Thursday, August 26, 2010

Which is a good thing.

For a long time, Japan has prided itself as the first nation to modernize in the region of Asia. Despite the terrible and self-brought defeat in the Second World War, Japan has somehow clung to the title of "the foremost in the region." Until recently, that is.

Now Japan seems to have lost all its confidence. In my own perspective, for someone born and brought up in Japan, this shift in the national psyche is needless to say sad, although admittedly tinged with the excitement of new competitiveness.

Personally, in my own life, I have always enjoyed the game of catching up. My home country losing the position of no.1 is no problem for me, especially as I tend to base the value of my own existence and others' independent from any nationalistic thinking anyway.

Recent travel to Singapore (I just got back to Tokyo this morning) convinced me that now the tropical nation of 5 million people is more advanced than Japan in many respects. Especially as regards the immigration policy. I never understood how it is, but some people in Japan are ultra-conservative about welcoming people from abroad as collaborators in society building. As far as I am concerned, people are people everywhere. There is no reason why people from abroad should not be encouraged to come to Japan and enjoy the opportunity for a slightly different way from the ethnic Japanese, perhaps, therefore adding to the diversity of people's traits in the process.

As I have stated, I think Japan is losing its self-confidence. Which is a good thing. One always has the chance of reviewing oneself from the external point of view, when one has a crisis in one's self confidence. Most probably, the time for self-doubt and soul searching has come to Japan.


sheep1967 said...

I may agree with your perspective.So far Japan has not been at the deepest bottom yet, it's still struggling to recover.
I'm afraid that it'll take for long time to make a recovery as long as a few age group who never lose the national pride lead this country.

the garden harlot said...

i heard something about this shift recently, maybe on national public radio.

i'm often very embarrassed at my country's (the u.s.) behavior, or those running it and the poor or less than respectable decisions they make which they pride as the best ones.

but i have a lot of respect for japan. i am definitely not wholly educated about it, but when i do learn about japan, i usually stir feelings of reverence.

it's never good to have to be arrogant, like the u.s. often is, but i don't know how you change the structure from the top when you're just a part of the smaller masses. i guess you just make your mark on your lower level, which i try to do, in mini-revolutions, bringing good to the world around you, trying to steer clear of arrogance. i wish my country would take a lesson.

Moonflower left in the morning said...

Welcome back to Japan !
Thank you for sharing the reconsideration fresh from overseas.

I feel many Japanese might lose " Japan " itself as well as losing its confidence. I felt it especially in the nation-wide enthusiasm for the late World Cup.

I always miss having hardly any chances to talk with people from another country in my usual life.
The immigration policy might probably have succeeded, but it doesn't rise up not only multinational songs but also the national anthem at the corner of a street.

I love the mother tongue and appreciation of the local colors, much more other countries.
Do you think it is ridiculous that I think of ourselves and foreign people as each great rustic?

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

Once upon a time, a book was published and became a bestseller. The name was " Japan as Number One". I don't know Number One is good thing or not. But, at least such a book was a bestselling. And the naming was correct generally in that era. Yes, once upon a time...

Now, I'd like to find a right direction around me. Number One again? Hmm..It's a difficult question, but perhaps the answer is no. What I can say now is it will be started from a little thing. And I wish it had much diverse possibility.

Oli M. said...

It could be an opportunity for self reflection and adaptations in strategy and attitude. At the same time, I expect some rallying around nationalism as a response. I hope it's more of the first than the second.

I also have stong cosmopolitan (in the old Greek/Cynic sense) sentiments and have been following what you've been saying about openness, especially education, in the past few months. I hope people are not just hearing what they want to hear, but are actually listening--even if they disagree. Your message is important.