Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Human rights are bad for health

No, it's not the results of some new sociological research, just the latest foot-in-mouth episode from this gaffe-prone government. They seem to be running at more than a clanger per day, actually, but I'm certainly not going to blog all of them...

This latest one was from the Education Minister (who inter alia is trying to force "patriotism lessons" on all pupils, to the understandable nervousness of all the neighbouring countries who remember what happened last time...):
"Human rights are important, but if we respect them too much, Japanese society will end up having human rights metabolic syndrome."
Well, there's not much risk of that with people like him in charge.

It may be significant that the Japanese word "人権 (jinken)" is commonly translated as both the fundamental "human rights" and the rather more conditional "civil liberties". Similarly, "権利 (kenri)" is translated as both "right" and "priviledge". I'm not sure how well differentiated these ideas are among the population at large, if at all.

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