Lonely Japanese People

Asahi Shimbun’s Economic Observatory column repeats recent talking points of main opposition party Democratic Party of Japan, which boils down to “the LDP is selling you out to the Americans! Vote for us and we’ll protect you!”

Lonely Japanese People

On a personal note, as someone hailing from Japan’s “baby boom” generation, I actually experienced Japanese society becoming rich as a high rate of economic growth took place. However, this era was also the era in which large and medium sized families gave way to the nuclear family. We lost the “village society,” regional cooperation, and religion that protected us while binding individuals, but this was replaced in large corporations by the familistic lifetime employment. Presently, corporate family-ism and nuclear families are beginning to collapse as well.

Our country’s economic system followed the West’s while remaining behind by several laps, but even that has been shrunk from tens of laps behind in the Meiji Era to a few laps behind as of now.

It was not free, fair, or global, but Japan has been rapidly Americanizing ever since the Hashimoto government called for “free, fair, and global” [economic policies]. Especially, the Koizumi government, which is considerably following America, majorly changed the system framework from a priori regulation to self responsibility as seen in the new Corporation Law. The government is hastily pushing for globalization and a free economy, but fairness is being left by the wayside. This can be understood by looking at the corporations that abuse the loopholes in deregulation and the defective systems that cannot monitor them as seen in the Aneha and Livedoor scandals.

In times when the underlying structure of the economy is majorly transforming, it has a huge effect on the surface structures of politics, society, and culture. Yoko Kirishima’s 1970s bestseller “Lonely Americans” is a documentary depicting the spiritual loneliness of Americans who are nice and kind on the surface. In America they teach freedom and independence from childhood, but the repercussions of that create a massive number of individuals who are constantly troubled with tension and loneliness.

Japan, too, is beginning to create individuals forced to take responsibility for themselves while still defenseless. The Japanese people who are accelerating Americanization are starting to become “lonely Japanese people.” I think this sort of social revolution is progressing deeply, quietly, but also swiftly. (Tokiku)