Welcome to the Sheep Year!
Of course, nobody wants to be a sheep. We’re more like watchdogs here at Japan Subculture Research Center. Benevolent wolves.
Not being able to think of anything better, I’m borrowing the benedictions below, which are also the vows of a Bosatsu 菩薩, a Buddha who postpones entering Nirvana to help the world. They are, at least in spirit, the vows of a Buddhist priest in Soto Zen.
I keep them in mind now and then. Selections taken from The Dhammapada and the works of Shanti Deva, Buddhist philosopher.
The sentiment may be maudlin, the wish is heartfelt.
May we all:
Overcome anger with peace.
Overcome evil with good.
Overcome greed with generosity.
Overcome liars with truth.
May all beings everywhere
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.
May no living creature suffer,
Commit evil or ever fall ill.
May no one be afraid or belittled,
With a mind weighed down by depression.
May the blind see forms,
And the deaf hear sounds.
May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food.
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy.
May the forlorn find hope,
Constant happiness and prosperity.
May all who are ill or injured
Quickly be freed from their ailments.
Whatever diseases there are in the world,
May these never occur again.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed.
May the powerless find power
And may people benefit each other.
5 thoughts on “Happy New Year 2015! Beware of the Wolves, Don’t be a Sheep, and Take Care of Your Flock :D”
Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims (Japanese：人身取引被害者サポートセンター ライトハウス) is a nonprofit organization based in Tokyo, Japan working to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery. It is formerly known as “Polaris Project Japan” (Japanese: ポラリスプロジェクトジャパン).
Lighthouse was founded in August 2004 by Shihoko Fujiwara. The following year, Lighthouse established the only nationwide consultation hotline for trafficking victims and those wishing to report possible trafficking activity in Japan. Since then, the consultation hotline has been used as a source of trafficking tips throughout the nation. The hotline provides consultations to about a hundred victims or family members annually.
In addition to maintaining its consultation and tip hotline, the organization also engages in public awareness and advocacy work. In 2011, Lighthouse’s Director and Founder Shihoko Fujiwara was named one of the “100 People Remaking Japan” by AERA Magazine and in 2012 she spoke about the Japanese sex trade at the TED@Tokyo Talent search.
People in the manga industry, however, sees things very differently.
“If you believe that manga is a form of child pornography,” said one person in the industry, “then you must think Japan is a capital for it. But if you look at such crimes as rape, Japan’s levels seem to be lower than some other countries, even though some manga feature this. I don’t think the connection between manga and the crimes pedophiles commit is so strong.”
The industry says that the indulgence in fantasy can keep people from practicing their desires in reality, in effect preventing the harm of others.
The trial of an alleged pedophile marks a significant victory for those campaigning to see the exploitation of the vulnerable end in Japan. But it does not mark the end.
The case also casts a harsh light on the links between abuse in manga and the real world in a way few have before, and asks uncomfortable questions about Japan’s role in the distribution of pornography involving minors and global efforts to combat the abuse of children.
In extreme cases, privacy can even mean the difference between life and death. Besides the close-knit groups that practice child abuse, the movies and images also act as an income stream for the yakuza, even if many in the mob do not appreciate their counterparts’ involvement in the trade.
“There is a hierarchy of moral values in the yakuza world: trafficking women and child pornography are very low, very bad,” Adelstein says. “And then there’s (bar) hosts. They think of hosts as the scum of the earth. In terms of the yakuza though, anyone who is involved in child pornography — not the distribution, but are actually in it or are molesting kids — they are dead meat. I know one case of a guy who molested a 4-year-old girl in a neighborhood where (the yakuza) were present and they chopped his arm off and dropped him off at the hospital.”
For Polaris, the work of helping to catch abusers of children will continue, along with its battle against human trafficking. The organization sees the two crimes as linked.
“Child abuse can be physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect, it happens anywhere,” Polaris Japan director Shihoko Fujiwara tells The Japan Times. “The kids (that are abused) are especially vulnerable though, because they don’t have anybody to protect them. I meet a lot of kids who survive by selling their body because that is how they have to survive. Those kids who are abused are easy targets for traffickers, whose aim is huge profit from sexual exploitation.”