Societal Values

It is without question that contemporary Japan is a fully modernised and Westernised society, and is a world-leader in many industries. Having said that, the uniqueness of Japanese culture and of the Japanese historical experience is reflected in its exotic societal values and in its distinctly non-Western ways of perceiving the rest of the world and of conducting business with gaijin (“foreigners”). In order for your Japanese business venture to be a success, ensuring a proper understanding of Japanese society and culture is of absolutely paramount importance.

Japan is one of the world’s leading cultural superpowers, however Japan’s unique society and culture are a product of centuries of isolation, resulting in Japanese societal values being very difficult for Europeans to understand and adapt to. Isolated island cultures tend to evolve separately from their overseas neighbours, and in the case of Japan this process has been accelerated by a wide range of social and historical factors. Japanese people can understand intuitively how their compatriots think, which makes communication easy and reinforces the “us and them” mentality.

We have decided to separate Japan’s prevailing societal values into two broad groups: Peculiarities relating to Japan’s geographical isolation, and peculiarities relating to Japanese culture. Both these pages will provide you with important information and will hopefully improve your understanding of Japan and of Japanese society.

Geography & Culture

Japan is quite isolated in geographical terms and, as is often the case with island countries, many of Japan’s cultural traits and its differences from overseas neighbours are attributed to this geographic isolation.

Society & Culture

Japan is one of the world’s leading cultural superpowers, with some of the greatest contributions to film, art, fashion and international politics originating in the Japanese archipelago.