'Japan is not reproducing' is all one ever hears. 'There is a dearth of children' they say.
This may well be the case, although Japan (as many small island nations) has a history of maintaining low population due to lack of livable area surface. However, I fear that this might be one of the reasons the 'children uber alles' attitude, currently extremely prevalent in most of the US and Europe, has made it here as well... darn it.
When I was first here, 5 years ago (dear lord, time flies) and then again in Kobe, it seemed to me that most parents in Japan do a pretty decent job of controlling and disciplining their children. Sure, sometimes kids will be kids, which is totally normal. However, recently the level of permissiveness seems to have gone through the roof.
Recently, while at the drugstore, a young kid was rushing around like mad, vaguely watched by his father. The child proceeds to careen around a corner and run over my toes. My bare, sandal clad toes. Which of course leads to me hopping up and down, squealing 'itai!'.
What does the guardian of the kid do?
No 'stop that right now'. No 'come back here and apologize'. In fact, no apology whatsoever (shocking for Japan!). Just shout at the kid, and not stop him at all. All I know is that if I had ever done that in front of my parents, I would have been told to apologize immediately and be given a severe talking-to about respecting others.
Next day, on the train, two kids are in the seats, squirming, shouting and generally being obstreperous. So be it. Eventually they quiet down, and prepare to leave the train.
I am answering an e-mail on my phone when suddenly I feel a pull on my bag. And there the boy was. Tugging hard on the lock. Of my beautiful. delicate. Furla. purse.
'What are you doing?'
The kid's mouth falls open, and he retreats to his little friend. A 30-something onlooker gives me a dirty look (a la 'but hes only a chiiiild'). The older lady in front of me gives me a 'well done' nod. (A HA! Generational divide!)
I truly hope this is only summer vacation hijinks... but others have confirmed this phenomenon as well.
And this is not a good week to annoy me. My training results have plateaued (so I am hungry 24/7, but have limited choices of food I can eat due to braces), have had to miss several Hashes due to work, and have to jump through visa-renewal hoops.
I do my best to remain pleasant. But. don't. touch. the bag.