Thursday, May 06, 2004

Japan : Myths and Realities


People often ask: Is Japan best place to live, and what makes it a successful economy?

No one would vouch that Japan is the paradise to live in the world but when we compare to other parts of the world it stands out. We don’t hear the stories of Japanese fleeing the country in rickety boats like we see with the Vietnamese, Cubans or Indians/ Pakistanis flocking immigration agencies to migrate to Canada, Australia or New Zealand. However, out of the 100 plus countries or so on this planet, there are only a handful of countries where one can find a perfect blend of high standard of living coupled with bountiful nature, pollution free environment, negligible crime, excellent social benefits with courteous nationals who have tremendous sense of national pride. It seems this country is devoid of any infectious disease, starvation, terrorism, religious in-tolerance and militant labor force. Japan is by no means perfect, but on relative terms it is far superior to most.

Living in Japan is arduous and often stressful. With cramped apartments, traveling in crowded trains in long travel hours. Yet lifestyle is comfortable when compared to western countries and luxurious to others. Apartments have all sorts of gadgets to make life easy and functional. Trains are not just super-fast and punctual on the dot. Groceries and restaurants at arms length combined with ever-present vending machines that spew out all types of eatables and beverages.

I wonder if there is any word combining “possessed and obsessed“. Japanese sarariman (salary man) would aptly fit that description. You may unlikely find any person on the face of the earth who would go to sleep keeping his pending work in front of eyes and springing out of bed to scurry up to reach his office. Mind you, he does this by his sheer will and not by any compulsion or necessity. If you look at the average workman elsewhere, are they really going to work because they want to? If that were the case, they wouldn't need time cards or supervisors to monitor them. I can't believe that the Indian carpenter or plumber is excited to wake up in the morning and go to work. Most likely he does so because he has to.

It is often commented Japanese achieve most economic targets by subjugating his freedom and will. And system make him live in robotic way. In Japanese society, obedience is the hallmark of any working relationship. As subordinates they work hard like a slave just to meet exacting demands and the pleasures of their boss. When it comes to working relationships between subordinate and boss. Even army personnel would be made to shy. The subordinate is at the mercy of his boss both in thoughts and actions. It seems that he has ceased his own identity and thoughts. People who grew up in an environment of openness would scoff at this situation. But don’t be under the impression that Boss is having merry because everyone reports to everyone else, how can the boss have pleasure? Isn't the boss still a slave to another boss and therefore has no freedom of will? Bottom-line: Results are stupendous for everyone to see. Be it a manufacturing process or nation building.

And this work-culture transcends from work, home to society in general. The whole community work without any objection to any impediments or difficulties by putting their best inputs into their life thereby totally surrendering themselves to work.

But i do wonder
Will this sustain in coming generations ??

1 Comments:

Anonymous Yaja said...

Dear Googly,
Now that's a funny name.
You have maintained an excellent site...Your articles are refreshingly alive and extremely diverse. You seem to be a man of many interests and a lot of passion.I liked yr poem about yrself. I am sure people who know you well enough remember you for more than one thing. good luck !

11:47 AM  

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