Sugimoto_1998A

Sugimoto_1998A - The japan Phenomenon and the Social...

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Unformatted text preview: The japan Phenomenon and the Social Sciences I MULTICULTURAL JAPAN 1 Sampling Problem and the Question of Visibility Hypothetical questions sometimes inspire the sociological imagination. Suppose that a being from a different planet arrived inJapan and wanted to meet a typical Japanese, one who best typified the Japanese adult population. Whom should the social scientists choose? To answer this question, several factors would have to be considered: gender, occupa- tion, educational background, and so on. To begin, the person chosen should be a female, because women outnumber men in Japan; the 1990 census shows that sixty-three million women and sixty million men live in the Japanese archipelago. With regard to occupation, she would definitely not be emplOyed in a large corporation but would work in a small enterprise, since fewer than one in eight workers is employed in a company with three hundred or more employees. Nor would she be guaranteed 1ife~time employment, since those who work under this arrangement amount at most to only a quarter of Japan’s workforce. She would not belong to a labor union, because less than a quarter ofJapanese workers are unionized. She would not be university—educated. Fewer than one in five Japanese have a university degree, and even among the younger generation today only about a quarter of the relevant age group advance to universities with four-year degree courses. Table 1.1 summarizes these demographic realities. The identification of the average Japanese would certainly involve much more complicated quantitative analysis. But the alien would come closer to the “center” of the Japanese population by choosing a female, non-unionized and non—permanent employee in a small business without ' l 2 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY Table 1.1 Japan’s population distribution %‘ . Hutu/Ila? Majofity Minority M (lendcr-l Female: 62.9 million (51%) Male: 60.7 million (49%) Employees by Small firms — Large firms — firm size" less than 300 employees: 300 or more: 48.4 million (88%) 6.6 million (12%) Educational Those without university University graduates: background‘ education: 79.5 million (88%) 10.8 million (12%) Union Non-unionists: 39.7 million Unionists: 12.7 million membership (76%) (24%) in labor force “ RH Sources: r' Population census conducted in 1990. h The Establishment Census conducted by the Management and Coordination Agency in 1991. The data cover all private-sector establishments except individual proprietorship establishments in agriculture, forestry and fishery. ‘ Population census conducted in 1990. University graduates do not include those who have completed junior college and technical college. " Labor Union Basic Survey, conducted by the Ministry of Labor in 1993. university education than a male, unionized, permanent employee with a university degree working for a large company. When outsiders visualize the Japanese, however, they tend to think of men rather than women, career employees in large companies rather than non-permanent workers in small firms, and university graduates rather than high-school leavers, for these are the images presented on television and in newspaper and magazine articles. Some academic studies have also attempted to generalize aboutJapanese society on the basis of observations of its male elite sector, and have thereby helped to reinforce this sampling bias.‘ Moreover, because a particular cluster of individuals who occupy high positions in a large company have greater access to mass media and publicity, the life-styles and value orientations of those in that cluster have acquired a disproportionately high level of visibility in the analysis of Japanese society at the expense of the wider cross-section of its population. 2 Having/Mitt A.S‘S1()Il[)[i())l.§' While every society is unique. in some wayJapan is particularly unusual in having so many people who believe that their country is unique.2 Regardless of whether Japan is “uniquely unique” in sociological and psychological reality, it is certainly unique for the number ofJapanese JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 3 publications which propagate the uniqueJapan argument. The so—called group model of Japanese society represents the most explicit and coherent formulation of this line of argument and remains the most influential framework for interpreting the Japanese and Japanese social structure. Put most succinctly, the model is based upon three lines of argument. First, at the individual, psychological level, the Japanese are portrayed as having a personality which lacks a fully developed ego or independent self. The best-known example of this claim is Doi’s notion of amae which refers to the allegedly unique psychological inclination among the Japanese to seek emotional satisfaction by prevailing upon and depending on their superiors.3 They feel no need for any explicit demonstration of individuality. Loyalty to the group is a primary value. Giving oneself to the promotion and realization of the group’s goals gives theJapanese a special psychological satisfaction. Second, at the interpersonal, intragroup level, human interaction is depicted in terms of Japanese group orientation. According to Nakane, for example, theJapanese attach great importance to the maintenance of harmony within the group. To that end, relationships between superiors and inferiors are carefully cultivated and maintained. One’s status within the group depends on the length of one’s membership in the group. Furthermore, the Japanese maintain particularly strong interpersonal ties with those in the same hierarchical chain of command within their own organization. In other words, vertical loyalties are dominant. The vertically organizedJapanese contrast sharply with Westerners, who tend to form horizontal groups which define their membership in terms of such criteria as class and stratification which cut across hierarchical organization lines.4 Finally, at the intergroup level, the literature has emphasized that integration and harmony are achieved effectively between Japanese groups, making Japan a “consensus society”. This is said to account for the exceptionally high level of stability and cohesion inJapanese society, which has aided political and other leaders in their efforts to organize or mobilize the population efficiently. Moreover, the ease with which the energy of the Japanese can be focussed on a task has contributed in no small measure toJapan’s remarkably rapid economic growth during the half-century since the war. From a slightly different angle, Ishida argues that intergroup competition in loyalty makes groups conform to national goals and facilitates the formation of national consensus.5 For decades, Japanese writers have debated on the essence of “Japaneseness.” Numerous books have been written under such titles as What are thejapanese? and What is]apan?5 Many volumes on Nihon—rashisa (Japanese-like qualities) have appeared.7 Social science discourse in 4 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY Japan abounds with examinations of Nihon-teki (Japanese-style) ten- dencies in business, politics, social relations, psychology, and so on. Some researchers are preoccupied with inquiries into the “hidden shape,”8 “basic layer,” and “archetype”9 ofJapanese culture. These works portray Japanese society as highly homogeneous with only limited internal variation, and give it some all-embracing labe‘l. Hamaguchi, for example, who presents what he calls a contextual model of theJapanese, maintains that the concept of the individual is irrelevant in the study of the Japanese, who tend to see the interpersonal relationship itself (kanjin) — not the individuals involved in it — as the basic unit of action.1°Amanuma argues that theJapanese core personality is based on the drive for ganban' (endurance and persistence), which accounts for every aspect of Japanese behavior.11 Publishing in Japanese, a Korean writer, Lee, contends that the Japanese have a unique chijimi shiké, a miniaturizing orientation which has enabled them to skillfully miniaturize their environment and products, ranging from bonsai plants, small cars, and portable electronic appliances to computer chips.12 The list of publica- tions which aim to define Japanese society with just one key word could be expanded interminably, although the descriptive tag used may differ. At least four underlying assumptions remain constant in these studies. First, it is presumed that allJapanese share the attribute in question — be it amae or miniature orientation — regardless of their class, gender, occupation, and other stratification variables. Second, it is also assumed that there is virtually no variation among the Japanese in the degree to which they possess the characteristic in question. Little attention is given to the possibility that some Japanese may have it in greater degree while others have very little of it. Third, the trait in question, be it group— orientation or kanjin, is supposed to exist only marginally in other societies, particularly in Western societies. That is, the feature is thought to be uniquely Japanese. Finally, the fourth presupposition is an ahistorical assumption that the trait has prevailed in Japan for an unspecified period of time, independently of historical circumstances. Writings based on some or all of these propositions have been published in Japan ad nauseam and have generated a genre referred to as NIT/Lotiji-nron (which literally means theories on the Japanese). Although some analysts have challenged the validity of Nihonjimon assertions on methodological, empirical, and ideological grounds,‘3 the discourse has retained its popular appeal, attracting many readers and maintaining a commercially viable publication industry. The notion ofJapan being homogeneous goes in tandem with the claim that it is an exceptionally egalitarian society with little class differentiation. This assertion is based on scattered observations of company life. Thus, with regard to resource distribution, some contrast ~ JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES I 5 the relatively modest salary gaps between Japanese executive managers and their employees with the marked discrepancy between the salaries of American business executives and their workers. Focussing on the alleged weakness of class consciousness, others point out that Japanese managers are prepared to get their hands dirty, wear the same blue overalls as assembly workers in factories and share elevators, toilets, and company restaurants with low-ranking employees.l4 Still others suggest thatJapanese managers and rank-and—file employees work in large offices without status—based partition, sharing work in an egalitarian way. Furthermore, public opinion polls taken by the Prime Minister’s Office have indicated that eight to nine out of ten Japanese classify themselves as middle class. While there is debate as to what all these figures mean, they have nevertheless strengthened the images of egalitarian Japan. A few observers have gone as far as to call Japan a “land of equality”15 and a “one-class society.”16 Firmly entrenched in all these descriptions is the portrayal of theJapanese as identifying themselves primarily as members of a company, alma mater, faction, clique, or other functional group rather than as members of a class or social stratum. 3 Diversity and Stratification The portrayal of Japan as a homogeneous and egalitarian society, how- ever, contradicts many observations that it is more diversified, hetero- geneous, and multicultural than is widely believed to be the case-This book presents these facets ofJapanese society in some detail, examining the country’s regional, generational, occupational, and educational varieties as well as gender and minority issues. It does not try to claim that Japan isunusually diversified or exceptionally stratified in comparison with other industrialized societies, but challenges the View that it is uniquely homogeneous and egalitarian. The central idea here is simple and modest: Japan does not differ fundamentally from other countries in its internal variation and stratification, though some of its specific manifestations and concrete forms may contrast with those in Western societies. The image of multicultural Japan may sit uncomfortably with the relatively homogeneous racial makeup of Japanese society, yet sub— cultures do proliferate on a number of non-racial dimensions, such as region, gender, age, occupation, education, and so forth. To the extent that subculture is defined as a set of value expectations and life—styles shared by a section of a given population,Japanese society indeed reveals an abundance of subcultural groupings along these lines. As a con- glomerate of subcultures,Japan may be viewed as a multicultural society, or a multi-subcultural society. Furthermore, most subcultural units are 6 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY rank-ordered in terms of access to various resources including economic privilege, political power, social prestige, information, and knowledge. In this sense, Japan is a multistratified society as well. Let us now take a preliminary look at some concrete illustrations of these multicultural and multistratified features of Japanese society. Each point will be scrutinized in more detail in later chapters. (a) Subcultuml Diversity Contrary to the widely held View, Japan has an extensive range of minority issues, ethnic and quasi-ethnic, which proponents of the homogeneousJapan thesis tend not to address. One can identify several minority groups in Japan even if one does so narrowly, referring only to groups subjected to discrimination and prejudice because of culturally generated ethnic myths, illusions, and fallacies. In Hokkaido, the northernmost island of the nation, over twenty thousand Ainu live as an indigenous minority. Their situation arose with the first attempts ofJapan’s central regime to unify the nation under its leadership around the sixth and seventh centuries and to conquer the Ainu territories in northern Japan. In addition, some three million burakumin are subjected to prejudice and many of them are forced to live in separate communities partly because of an unfounded myth that they are ethnically different.l7 Their ancestors’ plight began in the feudal period under the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled the nation for two and a half centuries from the seventeenth century and institutionalized an outcast class at the bottom of a caste system. Though the class was legally abolished after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, discrimination and prejudice have persisted. Some seven hundred thousand Koreans form the biggest foreign minority group in Japan. Their problem originated from the Japanese colonization of Korea at the beginning of the twenti- eth century, and theJapanese importation of Koreans as cheap labor for industries. A similar number of foreign workers, both documented and undocumented, live in the country as a result of their influx into the Japanese labor market since the 1980s, mainly from Asia and the Middle East, in their attempt to earn quick cash in the appreciatedJapanese yen. F inall)‘, over 1.2 million Okinawans who live in the Ryukyu islands at the southern end ofJapan face bigotry from time to time on the basis of the belief that they are ethnically different, and incur suspicion because of the islands' cultural autonomy over centuries. The estimated total membership of these groups is about five million, which represents some 4 percent of the population ofJapan.|N If one includes those who marry in to these minority groups and suffer the same kinds of prejudice, the number is greater. In the Kansai region where JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 7 burakumin and Korean residents are concentrated, the proportion of the minority population exceeds 10 percent. These ratios may not be as high as those in migrant societies such as the United States, Canada and Australia,19 but they seem inconsistent with the claim that Japan is a society uniquely lacking minority issues. These issues tend to be obfuscated, blurred, and even made invisible inJapan partly because the principal minority groups do not differ in skin color and other biological characteristics from the majority ofJapanese. In international comparison,Japan does not rank uniquely high in its composition of minority groups which exist because of their ethnicity or fabricated ethnic fictions about them. Table 1.2 lists some of the nations whose ethnic minority groups constitute less than 10 percent. Given that theJapanese figure is 4 percent,Japan’s position would be somewhere in the second band; it is certainly difficult for it to be in the top band. To be sure, different societies define minority groups on the basis of different criteria, but that is exactly the point. Japan seems to be unique not in its absence of minority issues but in the decisiveness with which the government and other organizations attempt to ignore their existence. Regional variation is perhaps the most obvious diversity in Japan. The nation is divided into two subcultural regions, eastern Japan with Tokyo and Yokohama as its center and western Japan with Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe as its hub. The two regions differ in language, social relations, food, V housing, and many other respects. The subcultural differences between the areas facing the Pacific and those facing the~ Sea ofJapan are also well known. Japan has a wide variety of dialects. AJapanese from Aomori Prefecture, the northernmost area of Honshu Island, and one from Kagoshima, the southernmost district in Kyushu Island, can scarcely comprehend each other’s dialects. Different districts have different festivals, folk songs, and local dances. Customs governing birth, marriage, and death differ regionally so much that books explaining the differences are quite popular.20 The exact degree of domestic regional variation is difficult to assess in quantitative terms and by internationally comparative standards, but there is no evidence to suggest that it is more limited in Japan. Japanese language is a diversity—conscious tongue. Even if one does not assume any direct correlation between language and culture, one must acknowledge thatJapanese, which is sensitive to diversity, reflectsJapan’s cultural patterns to a considerable extent.Japanese is a sexist language, differentiating between male. and female vocabulary, expressions, and accents. The male language is supposed to be coarse, crude, and aggress— ive, while the female language is expected to be soft, polite. and sub— missive.” Even at the level ofselfLidentification, the male expressions for balm. 0W. and was/ii, differ from their more formal and refined female 8 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY Table 1.2 Estimated proportions of ethnic and pseudo-ethnic minorities in selected countries W Minority groups in the Level [(1101 population Specific countries W Band 1 04% % Austria, Bangladesh, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Greece, Iceland, Korea (North), Korea (South), Libya, Portugal Czech, Finland, Germany, Haiti,Japan, Lebanon, Liberia, Netherlands Albania, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Mongolia Romania, Sweden ’ R Nole:(1alculated from Famighetti (1994). Band 2 345% Band 3 6—1 1% counterparts, watashi and watakushi.Japanese is also a hierarchy-oriented language. Honorific expressions are essential ingredients of everyday Japanese conversation, in which one must always be attentive to the social status of the person to whom one talks, noting whether the addressee is lugher or lower in the social hierarchy. Without assuming thatJapanese is exceptional in these regards, it can be pOStulated that theJapanese are at least heedful of a variety of status groups and their respective cultural orientations. Conscious of the life—style differences of various groups, the Japanese often refer in everyday vocabulary to a variety of subcultural groupings using the term zoku, a suffix that literally means a tribe. Cases in point include shayozoku, those employees who have the privilege of using company expense accounts to enjoy drinking, eating, playing golf, and other entertainments with their clients after working hours; madogz'wa— ZO/tll (the window—gazing tribe), those company employees who have come to the end of their career in middle age, have few tasks to perform and sit near the Window away from the center of activity in a large, Japanese—style, non—partitioned office; and boso-zoku, the bikers who produce noise pollution in a quiet neighborhood. in addition to these long—standing variations inJapanese society, there are strong indications that its degree of diversity is rapidly increasing in some areas. Specifically, the patterns ()fJapanese consumer behavior became diversified in a fundamental way in the 1980s. Previously, manu— facturers sold models standardized for mass consumption, successfully promoting them through sales campaigns and advertisements. Recent-lv, however, this strategy has become ineffective because consumers have begun to take an interest in products in tune with their personal prefer— :ummmr..-wm.—w -.-.-:.. mam)”. mam. .n. JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 9 ences. They have become more unpredictable, selective, and inquisitive. The notion of the Japanese as uniform mass consumers does not effect- ively account for their consumer behavior patterns today. NumerousJapanese popular writings published in the 19805 and early 19905 paid attention to the variety and even stratification of Japanese lifestyles. Market analysts, for instance, were quick to point out the increasing diversity of the consumer market. A consumer behavior study22 suggests the emergence of shoshu— individualized, divided, and small-unit masses — as opposed to taishti, the undifferentiated, uniform, and large-scale masses. The research institute of Hakuhédc’),23 a leading advertising agency, also argued that the notion of bunshu (segmented masses) would account for the behavior of consumers more effectively than the conventional way ‘of viewing them as a homogeneous entity. Kinkonkan, a best-seller produced by Kazuhiro Watanabe and Tarako Productions, classifies the everyday behavior of the Japanese as either marukin (the moneyed type) or marubi (the needy type), a caricaturized taxonomy which has attained awide circulation. These concepts perhaps reflected some entrenched and emerging patterns ofJapanese society, as the popularized notions, buzzwords, and catchphrases that they pro- duced struck a responsive chord in the hearts of many readers who found they somehow represented reality. Gender differences in value orientation are arguably more pro- nounced than ever with the gradual rise of feminist consciousness at various levels. Opinion surveys have consistently shown that more women than men disagree with the notion of home being the woman’s place. The proportion of women who feel that marriage is not necessary if they can support themselves invariably outnumbers that of men.24 Women show much more commitment than men to welfare, medical, educa- tional, consumer, and other community activities.25 _ These observations of social diversification and segmentation, and of polarization of life—styles, imply that Japanese society is not as classless and egalitarian as the conventional theory ofJapan suggests; it is not only diversified horizontally but also stratified vertically like other societies of advanced capitalism. (17) Social Stratification and Class Reproduction Comparative studies of income distribution?“ suggest thatJapan cannot be regarded as uniquely egalitarian. On the contrary, it ranks as one of the advanced capitalist countries with the highest levels of unequal in— come distribution. Table l.8 confirms this pattern, with the international comparative analysis of the Gini index which measures the degree to which a given distribution deviates from perfect equality (with larger ll) AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY Table 1.3 (;ini index of after-tax inco ‘ I me distribution in capitalist countries some advanced \ Japan Us ) UK 0.330 1979 0.37 1981 0 28 .. .‘ 0.382 1989 0.40 1988 l 191% 0.388 0.35 [989 0.421 Frzmcc Norwa . k y FInla d 1 0.364 1979 0.346 1981 n 0 206 C . I 0.372 1986 0.330 1985 0:200 .anar 11 Australia Ne wZ I 1381) 0.395 1981 0.81 1981 ea and 029 1.188 0.404 1985 0.32 1985 0:30 .8' oum'.‘ Tachibanaki and Yagi 1994, p. 25. figures 1ndicating higher levels of inequality). The table also sug ests that nicome mequality intensified during the 19805. g Even to casual observers, the stratification of Japanese society is dis- cern1ble 1n a variety of areas. Those who own or expect to inherit la 01 and other assets have a considerable advantage over those who do r1t and asset differentials are so wide thatJapan is arguably a class socIi]: ’ based upon land ownership.27 In the area of consumer behavior thost: who possess or expect to inherit properties such as houses and land spend lawsth on high-class, fashionable, and expensive goods while those Without such property assets are restricted to rather ordinar life- styles to make ends meet.28 The Social Stratification and Mobility (SSM) pro]ect of the Japanese Sociological Association identifies six distinct clusters in theJapanese male adult population on the basis of such ma' stratification variables as occupation, income, and education 2" WJitOhr regard to opportunities for education, students from families .of hi h educauonal and occupational background have a much better chancegof ganung admission to high—prestige universities, and this attern h consohdated over time.30 About three—quarters of the studefts of Tok as L 111\'t‘1‘s1t}'. the most prestigious university in Japan are the sons ad]: daughters ofmanagers, bureaucrats, academics, teachers and other fessionalsfiH Since only about one-third of the relevant age group advafhrc: to four-year universities and two—year junior colleges inostJa anese students have little to do with the widely/publicized “examination hell £33 . Subcultural groups are reproduced intergenerationallv throu h tl Inheritance of social and cultural 1*esr)111‘ces.i‘1‘ Mindful] of theginteer- generauonal reproduction of social advantages and cultural prestige the JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 11 mass media have sarcastically used the term nanahikari—zoku in reference to those who have attained prominence thanks to the “seven colorful rays of influence emanating from their parents.” Unlike company employees, professionals, and managers, small independent proprietors frequently hand over their family business to one of their children.34 In the world of entertainment, numerous sons and daughters of established entertainers and television personalities have achieved their status with the aid of their parents’ national celebrity. The SSM study also suggests that the class characteristics of parents significantly condition their children’s choice of spouse.35 Ostensibly spontaneous selections of partners are patterned in such a way that it is clear the class attributes of parents creep into the decision-making process, whether consciously or not. Let us pose another hypothetical question. Suppose that a being from another planet has capped all adultJapanese with hats of different colors (visible only through special glasses) depending upon their educational background: blue hats for university graduates, yellow hats for those who have completed high school, and red hats for those who have completed middle school or less. The alien might also place invisible color marks on the foreheads of all working Japanese: white on employees in large corporations, gray on those in medium-sized firms, and black on those in small enterprises. If we wore glasses that made these colors visible, would we see different color combinations depending on where we observe Japanese? Would the color mixtures differ between an exclusive golf club in the outskirts of Tokyo, a meeting at a bumku community in Kyoto, a museum in Nara, a karaoke bar in a fishing village in Hokkaido, a packinko pinball parlor in Hiroshima, a PTA session at a prestigious private high school in Yokohama, and so on? The alien could use many more invisible colors, denoting such things as the value of an individual’s assets (such as properties and stocks), the individual’s occupational position, region of residence or origin, and so ‘ forth. If we were to see these colors, how would they be distributed and in what patterns would they cluster? These are questions that a multicultural model of Japanese society attempts to address without assuming the thesis of a homogeneous Japan. 4 Control of Ideological Capital Japanese culture, like the cultures of other complex societies, comprises a multitude of subcultures. Some are dominant, powerful, and control— ling, and form core subcultures in given dimensions. Examples are the management subculture in the occupational dimension, the large cor- poration subculture in the firm-size dimension, the male subculture in the gender dimension, and the Tokyo subculture in the regional 12 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY dimension. Other subcultures are more subordinate, marginal, and may be called the peripheral subcultures. are the part—time worker subculture, the small business female subculture, and the rural subculture. Core subcultures have ideological capital to define the normative framework of society. Even though the life-time employment and the company-first dogma associated with the large corporation subculture apply to less than a quarter of the workforce, that part of the population has provided a role-model which all workers are expected to follow, putting their companies ahead of their individual interests. The language of residents in uptown Tokyo is regarded as standardJapanese not because of its linguistic superiority but because of those residents’ social proximity to the national power center. Dominating in the upper echelons of society, core subcultural groups are able to control the educational curriculum, influence the mass media, and prevail in the areas of publishing and publicity. They outshine their peripheral counterparts in establishing their modes of life and patterns of expectations in the national domain and presenting their subcultures as the national culture. The samurai spirit, the kamikaze vigor, and the soul of the Yamato race,36 which some male groups may have as part of the dominant subculture of men, are promoted as representingJapan’s national culture. And although the liberalization of the domestic agricultural market affects many consumers positively, producer groups that have vested interests in maintaining the status quo and are connected with the country’s leadership have often succeeded in presenting their interests as those of the entire nation. More generally, the slanted views ofJapan’s totality tend to reproduce , eaders, and editors of publications on the general characteristics ofJapanese society belong to the core subcultural sphere. Sharing their subcultural base, they conceptualize and hypothesize in a similar way, confirm their portrayal of Japan between themselves, and rarely seek outside confirmation. In many Nihonjz'nron writings, most ’ examples and illustrations are drawn from the elite sector, including male employees in managerial tracks of large corporations and high- ran king officials of the national bureaucracy.37 (lore subcultural groups overshadow those on the periphery in inter- cultural transactions too. Foreign visitors toJapan who shape the images of Japan in their own countries interact more intensely with core sub- cultural groups than with peripheral ones. In cultural exchange pro— grams,Japanese who have houses, good salaries, and university education predominate among the host families, language trainers, and intro— ducers of Japanese culture. Numerically small but ideological] ant, core subcultural groups are the most noticeable to foreig subservient, or Some examples subculture, the y domin- ners and JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 13 are capable of presenting themselves to the outside world as represen- tative ofJapanese culture. ' ' _ To recapitulate the major points: Japanese soc1ety embraces a Sig nificant degree of internal variation in both social and cultural senses. It comprises a variety of subcultures based upon occupation, education, asset holdings, gender, ethnicity, age, and so forth. In this sense,Japan lS multicultural and far from being a homogeneous, monocultural entity. One can grasp the complexity and intricacy ofJapanese soc1ety perhaps only when one begins to see it as a mosaic of rival groups, competing strata, and various subcultures. II Multicultural Paradigm 1 Temporal Fluctuations in Understanding japan At a more conceptual and theoretical level,Japanese society has inspired social scientists over several decades to address a complex set of issues. For the last few decades, the pendulum of Japan’s images overseas has swung back and forth between positive and negative poles, and between universalist and particularist approache; As Table 1.4 s:iisplays, five ' ' tive hases are discernible during t e postwar years: (11:32]: firstpphase, immediately following the end of World War II an: continuing through the 1950s, saw a flow of writings which characterize the defeatedJapan as a backward, hierarchical, and rather exotic soc1ety which Western societies should educate. In particular, Denedict s The Chrysanthemum and the Sword39 had a most significant impact on tlhe postwar development of Japanese studies. Methodologically, she too a “patterns of culture” approach which assumed that Japanese soc1ety could best be understood as a social or cultural whole composed of a rather homogeneous set of individuals. She used anthropological; techniques for describing small societies with relatively undifferentiat: populations in her study of the complex soc1ety of Japan. Substantive y, she highlighted what she regarded as the most common denominafiors in Japanese social organization which contrasted markedly .Wlt ft eir counterparts in the West. The influence of the anthropological rame- work can be seen in Village japan,40 japanese Factory,41 and Tokugawa Religion.“ This vein of literature set the stage for the perSistenlt style 0: analysis in whichJapanese society was portrayed as both monolithic an unllrciutiie second phase, which dominated the 19605, modernization theory provided a framework within which Japan was assessed in a mor; positive light. The mainstream of American scholarship began to regar Japan as a successful case of evolutionary transformation Without, internal variation Focus on N0 No N0 No No on, gin", oyabun, kolnm amae, tale shakai, Key words Evolutionary change groupism number one Enigma, threat Japan as .naming“m...um«-.-a. ~ » A Particularistic Universalistic Particularistic Universalistic/ Particularistic Universalistic Conceptual tools Possibility of convergence (modernization) convergence) No (different No (unique capitalism) Japan) Yes (reverse No Yes/n0 valuation of japan Negative and positive Positive Positive Positive Negative f 4 Japan’s total dependence on the US competition with the US Japan out—performing the US in some areas of the economy and technology Intense trade war between Japan as the showcase of Japan and the US the US model growth and emerging [IS—japan relationship Japan’s high economic Table 1.4 Fluctuations in the frameworks and analytical tools ()fJapanese studies in English—language publications 1 945—60 1955—70 1 965—80 1 970—90 1 985-— Phase JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 15 revolutionary disruption. In the context of the intense Cold War, the US establishment also began to see Japan as the showpiece of the non- communist model of development in Asia. The five-volume series o_n_tl§fl modernization of Japan published by Princeton University Press repre- __fi____.__.,._.t,. , -__ -.-,_.... sented the culmination of the collective efforts to examine Japan on the basis of a set of universalistic criteria. Using the yardstick of pattern vari- ables developed by Parsons,43 a leading sociological theorist of modern- ization, one of the most influential volumes, entitled Social Change in Modern japan,44 attempted to measure the degree to which Japan exemplified the expected changes from traditional to modern patterns. While using the universalistic model as its overall framework, however, the empirical findings of the series were equivocal, pointing out a number of distinctive features of Japan’s modernization. The third phase saw the revival of a more particularistic approach, lasting for about a decade from the late 19605. Partly as a reaction to the universalistic modernization framework, there was emphasis on the sup- posed uniqueness of Japanese psychology, interpersonal relations, and social organization. The notion of amae, which Doi45 spotlighted as the key to unlock the psychological traits of the Japanese, attracted much attention. Reischauer46 contended that the Japanese were essentially group-oriented and‘differed fundamentally from individualistic West- erners. According to Nakane,47 Japanese social organizations were verti- cally structured and apt to cut across class and occupational lines, unlike their Western counterparts which were horizontally connected and in— clined to transcend company kinship lines. These writings were pub- lished when theJapanese economy began to make some inroad into the US market. To a considerable extent, they reflected increasing con- ~ fidence in the Japanese way on the part of both Japanese and Western writers. The fourth phase, which commenced toward the end of the 19705 and persisted for a decade or so, witnessed waves of “learn-from—Japan” campaigns. Japan’s management practices, industrial relations, and education programs were praised as the most advanced on earth and endorsed as what other societies should emulate. Against the back- ground of a gradual decline of American hegemony in the international economy and a visible ascendancy of Japanese economic performance, Vogel’s japan as Number OM48 was one of a number of works which championed what they regarded as theJapanese model. Many who wrote along these lines suggested the possibility of injecting some Japanese elements into the Western system to revitalize it. In the main, this argument emphasized transferable, transplantable, and therefore trans— cultural attributes ofJapanese society. 16 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY The fifth phase, which started in the mid 19805 and has continued in the 19905, witnessed the rise of the revisionists, who saw the Japanese social system in a much more critical light than previously. Johnson, the author of MITI and the japanese Miracle,49 argues thatJapanese capitalism is a different kind of capitalism, based on the developmental state in which the national bureaucracy plays a pivotal role in shaping national policy forJapan’s national interests only. He cautions that this structure poses an increasingly grave threat to the well-being of the international community. In a similar vein, Wolferen addresses The Enigma of Japanese Power-'7” and maintains that the Japanese system, in which leaders lack accountability, makes each citizen unhappy. Against the background of Japan’s economic superpower status, the intensification of trade friction between Japan and the West, and the rise of Japan-bashing, the revxsionist writings point to the strategies with which Western societies may be able to contain the influence ofJapan and make its social system more compatible with theirs. The revisionist analysis attaches importance to the institutional peculiarities of Japanese society and their conse- quences both at home and overseas. Concomitantly with the fluctuation of these images ofJapanese society, the changing political and economic relationships between Japan and the United States shaped the framework of analysis of Japan. Observed from outside, the analytical tools for assessing Japanese society have alternated between particularistic and universalistic types, while foreign evaluation of Japanese society has swung between positive and negative appraisals. ' 2 The Convergence Debate At the highest level of abstraction, the so—called convergence debate has made Japan the focal point of analysis in recent years. The debate itself is as old as social sciences and has had many twists and turns. At one end of the continuum, convergence theorists have maintained that all industrial societies become akin in their structural arrangements and value orientations because the logic of industrialism entails a common batch of functional imperatives. At the other end, anti-convergence theorists have argued that the cultural background and historical tradition of each society are so firmly entrenched that the advent of industrialism cannot simply mold them into a uniform pattern; no convergence eventuates because each culture develops its own style of industrial development on the basis ofits own momentum and dynamics. Japan provides a logical testing ground for this debate since it is/the only natlon outside the Western cultural tradition that has achieved a high level of industrialization. On balance, a majority ofJapan specialists, be JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 17 they culturologists or institutionalists, have tended to underscore the unique features of Japanese society, thereby siding either explicitly or implicitly with the anti-convergence stance. Yet this position has pre- s'upposed that the West continues to lead the direction of industrialism, though the Japanese pattern deviates from it. Many convergence theorists see the so—called unique features of Japanese society mostly as the expression of the nation’s late develop- ment, lagging behind the early-developer countries. Tominaga, for exam- ple, regards four patterns of transformation presently in progress in Japan as pointers that suggest that it is becoming increasingly like advanced Western societies.51 First, Japan’s demographic composition is changing from one in which a young labor force comprises an overwhelming majority of the popula— tion to one in which the aged comprise the larger portion. The propor- tion of those who are sixty-five years of age or older exceeded the 10 percent mark in France in the 19305, in Sweden and Britain in the 19405, in Germany and Switzerland in the 19505, and in the United States and Italy in the 19705, while Japan arrived at this stage in the middle of the 19805. This means that the comparative demographic advantage that Japan enjoyed in the past has begun to disappear. If the present trend continues,Japan will become the nation with the highest ratio of aged in its population in the early part of the twenty—first century, thus complet- ing the catch—up cycle. Second, Japan’s family and kinship groups have dwindled and even disintegrated in a way similar to that familiar in Europe and the United States. Nuclear families are now the norm, and the percentage of singles has increased. While the anti-convergence theorists use the Japanese family system and kinship networks as a cornerstone of their argument for the distinctive character of Japanese society, Tominaga underscores their decline and suggests that the Japanese are undergoing a Western— type experience somewhat belatedly. Third, so-called Japanese management is changing. There are many signs that the twin institutions of permanent employment and seniority- based wage structure cannotsustain themselves. Company loyalty is weakening among young employees. The ageing profile of the corporate demographic structure makes it difficult for starting workers to expect smooth and automatic promotions at the later stages of their career. I'lead—hunting is becoming rampant, and intercompany mobility is rising. In the long run, the convergence theory predicts, theJapanese employ— ment structure and its concomitant management styles will more resemble Western patterns. Fourth, the emphasis of theJapanese value system is gradually shifting from collectivism to individualism. The rising number of students 18 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY enrolled in universities and other institutions of higher education leads to the mass production of citizens exposed and oriented to individualistic and rational thinking. The disintegration of the family and kinship systems. plus the gradual dissolution of the local community, tend to liberate individuals from intense social constraints imposed by these traditional structures. As Japanese workers become accustomed to material affluence, their legendary work ethic tends to dissipate and their life-styles become more hedonistic. In this process, theJapanese are inclined to lose a sense of devotion to the groups and organizations to which they belong and to experience the state of anomie much as do citizens of advanced industrialized societies in the West. Convergence theorists concede that these four transformations have not yet run their courses, but maintain that they head undeniably in the direction of convergence with advanced industrialized societies, contrary to the view of unique—Japan theorists who frequently ignore the signifi- cance of different levels of development and make erroneous static com- parisons betweenJapan and Western societies. It would be fair for social scientists to compare Japan’s present features with their counterparts in Western countries several decades ago. The convergence debate gained another twist with Dore’s formulation of the reverse convergence hypothesis.52 According to his argument, industrialized societies are converging on a set of patterns observed not in Euro—American societies but in Japan. This proposition finds con- siderable support with the proliferation of the so-called Japanese-style management around the world: an increasing number of industrial and industrializing societies appear to have adopted the systems of multi— shilling.Just-in-time, and enterprise-based labor negotiations. In terms of the role of the state in industrial policy implementation, many Western analysts have made a positive assessment of the coordinatiOn and orches- tration functions of national public bureaucracy a‘ la the Japanese Min- istry of International Trade and Industry.53 In the sphere of education, too. theJapanese-style structured and regimented mode of teaching has attracted international attention and made inroads into some education sxstenn ai'n'oad. In the area of law enforcement, the Japanese kbban polite-hm system is being instituted in many parts of the world. . . IIH' reterse convergence perspective signaled a new phase in the «'iehau- H‘ \vtnr'h the West was no longer regarded as the trailblazer in ltt(ll!\lf't;l: tttwetoptnent. .-\d\‘ancing this line ol‘thinlxintt ltu‘tltet'. utmtht’!’ .t 31} one man label the multiple eomergenee thesis has gained ears I! postulates that tm: or more lives: of (lt‘Yt‘lfllr “Mun; upon whet: industriaii/a'ion Megan o: ' aground that prednnntnueti. lhz' 5n't;;r<><llim. :V‘th 53.:t' thus-.- t‘t‘o-‘M it’eui‘i‘atw Mural guilt-C‘ih oi -;‘.:ni'».'t"-)eiit=u iu ywvzztn‘mtvvamrr‘rulfll': .w... «nu—afinnvrmmmmgwm" JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 19 structures and values. Table 1.5 maps the relative locations of the four perspectives under discussion. The multiple convergence perspective has many versions. One of them is the so—called late-developer hypothesis that Anglo-American capitalism was a unique type of development of early industrializers, while late- developer societies such as Japan had to evolve different social config- urations to cope with different domestic and international constraints. Murakami,54 for example, contends that, unlike Anglo-American soci- eties, Japan, Germany, Italy, and other late-developing countries could not achieve political integration suitable to industrialization at its initial phase. To cope, these countries had to devise a strategy of catch-up industrialization by preserving some elements of traditional heritage while establishing a powerful bureaucracy which steered the process of development. Reflecting the swift rise of Asian economies since the 19805, another version points to the possibility of “Confucian capitalism,” 55 in which the ethic of obedience to authorities and emphasis on selfless devotion to work leads to a path of development different from the Western type but conducive to rapid economic growth. Similar arguments have surfaced under the rubrics of the “East Asian model,”56 “Oriental capitalism,”57 the “Pacific Century,”58 and so on. Japan’s economic structure is re- garded as the most refined and polished of this type. In a broader perspective, some theorists explore the ways in which different types of civilization take different routes of development. Civilization in this context includes not only culture but social organizations, structures and institutions. This approach attempts to place different civilizations in some evolutionary hierarchy in which Japan occupies a position near the top.59 As early as the 19505, Umesao60 proposed an ecological model of the history of civilizations in which he attempted to demonstrate thatJapan belonged to the same Civilization zone as Western Europe in having an internally stimulated process of “autogenic succession” and attaining higher levels of development than continental Asia and Eastern Europe. In more recent years, Murakami, Kumon, and Saté“ have argued thatJapanese society is built upon what they call ie civilization, which emphasizes quasi-kinship lineage and functional hierarchv They maintain that the z'e principle permeates Japanese history as a “genotype.” playing a central role in the formation ol'Japanestustrle capitalism. 'l'hey refute the assumption oi" unilinear deyeiopm-t-nt and argue for a model ol'tnultilinear development in which theJapanes-e pattern represents a distinctive type. Ilttntington"‘-' sees the fundamental .rlnision o!" the world in the clash of several civilizations, snuggling out Japan as the onh non—Western civilization that has s11<,‘<‘eetlell in the quest to l)t‘t‘t>t11/' modern without becoming Western. 20 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY Table 1.5 Four positions in the convergence debate %_ One point of convergence? —\ The West is [he dominant pattern Yes No \K Yes Convergence Anti—convergence thesis thesis No Reverse Multiple convergence convergence thesis thesis x All these generalizations use civilizations as the unit of analysis and explain multiple patterns of development in terms of macro-cultural variables. The multiple convergence thesis perhaps represents a return to emphasis on cultural variables in the convergence debate and reflects the fluctuations in the tone of another debate — that concerning cultural relativism. 3 The Cultural Relativism Debate Given the multicultural features of Japanese society, can sociological analysis do justice to them by adopting a multicultural perspective? Can the analysis of societies be free from ethnocentric assumptions? These questions loom large against the backdrop of increasingly multicultural realities and rising tides of ethnic confidence around the World. The Japan phenomenon poses a wide range of questions about the ethnocentric nature of Western sociology. The issue is looming large rather belatedly, partly because the founding fathers of sociology, and their followers, until very recently used Western Europe, the United States and a very limited number of non-Western societies as the empirical settings for the construction of theories of modernity and modernization. In the writings of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, for instance, China, India, and Pacific islands are studied primarily as traditional societies for comparative purposes, but none of these scholars made any meaningful reference to Japan. Even today, Habermas, who talks much about the need to redefine the concept of modernity, makes little mention ol‘Japan. 1 ln antln'opology. it is almost trite to distinguish two types of concepts. One type consists of emir concepts. which arc specific and peculiar to a particular culture and meaningful only to its ti](‘t]1l)(‘li\. 'lhc other trpc Consists of elicconccpts, which arc applicable to all cultures. transcending national and ethnic l)ouml;n'ics.“" \lmsi sociological concepts are JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 21 assumed to be etic, but it can be argued that they were initially emic concepts of Euro—American societies which became etic notions because of the cultural hegemony of Western nations. Here one should not lose sight of the extent to which sociology contains elements of cultural imperialism, although this does not mean that proper research cannot often determine their applicability in diverse cultural settings. Cultural relativists would argue that the time is ripe for a wide range ofJapanese emic concepts to be examined and used in comparative analysis of advanced capitalism. At the conceptual level, the Nihonjinron literature provides a wide repertoire of emic notions that can be tested and scrutinized for cross- cultural studies. This may be an important contribution of this genre because, with some refinement and elaboration of conceptual boundary and substance,Japan-based notions can be developed as viable tools for sociological analysis. White64 and others maintain, for example, that indigenous definitions of women’s lives differ between Japan and the West. They also argue that feminism has different meanings depending on the cultural context, thereby making it impossible for a universally valid model of women’s lives to be developed. Doi’s notion of amae, which he regards as peculiar to the Japanese personality, may be used as a conceptual tool of comparative analysis. When these concepts are used as variables for cross—cultural studies, it may be thatJapanese society does not always exhibit these characteristics in the highest possible degree. A quantitative comparative study of Australia, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and the mainland United States, for example, shows that the level of kanjz’n contextual orientation, which Hamaguchi contends is emic to the Japanese, is lower in Japan than in any other country and lowest among Japanese men.65 At the theoretical level, some scholars, notably Befu and Deutsch- mann,66 maintain that theories of bureaucracy as developed in the Western sociological tradition are “culture-bound.” Large bureaucratic corporations in Japan tend to give priority to such paternalistic arrange- ments as company housing, company leisure facilities, and company ex- cursions. At the level of interpersonal interaction, an elaborate system of particularistic arrangements enables superiors to maneuver their sub- ordinates with great ease. In corporations, every supervisor spends an enormous amount of time paying personal attention to employees under his charge, beyond the call of his job specifications. He entertains his subordinates in pubs, bars, restaurants, and clubs after working hours, serves as a formal go—between in their wedding ceremonies, listens to personal problems of their families, and even attends the funerals of their grandparents. None of these activities is formally required yet no manager in Japanese firms could retain his position Without them; the 22 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY expectation is that his subordinates, in return, are willing to devote their time to work and to commit themselves to it beyond the call of their job specifications. This inordinate exchange of expressive resources between superiors and subordinates characterizes Japan’s bureaucratic organ- izations. National time—series surveys have consistently shown that “a supervisor who is overly demanding at work but is willing to listen to personal problems and is concerned with the welfare of workers” is preferred to “one who is not so strict on the job but leaves the worker alone and does not involve himself with their personal matters.”67 Befu and Deutschmann contend that the particularistic qualities of Japanese bureaucratic organization contradict the key thesis of Western theories of bureaucracy — that bureaucracy’s most efficient mode is a legal—rational one. From Max Weber to Robert Merton, sociologists of modern bureaucratic organization have argued that its operation must be governed by universalistic law, formal criteria, and “functional specificity” and must transcend particularistic interactions, affective con- siderations, and “functional diffuseness.” This is one of the reasons why nepotism is regarded as dysfunctional in formal organizations in the Western model of bureaucracy. Those researchers who find Japanese bureaucracy essentially non-Weberian suggest the possibility that the legal-rational approach may not be the only way of achieving bureau- cratic efficiency; the opposite, which the Japanese pattern represents, may be another possible path.68 More broadly, there is every indication that the Japanese pattern of development may be the prototype of the social formation of rapidly developing capitalism in Asia, particularly in South Korea and Taiwan,69 and to some extent in Singapore and Malaysia. These societies appear to share several attributes: a high degree of centralization of power, virtual one-party control of government over decades, a public bureaucracy with power to intervene in the activities of the private sector, widespread violations of individual human rights, enterprise unionism as a means to regulate labor, discipline-oriented regimented education, and so forth. These properties, finely tuned and blended, have conceivably con- tributed to the swift advancement of Asian capitalism. It would perhaps be fruitful to examine the patterns of sharp authority relations which newly emerging industrial economies of Asia share. These nations appear to be attaining measurable levels of industrialism and even post- industrialisin without firmly establishing social arrangements and value orientations observable in major Western industrialized nations. It remains to be seen if tlieJapanese style of development can be classified as being closer to the Western mode or the Asian pattern when the latter economies become fully industrialized. To the problem of possible bias built into theories of modernization and modernity llll't‘(‘ solutions seem possible. The first is a Eurocentric . ...'.esr.; H'A'Wfém'": Tiilflfilfifififififif JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 23 solution based on the so—called convergence theory. According to this position, all industrial societies become increasingly alike in sharing the Structural arrangements and value orientations observed in Euro- American societies. In showing patterns incompatible with these,Japan is simply lagging behind in institutional and orientational areas despite its indisputable technological advance, and will catch up over time. The second possible solution is aJapanocentric approach. The reverse convergence thesis is the most sophisticated formulation of this position. This viewpoint presents a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, ‘thlS approach has healthy implications in comparative sociology that tends to assume that Western countries are the unchallenged leaders of develop- ment. On the other hand, it leaves room forJapan’s cultural imperialism being pursued in the name of cultural relativism. Explanations emphasizing the allegedly unique aspects of Japanese society have been used as a convenient negotiating tactic byJapanese in their dealings with people overseas. The Japanese are made to appear inscrutable, Since decisions seem to be made by some distinctive process which foreigners cannot understand. SomeJapanese negotiators suggest that it is contrary to the commonly accepted doctrine of cultural relativism to expect the Japanese to behave in a way predictable to foreigners. Suchviewsof Japanese society create a mystique in which Japan is hidden as'in a mist, making it easy for Japanese negotiators to outmaneuver their foreign counterparts. The third solution would be to postulate a multilinear model of social change. According to this formulation, the Euro-American type is simply _ one of many modes of modernization. The Japanese model appears to represent another type, which latecomers to industrialization may follow. This perspective can lead to two opposing ways of conceptualization — a kind of mega-convergence model which encompasses at least these twO patterns of development in a systematic manner, or a kind of infinite pluralism model which regards not only Western societies andJapan but also China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other industrializing countries as taking distinct paths of development. Alternatively, one may be able to conceive of a model which stands somewhere in between. 4 Subcultuml Relativism Studies of development and social change certainly require comparative analvses of national averages. When carefully made, nation-level sum- maries and generalizations help one take a snapshot and global view of each society. One should not underestimate the importance of this approach, while avoiding the pitfall of stereotyping. A multicultural approach to Japanese society sensitizes one to such a danger and provides some guideposts to avoid it. 24 AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY In addition to examining Japanese emic concepts at societal level, studies can probe the patterns of distribution of various emic notions of subcultural groups within Japan, for example, women’s versus men’s mics,” mics of inhabitants in the Kanto area versus those in the Kansai area, and elite emics versus mass emics. This approach implies that researchers can invoke the concept of cultural relativism not only cross- culturally between Japanese culture and other national cultures, but intraculturally, between subcultural groupings within Japan itself. The multicultural framework will allow systematic comparative analysis of Japanese subcultures and their counterparts in other societies. One can compare, for example, the quality of life of small-shop owners in Japan and Britain, the life-styles of school dropouts in Japan and Germany, the life satisfaction of part-time female workers in Japan and France, and so on. One can also compare distributions of social resources and value orientations across different groups in Japan with those in other countries. Such analyses would spotlight some hitherto unanalyzed social groups and their subcultures, and rectify national stereotypical biases. To highlight the point, we may think of another hypothetical situation where four individuals -— two from Japan and two from Germany — get together, as shown in Table 1.6. Those from Japan are Mr Toyota, who is a business executive of a large corporation in Tokyo, and Ms Honda, a shop assistant in a small shop in a small town in Shikoku. Those from Germany are Mr Muller, who is an executive director of a large firm in Frankfurt, and Ms Schmitz, a clerk in a small firm in a small town in northern Germany. We assume that they can communicate in a common language. Which pair would be most similar in their thought and behavior patterns? According to the conventional national culture argument, Mr Toyota and Ms Honda would form one cluster and Mr Miller and Ms Schmitz the other, because the pairs would be based on shared national culture. The subcultural model suggests the possibility that the close pairs may be Mr Toyota and Mr Muller on the one hand and Ms Honda and Ms Schmitz on the other, membership of each pair being determined by similarities of gender, occupation, firm size, and place of residence. '3 Dmimbi/itr [)V/lez” ln lll<‘('ll]'l'(’tll(‘iilllzlit‘()i'illill)l\'21lt‘n(‘t‘()l’WYC'SlC‘Hl nations ton'ardiilixni. Mme-m!» . um?" JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 25 Table 1.6 Similarities and differences in a four—person case Nations Subcultuml dimensions japan Germany Business executive, large . Mr Toyota Mr Mfiner corporation, male, large c1ty Worker, small firm, female, MS Honda MS Schmitz small town focusses upon the ways in which both desirable and undesirable elements are interlinked. To the extent that Japanese soc1ety is an 1ntegrated system, its observers would be required to examine the processes in which its various parts depend on many others, and upon which the overall functioning of Japanese society depends. Pattern A may be an outcome of Pattern B, which may in turn be a consequence of Pattern C. From this perspective, every institutional sphere contains Janus-faced arrangements. ' In work, for example, the permanent-employment system 15 regarded as a scheme which provides job stability, company loyalty, and Job commitment. In exchange, however, most workers in this category find it difficult to disobey company orders which at times require great sacri- fices. When married male employees are asked to transfer to a firm or a branch office distant from their place of residence, one out of four reluctantly chooses to live away from their families as so—called company bachelors.” In community life, low crime rates in cities are closely related to the costs of criminal activities: harsh prison conditions, merctless methods used to force suspects to confess, and the penetration of pollce into private lives of citizens. . With these trade-offs criss—crossing the Japanese soc1al system, any simplistic argument for importing a particular element of that system into another country requires careful analysis; as long as that element depends on the operation of further elements, its transplantation would be ineffective unless the whole package were imported. The learn-from— - Japan campaigners must be aware that in this process good things would be accompanied by bad. anah‘sts arc ()llt‘ll tempted to‘join either a ‘J;tpaii~atlttiit'i11gcamp"or a ‘Japatrliashing camp” and to portrai'Japancsc sot‘it‘ti in simplistic black— and~uiiitc terms. \i't asJapan is a ntnltilitt'clt-‘d 6 lmg‘itinzatimt Qfl)()l(])[(’ Cor/(Is In this context, one must be mindful that dominant subcultural groups reh' heavily upon an ideology which discourages transparent and forth— modt-i which right interactions between individuals. While indlrectness, vagueness . ('otnpit‘x society tnn.‘ would perhaps haw to start with .t Ikind ol' "tt’adtuolr 26 AN INTRODUCTION TO jAPANESE SOCIETY and ambiguity are facets of human behavior in any society, thejapanese norm explicitly encourages such orientations in a wide range of situa- tions. Double codes are legitimized in many spheres of japanese life, thereby creating a world behind the surface. The Japanese language has several concept pairs which distinguish between sanitized official appear- ance and hidden reality. The distinction is frequently invoked between the facade, which is normatively proper and correct, and the actuality, which may be publicly unacceptable but adopted privately or among insiders. In analyzingjapanese society, one should caution against con- fusing these two aspects, and pay special attention to at least three such pairs.71 One set is tatemae and honne. Tatemae refers to a formally established principle which is not necessarily accepted or practiced by the parties involved. Honne designates true feelings and desires which cannot be openly expressed because of the strength of tatemae. If tatemae corres- ponds to “political correctness,” honne points to hidden, camouflaged, and authentic sentiment. Thus, an employee who expresses dedication to his company boss in accordance with the corporate tatemae of loyalty and harmony may do so because of his honne ambition for promotion and other personal gains. Or an advocate of the tatemae principle of the unique place ofjapanese rice injapanese culture may be a farmer whose Izomze may lie in the promotion of his agricultural interests. Another pair is likened to two sides of a coin or any other flat object with emote (the face) and um (back). The implication is that omote represents the correct surface or front which is openly permissible, whereas um connotes the wrong, dark, concealed side which is publicly unacceptable or even illegal. Thus, in the business world, um money flows with um negotiations and um transactions. Wheeler—dealers use various um skills to promote their interests. At some educational institutions, students whose parents have paid um fees to school authorities buy their way into the school through the “um gate” (back door). In community life, um stories (inside accounts) are more important than omote explanations. The third pair consists of soto (outside or exterior) and MM (inside or interior). When referring to individuals’ group affiliation, the dichotomy is used to distinguish between outsiders and insiders, or between members of an out-group and those of an in—group. When talking to outsiders, conniany employees often refer to their firm as (tr/11', drzuving a line between “them‘~ and "us." One cannot candidly discuss sensitive matters in mm but can straightforwardly break confidentiality in MM situations. In the context of human interaction. u‘hile win aspects of individuals or groups represent their superficial outward appearances. their (tr/21' facets account for their fundamental essence and real ..~ swim-i 23123221 "at: v. '1 ' .. jAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 27 dispositions. For instance, a female worker may make a pretense of being obedient to her male supervisor in soto terms but may in fact be quite angry about his arrogant behavior in her uchi. These dichotomies also exist in other cultures and languages. In Japanese society, however, these particular forms of duality are invoked in public discourse time and again to defend the publicly unacceptable sides of life as realities to be accepted. According to the dominant soc1al code, the hon'ne of the uchi members should be winked at, and the um of their activities must be purposely overlooked. The legitimation of duality underlying the japanese vocabulary provides a pretext for corrupt activities. In the um side of business transactions, for example, japanese companies use the category of shitofumei kin (expenses unaccounted for) to conceal the identity of the recipient of the expenditure. They can do this as long as they declare those expenses to be subject to taxation. The corporate world uses this method extensively to hide secret payoffs, kick— backs, and political donations. About half the expenditures unaccounted for in the construction industry are thought to be undisclosed pohttcal donations of this nature.72 The honne of the participants in these deals is to promote the mutual interests of uchz' networks of business and politics. The notion that the dual codes must be seen as facts of life 1s sometimes used to justify murky collusion known as dangé, the illegal practice most predominant in construction company tendering for public works projects. Companies which take part in dango engage in artful pre—tender arrangements where they agree in advance among themselves on their bids and on which company will be the successful tenderer. In return, it is agreed that the unsuccessful companies are entitled to a certain share of the successful company’s profits. The practice of dangé rests upon the prevailing “closed” tender system in V which a government body designates several companles as entitled to tender. As the number of companies designated is normally limited to ten or so, they can easily engage in pre-tender negotiations and come to mutually agreed clandestine deals. To win designation, companies Vle with each other for the arbitrary favor of bureaucrats and the influence of politicians, and this also tends to create an environment for corruption.73 The practice rests upon the um operations pf achz msrders attempting to materialize their honne of profit maximizatlon among themselves. To accomplish the ma part of their business exchanges, japanese companies spend enormous amounts on entertainment expenses, the national total of which exceeds the entire government budget for primary schools throughout the country.“ The tatemae and omote justifications of these expenses include the importance of informal 28 AN INTRODUCTION TO jAPANESE SOCIETY contacts and communications. Many important political policy decisions are made by politicians who wine and dine in high—class japanese-style restaurants (called ryétei) where uni-type trading is done behind closed doors. Similarly, local government officials often entertain their national counterparts in these and other restaurants in order to secure high allocations of national government subsidies, a ma practice which citi— zens’ groups have criticized as illegitimate use of taxpayers’ money. In the sphere of law, the japanese are said to be reluctant to sue. In tatemae and omote terms, this is often attributed to a peculiarlyjapanese‘ cultural aversion to litigation. In um reality, however, suing does not pay in japan because the cost of taking a dispute to trial is high and pay-off is ' low for a number of reasons:75 the utility of judiciary solutions is reduced by bond-posting requirements, the limited dissemination of information about the court, the relatively small numbers of lawyers, and delays in court proceedings. Because the honne ofjapan’s potential litigants is no different from their counterparts in Western countries, they do take legal action once the availability of judiciary relief and the effectiveness of litigation become known. This was the case with lawsuits by feminist groups, environmental organizations, and other citizens’ movements in the 19805 and 1990s. ' Studies ofjapanese society are incomplete if researchers examine only its tatemae, omote, and soto aspects. Only when they scrutinize the honne, um, and uchi sides ofjapanese society can they grasp its full picture. To be japan-literate, they should not confuse outward appearances with inside realities when examining a society in which double codes play significant roles. III Towards a Multicultural Analysis T o reiterate the main points of the discussion: this book attempts to take issue with two types of monoculturalism which have long pervaded studies of japanese society. First, it explicitly challenges descriptions of japan as a culturally homogeneous society with little internal variation, and contests the view that japan is “uniquely unique” among advanced industrial societies in being uniform, classless, egalitarian, and har— monious, with little domestic variety and diversity. Second, it wishes to be sensitive to japanese emic concepts as well as established etic notions of the social sciences, and to avoid the pitfall of two types of conceptual monoculturalism. On one hand, it seeks to avoid the assumptions of those who claim that japan can be understood fully only with the application of japan—specific conceptual yardsticks,’ as seen in the influential so—called Ni/mnjimnn writings, the discourse which tries to highlight the presumany unique aspects ofjapan and thejapanese. On -:-:tr-$r'«~ if s r; if is; jAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 29 the other hand, it does not follow those social scientists who have sought to investigate the japanese situation exclusively in terms of the concepts and rhetoric of Western social sciences. It intends to be pluralistic regarding the use of mic and etic concepts and to count on many fine published studies which have been based upon such pluralism. Seeking to avoid these two sorts of monoculturalism, the book'suggests that two types of multicultural approaches would allow the sociological pulse of contemporaryjapan to be taken in a realistic way. One isa multi— cultural research focus that spotlights the domestic stratification and subcultural differentiation of japanese society; the other is an 'inter— national, multicultural conceptual paradigm for the understanding of japan. This book consists of four majOr themes. The first (chapters 2 and 3,) presents an overview of class and stratification in japan, and of japan s demographic variation, preparatory to depicting japanese soc1ety. ‘The second (chapters 4 and 5) addresses stratification based upon achieve- ment criteria such as occupation and education, and investigates the degree of class reproduction in these spheres. The third theme (chapters 6 and 7) is the way in which japanese society is stratified on the basis of gender and ethnicity, two ascriptive criteria that are determined at birth and are generally unalterable thereafter. The fourth (chapters 8, 9 and 10) explores the patterns of trade—off and tug—of-war between forces of control and dissent in the japanese social system. Students ofjapanese society must be mindful of the complex-patterns of diversity in japanese society and sensitive to the types of deVices used to monitor its functioning. By attending closely to japan 5 intrasoc1etal multicultural reality and adopting a perspective of intersoc1etal con- ceptual multiculturalism in cross-cultural analy51s, we may perhaps. be able to see a new horizon in our endeavor to understandjapanese soc1ety in an international perspective. I While politicians and economists speak of the japanese economic, financial, and technological challenge, the challenge which thejapanese model presents to the sociological paradigm appears to be far less recognized. The sooner we realize the implications of this challenge, the better equipped our sociological theories of industrialization, modern- ization, and development will be. mmgmmi—g COM“ 12 13 14 15 l6 l7 l8 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 AN INTRODUCTION TO jAPANESE SOCIETY Notes See Mouer and Sugimoto 1986, p.150. Befu 1990a, pp. 145—7; Mouer and Sugimoto 1987, p. 12. Doi 1971 and 1973. Nakane 1967, 1970, and 1978. Ishida 1983, pp. 23—47. _ For example, Umesao 1986; Yamamoto 1989; Sakaiya 1991 and 1993; Umehara 1990. For instance, Hamaguchi 1988; Watanabe 1989; Kusayanagi I990. Maruyama, Katé, and Kinoshita 1991. For instance, Takatori 1975. Hamaguchi 1985 and 1988. For a debate on this model, see Mouer and Sugimoto 1987, pp. 12—63. Amanuma 1987. lee 1984. Befu 1980; Mouer and Sugimoto 1980 and 1986; Dale 1986; McCormack and Sugimoto 1986; Sugimoto and Mouer 1989; Yoshino 1992. See also Neustupny 1980. White and Trevor 1984. Tominaga 1982. De Roy 1979. This is why some observers called them “japan’s invisible race” (De Vos and Wagatsuma 1966). De Vos and Wetherall 1983, p. 3, provide a similar estimate. Nakano and Imaxu 1993 also provide an analogous perspective. These societies are perhaps “unique” in their high levels of ethnic and racial diversity. For example, Shufu to Seikatsusha 1992. ltle 1979; Shibamoto 1985; Takahara 1991. Fujita 1984. Hakuhodé 1985. See, for example, the Management and Coordination Agency’s surveys on ' women in 1987 and 1990. See, for instance, the Economic Planning Agency 1985. lshikawa 1994; Tachibanaki 1989 and 1992; Tachibanaki and Yagi 1994. Shimono 1991 and 1992. Ozawa 1989. Tominaga 1979; Imada 1989; Tomoeda 1989. SSM [11. Tokyo Daigaku 1991. lnui 1990. Miyajima and Fujita 1991. Shimizu 1991. Kobayashi et a1. 1990. Thejapanese phrase for this is Yarnalo ([rmmslzii. :V‘Iostjapanese are popularly presumed to belong to the Yamato race. Kawamura 1980; Sugimoto and Mouer 1995, pp. 187—8. Sec Kawamura 1980, pp. 56—7; Mouer and Sugimoto 1986, pp. 57—8. Benedict 1946. Beardsley. Hall, and Ward 1959. .- mm... _ .M 'vze-INW.-.xfizllflm.< . ..n:vz».v:n~;n.n;w~ 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 7O 71 72 73 JAPAN AND THE SOCIAL SCIENCES 31 Abegglen 1958. Bellah 1957. Parsons 1951. Dore 1967. Doi 1973. Reischauer 1978. Nakane 1967, 1970, and 1978. Vogel 1979. johnson 1982. Wolferen 1990. The description below follows Tominaga 1988, pp. 2—50. Dore 1973. johnson 1982 and 1990. Murakami 1984a. Dore 1987. Berger and Hsiao 1988. Twu 1990. Buren‘stam Linder 1986; Borthwick 1992. For instance, Ité 1985. Umesao 1967. Murakami, Kumon, and Saté 1979; Murakami 1984b. Huntington 1993. See Befu 1989 for a discussion of these two types of concepts in the context of japanese studies. White 1987b. Kashima et a1. 1996. The same study also demonstrates that the level of kanjin orientation is consistently higher among females than among males in all the societies under analysis. See also Hofstede 1984. Befu 1990b; Deutschmann 1987. The discussion below follows Befu’s argument. Tokei Sfiri Kenkyfisho 1994, p. 68. Also discussed in Befu 1990b, p. 179. The Befu—Deutschmann argument is possibly subject to debate on two grounds: many analysts of Western bureaucratic organization have pointed out a number of informal and non-rational elements in it, and thejapanese bureaucracy is basically a highly formalistic system and expressive ties may be a matter of nuance. The exact opposite of legal-rational bureaucracy would be pure nepotism or patrimonialism. For example, Nester 1990; Chan 1990. Duran 1990. See, for example, Shibata 1983; Nitoda 1987. MMjune 29 1993, p. 26. To eliminate these practices, a handful of municipalities and prefectures have adopted the “open” tender system where any company is qualified to put in a bid. This scheme enables any number of companies to submit a tender and makes it difficult for a small number of companies to seal dangé deals. The open competition also encourages small subsidiary companies to place tenders on their own initiative; they have virtually no chance of being included in the list of designated companies in the closed system. Despite the obviously fair and impartial qualities of the open method, both national and local bureaucracies have resisted calls for reform on the grounds that it would escalate the amount of paperwork and office chores involved. Some dangé players go as far as to advocate that the existing, illegal convention 32 ' AN INTRODUCTION TO JAPANESE SOCIETY lessens the possibility of contract-winning companies engaging in intentional negligence to cut costs so that they can achieve the unrealistically low figures of successful tenderers in open tendering competition. There is little ques- tion that these claims seek to justify the vested interests of the beneficiaries of. the status quo. 74 Based upon comparisons between National Tax Administration Agency statistics and Ministry of Education statistics. 75 Haley 1978; Ramseyer 1988. “UNFftftr‘arxv, ‘r-r~1"“' , .wwgvmrzrz-n-w-tr ""“‘2‘:‘:‘l‘17-1t"r*rmm ,.’v"'"““""“" " W Class and Stratification: , an Overview There is a considerable amount of literature which suggests that the basic cleavages in Japan are not between social classes but between corporate groups.1 It has been argued that in Japan “it is not really a matter of workers struggling against capitalists or managers but of Company A ranged against Company B.”2 Some go as far as to claim that the Western notions of class and stratification do not find expression in the daily realities of the Japanese. Others contend that class consciousness is weaker in Japan than in Western countries.3 Often-publicized govern- ment statistics which show that some 90 percent ofJapanese regard them- selves as belonging to the “middle class” appear to bear out this line of thinking. _ However, an increasing number of studies appear to demonstrate that these claims may represent only the tatemae side of Japanese society. Some comparative quantitative studies suggest thatJapanese patterns of socioeconomic inequality show no systematic deviance from those of other countries of advanced capitalism. Income inequality is higher in Japan than in Western countries (see Table 1.3). The overall social mobility rate in Japan is basically similar to patterns observed in other industrialized societies, as Table 2.1 shows.4 Stratification analysts break the observed gross mobility from one generation to another into two parts: forced mobility, which is engendered by changes in the structural distributions of occupational positions, and pure or net mobility, which reflects the degree to which individuals are able to move from one occupational category to another, controlling for structural changes.5 Table 2.1 shows that Japan experienced a higher degree of structural transformation than the United States and the United Kingdom, pre- sumably because of Japan’s extremely rapid tempo of industrialization and urbanization — a larger proportion of people were “forced” to 2‘2 ...
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Sugimoto_1998A - The japan Phenomenon and the Social...

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