Regarding Timothy Bedwell’s May 11 letter, “Deniers won’t let war wounds heal“: While agreeing with the first part of Bedwell’s letter, I cannot agree with his conclusion [that anyone that denies the reality of the horror of Japanese imperialism should be thrown in jail].

The problem in Japan is not too much free speech but rather not enough. Right-wing groups, taking advantage of their cozy relationship with the police, harass with impunity anyone whose views they disagree with.

What is needed is a thorough protection of free speech against harassment, along with a humanistic education system that encourages inquiry rather than blind acceptance of the government’s opinions.

Much is said about Germany’s law against Holocaust denial, but I’ve honestly met very few Germans who seem to really understand the issues rather than simply believing a catechism handed down from above. And it’s not as if Germany has become an [economic] force for good in the world, as evidenced by the sadistic imposition of rigid and toxic austerity measures upon Greece, which almost amounts to a second invasion.

What Adolf Hitler did with tanks, Chancellor Angela Merkel has done with economics.

Rational opinions benefit from being open to debate and discussion. Unexamined opinions received from above — even if they chance to be correct — are not worth having. Deluded opinions become more dangerous when proscribed, as they gain credibility.

A free society is capable of treating neofascists, Holocaust deniers, climate-change deniers, creationists, flat earthers, and reality deniers in general as the cranks they are, demolishing their feeble arguments in debate and ridiculing them.

As long as there is no incitement to violence, there is no need to throw anyone in jail.

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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