torsdag, maj 27, 2010

Japan a homogeneous, fascistic society?

I saw a reportage on BBC concerning the fact that the Japanese population is getting older and older and in addition to this, there is a shortage of personnel, being responsible for the care of the elderly.
If this is because the Japanese are less inclined to work within the health care sector or if it's a real demographic explanation to this, I don't know. As always a combination of both I guess.

Even though there is a lack of personnel the Japanese are unwilling to let immigrants take care of the aging population.
Why? Is there a lack of trust in people from other countries, a xenophobic stance, from either the people in charge or the elderly themselves? I don't have any answers to that question either.
The interesting thing is that the Japanese instead are developing 'humanoid dummies' resembling the real persons in such a remarkable way that it's almost hard to see the difference, at a distance anyway.
This is nothing new as the Japanese for years have worked on dummies like this and the development is rapid.

However, one need to ask oneself:
Does the Japanese population want to stay homogenic with no or minor influences from other countries in the world? If so - why?

Traditionally Japan has been very homogenous and still is.
The British reporter told us that he and other 'white' people are still looked upon as being somewhat 'alien' (he didn't use that word).

Historically the bonds between generations have been very strong in Japan. One example is that family members lived together in the same house, just like it used to be in Sweden and many other Western countries during the 19th and early 20th century.
Throughout the years this way of living has changed to a certain degree and the family structures more and more resembles the ones we see in the West.

The last fifteen-twenty years (or more) Japan has become a mixture of different influences, the elderly eager to preserve the historic traditions and ways of living, the younger influenced by different trends in the world but also creating trends of their own, blending impulses from the West and mixing it with other expressions.

Of course the words "elderly" and "younger" are fluctuating terms depending on what period in the history of Japan we refer to.
I think - without being an expert in the field - that this change in how to look upon history vs the present, started after WWII - as in many other countries - but accelerated during the 1970's and not least 1980's.
This means that those being young (in their teens and around 20) during the 1980's participated in shaping the changing society towards a more historically 'untraditional' way of life.

Does this change also indicates a change towards a more individualistic thinking when it comes to evaluating the functions of the state, the Japanese nation, the traditions and strong societal structure?

The reluctance to hire foreign people to work with the elderly and instead creating these humanoids, lead us to ask ourself if this is a sign of Japan being more than a xenophobic society, that is to say a fascistic one?
The word 'fascism' is not always easy to explain but there are some recognizable traits. When I talk about a 'fascistic society' I refer to the idea of creating an 'organic state', with a strong leadership and a singular (artificial) collective identity.

Fascistic thoughts (in this sense) have been prevalent in Japan, not only during the last World War but during earlier historic epochs too.

Of course we can find strong nationalistic ideas flourishing in other countries too but those states also tend to become somewhat (in the above sense) fascistic, displayed in their self image:
USA (e.g.) is in the eyes of many Americans the "greatest nation on earth", the best nation to live in with the best political system but also with a great deal of exclusive mecanisms, excluding those who - from different reasons - doesn't fit in, not only racially.
These thoughts also indicates lack of self criticism among the broader segments of the American population.
There are other examples too.
The European countries are becoming more and more exclusive in their view on immigration and in France we have the famous debate on 'National Identity' (Identité National).

Are there something fundamentally 'bad' with a homogenic society?

There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers to this question but often this idea is combined with a lack of tolerance not only towards other people of different origin but towards everything being perceived as 'strange' in the eyes of the beholder.
This is obvious in a small town as the one where I live in France (2500 inhabitants). The ethnic, historic and economic homogenity is very distinct in this town and its surroundings and this means that if people move here (like myself) one tend to become somewhat 'peculiar' in the eyes of certain people. I don't talk (or look?) like Jacques or Jean.

Another problem with smaller communities being very homogenous is of course the risk for genetic defects, even though some scientists claim that this is not always the case. Of course there are divergences but on a general level I think this is true, shown not only among humans but also among animals. This might not be the case in a mega society like Japan where 'foreign' influences can be seen.

In Japan the younger generations today are also more overt towards the world around them, being in contact with other people and nations through travels and internet but is this - as some say - only a transcending phase, in the future replaced by a more nationalistic and ethnocentric perspective?

How will Japan choose to organize society in the future?
Will these 'dummies' become the standard procedure when there is a lack of personnel within different societal functions and is this leading Japan towards a more fascistic societal structure?

The future will tell, as always.

(Map copied from:

(Photo traditional Japanese clothings for women copied from:
(Photo more 'modern' Japanese' copied from:

3 commentaires:

Anonym sa...

Japan is not a fascist country, you have no idea what fascism is or the political party of Japan. don't interfere in matters that don't belong to you

Gunnar Bjursell sa...
Den här kommentaren har tagits bort av skribenten.
Gunnar Bjursell sa...

To 'Anonymous' I can say: Yes I know what fascism is or how it has been defined. Many countries have been openly fascist or implicitly. Japan has a fascist tradition during the Second World War, siding with Nazi Germany, as you know.

I also added a question mark after my headline, I didn't state that Japan IS a fascist country.

By commenting things happening in the world or expressing my ideas of the origin of those ocurrences, is not "interfering" in anything only stating my opinion and as you might know, we have an idea called freedom of speach and I use this freedom of speech as well as I let you comment on my post and publish your comment on my blog (something I could have ignored).

The idea of you not wanting me to express my ideas, might be taken as a sign of the fact that you dislike freedom of speach and democratic values?