English Lessons From Abe Shinzo

During the Koizumi administration, I signed up for the Kantei’s weekly e-mail magazine. Every now and then, Koizumi would reveal some slight variation of his language on the Yasukuni Shrine, which was big news for me when I was researching Yasukuni rhetoric.

I never canceled the subscription, so now I get the Abe administration’s newsletter. I was hoping I’d find some crack about his meetings this week with Hu Jintao and George W. Bush at the APEC summit, but what I found was a bit more interesting.

Abe Shinzo is teaching English! The popularity of learning English in Japan is much discussed, and still probably little understood. But here’s the bureaucracy’s contribution. From the Japanese edition of the newsletter:

<メルマガで学ぶ時事英語>

 問題:教育基本法は英語で何というでしょう?

 →答えは今週の英語版メルマガで!登録はこちらから!!

Study Current Events English With the E-mail Magazine

Problem: How do you say Kyouikukihonhou in English?

→The answer is in the English edition of this week’s e-mail magazine! Sign up here!

The answer came in my e-mail, because I generally read it in English:

– Answer to the quiz in the Japanese Version E-mail Magazine

Q: How do you say “kyouiku-kihon-hou” in English?
A: Fundamental Law of Education.

They’re running a week behind: Abe’s plan to revise the Fundamental Law of Education was the topic of last week’s newsletter. But not only are they inserting English quizzes into the weekly newsletter, they’re pushing their Japanese-language audience to sign up for the English version. It’d be nice if the newsletter from the White House would encourage, say, Spanish learning. After all about 10 percent of U.S. residents are native Spanish speakers, and as many as a third have some knowledge of the language.

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