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Sweet Promise by Ann-INC water place at Jokomyoji by Pia-chan Himeji Jo by wickedglass

A lot of people on this site are fans of Japanese culture- the art, the music, the fashion, the language, the comic books and television programs.

But in the neon and electronic world of modern Japan, serious social problems lie hidden beneath the surface, which, as a whole, threaten the dominant society, and, in some cases are exclusive to, or nearly excusive to, Japan.

Many fans of Japanese culture are completely unaware that such problems exist, although a few are mentioned occasionally in anime and manga that is distributed outside of Japan.

N O C T R O P O L I S by burningmonk Red Bridge by wasabimancer Hiroshima Cemetary 14 by wasabimancer

In the west, and, in fact, all over deviantART and other fanart and fan writing sites, we see images and hear stories of Japan’s thriving youth culture, but by the year 2020, one in nine Japanese citizens will be over the age of eighty. The birthrate in Japan has plummeted in recent years, dropping to around seven births for every one thousand citizens in 2010. That’s about 1.2 children per married couple in a lifetime. In order to replace the dying, a birthrate of slightly more than two children per couple is needed in order to compensate for those who cannot or choose not to have children, and beyond this, Japan is home to a “lost generation.” The same generation responsible for the youth culture is also described as being removed from society as a whole. Meanwhile, other serious social challenges exist which make it perilous for any young person, but especially a religious or ethnic minority, to grow up and become successful in Japan.

:thumb196760442: IoJ: The sight from mont Hiei by Lunael IoJ  Pretty sakura-covered sky by Lunael

AINU - Indigenous Social Outcasts
On Hokkaido, there is a group of indigenous people with a culture separate from that of modern Japan. They were forbidden from speaking their own tongue, hunting, fishing, or practicing cultural rituals. The intent was to assimilate them into Japanese society and to eradicate their culture. They are still there, and they are still oppressed by the Japanese government, though most Japanese do not even realize that the Ainu still exist as a people, except in re-enactment museums, and many Ainu do not identify their cultural heritage on official documents, for fear that doing so will lead to persecution and missed opportunities.

IJIME - “The Nail That Sticks Out Is Hammered Down”
Ijime, or bullying, is rampant in Japanese schools, just as in schools everywhere else in the developed world. The difference is that in Japan, from kindergarten, there is an enormous pressure on students to succeed and to conform. Parents in Japan see their children’s failure as their own, so the children are often encouraged to “deal with it.” Complaints of bullying are often ignored by both parents and educators, who do not see it as their issue to deal with. Students in one of Japan’s most competitive kindergartens are encouraged, or even forced by peer pressure, to go shirtless in freezing weather to prove that they are tough enough.

Academic failure on even one presentation or test can be mortifying for a Japanese student, and children in Japan, just like children elsewhere, are merciless. Just like in the west, Japanese children are bullied for being too fat or not smart enough, but in Japan, such criticisms about straying from the pack can be devastating. If a student doesn’t begin in a prestigious kindergarten, they might not get into a good elementary school. If a student doesn’t make it into a good middle school, they will not make it into a good high school, and then they will not make it into a good university, which means that they will not get a good job with a prestigious company. Failure and the stigma attached to it begins at an early age.

In the west, children who are not good at a given subject are typically told by parents and teachers that they can be good at something else. This is not the case in Japan. Failure in school is seen as a failure of the family, and someone who fails either academically or at work is seen as worthless, as is someone who does not fit into the group. Character building and creativity are actively discouraged from the first days at school. When you combine the clique mentality common among tweens and teens in industrialized nations with traditional Japanese emphasis of the group, you end up with particularly vicious bullying, which increasingly results in suicide for its victims.

Schools in Japan typically turn a blind eye to bullying, even in reported cases, even when it becomes violent, even when the student expresses an intention for suicide. Even in ordinary schools, there are forty or fifty students to one teacher. The teachers often do not know the children’s names or that bullying is happening. Some extremely competitive schools encourage physical violence and bullying, and very few schools take bullying seriously, even if a student is killed by other students, commit’s a violent crime, or commits suicide. Often, schools will not tell the other students that a suicide happened, much less punish bullies that lead children to suicide.

GAKYUU HOUKAI - Classroom Collapse
Another problem in Japanese schools is classroom collapse, when students rebel as a group against their teachers and the classroom descends into a state of anarchy. It is thought that this may be the result of overcrowding in schools, where one teacher has to teach more children than they can actually handle, especially because they are supposed to teach both academics and social values. If the social values are neglected in the classroom, rebellion can occur, though always with the group mentality. Another possible contributing factor is the same pressure to succeed. Modern Japanese children get little sympathy from their parents while going to “exam Hell,” the continual cycle of exams to get into better schools. Many students go to cram schools after school, on the weekends, and during school vacations in hopes of performing better on these exams so that they can get into more competitive schools. This is a very stressful atmosphere, but the parents are often unsympathetic because they went through it themselves, forgetting that their own parents were sympathetic because their parents did not have such an experience, having grown up before middle and high school were seen as a right. The combination of a group mentality, social pressure to succeed, a lack of social values taught by teachers, and overcrowding can lead to anarchy in the classroom.

FUTOKO - School Refusal
Futoko are children who simply refuse to attend school. In Japan, there is a law that every child is required to receive an education up to a certain age. There is a fine for any parent who does not educate their children, but it is rarely brought to court to be imposed. Instead, when a child refuses to attend school, an agreement is often reached with the parents where they must find a way to provide their child with an education. The children are not rebelling against the building or academics in general. They are refusing to be a part of the social activities that exist there. They are typically forced out of the school’s social order by other children or feel that they are not performing up to standard, so they begin to skip school. When this becomes chronic, they become labeled as “futoko,” and their parents and their local school districts must find a way to get them an education in either the short or long term.

FURITA - Japan’s Drifters
“Furita” comes from an amalgamation of the English word “free” and the German word “Arbeiter,” which means “laborer.” Furita are a class of people who work temporary full time jobs, often low-level, and part time jobs, jumping from job to job, punctuated by periods of unemployment. Sometimes these periods are brief, and other times, the furita fall into another category- NEET. NEET stands for “Not currently engaged in Education, Employment or Training.” It is a stigmatized term for the unemployed. Many furita have been denied for positions that they believe they deserve. Sometimes, being in this group is a choice. Someone searching for permanent work might take a temporary job in order to pay the bills or a student might spend the summer working part time jobs, but as a lifestyle, furita is not a sustainable option in the long term. Furita do not have healthcare or retirement options available to them, and, as younger furita emerge, the older ones are pushed to the side.

PARASITO - Parasite Singles
This group does exist outside of Japan. In Italy, they are called “bamboccioni.” In Germany, the term is “Nesthocker.” In English, the equivalent is a “basement dweller.” These are single men and women who are at an age when society says that they should be able to support themselves who remain in their parents’ home. This is, for many, seen as a safe option, when low starting wages make it difficult to pay rent and bills. Some parasite singles, though not all, are also furita. Some of the individuals in this category could easily support themselves but prefer instead to remain at home and spend the majority of their money on luxury items such as designer clothing. These are the ones for whom the group as a whole was named by the older generation, but many people in Japan temporarily fall under the label “parasite singles” while they are just starting out or are waiting for marriage.

MAKEINU - Losing Dogs
In Japan, a woman is expected to perform well academically, get into a good middle school, then a good high school, then a good university, then a good company. They are then expected to quit full time employment when they marry in their mid twenties so they can have children and raise them while their husbands work long hours. Only when their children reach middle school and are typically at cram school in the evenings and are old enough to be home alone are the women socially accepted to return to part time work. The idea of a career woman in the west is not a brand new idea anymore. It has been around for a few decades, and it has become acceptable, but it is a much newer idea in Japan, and the country still struggles with justifying this with its traditional values. Many women in modern Japan would rather have a career, even a dead-end career, than a family. In the office, there is a social structure, and it is both predictable and stable. In the community, amongst mothers and neighbors, the structure is different and far less predictable. Some makeinu, are considered parasite singles, while others live on their own and support themselves with their wages, but for traditional Japanese society, their lifestyle is considered improper.

While there is nothing economically or logically improper with not wanting a family, it goes against traditional Japanese thought where a woman marries in her mid twenties, has children, and devotes her life to her family. The phenomenon of makeinu is not so much a problem for the individual or the family as it is for society as a whole. Japanese society is aging rapidly. There is a growing number of elderly citizens and a very low birthrate, in part due to economic problems that make raising more children somewhat of a financial burden, especially when jobs cannot be guaranteed for life as they once were, and in part due to the phenomenon of women not wanting to have children. Without children, there will be a smaller workforce in twenty years’ time, and that could be disastrous for the nation as a whole. The other economic aspect of the makeinu phenomenon is that these women are not buying goods for the home. They are instead buying goods and services for themselves, so certain industries, such as household electrical appliances manufacturers, do suffer from it.

CRIME - A Hidden Problem
Japan prides itself upon having the lowest crime rate of industrialized nations, but when there are crimes in Japan, they tend to be somewhat fantastical. Japanese youths view the US as a land of outlaws, and American youths tend to view Japan as strangely peaceful, despite its violent media, but Japan does have a dark side. Several extremely horrific murders, often with children as the victims and/or perpetrators in the past two decades have made it clear that the rigidity of Japanese society, although it does lower the crime rate by adding a stigma to it and social pressure against committing crimes, does not stop it completely and actually adds to the severity of the crimes that do happen. A few of these particularly shocking crimes include a social group dedicated to gang raping young women founded at a prestigious university, a girl who slowly poisoned her mother and documented it on her blog, a man who murdered a young girl exactly as a hentai in his collection showed, a man who threw a young boy from the thirteenth story of an apartment building, a student who cut a classmate’s head off and put it on the school’s gate, a recluse who kidnapped a nine-year-old girl and kept her his prisoner for nearly a decade, a couple of cases where children pushed other, younger children off of buildings or out of moving vehicles, and a mother who killed two of her child’s classmates with her child in the car on the way to school.

Japan does not have the kind of minority street gang culture that the US has, nor does it have the youth gangs of violent schoolchildren common in the UK. Motorcycle gangs do exist in Japan, but Japan’s predominant and most historical criminal organization is the Yakuza, who go back centuries and trace their roots to feudal Japan like samurai and geisha traditions do. One of the things for which an individual can be singled out for persecution in Japan is having a tattoo, since tattoos are primarily associated with criminals there, due to the Yakuza’s tradition of full body tattoos that only spare the groin, the armpits, the backs of the knees for safety reasons relating to the sweat glands and particularly sensitive areas, and the hands, neck, and face, so that they will not be visible under a suit. The easiest way to relate this stigma of tattoos to the west is to think of it as the old stereotype that was held here half a century ago that only sailors had tattoos.

HIKIKOMORI - Modern Hermits
Hikikomori is a problem that is almost exclusive to Japan. There are a few isolated cases elsewhere in east Asia, but the vast majority of hikikomori live in Japan, much in the same way that eating disorders like anorexia tend to be nearly exclusive to girls in western cultures. Some victims of school bullying in Japan become futoko, which can lead them to become furita, and either of these can lead to an individual becoming himikomori. Most of the people who become hikikomori do not have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other extreme issues that would require long-term hospitalization in the west. A few have agoraphobia, but the rate of agoraphobics in Japan is not higher than it is anywhere else in the world. Most have some level of depression, adjustment disorders, or disassociative disorders, but rarely anything serious enough to require hospitalization. Very few are psychopathic or even at risk to become psychopathic. Most are predominantly apathetic, though there is a self-harm aspect associated with hikikomori. In the same way that girls in the west do self harm by cutting, Japanese hikikomori often punch walls seeking the same feeling of being alive and having control in a monotonous and uncontrollable world.

Most hikikomori were bullied as children. Some left school. Others trace the beginning of their beginning of their withdrawal from society to a particular failure, either academically or early in their working career that caused them to shrink away rather than to face the ridicule. It is estimated that there are about a million hikikomori in Japan and that most Japanese are within one or two degrees of separation of someone who is a hikikomori or has hikikomori-like tendencies. An industry of “rental sisters” and halfway houses for recluses that offer communal living among similar individuals, meals, and job training has sprung up around the phenomenon. It is estimated that eighty percent of hikikomori are male and were driven to reclusion by failure or bullying.

Female hikikomori are rarer. Sometimes they are the victims of the same conditions as their male counterparts, though being the victim of abuse or rape can also lead to women becoming hikikomori. Most hikikomori are in their late teens or twenties. Some are in their thirties and forties. Some are as young as thirteen. There are varying degrees to which the desire to withdraw can affect people. Some leave the house to go to 24-hour convenience stores late at night, when the streets are typically empty, the children and businessmen are asleep, and the cashiers do not make conversation. Some leave their rooms to eat dinner with their families or to wander empty streets at night. A few welcome people into their homes but will not leave them. Others do not leave their rooms for 23-hours a day, do nothing or very little to pass the time, and bathe rarely, in a self-imposed prison term in solitary confinement of an indefinite length, with some remaining sequestered for fifteen years or more. It is an escape from the rigors of Japanese society, where twenty-three might be too late to start a career and twenty-six is considered too old for many employers.

Many individuals who are hikikomori would probably be inventors, artists, musicians, designers, chefs, and programmers if they lived outside of Japan. They are often highly creative people who do not fit into the Japanese norm of birth-school-work-death where men are expected to have corporate jobs and earn a high salary. These are the people who would be pursuing artistic and innovative fields. They would be the ones designing clean energy technology or video games in the US or the UK, but in Japan, they are social outcasts, their kind not welcome because of a different thought process.

Hikikomori is seen as an option because of Japan’s history, much in the same way as suicide is. Traditional arts in Japan celebrate solitude, just as the samurai tradition offers a worship of noble deaths, including the social pressure to die if defeated, rather than be captured or live with shame. In the 1500s, Spanish missionaries brought Christianity to Japan. After fifty years, it was outlawed, and the country began to isolate itself so its culture would not be exploited or corrupted by that of other nations. Christians have long been persecuted in Japan, as well, being different than the norm. They, like the Ainu are forced to hide their beliefs if they wish to succeed in Japanese society. When Japan outlawed Christianity, it began to isolate itself and became a nation that was, itself, a hikikomori. It withdrew from the rest of the world, even refusing to let leave lost sailors who stumbled upon its shores headed for China, lest they take information or goods back with them, until the US and Europe forced it to open trade with them. Because of this historical glorification of suicide and solitude, many young Japanese see those two things as a way to escape.

JISATSU - Modern Seppuku
Japan and Russia have the highest suicide rates among industrialized nations. In Japan, the suicide rate is twice that of the US and three times that of the UK. One in five Japanese adults has seriously considered committing suicide. For every ten that consider it in a year, one survives. The elderly, not wishing to be a burden on their relatives or faced with incurable illnesses and suffering, are one group that has a high suicide rate in general, so with an increasing elderly population comes increasing suicide rates, but suicide has increased among schoolchildren and young professionals as well. Among schoolchildren, bullying tends to be the cause. Among adults, failure in the workplace is most common, in an almost samurai-like mentality. The idea is that it is better to die than to have one’s family live with the shame that they have a living relative who lost his job or who fell into the class of furita as an adult. They do not want their sons to see their failure or to emulate it.

Around this, too, a business has sprung up. Many real-estate developers cannot sell properties where a suicide has occurred, since many Japanese feel that it makes the house unclean. After an individual dies, the companies will often ask their families for money. Sometimes the individuals had bills or rent that was unpaid, but often, families are forced to pay for purification rituals. Sometimes, they are even forced to pay for an entire building to be torn down and rebuilt just because one suicide happened there. Although the house is unclean and would bring bad luck, the ritual suicide is seen as honorable: a way to save face rather than to be dishonored.

Mountain Peak 3 by angelofhell1338 A Night In Tokyo by Letter-To-Memphis Oh, Japan by LaVeraMahshid

So you thought you knew Japan? You thought it was all schoolgirls in sailor suits and neon lights, lolitas and ganguro and ball-jointed-dolls, anime and jrock? Think again.

The Endless City by Shteuf Geisha by 3ntropy Daienji Temple 10 by MentalAsylumRules
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:iconthundertheafox:
thundertheafox Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2016  Student Digital Artist
this thing should be shared to the retarded weeaboos.
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:iconmaiko-girl:
Maiko-Girl Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
A great Journal describing the "shadow" side of Japan,thanks for writing it! :hug:
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And-Reichenbach-Fell Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Fascinating article, truly, and brilliant journalistic skills. It makes me incredibly sad to see young girls who adore Japan, because in reality if they lived there they would, quite frankly, be miserable. I'm not saying Japan is a bad country, and I love many aspects of its culture, but I could never live in an environment where sexism and pressure is so acceptable. For all its flaws, the West really does have brilliant freedoms in comparison.

I can't condone Japan for it because that's the culture it has and perhaps women there are happy in their place in life, but I'd rather live in a society where I have less expectations bearing down on my back (not that I'm saying the West doesn't have many similar expectations, but at least in the West it's becoming acceptable to go against the norm, thank goodness).
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm not exactly the norm, and I took a lot of heat while growing up because of it. Personally, I prefer to defer to my boyfriend on most decisions. I'm no femenist. Anything but, in fact. And I'm happy that way. But that's just me.

The saddest part about culture-worship to me is that those who do worship a culture often ignore the fact that problems even exist in the culture they worship. Many think that a society can actually be perfect and will deliberately block out any indication that no perfect place exists.
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:iconand-reichenbach-fell:
And-Reichenbach-Fell Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
"Block out any indication that no perfect place exists"- that's my sentiments exactly. Luckily, the whole "weeboo" phase usually lasts a year or so until they get bored of it, but I dread the day we get Tamagotchi death support groups in the West.
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I remember Tamagotchi. It was cute...in the mid 90s...for little kids. Kinda like Beanie Babies. And Pokemon cards. My point is that these things are fads and that they're clearly intended for and marketed to elementary school aged children, much in the way that silly bands and zuzu pets are today. In my honest opinion, they're a fine toy for children, but an adult being addicted to or obsessed with them is quite similar to an addiction to fashion. It doesn't pose the inherent risks of drug addiction, but it isn't healthy.

I have avoided using the term "weeaboo" in my article and my comments deliberately. It creates the same sort of ire that calling someone "racist" or "homophobic" does around this site. And certainly not all fans of the culture could be classified as such. Yes, this article was written to be intended for that particular group, but also for another. There are a group of fans who are new to it, and they don't know any more about these problems than the ones who choose to ignore that the problems exist. These fans certainly are not obsessed yet, and they are still at a point on their course of interest where they are open to another side. They are not blindly worshiping anything yet. They simply do not know because they have not seen. There's also a group of moderate fans who don't always know that this type of thing exists. Niether new fans nor sane, moderate fans deserve a derrogatory term, though it certainly gets applied to them as well.
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:iconand-reichenbach-fell:
And-Reichenbach-Fell Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Mm, any addiction isn't healthy, especially ones over rather strange things (indeed, adults loving Tamagotchis so much they need a support group when they die is quite worrying).

Oh, you think weaboo is an offensive term? I see it on the same level as "otaku" or "geek"- I've seen many people proudly display themselves as "otaku", "geek", "nerd", "dork", loads of different labels. I suppose it depends on points of view, but you're the first person I've yet come across someone who sees calling someone "weaboo" on the same level as racism or homophobia. I don't apply the term to everyone who likes Japanese culture, but I just see the word as something that describes someone who is way too engrossed in anime and manga to accept Japan has problems just like every other country.
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't see calling someone a weeaboo as racism or homophobia. I see it the same way as calling someone homophobic or racist. I wouldn't call someone that publically in person or over the internet unless that's how they described themself. If you're accused of being homophobic or racist (but particularly if you're accused of being homophobic) on deviantART, it's basically an advertisement for people to troll you, even if it's someone making something up about you, trolling you, or a misunderstanding. It's basically "get the mob and pitchforks, we have someone who's anti-gay because they admit that they don't like to read yaoi." To some, a person who is called a weeaboo is automatically subjected to the same sort of treatment, but from different quarters, as someone who is called a homophobe or a racist by another user.

If that makes sense. Here's a more clinical example:

UserA says that (s)he doesn't like to read yaoi. UserB calls UserA homophobic. UserC, UserD, and UserE read this. UserC defends UserA because they're friends. UserD ignores it. UserE gets all of his/her friends, Users F-X to make rude and untrue comments about UserA, all because UserB made an accusation that probably isn't true, based on a misunderstanding.

With the term weeaboo, when User1 is identified as such by User-, User2 bands with User1, but User3, User4, and User5 openly mock User1 and User2 in journals and comments, even if User1 is only a casual fan who happens to have friends who are more fanatical.

Yes, that's a very simple model of dArama and the reason that I avoid using terms like "weeaboo" in my article. That way, I don't end up involved. If people want to troll me for writing a researched article, that's on their heads and only serves to make them look stupid, not me. But by not using a term deemed by many in the community to be a group they disdain, I'm not involved in accidentally mislabeling someone, and I don't come across as having written the article to group all of them together or out of revenge or some such thing. I just want to give people information that I researched. Simply that.
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:iconand-reichenbach-fell:
And-Reichenbach-Fell Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I see where you're coming from, the terms do hold a vast wealth of troll-bait for users that way inclined. I understand entirely your viewpoint, but in cases such as the ones you gave me, I feel the whole thing can be averted with a simple ignoring or hiding of the comment. I wouldn't blame it all on one term such as otaku or weaboo, though I can understand why people would be attracted especially to mocking someone who was prior labelled something of the sort.
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You would think, but unless you're on deviantART 24 hours a day, chances are even that the trolls will get to you before you even see the message that brought them there or before you realize that there's a problem. Unfortunately, it happens, rather more often than many would like to admit. So I'd rather not spread something that causes people, even people who are mislabeled or just new to fandoms, to become trollbait.
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(1 Reply)
:iconzaleho:
Zaleho Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
people find it cool when they learn im Japanese 8V but theres a lot of reasons why my family came to the US ((i was born/raised in the US)). i dont actually know most of the reasons... my mom doesnt really talk about Japan much outside of traditional family-related things, like which god was most important to my family, a bit about our history, Shinto-related things and stuff like that. but i know shes said before that she believes their type of schooling over there should be considered a form of child abuse because of all the stress it puts on students and stuff you already know. she also sometimes talks about the "darkside" of cosplayer culture over there and how its different from cosplayers here in the US. over in Japan, its all about really becoming the character rather than just dressing up as them for a day. they do this because they get little time to imagine for themselves or be themselves or something... so they put all their free time into becoming something they arent ((the character of choice from whatever anime/manga/game)) as a form of self-searching/identity/idk. okay, i dont think i worded it the way she did xP she made it sound more disturbing than that and like it wasnt really "for fun", but fandom over there is more than just enjoying something: it pretty much becomes their existence in the little bit of free time they get.

meh, i dont really like it when anyone starts idolizing a specific country/culture, because they all have problems and all problems get ignored when idolization is involved. its okay to be interested and to learn but ugh, the list of people i know who have Japan at the top of their lists of places they want to visit or live in someday is way too long xP i always get told its because theyre "interested" in the culture but they always seem to know jack shit about it and happen to be anime/manga fans.

a good portion of my family still lives in Japan, and recently an aunt of mine has been having severe memory problems. im told that its because of malnutrition and not eating enough since her job demands that she appear thin and attractive ((she works as a receptionist)). this story spread through the Japanese American part of my family like wildfire since the American side of my family kinda has something against Japan and is very pro-US ((even though they always demand their Japanese television stations...)). theyve been talking bad about my aunt since the news came over but blaming Japanese society for it, too.
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
The thing that disturbs me most about people worshiping Japanese culture when they don't know very much about it and don't seem to want to learn is that a lot of them are under a delusion that Japan is a magical land of unicorns and rainbows and sushi. The last time I checked, rainbows and sushi exist, magic and unicorns (in the sense they're thinking of) don't.There is no paradise on earth. Yes, some fans actually do believe that it's perfect. Japan has a society that's very good at putting up a public face that looks perfect from the outside. You know that it isn't because of your family. Anyone who wants to know, who doesn't want to be blind, can find out all of this through a short, simple internet search.

I know it isn't because when I was a senior in high school, there was a Japanese exchange student in my homeroom. She came from an international business school where they studied in English. She was thrilled when I told her on her first day that she didn't have to wear her sailor suit and that her weekend clothes were acceptable every day. When she found out how laid-back we were compared to at home, she settled right into American society and was very happy. She didn't fall behind here. She actually ended up ahead of her friends from school who'd stayed in Japan because the primary course of study was the English language. She wasn't thrilled with American food, but she loved the fact that she could understand everyone and speak English like American girls do after her first month of immersion and that she got to read and watch television in the evenings after her homework was done.

The fact that many people don't wish to know the actual facts about a culture they claim to admire and a society they say they want to visit is what is truly disturbing. A lot of people admire Italian food and art. A lot of people visit Italy, but they read a guide that tells them what they're getting into going there and that they risk theives (many of them children) at major tourist destinations. But young girls who want to visit Japan (4 the bishies cuz yaoi is hawt - mimicking them, not my opinion or manner of spelling), especially those who are considering an school-year exchange program or summer exchange trip, don't even research what they're getting into. A friend of mine went on a summer trip. She did one to France and one to Japan. She didn't go for the manga. She knew what she was getting into, but half of the people on her trip were shocked when they got there. She was amazed by only two things: the fact that they very young children at the house where she was staying spoke English quite well and the fact that they had never eaten chocolate before she brought some as a gift for her hosts.
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:iconplanetstarberry:
pLanetstarBerry Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Student General Artist
I found this article very informative. I knew at least a little about each subject, but not as much as your article divulged. Classroom colapse, seriously? Okay, that I didn't know about. Also the fact that crime in Japan tends to be so brutal and violent. Kinda makes you wonder what the future might be like for them...
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:iconisbrealiomcaife:
IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
There will always be the occasional classroom rebellion, both in the east and in the west, whether it's kids tormenting a substitute teacher they don't like or whether it's a protest of a war where students just walk out. The alarming thing about what I could find about classroom collapse in Japan is that it's rather more common and affects elementary schools as well.

Japan has the lowest crime rate in the industrialized world. The nation prides itself on this, but it gives those living outside Japan a false sense that crimes there either don't happen at all or are, in some way, less brutal. Japan does not have a big crime problem, and it's not the kind of issue that politicians get elected on like it is in the US and UK. Although more murders happen in some major US cities in a week than happen in a year in Japan, those that do happen there are just as brutal. They are not more polite or less of a crime because of where they happen. I listed the most disturbing of two decades worth of murder statistics, but I put them there only because I've met a few people who thought that there was no crime in Japan at all, which is clearly untrue and, in fact, is impossible for any society, except perhaps that of the Vatican City.
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House-of-Kadamon Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, that took forever to read.
It's interesting, but if you're trying to get the Japan-fans to read this, they're not really going to be interested. Even if they do read it, they're going to come up with ways to defend Japan and its culture or the way they do things. And um... BJD's come from Korea. Japan just liked the idea and then did their own thing.

As for the crime paragraph, please... that's nothing.
Come to South Africa. Then we'll discuss crime.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I actually thought of that. I also posted it (without the pictures) on a writing site where I'm in the original fiction and nonfiction minority that shares the site with a lot of fan writers, many of whom are Japan-fans. I had to take out the pictures to post it there, but it did get some attention. It got something like 110 hits and 12 reviews in 12 hours, which then took me two and a half hours to respond to. I'm also aware that BJD's don't originate in Japan, but the phenomenon that comes from them...well...to put it lightly, they're often associated with Japan because of their popularity there, the Japanese spins on them, and the fact that the people who are obsessed with Japan all seem to either own or want at least one dollfie.

And as for the crime, there's a very specific reason why I included it. I'm well aware that Japan does not have the kind of crime problem that most other industrialized nations have. It's overshadowed by the US, the UK, Russia...you name it. Heck, we've had worse than that (two decades of cumulative horrific crimes) pretty much every year for the last decade in my (medium-sized, by US standards) hometown. Japan actually has the lowest crime rate among industrialized nations, and they're very proud of that fact. However, that leads to a misconception among those in other nations that crime, and particularly shocking or brutal crimes, doesn't exist in Japan. I've actually met a few fans who swore there were no murders in Japan at all since World War II.
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House-of-Kadamon Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see.

All right. Let me ask you this: what was the real intention of writing this article? What is your mission? Your point that you're trying to get across?
I ask you this, because, in reality (and I'm not being rude when I say this) what people like about a country, and what goes on in a country, has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Do you follow what I'm saying? Yes, there's a lot of J-fans out there, but is it really any of their concern what goes on in a country that's thousands of miles away from them?
I like Germany... should I stop liking it because of its terrible history? I like manga and anime, should I stop liking it because the culture and society of Japan differs (as it rightly should) from the 'freedom' I have here in my own country? Should I nail Tetsuya Nomura to the wall because his country condones whale hunting? In the same breath, should I stop eating eisbein and sauerkraut because Germany was seduced by a madman who committed horrendous crimes against humanity?

Also, you got attention to this article on another site, not here, where a lot of J-fans 'reside' as it were.

If your intention was to make people aware of what's going on in a country they happen to like, you're on the right track. I'm only worried that you're trying to change people's opinion on subjects that don't affect them directly... and in all realistic views, has nothing to do with them or you in the first place.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
My intention was not to have people give up being fans of someting. It was to get just a few of the people who blindly worship a society that looks perfect from the outside to realize that no country actually is perfect, or as some of the people on the other site put it "a land of roses and unicorns." The reason I wrote it is because I find the topic interesting, and the motive was purely educational. One fellow author on that site thanked me because it gave her more of an understanding about why bullied students in school animes are not helped by councillors, teachers, and administrators. That alone justifies the time I spent researching and writing it. I've also been thanked by a few fans of the culture for informing them of something they'd never heard of because it isn't often talked about in the manga, anime, and games distributed outside of Japan, and by a two people who are in college whose major involves Japanese studies in some way or another who both knew about these issues for having the guts to post it on a site where at least half of the active users are major anime fans and where 4-5 out of the 6 featured stories every month are based in anime, manga, or a video game originating in Japan or created in a Japanese style.

Most of the people on that site are also on this site, but that is a smaller site specifically dedicated to writing. Writing gets a lot more attention there than here. This site is bigger. I don't expect attention. But I do realize that there's a chance that someone will read it and say "Hey, this is interesting." or "I can use this to make my fanart or fanwriting more realistic." or "I never realized this existed. Perhaps this society has its own problems just like mine does. Perhaps it's not perfect after all." Like I said, I wrote it because I found the topic interesting, and I feel that the time spent is justified if so much as one person learns something from it. Well, more than one person already has said that they got something from it.
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House-of-Kadamon Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I understand what you were trying to do, better now.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't tend to have ulterior motives when I make something like this. Just information that I want spread.
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SimonLMoore Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very interesting indeed.

Your first mentioned issue is an interesting one. Japan's falling birth rate is indicative of the way many countries are heading, it's the fifth stage of the basic development model, somewhat uncharted waters and indeed Japan is already feeling this more acutely than most nations. On a global scale falling birth rates are undeniably a good thing, however on a national scale an ageing population can be a serious problem, it will be interesting to see how Japan copes with this, other developed nations should observe and take note of any mitigating policies used to deal with this situation and track their success or lack thereof. There is no doubt that it is a problem but there are methods of dealing with it.

It is interesting to note and I may be wrong here but the problem is also more acute due to lower levels of immigration in Japan compared to other developed nations which buoy up shrinking or static natural populations in other countries.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm wondering if, despite the struggle caused by a rapidly aging population, when that population does finally completely leave work, it might help the economic side of things worldwide. It wouldn't be creating new jobs, but it would be recycling old ones. It would open positions for those who currently can't find them due to worldwide economic downturn. Unfortunately, with healthcare costs, it will also take a lot of that recovered money.
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SimonLMoore Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, simply put, the ideal situation is a slow decline of population, an average birth rate of 1.95 per couple. That way the economy could cope and adjust to the shift in the population demographic fairly easily.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah, but ideal seldom, if ever, happens.
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SimonLMoore Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Never said it did, I'm merely saying that there is nothing wrong with decreasing birth rate in principle, provided it is not too extreme a change.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
In principle, no. Everything has natural cycles of change, be it politics, economics, or population. Everything grows and shrinks on a cycle, but the problem comes when the cycle either fluctuates too quickly or too extremely, and that's what the problem is in Japan. The birth rate is unsustainably low. China is also starting to have problems with elder care because of increasing life expectancy, a culture hostile to long-term care facilities and hopsices, and the results of their one child policy, which is causing their population to become older, on average. On the other side of the coin, there are some nations in Africa where the average age of the population is in their late teens, largely due to a low life expectancy because of the prevalance of AIDS. Both are extreme and unsustainable, and both can ruin a nation's economy.
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SimonLMoore Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In reality also no, it has to be realised that populations are influenced by their lifestyle and lifestyle is quite often influenced by government, much as we might wish to think differently.

An example would be the lessening of the birth rate in various Newly Industrialising Countries by higher levels of education for both sexes, an excellent example is in areas of India where the base line population lives in relatively poor conditions but higher levels of education are readily available.

At the same time a change of situation in Japan may see the birth rate rise to a more stable figure, around 2 per couple were certain pressures relieved. Principle can be applied to reality, that is the essence of good governance should create the conditions where a stable population can exist and whilst birth rate is largely a personal choice for individuals, of course, national conditions can effect a change through secondary, non-draconian policies.

In many African countries the introduction of physical contraception could treat both issues of birth rate and AIDS at once but that's another minefield...
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, lifestyle, governmnent, and economics are intertwined, though the extreme and unsustainable changes in government to which I was refering involve the polarization of politics, where there are few moderates or people willing to compromise. Democratic systems of government (or even a government with a ruling class assembly like that of the Roman Republic) can't function unless there is compromise. To me, the concept of good governance is almost laughable. I think it's been quite some time since most industrialized nations have seen good (or even responsible) governance.

Could contraceptives help with high birth rates, low life expectances, and AIDS? Yes. Will they? That remains to be seen, in part because of religion and tradition and in part because of misinformation. The Pope, rather stupidly, in my opinion, told African Catholics that condoms wouldn't help and were evil. Even though he partially retracted that statement on a later visit, the damage was already done. The situation in Africa, with the controversies there surrounding contraception, reminds me of the time, a few years ago, when new cases of polio were nearly eradicated worldwide but religious leaders in one country said that polio vaccines were a conspiracy by industrialized Christian nations to make African Muslim children impotent. New polio cases returned to around a dozen countries.
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IsBreaLiomCaife Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
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