Social Change In Japan Essay

1599 words - 6 pages

     The Japanese culture has allowed for very little diversity. This started very early in their history. The social controls used to eliminate diversity are the family, the power of gender, the poor treatment of minority groups, the corporate Japanese mentality, and the respect required by people in authority. However, due to globalization and the shrinking of the world, Japanese society is starting to make the change to diversity. The individualistic mentality shared by the new technology driven younger generation is putting pressure on the old Japanese status quo. The transformation is happening very slow, but as the population ages and the old conservatives are being replaced by the new liberals, the old way of thinking is also being replaced by the new.

The establishment of the caste system during their feudal development insured unity and lack of diversity would be a theme through the rest of their history. During the Nara period the Japanese society was separated into classes which were based on the position of each family. Whether the position was of a court official, samurai, or peasant farmer, each class carefully blended together. The appearance of unity was paramount. Individual rights were non-existent. It became common place to respect and even worship the ancestral heritage. Wisdom was thought to be a combination of knowledge and a practical application of that knowledge. Therefor, the older family members were thought to have to most wisdom from the lives they spent applying their knowledge. They were revered and respected by the younger generations in the family. Another way in which the traditional family structure in Japan supports the conformity of its’ member is through the Bushido influence. This "way of warrior" has permanently established in the Japanese culture during to Tokogawa Era. The warrior code dictated that loyalty, respect, and honor were the most important personal ideals one could have. These ideals filtered out of the samurai class and eventually rooted deeply into the national character of Japan. Conformity is required through this ideal because an individual mentality would not consider loyalty to be as important as society viewed it. In addition, by behaving out of the norm, shame would be brought to a family. The individualistic mentality runs contradictory to the traditional family structure in Japan.

Women and minorities in Japan have been traditionally viewed as second class. Equal rights were not granted to women until the Occupation Era following World War II. The modifications that were made to the existing Meiji Constitution gave women the same rights as men for the first time in the country’s history. Prior to that they were seen as servants, dominated by their husbands, in what can only be described as a master / slave relationship. The new Japanese Constitution of 1947 empowered the Japanese women for the first time in the countries history. Minorities were...

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