TIME conversation

Patriot Games

Re “The Patriot” [April 28]: I am fearful that our country may lose a sense of moderation. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe describes himself as a patriot. However, what the patriot is should be ascertained carefully. It seems that Abe dreams of restoring Japan in an abstract and military perspective, showing scant regard for the rights and lives of ordinary Japanese people. He also wants to lose Japan’s self-restraint on military policy. Such change threatens to ruin the trust that Japan has established over the years after the war, rather than contribute to the safety of Japan.
Kiyondo Suzuki,

It is really a disgrace for TIME to label Abe as “The Patriot.” In fact, Abe should be labeled as “the patrioteer.” The real patriots are those who bravely resisted Japanese invaders during World War II and sacrificed for their countries.
Song Xiaowen,
Pingzhen City, Taiwan

We in Japan do not all agree with Abe’s incessant and profound whipping up of nationalistic fervor, especially on the matter of national defense. His visit to the Yasukuni Shrine antagonizes our neighbors, and even the U.S., succinctly countering the effect of Abenomics arrows. From his previous term of premiership, Abe might have learned that the only way to warm the seat longer is to show patriotism in every possible way. He wants to prolong his hard-earned power.
Fujisan Ito,

I was born at the outbreak of World War II and grew up with a dislike for the Japanese in general. It was heartening to read TIME’s article about Abe, and I felt a warmth toward Japan—a thawing out, if you like, about that country, a hope that this Prime Minister can redeem so much for Japan.
Jan Robertson,
Wellsford, New Zealand

Consumer Advice
Re “Mercado of America” [April 28]: This is a marvelous example of how an economy can (and must) change when society changes. In my small but proud and highly industrialized city in the north of Italy, Brescia, only the Chinese grabbed a similar opportunity: in their shops they started to sell “strange” clothes, food and drinks that thousands of immigrants from Africa and Asia were looking for. And they made a good business out of it. On the contrary, we Bresciani just denied any change and protected ourselves behind “tradition.” And we made no business out of it.
Manuel Bonomo,
Brescia, Italy

Bully for Ukraine
Re “Russia’s Game in Ukraine” [April 28]: Russian President Vladimir Putin has a lot of vintage, Soviet-style chutzpah to act like the neighborhood bully in Ukraine. He obviously does not give too much credit to what he perceives as a weak Obama Administration (whose hesitant approach to world affairs such as Syria and Egypt has done irreversible damage to American deterrence) and has nothing to fear from a Western Europe regrettably dependent on Russian energy sources.
Andy Leitner,
Haifa, Israel

Keeping Score
Re “Should U.S. Colleges Be Graded by the Government?” [April 28]: Except for a score of well-established, world-class Ivy League universities and institutes, most colleges and tertiary institutions are bent on making money while providing mediocre curriculums. To ensure competitiveness, meritocracy, competency and productivity, it may be wise to grade the colleges as proposed by the Obama Administration. This is something Washington can learn from Singapore. Backlashes and objections would be unavoidable at the beginning. But the long-term ultimate benefit to the good of nation should surpass all concerns.
John Spencer,

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