Regarding Shinjiru Kanda’s Oct. 10 letter, “Kanji requirement for daily life“: Today kanji serves only a decorative purpose in the Japanese language and daily life. It is not essential for communication or written expression when hiragana plus some katakana can do what kanji does.
Kanji sometimes harms Japanese students. The Japanese school system is excellent in its emphasis of collectivism over individualism, but in my experience, when Japanese students come to university, they demonstrate two shortcomings:
First, about 80 percent of them cannot write a proper essay as they did not learn structure, format or the art of analysis, elaboration and expression in their grade school years.
Second, they have little knowledge and interest in world affairs.
I think these effects are due to the fact that they were forced to waste a lot of time mastering more than 2,000 Chinese pictures, which provoke rote learning as well. They did not have enough time to properly learn liberal arts or a foreign language such as English during their school days.
Whether students will be successful or not at the university level depends on their training in the school system. Abolition of kanji would give them extra time to learn the affairs of the world from liberal arts courses in school.
As a result, universities would not have to waste the first year teaching them liberal arts. That would reduce the length of the bachelor’s degree program from four to three years, saving a lot of money for struggling parents.
Alternatively students could utilize the fourth year to learn much more about their chosen subject to get, say, a “superior bachelor’s degree.” Such a system exists in Scotland and Australia.
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.
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