|AKB48 are “Gatekeepers” for Suicide Prevention|
One of the many challenges Japan faces in the 21st century is getting a handle on its suicide rate, which has remained steady at about 30,000 per year over the past decade, about the same as in the U.S. despite Japan having less than half the population. Don’t worry though, because The Government Has a Plan: it’s designated popular singing group AKB48 as the official “Gatekeepers” in a campaign to draw attention to the problem and suggest ways we can all help. While some are critical of the new initiative, dubbed GKB48 (the letters stand for “GateKeeper Basic,” though they remind Japanese people of the word gokiburi, or cockroach), at least it’s a start, as long as more concrete steps are taken. Part of Japan’s suicide problem comes from differing social mores — suicide has at times been seen in a positive light, a way to regain honor and a source of romantic stories about lovers’ suicide (shinju) during the Edo Period, for example.
Since we are coming up to the one year anniversary of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear plant disaster in Japan, I decided to post this documentary from the BBC about it from the children’s point of view.
If you have an hour to watch, I would highly recommend it.