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1 hour ago, Drew87 said:

If it was so excellent, wouldn’t birth rates be a tad higher?

That has a lot more to do with cost of living (which is typically a sign of prosperity, at least near to medium term) and physical space than life being bad for the Japanese.

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2 hours ago, TripNSweep said:

This is 100% right. It doesn't matter if you speak the language flawlessly and know the customs. You'll always be a foreigner and second class to them. There's ethnic Koreans who are 2nd and 3rd generation who can't advance in society because they aren't Japanese, despite having been born there and don't know any other country. 

Yes, historically, Japan has been very xenophobic; there is an unwritten pecking order in terms of races and Japan perceives itself at the top of that order; as a generalized statement, they believe themselves to be the "chosen" race (of course, you can find any number of Japanese who disavow that notion, but they will also be able to tell you about the basis for that deep seeded belief that has to do with the legends as to the "birth of Japan"). But being Japanese comes with a price tag. I often felt sad for my Japanese friends because of the social and familial demands put upon them. If Grandpa says that you are coming over for dinner on Sunday then you are going to dinner on Sunday - period. Who you marry is not solely your choice - the family (traditionally) has a say in it. Being Japanese comes with all sorts of obscure obligations - it is not a party to which I would want to be invited.

Indeed, as a white foreigner I was sometimes refused service in restaurants - not because I was white but rather, because I wasn't Japanese. Sometimes at a local bar my price for a beer was double that of a more familiar local. Certainly it mattered that I wasn't Japanese, but it was more about that I wasn't part of the familiar local group - I was infringing on the "warm intimate familiarity" they shared with one another. Japan is heavily predicated on the notion of the "in" and the "out." At the highest levels, in and out are decided by race. Even Japanese-born Koreans experience subtle degrees of racial bias because their "blood isn't Japanese." They might look Japanese, but the card they carry reveals they aren't "wareware" (we, the Japanese). It is like a series of concentric circles - the "in" group and the "out" group. The ultimate "in" group is immediate family and a Japanese person owes ultimate loyalty and responsibility to that group and lesser degrees of loyalty to friends with whom they may have gone to school. It's all part of a parsing and ranking process the Japanese go through when sizing you up so that they can better understand how they should deal with you.

One time I was drinking at a bar and an older Japanese gentleman opened a conversation with me (speaking to an unknown foreigner would be a really rare event in Japan, but he was a little drunk so...). He asked me why us white Americans treated Blacks so badly in the US (this was 30 years ago, mind you). I explained to him that while his observation wasn't necessarily incorrect, many white Americans would also agree that such treatment is not appropriate or fair. And then I turned the table on him and asked "How about you Japanese - why do the Japanese treat the Koreans so badly here in Japan?" His response: "That's different - we really are better than them." I could only shake my head.

I could write a book on the mistakes I made when I was trying to date Japanese girls - if you think reading women in our own culture is hard, try to date a Japanese girl - you'll never get it right! I can only laugh about it now.

Edited by npope

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34 minutes ago, wrestlingnerd said:

That has a lot more to do with cost of living (which is typically a sign of prosperity, at least near to medium term) and physical space than life being bad for the Japanese.

I do believe the younger generations would take umbrage with this.  Please offer this up for input in this forum regarding the US and the relative “prosperity” of younger generations at a child-bearing age, I anticipate a Tornado.

I usually really like your takes @wrestlingnerd, but not a huge fan of this one.  I lived and worked in Hong Kong for five years, and I can assure you that, while the city is technically prosperous from an economic textbook standpoint, the implications of same are horrific for the populous.  More than 50% of the population lives in government housing.  The most prosperous upper middle class  professionals must be tri-lingual, work 90 hour weeks and live with their parents into their mid 30’s(not by choice) despite making mid-6 figures a year, when they can finally afford a 300-500 sq ft apartment for a few million USD.  Then they have the privilege of trying to have children and paying for that child to navigate the education system.  

Economic output =/= prosperity.

 

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53 minutes ago, npope said:

Yes, historically, Japan has been very xenophobic; there is an unwritten pecking order in terms of races and Japan perceives itself at the top of that order; as a generalized statement, they believe themselves to be the "chosen" race (of course, you can find any number of Japanese who disavow that notion, but they will also be able to tell you about the basis for that deep seeded belief that has to do with the legends as to the "birth of Japan"). But being Japanese comes with a price tag. I often felt sad for my Japanese friends because of the social and familial demands put upon them. If Grandpa says that you are coming over for dinner on Sunday then you are going to dinner on Sunday - period. Who you marry is not solely your choice - the family (traditionally) has a say in it. Being Japanese comes with all sorts of obscure obligations - it is not a party to which I would want to be invited.

Indeed, as a white foreigner I was sometimes refused service in restaurants - not because I was white but rather, because I wasn't Japanese. Sometimes at a local bar my price for a beer was double that of a more familiar local. Certainly it mattered that I wasn't Japanese, but it was more about that I wasn't part of the familiar local group - I was infringing on the "warm intimate familiarity" they shared with one another. Japan is heavily predicated on the notion of the "in" and the "out." At the highest levels, in and out are decided by race. Even Japanese-born Koreans experience subtle degrees of racial bias because their "blood isn't Japanese." They might look Japanese, but the card they carry reveals they aren't "wareware" (we, the Japanese). It is like a series of concentric circles - the "in" group and the "out" group. The ultimate "in" group is immediate family and a Japanese person owes ultimate loyalty and responsibility to that group and lesser degrees of loyalty to friends with whom they may have gone to school. It's all part of a parsing and ranking process the Japanese go through when sizing you up so that they can better understand how they should deal with you.

One time I was drinking at a bar and an older Japanese gentleman opened a conversation with me (speaking to an unknown foreigner would be a really rare event in Japan, but he was a little drunk so...). He asked me why us white Americans treated Blacks so badly in the US (this was 30 years ago, mind you). I explained to him that while his observation wasn't necessarily incorrect, many white Americans would also agree that such treatment is not appropriate or fair. And then I turned the table on him and asked "How about you Japanese - why do the Japanese treat the Koreans so badly here in Japan?" His response: "That's different - we really are better than them." I could only shake my head.

I could write a book on the mistakes I made when I was trying to date Japanese girls - if you think reading women in our own culture is hard, try to date a Japanese girl - you'll never get it right! I can only laugh about it now.

That's a big part of why I'm not really interested in visiting there. I know some Chinese people who live here and they aren't big fans of Japan either. It's also super expensive to live there, and it's just very strange for a lot of the societal reasons you mentioned. I've had companies reach out to me about moving there and teaching, and I'd rather go someplace, anyplace, else. Not to say they aren't efficient and keep things tidy. It seems a lot like Singapore in some ways. 

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50 minutes ago, Drew87 said:

I do believe the younger generations would take umbrage with this.  Please offer this up for input in this forum regarding the US and the relative “prosperity” of younger generations at a child-bearing age, I anticipate a Tornado.

I usually really like your takes @wrestlingnerd, but not a huge fan of this one.  I lived and worked in Hong Kong for five years, and I can assure you that, while the city is technically prosperous from an economic textbook standpoint, the implications of same are horrific for the populous.  More than 50% of the population lives in government housing.  The most prosperous upper middle class  professionals must be tri-lingual, work 90 hour weeks and live with their parents into their mid 30’s(not by choice) despite making mid-6 figures a year, when they can finally afford a 300-500 sq ft apartment for a few million USD.  Then they have the privilege of trying to have children and paying for that child to navigate the education system.  

Economic output =/= prosperity.

 

You completely missed the short to medium term perspective I very consciously added. Name one "great to live" country in history that didn't have a higher cost of living than most. They don't exist. Which countries are the best to live in currently in the world?

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20 minutes ago, wrestlingnerd said:

You completely missed the short to medium term perspective I very consciously added. Name one "great to live" country in history that didn't have a higher cost of living than most. They don't exist. Which countries are the best to live in currently in the world?

I just happen to disagree with the fact that such notions still apply to Japan from the Bhutanese approach of a “gross domestic happiness” measure.  

That said, do you think modern first world countries are pushing the envelope on that “medium” term? It certainly feels like many of these countries are settling into an increasingly rigid/stratified societal structure.

And regarding which are the best to live in, I think that is seriously up for debate.  The worst ones to live in are quite clear, but most of the traditional “best places to live” are full of overworked underpaid and highly disillusioned young adults living lives that are strikingly similar to those from the early scenes in the Matrix.

I think we are approaching a bit of a precipice on that front, is my long-winded point.

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Not sure what any of this has to do with the Olympics or wrestling in general, but it's a long weekend I'm not actually getting off this year and I'm here to pass time, so why not....

Cynics of the Bhutanese "GDH" measure might reasonably argue that the people in Bhutan are happy because ignorance is bliss. What is happiness anyway? It's very subjective. If you subscribe to Maslow's hierarchy, do the people of Bhutan, one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, self-actualize more than their peers in a developed country like Japan or the US? If Maslow is not for you, is there a more objective measure such as the removal of stress and disease from life, which one could argue can be measured indirectly through a proxy like life expectancy? Japanese life expectancy is among the highest (if not outright highest) in the world and over a dozen years higher than Bhutan's. 

A nation's high economic productivity doesn't guarantee a good life for its citizens, but it generally affords better education, healthcare, technology, and entertainment, all important aspects of life enjoyment. Bringing it back to wrestling, this is a big (not the only) reason why talented athletes from less developed countries immigrate to more developed countries to wrestle but almost never the other way around. The Americans who represent other countries are doing so not to live there but because they can't make the team here. Even in the case of China, which has grown leaps and bounds economically over our lifetimes, it is hard to argue that the standard of living in China has not gone up in the process, and China is one of the most extreme examples given its economic model is a kleptocracy with obscene levels of social and financial inequality. 

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21 minutes ago, wrestlingnerd said:

Not sure what any of this has to do with the Olympics or wrestling in general, but it's a long weekend I'm not actually getting off this year and I'm here to pass time, so why not....

Cynics of the Bhutanese "GDH" measure might reasonably argue that the people in Bhutan are happy because ignorance is bliss. What is happiness anyway? It's very subjective. If you subscribe to Maslow's hierarchy, do the people of Bhutan, one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, self-actualize more than their peers in a developed country like Japan or the US? If Maslow is not for you, is there a more objective measure such as the removal of stress and disease from life, which one could argue can be measured indirectly through a proxy like life expectancy? Japanese life expectancy is among the highest (if not outright highest) in the world and over a dozen years higher than Bhutan's. 

A nation's high economic productivity doesn't guarantee a good life for its citizens, but it generally affords better education, healthcare, technology, and entertainment, all important aspects of life enjoyment. Bringing it back to wrestling, this is a big (not the only) reason why talented athletes from less developed countries immigrate to more developed countries to wrestle but almost never the other way around. The Americans who represent other countries are doing so not to live there but because they can't make the team here. Even in the case of China, which has grown leaps and bounds economically over our lifetimes, it is hard to argue that the standard of living in China has not gone up in the process, and China is one of the most extreme examples given its economic model is a kleptocracy with obscene levels of social and financial inequality. 

And this is why I ask you questions, you paint with words.

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10 hours ago, Drew87 said:

I do believe the younger generations would take umbrage with this.  Please offer this up for input in this forum regarding the US and the relative “prosperity” of younger generations at a child-bearing age, I anticipate a Tornado.

I usually really like your takes @wrestlingnerd, but not a huge fan of this one.  I lived and worked in Hong Kong for five years, and I can assure you that, while the city is technically prosperous from an economic textbook standpoint, the implications of same are horrific for the populous.  More than 50% of the population lives in government housing.  The most prosperous upper middle class  professionals must be tri-lingual, work 90 hour weeks and live with their parents into their mid 30’s(not by choice) despite making mid-6 figures a year, when they can finally afford a 300-500 sq ft apartment for a few million USD.  Then they have the privilege of trying to have children and paying for that child to navigate the education system.  

Economic output =/= prosperity.

 

Can confirm that Hong Kong is great only if you are an expat on the company's dime and domestic citizens lead a very tough life. Everything is rapidly moving away from HK though and Singapore is rapidly taking over as the expat APAC hub - the COL is about half as much and the "local" government is much less oppressive.

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13 hours ago, npope said:

n with me (speaking to an unknown foreigner would be a really rare event in Japan, but he was a little drunk so...). He asked me why us white Americans treated Blacks so badly in the US (this was 30 years ago, mind you). I explained to him that while his observation wasn't necessarily incorrect, many white Americans would also agree that such treatment is not appropriate or fair. And then I turned the table on him and asked "How about you Japanese - why do the Japanese treat the Koreans so badly here in Japan?" His response: "That's different - we really are better than them." I could only shake my head.

 

Which is extra ironic, since last time I checked, the first Japanese probably came to the islands from the Korean Penninsula/China.

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2 hours ago, bnwtwg said:

Can confirm that Hong Kong is great only if you are an expat on the company's dime and domestic citizens lead a very tough life. Everything is rapidly moving away from HK though and Singapore is rapidly taking over as the expat APAC hub - the COL is about half as much and the "local" government is much less oppressive.

HK and Singapore are more like Cancun, tourist destinations for wealthy people, except the main attraction is a tax break as opposed to the beach. HK and Singapore are really fun places to live if you have money. They have a modern day effective caste system: expats/tourists in the upper class, everyone else in the lower working class. 

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9 hours ago, bnwtwg said:

Can confirm that Hong Kong is great only if you are an expat on the company's dime and domestic citizens lead a very tough life. Everything is rapidly moving away from HK though and Singapore is rapidly taking over as the expat APAC hub - the COL is about half as much and the "local" government is much less oppressive.

You really think Singapore's government is less oppressive than Hong Kong? They literally watch everything you do in public. Their police surveillance is just like what they have in Monaco. 

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This thread got deep.  Very Interesting stuff.

I was in Japan....long time ago.  I can recall wrestling, drinking, and really really hospitable people.  And that I always had the feeling that respect was of the highest regard.

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I feel like an update on Japanese demographics is in order.  They have the same population now they had twenty five and almost thirty years ago.  In another 30 years they will lose 15-20% of their population. The Japanese people have the highest average age in the world, more than doubling many. Compounded by their reluctance to allow immigration and off-shoring well paying manufacturing jobs means they aren't as prosperous as they once were.   They have suffered deflation and are one of the most indebted nations on earth.   The real estate in Tokyo is still outrageous, but elsewhere? 

Still a prosperous country obviously, but certainly not the juggernaut of the 80s and 90s. 

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