Why don’t the Japanese worry about crying wolf?

The Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried wolf too many times for attention and then wasn’t believed when it really happened it well enough known in Japan. However, the authorities doesn’t seem to have understood the moral of the story. To give a few of numerous examples:

– Escalator announcements sometimes tell you to hold onto the handrail, not to walk on the escalator, to be careful in case they suddenly stop, to stand within the yellow lines and not to take on pushchairs

– Every station in Japan has apparently spent every day in the last ten years or so on an extra high security alert

– The news warns you of the danger of something virtually every day, including the danger of getting a cold because the weather is dry (meaning not humid)

The Japanese being humans, they basically switch off and ignore all of the warnings just the same as I do. There are examples of the government noticing this, including a more detailed list of categories of typhoons so people actually take the serious ones seriously, but even those tend not to work as the news programmes hype up each and every storm so much that the actual data of the warning level gets lost.

The reason why Japanese in charge suffer even more than most from crying wolf seems to be that in Japan you always have to do your best and put safety first (“anzen daiichi”), and that leads to warning everybody about everything in a way that has the exact opposite effect.


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