GLOCOM Platform
Debates Media Reviews Tech Reviews Special Topics Books & Journals
Summary Page
Search with Google
Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:31 03/09/2007
Debate: Comment (July 15, 2002)

Comments on Professor McCarty's Paper on Terrorism

Tommy Hung Keng Lim (University of Southern California, USA)

In his commentary "Japanese Perceptions and Reactions to Terrorism," Steve McCarty gives a lucid explanation of Japanese attitudes towards terrorism. Also, in "Japanese Perceptions and Reactions to Terrorism: Q & A," he provides a deeper insight into the ingrained mentalities of the Japanese people and the beliefs they uphold.

Through McCarty's presentation of this subject matter in these two articles, one has come to realize the ugly side of human nature, that is, to be excessively self-involved without regard for others. Although the Japanese are a proud people, it would be a grave injustice to label only the Japanese citizens as being 'self-absorbed.' ; Having grown up in Singapore, I can safely attest that people there are relatively self-centered too, as they are only concerned with their pursuit of personal success, as are a lot of people around the world. McCarty emphasized this point clearly, 'in perspective, however, all citizenries could be described as self-absorbed to a degree.' ; This realization is extremely disheartening, considering the fact that globalization is supposed to bring about an exchange in cultural values between different cultures that enhance peace and harmony.

But what I find most interesting in McCarty's commentary is his explanation for the reason that the post-War pacifist ideology is still so ingrained in Japanese society. He reasoned, 'because it has worked so well for the Japanese. They don't like change for its own sake, so they stick to something comfortable. The unpredictable or surprising often has a negative connotation in a land of typhoons, tsunami tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Such calamities push security and stability up on the scale of values.' ; I fully appreciate the fact that people in general (not only the Japanese) do not welcome change, especially the older generation, for reasons of comfort and stability. However, the proposition of calamities in having a part to do with this is a refreshing way to look at the matter, and I highly applaud McCarty for his insightful answer.

More importantly, McCarty chastises the media, ever so deeply entrenched in the 'post-War pacifist ideology,' for playing a dominant role in shaping the perceptions of the Japanese people have in relation to 'foreign matters,' such as presenting an imbalanced view of anti-terrorism measures adopted by the US: 'nightly news broadcasts have tended to focus on the innocent Afghan victims of American bombing.' ; But what McCarty was insinuating was that in its one-dimensional portrayal of the US 'victimizing' Afghanistan, the media has failed to point out to the Japanese public that without such drastic measures, world peace may very well be at threat.

But looking back in retrospect, it is important for the media to propagate the view that each and every one of us has a part to play in helping to keep world peace. This is due to the fact that the world is becoming a smaller place every day as every country is linked to one another in one intricate manner or another, thanks to the advent of the Internet which allows for the unrestricted exchange of 'multilingual education and information.' ; Hence, it is imperative that every citizen, regardless of nationality, race, religion, creed, or color shows respect and concern for other members of the world community so as to foster a peaceful and harmonious world.

Copyright © Japanese Institute of Global Communications