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Ganbare Nippon! Really?

thomas

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On our bicycle-related sister site, we are currently in the process of designing new team jerseys for next year, and in the course of the debate someone proposed to add the がんばれ日本 slogan to our colours, in order to show off our support for Tohoku after this year's events.

While I am all for supporting the affected region and its disaster-stricken population (JREF donated 90,000 yen to the Japanese Red Cross thanks to our members' generosity), I cannot help to agree with Arudou Debito on this one:

Japan needs less ganbatte, more genuine action

Ganbatte kudasai! You hear this expression every day in Japan. "Do your best!" "Try harder!" "Stick to it!" "Don't give up!" are but a few of the positive messages conveyed. [..] However, recent events have exposed a problem with ganbatte. It's gone beyond being a harmless old saw, platitude or banality. It's become at best a sop, at worst a destructive mantra or shibboleth. It creates a downward cycle into apathy in the speaker, indifference in the afflicted.

No doubt some people are thinking I'm nuts or making molehill mountains as usual. After all, what's wrong with encouraging people down on their luck to overcome obstacles? Isn't it better than the downbeat sarcasm you get in the West ― where misfortune can be greeted with self-justifying "life sucks, then you die" pessimism, and where you can be made to feel a fool for not "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps" like the heroic "rugged individualist" you ought to be?

Yes, of course. But bear in mind that some things cannot be fixed by mere encouragement. For example, take the recent slogans "Ganbare Nippon" or "Ganbare Tohoku" following the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.

Just telling victims to "do their best" in the face of such adversity (some of it the result of government corruption, human error and just plain hubris) is in fact insulting. There is already a suggested moratorium in Japan on telling people with physical or mental handicaps to ganbatte. This is because it doesn't really help them "overcome" anything (it's not that simple). Moreover, asking them to "persevere" through this situation often puts pressure on them, again to their mental detriment.

The thing is, "ganbatte!" is often said by someone who isn't suffering to someone who is. It can also offer sympathy without the tea. [..]

Seeing the ubiquitous がんばれ日本 or がんばろう日本 in convenience stores, on school walls and company cars, etc. has been leaving a bad aftertaste in me for the past few months. I feel it has turned into an empty phrase that allows us to display support without actually engaging. Similar to the (certainly well-meant) "volunteer tourism" as of lately...

I for one do not want to display that slogan on our team jerseys.

What's your take on the "Ganbatte Nihon" campaign?
 

Mike Cash

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Conspicuous compassion is self-serving.

I agree with you and with Debito.
 

KirinMan

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I personally think that the "Ganbatte Nihon" is just a phrase to make people who are not, or have not been affected, by the disaster in Tohoku feel like they are a part of helping to bring things back to the status quo.

It's condescending at best, yet, from how I see it, it is something that foreigners pick up on more than the Japanese do or will. Foreigners here in Japan see things more critically than Japanese themselves do and are also quicker to point out the hypocrisy as well.

Just like the phrase going around "Japan is one", that's another bullocks phrase as well.
 

Mike Cash

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It is practically a corollary to: "Hope" is an excuse for doing nothing.
 

Davey

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The whole word Ganbare is bothering me a bit, everywhere you go this is all you hear. And not only when their is a disaster, but also when someone works somewhere, a son that hears his dad say it before a test, etc. Can't they say anything else?
 

Iron Chef

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Just telling victims to "do their best" in the face of such adversity (some of it the result of government corruption, human error and just plain hubris) is in fact insulting.

I think it is more a general statement of positivity, hope, and support all rolled into one. Granted it is overused on a daily basis... but in this particular case I think it acts as something of a rallying cry for people to get behind to show their support. Just like every time the Olympics roll around, World Cup, etc etc "がんばれ日本" has become part of the culture imo. Really, what ELSE could they possibly say? The poor handling of the disaster in the aftermath makes it look like an empty slogan so on that point I can understand his argument. Anyways, I think you could probably do with a better, more appropriate slogan for your jerseys Thomas if it doesn't sit well with you.
 

KirinMan

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Can't they say anything else?

Maybe some of our Japanese brothers and sisters here can answer this one. Probably due to my limited vocabulary I can not seem to find any word that conveys the same meaning and feeling that がんばれ does.


Could it be that it's over use is due to the fact that there isn't anything else suitable?


BTW, I am tired of the word as well. The way it is constantly repeated gets on my nerves sometimes too. Tohoku folks, those directly affected by the disasters, need to がんばれ, more than I do. They need the help and support. It's like it's almost a subliminal phrase cooked up by some propaganda ministry to feed to the masses to pull the country out of it's decades long funk. がんばれ needs to be hammered into the politicians minds here to quit their self-serving arrogant, walking around like peacocks, attitude, and get down to the business of doing what they were elected for.....leading the country!

I am quite sure that even I could do better than half these idiots.
 

Froth

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Isn't it the same (culturally) as telling someone you're praying for them? (the sentiment, not the actual meaning). Like how after Katrina, all I ever saw was people posting facebook posts about how they're praying for the people in New Orleans and are wishing for the best... Japan is a pretty agnostic culture, so I don't really see them as saying they're going to "pray for them" like we might, instead replacing it with "Ganbare Nippon".

If that's the case, I don't really see what there is to complain about. I don't think it's something to take literally. Though, while I agree with debito (for once), the same could be said for the US and every other country in the world that, instead of taking action to help, posts some inane well-wishes on their facebook page.
 

Mike Cash

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Isn't it the same (culturally) as telling someone you're praying for them? (the sentiment, not the actual meaning).

Not really, no. It's not.

The point of contention was not the nature of "ganbare" itself, but the empty, vapid, meaningless, self-serving, conspicuous compassion nature of plastering it all over anything and everything in the wake of the horrific disaster as though the mere plastering were of any benefit to anybody at all.

Perhaps a bit of satire on the point would help to explain it:

[video=youtube;Fs35U6LGHgw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs35U6LGHgw[/video]
 

mirror

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Isn't it the same (culturally) as telling someone you're praying for them? (the sentiment, not the actual meaning).

Yes, really yes. It is.

Although I am not a religious person myself, I find that those that are take comfort in praying for themselves and each other. To me, it seems like a waste of time, but they seem to appreciate being told that they are being prayed for.

Similarly, one of the main themes of Japanese culture is support (i.e. "amae" - dependance on others for emotional support). This may also seem strange to those who don't share the culture, but it's based on the same principle. So, these concepts are very similar.

Personally, I prefer actions to platitudes, but many do not. Thus, the shirts are probably not a bad idea. After all, even taking the time to create the motto/shirts is an action, albeit small. Maybe some Japanese person affected by the disaster might see one and feel some of that amae that's so important to them.

P.S. - Looking to Rush Limbaugh for opinions on compassion? Satire indeed.
 

Mike Cash

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So you're one of the "Look at me! Look at me! I care more than you do!" people. Fantastic.
 

undrentide

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For me, there's huge difference "ganbare nippon" and "ganbarou nippon".
The former sometimes sound irresponsible, while the latter give us more feeling of solidarity, and remind us we should not forget and we need to do more, to be together with them.
 

Mike Cash

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Then tell me in what way it is "like a prayer".

It is "like a prayer" only to those whose vocabulary doesn't contain the word "exhortation".
 

mirror

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Then tell me in what way it is "like a prayer".
It is "like a prayer" only to those whose vocabulary doesn't contain the word "exhortation".

"like a prayer' is a song by Madonna, not a quote from this thread. Please do not put quote marks around things you aren't quoting. It makes you look like you haven't read what you are commenting on or, worse, deceptive.

Here's what Froth wrote:

Isn't it the same (culturally) as telling someone you're praying for them? (the sentiment, not the actual meaning).

Nothing about "like a prayer". I beleive that you read this because you previously quoted it yourself!
Perhaps, rather than questioning others supposed lack of vocabulary, you should focus on your own reading and comprehension skills.
In addition to the above misquoting, you have twice misread what was written.

Yes, really yes. It is.

Although I am not a religious person myself, I find that those that are take comfort in praying for themselves and each other. To me, it seems like a waste of time, but they seem to appreciate being told that they are being prayed for.

Similarly, one of the main themes of Japanese culture is support (i.e. "amae" - dependance on others for emotional support). This may also seem strange to those who don't share the culture, but it's based on the same principle. So, these concepts are very similar.

Personally, I prefer actions to platitudes, but many do not. Thus, the shirts are probably not a bad idea. After all, even taking the time to create the motto/shirts is an action, albeit small. Maybe some Japanese person affected by the disaster might see one and feel some of that amae that's so important to them.

To which you responded, incredibly:

So you're one of the "Look at me! Look at me! I care more than you do!" people. Fantastic.

Not only did you not reply to any points made, you somehow managed to entirely misread the qualifications (which I had italicized to make clear!)
I have now bolded the relevant sections in a last-ditch effort to make it clear to you.

Flippant, sarcastic replies can be entertaining if they are funny. If they are not, they are usually a waste of everyone's time. Do you have anything to offer this thread other than misquotes, misunderstandings, smug implications about your claimed large *cough* vocabulary, and empty, one-line responses?
 

Mike Cash

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Then tell me in what way it is like praying.
 

mirror

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This is like the movie "Memento":

Who am I? Says here my name is Mike Cash.
What did I read and even quote from just moments ago? I forget already.


Read the thread again. Nobody says it's "like praying". For the last time, Froth wrote

Isn't it the same (culturally) as telling someone you're praying for them? (the sentiment, not the actual meaning).
*Bold added to make clear to Mike Cash

His post and mine discussed and gave reasons for this idea. Please read and reread this thread before asking more ridiculous questions. You are embarrassing yourself.
 

Mike Cash

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Then how is it like telling someone you're praying for them?
 

mirror

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Both "ganbatte" and "I'll pray for you" are common expressions whose main purpose is to express empathy for the other party.
They are both said during times of emotional trouble for the other party.
They both promise nothing other than emotional support.
They both have been criticized as empty platitudes yet, at other times, praised as valuable.

P.S. - Mike, you are clearly upset at having your sarcastic, unhelpful answer being shown to be incorrect and your Rush Limbaugh video criticized. I have only one word for you: がんばって!
 

Mike Cash

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And you clearly joined the site for the sole purpose of trying to pick a fight with me, apparently due to your dislike of Rush Limbaugh.

So in what way is people plastering in places where they will never be seen by the people in Tohoku posters, labels, stickers, and whatnot exhorting them to 頑張って (or 頑張ろう) comparable to telling them that you're praying for them?

It is self-serving conspicuous compassion.

Where did you prove me incorrect or criticize the video? I can see nothing in any of your posts which address the content of the video.
 

mirror

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Where did you prove me incorrect or criticize the video? I can see nothing in any of your posts which address the content of the video.

Here's where I proved you incorrect:

1. This thread is about whether ganbatte should be used on the shirts. You said it should not and had absolutely no supporting reasons for your opinion. I said it should and brought up the concept of "amae" - a fact - to support my position. That you failed to acknowledge this does not remove it from history, unfortunately for you. You were wrong.

2. I took pains to note that I didn't especially believe in the usefulness of expressions such as "ganbatte" and "I'll pray for you" - even italicizing them to be clear, and you replied "So you're one of the "Look at me! Look at me! I care more than you do!" people.". You completely misunderstood what was written. You were wrong.

3. You claimed that someone in this thread wrote ganbatte is "like a prayer", even putting quote marks around it. No-one did. You were wrong.

4. Then, unbelievably, you again misquoted, claiming that someone wrote that "ganbatte" is "like praying". No-one did. You were wrong.

5. Finally, in a Hellen Keller moment, you asked a reasonable question. I answered it, demonstrating in clear English how the expression "ganbatte" serves the same social purpose as telling someone you will pray for them. Again, you failed to acknowledge a correct answer. You were wrong.

The video is not relevant to either the T-shirt question or whether ganbatte is similar to telling someone you will pray for them (do you actually think that it is?). Thus, I didn't "address" it.

So in what way is people plastering in places where they will never be seen by the people in Tohoku posters, labels, stickers, and whatnot exhorting them to 頑張って (or 頑張ろう) comparable to telling them that you're praying for them?

This has gotta be the fourth or fifth time you've rephrased your question which has been answered a few times over now. Rather than admit your mistakes, you seem to be trying to misquote in order to create a straw man or distract (i.e. your focus on the video). Forums are about give and take and you have provided only questions and rude, unhelpful replies. Until you admit the errors listed above, no more answers for you.


P.S.

And you clearly joined the site for the sole purpose of trying to pick a fight with me, apparently due to your dislike of Rush Limbaugh.

Although it's not relevant (consistent with all of your replies so far), for the record: I joined the site because I live and work in Japan and this is a Japan-related forum. If I cared enough about Rush Limbaugh to waste my time arguing on the net about him (or posting videos of him), I would join a Rush Limbaugh forum. I replied to this thread because your answer was incorrect, a fact you cannot seem to recognize or admit.

However, I must admit that I am no fan of your posting style. I have just joined the site and, to get caught up, read through about 20-30 separate threads (after I initially responded to this thread). These were only the threads that I happened to come across - I did not search for your name - yet most of these contained your sarcastic, unhelpful replies to posters, often supported by another poster that writes something like "I agree with everything Mike has written.". Further, they are hypocritical: in one thread you deride a poster for supporting Debito yet in this very thread you support Debito's views. In another, you belittle a poster for using his experience in Japan to defend his views yet in another you claim someone who disagrees with you (and other posters) is disagreeing with 80 years of shared experience (in fact, in almost all of them, you find a way to proudly reveal the dubious claim to fame that 1. you are a truck driver in Japan. and 2. you have been here a long time.This seems to be your trump card to attempt to bully anyone who disagrees with you. Congratulations on those admirable achievements, btw). Many respect simple experience, but I respect experience combined with intelligence and your bitter one-line replies suggest you possess only one of these qualities.
 

thomas

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A gentle reminder to everyone involved in this thread: please stay on topic and use Private Messaging to discuss personal or other OT issues. Thank you.
 

Mike Cash

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It is rather amazing that I manage to mention my line of work in every thread I participate in, though.
 
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