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View Poll Results: Is Japan a Western country (please read the thread before)

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  • Yes

    35 9.80%
  • Maybe, depends how you see it

    123 34.45%
  • No

    186 52.10%
  • Don't know

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Thread: Is Japan a Western country ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Question Is Japan a Western country ?

    Of course, it all depends on what we call "Western". There are several definitions.

    First, the geographical opposition between Europe and Asia, but that alone has turned out to be a too simple definition, as Australia or New Zealand are more East than Asia, but definitely Western. So is it a cultural or ethnic distinction rather purely geographical ?

    Secondly, Western used to refer to the Capitalist world during the cold war. The East-West opposition was especially valid for Europe, but on a global point of view, America the NATO countries laid West, while the communist world (not only the USSR, but also China and North Korea) laid East.

    Finally (I think), most Europeans consider that a Western country is about the same as an industrialised/developped one.

    The 2 latter points, Japan is definitely Western, and I think that's also where most Europeans would place Japan (from the opinions I have heard). Nonetheless, Japanese always stress the opposition between themselves and Westerners (or foreigners in general). They certainly not feel Western, but what if others consider them as such because they have a different definition ?

    Before developping more deeply, I let you reflect on this and give your opinions.

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  2. #2
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Simplistic answer:

    I view Japan as industrialized country, though not as "Western".

    Western = Christian background (common history, values, morals, culture)

  3. #3
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    So, does that mean that non-Christian European, Americans, etc. are not Westerners ? For instance, I have absolutely nothing to do with Christians values, moral and believes, nevertheless, I am a Westerner. Nowadays, a majority of young Europeans don't care about religion or are Christian just on paper (never attend church or far from convinced that the Bible is the Truth). Among these, about 5-10% of people are atheist. Then, countries like France or the UK have about 10% of their population that is Muslim. Eventhough they were born and raised in Europe, aren't these people Westerners ? What about Caucasians muslims (Serbs...) or converts ?

    Then, whith the logic Western = Christian background (common history, values, morals, culture), Filipinos should be Westerners, as they are more fanatically Christian than most Europeans, have 500 years of colonial Christian history and are culturally more Spanish-American than Asian.

    Same for the 25% of Koreans that are Christians. Are they Westerners ? If so, what about the 75% left, Buddhist or Atheist ?

    Are Coptic Egyptian or Christian Syrian, Iraqi or Armenian Westerners because they share all the history, values, moral than Europeans ? Anyway, culturally, there a Syrian is probably as near of a Greek than a Greek from an Irish or Finn. Greeks share so much with Turkish that only the religion and language separate them. Greeks are the historical pillar of Western values (democracy, philosophy, reason, sciences...).

    That brings us to the next point : Weren't Romans or Ancient Greeks Westerners ? If not, when can we talk for the first time of Western country ?

  4. #4
    free spirit lineartube's Avatar
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    My opinion of a Western country may cahnge, depending on which way am I faced and where I might be.

    More seriously, I thought that the whole East-West thing surfaced during the cold war. I guess there are a lot of "east-west" definitions available, wether is economically, socially or politically. As long as there are differences you can agree on the existence of a bipolar system.... with several layers of cake.

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  5. #5
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    So, does that mean that non-Christian European, Americans, etc. are not Westerners ? For instance, I have absolutely nothing to do with Christians values, moral and believes, nevertheless, I am a Westerner. Nowadays, a majority of young Europeans don't care about religion or are Christian just on paper (never attend church or far from convinced that the Bible is the Truth). Among these, about 5-10% of people are atheist.
    I referred to "Christian" in a strictly cultural, not a religious sense. With "background" I meant shared history, culture, arts, literature, legal & political principles, morals and ethics. I would not consider myself to be a spiritual person, but I was raised with these values, and I dare to assume that the same applies even to "Western" atheists. The environment is a vital element of socialization.

    Then, countries like France or the UK have about 10% of their population that is Muslim. Eventhough they were born and raised in Europe, aren't these people Westerners ? What about Caucasians muslims (Serbs...) or converts ?
    Hm, I'd subsumize European Muslims under the same global equation as above. Don't put too much emphasis on the term "Christian". It's an amalgam of the factors I quoted above, view it as common heritage.

    There are certainly a lot of other population segments that can't be categorized as easily (provided there's a need for categorization, lol). Hm, perhaps also depends on if they want to be seen as Western.

    Then, whith the logic Western = Christian background (common history, values, morals, culture), Filipinos should be Westerners, as they are more fanatically Christian than most Europeans, have 500 years of colonial Christian history and are culturally more Spanish-American than Asian. Same for the 25% of Koreans that are Christians. Are they Westerners ? If so, what about the 75% left, Buddhist or Atheist ?
    That's true. However, what's the alternative to the "hereditary approach" mentioned above? A racial approach? Yack!

    Are Coptic Egyptian or Christian Syrian, Iraqi or Armenian Westerners because they share all the history, values, moral than Europeans ? Anyway, culturally, there a Syrian is probably as near of a Greek than a Greek from an Irish or Finn. Greeks share so much with Turkish that only the religion and language separate them. Greeks are the historical pillar of Western values (democracy, philosophy, reason, sciences...).
    Christian minorities in the Middle East are indeed an interesting case. The Copts view themselves as true Egyptians, combining Christian and ancient Egyptian heritage. They do not view themselves as Western, although many of their Muslim compatriots consider them as - let's put it that way - "Western elements". Let's call these minorities "Western-related".

    That brings us to the next point : Weren't Romans or Ancient Greeks Westerners ?
    Pre-westerners.

    If not, when can we talk for the first time of Western country ?
    This question needs further reflection.

  6. #6
    Angry Postal Worker Hairyneville's Avatar
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  7. #7
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    Perhaps westerns are only for the movies...
    seriously, I think industrialization and government types are not the leading thing to say which country is western or not, more like which nations were originally european and became the majority of that particular country, along with the language spoken...asia is predominantly asian, africans are predominantly black....Australians and New Zealanders tend to be run under British rule, so it is now a western nation with european values, and so is america (even if it became independent of British rule)...think these are what makes a country Western....and Japan is definitely not taken after the european mold, even if the government was set up by americans after the second world war...
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  8. #8
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by den4
    seriously, I think industrialization and government types are not the leading thing to say which country is western or not, more like which nations were originally european and became the majority of that particular country, along with the language spoken...asia is predominantly asian, africans are predominantly black....Australians and New Zealanders tend to be run under British rule, so it is now a western nation with european values, and so is america (even if it became independent of British rule)...think these are what makes a country Western....
    That's a bit simple. I want to ask you what you'd do with a country having roughly half its population from European origin and the other not. There aren't any such well defined country nowadays, but there could be. New Zealand, with only 3,5 million people (75% Europeans), could very well "go Asian" in a not so remote future with the current immigration levels.

    Let's take another, real, example. Bolivia and Peru are almost always put i the Western country group because they are in America, ex-Spanish colonies, with Spanish as official language. However, less than 15% of the population (in both countries) are from European descent. More than 60% are Ameridians, in majority Quechua or Aymara, speaking Quechua or Aymara. Their culture is still very similar to what it was during the Inca empire, religion and modernity (cars, electricity...) notwithstanding. So, can this European minority justify that these country are Western, even when life there is probably much more different than in Europe, North America, Australia or... Japan ?

    If the ethny defines Westerness, few South American countries are Western (except Chile, Argentina and Uruguay). Mexico is composed of 1/3 of Amerindians and the 2/3 left are mestizo (mixed European and Amerindian descent). Honduras is 90% mestizo, 7% Indian, say my sources. Haiti is 95% African descent, 5% mulatto and European descent. Brazil only has 55% of its people from European descent. That would be absurd to divide South America's Westerness just on basis each country's ethnic composition. Or I am wrong ?


    and Japan is definitely not taken after the european mold, even if the government was set up by americans after the second world war...
    Japan has copied the biggest part of its political, legal, economical and educational systems on the West since the Meiji era. You refer to the Constitution imposed by the US after WWII, but that's just a detail of what has been Westernised in Japan.

  9. #9
    Banned ghettocities's Avatar
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    Japan is just playing the role of poser, it's like calling someone a model just because they own a pair designer jeans, or a better example is like Matsui coming over and playing for the Yankees, they have baseball in Japan but wait, whats that? america has it made and this makes japan fiend to be more "western" in everything it does to the point that they are fleeing their tiny island smaller than california to try and get a piece of our rich golden-brown american pie. so this leads me to believe what i hear time and time again, that the "majority" of Japanese people want to affilate themselves with america in any way they can, thus the reason why we don't have mail order brides in the states, case closed.

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    Last edited by Maciamo; Jan 16, 2003 at 21:59.

  10. #10
    \ö/ SirJeannot's Avatar
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    eastern in my case
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  11. #11
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    on second thoughts, Japan is a wannabe western nation, but it's definitely eastern....it has its own convoluted system borrowed from other countries and they still can't figure out how to find their way out of a paper bag...in getting the economy back up again....but that's my impression...I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but I think they make it complicated, making excuses on why they can't implement reforms....mostly due to dat olde boy mentality still lurking in the shadows....

  12. #12
    Regular Member samuraitora's Avatar
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    Japan is NOT a western nation, or at least that is my opinion. I have to agree with what Thomas said about them being "industrialized" not western. They don't have the same beleifs that we do. That is the main factor that seperates them.
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  13. #13
    Kongming jeisan's Avatar
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    japan is the land of the rising sun, the sun rises in the east, therefore japan is eastern
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  14. #14
    Regular Member shao's Avatar
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    before and during WW II, Japan tried to make itself as "Leader of Asia" by taking the control of the whole of Asia and kicking Westerns out of Asia. Japanese said "Asia is for Asian only!"

    after US took Japan, Japanese dont like the fact that they are part of Asia because most asian nations are third-world.

    now... um... i only think Japan as "Being kick out of Asia"...

  15. #15
    Regular Member karmy's Avatar
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    i dont know
    Peace :P

  16. #16
    Regular Member Squareboy's Avatar
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    Japan is Different, Different than any other place on earth, it is the most technoligacally advances socity in the world while at the same time holding some of the oldest traditions. Asian a weird term, most people almost always think ""Chinese" when you say Asian. and no one considers Russia Asian, Russia is very western and takes up basically half of the contanant of Aisa. Japan is Asian but is becoming more western everyday!

  17. #17
    Regular Member hua he's Avatar
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    If Japan want to become western country, they must eradicate the use of Chinese(Kanji) in Japanese.
    Sayonara!

  18. #18
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Squareboy
    If you think that Japan is the most technologically advanced country in the world, you've obviously never been here.

    hua he
    What do kanji have anything to do with being a Western country? Greece is a Western country and uses Greek characters...

    Little history lesson boys and girls. Why is it "Western"? Because the world was and still is dominated by cultures that are located in the arbitrarily called "Western" hemisphere. Even though this denomination is totally arbitrary, Japan is still not in this historically recognized hemisphere of the world and thus will NEVER be a "Western" country in that sense of the word.

    For those of you who think that being "western" is more a state of mind than a geographical location, let me put this to you. What are Japanese really enamoured of: the western way of life or the IDEA of the western way of life? I stipulate that they love the IDEA, not the fact, just as most of you here (and me until living in Japan) are taken with the idea of Japan (to all of you different and unique). Again, Japan fails to become a Western country.

    From where I stand, Japan may be westernized, but it will NEVER ever be a "Western" country and we should be happy about it.
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  19. #19
    Regular Member hua he's Avatar
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    Actually, the so called "western" and "eastern" countries was actually differentiated racially.

    Just see, as long as it is a country with white in charge, this is a western country. If the country is with blacks or yellows in charge, it will be an eastern country.

    THis is the view of the whole world.

  20. #20
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Sorry to disagree about your apparently set view of the world, but just as with the kanji comment, African countries are NOT and never will be Western countries. However, Brasil is a Western country... Can you explain that?

  21. #21
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Tasuki, may I ask you :
    Are Bolivia or Jamaica Western countries ?
    What about South Africa, Israel, Singapore, Turkey and Russia. Feel free to develop your arguments for each of them.

  22. #22
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    I feel that what hua he said is correct, but an overly broad generalisation. Traditionally, western countries are the European biggies: France, Italy, the UK, Spain and Portugal and the countries they colonized that are located in the so-called western hemisphere (don't ask me where it starts now, I don't know). However, that definition has since changed to include all the countries in the western hemisphere (excluding most if not all African countries), I believe. Yet, the term "Western" is too often used here and elsewhere to designate countries of mainly Latin, Angle, or Saxon heritage, which brings us back to the biggies above, the States, Canada, Mexico, and the South American countries conquered and colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese.

    The political situations with most of the aforementioned countries since world war I has won most of them a designation of their own. Russia is a country of the former USSR, Turkey is a middle-eastern country, Singapore is and always was an Asian state, and South Africa is perceived (even if its not true) as a third world country. Another interesting concept, the third world.

    I would place Bolivia in the Western lot myself, although I've never really given it any thought, nor have I ever seen Jamaica as anything else than what it is: Jamaica.

    I would ask you the same question you did me. How about Australia? Do you see it as a western country?

  23. #23
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Australia is probably the most Western in all the countries discussed here.

    IMHO, Bolivia and Jamaica aren't even half Western. Bolivia and Peru are composed of more than 50% Quechua (former Inca kingdom) and still speak Quechua. I don't see why a mainly native American country should be more Western than Turkey, which used to be part of Ancient Greece, then Rome and remained a Greek speaking country till the Turl took over government in 1453. Ethnically and historically, Turkey is as European as Greece, which is laid the basis for Western civilization (without Greece, no Europe, no modern world).

    Jamaica is an English speaking country with a strong black majority (like most Caribean islands) with 76% African descent, 15% Afro-European descent, 4% European, 3% East Indian & Middle Eastern, 1% Afro-Chinese & Chinese. In comparison, South Africa is also English (and Afrikaans, which is Dutch) speaking, and has a very similar ethical composition : 77% black, 10% white, 8% mixed race, 2.5% of Indian or Asian descent.
    So, logically, if one is Western the other is too. Just being a part of the American continent doesn't necessarily qualify for Westerness.

    Russia has always been a Western country till the 1917 revolution, and even with the same ruling family as the rest of Europe. Russia as a country was actually founded by Swedish vikings. It's not because of 80 years of communism that it's lost its Westerness. Ethnically and culturally as Western as white Europeans or North Americans. Historically more Western than America. The term Western is strange when applied to Russia because of its Eastern geographical location.

    Finally, Israel is very much Western in mentality and system, but ethnically and linguistically Semitic (be it Jews or Arabs), so not European, and thus not Western. But almost anybody considers Israel as a Western country, as most of its Jewish population originates from European countries or the US.

    Singapore is more Westernized than Japan because it was founded by the British and English is still the official language.

  24. #24
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    I was aware of all those facts, and I'm certainly not going to argue them with you. You and I seem to have a different view of the concept of Western, that's all. In my book westernized doesn't make western. The 80 years of communism in Russia were the ones that changed it all. From my experience with Ossies and Kiwis, I'd say that a lot of them would feel somewhat annoyed at being called a western country, which would make them part of the pack, a thing they pride themselves not to be.

    I'm firmly believe that the concept of "western" countries began with the fall of the Roman Empire, gained in strength during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and then reached a relatively final state with the birth of the United States. The two world wars changed that but little. So basically, I think that for most people when one says western person or country one refers to people or countries of (as I said before) Latin, Angle, and Saxon ancestry.

    Now if one were to quantify the westerness (I like that word!) by how westernized a country is, then Japan would win the crest hands down.

    So I think you and I basically agree that westerness is a highly relative concept. But (not wanting to knock down my country of adoption), since Japanese like to categorize (as do a lot of other nations and peoples) I think many use the term western with only the vaguest of idea of what it means. Why west? West of what? Relative to what? We live on a ball, everything is west of something. Everything. So technically, we're all westerners AND easterners. Cool, eh?

  25. #25
    Junior Member Onigiri's Avatar
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    Japan is not a western country!! I don't think you can define it western simply because it is developped. Japan still has many, many eastern traditions as regular practice. I really don't even see a point to this debate.

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