Japan and America each have their own value system that draws comparable interest for how it shapes society and patterns of interaction. Even though there are similarities between the two-value systems, it is essential to understand the fundamental differences that deal with equality, respect, and communication style. Understanding the motivations behind behaviors will lead to successful intercultural interactions.
Japanese society exhibits a gender base stratification of society. Male dominance over female contributes to upholding norms and expectations of gender specific division of labor. Still prevalent and modeled after by most households in Japan, is that the male is typical salaryman ‘breadwinner’ that provides only the economic means. Meanwhile, the female is the ‘shufu’ or the full house wife is responsible for the household, raising children, and the wellbeing of the husband’s parents. The masculine and feminine speech patterns further refines the gender roles and the gender divide in all domains of society. Masculine speech is vulgar while feminine speech is politer in nuance. Even though the institutions that prevent women from entering into the workforce are changing, it is stigmatize that a woman’s career peck at age 25 and expected to return to the house married with ‘shufu’ responsibilities. ‘Career women’ are marginalized from society for having a higher status in income or education to good for oneself.
This contrasts with America’s society of equality. Male and female are encouraged to pursue individual goals and aspirations as competitive equals. The transparency of institutions discourages discrimination and enables women to strive and advance in their careers in the majority of fields or positions. Most households in America operate under duel income from the male and female. Gender specific division of labor in the household is less prominent as more are either one or both play the role of provider and nurturer.
Japanese society maintains a hierarchical value of respect. Seniors and elders are the most respected by young people or of lower seniority for wisdom. In the working world, young people occupy the lower positions and through seniority, can they rise and occupy higher positions. Until then, the young people obey as senior instruct. Before entering the workforce, these young people are taught by the company the humble (kenjougo) and honorable (sonkeigo) forms of communications that reflects the importance of the respect hierarchy by changing a simple verb “to eat” to a specialized word or phrase the means the same with each respective nuance. You use the humble form to lower one’s status when talking about yourself in respecting the listener like to a senior in age or status. The honorable form raises the respect of whom you are addressing like to a professor. Knowing one’s role in the interaction is paramount in maintaining face and respect for the betterment of...