Lack of confidence and education

corridor in a Japanese elementary school. The ...

corridor in a Japanese elementary school. The sign says “You do not run.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note: Students have been reading Anne Allison‘s Precarious Japan and are commenting how recent economic and social challenges in Japan are impacting their plans for their futures.

by Kotaro Yamamoto

Is it Japan really hopeless country? Do you have a hope in your future? According to government survey, many young people in Japan not have confidence on themselves. In 2014, Japanese government did cabinet decision about kodomowakamono hakusho (children・youth white paper) and it shows difference between Japanese youth and youth in some other countries (kodomowakamono hakusho, 2014). Survey conducted on men and women between age of 13 to 29 from 7 countries such as Japan, Korea, United States, England, Germany, France, and Sweden. About a thousand of people in each countries answered through the Internet. As the result, people who answered question that “Are you satisfied yourself?” are only 45.8% in Japan. On the other hand, other 6 countries got more than 70%. The question that “Do you have a hope in your future?” also shows same proclivity as former question, only 61.6% of Japanese youth answered as positive. However, other 6 countries got more than 80%.

Through this survey, I can’t stop worrying about future of Japan. In the future, I want to some how contribute to education especially for younger age people. I think education is very important factor through human life. However, it is difficult to change that Japanese education. I suggest that the reason why many youth in Japan have no confidence is because of Japanese education system. In Japan, many school have to follow same kind of education system. There is “juken” which is entrance exam for university. Most of junior high or high school have to do the education program only for that exam. All people who want to go to college have to get a high score to enter the good one. Japan still has an academic career-based society, so people have to enter good college to get a nice job. Many people think that to have a good life, we have to study and enter good college then get an informal appointment from big company as “Shinsotsu” (new graduate student). This system gives stop thinking as creative. They are required to find one answer so person who answered wrong will exclude.

I think this is one of the biggest reasons making atmosphere that “strange” or “different” people are eliminate from Japanese society. When I was elementary school student, I lived in America. My family was in Los Angele

s but many people treated our family member as friends. However, some of my American friends told me that Japan is closed society and sometimes feel uncomfortable because of his nationality. In the future, Japan will face more severe situation. To break through it, we have to revive confidence of Japanese youth.

Reference

Naikaku-Fu. (2014, June 3). KodomoWakamono Hakusho (Children・Youth White Paper). Retrieved from http://www8.cao.go.jp/youth/kenkyu/thinking/h25/pdf/b2_1.pdf

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Techno-intimacy in Japan

by Natsuki Ota

Japanese society has been changing due to the precarious economy or depression. The number of youth who are not good at communicating with others is increasing. Such young people tend to feel lonely easily and become psychically and socially withdrawn; “referring to the phenomena much in the news of youths who literally take themselves out of school, work, or human circulation” (Allison 2013:81). Moreover, with regard to marriage, they think it is mendokusai [a nuisance] and they want to protect their money and time for themselves (Allison 2013:100). Then, the change of such as poor skills of communication or thought of taking care of someone makes a new concept. It is called “techno-intimacy” by Anne Allison (2013:101). In this blog, I will show three points. First is an explanation of techno-intimacy, next are examples of it in Japan, and final is my opinion.

To begin with, the concept of techno-intimacy was generated by problems of human relationships. This means that a human has attachment to a presence which feel lifelike. Tending to a child, a pet or something is regarded as mendokusai (bothersome) today because of many chores. This connects to the thought that young people are unwilling to get married today: “the kinds of human connections that bring warmth have also come to seem annoying” (Allison 2013:101). However, since the game of taking care of digital creature had been discovered, producing such a creature came to evoke an intimate attachment in humans, which Allison calls “techno-intimacy.”. Although the play is multifaceted and complex, it becomes to foster drives of attachment that read the nervous system as if humanly interactive. According to Allison, kids who grow up practicing social intimacy with such a technological friend will be the user of care robots when they get old, which will be more likely alone. As above, the condition ―“electronic goods that attach to the body and keep users continually plugged into circuits for information, communication, and affect” (Allison 2013:101) is called prosthetic sociality. This is penetrating the sociological gap left by the weakening of human bonds in the family, workplace and community in Japan recently. According to Allison’s book, the anthropologist Katsuno Hirofumi has discovered that being able to have a companion makes people pleased even if it is not real human. A heart to heart relationship between human and robot is important to the heartlessness in humanity.

Secondly, in Japan, we have many games as a techno-intimacy. For example, Tamagochi or Nintendo 3D game software’s ones―the virtual pets, or pet robots like dogs or cats. Also, dobutsu no mori (a forest of animals) is a good seller game in Japan, which user has a village, makes residents and has them get along with each other.

Finally, I agree with Allison’s analysis that “the ‘heartlessness’ of the times and a society that has lost its humanity” (Allison 2013:103) brought the tie of heart to heart between humans and robots. Because the fact that care of daily living is regarded as mendokusai things and techno-intimacies comfort people exists. In addition, in my opinion, I thought that Japanese tend to have an attachment to unreal creatures like techno one is the influence of a national anime “Doraemon.” He is a robot and can communicate with humans. As almost all Japanese watched this in childhood, people may have little reluctance to make a friend with robots or other techno-intimacies.

Reference

Allison, Anne. 2013. Precarious Japan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. (pp.77-82.100-103)

Losing hope in Japan

Help Japan

Help Japan (Photo credit: Ray Schönberger)

by Katsuya Nagasawa

As Anne Allison said, in modern society in Japan, many young people have lost hope. Some are net café refugees, some are hikikomori. Most of them live on minimum wage. The common things they have are the dissatisfaction, and I think, the origin of dissatisfaction is the policy of Japanese organizations. The organizations do not try to focus on people in bad situations. Actually, the organizations support them for money, however this is the only support.

Even if people could get money from organization as “seikatsuhogo”, it does not resolve the problem that young people have no hope. In addition to this support, Japanese organizations have another support for younger homeless or hikikomori people to get hope in precarious society. For example, the organizations should increase employment, or take away academic meritocracy in Japan.

In the present Japan, it is important to get the relief of mind, as well as the safety of economy. Japanese society has moved too fast, therefore, we need to calm down. Japan may have been losing our heart and soul now, therefore, the organizations should act to save citizens’ hearts. If Japanese organizations do that, we can resolve problems Allison describes, for example, the high rate of suicide and futoko, and we may able to find jibunrashisa or ibasho.

Japanese organizations have more problems about the existence of human life. Problems about Okinawans, ethnic Koreans, migrants, also need to improve. They tend to hold low positions in Japan, and they, especially migrant workers, work for minimum wage. I think a precarious society comes from the bottom. People who have dissatisfaction and are anxious because they have little hope and stable earnings commit murder, for example, the “Akihabara torima jiken”. According to Allison, the problems of public, random, and impersonal crime are very serious. Therefore, an event like that happened once, all people get unrest about Japan or Japanese society. The mood makes Japan precarious. Therefore, Japanese organizations should focus on the bottom of Japan.

However, I think the most serious problem in Japan ever is not so simple that only organizations cannot resolve it. We, Japanese citizens, have to concern ourselves with this problem. If middle or high class people ignored this problem with the economy, Japan would collapse. Even a big ship can sink to the the sea floor if holes are made in its hull. Therefore, the present situation in Japan is an issue that all people must try to consider deeper.

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The future is fluid and invisible

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Kota Yanigadani

The future is not fixed, it is fluid and invisible, but still we can have a plan on our future and even try to realize the future. My future is after working at some professional workplace about security or conflict resolution, working, as a world citizen, to reduce violence in the world, correct injustice, and thus end poverty in the world. Therefore, in this post, connections between my future plans and Anne Allison’s vision of Japan are mentioned.

First of all, the current precarious condition in Japan does not have a big influence on my plan superficially. According to Allison, the mainly aging population, people in solitude in  gray zones, lower positions for women, and the typical company employment system are precarious conditions in Japan. On the aging population and seniors, I do not think the truth is so serious because technology is progressing rapidly. Robot industry can solve work forces in the future, and robot can be the catalyst for people and seniors. From this point, I do not think these are related to helping people suffering from poverty and violence. Also, the typical company employment does not have an influence on my future, because as today’s plan, I do not plan to work as a company man.

Second, my ibasho is actually my family and university. University is ba for me to prove myself, and I always feel comforted by being at home. However, what makes my identity is not my nationality. Recently, I have felt as if I am a cosmopolitan, which means I have strong global, world citizenship. To put it simply, while my ibasho is my family and ba is my university, my identity is not Japanese, but world citizen.

Finally, still I have more habits as Japanese compared to other nationalities, and Allison’s view on Japan is really common to me. The most similar vision is that Japan has a strong vertical relation among people. For example, when we meet people being older than us, we usually use keigo, which is polite communication tool in Japan, and we use more polite keigo when we talk with boss in our workplace. When I met president of our company at my workplace, actually I had the most polite posture and used clear keigo.

In addition to this, there is common system in Japanese company called nenkojoretsu, which Allison mentioned. This system is the longer you work in a company, the higher position and salary you can have. However, recently due to this system, a lot of people, especially young people have been fired and some bosses are really incapable, since they do not have much experience of competing for survival in their companies. I believe the system of vertical society and nenkoujoretsu have given rise to one kind of precarious condition in Japan today.

In conclusion, a unique style of society in Japan actually has an impact on my future plan, even though that seems this impact is not a big deal. Family is my ibasho, which should be common to many people. Given the company, because it is too typical to be a company man, working as a salary man is not first-choice for me as I said. Basically, I do not want to end my life too normally, which is to work in a company, to have a family, to see grandson, to end life happily. Instead of this, I always think I would like to make some change, or do some big things, which led to my quite big future plan. In that sense, some condition of Japan like Allison said might have a big impact on my future plan.

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