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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

    13 3.64%
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Thread: Is Japan a Western country ?

  1. #226
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
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    This one 1980's Japanese TV Meiji Era epic dorama has a scene with narration explained Japanese ruling elites of that time implemented " 2 faces of Japan " policy to present to the world.

    The internal side stays as Japanese on preserved traditions,the other side is westernized version of modern Japan to the outside world.

    This is what we've generally perceive the artificial-westernized Japanese,in reality Japanese are basically Orientals.

  2. #227
    Regular Member Sukotto's Avatar
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    I don't really like the term 'western'. For one thing it and others like it are just more labels to keep us divided. What does the term mean? And who defines it? People in the US? Japan? W Europe? China? Africa? South America? Are S. American countries 'western'? African countries?

    Although I never did get around to reading it, the late Edward Said's "Orientalism" written in the 70s is supposed to take on the idea of 'the orient'. An idea constructed by the colonial west to define 'the other', i.e. Asia. According to Said, the Middle East as well as East Asia have historically been considered 'the orient'. Because of his background being of Palestinian descent he focuses mainly on the M.E. with this cultural construct of the 'orient'.

    Maybe Said can help us?
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  3. #228
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sukotto
    I don't really like the term 'western'. For one thing it and others like it are just more labels to keep us divided. What does the term mean? And who defines it? People in the US? Japan? W Europe? China? Africa? South America? Are S. American countries 'western'? African countries?
    Although I never did get around to reading it, the late Edward Said's "Orientalism" written in the 70s is supposed to take on the idea of 'the orient'. An idea constructed by the colonial west to define 'the other', i.e. Asia. According to Said, the Middle East as well as East Asia have historically been considered 'the orient'. Because of his background being of Palestinian descent he focuses mainly on the M.E. with this cultural construct of the 'orient'.
    Maybe Said can help us?
    I read Orientalism. It is a great book.

    Said argues that the image of the people of the "orient" have been more dictated by the European dominance and in many cases the images have been more or less inversions of the way Europeans understood - or liked to see themselves.

    Quote from Wikipedia: "Said emphasized the relationship between power and knowledge in scholarly and popular thinking, in particular regarding European views of the Islamic Arab world. Said argued that Orient and Occident worked as oppositional terms, so that the "Orient" was constructed as a negative inversion of Western culture."

    One strange thing is that sometimes people in Asia have used the orientalist constructions regarding their world as "blue print" to be copied. I once wrote a paper sowing who people in India have used the colonial British romantic image of the harmonic selfsustainable village as the image of the true India. M. Gandhi used this image of the selfsustainable village as a powerful ideal/image in his political struggle!

    I find that many of the strange misrepresentations you often find in this forum are products of "orientalist" images. Actually I sometimes find that the way japanese describe themselves are products of western scolars orientalist constructions.

    Japanese have embraced western culture for some 150 years. So it is hard to say if japanese are "eastern or western". I guess you could say are among the asians who have been most influenced by "western" culture.
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  4. #229
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    I always figured "Western" refers to majority white culture and parts of the world.

    Like, you can be black and born and raised westerner, but you live in a majority white country.

    so basically western is Europe and all its white majority former possessions.

    That was my take on it.


    So no, Japan wouldnt be western by that criteria.

  5. #230
    puzzled gaijin
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    Geographically and ethinically, Japan would hardly be Western. Also philosophically again, hardly Western. Hard to see how any one would define it as Western, except for usage of some later developed western technology.

  6. #231
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    Also technology is hardly owned by a race or ethnicity or culture, technology is technology, which is as universal as the sciences its based off.

    Its just down to who got to it first.

    China and the west had the wheel, it was technology, yet it wasnt Chinese or Western.

  7. #232
    Regular Member Sukotto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nurizeko
    I always figured "Western" refers to majority white culture and parts of the world.
    Like, you can be black and born and raised westerner, but you live in a majority white country.
    so basically western is Europe and all its white majority former possessions.
    That was my take on it.
    So no, Japan wouldnt be western by that criteria.


    This one sort of makes sense.
    Given that, I would not defend "western" culture or society as superior
    others. Unfortunately it seems like a global version of the KKK's so-called
    defense of whatever is "white". And I hear the former in mainstream as well as AM radio talk-shows in the US.
    Sad and disgusting.


    China invented gun powder, noodles, the compass, whatever else.
    Arabic cultures invented the concept of zero and much else.
    "Western" culture invented the modern form of rascism and atomic bombs.
    Whatever. No one culture, nor group of cultures is superior to another/others. period.

  8. #233
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    Arabic cultures invented the concept of zero and much else.
    Modern numerals, zero and all, originated from the Indian sub-continent.

    Just a minor well intentioned correction.

  9. #234
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sukotto
    China invented gun powder, noodles, the compass, whatever else.
    Arabic cultures invented the concept of zero and much else.
    "Western" culture invented the modern form of rascism and atomic bombs.
    Wow ! What a biased view of world history. You'd better check the thread Which country invented what ?. Nurizeko already corrected you about zero. I don't see much contribution of the Arabic culture into my daily life though.

    As for China, we discussed some time ago about Chinese inventions, and said at the time, after close scrutiny, that China had not made any major invention since the Antiquity. Even then major (non-cultural) inventions can be summarised in a 3 words : paper, block printing, black powder (although not gun powder as they did not invent guns). We are not sure whether the compass was really invented in China.

    Whatever. No one culture, nor group of cultures is superior to another/others. period.
    I hate that kind of Christian-inspired political correctness and hypocritical statement. In the same way as no two indviduals can be equal, no culture or country in the world are equal. East Asians are much less reluctant than Westerners to admit it because Confucianism (still strong in Japan and South Korea) teaches them that in social relations, when two people meet there is always a person hierarchically higher than the other, based on their age, gender, status, etc. I think that this is a very old-fashioned, sexist and agist (toward younger people) way of seeing the world. But I agree that people are different, in experience, knowledge, intelligence, kindness, mental and physical strength, physical appearance, resistance to diseases, flexibility and a multitude of other things. Societies and cultures are also different, and although it is even more difficult to make the sum of all factors or rate the importance of each factor for cultures than individuals, as we humans cannot help but have values and thus judge, it is inevitable that given a good knowledge of two individuals or two cultures, we will have a preference for one over the other.

    It is probably better to compare achievements rather than personal cultural preferences in juding cultures/countries. The fairest way to do it would be to rate the importance of achievements for human kind in general all over the world. For instance, Westerners can live well without cultural Chinese inventions like the accupuncture, arched bridges or traditional Chinese clothes. Likewise the Chinese can live well without Renaissance European garments, medieval armours or Roman acqueducts.

    The most difficult thing in comparing cultures is to set a geographic limit to the boundaries of the culture. Should we compare China to England, the UK, Western Europe or all Europe ? I think that Europe is the adequate level, as China also has lots of languages and smaller regional variations in culture, like Europe. Then both are about the same land area (again depending where Europe and China stop geographically - e.g. shall we include Tibet into China and Russia into Europe or not ?).

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  10. #235
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    Korean Courtiers Observation Mission's Views on Meiji Japan and Projects of Modern State Building

    http://www.geocities.com/volodyatikhonov/Huhenglish.htm

  11. #236
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    On the one hand yes because Japan has a simular "pop culture" to most other western countrys on the other hand no ,because morality and ethics have a totally different root.
    Kommunism is like Carneval in Cologne everyone is drunk an no one works...

  12. #237
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sukotto
    China invented gun powder, noodles, the compass, whatever else.
    Arabic cultures invented the concept of zero and much else.
    "Western" culture invented the modern form of rascism and atomic bombs.
    Whatever. No one culture, nor group of cultures is superior to another/others. period.
    Ehhhmmm... no actually you are totally wrong a person or a group of persons from China or from arabian background developed these things not the whole nation ;)

  13. #238
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    It's easy, Japan is Japan.

    Neither Western, nor Asian. Just Japan, so let it be

  14. #239
    Regular Member Sukotto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Wow ! What a biased view of world history. You'd better check the thread Which country invented what ?. Nurizeko already corrected you about zero. I don't see much contribution of the Arabic culture into my daily life though.
    As for China, we discussed some time ago about Chinese inventions, and said at the time, after close scrutiny, that China had not made any major invention since the Antiquity. Even then major (non-cultural) inventions can be summarised in a 3 words : paper, block printing, black powder (although not gun powder as they did not invent guns). We are not sure whether the compass was really invented in China.
    I hate that kind of Christian-inspired political correctness and hypocritical statement. In the same way as no two indviduals can be equal, no culture or country in the world are equal. East Asians are much less reluctant than Westerners to admit it because Confucianism (still strong in Japan and South Korea) teaches them that in social relations, when two people meet there is always a person hierarchically higher than the other, based on their age, gender, status, etc. I think that this is a very old-fashioned, sexist and agist (toward younger people) way of seeing the world. But I agree that people are different, in experience, knowledge, intelligence, kindness, mental and physical strength, physical appearance, resistance to diseases, flexibility and a multitude of other things. Societies and cultures are also different, and although it is even more difficult to make the sum of all factors or rate the importance of each factor for cultures than individuals, as we humans cannot help but have values and thus judge, it is inevitable that given a good knowledge of two individuals or two cultures, we will have a preference for one over the other.
    It is probably better to compare achievements rather than personal cultural preferences in juding cultures/countries. The fairest way to do it would be to rate the importance of achievements for human kind in general all over the world. For instance, Westerners can live well without cultural Chinese inventions like the accupuncture, arched bridges or traditional Chinese clothes. Likewise the Chinese can live well without Renaissance European garments, medieval armours or Roman acqueducts.
    The most difficult thing in comparing cultures is to set a geographic limit to the boundaries of the culture. Should we compare China to England, the UK, Western Europe or all Europe ? I think that Europe is the adequate level, as China also has lots of languages and smaller regional variations in culture, like Europe. Then both are about the same land area (again depending where Europe and China stop geographically - e.g. shall we include Tibet into China and Russia into Europe or not ?).


    I guess I stand corrected on a number of semi-popular myths.


    I'm not sure if the idea of no one culture being superior to others is christian inspired. I must say I have euro-american roots which would mean christianity probably influenced some of my thinking, so if it is christian inspired, then I guess so.
    Given European history in the Americas and the countries that spawned from it, one could easily claim an idea that is inspired by christianity is rather that christians or christianity majority societies are superior. Look at how america's first nations were slaughtered. They were called heathens. Christian peoples mass slaughtered people of supposedly inferior cultures in Germany in WW2.
    Such mass slaughters going on in the world today are not unique to those parts of the world. What happens in Rwanda or Liberia or South Africa in recent years happened in other parts of the world already.


    But maybe you are right on some cultures being inferior.
    The culture of militarism. It's opposite is far better.

    I don't mean to make it sound like I think China is better.
    Or even Arabic cultures.




    I would say that the existance of more or newer technology does NOT make one's culture or society more civilized than than one without it.
    "Does an eskimo need a freezer?"

    You have an mp3 player? I guess you are more civilized than I with my phonograph or even 8-track - not.


    I may be missing some of what you are saying, but I am out of time for right now.

  15. #240
    Junior Member Carlosx2's Avatar
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    as far as i see it. The western euro countries are those that put them down on the list to co-oporate with each other in several matters that they all share. That is woh this term came to life. As for when this started, i think the first time was in the second world war when the now euro countries started to work with each other. I know that USA and AUS ect are also western but that more defined by the state of wealth. It are those countries that are far behind or just not near europe (the countries that are connected in one way or the other to each other) or that are no called western by us.

    But as you can see Turky which is an Asian countrie will also join Europe. And only because it is a better way to oppose other big nations like the US, Chine ect.

    So i think as far of Japan it is almost as western in our oppinion as possible (maybe not for the human rights but many other western countries lack that). IOt sure is the power house of the Asian countries.

  16. #241
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutch Baka View Post
    It's easy, Japan is Japan.

    Neither Western, nor Asian. Just Japan, so let it be

    that is not correct. Japan is as asian as it gets. The place on the globe, the artitechture. They will have shared many things with other asian countries. Just look at all the similiarities in martial arts. That is because exchanging styles and thoughts.

    Japan is real asian


  17. #242
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlosx2 View Post
    I know that USA and AUS ect are also western but that more defined by the state of wealth.
    Japan has a higher Gross National Product per person than most European countries. So this point counters what Carlos tries to argue. As a person who newer went to Japan Carlos argues that the architecture in Japan is asian. It is certainly true if we are talking about traditional architecture, but modern japanese architects are today extremely modern and part of the global community of architects. Many of them were educated in Europe and USA and many are also working in these countries.

    Those of us who actually went to Japan are facinated with the mix of traditional and modern - eastern and western which is appearent all over in Japan today.

  18. #243
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Chan View Post
    Japan has a higher Gross National Product per person than most European countries.
    This may have been true 10 or 15 years ago, but things have changed a lot since then. Japan now only ranks 14th for GDP per capita (nominal) and 16th for GDP per capita at PPP, after almost only Western countries (+ Qatar). Japan ranks 18th for GDP per capita per hour, a better indicator of productivity.

    If you consider the high number of poor foreign residents (non naturalised immigrants) in the UK, France and Germany, and the huge black economy of Italy (estimated around 15-20% of GDP by the Economist magazine), all these countries easily beat Japan in GDP per capita of their nationals.

    So this point counters what Carlos tries to argue.
    The terms "Western" or "Eastern" refer mainly to a country's culture and ethnicity, not its economic level. Otherwise Hong Kong would not be Eastern while being part of China, and Eastern Europe, Greece or Portugal wouldn't be Western, which is nonsensical.
    As a person who newer went to Japan Carlos argues that the architecture in Japan is asian.
    I suppose he meant "East Asian". Obviously Japan share little 'Asianness' with Iraq or Bangladesh.
    It is certainly true if we are talking about traditional architecture, but modern japanese architects are today extremely modern and part of the global community of architects.
    So do China or Korea. But tall glass and concrete towers are certainly more a feature of modern East Asian culture than European ones.
    Those of us who actually went to Japan are facinated with the mix of traditional and modern - eastern and western which is appearent all over in Japan today.
    Again, same for Korea and China, and even Thailand and Malaysia, which kind of proves Carlos' point.

  19. #244
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    When starting this thread Maciamo wrote:
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    ....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 today in response to my statement: "Japan has a higher Gross National Product per person than most European countries." - "This may have been true 10 or 15 years ago, but things have changed a lot since then. Japan now only ranks 14th for GDP per capita (nominal) and 16th for GDP per capita at PPP, after almost only Western countries (+ Qatar). Japan ranks 18th for GDP per capita per hour, a better indicator of productivity."

    Does this mean that you changed your mind regarding Japan beeing a industrialised/developped country?

    As Japan ranks close to UK and Germany I would still regard it as very wealthy. There are so many European countries below this level, but still you would not argue that Portugal or Poland is Eastern. Or would you?

    I agree that the term Eastern is rather cultural than economic. However even from a cultural perspective Japan today is very much influenced by "Western" culture. Japan is unique - and maybee that is why it does not fit well into any category.

  20. #245
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carlosx2 View Post

    Japan is as asian as it gets.They will have shared many things with other asian countries.

    Japan is real asian
    Yep,a few Japanese are white-wannabes and vise-versa.

    It's the Japan-phile Westerners prefer Japanese as NON-Asians,it feeds some people's egos for sure.

  21. #246
    Banned ricecake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Chan View Post

    Carlos argues that the architecture in Japan is asian. It is certainly true if we are talking about traditional architecture, but modern japanese architects are today extremely modern and part of the global community of architects. Many of them were educated in Europe and USA and many are also working in these countries.
    There are NON-Japanese Asians world class engineers and whatnots,do you ever regard them closer to Western Club ?

    S Korea,Singapore,Malaysia,and Hong Kong have many visible modern architectures with a few are designed by native sons and educated in Europe and USA.Do you ever include these NON-Japan Asian nations,a part of so-called Western Architecture Cultural Club ?

    The bottom line is who you rather FANCY,as often reflect this view in your posts.

    It's the subservient Asian-mentality traditional culturally-Oriental Japanese girls Western men romanticize.Where is the Western-ness,entertain us please ?

  22. #247
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricecake View Post
    There are NON-Japanese Asians world class engineers and whatnots,do you ever regard them closer to Western Club ?
    S Korea,Singapore,Malaysia,and Hong Kong have many visible modern architectures with a few are designed by native sons and educated in Europe and USA.Do you ever include these NON-Japan Asian nations,a part of so-called Western Architecture Cultural Club ?
    The bottom line is who you rather FANCY,as often reflect this view in your posts.
    It's the subservient Asian-mentality traditional culturally-Oriental Japanese girls Western men romanticize.Where is the Western-ness,entertain us please ?
    I do not claim that there are not other people in Asian countries which are influenced by western culture. However, after its isolation during the Edo regime, Japan has strived to learn from the outside world. I am not the one who want to divide the world into East-West. Actually as the world is becoming ever more globalized it becomes more and more imposible to fit ever more diverse countries into generalized categories.

    The only reason for be to mention architecture is the fact that Carlos claimed that japanese architecture is "real" asian. To this I would claim that most modern architects all over the world including, japanese and other asian, are working across borders and freely cross-fertilizing each other with ideas and inspiration.

    And yes, I am a man from the "west", but I do certainly not fit into the stereotype of "romantizicing the subservient Asian-mentality traditional culturally-Oriental Japanese girls". Actually I think you either confuse me with someone else or you are merely trying to provoke me?

  23. #248
    ƒKƒCƒWƒ“–şB doinkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Chan View Post
    And yes, I am a man from the "west", but I do certainly not fit into the stereotype of "romantizicing the subservient Asian-mentality traditional culturally-Oriental Japanese girls". Actually I think you either confuse me with someone else or you are merely trying to provoke me?
    Yeah, I don't think Han is that kind of person...ricecake must have been confusing him with Ghettodoink
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  24. #249
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Chan View Post
    When starting this thread Maciamo wrote:
    ....and today in response to my statement:
    ...
    Does this mean that you changed your mind regarding Japan beeing a industrialised/developped country?
    Do you realise that this thread was started almost 4 years ago ! What is more, since the beginning of the thread I have questioned the definition of "Western" before being able to give an answer so as whether Japan can be called a Western country or not. My opinion has only been made in the course of this thread (over the years), and I have come to the conclusion (after years in Japan) that Japan is a quite economically developed country (although not so regarding social laws), but with a clear Eastern Asian culture, with a mentality still strongly influenced by Confucianism and Taoism (not so by Buddhism though), and with many cultural elements copied or adapted from China (something that I would not have believed a few years ago, but which a deeper analysis revealed).


    As Japan ranks close to UK and Germany I would still regard it as very wealthy.
    But one of the foundation of individual wealth is one's home (the most expensive purchase in a lifetime for most people), and Japanese home just cannot compare in size, level of comfort or esthetical beauty with good European houses (I am not talking about the tiny working class terraced houses built during the industrial revolution).

    There are so many European countries below this level, but still you would not argue that Portugal or Poland is Eastern. Or would you?
    Exactly ! I have come to the conclusion that "Westernness" is defined by a European heritage, be it cultural and/or genetic. A country's system (e.g. parliamentary democracy and capitalism) alone does not qualify for Westernness.

  25. #250
    Regular Member Han Chan's Avatar
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    Dear Maciamo

    Thank you for the clarification. I do think that we agree in general. When you reflect on the experiences you get as foreigner in Japan you become aware that Japan is so many things at the same time. Sometimes the image becomes blurred and apprently there are even many conflicting issues. Further the country is constantly evolving. It think that this gradual change in perspective is natural and the more you know a country - just like a person - you accept that the image becomes more and more detailed. I can certainly see that you have gathered a lot of usefull information and great links in this website.

    What makes my blod boil is when a person who have not even been to Japan can flatly state: "Japan is as asian as it gets". I think everyone is entitled to their point of view, but when people who have not even been to Japan comes with very black and white statements like this I get a bit provoked.

    Before I knew any japanese I had heard that it was imposible to communicate with them. I was told that they only said: Hai hai - aa so desu ka? Actually since I got to know japanese - both friends and my family - I realised that communication with japanese is very easy for me. Actually all the stereotypes I had heard about Japan had been countered by my own experiences. Therefore I am very much against people merely repeating stereotypes and generalizations. One of the great things about this forum is that people can get a more detailed - and maybe true - picture of Japan.


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