If you love Japan, make it better. Our mission statement.

A note from the editor:
Criticism is caring.

If you don’t address social problems or recognise they exist, nothing changes. I love Japan and many Japanese people are hard-working, honest, and polite. That doesn’t mean the society doesn’t have problems, such as child poverty, gender inequality, discrimination against: the handicapped, women, foreigners, especially Korean Japanese—powerful organised crime, nuclear dangers, staggering injustice in the legal system, repression of the free press, sexual assault on women with impunity for many assailants, rampant labor exploitation, death by overwork, and political corruption. Ignoring the problems doesn’t make them better. If you are offended by that, rethink your love of Japan.

The Japanese government has stated: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and have the right to live with dignity. Many people in the world, however, are not able to enjoy their rights. The United Nations has thus engaged itself in activities to improve human rights situations. Japan strongly supports UN activities in the human rights field, believing that all human rights are universal
Is it unfair to expect Japan to live up to its promises?

The argument that “It’s worse in XXX (China,North Korea, US) so it’s okay to have XXX (sexism/racism/fascism/wage slavery/death by overwork) in Japan” is silly. It’s like the accused in a murder trail arguing, “I should be declared innocent because I only killed one person in the robbery but my partner killed three.” Some things are never okay. Whataboutism is the last resort of the intellectually dishonest weasel. (Sorry kids).

I don’t think that the work we do is shouting to the wind. Every effort matters. Sometimes sarcasm is an effective tool. We try to be polite in our response to the comments but rudeness is sometimes met with rudeness. 親しき仲にも礼儀あり

Does any of our work make a difference? Yes.
Actually, in my time as a reporter, me being “Jake Adelstein”, on editing duty today–criticism of huge problems in Japan, via articles that I have written and written with others, resulted in better laws against human trafficking, comprehensive measures to deal with dioxin pollution, and the Japanese government recently admitting that there is a huge problem with exploitation of underage girls that needs to be dealt with.

I and many of the writers on this blog who live in Japan, love this country, and loving a country doesn’t mean remaining a silent; it means speaking up about what is wrong, and correcting it. The effort doesn’t always work but sometimes it yields results. And people who can’t see any fault or social problems in their country or refuse to do anything about it or just as complicit in the rise “dark corporations,” greedy nationalists, death by overwork, exploitive enterprises, corrupt politicians, and the nuclear industrial complex that have done so much harm to the nation. For decades many warned of the dangers that TEPCO and its poorly managed nuclear power plants held. They were ignored. It doesn’t make them any less correct.

The battle to protect human rights, worker rights, equal rights, the environment, democracy, the public right to know, justice, gender equality and to fight poverty and end corruption are important struggles. All over the world. Japan is no exception.

I’m a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in training, which is a part of Japanese culture–surprise! I wouldn’t argue the metaphysics of Buddhism are true, but there are universal truths and there is a motto that I have as an editor and journalist and try to keep in my own personal life. Pardon the idealism but I believe this creed applies everywhere in the world.
So below is a modified version of our editorial policy, adapted from the Dhammapada (法句経). Thank you for your consideration.

Jake Adelstein, Japan Subculture Research Center, editor in chief

Conquer anger with compassion.
Conquer evil with goodness.
Conquer trolls with humour & sarcasm
Conquer ignorance with knowledge
Conquer stinginess with generosity. 
Conquer lies with truth

Comments
11 Responses to “If you love Japan, make it better. Our mission statement.”
  1. Yutanpo says:

    Those are exactly the words I was looking for.
    By the way, I’ve read somewhere that no library in Japan has wanted to publish your book “Tokyo Vice”, which is, I think, a very sad thing. The ones who should the most read this book are the japanese. Don’t you want to release a japanese version on the internet ?

  2. niki murata says:

    i totally agree with you. i’ve lived here a long time and i love this country but there are things that can be improved on. my big thing is traffic safety. it may not be the philiphines(scary!) but i just wish people would follow the bloody road rules. buckle your child in – duh! stop for pedestrians – hello! keep your head in-moshi moshi!!!

  3. Kagaya Aru says:

    The idea that Japan is such a nice country but it would be even better if foreigners could tweak it to their liking smacks of neocolonialism, white man’s burden, and missionaries bringing Christianity to the heathens.

  4. Amelia Sarif says:

    Ahhhhhh. You are my hero Mr Adelstein!

    For years I have studied Japanese and this has naturally led to an interest in moving to Japan for work. But the more time I spend studying Japan and learning about it, the more I come to understand, the more wary I have become. The work culture and strange and scary ways women are treated in Japanese society scares me. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The more I know, the more I don’t want to move there – but at the same time the more I do want to, so that I can experience the problems the society faces for myself and work towards doing something about it.

    It is heartening to know that there are people like you (and your team and associates!) out there leading the charge. Thankyou for existing and caring and doing the work you do. It renews my hope that it is possible for small groups and individuals to be the catalyst for change.

    • subcultureist subcultureist says:

      Thank you for the kind words. There’s a lot in Japan to like but there’s much that could be better.

  5. Charles says:

    Good afternoon, I enjoyed reading your books and often follow your writing online and in the Japan Times. I respect your insight and opinion on many of the Japan-related topics that you cover. However, in the past I’ve observed you criticizing men, both Japanese and otherwise, who involve themselves in “pick-up artist” culture and/or seduction science.

    I can understand that there may be unseemly side to that topic, such as the Real Social Dynamics instructor who filmed himself sexually harassing women in Japan a few years ago. However, most men become interested in that topic because they are a failure with women. As the field of evolutionary psychology has shown with numerous and extensive academic research studies, there is an actual science to generating attraction in the opposite sex. So, if a man (or woman) finds themselves at a disadvantage with it, then it stands to reason as part of self-improvement that they would find people who are good at it (or claim to be good at it) and learn and apply the techniques and behaviors to increase their success at attraction.

    Please don’t shame or bully men who study “game” or charisma/seduction science in order to improve their lives. The vast majority do so with the best intentions. Remember, the man who committed the Akihabara massacre, and others, have stated that their misogyny and murderous frustration was largely fueled by lack of success with women.

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