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Regarding Barry Ward’s Feb. 6 letter, “Notes on ‘lecturing’ the Japanese“: I find the three generalizations that Ward has heard from Japanese people interesting and would like to comment on them from a different point of view:

• “It is very easy to enter a British university, but it is very difficult to enter a Japanese university.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that the British don’t study hard. It just exaggerates the competition associated with university entrance exams in Japan. The bruising nature of this situation has been changing, so the example is a bit old.

• “We Japanese drink but not at lunchtime like British do.” No offense is intended. This just shows surprise at differences between British and Japanese cultures. It might also reflect jealousy that the British have more efficient enzymes — acetaldehyde dehydrogenase — for metabolizing alcohol.

• “We Japanese have clean hands” (apropos of World War II). I can’t even start to reply to this one.

Having lived in Japan since birth, I have met countless people who speak incomprehensible gobbledygook. Some are from Japan and others, from overseas. The problem seems to lie not in nationality but in personality.

yoji shiobara

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