Concept of individual and society – German and Japanese

German and Japanese

Firstly, let me excuse that I want to “promote” the Japanese indulged(*1) culture, basically.

(note; base article was written basically focusing on Japanese readers (that’s why I wrote it in Japanese :-) so maybe you would feel something aggressive about my expression etc. If you find something which you are against, please let me know. Let me pay for a bottle of bier or so:-)


I found a quite interesting sentence in “Extraordinary psychology” written by Hitoshi Soba;


“….When Japanese people go abroad, sometimes the local people are annoyed with their dependent behavior, but the good point is that they are stable in terms of eomotion. In this regard, Japanese people seems to be on contrary to American people, who are grown up without being indulged and essencially alone in severe servival circumstances, act proactively and spontaneously, but once unexpected accident is happend, they tend to get into panic. “


Of course, I think this “unstableness” depends on each individual, but I have to say, there are several persons who matches with above. In conclusion, my interpretation of this tendency (of non-Japanese people) is;


1. The parents stop interfering in what their children do in early stage of the life, and the children get liberty and the responsibility for it.

2. It seems that e.g. German parents have less stereotyped concept “how a family should be”.

3. (Especially Germans are) good at sparing chronically.


Regarding the first point, “intereference” means “compulsion = reformation”(*2), but also “financial support”. (Even I, normal Japanese guy, was paid by my parents for almost everything (food, room, study, etc… excluding guitar and “love hotel”(*3), generally German are obliged to be independent mentally and economically in quite early stage. Many German students live in WG (Wohngemeinschaft – how to say in English?) when the university starts (*4)


Naturally speaking, there are considerable difference of social structure between Japan and Germany, but then I am convinced that such a difference is one of the most significant elements which affect the people’s way of thinking / behaving. (People do not make the environment, but the environment makes people – how the Venezuelan people’s personality has been changed before & after Chaves era?)


Again, about 1st point, most of the Japanese parents may pay study cost for their children (I know only 2 exceptions), but it’s normal the parents interfere in their children’s several decision-making phase instead (which subject do you study, which school do you go, etc). From further macro viewpoint, ‘SEKEN’ put influence on “individual/identity” of children(*5) . (in other words, Japanese ‘individual’ is always the reflection of the ‘SEKEN’, if you are obedient or against it….?) I summarize that the concept of SEKEN makes the parents pay for their children. SEKEN has 2 faces; it is social pressure to be ideal, but therefore it’s protection for children at the same time.(*6)


Regarding the 2nd point, I imagine the difference of German and Japanese family. Normally Japanese family doesn’t start serious internal battle when their guest is there (at least my family doesn’t) Why Japanese do not do that? My interpretation is; there is a mutual stereotyped concept of a family (whih is also included in the concept of SEKEN), and Japanese think they should behave/act according to that, at least, externally=towards SEKEN. There is counter-concept of SEKEN, which is MIUCHI(*6). Family internal battle is not supposed to be in ideal family, therefore they really act as if they would love with each other. On the other hand, Germans takes ‘individual’ more into account, so (radically speaking) if there is a discussion point, it must be discussed, no matter if there’s outsider or not.


3rd point; I don’t understand well, but I have seen so many examples living in Germany for 3 years. I don’t want to enter so deeply into this discussion, but it has something to do with my basic theme; love and erotism. As many stories prove, prosperity takes something to do with love story (Romeo and Juliet. Ally McBeal. Roman Holiday. Tristan und Isolde…. but this topic would come later)


The conclusion from 1 to 3 is; German children are not protected against 1. SEKEN 2.MIUCHI 3. financial situation. In other words, Germans are exposed to external society/world with less help than Japanese, therefore they have to have tough identity to protect themselves. Tough identity means strong self-justification and self-defence(armament).

seken-structure-germany

The contrary of above is the description of Japanese children; protected by 1. SEKEN 2.MIUCHI 3.finance. Therefore there is no need to protect themselves so seriously. Maybe that is why there has been no word equivalent to ‘identity’ in Japanese language system.

seken-structure-japan

Understanding above point, let’s cite again Mr.Soba’s opinion;

“….When Japanese people go abroad, sometimes the local people are annoyed with their dependent behavior, but the good point is that they are stable in terms of eomotion. In this regard, Japanese people seems to be on contrary to American people, who are grown up without being indulged and essencially alone in severe servival circumstances, act proactively and spontaneously, but once unexpected accident is happend, they tend to get into panic. “


I agree we can say something similar for German girls. I would like to describe the comparison between German and Japanese girls based on this understanding. Of course it will be ‘promotion of Japanese indulged girls’:-)


Source; “Ijou no shinrigaku” Hitoshi Soba, (I think) Koudansha gendai shinsho.


Note;

*1; I wanna express “Amayakasu” in Japanese, but I found several English words here; spoil, baby, indulge, pamper and coddle. If you know the difference between them, please let me know. It is quite important for me to understand it)

*2; In Japanese, both ‘compulsion’ and ‘reformation’ sound the same – Kyousei.

*3; You may imagine that this is another interesting phenomenon you can find in Japan. I will talk about it later.

*4; Of course we shouldn’t forget price index. From Japanese viewpoint, German university costs almost nothing (even it costs more than before..! I (or-my parents) had to pay 1 million JPY per year for my uni, which is quite normal one in Japan, I think. Calculate by yourself how much EUR it would be! And also house rent cost is higher in Japan.

*5; The Japanese word “SEKEN” is, simply speaking, mixture of ‘society’ ‘world’ ‘neighborhood’ and ‘what the other people say’. Check Kinya Abe (I haven’t checked yet:-) but he taps exactly the same point as I’m describing here; the difference between SEKEN and Society, etc.

*6; Due to the definition of SEKEN, Japanese positioning of being child is different from that of German.

*7; MIUCHI is translated normally as ‘relative’ or ‘family circle’, but as I used in above article, it also contains mental concept as counterpart of SEKEN. We can summarize that SEKEN is general/external logic, and MIUCHI is internal logic. So, where is boundary between them? At least I can say that MIUCHI internal logic must be hidden against SEKEN or any other external eyes, not because it’s sin, but because it’s ’embarrassing’. (Again, I need your help; what is the difference between “shame”, “embarrassment”, “humiliation” and “disgrace”? )
As I described above, MIUCHI is internal-defence system against SEKEN, but as we remember that SEKEN requires such a protection, we can say SEKEN creates a part of MIUCHI system.

This post is also available in: Japanese


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