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Regularly reading letters from foreigners who feel alienated and frustrated might convince one that our host country is doing all to alienate its “so desperately needed” guests. A serious look at the facts, though, shows that the usual examples cited on how bad Japan is fall short.

For example, a flight to Europe forces my wife to pass through the “non-European” pass control and thus separates her from me and our child (no difference from Japan).

Once we return to live in Germany, she will have to pass a language and cultural test in German, and if she fails, she faces mandatory German classes (what a paradise in Japan).

The European Union is planning an ID application for a visa using photos and 10 fingerprints. Germany plans to implement the rule this summer (Japan is not that bad after all).

The wider problem is that many of us have yet to accept that the world has changed. The intercultural experiment has failed and nations are putting up their protectionist shields.

We Westerners especially need to consider the utterly different foundation of the Japanese mind and society. Once we understand that the foundation of each nation is based on its beliefs and is influenced strongly by its leading religion, we will see how Shinto has molded the behavior of our host (just as Christianity has formed the European mind).

The old society, still influencing the Japanese thinking today, was a society of subjects but also one of mutual help. Obedience was powerfully enforced since all were dependent on others. We foreigners are so often intolerant, judging our host nations’ actions against our Western background and are puzzled. It is no wonder we feel unwelcome so often.

dieter metzger