Cultural Change in Japan

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Cultural change in Japan was triggered by the economic recession in the 1990’s. Traditional Confucian values focused on loyalty, high moral and ethical values and set the pathway for relationships with others in traditional Japanese businesses.

Traditional ways of doing business and perceptions of the loyal, hard-working salary-man were slowly being replaced by movements toward individualism among workers. After witnessing older workers being laid-off during economic slumps, younger generations believed loyalty would no longer be reciprocated. Additionally, a shift toward western values in a world where the new generations were freer, richer and individualistic meant that Japanese firms had to change the way they appealed to new generations.

This changing cultural trend would influence the way Japanese businesses operate in the future as it would have significant implications particularly for the human resource strategies of firms. Older styles of recruitment and selection would be minimized. A new employee pool that is focused more on individualism and self-benefit without the support structures of paternalistic firms would mean different incentives and pay schemes. Japanese firms would also be more open to international investors and dealings with businesses and have a more diverse, international workforce with top-employees from all over the world.

The potential implication of such a change in culture would be greater economic prosperity for Japan. Japan has seen a shift in values away from collectivism and toward individualism. Thus as Japan becomes wealthier, people exhibit less need for the support structures of collectivist societies and employees exhibit less need to rely on the Confucian values of Japanese firms. Employees therefore take care of their own needs and increase their disposable income by obtaining jobs on a highest-pay preference. Consequently, higher disposable incomes result in a more capitalist society with a greater focus on...
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