Corporate Communications: A Comparison of Japanese and American Practices

By William V. Ruch | Go to book overview

1
The Culture of Japan

Japan today is unique in several important ways. It is the only non- Western industrialized nation. 1 A great economic power, it is not a great military power. 2 Japan is the only major nation to have renounced war or the use of force as a means of settling international disputes. 3

The Japanese call their country Nihon or Nippon, which means "the origin of the sun," as it appeared to be from China. Yamaguchi explained the origin of "Japan": "The ancient Chinese called the country Zippon. This pronunciation was expressed by Marco Polo with the spelling of 'Zipangu,' from which Japan'" is derived. 4

Japan has 120 million people living in an area of 142, 728 square miles, smaller than California but half again as large as Britain and bigger than East and West Germany combined. It is an archipelago whose numerous islands stretch into a 2,000-mile are which, if superimposed on the American East Coast, would extend from Maine to Georgia, from 45° longitude to about 25°, 5 with the larger cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe clustered around North Carolina. 6 Its climate roughly corresponds to those same regions of the United States.

Japan's shoreline is 17,000 miles long--double that of the United States. The island-country, of course, shares no borders with another country. At its closest point, the land is about 125 miles from the Eurasian continent, separated from it by a shallow depression occupied by the Sea of Japan.

About 85 percent of the country's land area is mountainous--one is never out of sight of mountains. Three-quarters of the land surface consists of slopes over fifteen degrees. 7 Only about 15 percent of the land is arable, 8 an area that would fit into the state of West Virginia. 9

-11-

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