• Tokyo


Thank you for Michael Hoffman’s excellent July 3 article, “Japan needs to do more than simply ‘cope’ with stress.” Hoffman expresses what I have felt for many years while living in Tokyo. Many people in this straitjacket society either have to put up with humiliation and daily insults at work, or risk losing everything. I don’t believe that our situation is random, normal or natural.

My area of study is environmental issues, and I have broken down natural disasters or occurrences into four categories: things that are made to happen on purpose; things that happen by accident; and things that are allowed to happen either from neglect or because of an accumulation of forces.

In ecology, this latter phenomenon is known as the positive feedback loop: The worse things get, the worse they’ll continue to get — until they settle back to equilibrium.

Many of the technological breakdowns we see today such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster fit somewhere within these categories. There is now evidence that the reason (reactor fuel) melted down was that the earthquake broke the pipes that cool the reactors. This represents scientific hubris and irrationality on a large scale. Had the Hamaoka nuclear plant (Shizuoka Prefecture) blown up, 36 million people could have been exposed to high levels of radiation. Unfortunately, the power companies have done a very good job of convincing people that luxurious amounts of electricity production are worth dying for.

As ecological and technological breakdowns hasten, stress on humanity will worsen. In place of real relations with humans and nature — whereby we could reverse these destructive trends — we have been put upon a path to get rid of reality in favor of virtual reality aided by personal electronic gadgets.

No wonder so many people are depressed, stressed and even suicidal. With nothing real to lean on, people are lost in loneliness and despair. A young lady told me recently that she has a friend who is rich and beautiful but does not feel happy.

There is hope. What people must do is re-establish their belief in natural and human relationships, and simplify their lives.

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.

richard wilcox

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