Japan Data Archive

About Japan > Society > 

What are some of the characteristics of the Japanese?

Business management professor Robert March, in his book titled Reading the Japanese Mind, explains an idea that is the key to understanding Japanese behavior.
He points out that in Japan, groups, companies, and the state are all contained in what he calls "boxes."
It is easy for the Japanese in a box to understand what others in the same box are thinking, so unlike Westerners, they do not bother to discuss matters to an end.
In order to live comfortably while getting along with each other within a box, the Japanese do not assert themselves too much and make the most of conventional customs and practices.
He also mentions that in a "box" the entire system is easily controlled and thus efficient, and that there is a distinct hierarchy that makes for a safe society.
This theory provides a good response to foreigners who criticize Japanese as being non-committal when they have to say either yes or no and always having to ask their bosses what to do.
It also helps explain why Japan has become an economic giant and also why the country has a surprisingly low crime rate.