Japan has messed me up and everyone there is to blame.
I left my country as a much younger man and as an expat, I have lived in numerous countries as a taxpayer. I was never involved with government, NGO’s, military or religious groups but simply had a good job with a global wine producer and got to live among several cultures. I lived in Japan the longest and would call that my non-native home.
As much as my ignorance and poor language skills frustrated me (and others?) in the beginning, I have to constantly look at Japan and my friends/family ( I am married 18 years to a Japanese woman and we have two daughters) as the ones to blame for my current aggravation.
You see I repatriated after about 17 years of living abroad, most of those years were in Japan. Coming back to my country was so extremely difficult because of … well … Japan.
In general, I had become used to people providing courtesy and respect to anyone and everyone. Even if it was insincere, it was offered as a way of living. I was used to relative safety, I was used to putting the group in front of the individual, I was used to Japan.
I had adjusted to seven countries/cultures with no problems, yet two years ago when I came back, I had a hard time adjusting here! I was perplexed as to why this was so difficult for me to come back to my native country. Again, the blame is on Japan.
My country has changed, as have I, of course. It is a great country, I have a lot to be proud of, but some of the most basic and good things about a community are completely absent here now.
Japan showed me a strength and humility unmatched around the globe. When I speak to my Japanese friends and explain how powerful the impressions of Japanese people are to those around the world, they can’t understand why. I explain that the world witnessed those who have been absolutely devastated by tragedy, such as Fukushima, stand patiently in a queue to get the only water available. I tell them how my wallet fell out of my car on a remote road with over $1,700 (U.S.) in it, a local fisherman turned it in and every penny was waiting for me at the police station. These are only two examples but good ones. Expats and others who read this have numerous examples of their own.
My country is a great country, it has some of the greatest things in the world … and sadly it also has some of the worst. The problem is now I expect people to wait in line, I expect people to say please and thank you, I expect people to be considerate of others’ space and possessions. I expect my native people to be a lot more … Japanese.
Now, I will adjust back to my country or I may pick up and leave. I will want to leave if Trump gets elected (yes, I am a Yank if my words didn’t already tip you), however I am not sure if I can leave if Trump is elected — other countries may not take us!
Now I don’t agree with all things Japan, or all things U.S.A. for that matter, but I couldn’t agree more with how Japan taught me a whole different way to live and to be a better community member. Trying to live and influence my current community to adopt some of these ways is exhausting.
It’s Japan’s fault for showing me these ways.
Trying to manage my expectations of cultures outside Japan has been very frustrating, so you see … I have a special place and a special “blame” in my heart for Japan.
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.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.