Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Japan and the current economy.

Hi everyone,

Today I'd like to discuss Japan and the current economic conditions as of February 23rd, 2010. There is a wide-range of subjects I could discuss here, but I would like to express my thoughts on the society here and how everyone has been reacting to all of this.

As in the words of my uncle, "No news is good news right now." Japan's suicide-rate has risen considerably over the past year due to the bad economy. Seeing the characters "人身事故" on the television screen inside the train (or "Human Casuality") has become quite frequent, occurring up to 5 times a day. In the year 2008, a national statistic showed that over 20,000 people died from jumping into trains. Suicide is very infrequent in America, so it is a bit peculiar as to why it is so common here.

Japanese society is very strict, not just with mannerism's and respect, but also with a person's worth. This type of value could range from one's level of education, career, clothes, age, looks, or what company they work for. Being a homogenous society that promotes "group-thought" rather than "individual thought," it can be rather difficult to survive when people around you judge you based on these attributes and more. If you do happen to have all the right factors in place, your life here will be a lot more fortunate, following a rather stable and linear-path. On the other hand, not having these factors could work against you. In such circumstances, it could inevitably push people over to such extremes.

As an American, I find the suicide rate here horrifying. As a child, we have all been taught that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. Of course, everyone needs the money to be able to do so; however, Americans have more opportunity to change the course of their lives. We have the option of going to school whenever we can, we can start up our own businesses if we wanted, and we can try new things without as much fear of rejection from others. Americans can also be equally (if not more) judgmental about your looks, clothes, age and career, but "group thought" is not enforced like it is in Japan. As an individual, you can pursue a goal and achieve it with fewer barriers. It is for these reasons that I believe suicide occurs far less frequently in the US.

Despite how Japanese and American mentalities may be different, everyone is suffering in the same way around the world. I feel, however, that how we perceive this hardship is viewed far differently. Knowing that this situation is completely out of anyone's control is the hardest thing to come to grips with. Since time does not stop when one is depressed, everyone has to keep doing their best, believe in themselves and keep moving forward.

Your mind and heart can be your savior, or your worst enemy.

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