Society (Discordant Harmonies)

  • Jon Woronoff


When I first lived in Japan, the tatemae I believed in most firmly was that of great unity and solidarity among the Japanese people. After all, it is presented as the most self-evident of facts in virtually all the books on Japan and you can hardly find anyone who denies it (and is not a crank or a Commie). Just see what Forbis said. “No other major nation has such a homogeneity of face, skin, and hair color. From this flows the Japanese sense of nationhood and unity—and perhaps also the sense that any individual’s first loyalty is to his nation, not to his individual welfare.”1 Or Christopher: “Far more than the citizens of most collectivized societies, Japanese are dominated by a sense of responsibility to the various groups to which they belong—their country, their company and so on.”2 And Prime Minister Nakasone spoke of a “spontaneous community” with a monoracial/monolithic nature (tanitsu minzoku kokka).


Middle Class Prime Minister Gini Coefficient Japanese Family Lower Middle Class 
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  1. 9.
    See Cherry Kitteredge, Womansword: What Japanese Words Say About Women, Tokyo, Kodansha International, 1987.Google Scholar

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© Jon Woronoff 1990

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  • Jon Woronoff

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