Unmasking Japan Today: The Impact of Traditional Values on Modern Japanese Society

Unmasking Japan Today: The Impact of Traditional Values on Modern Japanese Society

Unmasking Japan Today: The Impact of Traditional Values on Modern Japanese Society

Unmasking Japan Today: The Impact of Traditional Values on Modern Japanese Society

Synopsis

Modern-day Japan has proven to be a complex nation struggling to combine traditional attitudes with the political and social demands of an advanced industrialized economy. This struggle to balance the past with the present has had a significant impact on the structure of human relations in contemporary Japan, particularly in the areas of the family and family dynamics, lifestyles, the education of children, the socialization of youth, women in the workplace, and the elderly. In all cases, we find a dual structure where traditional values and modern practices coexist. Based on a dual perspective that incorporates modern Western capitalism into Japan's traditional agrarian society, this book reveals a complex of cultural assumptions that determines the manners and customs of the Japanese people.

Excerpt

Japan's recent emergence as a major economic power has created a worldwide surge of interest in the nation and its people. Even in the face of a severe and prolonged recession, Japan today is economically powerful, culturally rich, and politically free and stable (i.e., there has been no domestic war in its recent history), ranking in all these respects among the leading nations of the world. But how modern is modern-day Japan? In actuality, Japan is not nearly as modern as it presents itself; the essence of Japanese society is an integration of both modernity and tradition. Like the two-headed Janus, Japan can show one face at one time and a completely different face at another.

Some of the difficulty that people have understanding Japanese society today stems from the complex nature of Japan's modernization. Three major cultures have left an imprint on Japan: Oriental, European, and American. Nevertheless, it is striking to note that throughout this process Japan never lost its own identity and cultural specificity. In each phase of its modernization, there emerged a blending of cultures where the ideas and manners borrowed from outside cultures retained unique Japanese characteristics.

Part of this is no doubt due to Japan's geographical insularity: It is an island nation having little or no historical or cultural affinity with its . . .

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