I think Japan is a good country but is far from being a great country. Japan has many things going for it, but the country as a whole needs to afford itself more time to rest and enjoy life’s pleasures. Mental illness, depression, substance abuse (alcohol), and suicide are the results of an educational system and a labour system which demand far too much time and energy, leaving people to question exactly what it is they are living for. The war ended, however, the rhetoric of giving yourself for your country was transferred to the corporations who expect employees to sacrifice body, mind and soul, with little promise of improvements to their situation.
This is also drastically impacting Japan’s economy which has been gradually taking a turn for the worse. The cost of living in Japan is steadily increasing while minimum starting salaries have stagnated and the relatively low annual raises can’t keep up with the rising costs. Combine this with what little free time workers have to spend that money, in addition to the price-gouging that occurs during extend national holidays such as Golden Week and Obon where they actually have time to enjoy some of their hard earned cash, and most of that money ends up in other countries, or remains pilled up in the bank collecting dust.
If Japan finally did away with war-time labour practices, I believe that alone would fix many of the socio-economic problems that this country faces. Let people enjoy some freedom. Give them something to live for other than the unhealthy demands of the corporations.
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The safety of bus routes? What are they going to do? Install metal detectors? X-ray passengers? Post armed guards at every stop? How about actually putting an effort into funding programs dealing with mental health awareness and therapy? It’s sickening to watch this country shift the blame from one thing to the other while never admitting that Japanese society has serious problems which cause the mental deterioration of countless numbers of its citizens.
Don’t let the lives lost in this incident be in vain. Japan needs to rally together and start talking openly about mental health issues. Bring awareness and understanding so that these people have somewhere to turn when they need help, rather than feeling fear and anxiety at the thought of further rejection and seclusion from a society that shuns people for being different. Mental health is not a choice, it is a condition that is shaped by the social world we are raised in.
We are all to blame for what happened this week and it is our responsibility to carry this burden and do right by those who suffer because we refuse to help one another. Look your sons and daughters in the eyes and remember that in this society, any one of them could end up a victim of mental health issues. They weren’t born destined to take their own lives or to harm others but they have just as much potential as any one else to do so in the future.
We shouldn’t be looking to prevent someone from harming others or committing suicide. We should be looking to prevent the thought itself from ever entering a person’s mind. Japan needs to create a better quality of life for it’s citizens. A healthy heart and a healthy mind are the best defense we can have in preventing such tragedies from reproducing themselves day after day, year after year. An individual’s mental health is a reflection of society as a whole.
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