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New York Times Article Causes Manga Controversy

posted on 2002-01-04 14:31 EST
In a positive article spotlighting Hayao Miyazaki here James Brooke contraversially stated "Comic books account for 60 percent of printed publications in Japan, a reflection of low literacy rates due to the difficulty of learning Japanese characters."

The ASSOCIATED PRESS immediately responded with an article on Brooke and his statement, titled "NY TIMES ARTICLE SAYS JAPAN HAS 'LOW LITERACY RATES' which pointed out that "According to the U.S. State Department, Japan has a literacy rate of 99%, as compared with about 97% for the United States."

The AP reported: "Reached by phone for comment, the article's author, James Brooke, said, ''The cheap shot is to say the New York Times doesn't know how to read the U.N. literacy tables.'' He said the popularity of comics reflects the difficulty of kanji, or Chinese characters, used in Japanese. ''What we are talking about here and a lot of older Japanese have told me this, reading and writing kanji skills are deteriorating. And this is what I meant by low literacy. In other words, a lot of Japanese people read comic books because they don't want to sit on the subway with a long full text kanji book.''

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