Thursday June 10, 2010
THE differences between Western and Eastern, particularly Confucian and Buddhist-based, cultures and attitudes towards crisis, hardship and austerity are great, like day and night.
As debtmocratic Greece has shown in the current debt crisis, the ordinary Greeks have resorted to violent demonstrations, strikes and public anger over the various austerity measures being tied to the proposed eurozone and International Monetary Fund rescue package.
While the public outburst over the corrupted Greek government is somewhat justified, their reaction is grossly different from the Confucius and Buddhist-influenced Asians.
The ordinary Greeks should take a very hard look at themselves, and ask honestly whether they should bear a big part of the blame for the serious debt crisis that Greece is in now instead of only violently pointing their fingers at the government for all the blame.
The way the Confucius and Buddhist-influenced Asians would have reacted in such situations would have been totally different. They would have taken the blame mostly on themselves.
We all know that the Japanese economy has not been performing well for the last 20-odd years but do we know the social costs of this slump?
The number of Japanese who committed suicide in Japan in 2009 stayed above 30,000 for the 12th straight year, with suicides due to hardships of life and job losses rising sharply, states a Japanese police survey.
More significantly, suicides traced to job losses surged 65.3% to 1,071 while those due to hardships in life jumped 34.3% to 1,731.
More worrying, depression continued to top the list of reasons for the suicides.
Perhaps even more worryingly, the number of suicides per 100,000 people came to 24.1 among those in their twenties, an all-time high for that age category, and 26.2 among those in their thirties, a record for the third year in a row.
Not surprisingly, the number of suicides jumped in October 2008 – a month after Lehman Brothers collapsed.
This taking-all-the-blame on oneself instead of looking for easy scapegoats can also be seen at another level.
In 2009, monthly suicides increased year-on-year from January to August.
They were especially rampant from March to May as fiscal year-end fund demands picked up during the period.
From 1990 onwards, even as the ordinary Japanese increasingly suffered under the grossly inept Liberal Democratic Party, one has not seen the violent demonstrations, strikes and public anger that is being seen in Greece, at present.
Instead they take their own lives, probably in shame.
As the ordinary Japanese suffers in silence, the economy stumbles from one recession to another. The cycle repeats.
Now, with the global economic recovery in full swing, the ordinary Japanese gets another cyclical and temporary respite from the rising economic hardship.