Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
Depak Basu is right that I am a Western man (“Western work ethic is wanting,” Japan Times, July 18, 2013). But that alone does not disqualify my observations. In fact, one reason I live in Japan and have done so for so many years is that my personal values seem to be so out of sync with the prevailing values of my home country that living here is more comfortable for me. Is the same true of other long-term foreign residents? Maybe the paper can do a survey. I have found my home in Asia with an Asian woman whom Reina Mizuno of Harvard University, quoted by Nicolas Gattig (“‘Yellow fever’ and the fantasy of the Asian female", Japan Times, June 25, 2013) would call my fetish. (I don’t, though. Wait until you meet her before you judge.) I guess I just dig Asian values. I am for obfuscation, evasion, blanket denial, and dumb passivity. I can tolerate the endemic level of masochism that resides here. I may have a secret regard for those who habitually steal umbrellas and bicycles, drive through red lights, smoke in the designated non-smoking areas, disregard women and urinate in public.
However, Japan is not an ideal of harmony, understanding and compassion. Not because of the corrupting influences of Western culture but as a manifestation of its own nature. There is a level of violence, dissatisfaction and miscommunication here to provide data for hundreds of anthropology and sociology theses. Ayako Mie (“Unpaid overtime excesses hit young,” Japan Times, June 25, 2013) was not writing about the harmonious and successful function of the workplace, but rather its aptitude for dysfunction and abuse. Sometimes fatal abuse. Is dysfunction another Asian value?
Published on Thursday, July 25, 2013 as "Asian aptitude for dysfunction."
The same day another letter rebutting Dipak Basu's July 18th letter "Western work ethic is wanting," "Myth of the 'virtuous' worker" by Paul Gaysford of Tokyo. Paul Gaysford and I seem to have similar views about many things.