The Comparison Of Reading Culture Among Japanese and Malaysian Students

If we have to compare the awareness of Malaysian towards the importance of reading now and then, the current situation is better than the previous ten years. Malaysian individual only read two books per year. However, this is not a situation to be proud of because there are still Malaysians who cannot read and write compared to other Asian country. For example the rate of Japanese people whom cannot read in their country is zero percent compared to other countries. Is it possible to transform Malaysian into reading society like Japanese? There are many reasons why Japanese are better reader compared to Malaysian. Japanese cultivate a reading society among their students so Japanese students have  strong reading motivation due to their own personal interest, support from government and non government organization and the availability of many different reading materials.
The major reason why Japanese student is a better reader compared to a Malaysian student is because he or she has a strong reading interest towards their reading. Usually a Japanese student is reading for pleasure and they read not in a stressful condition. According to Matsumura (1987), Japanese have their goal and target to read as much as possible and they really enjoy doing it. Japanese student read for fun to fill their leisure time by either reading educational or non educational books. In contrast, as stated by Malaysia’s ex-Minister of Education, Najib Tun Razak (1995-1999), Malaysian student read only to pass their exams and not for pleasure. As a result Malaysian student do not enjoy reading because they only read in a stressful condition and this makes the reading becomes boring and no fun at all. Moreover, Malaysian student tends to read only educational books when only it is needed, for example when an examination is around the corner or when they want to complete their assignments. This is not a good situation to be practiced by a newly developing country like Malaysia.
Another reason why reading culture among Malaysian students are worse than Japanese student reading culture is because of the lack of support from the society especially from the government and non government sectors. In Malaysia, parents seldom bring their children to library. Lack of consideration and motivation from the parent makes their children become lazy to read as their parents do not nurture the reading habit since they were young. A study conducted by Malaysian National Library (2006), noted overall literacy had declined by 1% and reading pattern had remain stagnant over a ten year period in Malaysia. Malaysian government also had organised NILAM Program but the effectiveness of the program is really low. This program had been organised in Malaysian school aiming to provide opportunities of enhancing already gained vocabulary among the students. It is a combination of reading encouragement programmes at school. This programme has already provided a good foundation for extensive reading. However, there are no standard instructions to make student to read materials in English and Malay language. Thus, students have a low interest to read in both Malay and English. According to Alderson and Urquhart (1984), the Japanese teachers have their own solution and alternative to increase the reading habit among the students. A small incentive experiment offering token prizes for whoever reads the most books is one such example. Every time a student completes a book, he or she gets to choose a cartoon sticker to put next to her name on a wallchart, which records the number of books read by each student. By doing this, students will become more motivated to read more books and at the same time this will make reading become more pleasurable and fun. Furthermore, peers also play an important role to increase the reading habit in Japanese student community especially in their school. From a friend to another Japanese friend, the Japanese student put up a monthly Top 10 list of the most popular titles to be read for. Peer-to-peer recommendation often has greater influence to students than recommendations made by the teacher. With this friend they will share the same interest in reading the book and thus a reading culture’s community can be cultivated without any obstacles and problems.
The third reason why Japanese students enjoy reading compared to Malaysian student is because they have a lot of interesting materials to read. Japanese student enjoy reading different type of reading materials. There are many reading materials that can be read and used by student which involved not only educational but also non educational books. For example Japanese students enjoy reading manga, a type of comic cartoon that entertain them. They also enjoy reading other books. Manga however has brought a great influence and has become a phenomenon among the Japanese teenagers. The content of the manga tells about the story of the struggle between good and evil and the characters in the story might be a mix of things for example human, animal, robot and also gods and goddesses. But the most interesting part in manga is it has a main quality when it emphasis on a story about the Japanese culture and their traditional custom. This is a good factor in creating reading society among the Japanese youngster in their country. Furthermore, Japanese student are collecting the books or manga series as their hobbies to fill their free time. According to Nitcschske (1994), manga are not intended to be kept and are usually are thrown away as soon as they have been read. However stories do not just stop and Japanese people recollect all the manga stories and turn it as their collection which can be read for another generations as an entertainment. In contrast to Malaysian culture, Malaysia lack a sort of reading materials like manga thus, Malaysian student finds it hard to nurture their reading habit and make reading as their hobby.
From the reading and research, it is clearly seen that Japanese students have a better reading culture compared to Malaysian student because they have a strong reading motivation due to personal interest, society support from the government and non government and also the availability of reading materials in their country. However, cooperation and helps from the Malaysian is needed in order to cultivate the interest in reading in each individual. The identity of a country is reflected by its citizen. A reading society will make each individual in the country more updated and informative. It is still not too late to nurture and instil reading habit among the citizens in our country. All people, especially the government sector must not give up and have to keep up the efforts to achieve the target that is to transform Malaysian society to a reading society.

Muhamad Hafizi Bin Zaudi@Harun
July-November 2011
UiTM Kuala Terengganu

cool huh??
i've been doin research and this stuff for the whole sem to fulfill the assignment of BEL311..
i felt satisfied with my reading and writing at least i learned something
references is not included cause i think it's too long
not to show i'm "poyo" or bragging of myself with my work
just sharing my writing and opinion
it's a waste just to save in your pendrive after we handed in the i shared to all of you...
i'm doin this stuff with my own effort
Thanks For Reading. Do Comment If You Like


  1. haish..
    xde comment yg mbina ke??
    sokmo komen mg berunsur negatif

  2. hello, I'm doing research about Japanese reading culture for my assessment,do you mind to share some of your references? I'm unable the references that you use since there are lots of people named Matsumura >_<


  3. thanks a lot, great work
    regards from egypt