Please forgive my silence this week. The computer problem I mentioned previously was more serious than I initially realised. In the meantime, I have been looking at the 2001 CBCJ document Reverence for Life and have been struck by several parts. Over the next few weeks I will try to post small excerpts for reflection and discussion, interspersed by other content.

Economic priorities and the distortion of Japanese society

3. Japan rebuilt itself out of the ashes of World War II. However, many human values were sacrificed in the pursuit of economic development.
Placing our priority on economic development has led to putting our children through an examination hell for places in schools and has turned adults into cogs in an economic machine that allows no rest. As a result, family ties have weakened.
If we listen carefully to the voices from our schools and workplaces, we can hear the pain of those whose lives are being warped by our economic priorities. We judge people by their usefulness in achieving economic goals. As a result, the elderly, the handicapped and others who are not considered useful in the pursuit of profit are shunted out of the mainstream.
We are convinced that unless we change our values there is no meaningful future for Japan. We must reaffirm the value of each and every person and the sacredness of life.

This is only the third paragraph in the document, and is already an exceedingly powerful statement on the state of the contemporary Japanese social mechanism. Each of these seven sentences states in an utterly unreserved way truths at which have been hinted a thousand times in as many different ways by all elements of Japanese, and yet none could ever come out and simply admit to the horror that has seduced the Japanese machine. Could it be that it took a “foreign” formation, namely the Catholic perspective, to see what has happened and name it?

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