Reading kanji more important than writing them by hand with a brush? No kidding?

It looks like the Japanese government has decided (see also: Slashdot discussion) that it's more important to be able to read the Chinese characters that appear in Japanese writing than to be able to reproduce them by hand. Yeah, I could have told them that.

As a consequence, they are updating their list (of characters you really ought to know if you want to read Japanese), adding almost 200 characters that weren't on the list before. As someone who is trying to learn their language, I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, 200 *more* characters, yikes. It's not like there weren't too many (many *times* too many) already. On the other hand, they presumably wouldn't have added them to the list if they didn't think they were already being used quite a bit, so I probably would have needed to learn them anyway sooner or later, whether they're on the list or not.

Remind me why I picked this language to study? I must be some kind of idiot, or a masochist.