Letters to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
“Jaywalking argument ‘ends in fatal blow’” (December 26, 2011) is a window into what’s happening in contemporary Japan. It describes a November 12 incident in front of JR Oimachi Station where a middle aged pedestrian fatally beat an elderly man during a street level confrontation. If a simple exchange on the street over such a little thing as jaywalking can lead to a fatal confrontation then mightn’t it show how traditional courtesy, manners and mores are waning? Especially since the victim was an elderly man. Or, maybe it’s a good thing. A lot of older Japanese, especially men, pretend an entitlement to berate younger people on their perceived shortcomings. I have witnessed it first hand with considerable annoyance which I wisely restrain. Maybe it’s a feature of kohai/sempai relationships, where the junior has an obligation to respect, follow and acquiesce to the senior. However, some elderly act on this assumed entitlement in such an obnoxious way as to dangerously provoke others. I mean, enough elderly display enough rude behavior (when perfectly sober) to let us make the case that, if traditional manners are indeed waning then they are just as much the problem as younger people.
Rising crime statistics among the elderly prove that some have not yet risen above such folly, and daily rude behavior like what is described by the perpetrator of the November 12 incident shows that at least some others have still to learn to conduct themselves politely. Overall, younger Japanese have learned well, not poorly from their elders.