November 2022 went down in history by giving us the first FIFA World Cup ever played in the autumn, and the rediscovery of Japanese culture. While the host country Qatar was facing worldwide criticism on many issues including total disregard for human rights in general, the Japanese fans were the ones who brought back faith in humanity by doing little but extremely important things like cleaning up the stands after every match. They became the symbols of the tournament and were bombarded with questions from everyone; journalists, locals, and guest fans. They were asked by everyone why they were doing this, and their answer was always “It’s atarimae. We’ve been brought up like this. It’s the obvious thing to do.”
Atarimae instantly became the word of the tournament, and the Japanese fans were cheered on with as passion and love as footballers.
So, in Japanese culture, cleaning up after yourself is atarimae. Not only it’s the right thing to do, but it’s the obvious thing to do; like breathing. When asked about what’s so obvious about cleaning up after yourself the message was equally simple yet strong — “you leave the place in the state you found it, or make it better. You don’t make it worse.”
These kinds of acts make you think. What else is there that’s so obvious? What problems do we face in this world that could be dealt with if we just do the obvious? The simple answer is — almost everything.
Gun control and overall prohibition is Atarimae
Obtaining a firearm in Japan is an arduous process as only shotguns and air rifles are allowed for sale, with handguns being prohibited. The process requires numerous steps and is very time-consuming. Obtaining a firearm license necessitates attending a comprehensive class and successfully completing a written exam and shooting-range accuracy test, with a minimum score of 95%. Potential gun owners must pass a mental health screening, drug testing, and a thorough background check to be even considered.
The background review includes an investigation of their criminal history, financial debt status, affiliation with criminal organizations, and personal relationships. Gun owners must register their weapons with the police and declare their storage locations, keeping the gun and ammunition in separate, locked containers. The police must check firearms yearly and those with the license must retest and take an exam every three years to maintain their permission to own a gun.
The result of all this is that Japan’s gun violence rate is one of the lowest in the World; 0.08 per 100.000 people.
For comparison, Brazil’s rate is 22.84, Mexico’s 17.22, the United States’ 10.89, Argentina’s 7.23, South Africa’s 5.98, Canada’s 2.26, Russia’s 1.72, and India’s 1.03. These are 2022 figures. This only shows that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.
Taking care of the environment is Atarimae
We all know that plastic decomposition is an extremely slow process. Best case scenario — 20 years. Worst case scenario — 500 years. The amount of plastic waste production gives one serious chills. We produced over 400 million tons of plastic waste in 2022 alone. Only 9% of it was recycled. NINE. That’s 36 million tons. The rest ends up, well, basically everywhere. The situation with plastic pollution is so bad these days that microparticles of it can already be found in food. We basically eat plastic. Congratulations.
The size of the famous plastic island is roughly 1.6 million square kilometers. If that were a country, it would be the 17th biggest country in the World. The size of the plastic island is bigger than 176 countries in the World.
There are only 7 countries in the World that are dealing with plastic in the best way possible; recycling, composting, converting into energy. The only non-european country in that list is Japan. Given the fact that Japan is the World’s second highest packaging waste producer they’re doing an incredible job with plastic recycling. Overall, littering is prohibited in Japan, and there’s a fine of 30.000 Yen which is roughly 230 USD. In Japan they have a motto “Keep your heart clean and keep your surroundings clean.” They’re doing a fantastic job.
Preserving nature is Atarimae
Deforestation is one of the key factors in global climate change. Approximately 1.200.000 square kilometers of forest were lost in the 20th century. That’s roughly the size of 2 Frances. The new millennium saw deforestation going completely out of control. As of today nearly half of the Amazon rainforest is gone. We all know what wood is used for; from toilet paper to furniture, from heating to construction material. The problem is not chopping down trees, the problem is how irresponsible and wasteful the usage of said trees is.
While many countries are trying to cut down on paper usage and are planting trees every year, the deforestation tempo is not slowing down. In the 2000–2020 period, Russia lost 10% of its Siberian forest, Canada lost 11%, and Argentina lost 7%. This is just a 20-year period. Even though Japan has lost about 3% of its forest it is still one of the countries with the most forest-covered areas. The leader of the list is Suriname with 98% of forest coverage while Japan is on the 70% mark and it keeps growing.
Actually, there’s a story about the Japanese importing wood while conserving their own nature. In mid 20th century Japanese figured out how to import good quality wood cheaply from the Soviet Union. They placed big orders on broken glass imports and got tons of it. The trick was that the broken glass came in big wooden containers. They got rid of the glass and used the wood instead.
There are several ambitious programs that aim for the recovery of lost forests. One of the most ambitious tree-planting projects is the Great Green Wall project with the objective of “increasing the amount of arable land in the Sahel, the region bordering Africa’s Sahara Desert.” There are dozens of reforestation projects worldwide and you can take part in those no matter where you are by paying 3–4$ to plant a tree.
The list of obvious things that should be done is very long but let’s stop at these three points for now.
– Gun control and overall prohibition is the obvious thing to do because no amount of money can bring back the life that was lost to gun violence.
– Taking care of the environment is the obvious thing to do because no one in the World wants to live in a dumpster.
– Preserving nature is the obvious thing to do because not only do trees give us oxygen, but they’re also responsible for the climate of our planet, and if that’s gone…
The thing is, guns, garbage, and wood are all considered business ventures and they make billions every year. So the solution to the problem lies in coming to some terms with these businesses with the aim of having a safer, cleaner, and greener World.