Stereotypes of the Japanese are generally very positive: disciplined, sense of duty, sense of honour, strong work ethic… A few discordant notes here and there, since the end of the 70s with the discovery of the wild habits of Yoko Ono, up to the recent financial scandals, outrageous acts of corruption, and any number of immoral misdemeanours have been enough to show that the Japanese are human beings and have not all been sent from somewhere on high, far distant in space. Just because a great deal of social and professional pressure is brought to bear on all those who don’t drink alcohol and a counter-culture of committed teetotallers is starting a real break-away movement from strong drink, that does not mean that taking a stance on one side or the other is the only option in the social debates that are ongoing or those yet to come.
Moderation is probably the most abused educational concept of our time. Whether here or in Japan or elsewhere, it seems everything now has to be “all or nothing.” The return to sectarian thought and dichotomous classifications that, by their nature, tend to consider only two options and push antagonisms to extremes could bring about serious social consequences. Soon, it will no longer be possible for a vegan or a teetotaller to be in the company of his/her sisters and brothers if they are still engaged in carnivorous or alcoholic sin. Perhaps very soon, we will no longer be able to mingle at social gatherings with half a glass of wine in our hands without being taken for out-and-out lushes.