So the specifics and refinement of certain aspects of Japanese culture and gastronomy, whether it’s “High and Low,” by Kurosawa, or little, tiny tomatoes the size of peas, are related to a loss of identity and a desire to establish one that is firm and fixed. By definition that means exclusivity. A self-critical way of seeing things that minimizes things that disrupt the efforts to establish identity.
The most recent example of magnitude is the Abe government’s clampdown of media freedom in Japan. Hey, if Canada was not our northern neighbor, but instead it was North Korea and China, the U.S. government might take a comparably dim view of media’s efforts to define national identity.
But reasons aside: the result is a closed society that cherry picks what is allowed in, and what isn’t. There is great conformity and there is a wild, restless, marvelous creativity in Japan.
Essentially, the struggle is to establish identity through control: Bonsai or media, square-shaped watermelons or low immigration.
What this means for the future in a world where the best talent has a fluid, global opportunity is anyone’s guess. What will happen in Japan as the best talent flocks to the EU zone and North America?