has caused widespread mental illness and is responsible for a deepening demographic crisis, government officials say.
Statistics indicate that 60 per cent of workers suffer from “high anxiety” and that 65 per cent of companies report soaring levels of mental illness.
Not only that but the population is decreasing and
for the first time the Government has acknowledged that the falling birth rate is linked to job-related factors. Directors of the Japanese Mental Health Institute blame the same factors for rising levels of depression among workers and the country’s suicide rate, which remains the highest among rich nations.
Merit-based pay and promotion are of particular concern because they are at odds with the traditional system, built on seniority, that has reigned supreme in corporate Japan. In the harsh new atmosphere of cut-throat rivalry between workers, the Institute for Population and Social Security argues, young people do not feel financially stable enough to start families.
The trend is put down to Japanese companies’ attempts to globalise by adopting working practices more closely in line with US and British models. Larger numbers of temporary staff, a greater willingness to sack people and greater pay disparities are the downside.
A spokesman for the Mental Health Institute said that the emphasis on individual performance was driving Japanese workers — particularly those in their thirties — to mental turmoil. “People tend to be individualised under the new working patterns,” he said. “When people worked in teams they were happier.”
That led to my ruminating on whether we're supposed to be ants. Yes, yes...Japan's culture is different from our own; but, for a while at least, Japan looked to be out-Westering the Western Europeans and the Americans ... until they went crazy.
I'm sure that there are folks that will look at these reports from Japan and vigorously renew the claim that individual rights and individual freedoms are chimeras, things that are too shaky, too evanescent to use as a foundation for a social structure. People should give up the idea that the individual is important. They should accept that the state, the society, the culture gives real meaning to the lives of its citizens.
I believe otherwise, most fervently otherwise.