A recent editorial from the Asahi Shimbun gives a perfect illustration of the difficulties of teaching English and American academic writing and debating style to Japanese and other Asian students. First of all it does that great Asian almost zen-like trick of giving two diametrically opposed points of view and never coming down on one side or the other.
The other argument they use that would never make it further than the letter pages of a British or US newspaper is that the reason why Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma was wrong to say he accepted that the Hiroshima bomb was historically inevitable was because it could upset people. If he was right or wrong is seen as almost irrelevant, only the results of his words matter. And I’m not saying that this Japanese use of language is wrong, but seeing words only as an emotional thing not as a way of grappling intellectually and bringing the other person’s argument down like the average British man’s conversation in a pub is a huge leap for me. Not that some Japanese men don’t spend all their time using facts and logic to argue with their friends too. They certainly exist, and they are called ‘otaku‘.
Not that anyone is asking me, but I say as it is impossible to say what would have happened if the A bombs weren’t dropped it is impossible to say one way or another whether they saved or caused more death and suffering.