Liberty, Harmony and Democracy: Why Democracy Works Ill in Japan?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Keiji FUJIYOSHI, Otemon Gakuin University, Japan
This paper aims to describe the cultural background that hinders a democratic system from working democratically in Japan, by focusing on some words used in a daily life of ordinary Japanese people. As is well known, democracy has been gained by the people who want it in many parts of the world. There we can see how people want to expand the area under their own self-decision. To simplify it, they just want to say “That is none of your business, it is my business,” to their ruler. In this sense, democracy as a political regime corresponds to individualism as a moral stance.

It is important for a society to bring up its people to be “democratic” in order to maintain itself democratic. How can it be possible? Democracy is a social frame which allows people to say “That is none of your business,” in a certain amount. How much amount of this saying does democracy need to keep itself stable in a society? This is a question far beyond the range of this paper but here I want to take a very common Japanese word “Omoiyari.”

A Japanese word “Omoiyari” can be translated into kindness or consideration. The word is often referred as a key concept to maintain harmony in a society by Japanese people regardless of age, gender, social status. It is a common word for Japanese people when they are to solve a certain social or political problem in Japanese and even international society.

The word “Omoiyari” works to prevent people to say “That is none of your business,” which results in the society with democratic system without individualistic moral. This paper tries to describe this mechanism observed in Japan as a case study on the relationship between stability of society and liberty of individuals.