Regarding Takamitsu Sawa’s Oct. 22 article, “The battle to boost universities“: Japan might be fighting a losing battle in its efforts to attract highly qualified foreign academics to teach and do research here, as one of the first major obstacles would be the language barrier.

In Japan, the Ph.D.-level researcher from America would not have the time (or inclination) to master academic-level Japanese. (Kanji in 10 easy lessons? No way.) There would be little opportunity to teach — unless the Japanese students in his or her class had very high TOEFL scores and strong reading comprehension skills in English.

Moreover, America’s science professors might find teaching in Japan a bit more attractive than those working in the humanities. That’s because after Japan’s defeat at the end of World War II, the consensus at the education ministry was that the “soft” humanities would take a back seat to the “hard” fields of math, science, engineering and technology.

Many of Japan’s postwar leaders felt that Japan was defeated not by a lack of will or fighting spirit, but rather by a lack of sophisticated, technologically advanced weaponry to match those of the Allied forces.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

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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