As some Japanese strive towards modernization, others are obstructing their efforts my remaining narrow-mindedly adamant upon their obsolete values. One of the major distinguishing characteristics of Japanese society has been the lack of individualism. Japanese people need to justify their existence on the grounds of membership to some sort of group. Be it family, club, or company. Japan is a collectivist society. A collectivist society is concerned with the good of all of the people, and not concerned with the individual’s desires or needs. Everything that the homogeneous country of Japan does strives to benefit the entirety of the community. Unfortunately, their efforts are futile. Their views are completely unrealistic. The Japanese view the family as a source of strength, and believe that a person cannot succeed or reach their full potential in the outside world without the family. In their narrow-minded, antiquated way of living, they strive to “keep social balance and harmony” (Buckley). Sounds great when it’s put that way, but when is this group-oriented mindset taken too far? According to the Japanese Civil Code (Part I, Part II, and Part III), everything that occurs in Japan must benefit the community in some way. This outdated way of thinking perfectly accompanies the lifestyle that the unvaried country of Japan lives today. A hectic, stressful lifestyle, with many adverse effects, people suffer from damaged health due to stressful conditions. Also, people are highly pressured to conform to social norms. Ultimately, the uniform society has ignorant views on how to be in society, and they conform to ancient traditions, which are no longer applicable to life in today’s information era. The traditions, which heavily influence today’s life in Japan, were mostly influenced by ancient Confucianism, which helped in shaping ethical and political philosophies and values. Confucianism was not a religion; rather, it was a set of ethical and moral rules and standards. But, again, these principles are long out-of-fashion. By these societal guidelines, the Japanese are taught to blame themselves for having illnesses and disabilities. They believe that social order should not be challenged, and therefore, it’s “the individual’s duty to maintain their health and social harmony” (Goodman). Also in the values of Confucianism, there are clear-cut rules for the interaction between social classes. Buddhism, brought to Japan from Korea, was combined with Confucianism to create “a 17-Article Constitution that established Confucianist ideals and Buddhist ethics as the moral foundations of the young Japanese nation. This served for centuries as the Japanese blueprint for court etiquette and decorum” (Japanese Confucianism). These laws were based upon strict moral values and a harsh code of behavior. One of these principles is having the refusal to cause harm. Society highly insists on repressing all angry feelings, therefore refusing to cause harm to others. Near-silence is almost always required in everyday society. Suppressing emotions also supports the belief that there should always be an avoidance of conflict. People are highly encouraged to halt their desires, which is often unhealthy. Another valued principle that is established in Japan is harmony between words and deeds, which corresponds with the rejection of hypocrisy. If someone says something and does something to contradict what they said, whether on purpose or not, they must strive to correct their error with all of their power, or else they would be frowned upon by society. The health conditions associated with these are much more significant than people would think. Suppressing emotions has detrimental health effects. Psychoanalytic psychologists would be horrified. Repressed feelings don’t just vanish. “Many illnesses are quite simply the end result of emotions that have been stuffed, unacknowledged, and unexperienced for years. Unexpressed emotions...
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