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[Opinion] Character Day

Posted June. 09, 2005 06:24,   


Takashi Tachibana (65) is a Japanese journalist and commentator who became famous for his non-fiction concerning then-Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in 1974. Around ten books of his, translated into Korean, have already been introduced here. His strong attention to diverse areas is quite amazing. He deals with space theory, near-death experiences, study of the brain, Japanese communism, physics, apes, modern culture and many others, which make me wonder what his brain looks like. Before writing, Tachibana reads at least dozens of relevant books and starts off with a period of intensive data collection and study.

One of his arguments that he has long continued to point out is the nation’s intellectual collapse. He claimed that the degraded quality of Japanese education that is only getting worse is so serious that the Japanese education is no longer able to produce men that its society requires. A few years ago, Takashi wrote a book titled, “Have Tokyo University Students Become Stupid?” that focuses on the seriousness of the problem. He particularly claimed that an education that doesn’t require reading or writing was the critical factor that seriously affects students.

Tachibana’s arguments are finally getting responses. A total of 286 Japanese policymakers from both the ruling and opposition parties have decided to prepare a bill to promote the culture of Japanese characters. The bill reportedly includes creating an official day for characters and strengthening education related to language ability. The ability to read and write is directly connected with thinking power and creativeness. The more creative people a nation has, the stronger its national power will be. Perhaps this is why Japanese policymakers have put this on their national agenda without leaving it to an individual.

This will afford an excellent lesson to us, since nothing indicates that Korea’s intellectual depression is less serious than Japan’s. The spread of high-tech conveniences, such as the Internet and mobile phones, are attacking the culture of characters, making it light and short-lived. Any solutions from education are hard to expect. Seeing the disorder in the government and the National Assembly, the road to stop the intellectual retrogression seems too rocky due to the secession of words and characters, and disappearing quality language.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial writer, songmh@donga.com