Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Japan`s Troubles With Moving Forward

I was looking around Japansoc.com and found an article from TIME on Japan`s slow slide downward. You can read the article here. Anyone who has lived in Japan for a few years should be able to clearly see that this is not a nation which accepts change very well. At times it can appear that it is a nation which lacks the ability to change all together. I try to resist such thinking but it is damn hard when I deal with the ethic majority up close and personal on a daily basis. You know, I have this habit of watching the Japanese pretty close at times.  I try my best to understand what is going on with the ethic majority but they can be a tough bunch to figure out at times. What is certain is that the nation of Japan is in serious trouble on many fronts. It seems that almost every serious problem that could face a highly advanced industrialized nation has befell on Japan.

I don`t think it can be argued that Japan is a nation in serious decline. The aging and declining population is one hell of a problem all by itself. They got a suicide rate that is startling. Japan has the fourth highest suicide rate in the world. The Federal government is in a constant state of either instability or a complete stale mate. Japan has had six prime minsters in four years. On top of these issues is the fact that Japan has a economy that is almost completely stagnant. This nation has so many issues they need to invest in a magazine rack!

Why can`t Japan seem to get it together? They have been in this situation for decades now. Even since the bubble meltdown at the end of the 80`s Japan has seem to have lost it`s mojo. I live and interact with the Japanese on a daily basis and I see a lot of empty pride combined with a kind of collective self loathing. They seem to love themselves and hate themselves at the same time. It is as if they have given up on themselves. When I talk to a lot of them they tell me about a lot of things they want to do but go on to say they don`t have the confidence to actually do it. It is clear that there is a kind of national sadness the Japanese are rolling around in like a pig in shit. Yall every seen a pig roll around in shit? The more a pig rolls around in shit and stinks the more a pig likes it. This seems to be what the Japanese are doing as a whole. The more they stay stuck in this odd national sadness the more they like and accept it as normal.

What can they do to get things back on track?  Well, the aging and decline in population is a bit too far along to fix from inside Japan. It is clear they are gonna need outside help. The solution would seem simple enough. Increase immigration and the number of permanent residents in order to balance thing out a little. What makes that complex is the fact that the ethic majority suffers from extreme xenophobia as a whole. Hell, I have lived in the same neighborhood for years and my neighbors still do not talk to me. If the Japanese do not become more accepting of foreigners and diversify a bit more, the population and work force may very well become unsustainable. 

The suicide thing is very disturbing. It has become so common place that most people are not even phased by it anymore. From my experience when someone throws themselves in front of a train most people don`t even care that a human life has just ended tragically. Most of the people on the train are just pissed that the train is stopped and they are going to be late getting to where ever they are headed. The indifference toward suicide in Japan is something which is not being addressed at all. There are very few outreach programs and people are not encouraged to seek the programs that are available. This problem is more a cultural problem than simply a lack of proper funding of needed outreach programs. The only thing I can say is that they needed to start admitting it is a big problem and talk about it openly.

Overall yall Japan needs a new direction.They need something to fire them up again. So far the government seems to want to spend its time pointing the finger at each other and trying to find ways to make outdated methods work. The people are doing their best to make their way in very uncertain times. The ethnic majority are mostly alright people overall.. They just got some deep rooted problems which have no easy answers. I like living here and am happy to call Japan my home. Maybe things will change for the better in the future. Lord knows the Japanese could use a little inspiration.



Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Tokyo Life: Welcome to the World`s Largest Rat Race

The suns raises at 4:30 a.m. and already the city stirs. There is a man riding around the hood on a loud scooter dropping off the morning paper. A few gals and guys are rolling in from a long night of partying. Old men hobble along the street spitting their guts up while making their way to buy some cheap sake. In a few hours a sudden mind numbing sound makes your ears bleed. Your eyes open and are burned by an already punishing morning sunshine. You smack the alarm clock like a red headed step sister and reach for a pack of Lucky Strikes. Your day has begun.

After a cup of coffee and hacking up something nasty from your lungs it is time to shit shower and shave.The process is the same everyday. You rush to get though the daily personal hygiene ritual in order to have enough time to smoke another cancer stick, suck down another cup of coffee, and check your e-mail. With 20 minutes before you have to catch the train you throw on your suit like a coke fiend; leaving just enough time to fix your hair. You run your ass to the station and get on the train just before the doors coldly shut. The journey to work has begun.

You have to transfer three times to get to the hell hole called a job. The mass of merciless business men and crazed city dwellers push, punch, poke, grab, and cram onto the trains like a pack of starved cannibals fighting over virgin flesh. You are the virgin flesh offered up as a human sacrifice. They are the hungry masses foaming at the mouth. You must fight for your life or be eaten alive before you even get the change to sell your soul the waiting slave master.

You somehow arrive at work in one piece. Everyone is just as pissed off and on fire as you. All of your fellow slaves are hustling to prepare for another day of thankless service to the all power company. Big Brother is watching of course and he loves you dearly. Don`t fuck-up or you will have to be reeducated with a trip to the Hello Work office. As the work day progresses you feel as if you are one day closer to jumping in front of a train; then lunch break arrives. You run away from the place of your torment to the nearest restaurant that serves up food which would make the average person kill over. You eat with joyful glee and stare at the other customers with a cold glare.

When your slave master finally releases you from your daily habit of S&M bondage known as work, you dash to the nearest low down bar to drink until you cannot feel feelings anymore. You have developed the ability to drink and smoke enough poison to kill an African elephant during your time in Tokyo so far. The natives dare not try to out drink you for fear of death by alcohol poison. The waiter always looks at you with a hateful glare when you order the all you can drink option. They not making any money off of you tonight because you always drink enough to get 20 navy boys from Yokosuka drunk.. Somehow you make it out of the bar just in time to catch the last train home. The cannibals are almost as drunk as you hence not as hungry for your virgin flesh. 

When you arrive home you spend a good hour emptying your stomach of the poison which did not manage to infect your body. After which you pass out with you head resting on the toilet seat for a good 30 minutes. You finally make it to your bed when you are awoken by the sounds of a fight on the street; but don`t remember how you managed such a feat. You are at peace for now.