What ideologies have influenced the spirit of the Japanese?
Buddhism and Confucianism have had a profound influence on the Japanese spirit and world view.
Buddhism teaches concepts of life and death and guides people through chanting of the Buddhist invocation to a state of emancipation (spiritual enlightenment) where there are no worries or uncertainty.
Confucianism is the ideology of Confucius (552-479 B.C.) of China and not a religion.
One of the core concepts of Confucianism is jin (pronounced ren in Chinese), which basically means to love people, but this love is different from the love or philanthropy taught in Christianity or Buddhism.
It means to love one's parents and brothers and sisters first.
Governing a house with jin and later expanding it to the level of the state is encouraged.
In the feudal era of Japan, the idea of respecting one's parents, elders, and the head of the state worked favorably for the ruling warrior class.
The influence of Confucianism continued to dominate Japanese society into the Meiji period (1868-1912), when Kyoiku Chokugo (the Imperial Rescript on Education), incorporating modern Western morality with Confucianism, was compiled, which played a crucial role in creating the moral values of the Japanese.
After the defeat in World War II, Japan got a new start under policies of democracy and peace, and the democratic reforms promoted by the allied occupation had a great impact on the thinking of the general population.
Up until that time, the philosophy of individual happiness obtained through serving the state and one's family, upon which the state and the populace existed, was changed lo putting the happiness of the individual first.
This individualism combined with the forthcoming economic development and created a trend towards materialism and money as a panacea.