Reader Mail

Opinion article at war with itself

Osaka

In his June 14 article, “Japan gropes for leadership,” Kazuo Ogoura writes in tautologies and paradoxes. He asserts that Japan has built a “safe and efficient society” by concentrating on safety and efficiency, yet he insists that this effort has left Japan, “vulnerable to natural and human disasters,” — in danger.

He maintains that while the Japanese distrust politicians, bureaucrats and CEOs, they have a “vague hope and rather solid sentiment” that politicians, bureaucrats and CEOs are basically trustworthy. In his explanations of Japan’s current dilemmas, Ogoura favors romantic pseudo-psychology and cliches.

Why are “the Japanese” supposedly so unwilling to speak out against their leadership? It’s because they are “struggling between trust and mistrust in their hearts,” he says.

According to Ogoura, the Japanese know that “open debate” and confessions of “fear and anxiety” lead to more “social anxiety,” so they avoid protest or political engagement out of a noble desire for group well-being. For the greater good, they hide their “internal war” — a war that they are fighting “seriously and with the utmost inner force.”

As outdated, dotty and downright pernicious as all this sounds, I suppose it’s more palatable to some than what Hiromi Murakami wrote on May 30 (“Changing Japan’s system to handle the unexpected”). Murakami blames Japan’s crisis on the motivation of companies, schools and the bureaucracy “to mass-produce brain-dead elites who spread like cancer cells.”

Ogoura, a former bureaucrat, gives us a murky, almost metaphysical, problem and can’t say what can be done as long as the Japanese struggle “in the shadow of doubt,” while Murakami wants to “do away with this rotten system once and for all.”

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.

brett gross

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