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

Monday, 5 May 2014

'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même' Japon.

Or, 'same shit, different pile'.

Two articles in 'the Japan Times' match very well today: 'Number of children in Japan drops for 33rd year', and 'Kikokushijo: returnees to a country not yet ready for them'.

The number of children in Japan fell by 160,000 from the previous year, and has declined by more than 13 million since 1950 [over 10% of the population gone!].
Tokyo and Okinawa were the only prefectures that had more children compared with the previous year [the richest and poorest prefectures].
The ratio of children aged 14 and under relative to the overall population was the highest in Okinawa Prefecture, at 17.6 percent, and the lowest in Akita Prefecture, at 10.9 percent [half the children of Okinawa in Akita].
Children overall made up 12.8 percent of Japan’s population. That’s lower than 13.2 percent in Germany, 18.5 percent in France and 19.5 percent in the United States, the ministry said [half the children of the US].

Kikokushijo often face an intense re-acculturation period, during which they are expected to fall into line with Japanese societal norms [because there is no option but the Borg collective].
“As entrance into a prestigious university basically guaranteed entrance into a prestigious company, returnees were no longer considered as having ‘problems’ but were seen as those with unfair advantages [see previous point].”
Although MEXT (the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) has been involved in the development, funding and promotion of special programs for returnees over the past three decades, no policies exist that directly relate the kikokushijo experience to our increasingly globalized world [but funded Amakudari dotage!].
“The American, Chinese, Korean and many European management styles are becoming more globalized now, so once you have the skills of doing business in, let’s say, an American business environment, the skills are transferable. But the Japanese way of doing business is very particular [How's that working for you since 1991, Japan?]
"The heart of the volunteer group is driven by the returnees who are used to seeing these kinds of groups overseas [Lack of empathy among the natives to out-groups?  You don't say?]”
Kikokushijo often face discrimination and bullying. This can exacerbate the returnees’ confusion about their cultural identity, when already, Taylor says, “maybe they don’t feel very Japanese when they come back [And why bother?].”
“It’s harder for me to get good grades in Japan,” Yoshii says. “I think of what would have happened if I had stayed in America — it could have been a different future for me [Your parents' ignorance has doomed you, kid].”
Let me see, Japan: you need children desperately, but you still dictate terms to the children and to women.  Japan: stick a fork in it, it's done, in short order.  When Kanto gets hit by the big one, it's done immediately and completely.


  1. I dated a Japanese girl (here in Japan) who spent a decade living in my hometown, had a law degree from a U.S. university and spoke perfect English. When she came back to Japan, she made the transition nicely as a 30-year-old woman. But, I imagine that's because she became a mature, confident woman in a setting which allowed her to do so. I can't imagine how hard it must be for awkward teenagers to come back and try to fit in...

    1. When you are thirty, you have an identity that's pretty stable. Also, you do not have parents meddling with it with any effectiveness, and even your peers have less influence on it than they ever had, and your colleagues even less. All of this more so as she spent a formative decade in a culture where not all validation is external. That could work.

      I am sure you were fond of each other as individuals first, but it is not coincidental she dated outside of Japanese, right? I'd also be curious to know if she worked for a Japanese or foreign employer in Japan. You too must know internationalized Japanese who find it excruciating to work in a Japanese environment, and who far prefer, not so much working with foreigners, as working with people who have lived abroad.

    2. She worked for a Silicon-Valley-based company, but through a staffing agency. When we knew each other, she was still in her rediscovering-Japan phase, so she had on rose-tinted goggles the way most visitors to Japan do...

  2. I love the Willy Wonka caption. So brutally true.