As explained in an Economist article entitled “Elusive but Not Always Unstoppable,” suicide, or self-killing, has been traditionally viewed as the honourable response to dishonour or failure in Japan. Today, however, there seems to be numerous other causes for suicide and, as a result, suicide rates have increased remarkably over the past ten years. Indeed, today Japan has the highest suicide rate of any developed and industrialised country. There are many reasons why this increase has occurred and it has had a serious effect on government and society.
Japan is a very traditional and conformist society and it expects everybody to adhere to the country’s traditions and fit in. Life is very difficult, even impossible for those who do not fit in and, quite often, the solution is suicide. Another cause of suicide is failure and positive societal attitudes towards suicide as a response to failure. Japanese society has traditionally placed great value upon success, whether success at school or at work. It judges and evaluates people on the basis of their performance and those who are deemed failures, are looked upon as having shamed themselves and their families. Indeed, society is highly intolerant of any who fail and holds on to the traditional belief that the only honourable response to failure is suicide. Accordingly, school children who do not perform well at school or men who have lost their jobs, commit suicide as the honourable and expected response to the shame that their failure has