In the opinion column titled “Dim outlook for democracy” in the Sept. 17 edition, Hiroki Sugita wrote: “Even given the strong economic growth of China and the political stability of Russia, the majority of people living in liberal democracies would not consider moving to Beijing or Moscow as permanent settlers.”

But what he says about Beijing and Moscow can apply to major cities of “liberal democracies” in the West, too. The majority of people living in Japan would not consider moving to New York, London or Paris as permanent residents, either, even if they may think of visiting them as tourists.

Beijing, for one, is really a fascinating metropolis deserving of an extended sojourn. As is depicted in the famous painting “Autumn Sky in Peking” by Ryuzaburo Umehara, Beijing is a sightly and attractive city well worth its status as the capital of the Middle Kingdom or the emerging superpower of the 21st century.

In addition to being blessed with many broad, leafy boulevards and crisscrossed with a huge network of subway lines, extending 323 km — more than that of Tokyo — Beijing has some venerable seats of learning such as Peking University and Tsinghua University, the National Library of China, which is bigger than the National Diet Library, and all kinds of other top-ranking institutions of cultural interest. And it is warmer there in winter than in Chicago or Sapporo.

Mitsugi Yanagita

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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