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    "Goatism" - Gisheisha and Urami

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    Kyouri Kai
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    "Goatism" - Gisheisha and Urami

    Post by Kyouri Kai on Fri 22 Feb 2008, 2:35 pm

    The term goatism comes from scapegoat, and for a time was a frequently used buzzword by the Japanese. Japanese also have very positive traits, but this is not one of them. In many instances, Japanese love to think of themselves as the victim -- when trade frictions grow, when international criticism of Japanese stances mounts, or especially when it comes to responsibility for WWII, Japanese often retreat into a scapegoat or persecution complex. The fact that their export frenzies and occasional cases of dumping have brought hardship and unemployment in their target countries rarely dawns on them. Perhaps the best example of this was 20 years ago when Mitsubishi and Hitachi were accused of espionage against IBM to gain industrial secrets. Yet in the Japanese press IBM was villified of hatching a plot of entrapment along with the FBI against 2 innocent and successful Japanese firms. The Japanese are just doing their best, producing things people want. What could possibly be wrong with that?

    The Japanese vs. The Borg

    Ok, boys and girls, it's test time! Ever see the Borg on Star Trek? Ever wonder if the Japanese are really the Borg in disguise? See if you can tell which said the following statements!

    "Let's all live in a harmonious society" (whether you like it or not).

    "We only wish to raise quality of life".

    "We are not Saracens, we do not come as invaders to sow desolation...we offer our knowhow, better quality of life, greater reliability, and the beauty of sound and image."

    "You're nothing but raw materials to them."

    "You will be assimilated!! Resistance is futile!!!"

    A little tough? The first and third are from Japan -- the third was a full page ad in the French newspaper Le Monde after growing criticism that Japanese mass-exports of VCRs to France were seriously hurting the economy and draining foreign exchange reserves. But the Japanese have extreme difficulty in seeing things objectively when Japan is involved. When things go well, the whole world is just jealous at how hard Japanese work. When things go bad, suddenly it hasn't anything to do with me. When the Japanese military in WWII overran other forces, the whole country rejoiced. When the war was lost, it was the army that was guilty, not me. This attitude is still in the A-bomb Museums in Nagasaki and Hiroshima -- never a word about the war or its causes; only one day the Japanese went out to work as usual and this big bad bomb was dropped on them. Want to know what happens when some Japanese brings up the subject? Ask the former mayor of Nagasaki -- he made a statement that Japanese should discuss Hirohito's role and possible amount of guilt, and a right-wing kook promptly shot him. So much for a debate in Japan. Many Japanese have their noses so hard-pressed against the grindstone that they can't see the forest for the trees. The majority of Japanese are not well educated or are indifferent about the past. And many Japanese wonder why many SE Asians still harbor ill-will towards Japan. Periodically, without fail, some Japanese politician makes a remark that Japan's "advance" into Asia (not "invasion" -- that term was purged from textbooks by the Japanese Ministry of Education) was all well intentioned, and the Rape of Nanking et al either never happened or was grossly exaggerated. And this view doesn't come from the kook fringe, it comes from the elite leading the country. If this is the way Japan's leaders act, it's no surprise that other nations still hold a grudge. Until recently all Japanese music was banned in Korea. And the Chinese, despite having a massive superiority in military might as well as nuclear weapons, is still hypersensitive when it sees anything like an active military in Japan. Of course, the subject is never brought up in Japan. The image of harmony is very important, and so the Japanese try to avoid open conflict wherever possible. And to be fair, the Japanese may have a lot of Groupthink, but no, they don't all act as one like The Borg. The stereotype of "Japan Inc." is false -- within the government, the parties, the companies, and the company departments you find sub-groups, all working strongly against eachother for more money, budget, power, etc. Only when the diverse groups agree on something (like keeping foreign goods out as much as possible) is anything decided and implemented quickly. The Japanese are NOT hate-mongers, it must be re-iterated; they don't froth at the mouth when you bring up these subjects, rather they think what they are taught to think. You'll find the Japanese are very open, gracious and kind to westerners in Japan. On television Japanese spend a lot of time patting eachother on the back on how supposedly "unique" they are. The problem comes when someone in charge takes that one step further and thinks unique is really "superior".

    The term "giseisha" means victim, or sacrifice. It is also used when things don't go the right way. No one wants to take responsibility for reform in Japan if it offends those who pull the strings (even if it benefits the nation as a whole). "Gaiatsu", or pressure from abroad (usually for political reform the Japanese bureaucrats are too constipated to do themselves), is often used as a whipping boy. Japanese also have one other noticeable trait -- the Urami Complex. Urami means envy, and Japanese are keenly aware of what others in their group have or get. Many Japanese motives are based on envy, and while equality in the west means a fair chance for all, in Japan it's more like spoiled children thinking, "if I can't have it, neither can anyone else". Japanese society itself has been pictured as a round table, with everyone sitting around it -- and viewing what everyone else has or does. Being branded as someone who causes trouble (meiwaku) is the worst scarlet letter (even if you are just standing up for yourself) and almost carries the stigma of child killer in the West. Lots is spoken about harmony and being equals in a group. So in office politics there might appear to be a lot of non-committal attitudes and indifference, and lots of smiles and superficial agreements to avoid open conflict. But not everyone can end up as CEO or section manager, etc. so there must be a weeding out along the way. Behind the smiles and polite courtesies there are often feelings of resentment and stress, often from being in a cramped room with others for 5-7 days a week, as well as from jockeying for position on who'll get promoted. If the Japanese are really so happy and harmonious, why are they gulping down liquor and chain-smoking their lungs out every day? Behind the veneer you'll find a lot of stress and pressure which is kept well hidden.

    taken from Japanese Culture: A Primer for Newcomers