To my handful of regular readers, I’ve been cutting back on posting. Most of it has to do with things I’d like to write about, but don’t want to conclude.
This might be my last year in Japan. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how a “con” is so often behind anything having to do with foreign people (Debito’s so called “NJ” or non-Japanese) and Japan. (The “NJ” part always has me reading it as New Jersey, since that’s where I’m from. I guess it works in both instances.)
If people back in America knew what a royal screwing Japan can be for an American expat, AND you could get rid of the bevy of lobbyists Japan hires in Washington to protect its state interests, a lot would change between this country and ours.
The difficulty with this place, of course, is that the people who do the screwing around against the interests of foreigners are never the ones who will pay the price when the scam finally blows up in someone’s face.
I keep thinking back to the end of World War II, when General MacArthur rather generously decided that, aside from seven or eight “bad guys”, the rest of Japan really didn’t have anything to do with the Second World War. This message was reinforced during the Occupation, since the GI’s got to see the ordinary Japanese just being and living, and concluded, rightly, that these people could not have been the ones behind the mass carnage that was the Imperial Japanese war machine.
Similarly, in these days, the bigots and xenophobes who run Japan are by no means under the control of the millions of everyday Japanese who count on international goodwill to have a nice Japan to live in, and to be able to deal with the “outside world” on fair terms. Not wanting to shut anybody out, it would be unfair for them to be shut out in the 2020’s or 2030’s because of the misguided policies of the power people of 2010.
IN both cases, it is generally an older population who is doing the screwing around. And a younger population that would pay the price.
So I sit here sometimes, and think about whether I should catalogue all the ways Japan screws Americans (not “America”, but Americans). On the other hand, by the time the news makes it wide and deep in America (ten years from now, at least), who are the ones here who get burned for it? The younger generation.
I think most foreigners who live here like it for the everyday Japanese, and the style of life, if not the pace. So is it fair to point out all the cheating, the games, and the cons? (Okinawa bases are just the tip, by the way. The iceburg goes way down.)
This is a place that screws over its young people. Certainly a lot of the Tokugawa era had that aspect, as Japan fell generation after generation behind the West. The whole Pacific War was another of that kind of screwing. And the Showa Era bubble easily fits the category as well.
If you say too much about how people with power make it difficult for the Japan of the future, do you do the same?