Argument Against Kanji

Let’s compare two average people, one Japanese, one American. The task is to handwrite an essay about any social issue. Introduce and present the issue to your readers. Explain why this issue worries you. Suggest what you think should be done. You have one hour to write. You can’t use a dictionary. Points are deducted for spelling and grammar mistakes. In the case of Japanese, points are deducted for making mistakes on the Ministry of Education’s prescribed jouyou kanji, e.g., using hiragana or katakana to write jouyou kanji words, and/or incorrectly writing jouyou kanji.

What do you think? Who would make more mistakes? Who would struggle more to write the essay? Who would finish last? Who would write less words per minute? I think the kanji user would lose, and the alphabet user would win. Why? The biggest factor is difference in ease of expression. Though both speakers could probably voice their ideas equally well in speech, the kanji user would have more trouble trying to write their thoughts on paper. For an alphabet user, e.g., Roman or Korean, there is no such challenge. Alphabets are easier and quicker shortcuts from spoken word to written word. The journey to literacy is years shorter. It’s like comparing a journey across a road, to a journey across an ocean.

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