The Japanese yen is now 86 to the dollar and Japan’s exporters are sighing with relief. Meanwhile, Fukushima…radiation so high – even robots not safe – YouTube
It is increasingly and painfully obvious, there is no way to fix Fukushima. None. The concept that something is unfixable is hard for humans to understand. Yet, it has happened to Japan. The Japanese hope to export more and more again and thus, fix what is broken but what broke is internal as well as external.
This thinking of mine comes after roaming around parts of Tokyo via Google maps. In the news in Japan, increasingly, are stories of people killing each other and committing suicide or killing children or children throwing themselves off of roofs or in front of trains as everyone there is mentally stressed out and facing a sense of unescapable doom.
We might even think that Japan is the most suicidal nation on earth but it certainly is not. Here is the list: WHO | Suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex (Table)
Most are former Soviet states. One of the iron rules of history is, when a major empire collapses, this is both external and internal. The government ceases, things go backwards very rapidly and people go into despair. Or rather, MEN go into despair. The ratio of men killing themselves is three to four times higher than women who have the natural hope of having children to keep them going. A biological imperative that is quite powerful.
Kill that and everything goes and this is exactly what is happening to…Korea. The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea – Suicides Rising Sharply Among Women, Elderly, Educated
Korea’s suicide rate has skyrocketed since the Asian economic crisis and is now 2.3 times higher than the rate of death from traffic accidents. In the 1990s, about 7.3 people for every 100,000 committed suicide, but that has soared especially among women, the elderly, highly educated people, professionals, and divorcees.
The number of women who killed themselves rose 2.8 times from 1,853 in 1996 to 5,237 in 2010, and among men 2.5 times. The suicide rate for women was 19.7 for every 100,000 people in 2009, the highest in the OECD and 25 times greater than in Greece.
Women are less prone to suicide than men, but whereas in the U.K. and Germany the suicide rate among women is just a quarter or one-third of that among men, in Korea it is 50.7 percent.
What is going on there? I like to look at statistics and numbers before going into any conversation because we never know what is really going on. We all operate on various assumptions. Korea stands out like a sore thumb due to its women killing themselves at double the rate of the worst suicidal nations.
Here is some random street shots from Google maps in Seoul, South Korea:
I roam around Japan a lot looking at how they actually live. Tokyo, when one leaves the center, is amazingly shabby with extremely narrow alley-like streets and there is this profound sense of alienation there. Looking at Seoul, it is better organized with straighter streets but it looks very similar to Japan with the jumble of houses all crowding as close to the street as possible while being closed off from the street, psychologically. Also, there are more cars in Korea compared to comparable neighborhoods in Japan.
Today, I strolled around Adachi, Tokyo due to it being in the news as a crime location this last week. Yesterday, two drunk ladies got in a fatal fight at 3am and one killed the other with a shot glass to the face. Here are some street shots chosen for sheer whim:
This is a temple. Adachi was once a group of small villages. Each had its own clan burial grounds and all over Tokyo are these shrines with graves. The graves are crowded in the front and sides like buildings in the modern neighborhoods.
All over this neighborhood it is collection day and no garbage cans. I saw only bags all over the place. Note the very narrow street and no sidewalks (those are rare in Japan) and the funky stripped sign. You can see the cross street in it and these things are all over the place because of the narrow roads that twist and turn at odd angles.
Two days ago, a man was arrested for running over a 16 month old child allowed to ramble in the narrow street by his mother when she put out her bags of trash (or so she claimed).
Here is another temple. A work crew is there with men guiding traffic. Except there is virtually no traffic. Unlike where I roamed in Korea, here, there are bikes everywhere. And very few cars.
An early morning on a shopping street.
Same shopping street with artwork. All over Japan are these cartoon characters. It is as if the country has turned into a continuous daycare center. As children vanish, as women give up, these things denoting a lost childhood proliferate. There is something very wrong going on in the former Soviet countries as well as the most capitalist parts of Asia. China be forewarned: China has both elements.
Then there is the US: we go for mass murder, not suicide. Our suicide rate is very low. But our murder rate or murder/suicide rate is very high. When someone in Asia or Europe kills themselves, usually it is themselves. Here, they take their entire families and assorted strangers. For every suicide in the rest of the world, we have multiple murders.
I would suggest our own self-destruction is similar to the chaos in say, Africa, which has mostly a low suicide rate but a high rate of other forms of destruction including, of course, wars. Which the US seems addicted to, also. Then there are our inner cities: when I roam these in the US, it is very depressing. Much worse than Asia or the former Soviet states.
Nothing beats our internal destruction of Detroit. And then there is Haiti: a very low suicide rate and it barely exists as a society. How odd it is, how people can cling to the Raft of the Medusa there and still struggle to survive whereas educated women in Korea kill themselves or then there is the crazed Korean gunman here who went berserk and instead of killing himself, slew innocent bystanders.
Easy to do in the US. All too easy. And here we are, watching a debate about one killing in Florida while the river of blood and despair flows like the Mississippi River dumping all the gore into the Gulf of Despair.
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