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TokyoFreePress Cannot Afford the Time to Waste on Tatemae Stuff


In 2004, Kyoji
Mitarai, then Sasebo
Bureau chief of the
Mainichi Shimbun
daily, lost his
daughter in the box-
cutter murder
case.
His childish "open
letter" was telling
everything about the
terminally-ill nation.
In August 2004, I launched this website. At that time many people gave me a big hand. They grinned knowingly at me and said they especially liked my slogan that said TokyoFreePress was a taboo-free online journal. They were wrong, though; they took my slogan as yet another Tatemae statement. To put it bluntly, they should have known that I was a crazy person by their standards.

Seven years later, it started dawning on these people that I really meant it when I launched an all-out attack on the city hall of Yokohama, defying the old wisdom that "you can't fight the city hall." I won the first stage of the battle out of court because with my 46-year-long experience in business, it was relatively easy to outmaneuver the zombies at the municipal office. They had to admit, without explicitly saying so, my complaint that the order of attachment would be unconstitutional was irrefutable.

To me that is enough for now. My ultimate goal is somewhere else. I have no reason to broadcast how exactly I could win because it would be useless to tell my story more in detail to those who will never fight the city hall in their lifetime. Besides, that might constitute a breach of the ceasefire agreement very tacitly reached between us.

All along, some, if not many, of my friends extended their wholehearted support to me. I really appreciate their encouraging words because without them, I might have lost my case against the municipal government.

But on the other hand, those who were not perceptive enough to know the taboo-free slogan was the manifestation of my Honne, seemed to be subtly disappointed. Some of them even sounded as though they had become indignant at the news. I think there are two reasons.

Firstly, despite the lip service they gave me at the initial stage, these ostriches thought, in their Honne, that my battle against the local government should never be won. Secondly, deep inside they have harbored jealousy over justice. To them, justice is something authoritative figures such as themselves have the exclusive right to mercifully hand down upon unprivileged others. That's why they found it outrageous to have to see an obscure blogger win it.

Quite unexpectedly, this case served as an acid test. Now I can tell who are willing to discuss issues in their Honne, and who are not.

Among my supporters, there is an exceptionally intelligent American whose handle on this website is Diogenes. I have learned quite a lot from his perceptive and relevant feedbacks to my pieces. Especially, it was a pleasant surprise when he brought up the issue with Japanese children suffering refractory mental illnesses in response to my essay about the MacArthur Constitution. Before him, no one had found a link between the two issues.

In the last 48 hours, we discussed offline the same issues to follow up our online discussions. I'm posting below here three reply mails to show you what I really meant in August 2004 when I said I was launching a taboo-free web journal.

May 20, 3:30 JST
Title: Unbreakable Chain of Oppression

I’m so glad that the exchange of views between us has been immensely productive that I now understand why you said I wasn't straying from my main task.

Among other things, I have especially appreciated your online and offline comments on the constitution(s). As a matter of fact, it always sickens me to read self-pitiful accounts by victims of rape, child-abuse or other types of domestic violence. But when one of my young friends, who had once attempted suicide, almost successfully, recommended to me Torey Hayden's One Child, I learned not every abuse survivor is self-pitiful. Sheila fought back against the chain of oppression when she was a 6-year-old toddler by tying a 3-year-old boy to a tree in a nearby woodlot. She had to do so because there was no other way out for the 6-year-old than burning a 3-year-old boy.

You were absolutely right when you pointed out vengeance does not solve the problem. Instead it surely exacerbates it. However, it takes mental, if not physical, strength, to regain one's self from the chain of oppression.

As you have already noticed the Japanese chain of oppression is quite different from America’s. On its top, there always is the Emperor, and at its bottom there are social outcasts who are abused in many different ways, including kids suffering from autism (360,000-1,200,000 of them), 5 million suicide wannabes, and innumerable prostitutes disguised as something else. In this unique society, the top of the chain has been tightly fastened to the other end so it forms a closed loop. The inventor of this mechanism is Shotoku Prince of the 7th century. MacArthur reinvented it 64 years ago. Given this ingenious arrangement, nobody can tell who are abusing whom, and who are being exploited by whom. That is why I always argue in this country, prostitution, for one, is subtly legitimized and highly institutionalized.

Under the circumstances, very few victims dare to fight back, primarily because they can’t tell who to direct their attack. At times, they do fight back, as the 12-year-old boxcutter murderer did here 7 years ago. But they always attack the wrong people. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, quotes Aristotle as saying: “Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purposes, and in the right way - this is not easy.”

The single most devastating outcome of the Japan-particular Chain of Oppression is the fact that people are really used to being abused. Frank W. Putnam, MD, once observed that many (most in case of Japan) survivors of child abuse start to feel in their adolescence that something remains unsettled deep inside. When you talked about a “repetition compulsion,” I think you were talking about the abused becoming abusers in later years. But in Japan, most of them feel an obsessive-compulsive urge to be abused again and again. That’s what Putnam calls “revictimization.” I think this explains everything about Ijime, Hikikomori and Jisatsu and social response to them.

In the last 13 centuries, or in the last 150 years, or at least in the last 64 years, this country has remained stuck in the same addiction-like desire for being revictimized, while on the other side of the Pacific, America has remained addicted to recidivism. The striking remembrance in symptoms between poor kids and this nation always bring me to what another Putnam (public policy professor Robert D. Putnam) calls the “path-dependent trajectory.” This Putnam says: “Where you can get to depends on where you’re coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here.”


May 21, 1:40 JST
Title: RE: Unbreakable Chain of Oppression

I think this is one of the most important mails I have received to this day. There’s very little to add to your analysis except for the attached JPEG file. One of my young friends secretly passed it to me. I’m afraid "Nevada" no longer looks like this because most probably she has been REFORMED by now into yet another domesticated zombie.

In the last 6, 7 years, the mainstream media have been untiringly calling for more and more legislative measures to stem the surge of “Internet crime” and “juvenile crime.” As usual they are lying. To begin with, the Internet has nothing to do with juvenile crime, or any other crime for that matter. (This really reminds me of American mythomaniacs who keep saying what’s going on in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the like, or what may or may not happen in China should be called “Twitter revolutions.”) One would kill, whether or not there was the Internet, as long as he or she has the reason to kill.

Neither is it true that crime has anything to do with age, because it’s ridiculous to believe a 19-year-old is more prone to commit a crime than a 20-year-old. (In Japan people under 20 are treated as minors although now they are talking about lowering the threshold.) Intellectually lazy people never understand they should always address these issues both from cross-sectional and longitudinal perspectives.

More importantly, the boxcutter murder case of 2004, for one, showed that the real problem with "juvenile crimes" always lies with neotenized parents, teachers and other adults.

Laws, or lack of them, have nothing to do with crime, either. People, the Japanese in particular, are duped into believing laws change people, whereas it’s always the other way around. It’s people that change laws. For instance, lawmakers at all levels of the government have been imposing stricter control on kids' access to Yugai Saito (websites considered hazardous to minors.) This is also a laugh because there cannot be any logical reason to believe Yugai Saito are Mugai (harmless) to adults. To me all these moves are nothing but an alibi exercise.

In this terminally-ill country, minors are strictly prohibited to smoke or drink by Tatemae laws. That means to these law-abiding zombies, it is quite OK for a 19-year-and-364-day-and-23-hour-and-59-minute-old person to buy a pack of cigarettes if he is ready to wait one more minute.

I’m really getting suffocated.

May 21, 5:37 JST
Title: RE: Unbreakable Chain of Oppression

Thanks for the painting and the poem. Maybe you are right; all you can do is to pray to the god. But actually I haven’t launched TokyoFreePress just to post prayers for these poor souls. And I have wanted to write a book to ask my American audience to join forces with me. What I expect from them is very simple: they should press their President and Congressmen to terminate the U.S.-Japanese security treaty right away just by invoking its Article 10 that calls for a 1-year prior notice. They needn't do us any favor. Actually this would be the only thing they could possibly do to save THEIR OWN COUNTRY, if at the cost of its Far Eastern ally. In other words, it’s about time for the Americans to stop acting like busybodies overseas as if they do not have serious problems back home.

Talking of prayers, my favorite one is the serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous, which I stumbled on when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse - Five. It may be a superfluous quotation for you, but just in case, it goes like this:


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference. ·

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TokyoFreePress Cannot Afford the Time to Waste on Tatemae Stuff
Authored by: samwidge on Saturday, May 21 2011 @ 08:29 PM JST


Each of you has my respect. Each of you offers such a broad array of ideas that it is necessary to pick and choose the most compelling and to leave the others.

Your mention of "refractory mental illness" sent me on a wild excursion to learn more. Worse yet, I found that the concept is extraordinarily broad and is a world full of ideas and contradictions, a Möbius strip of confusion and questing.

A cat can decide what to do with a bug. A dog can decide what to do with a cat. A lion can decide what to do with a dog.

But there is nobody to decide what to do with a man but another man. Rank or food-chain order have no bearing on what is made of each of us. Rational analysis is not yet possible.

Your discussions of mental illness are immensely valuable and, if there is ever to be success against mental illness, it will come from folks like you, not from lettered professionals. In the mental illness industry there is always somebody claiming new clinical success and there are always new mental illnesses. We learn new names for mental illnesses but we seem not to learn new cures. The alcoholic must first admit that he is an alcoholic and that he must live with it forever. Ditto for the suicidal person. Ditto for the rapist. Ditto for the habitual thief.

If tomorrow is better than today, it will be because you talked about it. If cures come, it will be because you thought them up.