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Japan to help Bhutan brush up 'happiness' census

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Japan should spend their time working on boosting their own countries happiness before thinking about helping another country to be happy.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I don't think these Japanese experts, mostly economists and statisticians I assume, will be giving advice on how to be happier. They will just be improving the methodology on how the statistical data is collected and interpreted.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Does Bhutan know Japan leads the world in suicides?

Urban myth. Eastern Europe's your world suicide capital.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

No gogogogo, they are not happiness experts. They are researchers who specialize in social metrics.

I don't see any problem with Japan helping another country.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

A Japanese revered as Dasho Nishioka in Bhutan connected the bridge of friendship between the two nations.

Nishioka-san is greatly remembered and loved by all Bhutanese people.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Bhutan's happiness index is one of the great public relations coups of all time.

This from wikipedia:

"In the 1990s, Bhutan expelled or forced to leave nearly one-fifth of its population in the name of preserving its Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist culture and identity, claiming that those expelled were illegal residents.The decision was motivated by the concern that the fast growing Nepali minority would take over the country, recalling similar events that caused the collapse of the nearby kingdom of Sikkim in 1975."

The dominant Ngalop ethnic group may have their reasons for forcing all the other ethnic groups in the country to wear the Ngalop dress. They may have there reasons for wanting to to expel the Nepali minority. But when we discuss Bhutan and its happiness, why do we pretend this never happened?

It is not a question of agree or disagree. After what happened in Sikkim, there may indeed be two sides to the story. But more than right or wrong, it's a question of denial and truth.

In this make believe world of never-ending Bhutanese happiness, were forced expulsions along racial lines a figment of our collective imagination.

Do the Beldangi refugee camps simply not exist?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I don't think these Japanese experts, mostly economists and statisticians I assume, will be giving advice on how to be happier. They will just be improving the methodology on how the statistical data is collected and interpreted.

The Bhutanese recognized Japan's talent at data collection and measurement. The exercise should benefit both parties.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

JICA Social Metrics Researchers: "Are you happy?"

Bhutan villagers: "Yes. We have 10,000 years of wisdom helping us to stay in a contented and happy state."

JICA SMR: "No, you are not. Your salary is sadly lower than x. You do not have washlets. Your roads need surfacing. Your internet infrastructure is non-existent. Your schools embarrassingly have no computers. Now, let me ask you again. Are you happy?"

Deflated Bhutan villagers. "Oh, well, if you put it that way..."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan? Help measure happiness?

Does Bhutan know Japan leads the world in suicides?

maintaining a barter economy and allowing few foreigners to visit.

Pay attention Japan, this is your future. Barter and no foreigners....

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I could see Japanese experts help in a survey of how to feign happiness (with a warning at the bottom that you'll eventually snap), but that's it. In any case, it's not about how to improve happiness, but how to improve survey techniques. Not sure that's a specialty here, either, but if they can help in an effective manner, good on them.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Good point, @smithinjapan. They're going to help with the methodology, not advise on happiness.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

jpn_guy, so ignorant bliss is not the whole story, right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Appalling how people seize on every opportunity to bash Japan and Japanese culture. The bottomline is if you are feeling suicidal in Japan, move out. Alternatively, go drink yourself silly. It helps.

Incidentally, Japan does not lead the world in suicide per capita rates. Greenland does, followed by Lithuania, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Poland and China. That represents a I think slightly over a quarter of the world population, not to mention the many countries where people die easily enough without having to kill themselves. It is sad that many people believe in this bit of bollocks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Analysis paralysis is really going to improve happiness.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

CrickyJun. 23, 2014 - 09:07AM JST

And the Japanese are well known for their "Happy" society. Of all the nations on earth Japan is known for being a jovioul and rib ticking society the sound of laughter resonates just before first light. What an awesome choice to improve happiness.

That sums it up. The word happiness doesnt exist in japan. The only honest smile see you from small kids before they enter school age... rest is fake, plastic and i wonder how they all must feel. everyone low on serotonin. Japan is a kinda mix between no common sense robot styl kinder garden and mental institution.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

So it's an issue of quantifying data. Wonder if Japan will compare the data to Costa Rica and the Scandinavian countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does anyone know why happiness is disappearing those day? Does anyone has an idea why all the inventions from the past 200years come manly from countries with very cold climate . Answer is: where does the people with most fears live in past 100 000years? And those fears are driving them to new inventions. And than they infest the whole planet with it. Hope they dont forget to bring iphones, facebook, google etc... to bhutan too... cos this is where western people get their happiness those days. almost everyone is disconnected and living in a fake reality. japan the best example how a western country stuff up a traditional society.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No, I don't think ignorant bliss should be the whole story. I'm not Bhutanese. I never been to Bhutan or met anyone from Bhutan. I don't have a dog in this particular fight. I can understand that when a neighboring kingdom has been subsumed into India the Bhutanese government may have reason to worry about the future of their nation.

But harassment, denial or residence and ultimately forced expulsions on racial lines? It's a huge issue that cannot simply be sidestepped, particularly when Bhutan is so often spoken of as a place that has figured out out to solve the ills of the human races. Bhutan's promotional campaign based on GNH needs to be put next to the honest truth that, whatever the original reasons, the Bhutanese government led a campaign of ethnic cleansing (in the literal sense, fortunately not in the genocidal sense).

When the King and Queen came to Japan, the media had a huge love-in what with Bhutan being a fellow Buddhist nation and the queen being extremely photogenic. The happiness index was covered by uncritically by kowtowing journalists and Bhutan received a huge PR boost.

What will the people who saw that fawning coverage think if they discover that the Bhutanese government (though of course not the king and queen personally) robbed 10s of thousand of families of the homes they had lived in and plunged then into economic misery? Where's the index for measuring that?

Maybe you could argue that the refugee issue is a irrelevant to this news story. Maybe you could argue that it is not relevant to stories of royal visits. Maybe you could even argue that it is irrelevant to measuring happiness. But that's the problem.

Just when is it relevant? Just when is it OK to talk about the Bhutanese refugees?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Despite having the lowest crime, addiction, divorce, obesity rates in the world, Japan comes out low on happiness because they are honest whereas folks from other countries tend say that everything about themselves is better than it is in study after study after study

Those things you mentioned don't necessarily measure happiness though.

Crime: this probably won't alter someone's happiness unless they are personally the victim of a major crime.

Addiction: They are probably happy being addicted.

Divorce: They are probably happier separated than feeling obligated to stay with someone they no longer love or doesn't have sex with them.

Obesity: Obese people are some of the jolliest people of all.

Also things like lack of daycare, nursing homes, etc. work against Japan. People are forced to take care of their relatives and basically have no life of their own. My wife's brother, for instance, had a stroke and now can't walk or do anything on his own, so my mother-in-law has to take care of him almost 24-7. He is eligible for special care but of course there is no institution that will take him because they are all too full. And this means I can never hand my kid off to grandma and go on a date with my wife, etc, which can be stressful for us as well, even if it is nothing compared to what she has to go through.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The JICA personnel is probably statistical and survey techniques Management Staff... you don't have to be happy to know and give advice in these technical matters. Also it is highly unlikely that the Japanese staff goes out and make the survey, even I doubt the participation in the elaboration of the content of the survey is going to be of a great deal.

And even if the Japanese Staff are going to Bhutan to give advice in happiness... well, you can give advise on happiness being unhappy. You can talk about what makes you feel unhappy and that is advice too.... (again this is not what JICA staff are going to do, surely).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wasting of valuable resources, should spend more money and resources looking after the homeless back home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Of all the countries to ask for aid in this matter I wonder why they chose Japan. Also does this nice way to measure "wealth" really need any tweaking? What's the matter with the way it is?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And the Japanese are well known for their "Happy" society. Of all the nations on earth Japan is known for being a jovioul and rib ticking society the sound of laughter resonates just before first light. What an awesome choice to improve happiness.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Just get on a train and it's like a party, big smiles everyone dancing and smiling, in Japan a stranger is just a friend you have not met yet. Go Bhutan, your on a winner, time to increase the tax too, think they also need N-power for their happiness.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I wonder if they'll ask the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Nepalese who were by expelled by the Bhutanese and ended up living in refugee camps how "happy" they are?

Or perhaps the Japanese "experts" would prefer not to know. I'm sure whatever data is produced will be really illuminating....

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It is a shame that there is all this emphasis on happiness surveys. Despite having the lowest crime, addiction, divorce, obesity rates in the world, Japan comes out low on happiness because they are honest whereas folks from other countries tend say that everything about themselves is better than it is in study after study after study (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999). The only people that are honest about themselves in some societies are those suffering from depression (Taylor and Brown, 1988).

There are I believe however ways of measuring East Asian happiness non-verbally. The Japanese come out far happier in their auto-photography when judged by both Japanese and non Japanese. There is also research to show that people draw that which they value larger (Bruner & Goodman, 1947) and Japanese children draw themselves about 1.6 times larger than US children (La Voy et al., 2001), which is about the same ratio of difference in linguistically measured "self-esteem," and probably happiness, except in the opposite direction (Heine et al., 1999, p776).

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The topic is about happiness. Does anyone even have a definition what happiness really is? Here it comes: less fear=less action=more serotonin=more happiness! If you want more happiness stop running, stop thinking, stop trying to find it in materialistic world... beat your fears and not constant run away from it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My tip: send the researchers home and spend the money on the people. That will improve GNH. Simple but effective.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If anyone knows how to spin depressing data in a favorable light, it's the Japanese. Just think of how many people are still walking around shocked and confused about Japan's World Cup results.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Japan is to dispatch experts

Japan has happiness experts? I really don't think that is correct.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Why does Bhutan seek help to Japan? Japan has a high suicide rate among developed countries.

This sounds like a blind is led by another blind to disaster..

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

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