Why are Japan's morals collapsing?
"For the Japanese," says Seishin Women's College sociologist Kensuke Sugawara, "the center of moral authority was always the neighborhood. Neighbors got together for the ceremonial occasions of life, supported each other, helped each other out. And people were aware of their neighbors' eyes on them, and of the need to take the judgment of others into consideration.It gets worse.
"But neighborhood society broke down" -- a victim of urbanization and the blind rush to economic superpower status. New moral imperatives arose, mandating impersonal conformity and self-sacrifice to the corporate interest. When the corporate interest itself foundered with the bursting of the economic bubble, the new challenge became to live simultaneously as individuals and as responsible members of society. This challenge, in Shukan Post's view, is not being successfully met.
"The other day," says gynecologist Tsuneo Akaeda, who offers free weekly nighttime health consultations in Tokyo's Roppongi, "a third-year junior high school girl came to me; she wanted an abortion. 'It's my third one,' she said, bold as brass. Then there was another girl, a senior high school girl. She too wanted an abortion. 'I can't do it,' I told her, 'without your boyfriend's consent.' 'Oh!' she said. 'But . . . I have a lot of boyfriends. I don't know which is the father.' 'Well,' I said, 'you know roughly when you became pregnant. Doesn't that narrow it down?' 'Not really -- around then I was making it with two guys at the same time . . . ' "I'm a true believer in the importance of morals and the disaster of the lack thereof. Moral decadence will be the downfall of Japan if they don't take this problem seriously. It's not just Japan, it's happening worldwide, Japan just seems to be the poster-child of moral decay.
It's no surprise any more that kids are shedding their virginity younger and younger, though the actual numbers are rather surprising: According to one survey Shukan Post cites, 35.7 percent of third-year senior high school boys, and 44.3 percent of girls, have already crossed that milestone.
Their parents, meanwhile -- roughly half, say the experts -- are increasingly sexless, either stewing in varying blends of exhaustion and frustration, or else -- the numbers here too are rising -- taking their frustration to the streets and discos in search of extra-marital partners.
UPDATE: Reading Japundit today, there is a post and discussion about the latest poster girl, she's 9 years old. Something, something has got to give!