Regarding Dipak Basu’s July 18 letter, “Western work ethic is wanting“: Basu is right that I am a Western man, but that alone does not disqualify my observations. In fact, one reason I live in Japan and have done so for so many years is that my personal values seem to be so out of sync with the prevailing values of my home country that living here is more comfortable for me. Is the same true of other long-term foreign residents?
I have found my home in Asia with an Asian woman whom a recently quoted Harvard-educated Japanese woman might call my fetish. (I don’t, though. Wait until you meet her before you judge.)
I guess I just dig Asian values. I am for obfuscation, evasion, blanket denial and dumb passivity. I can tolerate the endemic level of masochism that resides here. I may have a secret regard for those who habitually steal umbrellas and bicycles, drive through red lights, smoke in the designated nonsmoking areas, disregard women and urinate in public.
However, Japan is not an ideal of harmony, understanding and compassion. Not because of the corrupting influences of Western culture but as a manifestation of its own nature. There is a level of violence, dissatisfaction and miscommunication here to provide data for hundreds of anthropology and sociology theses.
In her June 25 article “Unpaid overtime excesses hit young,” Ayako Mie was not writing about the harmonious and successful function of the workplace, but rather its aptitude for dysfunction and abuse. Sometimes fatal abuse.
Is dysfunction another Asian value?
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.