chapter  11
15 Pages

Some socio-psychological considerations

Fear of excessive regimentation is not exactly a new thing in Japanese science fiction. It is expressed forcibly and with great effect in Unno Juza's celebrated 'The music bath at 18.00 hours', described in detail in Chapter 2 and referred to several times elsewhere. l In· many real ways the Japanese people had more to complain about on the subject of regimentation in the late 1930s than they have now. After all, militaristic authoritarianism has given way to a prosperous, commerialized democracy. Fears of regimentation, however, run deep, and modern stories already encountere4 bear eloquent testimony to the depth to which they can become engrained on the human psyche. 'A certain neurosis' 2 directs these fears on to the power of the computer while 'Reluctance'3 serves to underscore the allegedly universal unwillingness of human beings to part with their much-prized sense of responsibility for their own actions to any wonder drug. Whether such unwillingness is in fact universal is, of course, a matter that is open to debate. Some people may prefer, along with Jean Francois Revel,4 to believe that human beings are prepared under certain circumstances to adopt a totalitarian alternative rather than face the responsibilities and the hazards of trying to take control of their own lives, and indeed Japan's own experiences in the 1930s may tend to confirm this view. What appears to be particularly interesting is that in the context of modern Japan the notion of imposed morality is seen as axiomatically repugnant, even if there is a hinted criticism of pomposity in the suggestion that each individual likes to consider himself above the need for it.