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Japan Essay, Research Paper


Japan is a country located in the southeast region of Asia. It lies between the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan. The current population is estimated at 126.6 million people. The capital city, Tokyo, houses 7.9 million people. Other major cities include Kobe, Nogoya, and Yokohama. The city of Nagano was host to the 1998 Winter Olympics. The only atomic bombs used in war fell upon the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mt. Fuji, with an altitude of 12,388 feet, lies in the center of this county. North and South Korea lie west of Japan and Russia to the North. Japan is a democracy, which is lead by an Emperor. This overlook of Japan will include Language, Religion, Values, Beliefs, and Business. It will also mention some key aspects of The Constitution of Japan, also known as The National Diet.


The Japanese language is believed to be linked to Korean and Altaic languages. The Altaic language family consists of Turkish, Mongolian, and Manchu languages. Many people believe Chinese and Japanese speak the same language, however, Chinese is a completely different language. The pronunciation and grammar are also different, and Japanese people cannot understand or speak Chinese unless they have studied it. The Japanese language was originally very limited. In the 3rd century AD, a large number of Chinese words were incorporated into the language. The original Chinese pronunciation has since been modified considerably.

The Japanese language has a simple phonology, consisting of only five vowels which is translated as a, I, u, e, and o; and of nineteen consonants, which are translated as k, s, sh, t, ch, ts, n, h, f, m, y, r, w, g, z, j, d, b, and p.

The Japanese writing system is very complicated. It consists of three different character sets: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana. Kanji consists of several thousands of Chinese characters. The Hiragana and Katakana are two syllable based alphabets of 46 characters each. Japanese text can be written in two ways, vertically, from right to left, or horizontally, from top to bottom. Although vertically is the traditional style, both exist side by side.


Shinto and Buddhism are the two major religions of Japan. These religions are not mutually exclusive. It is believed that Shinto is for this life and Buddhism is for the afterlife. There is also a Christianity influence. Estimates of the number of Christians vary from less than 1 to 3 percent of the total population. However, religion is not an important factor in the every day life of the Japanese. It is not uncommon for a Japanese person to pray for luck at shrines, marry in a Protestant church, and have a Buddhist funeral ceremony.

Buddhism originated in India in the 6th century BC. It consists of the teachings of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha. Buddhists believe that human life is full of suffering due to worldly desires, illness, death, and the loss of loved ones. One can achieve the state of Nirvana and escape suffering and the circle of reincarnation by getting rid of desires and attachments. Today, nearly 90 million people consider themselves Buddhists in Japan. Funerals are usually carried out in the Buddhist way.

Shinto (the way of the gods) is the indigenous faith and is as old as the Japanese people. Shinto is very deeply rooted in the Japanese people and their traditions. Shinto does not have a founder, sacred scriptures (bible), or propaganda and preaching. People believing in Shinto worship objects called Kami. The Kami are sacred spirits and can take various forms such as natural elements like wind, trees, mountains, and the sun, or abstract things like national heroes, ancestors, and fertility. However, there is a most important goddess, the Sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami.

Shinto believes that all humans are fundamentally good and that spirits causes all evil. Rituals are mainly held to avoid evil spirits by purification, offerings, and prayer. Many people seek guidance from Shinto by visiting shrines to pray for good fortune and to avoid evil spirits especially before special events. The majority of weddings are held in Shinto style.

Values and Beliefs

Contemporary Japan is a secular society. Harmony, order, and self-development are three of the most important values that underlie Japanese social interaction. Japan relies on social sanctions and emphasizes the benefits of harmony.

From the very beginning, Japanese children learn that human fulfillment comes from close association with others. Children also learn early to recognize that they are part of an interdependent society beginning in the family and later extending to larger groups such as a neighborhood, school, community, and workplace. Dependence on others is viewed negatively only when the social obligations it creates are too distressing to fulfill.

Most Japanese tend to avoid open competition and confrontation. Wa, the notion of harmony within a group, requires an attitude of cooperation and recognition of social roles. Success can come only if all put forth their best, individual efforts.

Education System

Japan has a well-structured educational system, largely due to the standardization of learning materials and subject matter. The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture in Japan sets the curriculum, which is followed by all teachers, in all schools, at all levels. This gives students an easier transition if they move from school to school, and also assures that all students are on an equal footing academically in terms of the materials presented.

Japan operates a 6-3-3-4 educational system. This begins with six years of elementary school from the age of 6, three years of junior high school from the age of 12, three years of high school from the age of 15, and four years of college, which achieves a masters degree, from the age of 18. Many children attend preschool or kindergarten before entering elementary school. The number of children per teacher in elementary school is 23:1 and middle school is 19:1.

Japanese students are expected to work extremely hard in order to pass the College Entrance Examinations. Special learn schools follow their regular school day in the evenings and on weekends. These schools, called Juku, teach the young people only things necessary for the entrance examinations. Juku schools are excessively expensive. Doing well on these examinations generally guarantees entrance into top-level universities, which is what prospective employers look for. The intense competition often leads to problems such as eating disorders, breakdowns, and sometimes suicide.


Among the advanced nations, Japan is one of the largest markets in the world and a very important market for business expansion on a global level. Japan is a unique country. Although there are many reasons, the biggest reason for its uniqueness comes from Japan s environmental and historical background.

Until 1868, Japan had been a closed country and had no international trade to protect their own culture and government from the influence of overseas nations. Japan had excellent environmental conditions for a closed-loop system for over 300 years. The country is completely surrounded by water. The Sea of Japan has high waves and many typhoons that actually protected Japan from overseas aggression (including the Mongol aggression in early 13th century). As a result, Japan developed a unique culture and a very uniform society that is different to any other nation in the world.

When Japan opened the country in 1868, the government was frightened by the huge culture gap between Japan and western countries. They were so frightened, that they decided to make every possible effort to industrialize the country. Until that time, Japan was agricultural country (almost 80% of the population were farmers in the 19th century, now there are less than 5%).

In the West, business is mainly concerned with profit seeking. Managers and workers are hired to increase profit for corporations. They are evaluated by the contributions they make for generating the profit. The Western management style is straightforward. Anything, which cannot be expressed by numbers, is not considered. The Western Corporation is designed and operated like a profit machine. Their business culture is easy to understand because it has a single-minded profit orientation.

In the Japanese business world, a corporation is considered as something other than a pure profit machine. Profit is important, but is not the only reason for the company s existence. A community factor is usually more valuable than, short-term profitability. The Japanese business people perceive their company as a community of people who happen to live together by working together. The company is a living society, which needs profit as sustenance for growth.

The National Diet

The Constitution of Japan consists of a preface, chapters one through eleven, and the provisions. The preface sums up Japanese ideology and reads like this.

We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly

elected representatives in the National Diet,

determined that we shall secure for ourselves and

our posterity the fruit of peaceful cooperation with

all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout

this land, and resolved that never again shall we be

visited with the horrors of war thorough the action

of government, do proclaim that sovereign power

resides with the people and do firmly establish this

constitution. Government is a sacred trust of the

people, the authority for which is derived from the

people, the power of which are exercised by the

representatives of the people, and the benefits of

which are enjoyed by the people, and the benefits of

which are enjoyed by the people. This is a universal

principal of mankind upon which this Constitution

is founded. We reject and revoke all constitutions,

laws ordinances, and rescripts in conflict herewith.

We, the Japanese people, desire peace for all time

and are deeply conscious of the high ideals

controlling human relationship and we have

determined to preserve our security and existence,

trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving

peoples of the world. We desire to occupy an

honored place in an international society striving

for the preservation of peace, and the banishment

of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance

for all time from the earth. We recognize that all

peoples of the world have the right to live in peace,

free from fear and want.

We, believe that no nations responsible to itself

alone, but that laws of political morality are

universal; and that obedience to such laws is

incumbent upon all nations who would sustain there

own sovereignty and justify their sovereign

relationship with other nations.

We, the Japanese people, pledge our national honor

to accomplish these high ideals and purposes with

All our resources.


These sum up a few of the major interesting aspects of Japan, minus things like Kamikaze dive-bombers, Pearl Harbor, and Sushi. Japan would be a great place for anyone to visit. We encourage you to experience it for yourself sometime. We hope this report will help you to better understand Japan s way of life.


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