Many years ago whilst in Tokyo LB and I hired a guide to show us around some of the museums of modern art that Tokyo has – I am a fan of the Japanese design aesthetic so it was an afternoon well spent. Whilst sitting down and chatting with her at the end of the day we were talking about what it was like to be Japanese and the expectations that each member of society operates under. She had spent several years outside of Japan so had a keen eye when it came to observing her home.
One thing that becomes apparent to anyone who spends time in Japan is that being Japanese is difficult – it is still somewhat of pressure cooker society with suicide being the leading course of death in men aged between 20 and 44 and tragically the leading cause of death in those aged between 10 and 19. With this in mind, I asked as to why more young Japanese don’t leave – the Japanese I meet were worldly and well educated certainly more so than many others I had met whilst travelling. Her response was that the pain of leaving Japan was still higher than the pain of staying in Japan.
In thinking about this, the phrase the reward must be worth the suffering came to mind – the pain of inaction and resistance to change must be overcome by the potential reward of change and for modern Japanese that pivot point has not quite been reached.
This is true for most who suffer from some form of inertia in their lives, profession or relationships. Change is more painful than acceptance hence the reward for change is not quite at a level that it overcomes the pain of being static. nd we are back to the age-old problem that change is an internal process – nothing imposed from the outside can really alter that.