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Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Re: Something to sing about?

Following are some readers' responses to Nicholas Drapier's June 2 Zeit Gist article "Something to sing about?":

Uninspiring themes for anthem

Mr. Drapier's argument seems to be that the Meiji Era government introduced "Kimigayo" as the national anthem and that people never really had a say in the matter. After defeat in 1945, "Kimigayo" became controversial because for many Japanese it represented militarism and war.

Now, Japanese have a national anthem that is far from popular amongst all the population. Therefore, a new national anthem that is satisfactory for all Japanese should be produced.

Firstly, and most obviously, I think it would be very difficult to make a new national anthem that pleases everybody in a country with a population of 127.3 million.

Secondly, for some Japanese people "Kimigayo" is an important part of their identity and what defines them as a "patriotic Japanese." Getting rid of "Kimigayo" would offend a lot of people.

Thirdly, I think it is a good thing that amongst Japanese people there are many who feel uncomfortable about what "Kimigayo" means to them and who feel the need to ask questions about their national anthem. I wish that more people in my country had questions about their national anthem and what it might mean to others. The reason why many people in my country don't have to question what the national anthem means to them is because the United Kingdom was on the winning side in 1945, and was in the right, and therefore British people can all live happily ever after, thank you very much.

I would love to see Mr. Drapier's suggestions for a tub-thumping, for-he's-a-jolly-good-fellow-hurrah! anthem based on something that "celebrates equality before the law and equality of opportunity, praises the rule of law and democratic process." The British anthem might be "rousing" and not "too slow, boring or dirge-like to have any emotional effect," but the last time I sang it I wasn't thinking of the things that Mr. Drapier suggests make a good topic for a national anthem.



Nationalism isn't patriotism

After just three years in Japan, I realized that most people can't differentiate between patriotism and nationalism. After 11 years in Japan, I still haven't a clue why.

Until the difference between the two becomes clear, aikoku (patriotism) won't take hold.


Akashi, Hyogo

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