Regarding the Jan. 19 letters by Kyushuphil (“U.S. censorship of books, tests documented”) and by Roan Suda (“Notable absence of ‘nationalists”): Suda takes exception to “Western commentators,” but it’s usually Japan’s Asian neighbors who have the gall to actually hold Japan accountable for its past. This has more to do with different authoritarian education systems teaching different “facts” than with anything else.

Chinese and Korean schools have no more use for critical thinking outside of science and mathematics than Japan has.

The “political correctness” in Western education that Kyushuphil mentions is one of the factors contributing to Westerners’ softness on Japan as well as to ridiculous surveys that place Japan and South Korea’s rote-learning education systems at the top of the world. Critical thinking is nowadays in decline everywhere, although thankfully Western countries still haven’t abolished essays.

The “avoidance of essay writing” (cited by Kyushuphil) in Japanese and other Asian schools is not some accident that fell from the sky. It is designed to produce malleable workers (and potential soldiers) who will not think for themselves or question orders.

As for Suda’s “anything but nationalistic” students, their unquestioning obedience to authority ensures that after most of them read a newspaper for the first time, they will soon start moving in that direction.

jim makin

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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