Hiroki Ogasawara is a member of the sociology faculty at Kobe University. In this interview with the Japan Times, he’s strikingly forthright.
On the 2020 Tokyo Olympics:
It’s a social disaster and happens at the expense of what else needs to be done in other areas of society.…
[Preparation for the games] is disgusting. Violent gentrification, forcible removal of local residents and profit-making for global economic elites by stealing public funds collected through tax.
Regarding the higher education of Japanese students and their futures as office drones:
They quickly compromise themselves for what the job market demands. Stupid.
They are [getting better at English] if you support the government’s idea of producing a “global human resource”; that is, office workers who speak business English and know how to use Excel.… (emphasis added)
I think Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) sees culture as something that has to be reserved for an exclusive elite. It doesn’t want the majority of company employees to have time and space for “useless” pursuits, because culture is all about respecting “useless” activity.
Having studied in London, he compares it and Kyoto, the city that is perhaps the most ‘ye olde Japan’ (if you will) of all:
London is better by far. Not because Kyoto is inflated by tourists but because in London you are exposed to raw diversity, not cosmetic multiculturalism. In Kyoto, talk of symbiosis and cross-culture is quite superficial. It’s just marketing. (emphasis added)
Finally, on new world Japan:
I’m worried about the backlash when too much property and tourist sites are bought and run by foreign owners and investors. You never know when exclusive ethnic absolutism will erupt.
I wasn’t previously aware of Mr Ogasawara, but crikey, this was quite the introduction. I suspect that he’s widely dismissed, if even noticed, by the Japanese public. People need not be intimidated or fearful of his criticism as it demonstrates that he cares about his homeland deeply.