Recently by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers: The Trickle Becomes a Flood?
"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you." ~ Pericles
I sit at the Yakitori-ya (BBQ chicken on sticks restaurant) and nurse my beer and a few delicious sticks of chicken. Tanaka san, the neighborhood school English teacher, howls besides me about the decline of Japanese civilization.
“Japanese kids today don’t care about studying English. They don’t want to go to the United States anymore. They are not fascinated by the west. If Japanese kids don’t learn about other cultures, especially the United States, Japanese culture is doomed!” He says.
I think, "Japanese culture is doomed if Japanese kids don't learn about American culture!?" I laugh and have another sip.
Tanaka san comes from an older generation of Japanese that were born just after the war. He is from the generation that grew up with Elvis Presley and Rock and Roll music. The United States, to his generation of Japanese, represented dreams and freedom. Tanaka san even has posters of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe — American idols from a day long gone past — on the walls of his classroom. But, that’s not what the United States represents to young Japanese people anymore…
I say to him, “Don’t worry about it, Tanaka san. It’s not the end of Japanese culture and civilization, it is just the end of the United States as you know it. You are just witnessing the fall of the American empire, that’s all.”
Tanaka san stares at me incredulously at the blasphemy emitting from my mouth.
“Seriously, that’s what it is, Tanaka san. Japanese kids are not interested in the United States anymore NOT so much because the Japanese kids have changed that much. Kids will always be kids and interested in fun and excitement. Today's Japanese kids are not interested in the United States because the United States isn’t fun and exciting anymore. It has changed, and not for the better. The United States isn’t a good place full of good dreams.
It used to be that the USA were the good guys, but they are not anymore. The USA and NATO lackeys as well as the UN (which has become a rubber stamp organization for US imperialism) bomb and destroy the homes and families of brown-skinned people all over the world 24/7 and it is obvious to everyone (excepting many Americans).
I also hear that Japanese student enrollment at Ivy League universities is way down. I know for a fact the enrollment in English schools inside of Japan has crashed. I submit to you that it is because of at least three things:
- The United States has a very bad image of a country full of crime and a definitive lack of safety
- The United States has a very bad image of a country full of abusive police and a police state (TSA, Homeland Security, etc…)
- The United States and its people have the image of a nation of over weight war mongers
I’d like to add another one to that list, but I don’t think most Japanese realize this, and that is: Far too many Americans are completely out of touch and ignorant to the extent of the murder the US government and military are involved in in the name of the American people. The really dumb Americans act like and say, “I’m apolitical.” When, in fact, it is these very same people who are responsible for what that country has become. They can bury their heads in the sand all they want. But they are responsible.
I wonder if the sixties artists who protested the Vietnam war, guys like Bob Dylan, would have gotten very far if while the Vietnam War was going on and we were bombing those people 24/7, he’d have shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know about it. I’m apolitical.”
Ha! How can you be apolitical when your country takes your money and uses it to kill children in other countries? That’s like Germans in World War II saying they are apolitical while the Nazis killed minorities and Jews and wiped out entire populations.
“Yeah… But, well, I don’t know about that!” Typical American says.
Since when has ignorance been an excuse?
So this situation is why Japanese kids are no longer fascinated with the USA. I believe it is also a big reason American and western rock artists are no longer popular here. Guys like Michael Jackson used to be able to sell out Tokyo Dome! Today? No way, not even Coldplay or Lady Gaga. There's no western artist in the entire world that can sell out tokyo Dome today. Japanese artists, on the other hand, sell out multiple nights in a row at the dome.
What ever happened to western musicians who had a message and something to say? Weren’t politically charged and motivated artists in the sixties moving entire segments of society? They sure were in Japan!
What’s the difference between the artists of those days and today’s American artists? Back in those days, the American military were bombing and killing brown skinned children 24/7, in a few countries, yet American musicians sang about it and protested. They were popular all over the world.
Today, the American military are bombing and killing brown skinned children all over the world 24/7, in a half dozen countries, yet American musicians, for the large part, are in muted silence… They tell me, “I’m apolitical.”
Ha! Yeah, and you American Rock musicians are not popular and don’t sell your music all over the world like you used to either.
I wonder if there is a connection?
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He is the president of an Internet & Cross Media advertising/marketing agency and a media production company named Universal Vision. He writes about marketing, the Internet and Social Media at the Modern Marketing Japan blog. His book, Schizophrenic in Japan, went on sale in 2005.