I recently spent a few months visiting some different countries with my girlfriend: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, Spain, and Israel. In the US, we went to DC, SF, Hawaii, New Orleans, and NYC. Here are some reflections: On pessimism No matter where they’re from, young people seem to think that their own country is uniquely fucked. South Koreans point to the
Interesting observations! The Lockheed guy’s attitude is very common in NYC, but you’re entirely right that it isn’t so based in reality -- most people just always feel they never have enough
World value survey trust data can be weird and counter intuitive. China has some of the highest social trust in the world, despite the cultural revolution brutality of "turn in your friends and family for reward!" and the ongoing CCP authoritarianism. Take away is that perceived economic factors can matter more than the actual facts of the matter on the ground that you'd think would really segment society. An maybe social diversity and media reporting matters too.
I wonder if what's going on in the Japan case is there's a difference between how much people trust the ingroup vs. the outgroup, to the point that people have high (internal) social trust but don't think people in general (because of outgroupers) are trustworthy. For what it's worth, this study claims the Japanese have high trust of family and friends, low trust of foreigners, strangers, and people of other religions: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0095555
It's interesting to me that Taiwan is lower than Japan on the survey response you linked to, since in Taiwan too it's pretty normal to leave your belongings unattended, etc. But in Taiwan the uni that houses my language centre for example, forbids students from going out on their own on school-sponsored trips, as a safety measure. So I wonder if what's going on is here incongruity between the unconscious attitudes people manifest in their habits, and the reflective beliefs people form, e.g., in response to surveys or when developing policies.
I have noticed the same thing about the depressed youth everywhere I go. This year I have travelled around most of Europe seeing friends and family, I did not meet one optimistic person.
Lockheed Guy's attitude is similar in San Francisco too.
San Francisco downtown is insane, but neighborhoods are high variance. Some are almost completely sheltered from downtown madness.
Curious about Taiwan and Israel notes too.
GDP and good outcomes are generally linked, but only generally. Compare Costa Rica and the US for GDP and is not close. Compare health, happiness, education, etc and it's not close but in favour of Costa Rica. I can't remember what the better-correlated-than-GDP thing was, but something like quality early public education.
Sorry, the usual platitudes about Japan. Trust sure... But along world-leading depression, suicide rates, and diminishing birthrate.