Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Inflexibility of Japanese Society and Violence

Japanese society is remarkable, if anything, for its homogeneity, orderliness, and adherence to strict patterns. Though constantly changing, it remains thoroughly and distinctively Japanese. If there is an underlying psychological malaise in Japan, it surely comes from the uniformity and strictness of the patterns society fixes on the individual.

A tightly knit social system leaves many tied down by heavy burdens of duty and obligation, or uncomfortably constrained by rules of social conformity. Young people, as we have seen, are particularly restive, chafing at the reins and often breaking out in rebellion (dropouts, lack of moral fiber of youth, brutal crimes committed by juveniles, suicide…)

A rapid rate of change has produced a wide generation gap, which probably makes true communication between the generations even more difficult than in the West, though this is masked on the surface by a typical Japanese desire to maintain a show of harmony and to avoid confrontation by a discrete silence between parents and children on matters of consequence.On the surface Japan still gives all the appearences of a “happy society,” but no one can say that present conditions of “stability” and apparent contendedness will continue indefinitely.

It’s my belief that Japanese society is evolving as most societies do, and the inflexibility of society and the education system, so firmly in place for so long, is being challenged. History is evidence that chains that bind a society tightly will be broken violently.

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