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How Japanese educators used religion to ‘make’ ideal humans

In 1932, Matsushita Kōnosuke, the founding father of Panasonic, had an epiphany. On visiting the headquarters of the religion Tenrikyō, he was impressed by the sense of collective dedication he witnessed there. In a subsequent speech to Panasonic workers, Matsushita laid out a brand new guiding philosophy for his fledgling company: ‘Human beings need both material and spiritual prosperity. Religion guides people out of suffering toward happiness and peace of mind. And business, too, can contribute by providing physical necessities required for happiness. This should be its primary mission.’ (This translation is from the Panasonic web site; all translations that comply with are my very own.) For Matsushita, work was none apart from a ‘holy pursuit’ (sei naru jigyō).

Matsushita later attributed the gorgeous monetary success of his company to this 1932 epiphany. He equated company flourishing with enhancements in nationwide requirements of residing, and he conflated Panasonic’s ascendancy with international salvation. For him, everybody benefited when folks had been educated to work indefatigably for a collective mission.

In a speech on 21 April 1961, Matsushita pushed the thought additional, impressing upon his workers that their job was to ‘make people before products’. Panasonic actually made items, the company magnate acknowledged, however the firm additionally made the assiduous people who manufactured its cutting-edge electronics and marketed them to the world. By extension, Panasonic gross sales groups ‘made people’ (hitozukuri) in one other sense, utilizing skilful advertising and marketing to type the very shoppers who dutifully bought Panasonic’s wares.

As a company ethos, Matsushita’s hitozukuri idea was groundbreaking, and through the years many different firms borrowed his philosophy and management fashion. But the idea of ‘making persons’ achieved even broader attain as nationwide coverage. Just a yr after Matsushita’s epochal declaration, Japan’s prime minister Ikeda Hayato adopted hitozukuri in 1962 as a guideline for his administration, describing the idea as ‘gaining trust from the world by valuing morality, cultivating virtue, loving the nation and its people, and developing skills and techniques.’ As this quite ambiguous definition reveals, the hitozukuri slogan was each imprecise and galvanizing. As politics, it made for a great soundbite, however as coverage it was troublesome to clarify. Its outcomes had been unattainable to measure, and the phrase additionally didn’t translate properly: members of Ikeda’s cupboard struggled to discover a appropriate English rendition as they ready for a diplomatic journey to the United States in 1962.

The notion of ‘making persons’ had a sure logic that did translate throughout borders in that early Nineteen Sixties Cold War context. It mirrored the shared presupposition among the many capitalist nations that ‘religious capitalism’ was the antithesis of ‘godless communism’. According to this imaginative and prescient, First World prosperity emerged immediately from piety, and religiosity favourably distinguished capitalists from their allegedly amoral communist counterparts.

To be certain, politicians asserted this causal relationship greater than they really defined it. With the good thing about historic hindsight and significant distance, it’s clear that there was at all times a preposterous high quality to the ideological declare. It was preposterous as a result of it actually put ends earlier than beginnings: submit/pre. We are wealthy as a result of we’re non secular. We should develop into non secular if we would like to get wealthy.

Of course, good politicking and persuasive policy-making aren’t essentially about cause or logic. Sometimes a coverage simply has to really feel good; typically a slogan simply wants to intuitively ‘click’. Using Matsushita’s hitozukuri catchphrase to tidily describe his said objective of doubling Japan’s gross home product (GDP), Ikeda persuasively paired the challenge of inculcating private probity with the pursuit of collective prosperity. In Japan on the Crossroads (2018), the historian Nick Kapur says that Ikeda’s plan amounted to ‘a sort of secular religion of both the Japanese people and their government, bringing about a circumstance in which both the effectiveness of the government and the worth of the populace came to be measured above all by the annual percentage change in GDP.’

Commentators noticed a scarcity of spiritual steerage because the supply of Japan’s delinquency (hikō) drawback

But the causal connections Ikeda posited between financial development and religion had been much more direct than Kapur suggests. For Ikeda, religion was a naked necessity akin to meals or shelter. ‘Some say that Japan lacks sufficient housing, but I think what we really lack is religiosity,’ he remarked at an occasion in 1961. ‘Whether it is [praying to] the kami or the buddhas or the sun, whichever is fine,’ he mentioned in one other context. ‘Sincerely praying and reflecting – we’re going to make that form of individual.’ The prime minister was on report stating repeatedly that religion was indispensable for producing nationwide prosperity. In brief, Japanese staff didn’t simply want technical abilities. They wanted a way of vocation.

Despite some journalistic scoffing, the coverage of ‘making persons’ step by step gained public approbation. The Mainichi newspaper editorial columnist Gotō Teiji wrote within the November 1962 concern of Seishōnen mondai (‘Youth Problems’) that Ikeda’s coverage would steadiness non secular religion and morality with technical ability {and professional} experience ‘like two wheels of a car’. In an essay in the identical journal in April 1963, the Yomiuri newspaper affiliate editor Aikawa Shigeyoshi lamented Japan’s incapacity to compete economically with European and North American nations due to the ‘spiritual inferiority’ and lacklustre ‘social morals’ of Japan’s citizenry, however praised Ikeda for pairing the pressing drawback of elevating Japan’s way of life with the equally exigent drawback of addressing juvenile crime.

The concept that internalised non secular doctrines had been the engines of financial development was interesting in Nineteen Sixties Japan not solely as a result of the nation was present process fast reconstruction after the devastating firebombing of just about all its main cities throughout the Second World War. It was additionally interesting as a result of, like Aikawa, many observers described post-defeat society as morally defunct. Editorials repeatedly referred to Japan as a ‘spiritual vacuum’ or a ‘moral vacuum’. Sensationalist media protection had additionally been documenting rising methamphetamine use, sexual licentiousness, theft and violence amongst Japan’s youth. In addition, the nation had watched with rapt fascination as tens of hundreds of scholars mobilised in protest of the US-Japan Security Treaty in the summertime of 1960.

Stunned by the fractious protests and appalled by the delinquent antics documented in movies akin to Hani Susumu’s Furyō shōnen (Bad Boys, 1961), many skilled commentators noticed a scarcity of spiritual steerage because the supply of Japan’s delinquency (hikō) drawback. For instance, the Daiei Film studio president and movie producer Nagata Masaichi complained in a contemporaneous interview that Japan’s youth went to extremes ‘because they lack [religious] faith’. Thus, when the prime minister declared hitozukuri as nationwide coverage, he was advancing an alluring imaginative and prescient: if solely we will determine how to make younger folks extra non secular, Ikeda was arguing, we’ll resolve the juvenile delinquency drawback and get wealthy whereas doing it, too.

Ikeda’s hitozukuri catchphrase was interesting to many, nevertheless it was a slogan in quest of a coverage. The prime minister had tossed out the vaguely outlined idea after which doubled down on it, however his administration had to establish the traits of the ideal worker-citizen in order that the ‘making persons’ course of had a transparent goal. Officials turned to Japan’s public colleges as the plain place to start. In June 1963, Ikeda’s minister of schooling tasked the Central Council for Education to establish the salient options of the ‘human figure’ (ningenzō) that may be the tip product of the hitozukuri course of. Simply put: if making individuals was the foreordained agenda, then what traits did the ideal human possess, and the way may these traits be reverse-engineered via schooling?

This Central Council for Education is a deliberative physique of civilians that advises Japan’s Ministry of Education. Members usually embrace luminaries akin to college presidents, company leaders and main journalists. Unlike the comparatively decentralised method to instructional coverage that reigns in international locations such because the US, in Japan the Ministry of Education (now referred to as the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, or MEXT) has pretty tight management over the nationwide curriculum. Factional infighting throughout the Ministry and resistance from academics’ unions have typically impeded the graceful implementation of Ministry coverage, and classroom academics typically ignore Ministry insurance policies they don’t like. But, basically, the Ministry is a robust actor that immediately impacts classroom expertise in any respect ranges of schooling. Ostensibly, the Central Council for Education serves as a examine on Ministry authority whereas aligning Ministry insurance policies with the perceived wants of Japanese society. In follow, members of the Council usually act as rubber stamps greater than they function watchdogs, hewing pretty carefully to Ministry agendas and giving the imprimatur of civilian oversight to insurance policies which are principally foregone conclusions.

Thus, when Ikeda requested the Council for suggestions in 1963, he was principally asking for a pedagogical coverage that may match his chosen political slogan. Even with Matsushita, the creator of the hitozukuri idea, on the Council, arising with a defensible coverage was a heavy raise. It required the Council to devise an ex submit facto rationale for why educators wanted to focus consideration on ‘making persons’ within the first place; it additionally required the Council to concoct a legally defensible manner to introduce confessional instruction into Japan’s public colleges with out violating the prohibition of ‘religious education’ outlined in Article 20, Clause 3 of Japan’s Constitution. Given the fragile nature of the duty, a subcommittee met no fewer than 17 occasions over 18 months earlier than it launched an interim report titled ‘The Human Figure That Can Be Hoped For/Counted On’ (Kitai sareru ningenzō) on 11 January 1965. Although by this level Ikeda had resigned as prime minister due to sickness, the federal government now had a concrete assertion of what the ideal ‘human figure’ seemed like, and the Ministry had the silhouette of a brand new coverage.

The report depicted scientific discovery and technological progress as inimical to elegant ‘human nature’

As my intentionally awkward translation suggests, the passive building of the interim report’s Japanese title had two meanings. On the one hand, with its expectant tone, the Special Committee was signalling that it had recognized the particular traits of the kind of one that could be created as a part of the hitozukuri course of. On the opposite hand, the report deployed one other which means of kitai sareru, suggesting that the product of secondary public schooling was somebody who could possibly be ‘counted on’. It thus implied that, as instructional coverage, the ‘human figure’ may resolve the persevering with issues about Japan’s allegedly misbehaved, rambunctious youth.

If the passive building was ambiguous, the concentrate on the ‘human’ made the report’s goal clear. Identifying a salient characteristic of ‘contemporary civilisation’ because the rise of the pure sciences and the explosion of expertise, the Committee lamented ‘mechanisation’ (kikaika) that spurred folks to consider human beings as little greater than replaceable cogs within the industrial machine. Likewise, the Committee decried what it referred to as the ‘animalisation’ (dōbutsuka) of human beings within the face of the pure sciences, which disadvantaged folks of their inherent dignity and valorised hedonistic tendencies. (Presumably, the Committee meant that scientific approaches that diminished humans to mere byproducts of evolutionary processes tended to persuade those that their solely actual objective was to eat and reproduce.)

The stakes had been excessive. Clearly Japanese folks wanted to have the technical experience to accommodate themselves to the science-driven Space Age. But the report depicted scientific discovery and technological progress as inimical to elegant ‘human nature’. If Japan had to enhance its technological progress as a part of maintaining and getting forward, the authors averred, then a countervailing religious pressure was indispensable. And if growing technical know-how whereas enhancing human character was the issue, then non secular coaching was an inexpensive answer. ‘The whole world marvels at the economic recovery happening now in Japan. However, this economic prosperity has generated hedonistic tendencies in some quarters, giving birth to a spiritual vacuum. If this situation of unfettered desire and empty spiritual ideals continues for very long, we cannot at all expect economic prosperity to continue,’ warned the authors of the 1966 report.

When the authors turned to the optimistic challenge of describing the ideal ‘human figure’, their listing of fascinating traits included freedom, individuality, reliability, creativity, and happiness. However, their use of the second-person crucial tone gave the report a confessional, catechistic solid. For instance, in a piece titled ‘Be a Happy Person’, the authors acknowledged that life was filled with injustices and dissatisfaction, however mentioned one ought to develop a way of gratitude anyway: ‘A person who can be grateful for even a small act of goodwill or kindness is a happy person,’ they wrote. Such an individual felt indebtedness to their mother and father, their ethnic group (minzoku), the human species, and the cosmic life pressure (uchū no seimei). Adopting a theological tone, the authors argued that respect for the ‘spiritual life force’ (seishin teki na seimei ) that resided inside all humans constituted true non secular sentiment and was the supply of each human dignity and happiness.

Meanwhile, if the human being was basically non secular, then society was a ‘place of production’ that required people to exert themselves for others. ‘To merely pursue satisfaction of animalistic cravings will not at all satisfy the spiritual desires of the heart,’ wrote the authors. And day without work was no totally different than work: ‘Originally, holidays and weekends had the significance of having been established to worship deities,’ they admonished readers. ‘Leisure time must not be used to pursue animalistic desires, but rather to recover our humanity.’

With the Japanese authorities clearly embracing ‘spiritual’ interpretations of Japan’s issues, it was up to academics to generate ‘spiritual’ options. Educators didn’t hesitate. Even because the particular committee was hashing out its interim report, contributors to schooling journals had already begun pondering the importance of the ‘human figure’ for classroom pedagogy. Strikingly, many of those consultants independently got here to the conclusion that the defining characteristic of the ideal ‘human figure’ was religion. For instance, in a roundtable dialog featured in a particular concern of the journal Kyōiku shinri (‘Educational Psychology’) in January 1964, the schooling specialist Suzuki Kiyoshi recommended that non secular sentiment fashioned the premise of human nature and should be cultivated together with a powerful sense of nationwide citizenship. Suzuki was hardly alone. In a particular concern of the journal Sōgō kyōiku gijutsu (‘Integrated Educational Techniques’) in May 1964, for instance, essayists linked religiosity to patriotism and professionalism in essays with titles akin to ‘The Japanese Person the Contemporary Moment Requires’, ‘The Essence of Humanity and Religious Education’, and ‘How Should We Interpret and Conduct Patriotic Education?’

A hanging characteristic of those essays was their shared reliance on the sociological theories of Max Weber and Émile Durkheim. For instance, within the essay ‘The Japanese Person the Contemporary Moment Requires’ (1964), the tutorial historian Karasawa Tomitarō described how internalised non secular beliefs may produce professionalism. Citing Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), Karasawa claimed {that a} Christian sense of vocation (tenshokukan) was the psychological impetus that had spurred the rise of recent capitalism in Europe and the US. By extension, an analogous sense of a better calling may do the identical for Japan: ‘One’s career isn’t a easy means of creating a residing, however quite a concrete technique for private perfection and demonstrating one’s contributions to society as a citizen.’

For these Japanese intellectuals, The Protestant Ethic was a how-to handbook

If Karasawa noticed work in Weberian phrases, the distinguished scholar of religion Ishizu Teraji channelled Durkheim, bluntly asserting in his personal essay that ‘Homo sapiens is essentially a religious entity’. For him, religion was not merely the factor that distinguished humans from different animal species. It was additionally the very factor that made folks each altruistic and resilient within the face of challenges or failure. Religion fostered tenacity and social cohesion alike.

As these essays recommend, sociological theories generated in Europe and the US offered normative fashions for social life beneath high-growth capitalism. They didn’t merely describe capitalist society. For these Japanese intellectuals, The Protestant Ethic was a how-to handbook. Weber’s and Durkheim’s theories offered reassuring concepts about how religion may generate solidarity in an more and more atomised society whereas additionally suggesting that ‘the kids these days’ (gendaikko) may internalise diligence and perseverance with assistance from religion. As the schooling skilled Fukagawa Tsunenobu put it throughout a 1967 roundtable dialogue, the brand new coverage didn’t merely describe the ‘human figure we can hope for’, however boldly envisioned the ‘religious human we all want’.

Whatever Fukagawa and others could have needed, the ‘human figure’ initiative harboured a basic drawback that Ministry of Education officers had been by no means in a position to totally resolve, even after they formally adopted ‘The Human Figure That Can Be Hoped For/Counted On’ as official coverage in 1966: Japan’s 1947 Constitution strictly prohibited confessional instruction. If the ideal ‘human figure’ was basically non secular, there was no legally possible manner for academics to create it in Japan’s public colleges. And the issue was not simply in regards to the regulation. It was additionally about deep political divisions in Japanese society, as influential Leftist organisations such because the Japan Teacher’s Union (JTU) decried the ‘human figure’ coverage as authoritarian and imprecise. For instance, an article within the JTU month-to-month journal Kyōiku hyōron (‘Education Review’) in 1965 linked ‘government-manufactured morality’ with unfair labour circumstances, arguing that the hitozukuri coverage finally aimed to ‘cultivate skilled labourers who would work obediently for low pay’.

In the mid-Nineteen Sixties, some schooling consultants started experimenting with new terminology that may enable them to bypass Japan’s constitutional prohibition on confessional instruction whereas staying within the good graces of the obstreperous academics’ unions. These initiatives, which step by step coalesced beneath the rubric of ‘religious sentiment education’ (shūkyō jōsō kyōiku) failed to get severe uptake. But, within the meantime, the ‘human figure’ initiative gave clerics a ripe alternative to make a case for permitting non secular instruction in Japan’s public colleges. Buddhists had already established the National Youth Edification Conference (Zenkoku Seishōnen Kyōka Kyōgikai, NYEC hereafter) in November 1962, mere months after the prime minister, Ikeda, introduced his hitozukuri coverage. By February 1963, NYEC had held its first three-day research assembly on ‘The Problems of Moral Edification and Contemporary Youth’, the place individuals mentioned primary instructional rules. By 1963, NYEC started publishing the schooling periodicals Oshie no izumi (‘The Fountain of the Teaching’) and Nikkō kyōan (‘Sunday School Lesson Plans’), and by December 1964 the organisation had launched a brief e book titled Bukkyō no ningenzō (‘Buddhism’s Human Figure’).

A foreword to that quantity repeated the commonsensical declare that international society confronted unprecedented issues due to the developments of science and expertise, financial development and the rise of mass media. But, all through Buddhist historical past, enlightened people (senkakusha) had repeatedly endured numerous hardships to reply to the wants of their time. Thus, an applicable ‘Buddhist image of the human’ for the current day shouldn’t be some type of summary ideal with no grounding in each day life. Rather, it might develop true Buddhist awakening: ‘Right now within each of us is a strong version of ourselves that can appropriately and dispassionately observe the causes and conditions that inform the phenomenon of impermanence,’ wrote the NYEC authors. ‘Understanding that the things that are subject to change will inevitably change, this [strong] self must itself become unchangeable. To be able to discover the self in this way is to be human.’

There was no legally permissible manner to make youngsters extra non secular in public colleges

Having laid out this guiding imaginative and prescient, the authors supplied a sequence of brief aphoristic statements that exhorted readers to practise benevolence and compassion whereas rejecting crass materialism and shallow frivolity. Rather than being a mere cog in a machine at work, one should domesticate a way of mission (shimeikan). A way of satisfaction would outcome, permitting one to respect the fun in life whereas additionally recognising that every one issues are inevitably topic to change: ‘Moved by the fact that we are gifted with life, we have a mission to work to the full extent of our abilities in society. With humility and unwavering faith, we want to become humans who strive for the happiness of all humanity.’

The indisputable fact that this Buddhist tract was reprinted at the least 10 occasions inside a yr of its preliminary publication means that it had an keen viewers. For instance, the e book garnered fulsome reward from Buddhist luminaries akin to Tomomatsu Entai, who admired its practicality whereas emphasising the language of ‘mission’. When seen as a way of self-improvement, one’s career may even be a ‘shortcut’ to Buddhahood, Tomomatsu averred. Journalists writing for the mainstream Yomiuri newspaper additionally praised the Buddhist initiative as ‘putting some meat on the bones’ of the human determine coverage. And the Japanese Buddhist Federation adopted up within the October 1966 concern of its month-to-month journal Zenbutsu tsūshin (‘Japan Buddhist News’) with articles that described schooling because the ‘original mission’ of Buddhism and enumerated guiding rules for linking Buddhist cultivation with public instruction. In the US and Europe, Christianity could have spurred the rise of capitalism, however in Japan it might be Buddhism that created diligent staff and a affluent future.

Ultimately, the ‘human figure’ posited by Buddhists lay barely askew to the ‘human figure’ imagined by the Ministry of Education. And the ‘human figure’ idea itself was changing into more and more blurry in instructional circles. Facing truculent opposition from the JTU and having little authorized leeway to develop the pious topic that was its said end result, the ‘human figure’ step by step light into obscurity. The quiet failure of the coverage revealed the shortcomings of its preposterous premise: for the entire asserted causal hyperlinks between piety and prosperity, there was no legally permissible manner to make youngsters extra non secular in public colleges, no dependable manner of proving that confessional instruction engendered morality within the first place, no correct manner to measure ‘morality’, and no manner to show that ethical advantage enhanced technical competence.

Yet the ignominious loss of life of the human determine coverage didn’t imply that Japanese educators wholly deserted their efforts to create the ideal human. The alluring notion {that a} Weberian sense of vocation may engender each private probity and nationwide prosperity survived in modified type, informing the pedagogical orientations of a brand new form of for-profit company that took up the Cold War-era job of endowing college students with a way of self-abnegation in pursuit of a mission.

In his landmark research Japan’s New Middle Class (1963), the US sociologist Ezra Vogel confirmed that Japanese suburbanites skilled a extremely stratified society wherein distinguished businessmen exemplified the white-collar success that others aspired to, however didn’t at all times attain. Competition for wealth and status led households to ship their kids to colleges that supplied better probabilities for social development. For-profit academies responded to this new regular by providing personal tutoring to college students after college hours, on weekends and through vacation breaks. Promising improved outcomes on entrance examinations to prestigious center and excessive colleges in addition to universities, these juku (‘cram schools’) had been a pretty addition to the Japanese instructional system for a lot of households.

Japanese journalists noticed the juku phenomenon with fascination. The Yomiuri newspaper started an article sequence titled ‘The Two Schools’. With greater than 3,000 personal academies in Tokyo alone and 30,000 nationwide, it was clear that juku had already develop into a distinguished a part of the Japanese instructional system by the point the sequence began in January 1964. But opinions on the juku had been divided. Positive takes noticed it as a companion within the schooling of a kid, as in a narrative a couple of public college trainer whose baby, younger ‘Mr T’, struggled to carry out academically till he encountered the small-group instruction that his juku offered. By distinction, damaging takes highlighted the high-stakes competitors that the juku atmosphere inspired. Chilling quotes from housewives in Tokyo’s upwardly cell Suginami Ward revealed a cut-throat scramble for instructional benefit. In a world wherein educational credentials had been extremely valued, a diploma from a well-known college was a ‘passport’ to employment at an elite firm, which in flip assured the excessive wage that got here with white-collar employment. One reporter noticed that oldsters risked turning their kids into avaricious drones. As if to show the purpose, when requested why they studied so onerous, kids answered in a disturbingly direct trend: ‘To get rich.’

The pursuit of wealth via educational development got here at nice value. One story on such ‘human investment’ (ningen tōshi) featured a center schooler in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward who used 4 separate supplemental schooling service suppliers every week: piano classes as soon as every week, juku three days every week, an in-home tutor twice every week, and educational development classes on Sundays. Yet at the same time as mother and father recognised that their family budgets couldn’t maintain such expenditures, anxieties about their kids’s futures fostered additional investments in supplemental providers. Expenses associated to strange college additionally mounted: textbooks, provides, lunches, PTA memberships, class charges, area journeys. It was unattainable for the poor to sustain. ‘If parents continue to compete with one another by spending unreasonable amounts of money like this, it will effectively result in educational discrimination,’ mentioned one former elementary college principal.

Juku educated college students to endure lengthy hours pursuing arbitrary objectives set by draconian bosses

Competition for purchasers drove juku operators simply as a lot as competitors for status drove mother and father. Under strain to present individualised instruction to ever-growing numbers of scholars, juku managers invested hundreds of {dollars} in cutting-edge gear just like the Ricoh Synchrofax (a machine that used magnetised paper to reproduce brief, four-minute recorded classes that college students may hear to with earphones). Although representatives of the juku trade careworn that this superior expertise supplemented, however didn’t supplant, the ‘human influence that is the hallmark of the juku’, a Yomiuri information correspondent tartly remarked that, even within the extremely mechanised Space Age, extreme use of expertise ran the danger of creating robotic ‘humans who do not think’.

Unthinking robots and grasping drones. For all of the concentrate on the ‘human figure’, Japan’s high-stakes schooling system was completely dehumanising.

Despite critiques, over the late Nineteen Sixties and into the early ’70s, juku grew to become largely unquestioned parts of Japan’s instructional ecosystem. Between regular college hours, membership actions like sports activities, juku, commuting time and homework, college students may spend 15 or 16 uninterrupted hours a day creating the educational aptitude and social connections that may assist them get forward. Thus, as well as to ostensibly enhancing college students’ possibilities of admission into coveted excessive colleges and establishments of upper studying, juku did one thing else: they educated college students to endure lengthy hours pursuing arbitrary objectives set by draconian bosses. These had been the very qualities they’d be required to show as Japan’s future white-collar staff.

Policymakers had seemed to religions to inculcate a way of ‘mission’ in Japanese youths, however finally it was the for-profit company that took on the function of imbuing them with the specified traits of diligence and self-abnegation. Although the Japanese authorities had made cultivating the ‘human figure’ an official nationwide agenda in 1966, by 1976 the Japanese media handled Japan’s schooling system as astonishingly inhumane.

A TV excerpt on ‘juku’ (crammers) from the Japanese nationwide broadcaster NHK in 1976 is typical of the journalistic therapy that each naturalised and criticised these supplementary instructional establishments. Captions translated by the creator

The ironies didn’t finish there. When these younger folks grew up to exhibit the traits that this dehumanising association had demanded of them, skilled observers denied them the very factor that they’d been exhorted to show all alongside. ‘The boundary that separates the “new human species” from the old is the birth year 1960, the year of the Security Treaty and the start of the period of high economic growth,’ asserted a brief column within the Asahi newspaper in September 1985. ‘Raised by television and surrounded by media, they have no direct knowledge of poverty. Their defining characteristics are frivolity, [use of] digital [media], and [reliance on] manuals.’

Allegedly lazy, egocentric and superficial, the very individuals who had been raised to be ideal ‘human figures’ had been no longer even human in any respect.


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