An anonymous blog post by a mother whose child was denied entry to a nursery school recently became the talk of society. The strongly-worded post was taken up by opposition party members in the Diet and used to press Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the issues of insufficient nursery schools and to push for improvements in nursery teacher job conditions.
When this happened, a voice called out from one of the lawmaker's seats: "Who wrote that?" Abe himself acknowledged the seriousness of the nursery school issue but said, "As long as the blog post is anonymous, there is no way to confirm whether what it said really happened."
This led to a rapidly spreading online movement of people writing, "It's me who the nursery school turned down." Their message: this isn't one person's problem, it is a problem for all of us.
What's interesting is that the people participating in this movement are not only mothers who have had their children denied entry to nursery schools. They are also people whose children were successfully admitted, and even people without children and unmarried men, all saying "it's me." With a shared view that this is a problem for all of society, they are joined together, no matter the differences of their circumstances.
As I saw this happening, I thought to myself that Japan has really changed. Until now, I think there was a feeling that it was only the people directly involved who should speak on social issues. Previously, when an expert in psychiatry like me wrote an article about, for example, the Tokyo Olympics or the environment, we would be criticized for speaking outside of our field of expertise. Even when I countered that as someone living in Japan the Olympics were relevant to me, those critical were not appeased.
However, looking at issues like this nursery school one, I can see that there is definitely a rising number of people who will say "this concerns me" even when they are not directly involved. Will this trend spread further? Maybe people without depression will write "It's me who has depression" in protest at discrimination against those with psychological disabilities, or maybe the elderly will write, "It's me who cannot pay back my student loans," in support of young people struggling to pay back their loans. I think that if everyone becomes able to support social causes in this way, it will be a wonderful thing.
I myself don't have children, but I will say here loud and clear, "It's me who the nursery school turned down." (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)