Loss Of Spiritual Values Blamed For Crime Surge In Japan - UPI Report -

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Loss of spiritual values blamed for crime surge in Japan

United Press International - February 10, 2000 19:46


WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- The loss of spiritual values, the worship of money, national insecurity and feckless leaders devoid of vision account for the surge of violent crime in Japan, a Japanese journalist and intellectual told United Press International Thursday.

The Washington Post reported the trend in its editions of Feb. 10, noting that it comes at a time when the bulk of Japan's population has passed the age when most violent crimes are committed.

Ko Shioya, North American bureau chief and editor at large of Bungei Shunju, a prestigious Japanese journal, said that in the process of rebuilding itself after World War II, Japan lost touch with its Confucian tradition of compassion and sharing.

"A saying among rural villagers was that 'you must kill the last chicken to feed a stranger,' " Shioya said. This has been replaced with a cynical lack of respect for individuals as human beings.

Also contributing to Japan's malaise is the feeling that the country is not quite independent, that it is not yet a fully sovereign state. This too arises out of the World War II defeat, Shioya said. It makes Japan uncertain of its own identity. He said Japan should have its own armed forces and that it is "dishonest" to use the euphemism "self-defense force."

"One who defends his own country has a sense of dignity," he said. "To have the spirit of the warrior is to be concerned about the security of others."

Such people are protectors, not predators, he noted, lamenting the loss of the Samurai code. Yet when Japan tries to improve its defenses, foreigners decry "the revival of Japanese militarism."

There is virtually no religion in Japan as it is practiced in the West, Shioya said, especially in political circles. Voters disdain their elected leaders and consider bureaucrats sneaky and corrupt. People are disgusted. This leads to higher crime, in his opinion.

And Shioya believes that police protection has declined. "The quality of Japanese police officers leaves a lot to be desired," he said, "which affects crime prevention."

An American who is a longtime Japan-watcher believes that globalization and modernization account for the crime surge. Tracy Dahlby, a documentary film-maker who covered East Asia as a journalist, said Japan, which has long been considered a traditional society, suddenly faces the same hard problems all other modern states must confront. He calls this "the great conundrum of globalization."

"At bottom, our societies are more similar than different," Dahlby said. "It's a matter of human beings responding to similar sets of stimuli." But now a society that seemed so special for so long is not so different after all. "Most stunning to the Japanese is violence in the schools," he said.

"Bad things have always been seen to come from the outside," Dahlby said. But the bad economic times of the past six years have come as a psychological shock. During the boom years, outsiders told the Japanese how great they were doing, but now confidence has been shaken.

"The Japanese are a fabulous, resilient people" who recently have faced ups and downs of short duration but dramatic amplitude. "This gives people pause," Dahlby said.

Dahlby noted that the Japanese family has changed. "More people live in bigger cities. They don't know their neighbors." The idea of a communal Japanese society is part of the national mythology, but life in the big cities is just as anonymous and self-centered as it is in Washington or New York City.

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, a press official at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, told UPI that his government is "very concerned" about the increase in crime, but pointed out that Japan is "still the safest country."

-- snooze button (alarmclock_2000@yahoo.com), February 11, 2000


Response to Loss Of Spiritual Values Blamed For Crime Surge In Japan - UPI Report -

I just finished Sho-gun (agian :o). Just like the States, Japan has alot of pride but unlike the States, Japan has thousands of years developing their culture. Somehow both countries has something to learn from the other. But they should try humility like us Canadians once in awhile *VBG*. Either that or give the kids hockey sticks and tell them to hit each other with them.

Also they should look at the TV and Video games. Wierdness there. Lots of thought pollution.

-- Brian (imager@home.com), February 11, 2000.

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