Jikosekinin - The Japanese version of victim blaming?

The Japanese phrase 自己責任 jikosekinin is usually translated as “self-responsibility” but can also mean the absolute accountability for one’s own actions.

In India they would say “karma,” in Germany “Selbstschuld,” in America, perhaps, “one’s own fault.” In other words, jikosekinin can be used as ‘victim blaming’.

Especially in the homogeneous, collective-orientated Japanese society, the concept of jikosekinin carries great weight in solving moral dilemmas. Instead of society at large, the individual gets picked at.

Everything that happened to oneself is the consequence of one’s own causing that result. Failed in school? Take responsibility -jikosekinin- for being a bad student! Got depression? Take responsibility -jikosekinin- for having a weak mind!

When two Japanese journalists where executed by the warriors of the Islamic State in Syria, some commentators cried “jikosekinin!” -it was their own responsibility; why did they go there?!

Walks in jikosekinin-scholar Laura Marie Blecken from Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg: “The Japanese government and media avoided the term jikosekinin largely after 2015, while blogs still use the term generously.”

While it is good to have a positive mindset about the powers of one’s Self, obviously not everything that happens to us is entirely our responsibility. And while we make bad choices in life, some factors such as terrorists in Syria or bullies at school are simply out of one’s control -or are they?