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04/27/2004: "it's all your fault"

This news in the New York Times about Japanese hostages returned home from Iraq facing hostile reaction puzzled me at first. How could Japanese can be so uncompassionate and cruel to their own people who endured a terrible event? I thought the writer may have exaggerated the small reaction of some Japanese for Western readers. But when I went to some Japanese news source that I found out it seems quite accurate. I read also each local government these three former hostages are from, spoke to the press how much they had to spend for the rescue effort, and they are going to ask some of the cost to be covered by their family. I thought they should just send the bill to George Bush.

Then I realized why I left Japan in the first place. In Japan, you are not supposed to 'cause trouble.' It's all about conformity. You have to obey the rules set by the people above you and precedents. You are never encouraged to challenge or even question the system, the rules, or the people 'above.' You can't just act upon your belief. Whatever you do would be your own responsibility. If you break the rules, you're most likely to get into trouble, and you'll be responsible for the consequences. I thought there was a strange coldness in the society. I still have many great friends there who would do anything to help me if I am in trouble. And of course my family always try to help me even before I ask. But the Japanese society as a whole suffers from a strange sense of detachment. When I was commuting to Tokyo pushed in and out of trains every morning, I was beginning to feel the 'detachment.' I couldn't wait to get out of the faceless crowd to feel my feelings and voice my opinions. So here I am. I'm glad I am here.

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