Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I agree with Jeffrey Snow’s remarks about the media’s successful role in brainwashing the Japanese public about immigrant foreigners (“The media’s view of foreigners,” December 2). Politics, the media and the public are awash in mistaken notions about foreign crime, the relationship between terrorism and foreigners, and the role, the intention, and the efficacy of fingerprinting us. Listening to Japanese talk on these issues is like listening to a cascade of hogwash - maybe useful if agriculture is my line of work. But it isn’t. Japan is equally awash in a plethora of weird domestic religious sects which defy the Western imagination and constitute a more imminent threat of crime and terror in this country.
My point is that it seems uncannily easy to brainwash Japanese. People are naturally gullible because they want to believe something as well as believe in something, and they will believe anything at all if it sounds convincing (which is easy enough). Why do Japanese have a weakness in this regard? Japanese culture has a long history of importing and adapting foreign ideas and technology. But it seems they do so insufficiently. Stuck with an unfortunate language filled with vague “aimai” expressions they lack the ability to critically analyze things and then logically espouse their own ideas.
Rhetoric here amounts to unembellished repetition of a single point (an antique cultural import from China, I suspect). Just listen to political candidates campaigning. Completely void of substantive ideas they simply shout their names repeatedly. Listen to a Japanese person trying to debate a point - whaling, fingerprinting foreigners, pressing for sanctions against North Korea, etc. They start by stating their conclusion and then repeat it again and again without offering a logical progression of sound points to fill out the argument leading to the conclusion that they started with in the first place. That is why Japan has a reputation in the world that courtesy prevents me from describing.
But I could be wrong.
Published on Sunday, December 9, 2007 as “Japanese seem easy to brainwash.”
Japanese are easy to brainwash because they are measurably more passive and unquestioning that foreigners here or Western societies in general. People here do not sufficiently debate important public issues. Maybe the same can be said about Canada, but it is even truer here, I think, which leaves it to foreigners to do the debating/arguing. To serve the myth of social harmony people are too passive, hence “easy to brainwash.” Well, as I have written before, partly it is due to culture, but it is also party due to the fact that people not only want to believe things, but they want to believe in them as well. I say it is evidence of the spiritual aspect of our natures. Others might just say it is evidence of an emotional need founded in conditioning, or something like that.