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At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall

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This past month heralded two timely events. One is the seventh anniversary of JBC, with 84 columns out and counting. The other was my 50th birthday on Jan. 13. To commemorate, please indulge me this musing on the passage of time. Just because.

I’ve lived more than half a century now. Fortunately last month, no sudden fear of mortality prompted me to have a mid-life crisis or buy a sports car. I’ve actually been aware of the aging process for decades.

I first noticed it in college, astounded that some supermodels were already younger than I was. It became impossible to ignore in my mid-20s, as my metabolism changed and I grew inexorably fatter despite all exercise. I later became alarmed when colleagues of a similar age and density were losing legs to diabetes and dropping dead of strokes. I dodged that bullet by shedding the weight a few years ago, but regardless, death amongst my peers became less anomalous and more normalized as I watched whole generations succumb.

Consider this: Anyone you see in a silent film is dead — and I mean long dead. So is almost everyone from any movie predating the 1950s. People from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II veterans are now in their 90s. Close behind are the Korean and Vietnam War vets (my growing up in a country that habitually wages war offers easy milestones). Even the people who protested their actions, the famed hippies of the 1960s, are wrinkly and retiring. Soon it’ll be the Desert Storm vets, who are already into paunchy middle age, as time marches on.

I was born at an odd time. Just 13 days shy of what the media calls the baby boomers, people my age aren’t part of Generation X either. I don’t really understand, for example, why people insist on getting tattoos or body piercings, or find public humiliation funny (e.g., “Borat”? “The Office”?), but I do understand why they keep stealing from their elders’ music (rock, psychedelic and progressive — all genres I grew up with and still listen to). But it eventually dawns on us fogies just how derivative popular culture is, and always has been. Straddling two media-manufactured generations meant I more easily saw an arc.

Now permit me to make you feel old too: We are now well into the 21st century, 15 years since Y2K, over 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. No children in developed countries know a time without the Internet; some can’t imagine submitting their homework offline, and some are no longer learning cursive. Google a recent photo of any media personality you grew up with and you’ll see their wrinkles either starting or becoming well-pronounced. Then look in the mirror yourself and trace.

Despite what music CDs at Tower Records say, nobody remains “forever young.” Even ageless Keanu Reeves, Nicholas Cage, Takuya Kimura, Madonna or Prince — they’ll get theirs too. Just as timelessly beautiful but still old Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve and Raquel Welch did.

I’m no vampire, but I’m lucky in terms of aging: I’m still mistaken for somebody at least 10 years younger. Part of it is because I avoid stress and let my hair grow, and I am in a place where I can wear age-vague clothes, but I believe another part is down to not having seen proximate others change over time. I didn’t watch parents, siblings, wife, children, classmates or neighbors grow older.

My vocation has always involved college-age students, and I’ve never quite distanced myself from them mentally. I’ve rebooted my career and lifestyle many times — even changed my name — and never lived under one roof for more than eight years. Never being rooted to one spot meant I didn’t stick around to watch the trees grow and the paint peel.

Nevertheless, history will always catch up and remind me how many years have passed. I look at beat-up old coins in my pocket and see they are usually newer than 1965. Things I remember very well as part of my normal world — the Cold War, Nixon and Watergate, Iran-Contra, two Germanys, a jumble of European currencies, even a smoggy Tokyo — are already increasingly forgotten. They are being tersely rendered as boring history-book timelines, as remote as the Suez Crisis, the Amritsar Massacre or the Spanish-American War.

Japan, on the other hand, constantly recycles yore as lore. For example, 70 years since WWII, it still defines itself in terms of a war with few eyewitnesses left, carefully filtering out the evil that inevitably happens in wartime and revarnishing the near-destruction of a nation-state as something glorious.

Japan’s media operate a powerful nostalgia mill for our growing population of conservative elderly. And they are receptive to it: Eldsters, I am discovering myself, find happiness by forgetting bad stuff that happened to them. What good is there in remembering things that make you unhappy?

Of course, that’s fine on an individual level. But for a whole society? The perpetual gerontocracy of Japan’s leadership has happily expanded that into a national narrative and redefined “history” as only “beauty.” Living in a meticulously sanitized past has its uses — even if that means you’re likely doomed to repeat its mistakes.

But back to the individual level. When I turned 40, I realized I had reached a new vantage point on life: I could look both backward to see where I had come from, and forward to envision where things would end. Now 50, I only look forward — to see how much time is left before my clock runs out.

For me, time is actually accordioning. I regularly skip a decade; 1990 feels like 15 years ago. The years are accelerating too, like a toilet paper roll that spins faster the closer you get to the end.

It’s understandable, really. In my 20s, I could not imagine living another 30 years because I hadn’t lived my first 30 yet. I had no sense of scale. Now I can imagine living another 50, because I already have. Sadly, I probably won’t, and I won’t be as genki even if I do. I have so much work to do and such limited time and energy left.

Let me leave you with an image: Watch Madonna and Justin Timberlake’s 2008 music video “Four Minutes” (hey, I’m hip!), where characters go about their lives oblivious to a black pixelated wall steadily encroaching and obliterating them.

That’s how I see time now. Read your college’s “class notes” about alumni (or for that matter, Facebook) and you’ll see that people who graduated in the 1960s and before mostly report on who’s died. In less than a decade, that will be the focus of the 1970s classes. Then it’ll be my decade’s turn. Then yours. That black pixelated wall is forever approaching.

I hope to keep writing for you until the end. Thanks for reading.

Debito’s books are available via www.debito.org/publications.html#BOOKS. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

  • Barry Rosenfeld

    One of best pieces you had ever written. Thanks. I became 44 today and much agree with your thoughts.

  • David Gregory Coulson

    Sorry, I thought it was faux maudlin, mixed with the inevitable, tedious sideswipe at Japan.

  • Squidhead

    How did this LiveJournal post end up on Japan Times?

  • Alexis Sanchez

    Nice post Debito.

    Interesting reference you make in relation to the shameless manner in which certain segments (right-leaning Uyoku mostly) of society are trying to re-write history in a way that suits them. I’m surprised you haven’t written about the obscenity of the class action lawsuit against Asahi Shinbun – or have your JP paymasters proscribed you from doing so?

    Is there not enough educational material out there about the Comfort Women, Harbin Human Experiments, Death Marches..not to mention Nanking?
    In their eyes, the Japanese can do no evil. The manifestation of delusion.

    And even though the evidence is compelling, they say it’s a concoction or claim to have been stitched up by the Chinese/Koreans. Pathetic.

    You say you’re looking to the future. But the real question is, what does Japan see when looking to the future?

  • Steve Jackman

    Well said, Debito. The unfortunate problem in Japan is that for too many Japanese, old age starts in their 30’s, or even in their 20’s. While they may be chronologically young, their absolute lack of curiosity, open-mindedness, adventure, risk-taking, interest in varied experiences and absence of any zest for life means that mentally and emotionally they are already very old. This is clear if you look into their eyes or try to hold a conversation with them.

    • Oliver Mackie

      What absolute drivel. Racist.

      • Steve Jackman

        Do you always have to be this caustic?

    • Stewart Dorward

      It really isn’t just in Japan. I heard a good test to see when someone mentally died (though it is out of date now with kindles et al) – look at their book shelf. What was the last they read?

      • Steve Jackman

        That would definitely have to include Manga in the case of Japan.

      • Alexis Sanchez

        I was mentally killed by your comment.

      • Toolonggone

        Um, blog, maybe!?

    • David Gregory Coulson

      Blah, blah, absolute lack of curiosity, blah, blah. Absence of any enthusiasm, blah blah emptiness of their eyes blah blah. Naturally, you are a top-rate, intellectually superior Westerner from a country full of people as challenging and sharped-witted as you. Or not, as the case might be…. Maybe you could start with using English correctly. 30’s > 30s

      • Steve Jackman

        Welcome to The Japan Times and to Disqus, with all of your two total comments shown in your Disqus history (the first one having been posted just 6 hours ago). You’re already making a very valuable contribution here.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        There you go with your sharp wit again, Jackman. You sound as bitter and frustrated as Arudou himself. Well done on correcting your grammar mistakes, by the way.

      • Steve Jackman

        It’s funny that you would characterize Debito and I as being “bitter and frustrated”, even though, some of the smartest Japanese people are themselves saying the same things as we are. For example, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for Physics recently told Japanese youth to “LEAVE” Japan during his first Japanese press conference since winning the Nobel prize.

        He stated, “In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” and “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.” He went on to say that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government. “The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”

        Is Dr. Nakamura also “bitter and frustrated” for his criticism of Japan?

      • David Gregory Coulson

        So presumably, you will be taking Dr. Nakamura’s advice in the near future. Not a huge loss, I would guess.

      • Steve Jackman

        No, his advice does not apply to me since I’m not Japanese. Your inability to understand or comprehend this basic, but most important distinction speaks volumes about you.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        No, you miss the point. As a long-term resident of this country, with deep interests, respect, love and, yes, concerns for this country as the place where my children are growing up, I can’t stand whinging, ignorant, stereotyping, arrogant, harping souls such as you, who throw off your petty personal vexations on a nation of people who have created such a grand civilization, such technological prowess. I would prefer it if people like you, with your cod-intellect, sucking up to Arudou, but adding nothing of insight, were to leave.

      • Steve Jackman

        I have to feel sorry for anyone who is so insecure and thin-skinned. You clearly have your identity and self-worth too wrapped-up in Japan. Not healthy!

      • Oliver Mackie

        I wouldn’t go around playing the ‘mental investment’ card, as it quickly backfires on such a position as yours. If you do so, the following must be pointed out:

        You have not even 1% of your identity nor self-worth wrapped up in Japan, even after over a decade in the country, living among and working alongside the Japanese. The only type of person one can imagine being so unable to make any kind of connection with those fellow human beings around them is someone who either a) has so much mentally invested in their own culture that anything different is too much of a threat to judge objectively, b) is so intellectually weak that they are unable to undertake the mental challenge that encountering another culture requires, or c) is so self-centered as to be morally flaccid. [Or d) all of the above.]

        If those were a bit difficult to grasp, don’t worry, there’s a well-known term that covers all three (hint: it’s an -ism regarding race.)

      • Steve Jackman

        Oliver, best not to make assumptions about me, since you don’t know me (and I’d like to keep it that way, based on the quality of your comments here).

      • Oliver Mackie

        No assumptions. Your history in Japan details come from your own writing (or were you lying?) and everything else comes from your words here. Don’t try playing the ‘you don’t know me’ card.

        P.S. Thanks for adding my name (i.e. with a later edit) to the post below.

      • Steve Jackman

        That is simply not true, Oliver. It is at this point that based on your pointless rants and misrepresentations, I revert to my standing policy towards you, which is: No Comment. Good bye, Oliver Mackie!!

      • Oliver Mackie

        You have posted comments in the Economist discussion board pertaining to your history in Japan.

      • Steve Jackman

        Not true, Oliver Mackie. Goodbye, again!!!

      • Oliver Mackie

        April 22nd 2014, “As an American business person who came to Japan over a decade ago and has since worked at Japanese companies in Tokyo”

        Or, of course, your identity could be totally fake, in which case nothing you write deserves any attention at all, serious or otherwise…

        Or maybe you’ve never been to Japan? If you haven’t, then as directly above, if you have, even for a year, my original post still stands.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        Hahaha. Nailed.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        Oliver, please tell me your have them. I have to see this.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        It’s [d].

      • David Gregory Coulson

        Jackman, it’s “….characterize Debito and ME”, not “Debito and I”. If for no other reason, you better get out of this country so you can at least master one language.

      • HayesOose

        I’d have to say, your description of young Japanese people doesn’t square with my experience of them.

        Given your vague and second hand denunciations vs my own experience, I’ll have to go with my experience.

        Are you bitter and frustrated? Is that the source of your vague but bleak criticism?

        I don’t know, and I don’t care.

      • tisho

        I agree with Steve Jackman and his description of young Japanese people. It’s not about what you experience, it’s about what you learn from it. It’s about having good observational skills and be quick to learn and adopt to the other person’s way of thinking. I can’t remember how many times i have been told by young Japanese people things like – ”wow, i didn’t know they had Disney land abroad!” the poor guy thought Disney land was a Japanese thing. It’s not going to be exaggeration if i say that young Japanese people know nothing about the world outside Japan, and perhaps the saddest part is that they know nothing about their own country either, but the most irritating thing is how convinced they are, beyond any reasonable doubt, that they KNOW Japan, while in reality they can’t even name their first emperor and where he came from, not to mention anything from the period of and around ww2. The only understanding of what the world outside Japan is is some old stereotypical view from old American action movies and funny TV shows. The school system in japan does not teach kids to be humans they teach them to be Japanese people made only for Japan. I can only sympathize for them, it would be almost impossible for many Japanese people to live anywhere else outside Japan, they are just not made for any other ”world”.

      • HayesOose

        If you think that many Japanese people don’t realize that Disneyland exists in the US, then I seriously doubt that you have talked to very many Japanese people about Disneyland.

        Unfortunately, that silly little bit is the closest thing you’ve got in your post of any substance.

        ” it would be almost impossible for many Japanese people to live anywhere else outside Japan, they are just not made for any other ”world’.’

        That is laughably ignorant. There are many more Japanese nationals living in the west, 359,000 in the US, 154,000 in Europe, another 57,000 in Australia and New Zealand, than there are westerners similarly situated in Japan.

        From my experiences as an American living here in Japan I’d wager that the average Japanese person is far more widely-travelled than the average Yank. The notion that they “are not made” for environs outside of Japan is just stupid.

      • Steve Jackman

        Your statistics of the number of Japanese people living abroad is meaningless. Many of these are employees and families of workers sent as expats by Japanese companies. I have known many Japanese in the US and other countries, and know for a fact that of all foreign nationalities they are the least integrated into their host countries. Most Japanese in foreign countries essentially live in a Japanese bubble and have very little interaction with their hosts or other non-Japanese.

      • HayesOose

        Really, you believe that the majority of the some half a million Japanese people living abroad do so in a “Japanese bubble” and thus they avoid interaction with “hosts”?

        Nope. I happen to know quite a few Japanese people who have worked overseas, and the notion that they don’t interact with the natives doesn’t wash. Their children return to Japan speaking native level English. They speak fondly of their experiences in the countries they spend time with. Often they express a desire to return to the country, and often play host to people from those countries who wish to visit Japan.

        And then there are the many, many Japanese people who travel for reasons that have nothing to do with work: They go just to be tourists, they go to study foreign languages or other subjects.

      • Toolonggone

        >Their children return to Japan speaking native
        level English.
        That’s not the case for the kids who return to Japan at a relatively young age–6 or 7. Their valuable foreign experience is being washed off by ethnocentric, monocultural curriculum in Japanese school system, unless they have 5-7 years of exposure to retain language.

      • Gordon Graham

        If you are teaching in “the school system in Japan” please be careful to teach the kids it’s “being” able to “adapt” to the other person’s way of thinking. Also, if the school system is the subject of the sentence “it” not “they” should be the following pronoun. And it’s feel sympathy for them sympathise with them. As I have kids in the system, I’d appreciate if teachers like yourself wouldn’t undo the work I’ve done at home. Cheers!
        PS. If you’re not teaching in the school system then can you please elucidate us as to how you know it “doesn’t teach the kids how to be human”. Please provide an example. As a concerned parent I’d really like to know.

      • tisho

        Im not a native english speaker. I graduated from waseda university after studying and living in Japan for a little more than 4 years. Prior to that when i got interested in Japan i studied pretty much all day long everything i could get my hands on about japan, their culture, read books, documentaries etc. anything i could, when i became more proficient with the language i started interacting all day long with as many Japanese people as i could. By the time i got accepted into Waseda and went there, i already knew what Japan was about, but i still wanted to have that new experience. I have personally spoken with many school teachers, including university professors who are very critical of the education system, both Japanese and foreigners teaching not only english but other subjects too, i have also first hand witnessed many classes, also spoken students too. The Japanese educational system does not teach kids how to think for themselves or solve any problems on their own rather than relying on group, collective work. Overall kids are given easy exams, and even when they fail, the teachers are too afraid to fail them, they feel too much pressure to just let them pass. The teachers have very little power actually, they are too afraid of angry parents that will yell at them for not treating their kid like princess/prince. Kids are taught how to obey and conform. What you know as ”common sense” does not really exist in Japan, you don’t really need to have a common sense, in fact, if you have it, it will do more harm to you than good. All you need to do is follow the rules, obey norms and conform to others, that’s the system, if you try to go your own way, there will be consequences for you in the long term, people will begin to avoid you because you are simple being unpredictable, and you do not conform or obey norms, which makes you a trouble maker in their eyes, it is simple ”meiwaku” to bother with you. Once kids realize this harsh reality they come to the conclusion that it’s best to just do as everyone else does because nobody wants to be isolated. There is too much emphasis on ”the group” in school, a leader is picked, and the rest follow him. Note that there is a difference between a team work and a group work. A team work is when individuals with their own characters contribute to the common goal, group work is when one leader tells others what to do and others follow him blindly. It’s just the kind of school system that promotes this behavior, you are not to question the system or the rules, you are to follow them, if you don’t, you get scouted and humiliated which leads to your fellow mates isolating you, nobody wants to be isolated, so kids learn to conform from young age. My sincere advice for you would be to have your kids go to another country’s school. In japan that’s not really a school system, it’s rather something like preparation to becoming ”part of the society”, ”part of the oneness”. You may disagree with me, few years ago i would disagree with myself too, so this is just my advice, not an order. Also, the private research universities in Japan are actually top class, very good. In particular universities like Kyoto University and Tokyo university are highly recommended if you want to go into a research field, but the school system has really nothing to do with teaching kids to think and preparing them to take care for themselves in the real world.

      • Gordon Graham

        “Growing up it all seems so one-sided
        opinions all provided
        the future pre-decided
        detached and subdivided
        in the mass production zone
        Nowhere is the dreamer or misfit so alone
        (Subdivisions)…in the high school halls
        (Subdivisions) in the shopping malls
        conform or be cast out
        (Subdivisions) in the basement bars
        (Subdivisions) in the backs of cars
        Be cool or be cast out
        Any escape might help to soothe the unattractive truth…”
        Rush
        This song by a Toronto band succinctly encapsulates the school environment in Canada where I grew up. My experience has been that there is far more emphasis on teamwork and inclusion in Japan than there ever was in Canada. As for conformity, my high school daughter’s last two essay writing assignments were “Should Japan amend article 9 of the constitution” and “Should Japan rely on nuclear energy” respectively. She was instructed to think about the issues from both perspectives in detail, take a position either for or against, support her position with either examples or detailed explanations, address the alternative point of view and its supporting statement, either concede or counter that argument then make a conclusion. I’m confident that she is being taught to think for herself in school. Also, I’ve seen a great deal of detail in her World History studies, so forgive me if I bristle at your suggestion that Japanese know nothing of what’s beyond their borders.

      • Steve Jackman

        Excellent points, tisho. Don’t mind what Gordon Graham has to say, his comments never make any sense to me.

      • Toolonggone

        Thanks. School environment pretty much reflects on what and how students, parents and teachers perceive teaching and learning as their social experience in Japan. Don’t worry about some detractors here who bash those who speak about their experience about educational struggle in Japanese school system. They are just as pity as pro-privatization, education reform pundits bashing teachers and public schools.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sure, tisho, pay no attention to voices that reflect experiences other than your own. That way you’ll have an “international” perspective.

      • Toolonggone

        Funny, you are responding to a different poster whom you takes swipes at.Your first sentence well illustrates the characterisics of ethnocentrism. International? It sounds like “de-international perspective,” to me.

      • Gordon Graham

        Sure, guy…continue to laud open-mindedness and a broad world view while getting behind sweeping generalizations meant to belittle one particular nationality. How magnanimous and pliant of you, Sir!

      • Toolonggone

        If you think “the school system in Japan” is some kind of paradise or an ideal place for teachers and students regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or gender, you are living in a
        utopian fantasy. Recent news show that over 3,900 teachers got penalized for corporal punishment at school. Japanese school is still in a growing trend of bullying. More teachers are getting arrested for pedophile, child pornography, prostitute, or inappropriate relationship with their students. More students are getting involved in violence, juvenile delinquency, and even felony criminal offense. Many young teachers don’t stay in school for long; they tend to leave in less than 3 years for various reasons–i.e.,stress, overtime
        administrative work, tension with student parents, senior teachers, school principal, vice principal, or school board. Most students and their parents end up spending an academic life in which national test and entrance exams determine their career –like China, and the US today. When does the term “internationalization” come into their educational experience? Not until college.

        And more importantly, MEXT and the national government are not willing to make traditional Japanese public schools more open and friendly to children of foreign nationals. Why are many students of Zainichi Koreans still going to their ethnic schools today? This is obvious from national curriculum policy and planning that impose an ethnocentric, ethno-cultural narrative on core subjects such as Japanese language arts, history, social studies, science, and moral education.

      • Gordon Graham

        Your first paragraph could be cut and pasted into an argument on any school system anywhere in the world. The second one is just plain ridiculous. Why are Jewish kids going to Jewish schools in Canada? (The Korean family I know in Setagaya have opted to send their boy to St.Mary’s, because they want a Catholic education…would you like to discuss the case of pedophilia there?) Why are Japanese schools teaching Japanese? Are you kidding me? Why are Japanese schools teaching kids about Japanese society? Lay off the pipe, guy…My kids have been treated like gold from their teachers and classmates alike and are a lot more fair and open minded than a lot of commenters who frequent these pages to release their petty vitriol in sweeping generalisations…like the Japanese don’t know anything beyond their borders. That this tripe gets picked up on and regurgitated as credible is laughable.

      • Toolonggone

        You certianly have no idea that the public is always being subject to ideological apparatus by those who rule and paint the picture in a way they like. And Japan is No Exception. If you want to know culture beyond borders, you’ve got to earn it by yourself. Not MEXT bureaucrats or Tokyo politicians. Period.

      • Gordon Graham

        The Star Chamber? Yeah, I saw that movie, too

      • Gordon Graham

        Do you know who the FLQ were? No no no…I mean before running off to Wikipedia to check. Well, my daughter learned of them in her second grade history class last year. Canada’s response to a small terrorist group in Quebec was to enact martial law. Do you know that there are language laws in Quebec, that store owners are forbidden to have signs, posters or menus written in English that appears larger than the French which has been legislated to be written larger and more prominent? Keep in mind I’m referring to private businesses here and not government offices. Are you aware that the government of Canada tore aboriginal Canadian children from their mothers’ arms to be raised in Catholic in orphanages where they were raped by pedophile priests, because the Canadian government considered the aboriginal culture to be too savage for children to be raised in. Would you posit that Canadians are pedophiles who don’t believe in free speech and are fully behind the abuse of human rights and raping of children to maintain their euro-centric ideals? It certainly appears you would

      • Steve Jackman

        I was going to respond to your comment, but changed my mind after clicking on your name and reading some of the other 600-plus comments written by you which are in your Disqus history.

      • HayesOose

        Well, you’ve got little to say anyway. It’s clear that you don’t know Japanese people very well, all you can come up with is vague little put-downs and doubtful anecdotes

      • Steve Jackman

        OK, sure, I don’t know Japan very well. I’ve only been living and working here for more than ten years…what do I know.

      • HayesOose

        I’ve been working and living in Japan for fifteen. Your blanket description of Japanese people does not square with the Japanese people I have gotten to know.

        Maybe you were just unlucky, and have only met people who are incurious, close-minded, and lack a sense of adventure, etc.

        I have not been so unfortunate.

      • Steve Jackman

        Good for you, but I have no intention of engaging in a spitting contest with you.

      • HayesOose

        You have no intention of saying anything substantial either. At least you didn’t lead with some cockamamie take of japanese youngsters not being sufficiently informed Of the history of Mickey Mouse

      • Oliver Mackie

        Make up your mind. In a previous post of mine, I asserted that you are in Japan, “after over a decade in the country, living among and working alongside the Japanese”, to which you replied, “simply not true.”

      • Steve Jackman

        That’s your post which was deleted by the JT moderator a couple of days ago, remember? Amnesia?

      • Oliver Mackie

        Yes. And? Which is it then? In Japan for 10 years living and working alongside Japanese or not?

      • Steve Jackman

        Oliver Mackie, your obsession with my personal life is creeping me out. It’s better if you mind your own business.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Don’t flatter yourself. Obsession it is not. You are the one who constantly cites your own experience as ‘proof’ of your assertions, yet constantly refuses to articulate exactly what that experience is. The rest of us have our Disqus accounts open and stand by our experiences. The fact that you think such a requirement for others to take your contributions to be “creeping” speaks more of your narcissism than any thing else.
        Additionally, you consistently accuse others of being overly emotionally invested in Japan, allowing the right task in return why you say nothing positive about the place despite choosing to remain here for over a decade. If you want to join the debate, you can’t declare the kitchen to be too hot.

      • Steve Jackman

        Now, you really are flattering yourself. I wish not to engage with you, since experience has taught me that it is a waste of time.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Rather telling response. Mine was 19 lines with no self-reference, yours was a quarter of the length and you managed it twice. And you accuse ME of self-flattery?(Stylistic hint: it’s rather difficult to flatter yourself if you don’t mention yourself.)

      • David Gregory Coulson

        Jackman, you kid no one. Busted again! Try a new tune where you stop making yourself look so ridiculous…. No, thought you wouldn’t.

      • HayesOose

        You’ve got over 900. But for some reason you’ve decided they should remain private.

        Embarrassed by the things you write?

      • Steve Jackman

        I keep them private in an attempt to keep trolls away, but it doesn’t always work.

      • HayesOose

        Hilarious. Your cryptic reference to my posts was nothing more than spineless passive-aggressive trolling in its own right.

      • David Gregory Coulson

        He probably is a troll. We should start ignoring him and he may stay under his little bridge.

      • Steve Jackman

        “Blah, blah, absolute lack of curiosity, blah, blah”. David, I cannot help but notice that your comment seems like something written by some other long-term posters on this site (hint: Sam Gilman, Oliver Mackie, Gordon Graham, et al). In fact, just 3 days ago Gordon Graham wrote “blah blah indecipherable blah blah Japan” in response to a comment to another article here in The Japan Times. You all seem to be following the same playbook.

        Are you guys all roommates, or do you belong to some weird secret society formed by “foreigners” here to defend Japan’s honor? Just asking since it seems strange that every so often a new poster pops up in what appears to be a reincarnation (as my example above illustrates). Tell me that the almost exact same language used by Gordon Graham and you in your comments here is just a coincidence.

      • Oliver Mackie

        No, it’s just common knowledge around here that, “blah, blah, blah” sums you up perfectly.

      • Steve Jackman

        “No, it’s just common knowledge around here that, “blah, blah, blah” sums you up perfectly. Oliver, at least your comments are consistently asinine and childish. What you fail to realize is that Gordon Graham’s comment from 3 days ago which I referred to was his response to another commenter, not me.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Oh, what a game changer!

      • David Gregory Coulson

        When Oliver Mackie said, “No, it’s just common knowledge around here that, “blah, blah, blah” sums you up perfectly”, you decided just to ignore his words, and come looking to me for confirmation. Oh dear. No, I do not know him, and yes, my comments about you are a coincidence.

      • Steve Jackman

        I would entertain your comments, if only I had all the time in the world to waste and was not already working on something much more important and consequential.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “I would entertain your comments, if only I had all the time in the world to waste and was not already working on something much more important and consequential.”

        His plane ticket home, hopefully.

  • Junk Science

    Interesting metaphor for life: a toilet paper roll? “The years are accelerating too, like a toilet paper roll that spins faster the closer you get to the end.”

    Hmm…I wonder where this author does most of his “deep thinking?” LOL. You “go,” Debito: “Potty like it’s 1999!”

  • KenjiAd

    Fifty is a kind of age when most of us guys realize we are running out of rats ass to give freely. So at around age 50, most of us stop being a rats-ass philanthropist, and start choosing whom and what we give our remaining rats ass to.

    Seeing Mr Arudou still giving his rodent’s butt to what he thinks Japanese people ought to think about WWII history, we have to conclude that this issue is very important to him. That’s admirable, even though some of us may not agree with him. [sarcasm on]Or perhaps he may not have anything else to give his rats ass to in his remaining life. That would be sad.[sarcasm off]

  • GIJ

    “Japan, on the other hand, constantly recycles yore as lore.”

    I get the feeling Debito wrote this whole column as a pretext for getting to this part–namely painting all Japanese with the same broad brush that he regularly accuses his fellow citizens of using when they generalize about other people in the world.

    Debito, you seem obsessed with time. Do you realize you’ve now been a Japanese citizen for 15 years, or about 30 percent of the time you have lived? What sort of column will you write a decade from now after your kanreki, when you are 60 years old and you’ve been a Japanese citizen for 25 years? Negativity towards one’s own country of citizenship is common and understandable to an extent (long-term residents of Japan who are still citizens of Western countries are often like this, never missing an opportunity to bash America, Britain, Canada, etc.), but you really seem to overdo it and can’t seem to stop.

    • Steve Jackman

      I hope Debito does not stop and that others join him, as long as Japan refuses to change and move forward. As things stand right now, Japan is stuck in reverse, so Debito needs to continue doing what he’s doing.

      • HayesOose

        He’s a crank, you’re a fanboy.

      • J.P. Bunny

        “…..Debito needs to continue what he’s doing,” The ranting on about all seeing eyes, discrimination plots, never being able to amount to anything in this country, etc. does not need to continue.

    • Toolonggone

      I would say, “. . . [a]ccuses the powers-that-be of controlling public opinions for manufacturing consent,” if I were you.

  • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

    I’m lucky in terms of aging: I’m still mistaken for somebody at least 10 years younger. … I believe another part is down to not having seen proximate others change over time. I didn’t watch parents, siblings, wife, children, classmates or neighbors grow older.

    I believe this is the first time I have seen someone claim that being a loner who has estranged themselves from three generations of their family was “lucky”. Perhaps, for him, being unable to make Japanese friends was also “lucky”.

    • GIJ

      Glad you noticed that too! Seriously, a father chalks up looking younger than his age to the fact that due to a divorce and then loss of custody he hasn’t had to watch his own school-age children grow “older?”

    • Steve Jackman

      Welcome to the 21st century, GMainwaring. You still seem to be stuck in another era, whereas, the world has changed and there are many globally mobile people now. But, don’t let me wake you from your slumber. The shock of the modern world may be too much.

    • HayesOose

      Debito’s bit on lacking Japanese friends was downright shameful: Nowhere did he indicate that he considered even for a moment that he himself could be even a little bit at fault for that situation.

    • Oliver Mackie

      ”I didn’t watch……wife, children,……grow older.”

      Just about sums it all up, doesn’t it.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Headline News! Ranty paranoid guy realizes that he, as well as other people age.

    • Gordon Graham

      Yet fails to realise why he has no friends or family