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Regarding Takamitsu Sawa’s Dec. 19 article, “Motivation for college study“: Did Shiga University President Sawa originally write this piece in Japanese, and then something subsequently got lost in translation, or did a lot of it get cut in order to meet the word count? Or does he just not know how to write logically?

He contradicts himself a couple of times and never clearly supports his thesis — that Japanese students are NOT becoming more inward-looking. And it’s not that I disagree with his thesis. I have been a university instructor in Japan for the past nine years, and I have detected little change in the relative inward- or outward-looking nature of my students’ personal or world views.

Sawa never offers evidence to support his assertion toward the end of his article that the number of Japanese students doing undergraduate coursework in the United States is on the rise. In fact, all of the evidence he cites refutes his claim.

Furthermore, he ignores other factors that may be drawing down the number of students heading to the states: rises in the number of Japanese students studying in other countries such as South Korea, Australia, China and the United Kingdom; and a continuing fall in the 18-to-26-year-old Japanese population. Yes, the declining birthrate may be partly responsible for the falling number of Japanese students heading overseas.

Likewise, it is reasonable to argue that the falling birthrate is making it easier to enter university in Japan. Just a couple of years ago the number of university seats available in Japan to the number of students graduating from high school settled at a 1:1 ratio. This could mean that some Japanese universities are lowering their admissions standards to meet their quotas.

Sawa also blunders by repeating the unfounded observation that American universities are easier to enter than their Japanese counterparts. According to everything he wrote before that overgeneralization, the competition to enter Harvard may be every bit as rigorous as that encountered when trying to enter one of Japan’s better private universities.

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.

christopher pellegrini

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