Deep Thoughts with Kenji
A couple of prominent news sources have been publishing interesting articles on the future of Japan. The Economist ran a piece back at the beginning of the month focusing on the - and this will come as a shock to, oh, nobody - the economic history of Japan in the global economy and the ramifications of Japan's current condition. Yeah, talking about the economy is about as exciting as a conversation with a salaryman, but there are some interesting points and connections made between seemingly disparate historical events. It's worth slogging through. The Economist also has just run an editorial on the re-evaluation going on here of the purpose and use of the Self-Defense Forces, or what other countries like to call the military. The New York Times has run three articles focusing on the future of Japan, as well. These stories are looking at the importance of change for the country's future and why change here is so gosh-darn difficult. In a display of good journalism, something that the Gray Lady needs solid doses of these days, it seems that no major topics are being left under rocks. The first article focuses on the growing desire here to re-arm the country. The second looks at the future importance and current difficulty of immigration. The third examines what I consider to be the deplorable treatment of Japanese women by their society. (The Economist is free, the New York Times is also but you need to register to read the articles.) Now, this is all well and good, this kind of re-examination of Japanese society as its dominance declines. But as much as I appreicate and enjoy it, I don't think much of this kind of talk goes on in Japan. For one thing, it's very un-Japanese. For another, much limited language ability means even if it did, I wouldn't understand it. Maybe most importantly, the English-language newspapers don't carry this kind of news unless it originates outside of Japan. There seems to be very little self-critique going on in Japan - even among the tiny community of foreigners, who ostensibly come from cultures where change is not tantamount to suicide - making growth nearly impossible.