The Jisatsu That Has Been Cultivate in Japanese Society

November 06, 2020

Oleh: Desy Safitri

(Mahasiswi Sastra Inggris Universitas Bangka Belitung)  

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Every country in various parts of the world certainly has its own culture and characteristics, both positive and negative cultures. According to Edward Burnett Tylor, culture is a complexity that exists in a country in the form of knowledge, morals, laws, customs, beliefs, arts, abilities that are applied in society. In general, culture is a custom or absence that is carried out by the community continuously that it becomes a culture in an area. Asia is dominated by developing countries and a few developed countries. One of the developed countries in Asia with a culture that is well known to the world is Japan. Each country must have its own advantages and disadvantages. The progress of a country must also affect the social conditions of people. As we know, Japan has been oriented towards America in its socio-cultural life. On the other hand, Japan is also famous for its culture, entertainment, destinations, culinary and even technology, which is undoubtedly advanced. Not only that, Japanese people are also known as people who have the best quality of life in the world because they can manage the discipline of life and live in a good environment.

Many people yearn for the convenience of living in Japan because they want to experience these cultures. However, these cultures are a camouflage covering the dark side of Japan. Mita Masahiro in her novel entitled Ichigo Domei once discussed the phenomenon of suicide or better known as Jisatsu in Japan. So, is this phenomenon only limited to the plot of a story or does it really happen in the real world?

In the thesis of Indonesian Univerisity entitled Jisatsu in Japan (2008) states that there are several factors that cause Japanese society to choose to commit suicide, which are problems of self-esteem, shame, feelings of regret and a sense of responsibility which causes psychological pressure in oneself so that a person decides to end his life. The high death rate in Japan due to suicide is very worrying. As of August 2020, there were around 1,849 suicides. Nevertheless, Japanese people seem to think of Jisatsu as a common thing. Based on data from WHO, there is noted that Japan is ranked the third country with the highest mortality rate in the world. The causes of suicide in Japan also vary; due to the influence of work and mental health.


Reporting from a journal entitled Karoshi And Karou-Jisatsu In Japan: Causes, Statistics And Prevention Mechanisms (2016), it is a general fact that Japan has a loyal tendency to work. Although hard work and loyalty are generally positive traits, there is a subtle difference between productivity and overworking which results in negative side effects and health problems, often leading to sudden death or suicide. This effect has become known in Japan as karoshi, a word which means death due to overworking; or in the case of suicide due to overworking, karo-jisatsu.

Japan highly values discipline and work ethic. As a developed country, it is not surprising that Japanese people, both those who are already working and those who are still in school, often stay busy at work or school because of the many tasks that must be completed. As the effect, they often lose time to rest because they constantly press themselves, so the tasks they carry must be completed before the deadline. This condition makes their bodies weaker and ends in death due to overworking. They already knew the risks involved if they pushed themselves too hard to the lowest point of their health, but they still did.  In Indonesia, this behavior is known as “looking for one own disease”. For cases of suicide due to overworking, this usually occurs when someone feels fed up, stressed, and tired of the work they are doing both mentally and psychologically. It is not uncommon for employees to commit suicide because they feel they have failed to meet their job expectations.

For the second type, mental health disorder is a taboo topic discussed by the general public. Plus, Japanese society has a culture of not being a bother to others; a culture that makes them independent but also individualistic at the same time. Those who need mental help often feel a dilemma, should they ask others for help or solve their own problems? Unfortunately, most choose the second option, where they choose to end their life.

From the fact above, we can said that the factor that stigmatizes the public regarding the prevalence of Jisatsu is based on the fact that Japan considers suicide as a form of atonement for guilt. Therefore, the concept of Japanese life is only based on social ethics in the surrounding community. The level of individualism in Japan is also high. Most of the time, they focused their life for work. Communication with parents, family and people in the surrounding environment is also very rare. A tiring work life coupled with relationships between individuals in the work environment, relationships between superiors and subordinates can also be a source of depression or a source of psychological pain. Therefore, it is not surprising that a person wants to rid himself of the fatigue of their work by committing suicide.

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