The only reason I am afraid that Japan can hardly improve (1)
There are more examples that some customs override the written legislation in Japan. For example, relaxation of rule of dismissal has been under discussion recently. It seems to help the labor market more flexible. Introduction of white collar exemption is also considered. However, some people insist that this is no more useful because an employer can fire the employees as many as he wants to even now. That is, regulation to protect the right of labors is not adhered at all. According to Labor Standards Act, labor over 40 hours per week is basically prohibited. But actually many labors are forced to work over 60 hours in a week. In the current condition, if the legislation around labor is rewritten, serious confusion will occur in lots of the companies. In contrast, some people think that the change of the rule about laborhood will not improve the situation because no employer will obey the new legislation. Therefore, argument of labor regulation often results in a chaos without mutual understanding.
In medical treatment, there are some vicious customs. Japanese government offers national health insurance for all Japanese. We can take a cure with low cost. But, the indications of each treatment are strictly defined. Some medications are prohibited to apply for a certain disease, even if the efficacy is proven by academic research. Essentially, we have to attempt to perform a medical investigation about the effect of this drug against the disease. But most physicians have another way. They disguise the name of the disease of the patients. For example, risperidone is an excellent drug for schizophrenic patients. In addition, risperidone is also effective to improve the mental status of the patients who are suffering from delirium. However, the indication of risperidone is schizophrenia, not delirium. So, a doctor adds a disease name schizophrenia secretly on the patient with delirium, to prescribe him risperidone. It is illegal, but extremely common habit of the medical practitioners.
Above all, Japanese tend to make a new custom to overcome a current problem without change the rule. After such things over and over again, there are enormous customs which are hardly understood even by ourselves. This kind of situations have some disadvantage. First, it makes the strangers difficult to adapt to our society. The Japanese are often deemed as exclusive people. Second, it makes difficult to cause a dramatic change. Our efforts for survival result in the stasis of the system.
Overall, it is extremely difficult to overcome the situation. Now, making a new legislation, no matter how it is modified in advance, can cause some troubles upon stakeholders. This is why we Japanese cannot make a decision. This is the greatest problem of Japan.
To be honest, this is not my idea originally. Shichihei Yamamoto of "Kuuki no Kenkyu" (Research of the atmosphere) and Ryoichi Tobe of "Shippai no Honshitsu" (The essence of failure) have described about this issue.
My past entry: Essence of Failure: from Edo era to a charismatic Teacher