Regarding the Feb. 12 editorial, “Japan: failure or success?“: I worked in Japan during the bubble period and often return to work for large Japanese clients. I have observed the changes over 25 years and understand the pessimism. Everything considered, Japan is the best country in the world, it has the best future, and I intend to live here full time again. I am starting a home in Ehime Prefecture.
Everywhere you look, economies are failing, people are losing jobs, food and oil are becoming scarce, the environment is changing, and many people are pessimistic about the future. Not me. I am cheered by what Japan offers. I believe in Japan, considering the major problems in the world:
(1) Overpopulation. Pollution, lack of space, food/water scarcity come from this. Japan is first at solving this problem — not because of a government decree against babies but because of fewer voluntary births. Some complain that there won’t be enough young people to take care of the old, but we just need to wait and the demographic problem will correct itself.
(2) Global warming. Japan has invested more than any other country in building sea walls from concrete. These sea walls, which surround the Japanese islands are ALREADY paid for! Japan is prepared. No other country in the world even comes close in protecting its coastline with concrete walls.
(3) Economics. Of all countries, Japan has the best asset/debt ratio, even after accounting for public government debt, which is mostly owed to Japanese. The world owes much more to Japan than Japan owes to the world. Japan is the No. 1 creditor.
(4) Civility. As the world sinks into depression, riots increase as we’ve begun to see in Greece and London. The human cooperative spirit is critical to overcoming problems. Japan is the most civil country in the world. When an earthquake strikes, electricity stops, gasoline is scarce or other problem occurs, the Japanese people cooperate. No other country can compare. I don’t want to be in America when gasoline becomes scarce or when food stamps run out. Many Americans have guns and an entitlement attitude.
(5) Transportation. Oil is running out. Already many people in America and other countries who live in the suburbs feel trapped in their expensive homes without cheap gasoline to go to the store, to meet friends or do anything. They are called “the new poor.” Japan, on the other hand, is the top train country in the world, where many people can also go anywhere by bicycle.
The Japanese often lament that young men are soft these days, and more interested in relaxing than in working hard. That is superficial and temporary. Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo complained of the same thing 300 years ago in “Hagakure.” Yamamoto said males had become feminized during the peaceful years of the Tokugawa Period, where celebrities were worshiped in place of real heroes who sacrificed for the good of the country.
The softness vanished during war and challenges from outside. Yamamoto wisely observed that the “climate of an age is unalterable” and that it is no use resisting the softness of peace. Yukio Mishima also recognized this following World War II. The lives and teachings of previous leaders such as Yamamoto and Mishima contain much guidance for modern Japanese.
The strong Japanese spirit, disciplined and wise from defeat in World War II, will once again re-emerge from this period of peace just as certainly as the sun rises in the east every morning.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.