Friday, February 10, 2012

The Japanese Idea of "Freedom" and an American's Idea of "Freedom" is Different



The average Japanese doesn't know how good they've got it. In Japan, crime is virtually non-existent, the police don't hassle people (never hear of "police brutality") and one can feel safe in their own neighborhood at night. America is not a free country at all anymore. Nevertheless, I often meet Japanese people who have been to the United States and they tell me that they love the country because it is "freedom."




I've come to the conclusion that the idea of what "freedom" is to a Japanese person is different from what "freedom" is to an American.


The Japanese confuse "wide open spaces" with "freedom."


Watch the video below of the famous Japanese girl's group, "Puffy." This video was shot in the USA. This is pretty indicative of what Japanese people consider "freedom." Watch it for a minute.

video


You see? Wide roads, convertible cars the size of boats, wide open spaces, Statue of Liberty, California palm trees, having a big assed dog, sandy beaches, Los Angeles freeways, driving out in the middle of the desert... These are the things that represent "freedom" to a Japanese.


What represents "freedom" to an American? Well, of course I can't speak for all Americans, but huge cars, big dogs, sandy beaches and Los Angeles freeways (as well as concrete statues) do not represent freedom to me in the least.


Freedom is, to me, is the ability to walk down the street in a major city and smoke a cigarette (I don't smoke) or drink in public or to be able to walk out of my house any time at night or day without the oppression or fear that I am going to be attacked or robbed... And that means being attacked or robbed by criminals or the police, but I repeat myself. These are all things taken for granted in Japan. 


Freedom is, to me, to be able to do what I want as long as I don't interfere with other people or bother them. Or to not have other people or the police infringe upon me for no apparent reason.


Freedom is not the United States in 2012 that is for sure.


Sandy Beaches in California? Sure. Just make sure you don't barbecue or throw a Frisbee or a football or dig too deep a sand castle on an Los Angeles beach. It's now a $100 dollar fine if you do.


CBS reports in LA County Updates Ordinance on Ball, Frisbee Throwing at beaches:

According to Lucy Kim, from the LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors, a first-time offender will have to pay a $100 fine. For a second offense, beach-goers will face a $200 fine. Three or more infractions within one year will result in a $500 fine, Kim said.
The new ball and Frisbee tossing rules will be relaxed during the winter off-season.
The ordinance also prohibits digging any hole deeper than 18 inches into the sand, except where permission is granted for film and TV production services only.
♫ The home of the brave... 
and the land...of the... freeeeeeeeeeeee! ♫

Right! They are going to relax the rules in winter off-season... Great! Nobody goes to the beach in winter off-season!


Of course throwing a Frisbee or football at the beach isn't the complete or comprehensive definition of freedom. Nor is children being able to make sand castles as they wish; neither is the ability to drink or smoke at the beach (neither of which is legal on California State beaches). But I think these are pretty symptomatic of a very un-free country.


Freedom in Japan today blows away freedom in the USA today... Evidence? Here, here, here, here, here and here, just to point out a few.


We can drink and smoke in public, throw Frisbees and make sand castles as we please... Heck, we even have convertible cars too... Admittedly we're a tad bit short on the wide roads department but we have the best public transit and train and subway system in the entire world to make up for that.


Probably not the perfect definition of freedom, but a heck of a lot closer than today's USA is.

23 comments:

Kevin Riley said...

Agree 110%. I've never felt freer to do the things I want than here in Japan. To me, Japan is the perfect libertarian paradise - I can do as I please as long as I'm not impinging upon the rights of others. I love this place.

You couldn't ever get me to live in Amerika.

mikeintokyorogers said...

That's the USS of A to you, Riley! And salute when you say that!

Marc Sheffner said...

I think "freedom" for Japanese means an environment where people don't care what you do or say (pretty much). The prison Japanese feel they are in is "the eyes of others" (人の目). Life is a performance and everyone is watching you. All the time. But go to the States and no-one is watching you! (Well, only Americans and they don't count cuz they're furriners!)

I went to the States once. The first thing I noticed was how many goddam rules there are and how goddam bossy everyone is. It started in the plane on the tarmac at Tokyo airport, and just got worse as we approached the USS of A (I'm salutin! I'm saluting!).

PS Interesting to compare the Puffy video with Shooter Jennings' 4th of July video. Wonder where Puffy and the Japanese got their idea of freedom from?

mikeintokyorogers said...

Marc,
Excellent observation. Yep. I'd agree with you. Japanese people are very concerned with what the neighbors think... Well, when they are in the USA, their neighbors are 6000 miles away! Who cares what Ba-chan thinks?

mikeintokyorogers said...

PS: Yes, indeed Americans are so bossy and such busy-bodies it is annoying as hell!

Boo said...

I wonder how many times the Puffy girls were groped by government airport employees while they travelled around filming that freedom video.

RYO said...

Freedom is state of mind like someone said. I really hope every one of my friend feel free even in the packed commuting tokyo subway.

Anonymous said...

Japan is superior in that its masses are not a brainwashed bunch of overweight christian fundamentalists / zionist consumers.

Perhaps a sense of freedom and righteousness occurs where religion is scarce.

diego.a said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Don't disagree with you, but what are we supposed to do? You are just complaining again about a subset of Americans who think USA is #1. It's not. No news there.

mikeintokyorogers said...

What are we supposed to do? Whine. Do nothing. Watch TV. Why don't you do what I did? I left. I left because there seemed to be NO ONE else who could see or wanted to see what was coming. You either fight or leave. That's what you're supposed to do! What do you do? Do you get involved with politics or charity? No? Probably not. Usually people who sit there and ask, "What are we supposed to do?" Are the ones who need to be told what to do. How about getting off your ass and turning off the TV and doing something, anything! Here's an easy one that I did, but you won't do it..: "Riots? Revolution? Naw: Credit Cards".

mikeintokyorogers said...

Ryo, Every single one of your friend should feel free on the packed Tokyo subway trains. Why? because they can just walk off anywhere they like. Why don't they? As Marc pointed out, they have an oppression of the mind, "In the eyes of others"... What would the neighbors or boss or co workers think if they came to work 30 minutes later? In America, you can't walk away from the oppression and crime and police brutality it is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Well not to be a nit picker, but in Tokyo you cant really walk and smoke at the same time. Depending on the ward you are in, you cant even smoke in public as there is an all out ban(I hate those parts of tokyo). Maybe most Japanese people disregard that law as I saw quite a few people smoke on the streets, however as a gaijin I didnt want to attract any bad attention to the police because I didnt always have my passport on me like you are supposed to(it was my little protest against stupid "you must hold papers to ID you" laws, but a dumb protest none the lest as I could have probably been in big trouble for not carrying it around) But Japan does have way more lax smoking in public laws then the USA does. I never eat at mcdonalds, but when I was in Japan I just had to go into a mcdonalds and smoke, just so I could say I was able to smoke in a mcdonalds. Almost every state here has banned smoking in restaraunts and it was refreshing to be able to smoke in many private institutions in Japan.

Anonymous said...

You can spin your visceral dislike of the US as righteous indignation. But at some point, people may start to think it is something more sinister.

mikeintokyorogers said...

"Something more sinister"!? Ohhh! What ribaldry could that possibly be, hmmm? Say! Isn't this mysterious? What other "sinister" plans could I have up my sleeve? Oh! The suspense is just killing me! "Sinister" ???!!! That's funny!

mikeintokyorogers said...

About no smoking in Tokyo. Please refer: "Americans for non smokers rights".
"In May 2003, Japan enacted the Health Promotion Law, which requires those in charge of public places to prevent secondhand smoke exposure, but the law is generally disregarded in all areas. Some neighborhoods in Tokyo have prohibited smoking on sidewalks without addressing the issue of secondhand smoke indoors."
No smoking and walking is enforced in most Tokyo Wards. But there are plenty of places you can smoke outside in any Tokyo ward. The walking around and smoking is frowned upon. Even in Chiyoda ku, there are many outside smoking areas (mostly near train stations)... Like I said, if you walk and smoke, you might get stopped and asked to put out your cigarette. I have heard of one person getting fined before. Usually they just ask you to put it out.

Anonymous said...

To some degree it seems that Germany is the worst of both worlds.

People are very nosy, and for almost any minor faux pas, they will either complain, or ring up the police.

It isn't what will the neighbors think, but what will they complain about next.

Good luck doing anything on a Sunday. People will complain about washing a car, trimming hedges, or almost anything else for that matter, because one shouldn't do any work on a Sunday.

Freedom only begins at ones holiday.

Ordnung ueber alles.

Andy "In Japan" said...

Like Mike, I've lived in America and was raised there, but live in Japan now. I can assure everyone, with 100% certainty that there is more liberty in Japan than in America.

Having said that, let's recognize that it is a mixed bag. In Japan there is no freedom to home school your child, though the public schools do appear to be far superior to those in America. In most states in America, home schooling is an option.

Also, in America, in most states but not in some big cities, you can keep a firearm in your home if you feel you need to protect yourself or your family against criminals. Personal ownership of firearms seems more or less forbidden in Japan. Then again, the crime rate here is extremely low.

Hands down, Japan defeats America in the race for liberty.

Anonymous said...

Can't walk and smoke at the same time? Sounds kind of funny. "Hey, Tanaka-san, can't you walk and smoke at the same time or are you too much of a klutz? Oh, it's against the law. Never mind"

mikeintokyorogers said...

THanks folks. Thanks Andy.
You can own firearms in Japan. The rules are very strict (mostly for hunting only). My fatherinlaw has two rifles that he use for hunting, but he keeps them locked up in a glass case. I guess it's the rules.


If you want to know why Japan hasn't allowed firearms for regular people (merchant classes) for hundreds of years: "Kungfu Master for Beginners".

"the origins of martial arts.

...Japan is an ancient country that was established over 2,700 years ago. Beliefs and ways of life are handed down through many generations. Of course all things change over time. But even in today's Japan, not only hand-guns, but even "Katana" (Samurai swords), are illegal for the average person. It has always been this way in Japan.



At about the time of the death of Christ, all Asian countries were very class segregated societies. There were the aristocrats, the farmers, the merchants, the warrior class, peasants, outcasts, etc.



Even in the old days of Western class society — during the European Monarchies, it was forbidden for classes to intermingle. This is where many ideas of fables of princes marrying commoners, like Cinderella, were born. In Asia, it was the same; excepting the girls had dark hair.



These were the days of struggle for control of the land between various warlords. So in most of Asia, including Japan, only the warrior classes were allowed to have weapons.



For over a thousand years, wars were fought between the warrior classes for control of territory and for honor. These wars were first generational warfare. The armies would decide when and where to meet and they would fight it out at the appointed place. To be defeated, would mean to bring disgrace upon one's name and family.



These battles, as well as who won or lost, usually did not affect the people in the other classes. For the merchants and farmers, it didn't matter who was warlord at the time. They would be taxed. Of course there was no concept of democracy — or even the notion of the people rising up and fighting the warrior class.



But if only warriors could have weapons, then how did the other classes of people defend themselves?

And here is where Martial arts like Kung Fu and Karate were born. Even though the exact history is unknown, it is generally believed that the origins of Martial arts in Japan can be traced back to around 2000 years ago. Even further back, these methods of training and self-defense are said to come from a priest from India, named Dharma, almost 4000 years ago.



Since the peasants and farmers were not allowed to own weapons, they learned how to use farm tools and sticks as lethal weapons for self-defense. The local warlords could not outlaw sticks or scythes from the farmers. The farmers needed these tools to care for their crops.



These tools, then, became the tools for Kung Fu and other ancient Eastern ways to fight.... Karate, by the way, means, "empty hand.

"

Since the warriors were all employed by the aristocrats, the warlords — in order to consolidate power — ordered all weapons taken away from the other classes. In Japan's case, Toyotomi Hideyoshi instituted this law, called the "Sword hunt" in 1585. The collected weapons were all melted down and the Great Buddha statues were built."

Anonymous said...

It seems quite easy to upset Americans. Do you actually believe what you write, or are you doing it for fun?

mikeintokyorogers said...

"Do you actually believe what you write, or are you doing it for fun?" Is this an intentionally dumb question? 1) Of course I believe it: Read the commentators and you can see that experienced people agree. 2) Doing this for fun? Of course, do you see any banners or pop-up ads here? 1.5 years of consistent blogging and about 1 million page views in that short time had better be fun. Most people blog for 5 ~ 8 years and don't hit 1 million views. Think about it. 1 million views on a personal blog is a lot. My I now bow? Thank you.

Jimbo said...

I think the drinking laws are the best reflection of Japan's superiority with regard to personal liberty. I live in Oklahoma and can't buy booze on Sunday, only 3% beer. Why? Because some prudes over 100 years ago thought it wrong to drink liquor on the lord's day. Also, if you want to go to a bar, you'd better be out by 2am, because that's what time they MUST close by LAW. In Japan? I can be blotto on the train ride home from the bar I just left at 6am. Should I get wasted until all hours of the evening on a Sunday? Probably not, but that is irrelevant. If the the government can regulate the time and manner of of when and where you can ingest certain things, where does it end? It doesn't end.
I might get treated like a second-class citizen by Japan's government sometimes, but it sure is better than being treated like a child in my own country all the time!