances of self-assured ignorance here:

• “It is very easy to enter a British university, but it is very difficult to enter a Japanese university.” I pointed out that this was absolute bull and that British students actually study — in law, medicine, dentistry and science courses — extremely hard. Oops! I’m lecturing the Japanese!

• “We Japanese drink but not at lunchtime like British do.” Fair enough, but then British people don’t end up under their desks, as the Japanese would in the same circumstances.

• (This one takes first prize.) “We Japanese have clean hands” (apropos of World War II). How do you even start to reply to such dangerous neofascist twaddle without “lecturing” the Japanese?

Yes, Mr. Hunt, I’m a “visitor” here, I pay my taxes and I’ll certainly make my opinions known. Too bad if it upsets you, and have a nice day.

barry ward

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