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Regarding Paula Bame’s June 3 letter, “Western values have made a mess“: As a Canadian who lived in Japan, I was shocked and saddened as well to read about the recent tragedies in Japan concerning the decapitation of a mother, parents abandoning their babies, and so on.

Of course, when events like this happen and people feel threatened, they sometimes like to point the finger at what could appear to be the most obvious reason. But to blame Western influence in Japan for the recent tragedies is a simplistic argument, at best. First of all, in matters of mere terminology and perceptions, there are many differences among what we like to call “Western countries.”

We should not confuse American influence with that of other countries either. The culture of violence that flourishes in the United States does not necessarily happen in Europe, Australia or Canada. The Western world is made up of many distinct countries and nations, and putting all of them in the same category can be rather insulting. America is not France, nor is Australia the same as Spain. The culture of “gangsters” that the writer referred to comes mainly from the U.S.; therefore, we should not confuse apples with oranges.

Moreover, Japanese culture, like all places, has its good, bad and ugly side. Has Western culture shown a more individualistic side and therefore influenced younger generations? To a certain degree, it is true. But Japanese society was far from perfect before Westerners came.

If Japan, like any other nation, wants to confront its darker side in an honest way, the first step is to do some soul-searching, and find the real roots of those problems. It should not look to horrible behavior in some music video for easy excuses.

alain breton

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