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IMPRESSIONS OF JAPAN
  Karl Arnold Belser
15 September 2016



Jackie and I took a 12 day tour of Japan. We went to Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shirakawa, Takayama, Kyoto, and Nara. The links for these cities give a good description of what we saw. We also ate every variety of food and did traditional activities such as origami. It was a great exposure to Japan and its culture.

Japan is unique among the nations of the world in that it is 98.5% ethnic Japanese. What appears to be true is that the people of Japan are domesticated in a way that causes them to behave cooperatively as a nation that is a living organism analogous to an ant colony.

I intend the analogy to an ant colony to be  a compliment . The Japanese people are law biding, industrious, cooperative, generous and welcoming. For example, there is no tipping because the Japanese people think that it is their duty to always do the best that  they can. It appears that just about everyone works at some task, even though the task might be very minimal.  Further the government provides a decent standard of living and health benefits to everyone. I wonder if the Japanese Nation has evolved to have the most advanced and successful Social Contract between the government and its people.

When one travels through the Japan countryside, one sees that the homes are mostly well kept with blue-black tile roofs. Instead of ornamental gardens, there are rice paddies everywhere. The rice was blooming yellow on our trip so that the scene was magnificent. It was also a veiled indicator that many Japanese citizens were engaged in food production at home. This shows, I think, how integrated the people are in the national survival.

On the other hand, Japan has a very low birth rate and a high suicide rate in young people. My first inclination is to view these facts as negative. However, the japanese society has intense domestication so that everyone is  essentially mandated to cooperate and give themselves to national service. One might view the suicide rate and the elilmination of those in society that cannot conform the this intense domestication. This culling of society members  would be considered awful in the US , but it appears that it might in fact be good for the national interest.

Regarding the low birth rate, I know from past visits to Japan that married women are second class citizens with little hope of escape. Both of our tour guides in Japan were middle aged women that were very successful but never married. They were clearly empowered to succeed and quite happy. This is only a sample of two, but I imagine that the birth rate might not recover until women have better rights in marriage.

Then I ask the question as to whether a shrinking population is bad. The Japanese population will shrink from about 125 million today to 95 million in 2050. Is this bad. I think not because the health of Japanese people is quite good in old age, so that people could work in old age. Further Japan is applying technology such as artificial intelligence and robots to effectively increase the work force. However, today the productivity per capita is declining, which in turn has put a lot of strain on the Japanese economy.

Japan has the highest public debt per capita in the world. This debt might cause a disaster in the future, but I doubt it. i think that the Japanese people will do whatever it takes to keep their society alive and vital, even if the public will have to make major adjustments to their standards of living.

Like with my comments about Cuba i my post  Cuba - A Social Experiment the United States might be able to learn from Japan. I love the fact it is still possible in the world today to have unique and interesting social experiments.
    
Last updated Septembr 15, 2016
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