“If this is going bad you have to tell me. You have to decide to leave because I can’t. I’m Irish and I’ll stay in a bad relationship for 30 years.”

I can’t remember where I heard that but it should have been a Japanese person saying it.

With a gamut of blame diffusing cultural concepts at its disposal, Japan seems to be the preeminent locale for  avoiding being blamed for anything and for accepting everything. The only rule which seems necessary to observe is a careful protection of the surface layer; appearances must be maintained at all costs.  One can do nearly anything, pushing the envelope to the absolute edge of whatever mountain of excess and depravity you’ve climbed, as long as Wa is maintained.

Maintain appearances at all costs.

Maintain Wa.

Conversely, in the west, an obsession with “the truth” and with confrontation, one might even say an addiction to it, means appearances are rarely if ever maintained and things seem to constantly be war-torn, tattered and dysfunctional.  This post might read like a condemnation of Japan, but I will say this: I’ve never heard a Japanese man refer to the mother of his kids, wife or ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, as any of the following, a whore, a slut, a money hungry bitch, all popular monikers in the west for women men once considered near and dear.  I’ll at least give Japan that credit. But moving on…

This cultural phenomenon of acceptance can be seen on level after level in Japan.

Pre-teens gorge on erotic and often sexually violent comic books and normal middle class parents simply do not register it. Middle aged men on crowded trains sit, packed in next to young mothers/junior high school girls/grandmothers, and read porn comics (Hentai Manga) or just porno magazines or watch adult videos on their phones.

At school-after-school I’ve encountered kids who clearly have learning disabilities, including what I think was Autism in one case, and low-level mental retardation in another case, sitting in the normal classes, their issues utterly ignored.  Well, ignored until one boy was found standing naked, in the middle of winter, on the roof at the edge of the pool shivering violently; he’d been missing for hours. But he was back in class, drooling and staring out the window the next day; his parents had insisted nothing was “wrong” with him and he should attend standard classes.

Bullying in school, constant and never-ending bullying day in and day out, directed at whoever has earned the scorn of the class for whatever reason, is almost always ignored.  If the targeted student can’t handle it, they simply take a few months off school; with the bully usually remaining at school, unpunished. If their parents don’t allow that, then they’ll either suffer in silence, or if they’re lucky a leaked video online might disturb the surface enough so something is done. Otherwise, they generally just kill themselves.  Westerners often don’t understand this, but consider that in Japanese high school, the students stay in the same class and teachers come to them.  There is no escape if your attackers are in your own class and all the staff, in fact the country, refers to them as “your friends”.

Women the world over suffer at the hands of men.  It’s a problem the human race still struggles to deal with and likely always will.  Japan is no exception, however, this struggle is usually conducted in silence and with the tacit permission of society as a whole.  As of this writing it’s 2017 and chikan, or “train groping” is still widely seen as “a nuisance”.  So, let’s imagine you’re a female and the principal cause of all harm which befalls you, statistically a man, is covertly rubbing your genitals while you’re packed into a crowded rush hour train.  You say nothing, because you have such a hard-wired reverence for maintaining Wa, and are too embarrassed to make a scene, he might follow you home and rape you anyway like your Mom taught you, so just let him grope you and get over it.   You should have used the all female train carriage anyway.

Maybe men of various ages are pushed to these behaviors due to the variety of kinky, rape based video games available for their pleasure?  Well, it turns out this is an actual real thing, a phenomenon people have known exists for 20 years and game developers have consistently denied.  So, spending two or three hours a day engaged in rape simulations might have some effect on one’s world view.  But the games continue to sell, apps have been developed, ten-year old’s have smart phones.  The world turns and Japan clings to its appearances.

Young people just aren’t having sex and hence are not producing the offspring Japan so desperately needs to support it’s rapidly aging population. Syouganai ne, nobody wants to have kids in this dismal economy so everyone stopped having sex.  Sexless twenty-somethings and sexless marriages. No sex Japan. Except, Japan is having a ton of sex.  Low divorce rate? Yes. But what’s the rate of Japanese married couples who actually live in different places?  I assure you, it’s high.  But hey, appearances march onward.

As of this writing, the Japanese economy is third in the world, and this is because the Japanese government is the number one purchaser of Japanese stocks.  The market stays afloat and the numbers look positive so, Wa has been satisfied and appearances maintained.  So, when I publish my book, would it make sense for me to make use of this strategy and buy hundreds and hundreds of copies of my own novel?  Well, it wouldn’t work for me because unlike the Japanese, my friends and family would point out that “The only person buying this shit is you.” and then they would follow this truth with raucous laughter, as they should.

This is the part when so many foreigners enchanted with the land of the rising-consumption-tax dash to the forefront to defend their lady liege. “But, it’s so safe here.” Over and over, this seems to be what it boils down to, safety; Japan’s so safe.  Well, no. Japan is so safe for you.  How many people do you know or family members do you have who have died in earthquakes or were displaced due to the nuclear terror in 2011?  I knew many Japanese friends who lost family, old friends and homes.  Not so safe.  Domestic violence is a real problem in Japan and goes largely unreported, and when reported, unpoliced.  The police claim to have a 99% conviction rate, which is comical, and numerous cases of innocent people going to prison for years and years bubble up to the surface year after year.  So, perhaps Japan is safe for you, but how safe is it for everyone else? And in the end, safety is achieved by giving away freedoms.  Japan is “so safe” seemingly, because the Japanese people have agreed to let so much slide, live in a kind of developed relative poverty and ignore reality.  People live on the edge of depression and complete mental collapse, hoping desperately nobody asks them how to say “It’s over there” in English.

Why is Japan like this? I don’t know. A variety of culture components, largely discussed all over the internet, and which will be skipped here.  In the end the why doesn’t matter.  The whole country is soaking in secrets, denial and a constant general state of unease, with the pressure never allowed release until something snaps and someone jumps off a building, into an oncoming train, or stabs 20 people in a care center.

Lives of quiet desperation and acceptance.

Just. Keep. Appearances.

 

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