Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4 Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
It is somewhat disappointing to see no response to Yoshio Hayashi’s views (“Keeping quiet on comfort women,”June 1). While claiming that he would never “advocate covering up details of Japanese history,” his ideas nevertheless reveal that he is some kind of mental contortionist when it comes to estimating the propriety of certain kinds of information.
Does any intelligent person seriously dispute that it is better to know than not to know? It is well within the bounds of reason and empiricism that it is far better to know than not to know, and that it is better to know everything about very little than to know nothing about everything. So it seems to me that Hayashi’s thinking lends itself to a “know-nothing” approach to existence.
Perhaps this is to be expected since Hayashi is undoubtedly a product of his culture, a culture in which people are trained to passively accept being ruled by a professional political class whose benevolence is supposed to be assumed and not questioned, rather than being governed by citizen-politicians. In this context, of course, information, any information, is potentially subversive and the object of “official” handling. Sociologically, freedom of information has the effect of burdening and charging individuals with personal responsibility for it - a phenomenon that Hayashi’s culture is not yet prepared to deal with.
Finally, let us remind ourselves that school and schooling are not “education.” School provides “schooling.” That is why it is called that. It is primarily sociological. Education,” which is primarily informative, is something else. Importantly, it is not the fundamental purpose of education “to motivate children to actively contribute to the community to which they belong.” The fundamental purpose of education is to teach young people to raze society to the ground in a heap of festering ashes (and then, of course, to raise it backup again, each generation unto its own manner).
If Hayashi worries that teaching young people about the Japanese government and military involvement in the comfort women issue may inspire those young people to despise the community to which they belong, he is right to do so, and almost certainly on the wrong side of the fence on the issue, because the policy of the government, the military and the society that supported them in their time was certainly despicable.
Published on Wednesday, June 18, 1997 as “Japan’s censorship culture.”
I hated Yoshi Hayashi. He was a stereotypical Japanese conservative nationalist. Reading him was so predictable. He sounded like an LDP politician. The matter of how Japanese history - especially modern history covering the 20th century wars - is taught is contentious as conservative groups and politicians are always lobbying to have the language watered down. I object to the Japanese view that the war was more an accidental or unavoidable incident than a deliberately planned act of heinous criminality. This is a perpetual theme in Japanese education news. It is a matter of being honest or dishonest about yourself. Conservative Japanese prefer dishonesty, maybe because it is easier.
I started this letter with “It is somewhat disappointing to me to see no response to Yoshio Hayashi’s views ...” And yet before this letter was printed there was a response by Ronald D. Sordahl, Jr., “Teach all aspects of history,”Wednesday, June 11, 1997 beating my letter by a whole week and making my letter look a little ill-writ or untimely. Since this was my first letter, and I had no computer I posted it in the mailbox, creating a time lag that fax machines and E-mail could overcome.