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Thread: Shock of Western vs Japanese values

  1. #26
    Offender of all religions Emoni's Avatar
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    Can't say this isn't a good deep thread, that is for sure!

    You mentioned that Japanese Business people only speak of the economy. I'm interested in the areas where you find the Japanese education system in trouble. I've seen many examples of areas that need serious improvement, I'm wondering what you have seen.

    Even my Japanese language teacher detests the education system in Japan due to it's extreme requirements and strictness. His class on the other extreme is very laid back, relaxed and grades are mostly earned through effort that he sees you put into it and what is deserved, not by hard number crunching and curves.
    -Emoni
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  2. #27
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    I think this is an interesting thread. Have you even seen first-hand how these things work? And once you've been there a while you get a greater understanding of how things are in your own country. People here are overly loud, rude, selfish.

  3. #28
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ewok85
    I think this is an interesting thread. Have you even seen first-hand how these things work? And once you've been there a while you get a greater understanding of how things are in your own country. People here are overly loud, rude, selfish.
    Yeah, it's painfully obvious on these boards and Forum Japon alone how much more persistent, demanding and overtly selfish Europeans, Middle Easterners and to a certain extent probably Americans can come across compared with our Japanese counterparts. Hmmm....Well then....let's see.....that only leaves only Africa, Central/South Asia, Mexico/ Central/South America and Canada still to be gone over ? Anyone know anyone from the polar regions ?
    Last edited by Elizabeth; Aug 18, 2004 at 21:40.

  4. #29
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Hehehe...
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  5. #30
    Regular Member Shiro's Avatar
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    Mac's claim is a sort of the commonplace theory of "guilt culture and shame culture" brought by Ruth Benedict's book. In his case, it seems way too mechanically simplified, though.

  6. #31
    Occasional visitor nekosasori's Avatar
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    I'd also be interested in hearing how Maciamo thinks "democracy" is in trouble in Japan. Every country faces political corruption, and I find multi-party systems to be preferable (even when the lines of distinction are blurred) to the US two-party (aka "lesser of two evils") system, personally.

    Also, when Maciamo talks to "educated" business people, I'd mostly assume that they're a product of this purportedly dysfunctional education system in Japan, so their only talking about economy-related things would only be further proof of the mindset issues as encouraged by their schooling.

    I've read in a couple of different sources now that Confucianism and its mentality has led to it being difficult for Japanese to criticize the government - in China, too lots of people over many centuries (including Confucius himself) had a goal of landing a state/civic job for life, and since I'm now reading about the Shinsengumi in Japan which could arguably be called the last bastion of traditional samurai values (in the 1860's), I can see that serving one's government (e.g. not the reverse, of government helping the common person) was de rigueur.

    Anyway, getting back to the people Maciamo talked to: were any of them educated abroad? I have no doubt that many Japanese have been getting higher education abroad - but what percentage of those return to Japan to live? I think the Crown Prince and Princess were both educated abroad (he in England, she at Harvard) - I'd love to know how they feel their nation is doing...

  7. #32
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    I guess experiencing all of the above that was said can make you understand how the current situation is over there atm.I've never been there myself yet, but I do know the things that were said about the BAD are not EVERYWHERE in Japan, I actually think most of the people on this forum live/ed, work/ed around the BIG CITY area; and believe me those people are ALWAYS different from the people that DON'T.I would like to know THEIR situation, as I've heard nothing about Hokkaido area yet.
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  8. #33
    Regular Member chikazukiyasui's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    West => Idealistic & moralistic
    Japan => Pragmatic & cynical
    Fair enough.

    As has been said, this thesis bears some resemblance to the "shame" versus "guilt" society theory that has been bandied about for a few years now.

    Personally, I'm not convinced that the things you say are quite sound as a generalization of the contrast between Western and Japanese values. Nor do I think that the West comes out well in the picture you paint.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    West => Lying is wrong
    Japan => Lying is necessary to avoid causing offense/trouble
    But lying isn't always wrong. Only certain kinds of lies are wrong: e.g., libel, false advertising, scientific or journalistic fraud, etc. -- lies that cause real harm, or that are part of a process of doing something to cause harm. Saying "I'm fine thanks" when one is miserable is perfectly okay. In English, there is the phrase, "white lie". If the West is wholly against lying (and I'm not sure it is), it is irrational to be so. I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on. I think too much of that confession thing is bad for individuals and for society.


    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.
    Unless you have a definite vocation that is incompatible with making money (and surely that only applies to a few people), you might as well go ahead and make some. As for being "independent", if that means going into the bush and living on grubs, leave it to the birds. Italians routinely stay at home with their mothers until their mother drops dead, and the Irish if they didn't emigrate so much probably would, too. Italy and Ireland, and to some extent France also have a very relaxed attitude to official corruption. (Nekosasori has already mentioned Ireland.)

    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.
    Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco. Some (Britain is one of them) fail to seriously discourage it because they like the money (either monopoly profits or taxes and duties) that they get from the stuff. Many Western governments are to a large degree influenced by corporate lobbies. The US government does very little to protect the people on environment, health, security (look at the crime rate), discrimination at work, being fired without reason. Maybe a little bit on the environment, but not much.

    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,
    It is contrary to Western liberal (Mill, Bentham, Spencer, Burke) principles to make laws based on purely moral premises, and different Western governments treat prostitution very differently (some are absolutely intolerant, some are completely tolerant).

    Also, there are quite a lot of things that are illegal in Western countries which are nonetheless widely tolerated. (You only need to stand by a road and watch the traffic to see this is true.)

    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
    Right now, the US believes might is right. That's why it gets huffy whenever other countries try to tell it that it is wrong.

    In the days of Empire, Britain and France behaved also as if they believed might was right, much of the time.

    I think that the mighty always have a tendency to think might is right.

    Incidentally, the Japanese did replace the teaching of Korean language and arts with Japanese equivalents in Korean schools when it had an Empire over there. One gets the feeling from Koreans that more than military domination, it is the deprecation of Korean culture by Japan that riles.

    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.
    It is irrational to exclude money from the list of things that brings happiness. Money is a big factor in happiness.

    I think that parts of the West do have an instinctive dislike of "money-grabbing", but not all. After all, it was the West that invented capitalism. They had to invent a new religion (Calvinism) to make it possible, though.


    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.
    I find myself agreeing more with the values you ascribe to the Japanese than with those you ascribe to the "West" (although I don't think the whole of the West really does think the way you say).

  9. #34
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chikazukiyasui
    Nor do I think that the West comes out well in the picture you paint.
    Not necessarily indeed.

    But lying isn't always wrong. Only certain kinds of lies are wrong: e.g., libel, false advertising, scientific or journalistic fraud, etc. -- lies that cause real harm, or that are part of a process of doing something to cause harm. Saying "I'm fine thanks" when one is miserable is perfectly okay.
    It all depends of your definition of "lying". Lying about one's feelings is just a subjective statement which some people could not even see clearly. When asked how I feel about something, I often don't know what to reply as I may have mixed feeling or feelings contradictory to my reason.

    I believe one can only lie about facts. Libel, or diffamation are also about facts. Saying that the president had an affair with someone is a lie if it isn't a fact. Saying the president is stupid is just an offensive opinion (so not a lie, just a subjective feeling).

    I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on.
    No Catholics are also against lying.

    Quote Originally Posted by chikazukiyasui
    Unless you have a definite vocation that is incompatible with making money (and surely that only applies to a few people), you might as well go ahead and make some.
    ...

    It is irrational to exclude money from the list of things that brings happiness. Money is a big factor in happiness.
    You may read and re-read what I wrote. I have never excluded money from the source of things that bring happiness in the West. My point was that it was much more (though not completely) limited to it in Japan than in the West.

    [quote]
    As for being "independent", if that means going into the bush and living on grubs, leave it to the birds. Italians routinely stay at home with their mothers until their mother drops dead, and the Irish if they didn't emigrate so much probably would, too. [quote]

    Independent also means doing what you want and not just doing things because others do it (which is typical of Japanese). Westerners are in general (with the exceptions of Mediteraneans, though not Northern Italians) much more independent in thinking, have their own (sometimes very arrested) opinions. I think it is related to the "idealistic and moralistic" tendency, as a strong independence of spririt is necessary to have ideals, and choose one's own moral rules (even by choosing a religion or sect). Again, I have never said that the Western way was better. It is the most common mistake made by my readers to assume that I always defend the Western way because I am a Westerner, or that being "moral(istic)" is necessarily better than being cynical (personally I am as much and maybe more cynical than the Japanese, but I feel isolated among the average Westerners).


    Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco.
    Examples please.


    It is contrary to Western liberal (Mill, Bentham, Spencer, Burke) principles to make laws based on purely moral premises, and different Western governments treat prostitution very differently (some are absolutely intolerant, some are completely tolerant).
    Good point, although few politicians follow the good examples of our philosophers (or choose the wrong ones).

    Also, there are quite a lot of things that are illegal in Western countries which are nonetheless widely tolerated. (You only need to stand by a road and watch the traffic to see this is true.)
    I never said the contrary. I gave the example of prostitution being tolerated though illegal just to show that before the American came in 1945, Japan didn't see any moral problem with it. This is quite different from saying that prostitution is allowed on tolerated in Europe although it is seen as immoral, but legal in order to control it. Japanese people don't seem to consider it immoral in the first place. The example of people speeding on motorways or not respecting road signs has nothing to do with morals, but safety.



    I find myself agreeing more with the values you ascribe to the Japanese than with those you ascribe to the "West" (although I don't think the whole of the West really does think the way you say).
    Me too partially. I am more cynical than moralistic, but I osciliate between idealism and pragmatism.

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  10. #35
    Occasional visitor nekosasori's Avatar
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    I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on.

    No Catholics are also against lying.
    Well, the Irish do not practice what the (Irish Catholic) Church preaches - take the two examples of 1) child abuse cases by priests which were completely overlooked until they couldn't hide this any longer and 2) priests also taking advantage of young orphaned women (to keep as sex partners and housekeepers) - this has STILL not been apologized about by the Church.

    As for examples of Western governments making money out of alcohol/tabacco - Canada and Ireland both readily come to mind given the amount of tax they place on both substances. The Ontario government for instance is the only legal outlet for off-licenses (stores that sell take-out booze). A pack of cigarettes in Ireland costs about three times the amount it does in Spain, due to taxes.

  11. #36
    Regular Member Hero's Avatar
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    TwistedMac: I'm not sure why you don't believe in gut feeling...
    But I VERY much believe in mine. It's kept me out of trouble, gave me good hints/clues about things... and yes, sometimes I don't exactly know what it's trying to tell me, lol.

    Plus it told me of the girl meant for me and we're currently going out/going to get married. Plus a fortune told me we'd get married before we even started going out.

    Yes I believe in fortunes and "signs".. no not the religious kind.
    Almost every fortune I've gotten was or became true.

    Sorry for going off topic, huhu.

  12. #37
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nekosasori
    As for examples of Western governments making money out of alcohol/tabacco - Canada and Ireland both readily come to mind given the amount of tax they place on both substances. The Ontario government for instance is the only legal outlet for off-licenses (stores that sell take-out booze). A pack of cigarettes in Ireland costs about three times the amount it does in Spain, due to taxes.
    1) It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.

    2) My example about the Japanese government was very different. Not only are taxes low (a pack of cigarette only cost about 250yen, or 2 euro, in Tokyo, which incidentally is the world's most expensive city). But the government possess (with shares), and manage "Japan Tobacco", the company that produces most of the cigarettes available in Japan (Mild Seven, Parliament, etc.).

    What is more, ads for tobacco are everywhere (while they are now prohibited in countries like France), and packs of cigarettes only have the mention "You should be 20 years old to smoke. Don't abuse at it could damage your health." In contrast, in Western countries it shows "Tobacco kills" or "Tobacco causes cancer", or "tobacco seriously damages health", etc. In comparison, Japanese laws are very mild indeed.

    Additionally, I have never seen ads against tobacco in Japan, which are so common in the West (in public transports, government buildings, doctors's waiting rooms). How comes ?

  13. #38
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    1) It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.
    I have to disagree on this one. Taxing obviously doesn't promote usage, but it doesn't really seem to be intended to discourage it either. I know, that in Germany the government says that they raise tax (on gas, alcohol, cigarettes) to further decrease usage, but at the same time they calculate their tax revenue on basis of continued usage rates. (BTW, due to rising oil prices they miscalculated their gas tax revenue , people actually did use less, now the government has another deficit of billions)

    What is more, ads for tobacco are everywhere (while they are now prohibited in countries like France), and packs of cigarettes only have the mention "You should be 20 years old to smoke. Don't abuse at it could damage your health." In contrast, in Western countries it shows "Tobacco kills" or "Tobacco causes cancer", or "tobacco seriously damages health", etc. In comparison, Japanese laws are very mild indeed.
    Although they have made these labels an obligation in the EU, they are not too coherent in their policy. European tobacco farmers are still subsidised with 1 billion € annually (at least until 2009).

  14. #39
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Although they have made these labels an obligation in the EU, they are not too coherent in their policy. European tobacco farmers are still subsidised with 1 billion € annually (at least until 2009).
    This is another issue. Tobacco isn't illegal in Europe, so, if people are going to sell it and make profits from it, let it at least be European companies rather than foreign ones. I totally understand that. But that doesn't prevent the authorities from banning tonacco advertisment and raising prices through taxes to "limit" the consumption. The miscalculation about taxes you mentioned above are just an accounting problem, they do not try to keep consumption levels using any form of promotion just to assure revenues. Again, in Japan it is very different, as it is the government that promotes the use of tobacco by advertising (as JT is a public company).

  15. #40
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    The miscalculation about taxes you mentioned above are just an accounting problem,
    Not just an accounting problem, this is policy. They do it with everything, from alcohol to gas. They say that they raise tax only to discourage smoking (or whatever), but actually they don't care. What they care about is their budget. The miscalculation was only due to rising international oil prices, else it would have probably worked as usual: no decrease in usage, but increase of tax income.

    The situation in Japan is obviously completely different, since the government has a stake in a tobacco company. I would not even try to disagree with you here.

  16. #41
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    The situation in Japan is obviously completely different, since the government has a stake in a tobacco company. I would not even try to disagree with you here.
    Not just a stake. Japan Tobacco was a state monopoly until 1985. It is now a public company two-thirds owned by the Japanese Finance Ministry.
    It is the 3rd largest Tobacco company in the world, has subsidiaries in 120 countries and owns brands such as Mild Seven, Seven Stars, Winston, Camel or Salem. All this originally started as a state enterprise and monopoly with the tax money, instead of discouraging smoking. We will never see tobacco ads prohibited or serious government campaign against smoking as long as the government will be so deeply involved in this business.

    That reminds me of Jon Woronoff's words that in Japan, "the Ministry of Health does what it can for pharmaceutical companies and physicians (not their patients), the Minisry of Agriculture looks after the farmers (not the consumers)", and so on for each ministry. Did I mention that Japan Tobacco also has a pharmaceuticals branch ? The most ironic would be if they produced medecine against lung cancer, while being sponsored by the Ministry of Health ! Business is business, as the Japanese would say (and morals has nothing to do with business).

  17. #42
    Cute and Furry Ewok85's Avatar
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    The anti tobacco campaign here is amazing compared to japan. No advertising, no smoking in restaurants and pubs, soon to be no smoking in public places and clubs. Also do displaying of tobacco products, only the prices so they need to be away from public viewing. They also have a great series of TV ads of smokers lungs being cutup, or how much tar is produced a year in your lungs, shots of what damamge is done to areteries etc, really gruesome stuff. Packs contain compulsary warnings "Smoking Kills" "Smoking while pregnant can be fatal" etc etc.

    They might have some of the tv ads on the site, http://www.quit.org.au/

  18. #43
    Occasional visitor nekosasori's Avatar
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    It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.
    My original point was that taxes make money for government, and as bossel said, taxing is not overtly discouraging the public from drinking or smoking. The statement I was responding to was "Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco." (where you asked for examples). It was irrelevant what the money is being used for (mainly health care in Ireland, not that I actually have benefited at all from it because it's so badly organized and poorly executed); the fact remains that the government gain revenue from people buying alcohol and tabacco.

    On the other hand, I agree that western countries seem to be stepping up efforts to at least curb smoking. I think it's only recently that women in Japan have been gently encouraged to stop smoking (and drink less) while pregnant. I'd be interested to know the rates of lung cancer in Japan compared with Europe, actually.

  19. #44
    Regular Member Reiku's Avatar
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    Hmm...

    Well, I haven't read every post in here yet, (I just skimmed after the first page) but I thought I should post a response while it was still fresh in my mind--as opposed to wading through 43 posts when I've been up for >checks clock< 20 hrs.

    I think part of the differance between the east and the west is the issue of age. The U.S. in particular is only a few hundred years old, while some asian cultures have histories going back thousands of years. As an "old man" myself, (I feel old anyway ) I know that as one ages, their outlook on life becomes increasingly pragmatic and cynical...

    ...or rather, it becomes so pragmatic that it appears cynical.

    Many moral issues look quite different when veiwed from a purely logical perspective--often certain things raise instinctive "red flags" when they could actually be benificial to a society.

    Take lying and infidelity for example:

    Which is worse? Always being honest even when it hurts people or being considerate of other's feelings?

    Without lies, society would collapse, and as for cheating on your spouse...

    ...the thing is, human beings have several million years of evolution hammering at the back of their brain telling them to reproduce with as many healthy mates as possible--you can't just turn it off like a switch. Relationships are hard to maintain, and an occasional affair can make all the difference.

    Lets face it, nothing really bugs you when you're sexually contented; but a couple that forces themselves to stay faithfull will eventually start resenting each other--sometimes leading to divorce or even murder.

    I don't think the Japanese feel that lying is perfectly OK--it's just that they recognize it's social importance and would rather people be happy and full of it than honest and at each other's throats.

    It's the same with many of these seemingly cynical or shallow values. The Japanese have very high regard for honesty, honor, and morally noble conduct, but they recognize that for a society to function there must be a balance between everything--including right and wrong.

    We're not saints, we're animals--and every time we forget that tragedy follows.
    Baka ningen.

  20. #45
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reiku
    I think part of the differance between the east and the west is the issue of age. The U.S. in particular is only a few hundred years old, while some asian cultures have histories going back thousands of years.
    I am sorry, but I will have to disagree with all my heart on this.

    First, the US is only one country representing "the West", and most of the others are to be found in Europe. What is more, and that is one of the most common mistakes made by Americans, US history does not start in 1776. People did not just spring up from nowhere, and neither did god create the American people at that time. Those people who fought for their independence were already for the most living there, and their forefathers came from Europe (mostly UK, Ireland, Germany...). In the same way as French history does not start at the French revolution, or not even at the first Frank kingdom with Clovis in the 5th century, but with the Romans, Celts, and Cro-Magnon men before that, American history starts in Europe, and the US would never have existed if it hadn't inherited the culture, values and technologies of Europe. That is why, we can frankly say that US history includes Ancient Greece and Rome, and ultimately even Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, which all influenced the Greco-Roman civilization. So the US has a longer history even than China.

    Secondly, as a matter of fact, in the whole of East Asia (including South-East Asia) only China has a history which can rival that of Europe in length. But even China, which has the earliest signs of agriculture, was backward when Greece had already advanced cities like Knossos (which already had running water around 1500 BC) or Troy (around 1200BC) or even invented the Olympic Games in 776BC, while the first emperor of a unified China only came in 221BC.

    Thirdly, we are talking about Japan, and Japan was the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice (not until the 1st or 2nd century AD). In addition, Japan did not have any writing system until the 6th century, and no proper government (something more than tribes with a chieftain) until the 8th century (Nara). In comparison, most of Europe (including England and parts of Germany) had inherited the Roman legal and political system, the Roman alphabet, literature, theatre and rhetoric, advanced architecture and iron weapons and armours, all by the time Japan started cultivating rice. The Roman empire had already fallen apart, and mediaeval kingdoms had already started 2 hundred years before Japan had its first capital and government in Nara.

    So why are you arguing that "Asian cultures" have a longer history than Western ones ? It equals to saying that China has a short history because it was officially founded in 1949, after the Communist revolution (like many US citizens would say that the US only start in 1776 !).

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo

    Thirdly, we are talking about Japan, and Japan was the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice (not until the 1st or 2nd century AD). In addition, Japan did not have any writing system until the 6th century, and no proper government (something more than tribes with a chieftain) until the 8th century (Nara).
    I don't know whether or not Japan is "the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice". But, you are definitely wrong about the date "1st or 2nd century AD".
    http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/kenkyuu/shinpo/fujio.html
    http://www.kurokome.com/dennrai.htm

    And the oldest record of Japanese language ever discovered is 稲荷山古墳出土鉄剣銘(Inscription on iron sword discovered in Inariyama kofun) which is the 5th century's product.

    I think ordinary scholars of Japanse history consider 大化の改新(Taika no kaishin) in 645 as the establishment of centralization, namely the end of tribal country.

    Secondly, as a matter of fact, in the whole of East Asia (including South-East Asia) only China has a history which can rival that of Europe in length.
    Only China in East Asia has a history which can rival that of Greece in length.

    But even China, which has the earliest signs of agriculture, was backward when Greece had already advanced cities like Knossos (which already had running water around 1500 BC) or Troy (around 1200BC) or even invented the Olympic Games in 776BC, while the first emperor of a unified China only came in 221BC.
    Don't you know 殷墟(inkyo), the capital city of 殷(In) dynasty? Before the first emperor "unified" China, there had existed kingdoms mostly governing broader area than the entire Greece(Crete island? it's tiny).
    Last edited by Nakan; Aug 24, 2004 at 13:14.

  22. #47
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nakan
    I don't know whether or not Japan is "the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice". But, you are definitely wrong about the date "1st or 2nd century AD".
    http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/kenkyuu/shinpo/fujio.html
    http://www.kurokome.com/dennrai.htm
    http://www.jomon.or.jp/2.html

    And the oldest record of Japanese language ever discovered is 稲荷山古墳出土鉄剣銘(Inscription on iron sword discovered in Inariyama kofun) which is the 5th century's product.

    I think ordinary scholars of Japanse history consider 大化の改新(Taika no kaishin) in 645 as the establishment of centralization, namely the end of tribal country.
    You are confusing the presence of rice (crop imported from other Asian countries) and its cultivation. Or maybe I should have been more specified when I said "rice cultivation". Rice was probably imported to Japan around 1000BC, but wasn't widely grown, and was only cultivated in dry-fields and marshes, not in paddies. Let me cite Kenneth G. Henshall from his book A Histoy of Japan : from stone age to superpower (page 6) :

    "Many present-day Japanese make much of the nation's association with rice and assume it has been grown there from time immemorial, but in fact Japan was the last of the Asian nations to adopt rice cultivation."

    then page 8 :

    "Around 300BC Japan was effectively ivaded. immigrants arrived in number from the continent, immigrants difference in appearence and culture from the Jomon people.
    ...
    Their culture included technology such as bronze and iron, and was also more rice-based than that of Japan.
    ...
    At first it was though that rice had been brought by the immigrants, but this is known to be an oversimplification. Rice had been introduced almost a thousand years earlier. However, it was during the Yayoi period that rice first became established on any significant scale, particularily paddies and particularily in the south and est of the country...
    ...
    The spread of rice cultivation, like the spread of bronze and iron, reflected the probable movement of the immigrants. From the south-west it moved fairly quickly to the middle of Honshu by about the first century AD, but was slower to extend further north."

    Quote Originally Posted by Nakan
    Don't you know 殷墟(inkyo), the capital sity of 殷(In) dynasty? Before the first emperor "unified" China, there had existed kingdoms mostly governing broader area than the entire Greece(Crete island? it's tiny).
    Was Yinshu (Inkyo in Japanese) bigger or most sophisticated than Knossos or Troy ? I doubt it. It's only famous for the oracle bones. Then, if the area it controlled was bigger, the city itslef was probably not huge (from what archeologist found).

  23. #48
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    No, I'm not confusing, and I recognize the difference between 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) and 水稲(rice cultivated in water field). But 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) is also rice. And it had been "cultivated" long before the beginning of cultivation of 水稲(rice cultivated in water field).
    And Even 水稲(rice cultivated in water field) already cultivated in BC.

    http://www.tamagawa.ac.jp/sisetu/kyouken/nakazato/

    I think your(Westerner's) information is too old.


    *By the way, I'm sorry, I have edited my previous post.

  24. #49
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nakan
    No, I'm not confusing, and I recognize the difference between 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) and 水稲(rice cultivated in water field). But 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) is also rice. And it had been "cultivated" long before the beginning of cultivation of 水稲(rice cultivated in water field).
    And Even 水稲(rice cultivated in water field) already cultivated in BC.

    http://www.tamagawa.ac.jp/sisetu/kyouken/nakazato/

    I think your(Westerner's) information is too old.
    Ok, ok. So you have the latest archeological evidence that rice was cultivated in paddies in 350BC in Kyushu, and around 200BC in some parts of the Kanto. But that doesn't change much to the fact that Japan was one of the last countries (if not the last) in Asia to cultivate rice in paddies, nor that agriculture came to Europe long before Japan. Just look at the history of Britain, one of the last places in Europe to adopt agriculture (source):

    "Around 4,500 BC the first farming settlements began to emerge, as immigrants from Europe brought farming skills with them. By 3,500 BC farming settlements existed in most of Britain."

    Quote Originally Posted by Nakan
    Only China in East Asia has a history which can rival that of Greece in length.
    But Ancient Greece was not the tiny country it is now (and China was only about half its present size). Greece included settlements all around the Black Sea (in today's Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey...), all along the Western and Southern coast of Turkey, most of Southern Italy (shared with Carthagenians from Phoenicia, present-day Lebanon), and other places in the South of France (Nice, Marseilles, Montpellier were all Greek cities), and Catalonia (near Barcelona). So it streched on an area as wide as present-day China (check on a map, from the Caucasus to Spain), eventhough it was always less populated than China.

    Add to this the even older presence of the Phoenicians (influenced by the Assyrian and Babylonian cultures), in the South of Spain (the oldest European city, Gades/Cadiz is in Spain, not Greece).

    Of course, we know as much about the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Central and Western Europe as of the Chinese "kingdoms" of the same period. And that is also part of European history. Paris and London were both originally Celtic towns long before the Romans came. The name "Paris" come from Celtic tribe name "Parii". Isn't that a compelling evidence of the continuity from the Antiquity to this day ?

    Then the relation of modern countries with Ancient Greece and Rome so strong that they are considered as the founders of European or Western civilization. Of course, you could argue that China had a similar influence on Japan. But do Japanese study Ancient Chinese history as part of Japanese history, in the same way that all Europeans start with Greece and Rome ? Maybe they should, although most Japanese do not want to be considered as offspring of the Chinese (but the early Yayoi era immigration from the mainland to Japan proves it).

  25. #50
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    Heh...

    LOL, I knew I was going to get yelled at for that one. ^_^

    Now that I've got everyone all riled up, perhaps I should clarify a few things:

    I am well aware that the U.S. is only a very small part of "The West", but since it is the part I am most familliar with I thought it would be best to use it as an example instead of a civilization I could not accurately date.

    On the other hand, while Japan itself is relatively young, it has retained much closer ties to it's past than the US has--the majority of US society has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background, with the exception of certain ethnic groups who retain closer ties to their heritage than to the U.S.'s dubious "culture".

    I should also point out that I was referring to the age of a civilization not a particular chunk of land--using anceint greece as an example is pointless for something like this because the anceint greek civilization fell quite some time ago and was later replaced by a new civilization. One could argue that the same thing has happened to Japan, but Nihon stilll retains many cultural aspects both from it's own history and from the much older history of China--while Greece (as well as most other western civilizations) has undergone several complete transformations.

    Similarly, judging the age of a culture based on it's level of advancement is downright prejudice--what about the Aborigone from Austrailia? (or the Japanese Ainu for that matter...) Regardless of what crops a culture harvests--or even if they harvest crops at all--a civilization can still develop a deep cultural foundation that it's morals and beliefs spring from.

    Ultimately, the basic moral foundation of asia has remained in place more or less throughout the history of it's inhabitation--while most western cultures are rebuilt from the ground up every few hundered years.

    (personally, I think your responses were less motivated by the facts and more by the instincive reaction to my essentially saying that western civilization was a bunch of young idealist punks while eastern civilization was the wise old men who knew how to make things work...

    ...sorry about that, but manipulating the young into shooting their mouths off is one of the favorite passtimes of the old and cynical. )

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