I spent almost the entire month of November in Japan.
Being in Japan for the first time in three years, due to the COVID disaster, and in the midst of a world situation that now seems to be heading toward chaos, made me think once again about something.
It is a kind of renewal from the past concerning Japan, the country of birth (not necessarily to call the “homeland”), or a kind of retrospective perspective that is being opened up concerning such a Japan.
To put it another way, at the age of 76 this year, I chose Australia 38 years ago as a base for my departure from Japan and toward the world, and my life here is now exactly half that of my previous life in Japan, the country of my birth. This is a realistic perspective at the exact equilibrium point of my experiences in both countries.
In a nutshell, this vision is Japan’s “uniqueness” in the world.
However, this vision is not to be merged with the new nationalism that is being generated by the current global situation, which is unusually belligerent.
Nor does it intend to be a Japanese version of the ” The World Model China” that China now arrogantly advocates.
It is not positioned as a concept on a national political level, but rather as the perception of one person’s thoughts about the country of his or her birth.
In other words, this perspective is not the product of the current temporary situation, but is at least the product of my experiences and thoughts over the span of 76 years of my life.
For example, there is the “Japanese-Jewish syncretism,” an extremely eccentric example of which I will discuss in an anti-surprising manner.
It is the theory that the ancient Jewish people were driven out of Egypt in 2700 B.C. and came to the Japanese archipelago after a wandering journey, and that they settled there.
It is said that when Einstein, an intrepid Jew, visited Japan before World War II, he praised the “astonishing development of modern Japan” and predicted that “Japan will be the ally of the coming world government,” and even said, “I thank God for having created such a precious country”. This is a conception that is believed to be true.
The reason why I bring up such a different theory here is that this kind of theory is often cited when trying to describe the uniqueness of the Japanese people, and it is considered to be a deep basis for such a theory, not unlike the American “Q Anon” bigotry. Of course, one is free to express whatever views one wishes, but if one wants to talk about own uniqueness, one should have a solid point of view that originates from oneself, not from others.
In other words, my vision does not rely on such borrowed power. In addition, this borrowing-dependent assertion is a mirror image of the way we are able to indulge ourselves in the domination of a reigning hegemonic power such as the United States. This is because all of them seem to have a common starting point in their sometimes bluff rebellion and sometimes hidden condescension, rather than originating from their own firm and unshakable self-confidence.
If I may venture to point out, the fact that they are unaware of the fact that they are flattering others is fatal and the exact opposite of the attitude that makes their uniqueness an issue.
In short, it is simply a matter of how one discovers one’s own individuality with a normal mind and how one can carry it through.
I have to admit, however, that I could not deny the view that Japan’s international standing has been on a steady decline in recent years. The three-year gap caused by the COVID loomed over me, and I was finally able to spend this month in Japan with a sense of verification.
During my stay in Japan, I witnessed not only the general decline of Japan’s standing in the world, but also the deterioration of the lifestyles of people I know well, albeit to different degrees. It was a validation of the trends that, aside from a few of the “wealthy,” were pushing many Japanese toward even greater hardship. Yet even so, at the political level, a painful reality prevails, with eye-watering deterioration even accelerating such distress.
Despite these circumstances, however, daily life in Japanese society flowed as orderly as if nothing had happened. My Japanophile Aussie friend, who joined me late in my stay in Japan, was impressed by this Japan as a society that had not yet lost its order, with no signs of disorder.
In other words, the people of Japan are indeed enduring this difficult situation silently and steadfastly. The foreign media often describe this as the sheep-like servitude of the Japanese people. My friend is actively trying to highlight this orderliness as a uniqueness of Japan.
In other words, rather than leading the world’s advanced democracies to conquer this era, public opinion has become divided, and societies that can no longer find national unity are beginning to follow their own egos.
Even if we point this out, in the end, it will not only be in vain, but will even cause serious confusion, and even actual wars have broken out. It seems as if the Japanese are well aware of the consequences of such a situation, that those with the loudest voices get more. Therefore, it seems that politicians aside, they are not inclined to engage in such futile efforts.
So, the debate is divided as to how to view this seemingly apathetic state of affairs in Japan.
I am beginning to accept with a kind of positive attitude the Japanese character that seems so calm in the face of such a difficult situation the world is facing.
I see this as a kind of heightening of the bottom of Japanese society. I believe that this is not a material height, but a height in the state of people’s minds and hearts. At first glance, this may seem like the antiquity or irrationality of society. But the other truth is that modernity and rationality have come to a miserable standstill worldwide. The idea that we have to invoke the ” Japanese-Jewish syncretism ” as mentioned above is a “blunder” of the highest order.
Thus, although it may take time, consideration at the level of daily life in a relatively flat society – to take advantage of one’s place, to distribute and bear the burden of hardship as much as possible, and to reduce the number of people who fall into the same situation – is a relative and unique concept. — are relative and unique, but are certainly being addressed more willingly than in other countries.
In short, the efforts are not systematically carried out by political leadership, but rather are preceded by interactions among individuals and voluntary groups at a relatively mature level of life, to the extent that they cannot rely on the politics.
For this reason, the official standards are not always consistent, and the only results that can be seen are inconsistent. Nevertheless, if it is sustained over time, it may serve as an alternative that can result in the penetration of the system to all corners of society and the improvement of the bottom line.
Moreover, it is neither inorganic nor mechanical, but rather an ecological relationship between humans. In other words, it is somewhat similar to the way nature is. Or, it also encompasses the leap of a complex system.
In these days when we see so much negativity in both directions, this unique way of being is somewhat refreshing.
By the way, there is a malady in Japan in which the word “sontaku (surmise about boss’ feelings)” and its reality are rampant.
On the political level, it is “hetsurai (flattering)” or “goma suri (sycophaning), ” and by extension, “private abuse of authority,” which is outrageous, needless to say.
On the level of daily life, however, whether we call it “sontaku” or not, its motive can be interpreted as a lubricating function that leads to social functions on a different level from politics, based on consideration and consideration between people without hierarchical relationships.
In other words, in Japanese society, such individual-level workings, even referred to as “kuuki (air),” exist widely and meticulously. I believe that there is no way not to take advantage of these existing functions.
I believe that when such Japanese-style social characteristics build up voluntarily at the people’s level, some new elements will emerge, and eventually the world will take notice of them, and we can expect such unconventional new developments.
Why not call such a method “Japanese ecological society” and see it as a possible alternative to the conventional system? Of course, both can coexist. They do not contradict each other.
At any rate, the key to this seemingly unobtrusive approach lies in the voluntary and broad-based actions of each individual based on a solid awareness and consideration for others. And when these actions gradually take root, visible effects will be widely seen.