‘Miracle’ at a Price
WITHOUT a doubt, the Japanese miracle is a unique phenomenon. It is a wonder to see an entire nation build itself up from defeat and ruin to become one of the world’s strongest economic powers, and this in one generation. All of this, as we have seen, has been achieved through rigorous education, hard work, and personal sacrifice, which other nations are unlikely to duplicate.
But what has this miracle brought for the Japanese? Beyond the surface glitter, has it brought them true happiness and contentment? Underneath the prosperity and affluence, there are disturbing signs that Japanese society is losing its traditional values and gradually is becoming embroiled in the problems and ills plaguing other industrialized nations.
To a great extent, many of these problems are by-products of the system itself. For example, experts have noted a sharp rise in cases of depression and suicide among men in their 40’s and 50’s in management positions. The Daily Yomiuri quoted author Von Woronoff as saying: “Polls reveal many Japanese are unhappy with their jobs and would quit if they had the chance.” But they feel trapped by the seniority-based pay and promotion system. This is one reason why lifetime employment is no longer the ultimate dream among the younger generation. “For people in their 20’s and 30’s, loyalty to the company is zero,” said a Tokyo management consultant.
Similarly, absence of the father from the home, discontent of the mother with her demanding role, and the grinding pressure at school have aggravated the rising tide of juvenile delinquency in Japan, which recently has become a national issue. These factors are also responsible for the escalating divorce rate, which has doubled in the last ten years.
The economic success has also provided the Japanese with more money and more leisure time to spend it. This has fostered the new wave of me-ism, which runs contrary to the self-sacrificing work ethic and the group spirit that have been their secret of success. Observers are concerned that this trend, which gives no sign of abating, eventually could spell the demise of the miracle.
Regardless of whether this will take place or not, one thing is certain. We are living in a time of unprecedented global problems—political, military, economic, environmental, social, religious, and so on. Can an economic miracle in one nation, even if it were to last, solve all these problems? Hardly. What is needed is a miracle on a worldwide scale.
Japan’s 96,000 witnesses of Jehovah are telling people about just such a miracle—God’s Messianic Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) Under that Kingdom, what was said of Jehovah God by the psalmist will take place: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16) Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to share the “good news” with you so that you may live and enjoy the Kingdom blessings soon to come.