• Tokyo


The Jan. 11 Kyodo article “In a first, new adults under 1% of population” made me think afresh of my daughter’s Adults Day ceremony, still two years away.

I regret the economy and the domestic social environment that each new breed of contemporary certified Japanese adults enter, but I admire their strength in dealing with the difficulties they are already inheriting from their elders.

Most of all, I admire them for tolerating their elders’ guff and nonsense so bravely. Teenagers and young adults are almost regularly criticized for their perceived shortcomings — a declining work ethic, an insufficient store of traditional values, technology-fed anti-social behavior, lack of respect for each other in society, etc.

Elders predictably bemoan the slow disappearance of the world as they know it and blame the young for their insufficiencies. But I think that with an alternate view of the facts, young Japanese can be said to be very admirable, not to mention patiently long-suffering.

The two postwar generations are often held up as sterling examples of Japanese virtue — especially their conscientious work ethic. It was their hard work that effected the “economic miracle.” But it could be said that the only true economic miracle was the miracle of protected markets — for which Japanese cannot take credit — and that all the current economic woes Japan has been enduring for 20 years already are more the product of the folly of those same hardworking postwar generations than of their wisdom.

Specifically, the current economic and social woes are precisely the product of traditional values. No surprise, really, if one subscribes to an alternate reading of things.

So my advice to each New Year class of Japanese adults, and to my daughter when her time comes, is to try to avoid imitating the values, behavior and accomplishments of their elders, the very people who have brought near-ruin to this great country.

grant piper

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