June 25, 2012

Japanese: Guilt or Shame?

A Western journalist who has written a true crime book about the hunt for a Tokyo serial rapist complains that Japanese police aren't very good at the police procedural stuff that makes for popular true crime books in the West because the Japanese people are so law-abiding:
The [Japanese] police believe that because Japan is one of the world’s most crime-free societies, they must be great crime fighters. In fact, the opposite is true: Japan is peaceful, safe and regimented not because of, but despite, the frequently disgraceful performance of its guardians. ... Certain policing — the local, grass-roots work of directing traffic, helping confused pedestrians and reassuring people that everything is under control — is done very well in Japan. But against out-of-the-ordinary crimes, the Japanese police are ill equipped. 
One reason: Japanese investigators rely on confessions far more than their Western counterparts. The police are skilled at persuading suspects — guilty or not — to confess. (In this they are aided greatly by their ability to hold a suspect without charge for up to 23 days). Without an admission of guilt, prosecutors are reluctant to charge. But the dependence on confessions means Japanese detectives are not used to building cases and proving guilt. 
In researching a book about the notorious killer and serial rapist Joji Obara, who operated for years under the noses of the police, I talked to detectives who were almost indignant about his refusal to confess. The idea that cunning, stubbornness and lies were to be expected from a criminal — that it was in order to deal with such people that the police existed — didn’t seem obvious to them at all. In their minds, they weren’t incompetent or unimaginative or lazy. They were the unlucky victims of that rare thing in the world’s most law-abiding country: the dishonest criminal.
Richard Lloyd Parry, the Asia editor for The Times of London, is the author of “People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo — and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up.” 

The Japanese take confessing and apologizing seriously. In the U.S., when a company screws up, the initial impulse is to pin the blame not on the CEO but on some hapless underling. When a Japanese roller coaster broke and killed somebody in Osaka in 2007, however, the head of the roller coaster company practically disemboweled himself on national TV. 

Is this guilt or shame? That's one of those distinctions that sounds really useful in theory, but I have a hard applying in the real world.

41 comments:

jody said...

after fukushima, the president of TEPCO resigned, which was the honorable thing to do. that was out of shame.

but it also showed, as with the japanese detectives who aren't good detectives, that the japanese are not nearly as smart as the asian supremacists say they are. they absolutely, positively could not handle the fukushima situation, were completely clueless on what to do or what was even happening in their own power plant, and had to be saved by the french and the americans.

this is one reason i got into nuclear reactor research as a hobby a few years ago. because reactors need to be made safer, that is to say, they need to fail safely. they cannot be actively cooled and must deactivate into an inert state. and certainly, we can build reactors which can get to these standards. if we put in the time and the money.

but the asians sure can't. i wouldn't trust most nations with actively cooled fission reactors, which is one reason the critics are correct about these things not being "the answer". although nuclear power generation, in the abstract, is indisputibly the answer. you always move up the energy ladder, not down it. windmills are a 500 year step backwards on the energy ladder. you don't power a year 2000 industrial nation on windmills.

by the way, the amount of coal being burned right now is greater than ever in the history of the world, and the rate is growing, not declining. time to transition away from coal with better, safer, cheaper nuclear reactors. instead of spending 100 billion a year accomplishing nothing in afghanistan and getting 1 american killed every 2 days, maybe obama could go nuclear and put the afghanistan budget into the energy department national labs.

Steve Sailer said...

The media coverage, even in the U.S., of the Fukushima disaster was hilariously inane and upbeat. Three days in a row a different building blows up, and the press keeps doubling down on how there's nothing to worry about. I almost believed them after the first explosion, but two more buildings blow up and I came to the brilliant conclusion: not good ...

Anonymous said...

LOL. When I was living in Japan, I read about a case in Tokyo where a grown man dressed in a squirrel costume (yes, that's right, a squirrel costume) had been sexually molesting young girls for years before he was finally arrested. How hard can it be to find a man dressed in a squirrel costume?

DaveinHackensack said...

I don't think the Fukushima disaster means the Japanese aren't smart -- they clearly are -- but it may be the result of some weaknesses of their society/culture. E.g., maybe lower level Japanese engineers realized the danger of that model of reactor but in a more hierarchical society there is more risk in challenging the status quo?

tommy said...

Confessions would be a mix. Criminals, of course, are less likely to feel either guilt or shame than the average Joe.

If you want a definition that could eventually be empirically validated, then think of shame as the tendency to feel bad for breaking rules based on the possibility of ridicule, embarrassment, and sanction. Think of guilt as the tendency to feel bad for breaking rules in spite of the improbability of such events. Shame is an external compass while guilt is an internal one. (The actual rules, of course, vary from one society to the next.)

I suspect Arabs and Pashtuns are highly shame-based cultures. The same goes with Africans. In contrast, the Japanese are probably a highly guilt-based culture. I suspect European societies fall somewhere between these extremes. Some of these honor/shame societies of East Asia would probably be better defined as honor/guilt societies.

Anonymous said...

"The Japanese take confessing and apologizing seriously."

True, but then paradoxically this is so because it's not seen as a virtue. In America, confessing or apologizing is no big deal since one is usually forgiven UNLESS it's about something really serious. Otherwise, "I'm sorry, you're sorry, he's sorry, she's sorry" is an ingrained part of our culture. We have a live-and-let-live culture, and so we can apologize, fess up, and move on.
It's not disgraceful to admit mistakes. Also, America is more egalitarian in culture, and so
no one feels he or she has the right to totally condemn another person(unless it has to do with 'racism', 'antisemitism', and increasingly 'homophobia')

But in FACE-centered Japan, it's a BIG DEAL to apologize and say you're sorry. You're not merely saying you did something wrong but you ARE wrong.
Also, Japan is a more stern society, and so you're not necessarily forgiven by superiors or peers for having apologized. You may be disgraced and punished even more.
And so, the default way of the Japanese is to deny wrong-doing or cover it up as long as possible. And because all of Japan is like this, most Japanese wink wink understand when someone is not fessing up since the punishment for wrong-doing can be severe, especially with the loss of FACE that is so important. All Japanese learn the art of covering things up, lying, denying wrongdoing, being mealymouthed, passing blame to others.
So, when Japanese fess up and apologize, it is a VERY BIG DEAL precisely because it's so rare.

"In the U.S., when a company screws up, the initial impulse is to pin the blame not on the CEO but on some hapless underling."

Not so. Americans ALWAYS blame the top guy. If some McDonalds worker does something wrong, the headquarter is made to apologize. If some Walmart worker messes up, American public relations requires the Walmart boss to make a public statement. American legal system and media system are set up in such a way that the top guy must take the blame. This is true for both politics and business. When local government officials messed up Katrina, who was blamed? Bush. Of course, there are exceptions. The liberal MSM has been covering up for Obama pretty good.

The case of the Japanese rollercoaster owner notwithstanding, the Japanese way has been for the underling to always take the blame and save the company. There have been many instances of a Japanese underling being pressured to take the blame, commit suicide, and have his family taken care of.
Kurosawa even made a film on that subject called BAD SLEEP WELL.

http://youtu.be/47SZLpjL8HM

beowulf said...

"How hard can it be to find a man dressed in a squirrel costume..."

To be fair, its possible he disguised himself as a Coke machine.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/20/world/asia/20japan.html

tommy said...

Look at the low crime Omanis or Jordanians versus the high crime "youfs" in France versus the Japanese or Koreans. Oman is what happens when you have the kings, sultans, or sheiks to crack the whip on a shame-based people. Suburban France is what happens when you have a shame-based people living in a society that depends on a certain measure of guilt. Japan is what happens when you don't need emirs, ayatollahs, or clans to enforce the rules strictly and hurt or embarrass offenders.

My suspicion is that all the following generally run together in social, psychological, neurological and genetic terms:

Guilt
= social orderliness in the absence of severity
= good manufacturing
= suicide in the face of defeat or embarrassment
= highly organized war crimes
= personal intolerance of the disorderly
= high level of visuospatial relative to verbal intelligence
= high latitude evolutionary environment
= personal responsibility, low narcissism and high collectivism
= rapid industrialization once the way forward is obvious
= high levels of cultural and institutional formalization
= low corruption or at least relative ease of ridding society of corruption once it becomes a priority
= less humor
= a certain degree of traditionalism related to formalization

Shame
= disorderliness in the absence of severity
= poor manufacturing
= unwillingness to commitment suicide (unless its suicide by enemy while doing something homicidal) in the face of defeat
= poorly organized and personally emotional massacres
= personal tolerance of disorderliness
= high verbal to visuospatial IQ ratios (not necessarily absolutely high verbal intelligence though)
= low latitude evolutionary environment
= seeking credit and avoiding blame, high narcissism, low collectivism
= poor industrialization
= low levels of cultural and institutional formalization
= high corruption and resistance to reform in this area
= more humor
= traditionalism that seems more emotional and nostalgic and has little to do with prior formalization of customs

All this may sound good for guilt-based societies, but I suspect that those that are too too guilt-based may be somewhat uncreative.

I would argue that in Europe the Germans are (or at least were) a shade more guilt-based than the English. The English beat the Germans to the Industrial Revolution (maybe in part because the English are a bit more free-wheeling than the Germans?), but Germany underwent industrialization even more rapidly than Britain.

Anonymous said...

"In their minds, they weren’t incompetent or unimaginative or lazy. They were the unlucky victims of that rare thing in the world’s most law-abiding country: the dishonest criminal."

This may be a cultural thing. In diverse America, the rule of Law is of paramount importance since people of different cultures don't share the same values and sense of honor. So, it's about laws and laws and facts and facts. US is also a nation with many more lawyers who can sue anyone and anything.

Japan is more of an honor society. This doesn't mean that Japanese are really honorable. It means that when a Japanese person's goose is really cooked, he should, as a honorable Japanese, admit wrong and face the music. It's one thing to deny wrongdoing about everyday stuff but quite another to insist your innocence when you're so obviously guilty of rape, murder, or some such. And it seems like many Japanese criminals have given into such pressure and confessed over the years, making the work much easier for the Japanese.
If this approach worked hadn't worked over the years, why would it still exist? It still exists because it works, more or less, for most Japanese.

It wouldn't work here though.
It's like what works among the Italian-Americans don't work among Polish-Americans. What's understood among Jews doesn't extend to gentiles.
Japan is culturally one nation and one people, and so there are cultural as well as legalistic modes of doing things.
It's like one big family. What works within the family may not work outside the family. If your kid does wrong, you expect him or her to tell YOU the truth. But outside the family, you want your kid to think legally than on the basis of personal honor.

SFG said...

I think what Steve was saying was they're generally so law-abiding they can't deal with the real psychos.

beowulf said...

"When local government officials messed up Katrina, who was blamed?"

New Orleans could have governed by Rudy Giuliani and it wouldn't have stopped the poorly maintained levees from collapsing. Since the US Army managed the levee system, blaming the Commander in Chief was not the most illogical of thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Guilt is more ideological and moral, more universalist in nature.

Shame is more emotional and cultural, more particularist in nature.

Thus, a person of one culture can feel guilt about what he or his people did to another culture. Given the universalist morality of Christian ethics, white Europeans can feel guilty over what they did to Africans, Arabs, Asians, Jews, etc.

But shame operates essentially within a culture based on shared feelings and sense of honor within that culture. Because Japanese don't subscribe to a universalist ideology like Christian ethics, they've had a more difficult time feeling 'guilty' over what they did to non-Japanese. But many Japanese have felt great shame over failing to live up to standards within their own culture.

tommy said...

Thus, a person of one culture can feel guilt about what he or his people did to another culture. Given the universalist morality of Christian ethics, white Europeans can feel guilty over what they did to Africans, Arabs, Asians, Jews, etc.

But shame operates essentially within a culture based on shared feelings and sense of honor within that culture. Because Japanese don't subscribe to a universalist ideology like Christian ethics, they've had a more difficult time feeling 'guilty' over what they did to non-Japanese. But many Japanese have felt great shame over failing to live up to standards within their own culture.



I agree that Christian ethics is universalist, but white guilt is not the product of the guilty conscience of a white liberal, but an expression of the liberal white narcissist trying to score points at the expense of his fellow whites. These white liberals trade in shame rather than guilt. You'll also notice how shame-based cultures have rushed to employ the very anti-imperialist rhetoric formulated by surprisingly smug Western liberals stricken by "guilt."

Anonymous said...

The Japanese are not going to give up on nuclear energy, so why paint a dark picture of a risk they will have to continue to take into the future. There is probably a cultural consensus not to dwell on it. Something tells me that new plants will be built to much higher standards, without the need for media pressure.

Compared to "our" behavior during Katrina, those atheists were, de facto, better Christians. Maybe the law is written on their hearts.

A poor police and justice system is much less significant to the Japanese, because they have such a small criminal element. Their inner city trauma surgeons probably aren't as good at treating gunshot wounds as ours. I doubt they really care.

I don't think they suffer much guilt over The Rape of Nanking, but I haven't lost any sleep over Hiroshima either. I would certainly prefer their culture to ours during a natural disaster.

Bill said...

Is this guilt or shame? That's one of those distinctions that sounds really useful in theory, but I have a hard applying in the real world.

Interesting question. I'm not sure about Japan, but I used to watch confessions on the Chinese version of The People's Court, in which real criminals would confess and then be led away to the very real execution grounds. Seriously.

It isn't really guilt, but rather that a confession elicits some pity in the Buddhist culture, and there is the hope for metempsychosis in the case of execution. Also, sacrificing oneself redeems the family and peers. Subjecting oneself to punishment is a way to spare one's kin, as the community will be satisfied with the punishment of the individual and then take pity on his or her clan.

Guilt is a very individual, Western sense of culpability for some wrong. It is not very well-developed in Eastern cultures, hence the casual attitude toward cheating. I suspect it is stronger in Japan than China, but I don't know enough about the Japanese to be sure. Actually, they may have simply elevated shame to such a high degree that it is just as good at preventing fraud as guilt in Western societies.

So, the sense of collective responsibility tends to encourage confession. Westerners may feel that not confessing is a way to prevent punishment of the kin group and family, but confession allows Easterners to lay the burden aside by sacrificing one for the benefit of many.

Before Christianity, this was characteristic of Western societies as well, but the choice of the individual in Christianity became paramount, as we can see from the glorification of martyrs. One of the things we'd do well to understand is how very unique our society was, and how its rules differed so drastically from most of the rest of the world's.

Anonymous said...

The idea that cunning, stubbornness and lies were to be expected from a criminal — that it was in order to deal with such people that the police existed — didn’t seem obvious to them at all. In their minds, they weren’t incompetent or unimaginative or lazy. They were the unlucky victims of that rare thing in the world’s most law-abiding country: the dishonest criminal.

If Japanese criminals do tend to not be dishonest, why wouldn't this be reasonable?

If they were dealing with a non-Japanese criminal from a background with a reputation of dishonesty, they'd probably think he'd be dishonest.

Anonymous said...

"How hard can it be to find a man dressed in a squirrel costume..."

They recently caught the anti-Semite in an Elmo costume in Central Park:

http://gawker.com/5921100/a-jew+hating-elmo-in-central-park

bjdubbs said...

Ruth Benedict wrote the book on this, Chrysanthemum and Sword. Shame.

Anonymous said...

The idea that cunning, stubbornness and lies were to be expected from a criminal — that it was in order to deal with such people that the police existed — didn’t seem obvious to them at all. In their minds, they weren’t incompetent or unimaginative or lazy. They were the unlucky victims of that rare thing in the world’s most law-abiding country: the dishonest criminal.

This already foretold in "Demolition Man" along with many other things of course.

alice said...

It could be that the common Japanese genetic makeup just doesn't have a lot of alleles for psychopathy, particularly of the kind where the liar/con uses trust to prey on victims. the whole reason for evolvimg various mechanisms to tell who is in the in circle may not have gotten put in their genes, either, as there are no outsiders--so no mechanisms were necessary. likewise, the psychopath adaptation didn't spring up either.

their society isn't just about public shame. it's a culture where no decision can be made until everyone agrees. they do not move until all possible options have been explored. that's what made fukushima so dangerous: they waited because there was not 100% consensus. that's why they had to be saved by others, notably others who would take action.

jody said...

"I don't think the Fukushima disaster means the Japanese aren't smart -- they clearly are -- but it may be the result of some weaknesses of their society/culture"

i definitely don't think they are dumb at all, but they clearly could not handle the situation and started coming up with emergency action plans that were merely panic reactions with no hope of working. it took US robots flying in to even tell the japanese what was happening inside their broken reactors. they were literally guessing before that. and aren't the japanese supposed to have better robots? except, i'm a professional in this stuff, so i know that they don't.

certainly the government was flat out lying for much of the ordeal, in order to "save face", which is a deeply ingrained social factor in japan. they didn't know what was actually happening so they made up stuff. not that much different than japanese detectives having little field experience and not knowing how to respond to a violent criminal who is stonewalling them.

right now, it's a french company handling all the radioactive water, with a filtration system designed by french engineers.

also, there's the matter of, why were GE designed reactors even in japan, if the japanese are "smarter". wouldn't they have their own, superior uranium water boilers? why purchase stuff designed and manufactured by "dumb" white guys.

Anonymous said...

Traditionally, even in the west, the 'confession' was always regarded as the gold standard of evidence in criminal cases (basically all other evidence, including eye-witness accounts were regarded as not being strong enough), and the police and prosecutors went to great lengths to get villians to confess, usually by inducements and what might be termed 'moral pressure' (torture was outlawed in England in the 17th century). The Burke and Hare case in Scotland hinged on Hare giving 'King's evidence' against Burke.
The general move against confessions is a late 20th century trend - the idea of police 'oppression' being bandied about.

Anonymous said...

Jody,
The Fukushima reactors were boiling water reactors, commissioned in 1971.
They were an 'off the peg' American design, built to American specifications with American technology and components.

Anonymous said...

'Tommy' claims that 'Africa is a shame based culture'.

Obviously he doesn't get out of the house much.

Anonymous said...

Jody,
The American civil nuclear power industry was n off-shoot of the 'military industrial complex. Basically civil nuclear power was a means to produce plutonium for bombs and as a spin-off using PWRs designed to power submarines to light cities. All the enormously expensive R and D was paid for by US taxpayers as military spending.
Japan, which had issues with military nuclear power neither had the will, the permission or the resources to develop nuclear energy from scratch.

Simon in London said...

" In the U.S., when a company screws up, the initial impulse is to pin the blame not on the CEO but on some hapless underling."

From a British perspective, the American refusal to ever apologise is very noticeable. When my American fiancee first visited the UK she was amazed by the regular public transport announcements: "We apologise for the delay..."
We once had a 3-hour wait at Stranraer for a catamaran that had one engine broken to leave port. She was amazed that the ferry company apologised and gave free access to the soft drinks cabinet. She was even more amazed that this mollified the waiting Scots.

Anonymous said...

I think there may be something in guilt having an individualist root and shame a collective root i.e. not living up to your own standards versus not living up to your culture's standards or put another way internally applied pressure versus externally applied pressure.

A nation might have both in varying measure of course and a population with a tendency to guilt might internalise an external cultural pressure as guilt.

.
"but white guilt is not the product of the guilty conscience of a white liberal, but an expression of the liberal white narcissist trying to score points at the expense of his fellow whites."

But why does it work? It works because the fellow whites in question are that way. I agree it's a kind of moral parasitism by people who for the most part don't feel guilty themselves but it only works because they are manipulating the universalist guilt of others for their own benefit.

pat said...

There used to be a series of Japanese martial arts movies about - The Razor. Other series at time included the blind swordsman (Zatoichi) and a father who rolled his kid around in a cart (Lone Wolf and Cub).

The Razor was an Edo policemen. He was good with edged weapons of course, but his principal weapon was his enlarged male endowment. He used this to torture females he had arrested so as to induce a confession. The plots were always a little ambiguous as to whether the women liked this or not. In any case thay always talked. Maybe it was the shame.

Albertosaurus

Brazilian said...

Must be great being a cop in a country were people are well beheaved.

Sheila said...

Anonymous at 6:03 PM: "Guilt is more ideological and moral, more universalist in nature.
Shame is more emotional and cultural, more particularist in nature.
But shame operates essentially within a culture based on shared feelings and sense of honor within that culture."

This. When America lost its White, Christian, European majority culture and character, it lost its historic sense of shame (for taking charity, having illegitimate children, or spurning cultural norms). Today's flaunting and celebration of deviancy is the result of the fracturing of the historic American people. All that remains is the guilt for being White.

Anonymous said...

We have a live-and-let-live culture, and so we can apologize, fess up, and move on.

We do?

jody said...

"The Fukushima reactors were boiling water reactors, commissioned in 1971. They were an 'off the peg' American design, built to American specifications with American technology and components."

just like...the nuclear reactors being built in china in 2012. american design, built to american specifications, with american technology. they're actually designed and engineered by westinghouse, near my home city of pittsburgh. my dad worked for westinghouse, so i know what i'm talking about.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000

china has their own uranium enrichment program and plutonium production, so the idea here that japan "couldn't" build their own reactors "at the time" is again belied by the fact that "dumb" white guys came up with the stuff going up in china right now, today.

"The American civil nuclear power industry was n off-shoot of the 'military industrial complex. Basically civil nuclear power was a means to produce plutonium for bombs and as a spin-off using PWRs designed to power submarines to light cities. All the enormously expensive R and D was paid for by US taxpayers as military spending. Japan, which had issues with military nuclear power neither had the will, the permission or the resources to develop nuclear energy from scratch."

and how exactly does this explain away the year 2012 situation in china. you know, the nuclear build out happening right now, today. oh that's right, it doesn't.

let's not even get into germany, which is also permanently denied nuclear weapons, yet came up with all their own reactor designs natively. they even had the first commercial thorium reactor all the way back in the 80s.

well, at least you're not alone in not knowing energy very well. liberals don't know that china is building 1 new coal power plant every week, so anything they do to shut down coal in the US has zero effect worldwide. liberals probably aren't even aware they have no jurisdiction over china, even though that's not something they need a technical briefing to grasp. they think any change they make in the US changes the entire planet.

Anonymous said...

The Japanese are not going to give up on nuclear energy, so why paint a dark picture of a risk they will have to continue to take into the future. There is probably a cultural consensus not to dwell on it.

Ha-what? Where did you get that idea? The mayor of Osaka pitched a very public fit about nuclear reactors being reactivated. The Japanese are dwelling on the risks of nuclear power at the moment, without, perhaps, fully appreciating that they're finished as a power if they don't restart their reactors -- the cost of purchasing gasoline or LNG on world markets would make their domestic manufacturing prohibitively expensive.

Something tells me that new plants will be built to much higher standards, without the need for media pressure.

More recent plants were built to higher standards. The Onagawa nuclear plant (a bit north of Sendai, near the epicenter of the quake) survived the earthquake and tsunami fine. So well, in fact, that it actually served as a refugee center. I think it was completely built and designed by Toshiba rather than GE-designed, and the power company managers insisted on a higher barrier wall back in the 80's. This isn't that Toshiba's better a designing reactors than GE, though. This is just a generation thing -- the overall plan design was more modern and lower risk at Onagawa.

i definitely don't think they are dumb at all, but they clearly could not handle the situation and started coming up with emergency action plans that were merely panic reactions with no hope of working.

I think part of the problem was that decisionmaking had been excessively centralised, to the point that it had been centralised to idiot DPJ politicians who had no idea what they were doing -- if you saw Naoto Kan on TV in the days after the earthquake, it was obvious the man was totally lost.

The Fukushima disaster unfolded in the context of a longrunning struggle by DPJ to establish control over the government bureaucracy, so there was a total lack of trust between the bureaucrats regulating the plants and the politicians, and none of them could decide to commit resources to any plan at all (so you got those dinky firetrucks trying to shoot water into the plant . . . and missing. And the helicopter passing over from time to time to drop some water in). And Tokyo Power wasn't going to do anything without government signoff. Indeed, some of the few good decisions that were made at the time, e.g. to flood the reactors with seawater, were made without approval from HQ or the government, because the people on the floor decided they couldn't wait for the bureaucrats and politicians.

Japan is an extremely hierarchical and orderly society, but that doesn't work if the people responsible for issuing orders are totally incapable of making a decision.

Anonymous said...

Re: Simon in London:

From a British perspective, the American refusal to ever apologise is very noticeable. When my American fiancee first visited the UK she was amazed by the regular public transport announcements: "We apologise for the delay..."

As an American, the refusal of my fellow Americans to apologise for anything ever is occasionally infuriating. This is less of a problem with individuals in everyday life (neighbours and suchlike) than it is with people who are supposed to be providing services to you, whether it's public servants, transit workers, people in shops, or whatever. Even when they "apologise," they don't know how to communicate it in an appropriate tone, so "I'm sorry, sir" comes out like "F-You 'sir'!" instead.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear engineering seems like a good and secure niche to get into, but people and career guidance types seem to advise against it these days. They say it's actually very insecure (in terms of jobs, salary, etc., not workplace safety).

Anonymous said...

Now we know why/how Japan gets a 99% conviction rate: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/25/japan-held-innocent-foreigner-15-years/

As for the man in the squirrel suit, when I lived in Japan, a murderer got away from the police riding his bicycle.

Svigor said...

Is this guilt or shame? That's one of those distinctions that sounds really useful in theory, but I have a hard applying in the real world.

Thank you. I was thinking the same thing skimming the guilt vs. shame thread above.

Svigor said...

E.g., maybe lower level Japanese engineers realized the danger of that model of reactor but in a more hierarchical society there is more risk in challenging the status quo?

For some strange reason I just had a flash of the scene at the end of Spaceballs when the black dude jumps up and says "water my ass! Get this guy some Pepto Bismol!"

Jacob Ian Stalk said...

Guilt or Shame?

It seems fairly obvious to me. Guilt is what we feel when we break the known rules of our community, whereas shame is what we feel when we have harmed someone. The two are neither congruent nor interchangeable, so whichever applies in any particular culture depends on how that culture understands Grace.

In a genuine Christian community, for example, the rule of Grace trumps the rule of Law, so proponents are called to compare their behaviour to an eternal ideal standard (Christ) then respond according to a tutored conscience. The ideal response follows the remorse-repentance-redemption pathway, driven by shame. An internalised understanding of what it means to voluntarily behave in a way that seeks not to harm others is primary to its success as a community. Japan is certainly not like this.

Japan is a top-down community, with many rules and honorific traditions. Many of these are buried deep in its collective consciousness. A similar process is at work in societies that are ruled by excessive law, honour, reputation, credentialism, feminism, or any other such overt social programming device. In all such societies the roadmap is independent of an understanding of harm and dependent only on an understanding of the rules. Without an understanding of harm, there can be no shame.

Shame or Guilt? It comes down to whether or not the community is led by Grace or not.

Anonymous said...

http://ukcommentators.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/praise-japan-up-to-point.html

Twenty five years back, a younger Laban was impressed by the reported response of Japan Airlines executives to the JAL123 crash, where one of their planes lost all control and flew into a mountain, killing more than 500 people in what remains the world's worst single-plane disaster. According to press reports at the time, JAL executives accompanied relatives of the dead on the difficult climb to the crash site - and they carried or supported frail or elderly relatives up the mountain as a token of contrition. The JAL president resigned and a maintenance manager committed suicide, as did the engineer who supervised the repair which failed and was the cause of the crash.

All very noble, and accepting of responsibility. But ...

"United States Air Force controllers at Yokota Air Force base situated near the flight path of Flight 123 had been monitoring the distressed aircraft's calls for help. They maintained contact throughout the ordeal with Japanese flight control officials and made their landing strip available to the airplane. After losing track on radar, a U.S. Air Force C-130 from the 345 TAS was asked to search for the missing plane. The C-130 crew was the first to spot the crash site 20 minutes after impact, while it was still daylight. The crew radioed Yokota Air Base to alert them and directed an USAF Huey helicopter from Yokota to the crash site. Rescue teams were assembled in preparation to lower Marines down for rescues by helicopter tow line."

Now we see the other side of "accepting responsibility".

"The offers by American forces of help to guide Japanese forces immediately to the crash site and of rescue assistance were rejected by Japanese officials. Instead, Japanese government representatives ordered the U.S. crew to keep away from the crash site and return to Yokota Air Base, stating the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) were going to handle the entire rescue alone."

But by now darkness was approaching. The JSDF helicopter didn't get to the site before dark and couldn't land. It could see no signs of life, and so rescuers didn't start out to the site until the following morning.

"Medical staff later found a number of passengers' bodies whose injuries indicated that they had survived the crash only to die from shock or exposure overnight in the mountains while awaiting rescue. One doctor said "If the discovery had come ten hours earlier, we could have found more survivors."

Yumi Ochiai, one of the four survivors out of 524 passengers and crew, recounted from her hospital bed that she recalled bright lights and the sound of helicopter rotors shortly after she awoke amid the wreckage, and while she could hear screaming and moaning from other survivors, these sounds gradually died away during the night."


Those people died because the Japanese authorities did not want to lose face by making the rescue an American one, despite the fact that the Americans could have had medics on site within an hour of impact. Responsibility also meant that the responsibility for the rescue must be Japanese.

Laban

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE should read Chinese Characteristics by Arthur Henderson Smith. It's based on China but Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are very similiar genetically and culturally. No one has done a character profile better of a people than Arthur Henderson Smith.

Japanese students were sent to Western Europe to study law and a few law professors were enticed to come to Japan to teach in the second half of the 19th century. Japan overhauled it's justice system to be like that of Western Europe. Even after the overhaul the Japanese character remained the same and you see it today in the rush to judgment and scapegoating of foreigners. Because of the primitive and unfair nature of East Asian justice systems European powers drafted treaties with East Asian countries to provide for extraterritoriality of it's citizens in the second half of the 19th century.

The 2011 Japanese Earthquake showed the Japanese are not the smart or capable people that Asiaphiles want us to believe. The Japanese had no idea how to contain the Fukushima catastrophe. They twiddled their thumbs until American or European experts offered their expertise. Everyone once exhaulted the Japanese robotics industry. The Fukushima catastrophe showed it was just smoke and mirrors and had the Japanese asking for robots to be sent to Japan because they didn't have capable robots. Some Japanese starved or froze to death in Northern Japan because the government was slow to distribute food aid and clothing. The Japanese did manage to give the Western media while they were in Japan the impression that Fukushima was less severe than Chernobyl to save face. They didn't want to be burdened with a reputation far worse than the Russians suffered after Chernobyl and didn't want Western resistence to Japanese nuclear-contaminated imports.