Quick links following up on recent topics

Here’s a few links that I have laying around, mostly related to things that I’ve been discussing over the past week. I’m a little too tired and sick to offer any commentary right now, but feel free to leave your own.

The Daily Show’s comment on the anti-Japan protests in China, in streaming WMV. You know a story is big when the Daily show is making fun of it.

The Economist has a travelogue type article about life in a particular village in rural China.

Despite China’s increasing openness to prying foreign eyes, the dynamics of village life remain hidden away. Although the Chinese media report extensively on rural problems, foreign journalists require government approval to conduct interviews in the countryside (as indeed, in theory, they do for any off-base reporting in China).

In typical Chinese fashion, they only gave the reporter permission to visit one of the more prosperous rural villages, but that aside it’s still an interesting piece.

The Taipei Times is carrying an Associated Press report on how China is using the war on terrorism to supress the Uyghur’s Muslim lifestyle in western Xinjiang province.

Comparing the situation to Tibet, a report by the two groups said Muslims in the Xinjiang region are “concerned for their cultural survival” amid a government-financed influx of settlers from China’s Han ethnic majority.

ESWN translated a section of a very interesting article on how the Chinese government suppresses their own history. Amazingly the author of the article is in Beijing- I hope nothing bad happens to him.

When it comes to viewpoints about warfare and nationalism, the Chinese people are not better than the Japanese. “The winner becomes the emperor while the loser is just a bandit” is an age-old concept of warfare in China. The arrogance of the Han tribe about owning everything under heaven continues to live on today as nationalism. More particularly, the way in which the Chinese Communists have fabricated history and used lies to rule since seizing power is much worse than how the Japanese rightists are revising their history of invasion; the way in which the Chinese Communists have beautify their totalitarian rule is much worse than how the Japanese rightists have beautify militarism. The way by which the Chinese Communists have ruled with lies has created a basis by which Japan can revise its history in order to fool the new generation of Japanese.

This web site seems to be associated with the organization that created the controversial new textbook in Japan. They have a near endless supply of offensive articles written in Japanese, as well as a number in English so poor that they seem to have been translated by a computer. They also host a couple of articles contributed by a fellow with a Germanic sounding name, who manages to combine anti-Semetic and pro-Japanese Imperial sentiment.

The ancient Hebrews, however, have shown a propensity for mass enslavement and slaughter following victory. Since Jews have significant influence over U.S. military and foreign policy, perhaps some of these ancient lessons have been carried over into modern times. It would not be a stretch to suggest that American post-war policies may be an extension of the Jewish experience.

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Forget history: Overview of Japan’s new textbooks

OK, so everyone’s mad about the stupid history books that no one uses? That’s fine, but let’s not forget the real story. In no more than a few short years after just beginning to institute educational reforms known as “Yutori Kyoiku” (Education with room to breathe), Japan’s OECD math test scores plummeted down to number two. Making matters worse, they lost out to KOREA of all countries. These developments, along with fears of rising crime by Japan’s youth, have begun a nationwide debate about the benefits of Yutori Kyoiku versus the traditional system we’re all familiar with.

Responding to the new trends in education, textbook makers have been struggling to stay relevant to youth while fulfilling the central government’s policy requirements (ie: passing the inspection). In with the crop of textbooks that were recently approved were a few strange ones. ZAKZAK has more:

A fly in the ointment? “Masturbation” passes textbook examination

Doraemon” and “Masturbation” are OK, but you can’t use “Tama-chan”?! The content of approved textbooks to be used this spring in middle schools was released April 5. Among the textbooks is a health text that tells of “masturbation” as “the self-pleasuring of a woman”. However, mentions of the character “Tama-chan” from the popular manga/anime Sazae-san were not approved for use in classrooms.

Here are some more odd entries helpfully pointed out by Yomiuri Online:

Chat Smileys, Today’s Japanese: you can read all about them in the new approved textbooks for junior high students

“Ions”, “Heredity”, “Inequality” — “Progressive” curricula that did not exist 4 years ago have returned to the Education Ministry inspections

Here are the new junior high textbooks released to the public April 5th. With contents that surpass upper-level students and exceed the Education Ministry guidelines, there are also many pages devoted to review of elementary school material. As the aptitude of students becomes increasingly polarized, voices of confusion as to what to do with shrinking classroom time mixed with the welcoming of these new texts.

 ◆Smileys

Multiple publishing companies have published tables showing the differences between Japanese and English-language “smileys” such as “laughing face”, “crying face”, and “winky face”, considered useful for Japanese students communicating with foreign friends in English. Japanese smileys use round parentheses to simulate the outline of a face from the front, but in English-language smileys symbols such as “:” and “;” are used as eyes and the face is displayed sideways.

 ◆Equal representation of gender

An English textbook for second-year students introducing various occupations drew concern from inspectors that “it was lacking necessary consideration for a society of equal participation of the sexes” — of 30 occupations displayed only 6 of the illustrations were of women. Because of this, the textbook company changed 9 of the illustrations, including a police officer and a lawyer, from men to women, and the result was 14 men, 15 women — almost equal except for the astronaut whose sex is unclear.

 ◆The ever-changing Japanese language

For Japanese instruction, one company released 3 books that touch on the corruption of Japanese in sections such as “today’s manner of speech”. In one part, written by popular TV host Kajiwara Shigeru, questions modern usage by comparing phrases such as 「こちら味噌(みそ)ラーメンになります」 (“Here’s your miso ramen.”) and 「こちら味噌ラーメンでございます」 (“This is miso ramen.” [tr: ROUGH translation, no questions please]), asking readers, “Which store would you rather eat at?”

 ◆Frogs

One textbook brings back “frog dissection” to science classrooms. This first appeared in Ministry of Education guidelines in 1958. Since then it was widely used, but criticisms that it “goes against the principle of respect for living things” caused it to show up less and less, and it has been absent from modern textbooks. The editor explains, “We included it in the interest of putting in as much material as possible, but we put it at the end since there was some resistance to including it in the main text.

 ◆Separate last names for married couples

There was a textbook in use that portrays separate last names as one possible choice for when people get married, but the Education Ministry changed its inspection policy to “the legalization movement for separate last names has stalled because there are arguments for and against it“, and has issued opinions stating that text previously approved “may give the mistaken impression that separate last names for married couples has been achieved”. The textbook company involved removed it from the list of options.

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