The revolution will not be televised

Today, the Constitution of Japan was changed to renounce its pact of peace, and reinterpreted to allow Japan to raise an army to fight abroad as a form of collective self-defense by the Abe administration. It was done without a referendum, due process, undemocratically, and this angered Japan so much that thousands of people came out to protest in front of the Prime Minister’s building the night before.

A day or so before that, an anti-military protester was sitting on the beams of a bridge in Shinjuku, away from passersby with a loudspeaker. After he finished his speech, he set himself on fire, similar to the Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire during the Vietnam war. People on the Twittersphere took pictures, watched on, commented how scary it was, and “is this really happening?”

I’m not sure how to approach the issue with my community, but I’m curious to know if they’ll push it aside as a regional thing, like, “Oh, that’s Tokyo”.

These events were barely mentioned or even mentioned at all on national television, and was buried under celebrity news and World Cup updates (I forgive the World Cup though). This is not surprising, as last year, Abe had passed the Secrecy Law that gives politicians the power to declare what is or isn’t a state secret, and to punish the source and bearer of such leaks. Perhaps these protests are such state secrets that if the rest of Japan were to hear it, there’d be protests everywhere?

A couple weeks ago, a female politician addressed the assembly to raise the issue of support for women who are both care-givers and career women. She was met with jeers from the dominant party, who told her to get married already and questioned her credibility for having no children. A scapegoat finally came forward to apologize and take responsibility, but the LDP apologized not for being sexist, but for disrupting the assembly and for his lack of consideration of people who cannot get married. As if there’s something wrong with unmarried people. These men tell people to get married and have kids, and give no support for families that do.

Shortly after that, Ishihara Shintaro broke away from his party to start a new national party that promotes Japan’s militarization, and tries to reach out to the youth by calling it the “party for new generations”(次世代の党).

Someone always loses in war, and it’s always the common people.

I see a lot of promise and positivity in many of the students at school, but they are not prepared to talk about serious topics. They don’t like to confront problems and would rather beat around the bush, or wait for the problem to go away. The best thing to do, I’ve found, is to have them talk about themselves. They love to talk about themselves and their environment. Sometimes a little too much that it becomes repetitive. I can’t tell you how many times in an Aizu introduction that Tsuruga Castle is mentioned. They’re trying to build their confidence, but many of them feel like they haven’t done anything yet to earn that confidence. Their humility should be commended.

I wish they were asked to think and share their thoughts on these issues every now and then, and trained to back it up and be okay with the other person’s opinion. They’re pretty good with that when it comes to little things like personality traits or individual preferences. I am constantly asking why, and they have no follow-up to give me usually. Mostly “it’s too hard to explain,” or a giggle that indicates to me, “I haven’t really thought about it, stop asking me these things!” I get the feeling they’re afraid of being judged.

Many of the older people, usually men, are constantly saying how the kids are stupid, or weak-willed, and have no confidence. I’d like to think they’re wrong about that. The kids are scared to be judged, they’re afraid of failure, they’re afraid to lose face, they’re afraid of being made an example, good or bad. And besides, they’re being piled with so much general knowledge in their heads, mostly by rote memorization rather than actual learning, and the rest of their future depends on those marks.

They just want to do something they enjoy. And a lot of them are afraid of losing that. Don’t we all?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *