A chain of refugeeism

by Ruri Inoue

As Anne Allison says in her book, Precarious Japan, there is a chain of “refugeeism” in the current society in Japan, that also has the another nickname, “muen shakai”. In this “muen shakai”, there are bunches of people who are literally excluded from their companies or families by being fired or abandoned, et cetera. Also, there are bunches of people who have a place of their own (“ibasho”), however, they do not feel like they belong to anywhere or anyone. I believe that “refugees” in this context could be categorized into these two groups that one is a group which physically and emotionally become lost in life due to not having a place they could belong to. In contrast, the other one is a group which emotionally suffers from the sense of lost due to their inner vision that is brainwashing them into thinking as if they are not needed or accepted by others or societies.

It could be said that the “muen shakai” is deeply tied with the unbreakable chain of the “refugeeism”, which has accidentally created some of the monster groups known as hate groups and cults as unpredicted spin-offs. For instance, there was or is a cult group called Aum Shinrikyo, which is infamous for the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway. It is not too sure why each member of the Aum Shinrikyo joined it as the reason is likely to differ among the members. On the other hand, I have heard that some university students, who were struggling to find someone or somewhere they can cling to, made themselves involve into the cult group because it made them feel as if they finally found a place where they can call their own “ibasho” and anything its leader Asahara said became the truth of life to them.

“Couldn’t they have found somewhere else?”, I wonder. But it is probably a wrong question. I guess it should be like “Wasn’t there anywhere else they could find?” One of the possible reasons why they became stuck with the cult group is that they hadn’t probably known elsewhere to ask for help. In other words, the access to some institutions or groups who are experts in helping people find connections are almost invisible and hidden in this society. Honestly, I am too sure about it but at least this is how I feel about today’s society in Japan. They really need to come out on the surface, make themselves more visible, and as a result, that would possibly contribute to reduce the numbers of those who gets misled into dangerous and life-threatening communities.

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About religion ~Japanese perspective~

The history of the religion goes back to many centuries ago. For example, Christianity was spread from the Middle East and to Europe and even many countries in the world. There are about 30 % of the people in the world who are Christian. Also there are Buddhism and Islam which are famous in the current world. On the other hand, do you know what is happening in Japan? According to the data which was reported in 2000, it is said that more than half of the Japanese people are with no religious faith. Actually, some of my friends say some religious groups are bit scary and even crazy. Why do people tend to think like this even we go to shrine or temple for traditional events? I would like to consider about it with my ideas.

Originally, Japanese had some kind of religious thing. We have respected all the nature and surroundings, which might be a tree, soil, river, and anything. We had believed that for each of the nature things, there is a god. Compare to the Christianity and Islamic, Japanese religious value is very ambiguous because it is polytheism, not monotheism. Moreover, the gods live in the nature are invisible. They do not have a shape of a body, so it means we rather respect the nature itself, not the gods in the nature.

I think this is one of the reasons why most of the Japanese are without religion. Another reason is because some religious groups caused troubles in the society. Famous one is the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, by Aum Shinrikyo. It was a terrible incident which murdered innocent 13 people. It created the value that the religion is scary and crazy. If your god told you to kill people, would you follow that? It is not a religious problem, but a moral problem. I think most of the Japanese people will continue to live without religion unless some specific religions will grow in Japan. Anyway, I think Japanese value of religion is very interesting because many kinds of religions are mixed in the society. It is a complicated issue.

References http://www.gotquestions.org/polytheism.html “What is polytheism?” http://homepage2.nifty.com/path/shukyo.html 「日本人の宗教観」 http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/地下鉄サリン事件 「地下鉄サリン事件」

by Takeshi Sakagami