by Tomoki Bischel
Is jiko sekinin (individual responsibility) a good thing? For a long time I have thought of it not as a good thing but more of a matter of course. Therefore, I was for jiko sekinin. A few experiences made me think this way. One of them was during junior high school. Two classmates of mine had started a fight during lunch break and the teacher got very disappointed about this and decided to make us stay late after school and discuss about this topic, saying it was rentai sekinin (group responsibility). However, although I was for jiko sekinin, reading Anne Alison’s book gave me a new point of view: the aspects of jiko sekinin being a bad thing. So, I have decided to sort out the pros and cons of jiko sekinin in order to make things clear.
One of the pros of jiko sekinin is the aspect that helps us have responsibility over what we do. Being told that what you do is up to you, and that you have to take responsibility for it, people will stop to think if what there about to do is sufficient. So, in a way, jiko sekinin can act as a sort of legal force and help us not do the things we should avoid.
However, there are cons to this, and the biggest con, I believe, is that it can turn to something very cruel. This connects to what Anne Allison mentions in her book. Too much coercion can cause stress against people and start to build fear against society in them and be unable to feel at ease. Therefore, looking at this aspect, it may be said that jiko sekinin is one of the reasons of this precarious Japan that we live in now. However, does this tell us that we should lose the idea of jiko sekinin?
As I mentioned, jiko sekinin has both sides of the coin, and both sides have a really important role. So, what can we do or what should we do? I believe that just ignoring the idea of jiko sekinin will not solve the problem but cause more. What we need to do is to respect human-to-human relationships, and try to help each other above the idea of jiko sekinin. Although this may sound very vague, I strongly believe that this is very important and in the future, jiko sekinin will be something a lot better for the society than it is now.