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Why is it difficult to stand up and voice opinions in Japan?

a view of Japanese men and women in town

Imagine you are being threatened by a group of people. They are after you for whatever you do or do not do, and they give constant criticism, make grumbling remarks, and express cynicism. Imagine you have done nothing to turn them against you. It is as if they all have an unspoken agreement. They speak badly behind your back and do everything they can to minimize your self-esteem. Daily, their enmity gets stronger and stronger. Finally, you bring the matter to an authority figure, a teacher or a supervisor, but they have no interest in helping you. In the end, you discover your voice means nothing, and you are entirely helpless.

This is what happens in Japan. It is called ijime. Elsewhere, it may be called bullying -- but it is worse than that. Japan has grown to become one of the most advanced nations, economically, socially, politically, and humanely.  It offers numerous opportunities for education, employment, safety, good government, cheap goods and enough food, even a crime-free environment for every citizen. By the time Japan was fully advanced in 1980s, many people increasingly fall victim to the psychological torture called ijime, throughout Japan. With all this opportunity, many feel no hope for a bright future. Every year, children and adults seek counseling, and some even commit suicide because of ijime. Surprisingly, after remarkable economic development, professionals still cannot find solutions to reduce ijime. It is noteworthy that ijime is not gender biased: it is committed against both men and women, but most seriously affects children, who are largely defenseless. The impact of this trend is so severe that I have decided to speak up about ijime in order to let the international community to know about it.

Ijime is a form of psychological abuse that makes victims feel trapped, anxious, threatened, inadequate, and excluded by the people around them like classmates, co-workers, family members, friends, and their community. These victims receive a series of negative messages and actions of collaborative effort by a group of people, while no one else dares to defend them. Most ijime consists of blame, criticism, cynicism, scorn, mocking, verbal abuse, personal property damage, and sometimes even physical violence. However, it is not publicly recognizable because it is mostly concealed until the person speaks out. In many cases, encountering ijime reduces a victim’s confidence until they are voiceless and ineffective.

According to statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Education in 2007, there were 84,648 cases of ijime and 7.1 persons per 1,000 juvenile students were victims of ijime, while 40% of schools acknowledged that there were some kinds of ijime transpiring. It is also important to consider the hidden amount of ijime because many people do not report instances of ijime for fear of reprisal. According to the report, the highest rate of ijime occurred among students in junior high schools; and among junior high school students, the first year students reported 17,063 cases, which represent four times more than the sixth graders in elementary schools (4,262 cases) and tenth grade students (3,701cases). Between genders, 54.8% were reported by male students while 45.2 % were by female students.

One such example is the “Ijime incident of Ootsu, Shiga prefecture Junior high school in 2011.” The boy was 13 years old, and a student at the junior high school. In September, as school started, several students took the boy into the gymnasium and tied his legs with hair bands, put gum tape over his mouth and physically assaulted him. Many other students witnessed this ijime incident, but no one reported it nor tried to stop it. Time and again, the offending group of students asked the boy to practice committing suicide by making him stand close to the windows on high stories of the school. The following month, the abusers visited the boy’s home and stole money and other valuables. As a result, the boy sent an email to his tormenters saying that he would actually commit suicide. But the students did not take this threat seriously.
On October 11, the boy jumped from the top of a building and died without leaving any note behind. After the incident, the Board of Education and the classroom teacher claimed that they had not noticed ijime. Days later reporters found out that the Board had received a report of ijime 6 days before the incident, then the Board swore that ijime played no role in the suicide. Then it was unveiled that the teacher had taken no action to rescue the boy, but rather he asked the boy to endure ijime.

Note that the boy had been stigmatized throughout while no one rescued him from trouble. Some researchers think that ijime stems from scape-goatism, jealousy and irritations of abusers, but Mr. Kazuaki Izawa, an ijime guru running Let’s Protect Children from Ijime Network, nails down the hidden twist of the law. He dealt with 3,000 cases of ijime since 2007 and, when interviewed, he stated, "Universal Declaration of Human Rights rendered by United Nation had been wrongly interpreted in Japan that from the time installed onward children have been allowed to do whatever they wanted in the classroom. The law was originally meant to protect the children from harm but ironically created more harm to the victims of ijime. Thereafter, teachers are not scolding children but pretending that nothing is wrong, and trying to make peaceful outlook when it is not." To make the matter worse, ascribing ijime became far common against those who violate the (unspoken) codes of conduct,. This leads individuals to feel strong aversions for acting against a group they belong. For the Japanese, it is a social taboo for an individual to stand out from the rest. It is also said that, based on Buddhist philosophy, people should make humbleness, harmony, and non-aggression the priority—which also leads to victims not speaking out.

Lack of identity, in addition to the steady projection of oneself with the group, confirms strong work ethics in the cooperative world of Japan. But that also means that no one ever articulates ones’ thoughts and opinions apart from groups. As a result, people tend to think alike or simply follow their elders or authorities. Sometimes, in this system, no one has the courage to voice what is right. They are too likely to be criticized by others who prioritize fitting in with the group.

In such an environment, wrong assumptions are common. The term used to describe this psychological phenomenon is called Groupthink, in which “the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”

If you would like to expose ijime in Japan, try your hand in entry level jobs where you know no one and let yourself appear inexperienced. Make sure that people do not expect you to voice your opinions because you are helpless and dependent. To make my point, I would like to describe my own experience. I once took initiative by working part time in an office, where two female workers were to hand over the office work to me and teach me how to manage the computer in the office. Since I had the experience of writing and publishing newsletters through my NGO, typing on the computer was not a difficult task for me, but I did not disclose this.

Soon, despite all my genuine effort, even a minor error was evaluated as highly unforgivable by the other women. They turned against me and argued that I was entirely useless. Behind my back many hurtful rumors were being circulated in the office. These women continued with their bad behavior. Once, a supervisor even interrupted to stop our arguments. I expected reasonable judgment from her as a superior, but surprisingly, the supervisor only listened to their side of the story and believed that I was not a good fit for the job, without fair evaluation. By this time, I felt pretty bad, but not to the extent that I lost faith in my skills. With all of my experience publishing work with the computer, I could make a reasonable judgment of the matter—it was clearly identifiable that the whole drama was ijime.

As in this example, ijime destroys the soul of those who would otherwise contribute greatly to the society. No one dares to rescue the poor victim because the victim is in a helpless spot, where she has no power. For example, she has no higher authority or command in her particular context; she is new and inexperienced. Some individuals do not face ijime because he or she exhibits specialized irreplaceable knowledge or abilities.

If you are a good communicator, that often saves you from ijime. In my case, I presented my previous computer work to my superior and refuted the claim that I couldn’t manage a computer. Furthermore, I went to discuss the matter with the top super-intendant. Obviously the super-intendent was not happy that the work environment did not encourage the morale of workers. In addition, she criticized the supervisor for telling me that I should quit the job. She was particularly unhappy when she discovered that eligible workers frequently left the company because of ijime, and the supervisor made no effort to provide a comfortable place for them.

To solve the problem of ijime, the key is to be very patient. Do not respond with hatred or ill manners. It is best to keep quiet until the right time to speak to the right person. In the meantime, remind yourself that it is a phenomenon, not personal. Rather, it is the result of not wanting to have different opinions from the group—whether it is right or wrong. Those who are targeted have the following characteristics:

1. New to an environment and in need of assistance.
2. Lacking knowledge of do’s and don’ts, or how to fit into the in-group culture.
3. Lacking power like special knowledge or powerful contacts.

In search of a solution to ijime, I interviewed Ms. Okada Akiko, a managing director of Kotoji, a psychological community center under Aizato hospital for the victims of ijime located in Tokushima. The center deals with approximately 70 to 80 patients at a time who suffer from serious depression, schizophrenia, and emotional problems caused by ijime. The victims had been excluded from social activities, ignored, criticized behind their backs; while working, they were not properly included, or they were forced to work after hours. Ms. Okada said that most patients do not know the reason for their abuse nor have they confronted their abusers. Most victims refused to go to schools or jobs where ijime occurred. Kotoji offers counseling, rehabilitation, group therapy, and medical therapy. Within a safe environment, patients gradually gain back confidence in social interactions.

Bullies exist in all countries, but the ijime phenomenon is unique in a way that corners individuals not to speak out against it. I asked Ms. Okada “Why does ijime occur in Japan?” She said, “We don’t know…perhaps Japan has enough wealth and people do not have any meaningful things to do.” She agreed that ijime may be the product of group orientation as well. She said, “People want to belong to groups but they do not want to be opposed to, or stand out from the group. So they keep quiet.”

Ms. Okada believes that it is healing for patients to do some activities for the poor in the world. “Directing their attentions from ijime to the needy in Africa, they (the patients) may feel that they are needed and wanted.” She implied that the patients’ depression comes from a lack of feeling that they are needed and wanted. I told her that Nigerian women and children would deeply appreciate their activities to help the poor. As a result, the discussion with Ms. Okada ended with the empowering agreement that our NGO, Support Women and Children in Nigeria (SWACIN) and patients in Kotoji will work together to collect some unwanted materials this year and send them to women and children in Nigeria.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Aizato Psycholocial Hospital
Kotoji where ijime victims practice socialization

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Comments

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Wow. WOW!

Dear Hideko,

This is a powerful, eloquent, highly important piece of work, presented with complete professionalism. I am very, very impressed by this assignment.

Ijime, which, as I call psychological bullying is, 'soul destroying,' is grotesquely cruel and unjust. I can of course think of far, too many examples.

I am so grateful, as many others will be, that you have brought this particular abominable darkness into the light. I hope this piece gets widespread exposure, because it will be of signifiant help to countless people -- both in Japan and not.

So, thank you, thank you for sharing it with me. I will put these same comments on your WP page but wanted to tell you right away how powerful and excellent your work is. You have not only explained in gripping detail what ijime is and given solid examples of how it can literally kill innocent people, but you've of course also provided solutions and support.

I applaud you!

With Admiration,

Sarah

Hideko N.'s picture

Let me use 'Soul destroying'

Dear Sarah, let me use your word, 'soul destroying' in my real assignment. I strongly believe that soul destroying is worse than physical abuse. When soul is destroyed, one can no longer trust people nor God. It affects spirituality--the true happiness of people is at stake--for all their life. Can you imagine one can face such excruciating pain? Thinking about those underwent this, my heart breaks into pieces.
Thank you very much for understanding!
Hideko N.

cricketts's picture

Congratulations on a brave post!

Hi Hideko --

I'm so happy to see how this post turned out. I know this is an issue that is very important to you, and you did a very good job handling the sensitive nature of the problem. Given how many people refuse to speak out about ijime, it is incredibly courageous for you to be taking it on and speaking out about it. By providing specifics and speaking to specialists, your writing carries a lot of authority and credibility.

I applaud you on a very brave, compelling post.

Camille

Camille Ricketts
camille@kiva.org

My prayer is for the Japanese to look outword. Japan has been internal rather than outspoken historically.

In Japan, keeping thoughts and desires internally without speaking is part of cultural practice. Meantime letting people know their thoughts and mind without speaking is also cultural practice, but this is done among those they associate—as in-group. Thus, it is difficult to discover ijime from outsiders. Ijime involves many non-verbal communications such as ignoring, staring, showing hostilities, dislike and anger… I am not surprised to find almost no clear description of ijime in English anywhere. It is worth working on it because the impact is severe…
Thanks for continuous encouragement and support.
Hideko N.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Very revealing

Very revealing about something most of us do not think about but needs to be brought to our attention and that needs to be resolved in societies. Thank you. It reminds me of what is going on in America - bullying.

Thank you and keep up the great work.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

Wendy, thank you for

Wendy, thank you for spending time to read it. It is something I wanted to work on for a long time. My sister became schizophrenia after she received ijime when she was 17 years old. Since then she suffered from illness for more than 20 years. To me it is not just bullying--it is worse than that. It is 'soul destroying' that the person become mental ill. Grateful to your attention.
Hideko N.

Rhobai's picture

Congratulations! Excellent work done

Hideko,

Indeed happy to see how eventually every issue went on. As much as most people refuse to speak this issue out, there is need to start sensitizing the all people regardless of sex from an early age so that the generation to come may not have much about the same.. By so doing, with education and other ways of handling this, there will be good time for it to be phased out as time goes by.

Bravo!!
Rhobai

Hideko N.'s picture

Why do you think it is so

Why do you think it is so difficult to resolve ijime when educational system, good economy and infrastructure are in place? Advancing the country does not automatically mean that we have all the morals but sometimes it is opposite. Unfortunately meeting materialistic needs allowed us to be more self-centered, to love money more than people, to be unthankful and sadistic. Those whose soul were destroyed, are unable to trust people and God. Would you rather be like this rather than you suffer materialistic needs in your country? Think about it. Love, Hideko N.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Point well taken

Hi Hideko,

You are so right about this and I can see you are disturbed by the influences of people and societies. There is nothing wrong with power and money. It is just that it seems people so often lose their values, and their soul selves, as they acquire money and things. It has often been said that to know the true essence of a person, see how they behave when they lose everything. I say, see what a person acts like when he has power. That says a lot about a person.

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

There was a point of time when I was very rich. Now I am very poor with a debt brought from Nigeria. But the value I learned is to love others, which is the huge assest now, driving me to do so many things--which I did not have at all at the time. You really made my point clear. Hideko N.

Wendyiscalm's picture

Ijime

Hideko,

I think it is important that you speak out more and more loudly about this. I know you do not think this is as bad as bullying but for the past year or two we have had MANY many programs, news and others things that emphasize the effects of bullying to the psyche and so much suicide in America comes because of bullying. So, we do not have to argue if it is the same as bullying. The point is that it is SOUL DESTROYING. My brother is schizophrenic also. While, of course, he had to have a predisposition to this by his brain being wired a little differently, there is no question that what brought the schizophrenia to the surface was the treatment by our mother. No question. I watched it happen. I did not have that brain wiring so I was dysfunctional but not mentally ill. To watch your sister's dreams become impossible and to watch her deteriorate because of ijima had to be torturous for you, Hideko, and I ache to think of what you, your family and you had to go through because of this. I have no answers for the "why" of it all. But let us make her life and my brother's meaningful by using this personal problem as a vitamin that energizes us to fight for the step by step ending of it so that my brother and your sister did not waste their dreams in vain. My heart goes out to you.

Love and Ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

Your friend,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

How amazing it is that you've

How amazing it is that you've gone through the same. I carried this pain of seeing my sister began to develop her illness 20 years ago. I left home when I argued with my parents who did nothing to protest the school where classmates and teachers are committing ijime against my sister. The teacher was scornful. My mother was apologetic (for my sister being different from others) My father totally ignored the whole thing. –now I understand that they were ignorant that they did not know better. But my portion is to address it, with enough knowledge and evidence.

Thank you for the inspiration. Your friendship, support and encouragemen certainly energized me!

Hideko N.
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
http://www.swacin.com

Wendyiscalm's picture

oH, wOW!

Hi Hideko,

We really need to talk more about this. It is not a one sentence, one paragraph or one message healing or help. My email address is headingforgreatness1@gmail.com. Please please feel free to use me as a sounding board and you in the process help me also. I have just finished a book THIS IS HOW by Augusten Burroughs. While he has an addiction the book is great for just regular people. He is spot on about so much in life. For example, he is the FIRST person I have EVER heard say that some ;things in life give us holes. And these hole are never filled or made well. We live with them and learn how to function well with joy but those holes are there. I so dislike when people tell me to move on, or that I will get over it and on and on. You know what I mean, Hideko. I have a history and that is part of who I am. For example, today I was at several symphonic concerts and I felt JOY during those times. But the reality is there are times when I do not feel joy. Much of it, like with you, is because of what you described. How do you move on and pretend that did not happen or that it was all right in some way. It is NOT all right. We will have joyous moments and treasure them. But there are times when we are grieving and need to curl up and hug ourselves. And that is okay. It is okay not to feel okay. There's a certain freedom and relief in knowing that

I ache for what you told me. But I am so thankful that you had the courage to tell me. Let's work through our similar problem together. We are here for each other. That thought is a moment that brings me joy.

My arms go out in a big hug across the miles, Hideko.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

Dear Wendy

I never knew that you have hole like I had for the longest time. Never knew how to fill this gap and that is why I felt I am left out always when it comes to social gathering with others. Because I cannot possibly accommodate with those who are so brutal in such horribly sinister way. They are at the same time quiet and modest. It is miracle that I did not become mentally ill like my sister. Not only email, but feel free to join any of these correspondence if you like. Will catch you in any days!

With care and support, Hideko N.

SWACIN Support Women & Children in Nigeria
tel: +81 88-696-5417 / 090-1173-9378
fax:+81 88-696-5418
email: info@swacin.com survivalgadget@gmail.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

Wendyiscalm's picture

Will get back with you

Hi Hideko,

I'll email you in a day or so. The point of the book was that you can't fill the hole. It is a part of you and your history. That does not mean you cannot go on and have joyous moments and times. If you feel you are left out because you cannot allow yourself to step low to fit in with so many horrible people, it means you are not looking high enough for your friends and things you are doing. Probably your self-esteem unconsciously says you do not deserve better people. At least that is the inside message that followed me for years. There is no way you can go through what you have gone through and not be internally affected. BUT - the good news is, you can change that. Sometimes when I did not know how to find people like me I would yell at God "Okay, God, you think you are so smart. Well, bring me people worthy of me because I am not doing such a good job finding them." Then be listening and watching. They DO appear. haha.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Wendyiscalm's picture

You are on the right path

Hi Hideko,

This is such a lot for a person to go through and live with. Yes, you need help to work through this as it is too much for you to see inside yourself. But the hard part is finding a good therapist/counselor who knows how to handle this sort of grief and guilt. I am sure, like with me, that guilt plays a part. I have no problem forgiving others but I have a hard time forgiving myself. To get balance in my life, I look for present moments of joy I can experience. Though this and other betrayals of life have left me raw and I will always have those memories and consequences, that does not mean I cannot experience moments of joy. And that's what I look for and appreciate. Living in the present moment really helps. Today I was at a concert outdoors and heard the most fabulous pianist. It was a complete time that I deserved. This afternoon I ran into a young friend from Bagdad and talked to her for an hour. She is studying to be a medical doctor. Then our mutual friend who is getting her doctorate in psychology came along and we laughed and had a lot of fun and they invited me to go out to dinner with them. It was joyous and I deserved it. So, perhaps in addition to trying to deal with the grief you can do some living in the present moment for joy moments. It helps.

Do you see your sister? What is she doing? I have an idea about this.

I'm here for you, Hideko.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you for your concern.

Thank you for your concern. At present I have more people to care for than care for myself. My sister is with me until beginning of September. Then she goes back with her husband. I ask you to be free from grief and guilt becuase you cannot live in the past. If you miss the present moment, you will regret later again. You have those who need attention from you in your present environment, not the past. You cannot redo your past but you can avoid making the same mistakes.
With a lot of hug,
Hideko

Iryna's picture

Being a careful parent

Bulling is a dangerous thing. The worst is you don't know if you or your child will suffer it and why. I think that we, adults, parents, must be very careful and learn our children that noone can hurt him or her. It is very responsible mission for us, but if we decided to become parents we need to understand that such things can happen and we must be ready to help and support.
This is a very strong article, Hideko, written straight and optimistic in the same time.
Warm greetings,
Iryna

Hideko N.'s picture

Iryna, one thing I am excited

Iryna, one thing I am excited about WP is its main theme--that we seek balance in the world and fight the imbalance such as social ills, poverty, discrimination and ignorance. Ukraine is advanced, Japan is advanced materialistically but the advancement was made by exploiting the people in developing nation. Seeing in the reflection, I see the face of non-human. The result is tragic. Love, Hideko N.

bitani's picture

thumbs up

This is indeed a very important problem that should be addressed. As you said, we often hear about Japan as the economically and industrially giant country. Telling stories like this, however, is the first step toward enhancing the country even more and approaching social justice.

my warmest regards,
Bayan

Hideko N.'s picture

Dear Bitani, my heart goes

Dear Bitani, my heart goes toward you thinking how difficult it is to live in Lebanon as a woman wearing veil. Though as a person in the country where women are almost equally treated with or without veil, unfortunately we are no better as far as spirituality is concerned. We are mentally empty, barren, sadistic and money-pleasure oriented. It is very difficult to find natural love any more even among family members. Please take care of love that you already have among your associates because it is not to be taken for granted. Love, Hideko N.

BALAGIZI MUHEBULE EMMANUEL's picture

the congo osodi

Osodi as a basic information
Define gender-based violence that results or may result in physical destruction, sexual, psychological, threats, coercion, lack of freedom.
Osod patients have focused to eliminate violence against women in order to promote healthier families and stronger communities,
(Strong families a strong, strong church, strong nation
(A small family, a small country and a small community)
Violence because the impact on the economy, when women are abuses in their families, countries, they are sick is it affects their ability to work.
The same thing about children, the negative impact on the lives of children see violence done in their household, the children remain orphans, abandoned, Izege, Walungu Kaniola nindja, Kabare with the enemies of peace, many women have become sick, abandoned by their husbands following they have experienced sexual violence or their households (other domestic partner violence, honor killings,
Women subjected to violence are at a high risk of contracting HIV-AIDS and many are depressed and traumatized by this experience, the fear of being raped by the enemy prevents women in rural areas to develop the strength of marriage the child 44% of women aged 20-24 were married at the age of 15 years, a lot of girl to marry men who double their age, a tough time they are abandoned by their husbands because of their inability . Widows are also bitter abandoned the death of their husbands
Removal: a special way, in post-conflict situations, removal is a continuing threat. Abducted women are often sexually abused, necessarily married or killed. It affects women and girls, but the well-being of children, families and the safety of entire communities.
Suggested Osodi Present statistics and local information about violence against women, intervene with specific examples of how violence against women. Discuss how men and women are treated differently and ask every man has to think about Could it be, to be a woman in her family and community.
for Osodi
Ms. akonkwa cheshe
Coordinator

balagizi

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you for the comment, Balagizi

I am so grateful to your long comment. But I am sorry that I have hard time understanding what you have written here. "Why is it difficult to stand up and voice opinions in Japan" does not have much to do with gender biased violence as you seem to be writing about.
Hideko N..

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Hello, Again, Hideko

Dear Hideko,

I've just re-read your piece -- or read the final, published version -- and also read many of the excellent, thought-provoking responses. I'm so glad you and Wendy Stebbins have found each other; Wendy is wonderful and very insightful.

The quote that jumped out at me from your piece this time is, "Lack of identity, in addition to the steady projection of oneself with the group, confirms strong work ethics in the cooperative world of Japan. But that also means that no one ever articulates ones’ thoughts and opinions apart from groups. As a result, people tend to think alike or simply follow their elders or authorities. Sometimes, in this system, no one has the courage to voice what is right. They are too likely to be criticized by others who prioritize fitting in with the group."

Whoa. A lack of identity = another major reason why people don't speak out when they have witnessed ijime, as you point out. Imagine fostering a society of people who are strongly discouraged from expressing their individuality, let alone any tendencies toward leadership.

I'm also interested to read your response that there is no really accurate equivalent of ijime in the English language, except for, "bullying," which still usually conjures up the physical, rather than psychological aspect of all of this.

Thank you again for this strong, crucial piece of work. May it have a broad readership!

With Admiration,

Sarah

Hideko N.'s picture

Lack of identity is nurtured

Lack of identity is nurtured since the beginning of childhood in Japan. It is dehumanizing, but difficult to fight against because it is not against the law, it is not forced. They would say "we are not speaking our mind at our own will."--but the bottom line is the numbness of their feelings and thoughts.

I witnessed one incident at a work place. A man (employee) was shouting and crying for pain on his legs. No one came to neither rescue him nor look for help. There were about 6 employees there. They were just at loss not knowing what to do. I shouted "Someone go find the supervisor!" They were frozen. I dashed out of the work place to look for someone who can help. --it is strange but not uncommon.

They are programmed to do only as directed, and unable to think independently.

It is sad to see this reality of 'advanced' nation. At the same time it is difficult to change. That is why my heart goes toward people in Nigeria, or in under-developed nations. They are warm-hearted, those with the mind of humanity are still there.

If anyone having different opinions are welcome to post. I am open to see if my views are any biased.
Many thanking for your genuine support and encouragement.
Hideko N.

BALAGIZI MUHEBULE EMMANUEL's picture

thank you

so i need you visit me in congo bukavu one day and my organisation osodi

balagizi

BALAGIZI MUHEBULE EMMANUEL's picture

hi

just to encouraged you

balagizi

BALAGIZI MUHEBULE EMMANUEL's picture

congo osodi

Osodi as a basic information
Define gender-based violence that results or may result in physical destruction, sexual, psychological, threats, coercion, lack of freedom.
Osod patients have focused to eliminate violence against women in order to promote healthier families and stronger communities,
(Strong families a strong, strong church, strong nation
(A small family, a small country and a small community)
Violence because the impact on the economy, when women are abuses in their families, countries, they are sick is it affects their ability to work.
The same thing about children, the negative impact on the lives of children see violence done in their household, the children remain orphans, abandoned, Izege, Walungu Kaniola nindja, Kabare with the enemies of peace, many women have become sick, abandoned by their husbands following they have experienced sexual violence or their households (other domestic partner violence, honor killings,
Women subjected to violence are at a high risk of contracting HIV-AIDS and many are depressed and traumatized by this experience, the fear of being raped by the enemy prevents women in rural areas to develop the strength of marriage the child 44% of women aged 20-24 were married at the age of 15 years, a lot of girl to marry men who double their age, a tough time they are abandoned by their husbands because of their inability . Widows are also bitter abandoned the death of their husbands
Removal: a special way, in post-conflict situations, removal is a continuing threat. Abducted women are often sexually abused, necessarily married or killed. It affects women and girls, but the well-being of children, families and the safety of entire communities.
Suggested Osodi Present statistics and local information about violence against women, intervene with specific examples of how violence against women. Discuss how men and women are treated differently and ask every man has to think about Could it be, to be a woman in her family and community.
for Osodi
Ms. akonkwa cheshe
Coordinator

balagizi

Greengirl's picture

Illuminating!

I have learnt so much from your eloquently written piece.You did a great job and did justice to the issue of Ijime, which is a long undermined issue that should otherwise be in the front burner. The issue ought to be taken serious especially in the wake of so many cases of suicide among young people, who continue to victim.

To say the least, I am extremely impressed by the manner you approached the issue!

Hearty Greetings,
Greengirl

Hideko N.'s picture

My dear Olanike, I am not

My dear Olanike, I am not able to do just, but empathize with those who faced ijime. Knowing the pain is important although everyone avoids it, or you will not know the value of humane society. For instance, I won’t know the value of light unless I know the darkness. There are so many other things I don’t know. If you want to write about it, you have to experience the pain, and tell the world how it s ilike. Then we can think of what to do to bring justice. To reach this stage is like a mother having extreme joy after giving a birth.

Appreciating,
Hideko

Y's picture

I applaud you for keeping a

I applaud you for keeping a low profile to learn first-hand about this phenomenon. I also applaud the approach that recognizes the individual need to feel valued as it is fulfilled by reaching out to those outside of the rejecting culture. I want you to know that this phenomenon is also epidemic in the United States of America. Keep up the good work and your hope for a better future, Hideko.

Blessings.
Yvette

Y

Hideko N.'s picture

Thanks Y

We all have ego when we build up ourselves; for example, I ran a hospital in India. Then came a situation where I had to take a job which may be far below the level of my profile in the country side where no other jobs were available. It was a series of sessions for striving discipline. Though I noticed that this is the only opporunity to write about the struggle of grassroots. It is such a fear inspiring to know no one cares but want to destroy you mentally. If I did not experience this, I would not be able to write with passion.

Hideko N.

SWACIN Support Women & Children in Nigeria
tel: +81 88-696-5417 / 090-1173-9378
fax:+81 88-696-5418
email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

Wendyiscalm's picture

WOW again, Hideko

Hideko,

You never cease to amaze me. You are right. If you did not experience this, you would not be able to write with such passion and COMpassion for your fellow woman. This is a gift when you think about it. On my desk, I have the saying "The gift is in the problem. The opportunity is in the problem.".

Even though you do not see it right now or it has not manifested yet, you are learning your lessons that will culminate in greatness, for you and for other human spirits. It's too soon to tell or see it yet because you are just finishing "Earth School". But your time will come. Hang in there. We are all with you on this.

Ubuntu(I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy <3

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you Wendy again and

Thank you Wendy again and sorry for not responding to your email. Yes, I am with you. Without problems we will not grow ourselves.
I am going to the Aizato hospital tomorrow. How can I make those individuals that they are loved and needed instead of fearing people? Japanese do not hug and kiss like Americans do. They do not say "I love you." Oh how I wish that they can reach out to the international audience where they can only get support and encouragement. How terrible the culture minimized individuals to the least! Thank you for speaking highly of me, but greatness will be only handed down from the above, it’s not under anyone’s control. Let us take one step at a time toward more humane world around us.

I am happy that you felt something good in my piece—maybe because my life is filled with so much ‘problems.’
With much appreciation,

Hideko N.

Wendyiscalm's picture

SHOWING LOVE

Hi Hideko,

You may not be able to say I LOVE YOU or hug a person. But that is a small point. You can make a difference by the look that comes through your eyes when you look at someone. People see it in your eyes "I love you" or you give off a certain energy that says "This person loves me." People can hug and say "I love you all they want and it can mean nothing sometimes. So, what I do is be my authentic self. In this way I change the world, eyeball to eyeball, energy to energy. As within so without. At least that I the way I think and I truly believe I make a difference especially to those who do not have people who show love. So, do not minimize the impact you have on others just by being your highest self.

Love and Ubuntu,
Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

pelamutunzi's picture

ijime here also

in zimbabwe bullying is rampant at oone shcools senoir boys would make junior bpys drink their urine. this took me back to oliver twist by dickens. where i taech we are very conscious of bullying and if it happens we act very quick but the most hurtful bullying is the one against the soul the one inside. here wives are bullied everday by their husbands. you cant touch it but you can see by the lack of self esteem and true happiness that someone is being bullied. it is dangerous becasue it can be subtle and different to see or judge but it should be addressed.this issue is close to my heart and i stand with you to find solutions.

how best can we deal with ijime both physical and emotional. not only for the victim but the perpetrator as well. lookinf forward to your response.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Hideko N.'s picture

Glad you asked about the

Glad you asked about the solutions. Having witnessed my sister's soul destroyed at her tender age of 17, my heart was searching answers wherever I was in schools. One thing is clear: materialistic satsfaction do not eliminate bully or ijime. Rather I find natural love among people in Nigeria much more than among the people in my country Japan. We were helpless but many people extended their hands while government does not provide welfere. In Japan, government proides welfare but people are indifferet to others' pain. After all everything may boils down to one's true desire to love and care for one another. Hideko N.

pelamutunzi's picture

love answers

love answers but what has led such young people to be so hurtful. we m,ay think of victim but how about the bully. i am in thinking mode right now because this is an important issues. how about adults why are they behaving like this. why just pulling down someone. are we saying humans are sadistic by nature?

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Hideko N.'s picture

Some of us are sadistic, some

Some of us are sadistic, some of us are humane but one thing I think is important is to know oneself.

Most of us would fight against injustice done externally to us but when we are in the situations that each of us has more power than the rest, how would one act? Are we still humane or become abusive? I think this is the question we may ask—because it is about who we really are—whether we truly love humanity or not. After all, truly loving humanity takes enormous courage as we experience in Japan. Unfortunately many of us become abusive when we have power and maltreat others because we can get away with it.
Love,
Hideko

Tash's picture

wow! thanks for the

wow! thanks for the recommendation. your story is a very disturbing story for me,more to why this issue needs to be high lightened . I can't imagine being trapped in my own 'head'. I have to admit this is the best way to destroy some one, there is nothing as refreshing, relaxing as being filled with positive energy, while most of us are in search for this peace, thankfully without any negative outer influences and its still hard for us to get there, i can not possibly imagine my self finding this place of solace in such an environment. I pray you create more awareness on this, its a very important matter.

Great Work!

Kind Regards,
Patsy.

Hideko N.'s picture

Dear Patsy, I am honored by

Dear Patsy, I am honored by your comment. I love to associate with someone like you who has a great passion for fighting. I have considered myself a fighter for a long time but realized my limitation as well. My limitation is--I was not truly a humane person when I thought I was. It happens when self-love is cherished by me and others. Humanity promotes self-less act.
Thanking you,
Hideko N.

joy Spencer's picture

WOW!

I have never heard of Ijime before. Thank you for such an eloquently written and very enlightening article.

Best,

Joy

Hideko N.'s picture

And you know it now, my

And you know it now, my sister. Let us take a good look at ourselves if we are in the same situation. Even if we have the right to speak our voice granted in the system, many choose not to do so. After all, this is a good example that the humanity is not given but is earned by individual’s personal effort—which tell us a lot about ourselves and the degree of faith we have in it. Those who don’t believe in it, even if it is granted, they will not see it.

Warmly, Hideko N.

SWACIN Support Women & Children in Nigeria
tel: +81 88-696-5417 / 090-1173-9378
fax:+81 88-696-5418
email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

Wendyiscalm's picture

A partial solution

Hi Hidelko,

A positive step towards solution is the following: Instead of focusing on what happened in the past (which is energy draining) instead ask yourself when you catch yourself "What can I do with what I have left?" (This is energy giving and gives control step by step). Worked for me.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

P.S. And if you don't think you make a difference because you were once rich and now are poor read the following: today I got a message from a girl in France who only speaks and writes French only so I had to translate. She said she read your WP article on Ijima and liked my response and wants me to help her with her problems. This would not have happened if you were not part of it. So, maybe God has a lesson in the works and a bigger future for you than you could hve dreamed of for yourself, but it is just not quite the time yet. What you did is called the Butterfly Effect. If you do not know this principle you can search for it.Quite a phenomenon.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you for kind comments

Thank you for kind comments and sharing on issues in life. You have a lot of awareness about how mind, attitude and actions affect our environment. I checked the word, Butterfly effect. Yes, I noticed how our small word and small actions can affect others in a big way. In fact, I owe a lot of positive outcome of my effort to World Pulse. Once was very negative and angry woman I know read the article about Michiyo Tani and she now completely changed.
It is worth voicing opinions in Japan although it is exhausting. A network of those likeminded--like you--at the World Pulse really help me and empower me.

With care, strength, and support
Hideko

Wendyiscalm's picture

Keep it up, Hideko

Hi Hideko,

Keep it up. You are making a difference to others and healing yourself I think.

Love and Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Hideko N.'s picture

How am I so happy to find

How am I so happy to find your comment here! How are you? It has been a long time since we shared chat sometime ago! Our NGO may be moving to the U.S. and you will know the reasons when you see my slide show for Module 4 assignment. You will hear my voice as well. We are working on Africans employment in Japan, See---> http://worldpulse.com/pulsewire/exchange/post/78439
if you are interested, please let me know. How is your life over all? Why did you remove your photo again?
Look forward to hearing from you!
Hideko

Debra Engle's picture

Excellent

Hideko, it's hard to understand what would make people so angry and fearful—even as children—that they would inflict physical and mental brutality on another person. Your piece does an extraordinary job of opening this discussion and showing how cultural norms feed the fear. You've identified many factors that contribute to this climate in your country. And while ijime may be unique to Japan, there are certainly many similarities with bullying in the U.S., and in other countries all over the world.

Your writing prompts us to look at the causes of violence and brutality on all levels—where they come from, why and how they're perpetuated, and what we need to do to break those cycles of fear. Thank you for a thoughtful and eye-opening piece.

Hideko N.'s picture

Debra, it is not easy to

Debra, it is not easy to identify evils because they have many faces. The most apparent evils are physical violence, killings, kidnapping and stealing so on. But advanced countries like Japan have evils that are not apparent; they get away with the police, legal systems, religions, and even our conscience. Ijime existed for a long time even before the World War I. One reason that it was not exposed is because many people blamed the victims. Another is because Japanese believed being different from groups is wrong. Clearly, we have to reconsider the fact that our tendency to believe that satisfying our materialistic needs and fixing legal system would automatically make us to be humane. Evils can sneak into our mind and make us even be desensitized in certain things. My advantage was to be able to travel abroad frequently. It was eye-opening for me to find truly humane people I have never met in Nigeria, especially when we needed help the most. After my fiancé abandoned us and left my daughter and I alone in a hotel, a lady came who I had never met in my entire life gave me a mobile telephone immediately when I was crying that I had no telephone. She was not a rich—all the rest is in my introduction.
I cannot forget such experience. Such attitude gave a striking impact on me as I always took myself as the first priority.
Thanks for asking important question.

God bless,
Hideko N.

Debra Engle's picture

Hideko, I'm so grateful the

Hideko, I'm so grateful the woman in Nigeria reached out and helped you and your daughter. She was the light in the darkness for you—what a beautiful example of fear being transformed by a loving act. That's what I think is so remarkable about World Pulse and the work you and other Correspondents are doing. By bringing these issues forth so they will no longer be hidden or accepted without question, you are the light in the darkness for millions of people.

Blessings to you and the powerful work you're doing,
Debra

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