Saturday, March 01, 2008

Today's Un-Japanese Japan?

One of the things I have always respected and admired about Japan was its ability to adapt to new challenges. It never threw in the towel and gave up---"Oh, things have changed. Grampa's world was better. We gotta give up and go back to that."

But if you listen to populist demagogues like Fujiwara Masahiko and many of today's politicians/writers/commentators who want to retreat to the mythical paradise of an isolationist past, you would have to conclude that Japan is about to give up. It can no longer be part of the modern world because it is aging, because Japan is uniquely unique, because it is a victim of the world or whatever, it has to resort to protectionism and---in Fujiwara's fantasy---become some sort of 18th century imaginary Japan with elite dictators telling the peasant how to live.

Imagine, the country which went from semi-feudal to industrial in less than 50 years; the country which recovered from near destruction as a result of WW2 to become the second largest economy in the world in 30 years or less is considering giving up.

To me, that is un-Japanese. Although there is a sort of fatalism here, I don't think that it has ever taken hold of the whole country at least as far as keeping up with other countries goes. But the more I read newspaper rants---sorry, editorials---by the country's supposed intellectuals, or listen to them on TV, or read trash like Fujiwara's, it is becoming apparent that some Japanese have thrown in the towel and want the rest to join them in hiding under their blanket.

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