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Katakana, used appropriately, can enrich written Japanese

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When I was a university student taking law classes 30-plus years ago, reading textbooks filled with katakana syllabary was a truly tough challenge.

For one, there was the Penal Code, instituted during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

It was written in formal "bungo-cho" (literary style), which in itself was only to be expected of any pre-World War II official document. But I often felt dizzy trying to navigate the Criminal Code's "sea" of katakana.

For today's law students, in contrast, such an ordeal is apparently history.

In the current versions of the Criminal Code, the Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure, katakana has been replaced with hiragana, and the old literary style has gone out........

© The Asahi Shimbun