In his July 11 letter, “Abnormal way to run a workday,” Grant Piper raises a philosophical doctrine that is very Western: We live not to work, but we work to live. Indeed, this supports the utilitarian theories of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, two British philosophers of capitalism who promoted selfishness and greed, which cannot be on God’s side.
As Buddhism grew out of Hinduism and Japanese psychology came under the influence of Buddhism over the past 17 centuries, self-sacrifice from “overtime” or voluntary work was accepted by the Japanese people as virtuous. One could find a pleasure in work that could not be found elsewhere.
From primary school on, Japanese society encourages community spirit and voluntary service, such as when children clean their schools and help junior students. Individualism is discouraged. In school sports, group competition is the rule. Stronger children compensate for the performance of weaker ones.
In the workplace, there are regular consultations on how to improve company performance. Organizations try to create a community of workers of one for all and all for one. There is no separate staff canteen for workers and executives. In this environment, “overtime” becomes a duty toward fellow workers.
The result is a unique society with very little crime, where women can walk home from work at midnight without being molested, where 5-year-old children can go to school alone.
What will happen if Japan adopts Western ways?
Expect millions more homeless, uneducated, unemployed people. The Western system and its philosophy aren’t even attractive to many Westerners. Wasn’t that the reason for the Occupation movement against Wall Street?
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.