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Follow the manual

In a dark corollary to the vein of the Adventures in Kyoto post I linked concerning the translation of bushido into modern Japanese life, here’s a discussion of the behavior of JR West employees after the train crash in Amagasaki that killed over 100 people. Japundit draws this depressing conclusion:

Anyone who has lived in Japan for any length of time will easily recognize the “manual” mindset of Japanese workers. Following the “manual” frees one from the need to think. Not thinking frees one from the need to accept responsibility. And there are times when I think avoiding responsibility is the overriding concern in Japanese business.

Modern harakiri usually takes the form of quitting one’s job in disgrace (though actual suicide is still a viable option). We may see a rash of these stack up soon. I’m not sure I would be as quick as Japundit to dismiss the bushido-esque devotion to one’s vocation, because good things, like innovative products and insane jumprope performances, can come from it. I would argue that the response of JR West’s employees constitutes a perversion; it doesn’t represent the standard.

But then again, I don’t live there.