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Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 03:29 am
Utsu: drugging the ordinary sadness of Japanese and children

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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 03:09 pm (UTC)

Because suicide in Japan is not essentially a matter of your head, but of your face. It is more about shame, honour, appearances, omote than sadness, depression, hopelessness etc. Though obviously there is a connection.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)

The omote / ura distinction (what your face looks like versus where your head is at) applies not just to the motivations for the act of suicide, but also to the way it's discussed.


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krskrft
krskrft
Tue, Jan. 13th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)

I think a good example of this would be:

An American high school student shooting for Yale gets a 1490 instead of a 1600 on the SAT, hence doesn't get accepted, and commits suicide, knowing that the future that has been laid out, planned on for so many years, will not be accomplished. There is an individual hopelessness about the future, and this causes a depression.

In Japan (or Korea, or any comparable honor/face-saving culture), the student shooting for Tokyo University just barely misses the mark on the entrance exam, and commits suicide, knowing that he has failed to meet the expectations of his family, but also the larger, more intangible cultural expectations of somebody in his position. This person perceives that the proper way to demonstrate shame, in this case, is to end his own life. It is the only way to preserve honor and, though the cost is dear, "save face."

So while in the case of the American, we're more likely to see hopelessness and immediate, urgent despair as the primary motivating factors in suicide, it is likely that in the case of the Japanese suicide, there is actually a sort of final "hope" that the suicide will prove a fitting, satisfactory display of honor, such that shame will be cleansed by the action, that "face" will be "saved."


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