Why did Japanese immigrants assimilate so well?

You wouldn’t think that Japanese could assimilate if you were in a predominantly Japanese area of Bangkok or Seoul, and people said exactly the same thing about first generation Japanese in Hawaii, California and Brazil, e.g. “Oliveira Viana, a Brazilian jurist, historian and sociologist described the Japanese immigrants as follows: ‘They (Japanese) are like sulfur: insoluble’.”

Now, however, 61% of great-grandchildren of Japanese immigrants in Brazil have at least some non-Japanese blood, 60% of Japanese-Brazilians are Roman Catholics (only 25% being adherents of a Japanese religion), and the third generation, however, are most likely monolingual in Portuguese. Similar things are true in other countries, for example church going in Japanese immigrants and their descendants in Hawaii and California being much higher than continued belief in Buddhism, let alone Shinto.

I put both the early and more recent histories down the Japanese desire to blend in with society, because in the early days for most people that society would have been just their immigrant community but sooner or later the society to blend in with would be seen (consciously or unconsciously) as the local community.

Most info above from Wikipedia, but all speculation entirely my own.


Why do Japanese farmers have so much electoral power?

Believe it or not, it’s the Americans’ fault again:

“disparities in Japan’s election system have long favored conservative rural districts over urban ones by giving them a disproportinately large number of representatives in the Diet, Japan’s Parliament. Those inequalities… date from U.S. occupation policies after World War II aimed at turning farmers into a powerful anti-Communist voting bloc”

From this weekend’s International Herald Tribune

Scary Japanese stat of the day

8,000 dollars for every Japanese man,woman, and child Read the rest of this entry »

Why do Japanese teachers not have the discipline problems of teachers in Britain or America?

At the worst high schools, some of the classes can actually look and sound more out of control, for some of the same reasons that most of them don’t:
-Lower standards set for general levels of noise, everyone finishing at the same time, listening to every word the teacher says etc means less reasons for teachers and students to clash
– Clear (some would say repetitive) classroom routines
– Alternating quite free and easy periods and very controlled ones
– Stronger peer pressure- usually to behave, but in the worst classes the opposite
– Going at the speed of the slowest students
– Putting one to one time sorting out problems with students ahead of retaining the attention of the rest of the class
– Fewer social problems such as broken families, chronic unemployment etc. outside class

– Consistent teaching methods and discipline methods from class to class and school to school

– Being allowed to totally let off steam when they are free, including almost complete freedom to fight!

– Patience from the teachers, mainly due to an understanding that discipline comes from socialization rather than from classroom techniques

Why is the Japanese abbreviation of Los Angeles “Los” (ロス-rosu) not LA?

As Japanese kana is based on mora (like syllables) rather than single sounds, most abbreviations are like this, e.g. pasokon (パソコン from PERSOnal COMputer) rather than PC

Why have the Japanese not expanded their worldwide strength in technology into software?

A lack of people leaving the big companies to set up start ups, banks being unwilling to lend to companies with few physical assets, office software being based on rationalisation and restructuring that Japanese companies are behid the Americans in, and the big Japanese companies making software that only worked without their own systems until recently. You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the usual cliche of lack of Japanese creativity…

(Based on a few ideas in the excellent book Saying Yes to Japan)

Why do Japanese companies have a reputation for being more interested in market share than profit?

It’s a natural reaction to an economy that grows rapidly for 30 years- if the market and your competitors grow and you don’t, you basically disappear. As predicted by this theory, businesses have been much more interested in the bottom line since the growth finished. In other words, despite what 90% of books about Japan say, there is nothing special about Japan in this case. The same is true of China now and was true of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Why did the WWII Japanese caricature always have bucked teeth?

This is an odd one, because although Japanese teeth are just as bad as British teeth, bucked teeth doesn’t particularly stand out as a problem. I’m sure someone could write/ has written a whole PhD thesis on this, but here are my theories: That classic Eastern racist anti-hero Fu Man Chu was always portrayed with bucked teeth long before Japan became the biggest yellow peril, so it could have been transferred straight from the Chinese as the Japanese became the biggest threat both in California and in the Pacific. Alternatively, it could have started as a caricature of one particular person that then spread. The whole fact that teeth was such a factor could be due to the caricature coming from America, home of the good teeth obsession.

If Japan is a traditional whaling country, why do they have to send their ships all the way to the South Atlantic?

First of all, there a tenuous link at best between modern Japanese whaling and the few villages that have had this industry for hundreds of years. The technology for modern whaling came entirely from the West and it was Western countries,ironically, that hunted most of the whales in Japanese waters close to zero. It was also, by the way,the American occupation authorities that gave the biggest boost to postwar Japanese whaling

More on this topical topic on the Japanese Whaling explained page on your right.