Haiku reflections on Japan

Ijime

Ijime is a

nasty aspect of life which

can lead to worse things.

 

Well, I have finished that book by Ruth Ozeki `A tale for the time being` which I was raving about in the last post and it was brilliant.   Really enjoyable book.    I`m not entirely sure I liked the main character of A tale for the time being, also called Ruth, but the discussions between her and her husband are interesting and I did like the book overall.    Nice inclusion of a few historical facts and the footnotes were interesting explaining certain cultural elements of Japan, for those who aren`t in the know (though it`s a bit of a pain usually to have to read a footnote cos your train of thought is usually taken off track.

DON`T read this next paragraph if you don`t want to see spoilers!!

Serious issues came up in the book like ijime (bullying) and suicide which has a different level to it.     I have heard about bullying in Japanese schools mostly through reports about it in the Japanese online newspapers.    A scene in the book reminded me of something I thought I had seen on tv but actually I`ve just realized that it`s a scene in a Japanese film Nobody Knows (about the children neglected by their mother) where this girl, an acquaintance of the children, who is being bullied, comes across a shrine made up for her in the bike shed of the school.  Well, this actually happens in this book.   The bullies first make a point of physically abusing the girl, ambushing her at one point with the intention of raping her, and then they go the opposite way and act as if she is not there at all.  This then goes onto the final stage where they arrange a pretend funeral for her!!   What is more shocking is the homeroom teacher takes part in the last two stages (and probably overlooks the first stage).     The girl`s father has his own issues to deal with including trying to kill himself as he feels is a disappointment to his family.

It`s now safe to read on

Suicide and bullying are often related of course but not necessarily.  Suicide is not always because of bullying and bullying does not always lead to the victim committing suicide.  Suicide has been a big part of Japanese culture and history – especially among the warrior class centuries ago (or even people in the last century who carried on the samurai traditions).  They had to do this when defeated, making it look `honourable`.    Making the long-dead responsible though is an easy cop out.   Everybody is responsible for themselves (except children of course).  Bullying among peer groups at school and in other areas of life has been happening for a long time.  It`s just that nowadays suicide seems to be the only answer people feel they have, their only escape from the bullies.   And it`s becoming a worrying trend among teenagers.   That is sad.      I know how cruel teenagers can be.  I was bullied at school, mercilessly, and I hated going to school because of it.  It didn`t even enter my mind (to do anything drastic) but I did dread going to school and it sometimes springs to mind when I hear of all this bullying, online or not.  I also find myself thinking that I`m glad the internet wasn`t in place when I was at school as it would have been even worse.    Anyhow, I don`t know why they feel suicide is their only option.   Maybe they need to be taught to value their lives more.  It`s not only young kids who are resorting to such desperate measures though.   A politician in his 60s committed suicide last year because of comments made to him over the web.

These cyber bullies are trolls.  The adults (and I use that word very loosely) who hide behind cyber walls and pick on young teenagers are the worst but  they are all morons at the end of the day. They should be ignored or blocked and I know this is easier said than done.   F/B (and other sites) aren`t exactly helping.   Freedom of expression my eye.   These cyberbullies obviously have NOTHING better to do with their spare time than `express` themselves to the extent that they drive people to torment.  True: how you react to this is up to you but it does not make it ok for them to make the life of another person a misery.

 

However, back to Japan, if 6 year old boys can jump from buildings because of bullying (that happened last year and yes, I`m sure it was as young as 6 this boy was) then Japan has serious issues with bullying also.   How does a child as young as 6 know anything about suicide?  I thought that funeral scene in the novel was really creepy though (I don`t think that`s spoiling it so don`t worry I haven`t just spoiled the warning about the spoiler!!).

 

 

 

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