…and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:10)
My brother and his wife were stationed in Japan while they served in the military. They experienced some culture shocks. The vast number of people on a comparatively small island makes all space a commodity. Apartments are incredibly small and expensive. Even the subway systems are cramped beyond description. Yet, the Japanese culture, with its emphasis on respect and self-control, allows even the most-crowded public settings to remain almost comfortable. Still, amidst these conformist, cultural norms, Japan has the highest suicide rate among the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) nations. One of the most popular ways of acting out suicide for the Japanese is “…leaping from station platforms into the path of oncoming trains.”
The large number of Japanese citizens who have died by suicide is so substantial that it is a national issue. According to Citylab’s Allan Richarz, “To address the issue, stations across Tokyo and the rest of Japan installed chest-high barriers as a means of preventing suicide attempts.” “While there are hopes to have platform barriers installed in all 243 of Tokyo’s train stations by 2032 (at a cost of $4.7 billion), rail operators in the interim have come up with alternative approaches.” In the meantime, Japan is looking at other alternatives to care for its people.
At either end of one rail station, you can find a small, square, LED panel emitting a deep-blue glow. It is believed the deep-blue LED glow provides a sense of comfort and peace. While it might look like a bug zapper, “…it was designed to save lives.” The rail stations are also remarkably safe, but are working even harder to combat youth delinquency, so riders do not have to experience further stress by young people who are not following the careful cultural values.
Yet, at the end of the day, these actions are like slapping lipstick on a pig. Whether it is a wall, or a blue light, these actions are not getting to the heart of the problem. The real issue is the demands employers are placing on their employees. This, too, is a cultural, as well as a financial issue. When too much of our identity is placed on our occupation, and our ability to be a financial provider, we are walking on slippery sand. This is the primary issue in Japan. The average Japanese worker consistently works 65 or more hours per week.
Today, pray for the people of Japan, who are struggling with such dangerous issues as suicide and overwork. But also pray that all people around the world might know their value, as a child of God. It is based, not on how much you make financially, but on the fact that all people are made in the image of God. When we begin to judge ourselves and others as God judges, the world will become a safer, more comfortable place.