18 March 2007

Dichotomy of Japan

Compare and contrast

Japan apology for blossom error

Japan reiterates sex slave stance

I like aspects of the Japanese culture and race; there is much to be admired about the way the Japanese people can be focused, the manner in which they preserve their cultural heritage, and have pride in their nation. But sometimes, I wonder if the outward politeness masks a deep arrogance and feeling of superiority over their Asian neighbours. The sterotyped image I have of the average Japanese person is typified in the first story: absolute apology for any minor error. But the second issue reminds us that WWII was really not so long ago, and that there still exists tension between the nations that the militant Japan of old sought to dominate and this allegedly new generation of Japanese. My parents were born shortly after the war, leaving me two generations from the Japanese occupation of SE Asia. I have no bone to pick with the Japan of now, but if they persist in trying to rewrite the events of 60 years ago, perhaps we should start noting signs of increasing nationalism instead of worrying so much about some Bush administration-invented axis of evil.

2 comments:

buyo said...

But don't you think there is a bit of difference between an apology for a minor technical error by a particular agency and working out a national stance on a set of policies that are highly charged but have fundamentally different relevances and resonances for different generations of Japanese people. I mean it is routine for British railway companies to apologise for being late but it would be a bit more difficult to organise a unified apology on the British empire. Kind of easy for a US company to issue an apology and product recall but tougher to get an apology for the two genocides which arguably formed the basis of the nation (African slavery and the destruction of the American Indian nations). I think we have to be careful about simplistic use of the word "they" and "their culture". I know you are trying to sum up complex issues in a short blog post but I think this is a whole lot more complicated an than it is portrayed in the rest of the world.

bramble said...

I acknowledge and agree with the points you have brought up. The post was perhaps too flippant. I guess the tongue-in-cheek tone did not come across.

I am in no way suggesting that Japan is even thinking of repeating the atrocities of WWII or the colonisation strategy of old. I was just trying to sum up a brief feeling of unease; that for some nations in Asia, the wounds have not healed. No doubt hampered by the unwillingness of the government (not individual citizens) to acknowledge some of the more brutal outcomes of their occupation of Asia. I also acknowledge the difficulty any government has in such situations, especially when terms of reparations are brought up.

As for the issue being more complicated than it's seen outside Japan, that's very true indeed. The language and physical barriers do not help.