Can you live alone?

by Zhang Shiwen

Japanese animation has become one of the most influential cultural media in the world. It not only exports the interesting stories, but also expresses the Japanese values to the world. One of the phrases which appears in most animations moved me and maybe many others a lot, what I think is the core value of Japanese culture is that “the human being cannot live alone”. Due to that, no matter what type of the animation is, Japanese value always tells us the importance of being connected with others. However, to think of the situation that Anne Allison wrote in Precarious Japan, the real Japan society has been losing this core value of connection. Some of them “have been abandoned or estranged from their families”, who will be discussed following are called “denizens” or “refugees” in her book (Allison 2013:59).

It is known that “denizenship” and “refugeeism” mostly describe the migrants and foreigners, but in Japan, people “who get stranded inside their own country with access to a secure job, stable home, or normal life”, and “without a place or space where one feels comfortable and “at home”” are also called “refugees” (Allison 2013:47). However, under the constitution of Japan, all citizens have the right to enjoy the basic life, which means living healthily and getting basic insurance. While seeing the current situation in Japan, many people work to earn money which even cannot afford the housing, enough food; even if the low payment and bad health condition, the government refused to pay the insurance. Moreover, some people work but “felt superfluous: unvalued in the work” and “voided of worth or recognition as a human being” (Allison 2013:64). They felt it a hardship of living because of lacking of human relationships or no belonging.

However, as what most animations show and the reality that people need “social recognition, human belonging”, and people “relay on others for self-confirmation”(Allison 2013:67), some of those who lose the connection with the society chose to kill others to prove his own existence, such as “Akibaken musabetsu terojiken”; some of them transferred their worries of insecurity of life to dissatisfied and then “join right wing association for the national belonging” (Allison 2013:63). In Japan, “net right wing” and “hate speech” are raised, but the truth is that it is hard to master the true information. Due to that, I think that if it is difficult to say the denizenship and refugeeism lead those people seek belonging to these groups, though some groups are good.

Therefore, in my opinion, denizenship and refugeeism will not lead people to seek belonging elsewhere, although it looks like so. Firstly, I do not know how people even cannot feed on themselves have the flexibility to join some groups, of course, if entering these groups can give them some benefits. That is the economic factor which makes those denizens join the groups. Secondly, I do not deny that it is very important to be recognized and belong, but I think that like people born alone and die alone, why they cannot live alone? If join to some groups or being recognized by the society is just self‐satisfaction? Some people, like Hitler or the leaders of right wings, use people’s desire of being recognized to do some bad things. Then, in these case, do they really take back their respect of human being?

In conclusion, I think that government should mainly take the responsibility to make sure the security of them, and take their respect back. What it means is that to join some groups is not enough and easy to be paranoid, the best way is to make them get back to the society.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

 

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French citizenship or the anti-communitarianism

by Marin Enault

By studying immigration in the United States, I noticed how much the vision of the migrants was different compared with France’s vision. The history of both countries being completely different, it seems that it influences the conception of the immigration. It seems interesting to compare sociologically these two ideologies as well as their result.

Countries as the United States, Australia or New Zealand built themselves thanks to the colonizing immigrants. This special past is important in the idea which these countries have of immigration: Immigration is always massive, wished, checked and presented as a strength. The multicultural society of the United States is described as a wealth, responding to a logic of market.

The public policies that control the immigration’s flow according to certain criteria: countries, languages, professional qualifications… This “chosen” immigration policy entails the creation of ethnic communities, sharing the same characteristics. In the US we can speak about South American, Asian or Black communities, which are themselves divided into an infinity of national or cultural communities. It is a large-scale communitarianism: the immigrants live parallel existences while sharing the same nationality.

European countries, in particular France, have a different immigration culture. Even if the number of immigrants is important (nearly 160,000/year), France sees the communitarianism as something bad, as a failure of the integration. Partially because this country is the heir of a long republican tradition, France pursues the dream of “republican messianism”: the French nation is one and indivisible: the origin, the color and the culture of an emigrant disappear since he becomes French. So the French state refuses to see ethnic communities on its territory, simply French citizens, without any other criterion of distinction.

To describe this ideal, Ernest Renan spoke about a “national project”, a nation based on the “will to live together”. However, today this myth seems unrealistic : it seems that the French nation, in spite of its historic will, does not integrate any more her immigrants as well as the native-born French people. Although the theory of the communitarianism is always refused by the political elite, ethnic groupings nevertheless built up themselves. The migrants, due to the lack of economic integration, live in the same poor suburbs areas. The myth of a “French-style” citizenship collapsed: the secularism loses its sense when the school holidays are based on the Christian calendar while in certain high schools the majority of the students are Muslim.

France always ideologically refused the creation of subgroups within the French citizenship, however it turns out that the economic reality does not allow any more the same integration for all.

To convince itself, it is enough to look at the exam’s results of the Parisians elite’s high schools compares to the very close high schools, considered as difficult, where the students are mainly sons of immigrants. Not recognizing communitarianism doesn’t makes it disappear, quite the contrary.

References

Costa-Lascoux, Jacqueline : « L’intégration « à la française » : une philosophie à l’épreuve des réalités »

Renan, Ernest. « What is a Nation? »

The sense of belonging and patriotism

by Satomi Toba

In this short report, I’ll talk about what influence has over the sense of belonging to country. Actually, I had never thought about this topic before. Probably it is because not only me but also many Japanese people don’t have enough chance to think about their identity or the sense of belonging to this country. To make this understand easily, I’ll compare some common situation between Japan and Indonesia. The reason why I chose Indonesia as the comparison country is mentioned later.

Since I went to Taiwan for school trip in my high school days, I’ve thought that I can feel to be Japanese and a foreigner only while staying outside Japan. In this summer, I visited Padang, Indonesia for 1 month and a half. There, every time I walked into a road or a town local people stared at me and sometimes they tried to talk to me in English. That experience made me realize that I was different from them. Rethinking about it now, it seems to let me be more Japanese person than I was in Japan. It means that I came to compare any style between Indonesia one and Japanese one, for example, the bathroom, the transportation, the food and so on. Whenever I found those differences, my perspective for Japan got more and more deep.

There is another interesting case for comparison: it’s about patriotism. Here and there in Indonesia, we can see so many national flags along roads and some people often sang national anthem. However in Japan, those scenes rarely can be seen these days. Some Japanese old people put national flag in front of their house when the national holiday. I think it is related to a bad image regarding the right-wingers. Japanese people tend to connect the patriotism idea with them and insist that it reminds us the World War Ⅱ when all citizens had to fight against the Allied Powers and the most important thing was to swear loyalty to the Emperor. Also, the authorities forced the citizens to be willing to join the war. When we think about this topic, it is better to refer to the relationship with colonization/ independence. Japan has never been colonized by any country unlike Indonesia, which had been a part of Netherland for over 300 years. Ex-serviceman told that they’ve got patriotic spirit from Japanese army’s education and then they stood up to fight against Netherland. After getting the independence, they’ve celebrated the independence-day on a large scale and it seems to make people’s feeling of commitment strong.

This time, it can be said that colonization experience is one of the keys leading to patriotism. It’s just the point so I’ll keep searching on this topic.

Reference

Hatena diary, Katsute nihon wa utsukushi kata. http://d.hatena.ne.jp/jjtaro_maru/20101022/1287749130