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Thread: Shock of Western vs Japanese values

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Exclamation Shock of Western vs Japanese values

    The longer I live in Japan, speak to Japanese, and get to understand their mindset everyday a little better, the more I realise the abyssimal differences of morals that exist between my values (Western, or at least Western European) and theirs (or more broadly East Asian ones, as I found they were quite close in this respect).

    Firstly, I have the impression that for the Japanese, Westerners are just "cute" (well, it depends which ones, but that is what I, my family or Western friends in Japan are often told). It seems that Japanese won't take us seriously and think of Westerners as attractive or charming or entertaining, but they give them little credits for being "reliable" or "responsible" in the Japanese sense. Understanding (even being told) this, I couldn't be more surprised at the way they think, as personally, and I think most Westerners would also agree, I find the Japanese to me more immature and irresponsible than Westerners in general. The problem is that these words have completely different meanings in the West and in Japan, due to the cultural rift or millenia or separations, which is far from having disappeared because of Japan's westernization in surface (but not deep inside, at the core values).

    I have tried to summarized some of these divergences in values below.


    West => Idealistic & moralistic
    Japan => Pragmatic & cynical

    Examples 1

    West => Lying is wrong
    Japan => Lying is necessary to avoid causing offense/trouble

    Many Japanese think that something is wrong/reproachable only when it becomes known of others. Eg. If a man cheats on his wife but manage to keep it secret, he is not "wrong" as he doesn't hurt anyone's feeling as she doesn't know. This very way of thinking is enough to deeply shock most Westerners. But the same is true of Japanese politicians or business people. Frauds, abuses of power, briberies, etc. are only felt to be "wrong" when they become public.

    Examples 2

    West => Being responsible/adult means
    1) behaving in morally good/praiseworthy way (eg. dissuade a child to smoke, save somebody who is drowning...)
    2) be independent (be able to live by oneself, clean the house when necessary, etc.)

    Japan => Being responsible/adult means
    1) having money to support one's family or take care of them. From a moral point of view, the way the money is made is not important ("money is money").
    2) It is also being able to integrate in the group (company, etc.). Japanese being collectivists, independence from the group is not viewed as maturity but the contrary.

    See my thread on the concept of tayorigai on this matter.

    Examples 3

    West => The government's role is educate the people (e.g. fight against racism, smoking, etc.) and to protect them from abuses from companies (environment, health, security, discrimination at work, being fired without reason, etc.)

    Japan => The government's role is to protect companies and the economy. Laws to protect the people are only passed reluctantly when pressures from activists or foreign countries becomes too strong. The Ministry of Health helps/protects pharmaceuticals companies and doctors, not the patients. The Ministry of Agriculture helps/protects the farmers, not the consumers. Etc.

    Examples 4

    West => Laws are made to regulate/refrain immoral deeds or protect people agianst themselves (diseases, alcoholism, accidents, etc.)

    Japan => Laws are made to keep the public order, whithout consideration for morals
    - prostitution has long been legal in Japan, and was only banned by Americans after WWII, but the laws now exit only to for the international image or tatemae, as authorities turn a blind eye on it - even teenage prostitution. The same is true of gambling; illegal but everywhere around through pachinko parlours.
    - The Japanese government owns Japan Tobacco and thus, instead of fighting against tobacco consumtion, encourages it. It creates money to finance national projects, so it is not "wrong" by Japanese standards.

    Examples 5

    West => Right or wrong are just subjective concepts depending on one's moral views. Morals includes logic, reasoning and feelings.
    Japan => The winner is always right
    - that mentality helped the Japanese believe that they were right in conquering Asia from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 to WWII, but also to admit defeat and readily adopt changes brought by the Americans after 1945.
    - Lots of mangas or Japanese movies have characters who try to prove that their ideas (or ideals) are rights by fighting and trying to win. If they lose, they very easily admit that they were wrong (just can't believe morals are just a matter of strength for them !!).


    Examples 6

    West => Happiness is measured by love, freedom, (political & social) rights, personal achievements, passions, realisation of one's dreams, security, etc. (also money and material possession, but people admitting it are usually frown upon as shallow)

    Japan => Happiness is measured by money , material possessions and security.


    Conclusion

    Japanese often find that Westerners are naive of being so idealistic, and childish because they seem too excited and disconnected with reality. They know human nature and its weakness, and more readily accept things such as corruption, greed or treatment of women as sexual objects, because they think it is inevitable and has always been like that. In some way they are very cynical.

    Westerners often find the Japanese are irresponsible on such issues as protection from STD's, naive for being too trusting/gullible, or lacking intellectual and moral maturity.

    I can understand both point of views, and it is funny how living in one's home country accentuate the apparent maturity, while being in the other culture's country make one feel displaced and doubting their own values, because of the huge difference in environment.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Aug 17, 2004 at 02:11.

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  2. #2
    Offender of all religions Emoni's Avatar
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    Gut feelings

    Maciamo, first I want to say one thing before I respond. That everything below is directed at what you wrote, not at you personally.

    I'm a person who goes by gut feeling on right and wrong. I may not be able to "explain" why something is wrong or right at the given moment, but somewhere deep down I know it IS. Call me arrogant, self-rightous, it doesn't matter, it is just the way I am. When I read this, I got that gut feeling very strongly. However, I am unsure of the specific reason why. Something, is wrong. Either what you wrote is due to your exposure to certain types of people and having a skewed view, or the fact that what you saw IS true and that it is extremely sad to read that it is. I knew one person from Japan, and care deeply about them. I can clearly say that I know they do not agree with some of the views you have stated that are common in Japan. By that, I know what you are saying cannot at all be 100% true.

    At this moment, I cannot believe that all this is simply the way it is, no matter what. Even due to my total lack of experience, and the fact I have never been in Japan. I consider the majority of society to be mostly idiots, and count this for the world population. There are however, some truly good people out there. If you judge the people of a country on the "majority" of the actions of their population I think you would come up with every single country being full of absolutely cruel, horrible people.

    I guess that is my reply... Something is very wrong, but I am not sure just quite what.
    -Emoni
    "Been there, done that, came back, going again."

  3. #3
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    To Maciamo: Welcome to Japan
    To Emoni: You obviously have never lived here

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    It doesn't even take living there to know. It's obvious even living here among different ones for years.

    And for those dreamers, I'm not saying it's good or bad. Just saying that there is some truth to what Maciamo says.
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    –é˜IŽ€‹ê! TwistedMac's Avatar
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    different countries have different values.. just because you're raised with one set and thus automatically feel the other sounds disgusting/wrong doesn't mean it is.. maybe what you're thinking is what many consider disgusting/wrong/cruel.

    I would also like to add that i do not believe in gut feelings.. they are a quick assesment your mind makes from all the previous experience you have had and is therefore the direct feeling brought to you by your culture.

    can't say I agree with maciamo since i have no experience of it, but i'll definatelly take his word for it. sounds logical enough.
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  6. #6
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emoni
    There are however, some truly good people out there. If you judge the people of a country on the "majority" of the actions of their population I think you would come up with every single country being full of absolutely cruel, horrible people.[/b]
    I can't believe that you would go as far as comparing Japanese people with cruel and horrible people, if my I said were absolutely true !

    In fact, being idealistic and moralistic can lead to some ugly situation where the that culture tries to impose its views on others because they are right (a bit like you know saying that if Japanese are as described above, they must be wrong !). Why do you think the West has led crusades in the Middle Ages ? Because they possessed the truth and the Muslims could only be wrong. What happened when the Spaniards and others colonized America ? They converted the locals by force to their moral beliefs. What is happening now with Bush and Iraq< Iran or North Korea ? Bush saw Saddam (and still see the 2 others) as evil because their values were different.

    The advantage with non-moralistic countries like Japan, China or basically all East Asia as far as Indonesia is that they don'ttry to impose their values to others. That is why China has never tried to cololize the rest of the world to "civilize" them. When Japan invaded other Asian countries in the 1st half of the 20th century, they didn't try to civilize them or educate them, or convert them to their religion (although Shinto was state-religion at the time). They only cared about money (natural resources, forced labor, plundering of historical treasures, etc.).

  7. #7
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Excellent post, Maciamo. Sad, but so true.

    I would just like to relativise your legal examples. Judicial hypocrisy also exists in the so-called enlightened Western countries, in particular as far as monopolies (such as the Japanese tobacco monopoly you mentioned) are concerned. The West and its glorious ethical concepts are not immune to the filthy lucre. Also, I daresay that most of the jurisdictional action in Western countries is reactive ("Anlassgesetzgebung" in German) and not proactive too.

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    Japaustralian jieshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwistedMac
    different countries have different values.. just because you're raised with one set and thus automatically feel the other sounds disgusting/wrong doesn't mean it is.. maybe what you're thinking is what many consider disgusting/wrong/cruel.
    Damn straight twisted mac! Just because you come from another culture it doesn't automatically make the new culture wrong. A good example that AFS has taught me is not to say driving on the wrong side of the road. It's not the wrong side of the road, just the different side of the road.
    When it comes down to it the art and sport of Kendo is a question, "I'm going to hit you in the head with a stick, but can you hit me first?" - Me

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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Good post Maciamo, its better put than I could do it.

    The lying thing really gets on my nerves. Whilst in Japan there are 2 things that stand out from my experience that really annoy me. The first one was one day during school the police came and arrested a teacher. I asked what was happening and noone knew and the next day the school released a note for everyone to take home explaining what had happened.
    Their story: The teacher had been taken in for questioning about an incident and the school had 'relieved him' due to stress.
    What happened: He threatened a guy with a knife and physically assaulted him and was thus arrested.

    The other was one day after school clubs were over, about 7pm. Most people take the bus back from the sports campus but my club is at the main campus and I was waiting for a friend who is on the bus. So the buses roll up and everyone gets on reaaally quick, very quietly and 2 teachers get on. Inside the bus you can hear screaming and crying. 2 ambulances turn up and they take 2 girls from the volleyball club off the bus, who are clutching at their chests having trouble breathing. I've done FA courses about 4 times, at school, cadets, for surflife saving and for work. These two were hyperventilating and it would be a pretty simple thing to treat. But when I asked the teachers what happened I got "it was just mental stress from family troubles".... 2 girls, in the same club from different families on the same day? Nah, its called not cooling down after training (they run these girls hard right up to the last minute).

    Being a foreigner in Japan who can speak Japanese is a 'novelty' and is a PAIN to get people to take you seriously. 2 years out of high school I turn up in Japan and WHAM, im back to being treated like a primary school student. "No, you cant cross the road till I say its safe", "oh you cant go out after dark, its dangerous" etc etc. :'( arrgh

    I'm not saying its wrong, just different. And Jeishi, they do drive on the same side of the road as us ;) heh

    Show me one line, just a single line, where he says that its bad? He does state at the start its just what he's noticed and how its different. Live in Japan for a prolonged length of time and you'll discover this.

  10. #10
    Japaustralian jieshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ewok85
    I'm not saying its wrong, just different. And Jeishi, they do drive on the same side of the road as us ;) heh
    .
    I wasnt refering to japan, i was just saying in general

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    Offender of all religions Emoni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I can't believe that you would go as far as comparing Japanese people with cruel and horrible people, if my I said were absolutely true !
    Maciamo, by no means am I calling the Japanese horrible and cruel. If anything I am backing up some of what you posted in your second post. To clearify, if you start covering a society with blanket judgement on what ever single person does, you will run into serious problems. The most serious of which would be the fear that goes with those types of beliefs. You do however, get into very hazy waters when you get into the subject of culture based morals. As no matter what you do, you cannot take the stand of absolute objectivity and unbaised and claim that you are being honest on issues like this.

    At same time though, I have little faith in the majority of the world's population on most matters. I've just run into too many of these "people things" to put my trust in them. Go figure That is no society, culture or country however, don't mistake that please.

    As for the gut feeling, it wasn't directed at anything specific or any moral judgement per say, it was mainly a feeling that something wasn't quite all correct and set. Not a clue why though, and I want to stress that.

    I do however want to comment on your statement of non-moralistic country behavior. You made claims that it is an advantige due to invasions. You claim they don't try to impose their values, yet at the same time you are missing some key factors as that they usually either attempted near total eradication of the population, or forced them into submission under a new GOVERNMENT (which no government you can claim to be based off of NO moralistic guidence, even non-religous). Look at China's history, Mongolia, and especially Japan and you will quickly get examples of what I am stating.

    By no means did east-asian countries fight a "nice war" or was it "no big deal compared to western based take-overs" it was war like anywhere else. Bloody invasions, oppression and take over. Whether it was for resources, moral differences or government, there were still people in the way.
    War is war, and it is NEVER no big deal or nice.

  12. #12
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emoni
    I do however want to comment on your statement of non-moralistic country behavior. You made claims that it is an advantige due to invasions.
    I didn't "claim" it was an advantage. Just that it influences the possibility of colonizing other countries to civilize them (not just invading for power or money, that is very different).

    You claim they don't try to impose their values, yet at the same time you are missing some key factors as that they usually either attempted near total eradication of the population
    What are you talking about ? What China did to Tibet ? Justly, this is because they lack moral conscience.

    By no means did east-asian countries fight a "nice war" or was it "no big deal compared to western based take-overs"
    That's the point. You seem to understand what I am talking about. While the West colonised also for commercial and political reasons, they often (but not systematically) tried to modernise, develop and educate colonized countries, and tried to keep good relationship with them after decolonization (with institutions such as the Commomwealth of Nations for the UK, or the various economic and educational cooperation projects between France and its former Africa colonies, etc.). Western countries also felt the moral obligation to accept millions of immigrants from former colonies, while Japan tried hard to boot them out after WWII, when they weren't necessary for the war effort anymore. Japan and the Asian countries it controlled (I won't name them colonies), still have uneasy relationships, with many Asian still bearing grudge against Japan like nothing seen with Western colonies.

    So we could say that the moralistic approach incites to colonize, with the aim of civilizing and educating the locals, in addition to the struggle for power and resources (which is universal).

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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    To clearify, if you start covering a society with blanket judgement on what ever single person does, you will run into serious problems.
    Assuming that the misspelt words are what I think they are, he is not just picking a handful of people and elevating their actions to that of a society, he is taking the actions of a society and listing them!

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    Wonder whether the named conflicts like crusades to the 'wholly land', the conquer of Latin America by spain, the iraq conflict is related to the religion ? Maby the religon was used to unify the submissed countries and just destroy the culture in order to rule them? And in case of Iraq its doubtful 'values' are the reason for the war..... Maybe the reason is simply 'money' = 'Oil' ?

    Miacamo I share your entry mostly. I have been working close with japanese and the diffrences often lead to misunderstandings. Most of the european have christian background. So our values are at least close to each other and we have a common understanding. Most of asian countries (if not all) have a completly diffrent development throughout. But this makes the cultures so attracitve isnt it ?

    Considering todays situation in some european countries the corruption is widely established.... well even in Europe the moral standards might be diffrent to ideals we have had. The reality is often diffrent....

    Finally is it wrong to say 'money' is important ? Everybody likes money and is working hard for it in order to have a good life. In this sense where is the diffrence between Japan and Europe or other countries/cultures ? I dont want to know from where some businesmen get their money although this people enjoy reputation in the society.

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    Thrill Seeker canadian_kor's Avatar
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    As a Korean Canadian and having grown up among fellow Koreans (both first and second generation types), the Korean value system is almost identical to the Japanese one. Also, I have to agree with Mac here. I tend to agree with the people who get annoyed with the lying thing. I'm also annoyed with the whole "if it works--even if it is wrong--go do it" attitude common among East Asians. I think people should not be afraid to speak out and say that certain value systems are "better" or "more right" than others. Our postmodern world tells us (or lies to us) that everything is right and no one should claim absolute supremacy on values and morals. To me, that is just bull. There are absolute morals that are above our heads, it only depends on which culture or society grasps it more closely.

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    Anjin Brooker's Avatar
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    Based on my time in Japan it sounds like Mac's assessments are on track. But I'm sure there are some Japanese ways of thinking that are better than Western ways of thinking, but they're less obvious to us because we are Westerners.
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  17. #17
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by AKEBONO
    Wonder whether the named conflicts like crusades to the 'wholly land', the conquer of Latin America by spain, the iraq conflict is related to the religion ? Maby the religon was used to unify the submissed countries and just destroy the culture in order to rule them? And in case of Iraq its doubtful 'values' are the reason for the war..... Maybe the reason is simply 'money' = 'Oil' ?
    You should differientaite between the real reason (honne), such as money, power or politics, and the official reason (tatemae) which the leaders tell the people going to war and which is the motivating power for soldiers, missionaries or colonizers.

    Considering todays situation in some european countries the corruption is widely established.... well even in Europe the moral standards might be diffrent to ideals we have had. The reality is often diffrent....
    Yes, but the main difference is that corruption is considered "evil" in the West, and corrupted politicians usually face heavy fines or emprisonment. In Japan, corruption is considered part and parcel of human nature, and thus inevitable and is treated much more leniently. Many corrupted Japanese politicians have not only continued their carreer, but even reached higher positions (even Prime Minister, like the LDP Secretary General Sato Eisaku, who received massive brobery from the shipbuilding industry in 1953, but went on to become Prime Minister anyway from 1964 to 1972, the longest term ever served by any PM in Japanese history !).

    Finally is it wrong to say 'money' is important ? Everybody likes money and is working hard for it in order to have a good life. In this sense where is the diffrence between Japan and Europe or other countries/cultures ? I dont want to know from where some businesmen get their money although this people enjoy reputation in the society.
    It isn't wrong, and I have included it in the Western sources of happiness (along with love, personal achievements, ideals...), but Japanese (and East Asians) notoriously place an disproportionate importance to it, and hardly care about more "philosophical" values.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brooker
    But I'm sure there are some Japanese ways of thinking that are better than Western ways of thinking, but they're less obvious to us because we are Westerners.

    You are still judging what I said as "the Japanese way of thinking" is less good than ours, because you cannot accept that their values are equal. It is very difficult to stay neutral or impartial in this kind of discussion.

    But if you want to know what makes the Japanese/East-Asian way of thinking superior, it's very easy : it promotes economic development through unrestraint capitalism. As money is one of the most important values (as opposed to love, hobbies, family, friendships...) in East-Asia, success can only be achieved by economic development.

    I should also have mentioned that "face" is extremely important in East-Asia. It doesn't matter how rich and happy people really are, as long as they look rich and happy. This is the principle of tatemae in Japan, but the same exist elsewehere in Asia. On paper, compared to other countries, Japan is indeed a rich country, with a high GDP per capita, low unemployment, high education, etc. But in reality, companies are rich, not the people; low unemployment is fictional (see my thread Real unemployment in Japan reaches 25.5%), people reach high education levels because it's almost impossible to fail (see my thread Only 26% of Japanese understand their lesson at school ), and as everybosy knows, Japanese live in rabbit-hutches, usually without garden, pay more than the average Westerners for most products, and get little holiday. But as long as Japan looks prosperous, the authorities are happy; they save their face in the international community.

    A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy. I expected things like getting more holiday, less corruption at the government, better medical care, better education, etc. Sometimes they cited things like having more time for hobbies, but ultimately it was to boost the leisure industry ! So people don;t count, as long as the economy works. That is how Japanese (and East-Asian) really think ! At least you can't blame them for being selfish. The group (country and companies) go first, before the individual.

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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy.
    Ah I remember a fun social studies lesson in Japan. The students were asked that they think when they hear the word "shakai" (society). So we had cities and jobs and economy, I'm the last person in the class (very convientient, I can slip in and out with ease ) and I said people. The one thing that makes up a society is the individual people working together. Its all nice saying you want a better economy but its each person, each individual that makes the difference.

  19. #19
    Go to shopping PopCulturePooka's Avatar
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    Maciamo, I agree with msot of your points except:

    In fact, being idealistic and moralistic can lead to some ugly situation where the that culture tries to impose its views on others because they are right (a bit like you know saying that if Japanese are as described above, they must be wrong !). Why do you think the West has led crusades in the Middle Ages ? Because they possessed the truth and the Muslims could only be wrong. What happened when the Spaniards and others colonized America ? They converted the locals by force to their moral beliefs. What is happening now with Bush and Iraq< Iran or North Korea ? Bush saw Saddam (and still see the 2 others) as evil because their values were different.

    The advantage with non-moralistic countries like Japan, China or basically all East Asia as far as Indonesia is that they don'ttry to impose their values to others. That is why China has never tried to cololize the rest of the world to "civilize" them. When Japan invaded other Asian countries in the 1st half of the 20th century, they didn't try to civilize them or educate them, or convert them to their religion (although Shinto was state-religion at the time). They only cared about money (natural resources, forced labor, plundering of historical treasures, etc.).
    I see nothing wrong with occasionally forcing morality of murderous dictators. I disagree with the IRaq war because of honesty issues and the fact taht most of Australia supported it but our tool of a PM went ahead anyway.

    But this world is full of murdering curs that steam-roll over their people for their own gain. Mugabe. Jong Il. The Saudi Royale family. The leaders of Sudan if they are in fact supporting the Janjaweed. And before they were taken down Saddam and the Taliban.

    I am in firm belief, as a leftist, socialist, ecologist and humanitarian that the people in those countries have a right to live free lives unopressed by cruel monsters. If using a bit of 'morality inducement' is the way to do that when other avenues fail so be it. And unfortunately the other avenues fail. Trade Sanctions never seem to work. In the end its the people that suffer, not the murderes in charge.

    I don't think that after the removal of the cancer (and thats what the leaders of those countries are, cancers) that those that did the removal should force their morality onto the newly freed people. They should only do so to the extent that its prevents another monster taking the old ones place.

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    Occasional visitor nekosasori's Avatar
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    Interesting post, Maciamo - just had two comments to make:

    1) The examples 1,2, and 3 you gave for the "Japanese" definition of those concepts actually matches more closely what I see in Ireland than the "Western" view. Having now lived in Ireland for almost 4 years, I believe that there are more parallels to be drawn than differences between Japan and Ireland, their commonalities in culture stemming from their both being island cultures. In these cases, I don't find your "Western European" sensibilities being supported at all in Ireland. And from what I can tell of Chinese culture, I don't think mainland Chinese are of the "lying is necessary to protect others" mindset either - therefore I'm not sure if all of East Asia can be lumped in together this way.

    2) Despite growing up in Canada, I've always believed that prostitution should be legal - in fact, when it used to be, it's my understanding that STDs were far more controlled (pre-WWII) because the government would require all registered prostitutes to be tested regularly for them. Personally, I ascribe to a combination of those definitions of concepts that you cited, Maciamo, and this is a particular example.

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    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    Legalisation of prostitution is a hot topic, and it depends on the state and/or country on how this is taken.

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    [/i] I knew one person from Japan, and care deeply about them. I can clearly say that I know they do not agree with some of the views you have stated that are common in Japan. By that, I know what you are saying cannot at all be 100% true.
    Of course it isn't 100% true. There is not even a clear internal logic between deeply held cultural beliefs in group integration, concern for other people's feelings, or social harmony with "might makes right," Japanese public opinion tending towards pacificism, lack of support for US ousting of dictators on a national level and material security as the road to happiness on an individual level. If collectivism had no beneficial effects, such as holding down violence, public disorder, drug use, divorce and other social patholgies (prostitution excepted) without resorting becoming a police state and giving people a strong sense of belonging and emotional security it doubtless would not have survived the last 200 years while the West has gone a different route.

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    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy. I expected things like getting more holiday, less corruption at the government, better medical care, better education, etc. Sometimes they cited things like having more time for hobbies, but ultimately it was to boost the leisure industry ! So people don;t count, as long as the economy works. That is how Japanese (and East-Asian) really think ! At least you can't blame them for being selfish. The group (country and companies) go first, before the individual.
    In all honesty, that is most likely the response most Americans would give as well to how the country can be improved. Which is why disappointing news on the economy dominates electoral politics at all levels and invariably leads off all the national news broadcasts, deserving of banner headlines etc. To the dismay of social issue voters who tend to be less well off and don't vote their economic interests. If some Japanese tend to be bizarely obsessed with getting paid and about accumulating personal wealth, to the extent they aren't using it to create an inequitable society or flaunt it to the point of drawing envy, I've more or less made my peace with that. I've never personally been judged on that basis. And of course many do have understandable financial hardships and fears of unemployment or not being able to find new work.....

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    ice ninja Saria's Avatar
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    every country, political sistuwaton, religon & culture has it's good points & bad. we all are diffrient & see things diffrently. it would be nice if there was a system that was good for both business & the people but there isn't. & if there was it would most likely become corrupted in some way. people are coruptable & often times selfish. power corupts. so I suppose all we can do is try to understand eachother

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth
    In all honesty, that is most likely the response most Americans would give as well to how the country can be improved.
    I you ask me what could be improved in Europe, I'd say the education system (as explained in another thread), more democracy (frequent referendum about important issues, internet polls taken in consideration by politicians, etc.), reform the unemployment benefit system so as to have less lazy people not looking for jobs, crack down on criminality (with expulsion of foreign criminal with non-permanent visa, which isn't even the case now ! - probably the only place in the world ), stimulate the economy, create more private (paid) universities to rival with American ones (as currently they are all free and at very similar levels, but not enough excellent ones due to lack of funds), etc, etc. I don't even know where to stop, as there are so many obvious things that everybody know need to ne improved.

    But when I ask educated Japanese business people, I only hear about the economy, while the situation regarding democracy, education, etc. are much worse in Japan than in Europe (I hope that people who consider me a "Japan-basher" will finally understand that I am being very kind in my criticism of Japan, compared to what I would do "at home", in Europe, with my own government and people; because I don't even have the right to vote in Japan ).

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