Behind the beautiful masks

By Hassyah Abiyyu Putra

We view things not only from different sides, but with different eyes, we have no wish to find them alike. – Blaise Pascal

The quote by the French mathematician above might be applicable to the situation in France as one of the most advanced amongst developed countries. At the same time, it can also mirror other countries like beautiful Japan.

As most of us are aware, Japan is known to have attracted many tourists from all over the world to enjoy their authentic tradition and culture while at the same time it managed to export its electrical products, technology and inventions to every corner of the world.

Before the emergence of COVID-19, there is always a Japanese-related event being held in every country, including in Malaysia, which resulted in many people amazed by this country just from the animation, or the “anime” that the country produces.

Many young people from other countries might consider Japan as a place where they want to start a career, possibly begin a new life with their family. Yes, we can make our family proud by earning a huge salary, as well as having a happy family like what we imagined while watching anime or Dorama (Japanese TV series). However, does it mean as easy as it sounds?

One thing about Japan, suicide is a common thing. It is a common occurrence among Japanese people as is presumably widely known.

Usually, people commit suicide out of shame (which is not acceptable to mimic); shame, of course, may be beneficial (for example, guilt for committing crimes, corruption, etc.), but if you are ashamed enough to repent truly, there is no need to commit suicide.

There are many students in Japan who do not graduate as well as others who committed suicide due to a large amount of debt. In reality, there are “preferred” spots in Japan to commit suicide, like the Aokigahara forest and the Kegon waterfall. Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world.

Data from Asahi reveals the number of child suicides in 2021 up by almost 100 cases from last year. With a total of 415 cases, the number is the highest since 1974. Suicide in Japan is typically motivated by financial issues, such as being deeply in debt.

Every day, cases of crime, violence, fights, murders, and suicides are reported. Suicides by school pupils using poison gas occurred at least once a week. A 14-year-old committed suicide by creating his own toxic gas. Young children from elementary school through adults may quickly obtain all kinds of information, including delivering toxic gas, by utilising the internet which is incorrect.

Some say that the very high cost of living and declining social conditions in Japan have caused some Japanese people to think like “why work?”. Even getting a salary is still difficult at this time, it’s good not to have to work, don’t be tired, die is the solution.”

One of the reasons for the Japanese people often committing suicide is because of bullying. Like in other countries, bulling is always a serious problem.

Worse, teachers and parents are not always capable of dealing with social issues. Seniority is a very visible issue in Japan. This is the catalyst for Japan’s high number of bullying cases. Even if the culprits include not only students, but also professors who authorise pupils, the situation is dire. Bullying may take numerous forms, including direct physical aggression, mockery, ostracism, and so on.

Another trigger is the Japanese society’s homogeneity. They are so used to each other that they are terrified to be different, which is homogeneous and uniformity. Different people will become targets as a result of the engrained homogenous taste – in a positive or negative way, such as being smarter, having a strange hobby, being dumber, a stranger, etc.

In any case, they assessed based on habit, homogeneity, or not meeting group norms, and someone unusual became the bully’s target. Since childhood, this uniform structure of society has been there. As a result, it is difficult for foreign kids to be bullied simply because they are different from their peers.

The perpetrator is highly skilled at making it appear as if nothing had happened. Worse, anybody who reports a bully activity becomes the next victim to be bullied; therefore the surrounding environment will pretend as if they are unaware when they encounter someone who is bullied.

The problem worsens since many schools and instructors would aggressively deny the presence of a bully in their schools because they do not want their schools’ credibility to deteriorate. This “rotten” phenomenon makes the victims appear abandoned and forgotten by everyone, even by their own school.

In the case of the victims’ families, it is common for parents to be unaware that their child is being bullied at school. So, what’s the reason that parents don’t know, even if the house finds out sooner, it can be reported to the school right away?

One explanation is that parents are unconcerned about their kid’s illness, and another is that the victim does not want to notify his or her parents. Indeed, some children reported this problem to their parents, who then continued to report the matter to the school, but the situation deteriorated to the point where the school, which was generally lax, unable to prevent the perpetrators from becoming more violent in order to carry out attacks.

On a television news report on bully in Japan recently, a high school kid leaped from his residence; after being probed, it was discovered that he had previously been in the newspapers. This is demonstrated by the discovery of evidence such as schoolbooks containing writing that read “simply die!” This might be one of hundreds of behaviours committed by the offenders.

Seiko Oki, a Japanese student from IIUM, shared her concern about this case that took place in her country.

She said: “It’s absolutely wrong and not necessary. There is no reason to bully for whatever reason.  And one should not feel proud to bully. If there are people around you who are bullying, you should try to stop it immediately.”

If we can go back to the above quote, it can be said that just like in every part of this world, there is no such thing as a perfect country, since everything has its own good and bad. Based on the narratives mentioned, do such developments reduce or adversely influence your interest to study or look for a career in Japan? Or does it become a life challenge that you are prepared to face? ***

(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)

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