What happens when the law has limitations? In Japan the culture of shame often picks up where the law leaves off in solving issues. If something goes against societal norms in Japan, it is often seen as an open door for the strong 'culture of shame' to employ public shaming as a way to ensure compliance. In a group culture people tend to fear what others think rather than being independent. A recent case in point relates to the recent Covid19 pandemic. Fear arises when people think other people are not following the standards of social distancing, so they take it upon themselves to shame others into compliance.
These people have been called Jishuku Keisatsu ( 自粛警察 ) or self-appointed pandemic police. You can read more about them here in a recent news article. As Japan has decided to slowly re-open 39 of the 47 prefectures (mostly areas without mega cities) people have become cautious about those deciding to travel from infected areas to non-infected areas. As the article points out, it is a common practice in Japan for people to shame certain individuals who they deem as not complying to whatever social norm is in question. For this reason Japan also continually experiences bullying in schools, workplaces, and elsewhere at increasingly startling levels. Among other factors, these shaming practices are said to also contribute to high stress and suicide rates throughout Japan.
In a society in which grace as well as forgiveness are foreign concepts we can readily see the implications of a strict system of law keeping followed by shame for non-compliance. For this reason many people desirous of having a relationship with Christ are afraid to go against cultural norms for fear of being isolated from others and shunned from their families for life with many families even holding funerals for their newly converted relatives! In a shaming society that relies up the group in almost every faucet of life, going against the norm to follow Christ is seen as suicidal or highly hazardous to daily living. For this reason Japanese strongly believe that anything that goes against the cultural norms is not even to be considered even if it is true. Japanese would in many cases rather hold on to their ancient traditions (that they for the most part do not even believe are true) rather than face an angry mob accusing them of abandoning that 'which makes them Japanese'. For this reason those that become Christians in Japan, although few, are often highly dedicated and courageous people who desire to be both free inwardly and outwardly whatever the cost may be. It is also for this reason that some people can take many years to decide whether to become a Christian or to even openly live as a Christian outwardly in society. In the West even as times change we still often take for granted that we can live freely both inwardly and outwardly as a Christian in a grace-based society. Remember to pray for Japan!