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Shutting out the sun

This is the title of a new book by Michael Zielenziger, who was the Tokyo bureau chief for the Knight-Ridder newspapers in the 1990s. He became interested in the emerging hikikomori problem in Japan, and the book is the result. Has anyone on my f-list (particularly jariten, jiawen, materia_indigo and revolutionaryjo) seen this book yet? If so, what did you think? There's an excellent review of the book at the Chicagoboyz website, and it really makes me want to get hold of the book, which seems to be chock-full of cultural goodness. (Rachel)

Post title also applies to today; it's that time of year when the Great Fusion Bomb In The Sky is especially harsh and shades must be drawn against it.

I didn't get laundry done last night, but I did get most of the dishes done and successfully burned a couple of mix CDs. Progress.

Last, a tech bleg: does anyone know how to make the shift key work to turn off the caps lock in XP? I can do this on my work box, which is running Win2K Pro, and on Cowzilla, which has XP Home, but the Optiplex has XP Pro and I can't find out how to make the shift key unlock caps. It's really playing hell with my typing. :(

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jariten
Jun. 26th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I have heard of the book, but have not been able to glance at it yet. I like how the review you linked mentions the lack of support groups in Japan - this is a huge issue, and I think it is one that may change over the next few decades. The 1990s finally saw the establishment of support groups for single mothers, hotlines for domestic abuse, and so forth. One can only hope that these services will gain traction and that people who need help will not be so afraid of "losing face" in the future if they choose to seek such services.

The hikkikomori issue is a tricky one, since the reasons people have for choosing to shut themselves in varies. Some don't want to join the rough, thankless lifestyle that the Japanese corporate world offers them, while others have suffered from being bullied or harassed. The solution for this problem won't be a simple one, although that seems to be the one that people are looking for.

In general, I think a lot of younger people feel that they don't have a lot of control over their nation or their surroundings (my favorite example: Kobe politicians are still building the Kobe airport that 70% of the people voted against). My pet theory is that once the more traditional elements of Japan's corporate and political world retire/pass away, Japan's younger generation could make some interesting changes to Japanese society. A few young CEOs are already implementing changes in the corporate world. Last Friday at the hostel in Santa Monica, I met a young woman from Japan who told me that she preferred working for a Merrill-Lynch branch office in Japan because the company requires no "unpaid overtime" and the atmosphere of the company is more relaxed than the atmosphere of a Japanese company. An indicator of things to come perhaps? We'll see...
wombat_socho
Jun. 26th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
My pet theory is that once the more traditional elements of Japan's corporate and political world retire/pass away, Japan's younger generation could make some interesting changes to Japanese society. A few young CEOs are already implementing changes in the corporate world. Last Friday at the hostel in Santa Monica, I met a young woman from Japan who told me that she preferred working for a Merrill-Lynch branch office in Japan because the company requires no "unpaid overtime" and the atmosphere of the company is more relaxed than the atmosphere of a Japanese company. An indicator of things to come perhaps?

I hope you're right, but sometimes I think the only hope for Japan in the long term is either a religious revival (the argument in that religion book that the Japanese tend to respond to social crises through inventing new religious syntheses is stuck in my head) or a large-scale return of expats from the Americas, but I don't think either one is terribly likely.
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