Individual responsibility in Japan

by Natsuki Nakasone

In the book Precarious Japan, Anne Allison says that individual responsibility (jikosekinin) is one of reasons that make hikikomori. We often see that people who reject the decision of independence become hikikomori. After the bursting of the bubble, the government started to promote the politics of neoliberalism like the easing of restraints. And then, at the time of the Koizumi administration, the government eased restrictions too much, because it included very important things like health-care. As a result of it, people came to have to be responsible for their own lives. The exceeding easing of regulations brought precariousness of lives.

Actually, I agree with this opinion. It seems that individual responsibility enables people in Japan to make their own decisions and to choose things that they want to do. However, it can cause several problems which exist in this precarious Japan.

Now, I am a college student, so I am often told that I should have responsibility for my decisions and actions. It is essential in some degree to become independent from my parents. However, I sometimes feel anxiety and fear. For example, for college students, earning credits is very important thing, so most of them try to work hard to get them. Nevertheless, some of them might be not able to earn enough credits because of various reasons, such as surrounding circumstances. At that time, they can be said that it is your fault. There is an enough possibility that the same thing occur in work place. These are obviously not fair. Jikosekinin in Japan lacks consideration for those who are in a hard situation. That is why jikosekinin makes hikikomori.

And also if people put the all decisions into individual’s hand as jikosekinin, someday people will conflict with others because of the differences of sense of value. Therefore, the drawing a line is difficult.

I think that Japanese put off solving many social problems by connecting individual responsibility, because of lack of recognizing those problems as familiar problems. In Japan, most of people can live ordinary lives, so they do not or cannot think about social problems seriously. Even though many people face the difficulties, Japanese think that I am an exception.


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

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On The Stress of Remaining “Neutral” – Reflections By Jeff Kosbie

by Robert Moorehead

I too have been accused … maybe accused isn’t the right word … I’ve had students ask that I be more neutral on the issues we discuss in class. The request is almost always meant in a kind way, since I tend to be rather passionate in my teaching. But I worry that it can also carry with it the idea that we’re reducing talk about science to everyone’s opinions. So, I would need to be open to opinions that are not supported by evidence, even when those opinions contradict decades of research that show a completely opposite pattern.

I try to push students to support their claims, to develop logical arguments that are supported by more than anecdotal evidence. Sociologists disagree with each other all the time, but we don’t (or at least shouldn’t) simply dismiss those with whom we disagree.

Should we be neutral in class? I think a better word is to be diplomatic, to create a classroom environment in which students can freely and respectfully share their ideas and test their understandings. We have to model the behavior we expect from our students, especially when we’re challenging their understandings. When faced with a professor who comes across as dismissive or “biased,” students may become more entrenched in defending their views, as if the classroom were a battle of wills. They also might avoid your classes the next time around. But neutrality in the face of illogical arguments and bad science? What’s the point?