This paper is a survey concerning the mistakes of Chinese characters (Kanji) found in material written by Japanese students. The types, reasons, and influences of the mistakes are investigated here based on 75 examples.
In Section 2, four types of mistakes found in Chinese words (Kango) are examined. They are: a) mistakes of radicals, b) confusion of different characters, c) confusion of different words mostly for the reason of homoymy, and d) using different characters to make up non-existent words which look like Chinese compounds. In Section 3, we look into the mistakes found in Japanese words (Wago). These analyses show us that mistakes with Chinese characters are not so complex, and are similar to mistakes made by junior high school students or foreign students.
In Section 4, the reasons for the mistakes are postulated. These include the orthographic complexity of Chinese characters, teaching restrictions in compulsory education, the lack of writing activities, attitudes towards writing activities, insufficiency of Japanese vocabulary, and scholars discouraging the use of Chinese characters.
In Section 5, four influences of the mistakes are discussed: first, the ability for true-false judgments concerning the characters even when writing on a word-processor; second, the accelerating confusion of character use in public life; third, the weakening of vocabulary or communication skills; and last, the careless attitudes toward study habits and foreign language learning.
It seems that improving not only skills with Chinese characters but also Japanese ability in general is as important at university as learning foreign languages for the Japanese students.