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The Japan Times runs opinion articles written by current and retired Japanese bureaucrats. Professor Takamitsu Sawa’s July 12 article, “Advantage of taking notes,” was a waste of space even though Sawa sounds more like a journalist than a bureaucrat.

Sawa deplores the common use of the PowerPoint presentation method in university classrooms for economics and business majors. His argument is that the PowerPoint method [deprives teachers of the motivation to improve their teaching skills and students of the opportunity to learn how to take notes]. Sawa reasons that the ultimate drawback to PowerPoint instruction is that it does not prepare today’s economics students to justify a [value-judgment] choice between two alternatives.

Yet, “value judgments” remain a quintessential part of social science. Just as portfolio analysts are required to assess corporate accounting items for macroeconomic valuation, economists must arrive at solutions involving macroeconomic events.

Look at the works of economists Joseph Schumpeter and John Galbraith, and notice how their theories are free of the sophism found among Japan’s economy and industry ministry crowd.

Japan’s problems lie with its poor deference to Ph.D. training in economics and other university disciplines. Personal favoritism accompanied by monetary remuneration often buys Ph.D.s. Perhaps this shows why Japan is plagued with its 20-year-long economic illness, and why Bank of Japan directors, never tiring of their worn-out excuses for maintaining the zero interest rate, have not presented a material reassessment or recipe.

As the president of Shiga University, Sawa appears curiously unmindful of French lawyer Christine Lagarde’s stewardship of the 2,000-strong International Monetary Fund and its $326 billion in funds. He reminds me of a war ministry planner just before U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur stepped on Japanese soil. How can this anachronistic professor show so little interest in, say, the British foreign minister’s targeting of Japan for corruption?

So, victims of unfair practices in Japan are happy to find articles in The Japan Times about the deprivation of freedom or parental abduction by Roger Pulvers and Colin Jones.

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The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

fumio sakuragi

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