*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Japan: *&^% the local mores.

I had a minor altercation today.

Assholes and prison-bitches* have been on my mind, on every commute.  Are there are only two ways to play being Japanese: asshole or assholes' prison-bitch?*  It would explain a lot:
- sempai/kohai
- ubiquitous bullying and hazing
hikikomori and futōkō
- shoving on commute
- open-mouthed coughing and other blatant public hygiene transgressions
- salarymen in general
- sexism
- racism
- general xenophobia and Nihonjinron
- the lack of compelling characters in Japanese novels, or other media**
- a lot of couples without warmth, children, or warmth to their children
- passive-aggression
- their politics, mafia, and corporatism
- 'sho-ga-nai'

It's as if a nation was designed by someone who poorly understood both Rand and Nietzsche, who are bad enough if you understand them, and came up with Japanese society.  If you are a born Japanese asshole, it's rather easy to live in Japan, because the majority of pounded-nails will do nothing against you, and the only people who will are other assholes above you.  As for the shit you take from them?  Well, you just 'pay that forward', don't you?
What altercation?  I have to remember that Yankee will push back, and that the prison-bitches will give me the stink-eye (and lie to the police, because 'ware-ware-Nihon-jin'),# but I am glad I did what I did, yet more glad nothing came of it.

Purple tobi-panted, Yankee comes smashing through salarymen, which isn't interesting or worrying, because he wasn't going to bang into me, because we Gaijin are unpredictable and the Japanese can't process that.  However, he body-checked a woman right in front of me, and I am happy to say that I reacted sooner than I considered how to.  I shoved him and shouted:
You don't push women, you cunt! [Sorry about the word choice.]
We had a desultory shoving match, during which he replied, of course:
Nihongo-hanase! [Speak Japanese]
I know plenty of ear-blistering expressions in Japanese, but I have it on my J-wife's authority that I sound much too cute saying them, which is not the way I wanted to go.
Fuck you, asshole!
If a Yankee remembers any English from his last year of school in JHS, it's that.

And all the prison-bitches around us gave me the stink-eye for causing a scene; not him for body-checking half a dozen people, some of them women, on his way through a crowd.  (White people, this is how it is for visible minorities in your country every day, so don't get too smug.)  Certainly nobody was going to stick their neck out for a Gaijin who'd stood up to a woman-bashing asshole.  I just turned my back on him, as I long have on affection for this culture, and walked off.  I could deal with a sucker-punch if it had come to that.  I didn't want to deal with Japanese authorities of any kind.

Tokyo is full of assholes.  Maybe not all of Japan is, but I am in Tokyo, and I am done with Japan.  I used to live on the suburban/rural divide of Kanto near twenty years ago and don't remember quite as many assholes, though remember enough; I used to find people on rural trips nicer than I do now, it's worth noting; I think it is true both that Tokyoities have always been bigger assholes than most of the rest of Japan, and that they are bigger assholes now than before, now that the curtain has been pulled back on Japan having no future.  I am not the first person to have made a connection to 'Children of Men.'

There isn't a compelling social reason to treat strangers well in Japanese culture, because obligations depended only on the type of relationship between the people: there were none between strangers.  Even if it can be argued pre-State Shintoism did not have a moral code (and that of State-Shintoism, militaristic), Buddhism has, but it isn't the code that expresses Buddhism in Japan, but the rituals... as ever.  This is why I insist that Japanese culture is not polite, it is merely mannered.  It's inevitable in the alienation of the largest city, in an increasingly hopeless and alienated culture, that civilities continue to decline among people who have little empathy for each other.

The faults of Christian churches and their members are legion, but the moral message of the Gospels is enduring.  How the Gospels have been used for moral code in 'Western' countries is a deeply troubled history, yet it's not unrelated that some people stood for my pregnant wife in Toronto, yet so few in Tokyo.  Even we atheists are influenced by the moral codes of our culture, and whether they extend to strangers, which those of 'the Book' do.  The troubling thought I've had is that as North American politics and discourse starts to mirror the xenophobia, selfishness and alienation of Japanese urban culture, the more we begin to mirror Japanese culture in how we behave with strangers.  We are becoming assholes too.

*It's not a gender thing: there are versions in all genders and persuasions.
**Never anyone like Milton's Satan: an asshole, but a compelling one.  To be fair,  Shusaku Endo's 'Samurai' was interesting: a Christian.
#Reverse-Orientalism, because everything's back-asswards in Japan, for the sake of it.


  1. Well said. There's a lot wrong with Christianity but the 'do unto others...' thing is pretty much as good a moral code as you can get.

    1. What Jesus said, though sadly people do not pay attention to His words, is that everyone is as worth of consideration as oneself, and your worth lies in how well you perform this: "Do unto others...", the Beatitudes, etc.

    2. I guess that's hard to do in a culture with keigo etc. It wouldn't be that much of a stretch to say that keigo makes baby jesus cry!

  2. Never mind the religious aspect, it's just a simple tool that enables us to ensure that our loved ones don't get mistreated when we're not there to protect them; it's a survival tool for socialization. Generally it has served us well. I guess salary'men' never think 'I wonder if someone is shoving my wife/touching up my daughter right now?', when they are turning a blind eye to assholes in front of them? But then I have always believed that the Japanese have an empathy deficit and a lack of imagination, whilst being world masters of 'head in the sand' approach to problem solving.
    I used to have up to 3 experiences like this a week in Osaka. Then one day, an apologist told me I shouldn't try to force the Japanese to accept my socio-cultural values like an imperialist. I thought 'this guy's right! Fuck 'em! If they can't even stand up for themselves, why should I try to do it?'. I felt a lot better after that. It's not my responsibility to help these people, and they don't want me to anyway. Anytime I see an asshole, shamelessly bullying the prison bitches, I think 'THERE'S you unique Japanese culture! Right there! Please enjoy!'.


    1. I'd love to be able to say you were wrong, but I find myself unable to raise the umbrage. And as for defending 'the weak' (she was much smaller than him) I am glad my instinctual reaction is to do that, whether or not she noticed: fuck the local mores.

  3. You are a gentleman. No shame in that.


  4. Showing concern like that makes you a good world citizen; that's more important than cultural norms of one country. When my gf tells me about getting shoved or kicked, all I can think is how much trouble I'd get into if it were to happen in front of me...

    1. One of my favourite stories on this theme was the girl taking judo a salaryman tried to molest on a train. I found another story too. My girl's going to learn to break balls.



  5. The mister intervened between a man knocking about his woman in the street. Called the cops on the abuser and the abused pulled a knife on him. Luckily the mister got away unscathed but the sad part was when the woman stepped in to defend the abusers behavior! A little bit of the mister grew colder to humanity. I would hope if I was attacked someone would intervene rather than turn their backs... but more and more... I see backs turning, it's normal to act crudely.

    1. Yeah, no knife in my situation, nor did the woman defend him, but certainly nobody else wanted anything to do with the right thing. Well, my byline summarizes my view. Glad your man is alright. Calling the cops discreetly is the way to go in that case, from inside a car or something else secure. Add a bit of video taking, maybe. Because of human suckage you have to live by the old sailing adage: 'one hand for the ship, and one for yourself'.