It's been three years since I wrote anything on this site, I stopped for various reasons I will not (dare not) go into. And so I cannot help but feel some sort of long forgotten stage fright plus one huge shard of shame. On these I can actually elaborate.
For one thing, despite the 3-year hiatus, the site still gets over 20,000 monthly visits according to Google Analytics, which is not comparable to the 800,000 daily visits that we had back in the day, but still means a lot of people that are interested in what might turn up here.
However, the main issue that made me hesitate so much to post again is the fact that we used this url as a news platform for one those countries where journalists get fired, incarcerated, tortured or killed if they dare to show anything what's actually going on. Hence the fact of talking about "nice things" related to a country with a real government somehow felt awkward, and even treacherous to a cause that so many have dedicated and even lost their lives to.
Thus I feel an explanation is due before this carries on. Why talk about Japan? Why focus on a country so apparently unrelated? Did I already forget where I come from and the people that we tried to help through information? Of course not, nevertheless the path that we followed was blocked entirely and I am completely unable to continue on the same manner. Thus, if you cannot reach a goal directly, well then you might have to reach around the globe to get it. Now, that line of thought is not necessarily the most efficient, but even though Columbus did not succeed in getting to India, it definitely shook things a bit up in the long run, right?
Japan was the inspiration for this site from the beginning. Back in 1997, the first time I ever published anything on the internet, I named it el5antuario on the now defunct Angelfire. This would roughly translate into "The 5anctuary", loosely based on a place created by mangaka Masami Kurumada where warriors (saints) fought one another to defend their ideals. The 5 in the middle is a whole other story but the fact that I was born on October 5th does have something to do with my infatuation with this well-balanced digit, although evidently Alan Moore's V for Vendetta plays the most important role in there.
So originally el5antuario was a very simple-minded little site intended to share my perceptions and was read by probably 2 or 3 people (which probably was just the counter of the site showing me my own visits from different PCs). 10 years later, in 2007 I retook the name for a few videos about a Japanese-style Maid Cafe we opened and an TV show we produced and aired back then about Japanese pop culture. Eventually, some of the videos were more about politics and they became some sort of a viral pundit show, along with very harsh and even violent criticisms against a system that thrives in corruption. But without going further into that and to make the story short, with a team of around 88 voluntaries, this "5anctuary" was turned into a real news platform where people could find a little bit more about what was going on back then. We started just by gathering interesting news in smaller media and ended up carrying out the investigations ourselves. This site became the most visited non-corporate url in the country (rated #50 by Alexa.com back then), it completely went out of proportion in 2012 having more visits than the national TV station's sites and most of the national "news" papers. But why did it become so popular? I'm inclided to believe that it was because it gave people hope, not hope of any magical proverbial creature coming from above and saving us all, but the kind of hope that comes from awareness, the one that is born when you realize you could actually choose a better reality.
And so that is #5Nippon's mission (pronounced Go Nippon), to show that there are other alternatives to live well, that there is a place where society works, and that this level of living is achievable and not a dream. On the other hand, is Japan perfect? Of course not, we'll obviously get into that as well, but Japan's issues are way ahead of the curve, they stand on a very different ground with a level of equality that no other country has reached before. We will be challenging these short-comings at the same time that we search and perhaps even provide possible solutions. The ulterior motive cannot be achieved if Japan does not grow back at least to its former glory, in order to be seen as the example it should be perceived as, we need to make it shine even more than during the 90s. Perhaps only then and only then will failed-states like the one I was born in finally start moving foward after nearly 200 years of getting worse by the minute.
While it's entirely true that this may not work at all, or that maybe I won't see these changes happen in my lifetime, I do belive that having this personal mission can make a difference. But I don't do this out of faith, I do this based on one of the most undeniable truths of basic human nature, survival instinct. When people realize equality helps them live longer, safer and more peacefully, when people realize they it's easier to survive in equality rather than conflict and life-threatening competition, I'm positive they'll follow Japan more closely as the best example of this.
I was planning to go back to my past structure of releasing videos about me speaking out my own opinion based on data and statistics, but while going back out there I rememebered one of the most important things I learned a few years back, my voice and my analysis is pointless if there is no dialogue. Even if the sources are impeccable and nearly undeniable, dialogue will always provide far more insights and deeper understanding. So the interview/short talk model so going to be the way to go from now on. Also, please feel free to rant, criticise or speak out what you think so the learning is greater for us all. There is no such thing as an absolute truth, so who knows, maybe instead of helping people live as well as in Japan, we end up finding a better model and instead of Go Nippon
Anyway, thank you for joining us in this quest to #GoJapanese, this of course has nothing to do with any imperialistic ideas of having everyone bow down to Japan, but rather allow more people to realize things can #GoBetter if other societies followed suit and also decided to effectively turn 90% of their population middle class.
So here we go, welcome again and #5Nippon!