Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
It has been said before - not by me - that Logic is another example of a Western import to Japanese culture. On one level it is a ridiculous proposition in light of the convincing argument that innate human genius patterns our thinking processes across racial and cultural lines. But on another level I can believe it when I listen to Japanese struggle clumsily with logical speaking, like wearing an unfamiliar, alien set of clothes.
So, the complaint that Japanese students’ writing (and therefore, presumably, thinking) skills are now found to fall “short of constructing paragraphs properly and making their arguments consistent” in the July 15t, 2006 article “Kids found lacking in logic skills” is just a statement of the obvious.
Many people, everywhere, have trouble writing and are better speakers than writers. Others are better writers than speakers. But Japanese seem to be poor at both, using a language deliberately designed to be vague. Listening to pronouncements in the media by politicians, police, judges, criminals, businessmen, essayists, etc. I have learned that making logical sense and being logically consistent are the last things Japanese people are capable of. By extension, what Japanese describe as “natural” in thought and deed is usually the last thing according to Western thinking.
But I could be wrong.