Japan and America

This woodblock print shows Commodore Matthew Perry, center, flanked by two other high-ranking American seaman.

On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States Navy landed his ship at Uraga Harbor, near the city of Edo – now modern-day Tokyo. It was the beginning of what would become the forced “opening” of Japan, which had successfully isolated itself from the world.

On a recent trip to the Edo-Tokyo Museum, I was forced to confront some unpleasant aspects of America’s history with Japan, up close and personal. The amazing collection if important artifacts, art, and historical documents drove home just how much involvement America has had in Japan’s history – and it all began with the arrival of Commodore Perry’s “black ships.”

For years, under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Japan had remained almost totally secluded from the outside world and foreign influence. In an effort to maintain peace, preserve and incubate Japanese culture, and maintain the strict caste system, the Tokugawa Shogunate had closed Japan from all outside visitors. Foreigners who became lost at sea and washed ashore would likely be executed.

This rare image of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan’s greatest historical figures, sits in the Edo-Tokyo Museum’s special collection. Ieyasu had this portrait of himself painted after he had lost an important battle, which is why he looks so troubled in this painting. He wanted to remember the feeling of defeat, so that he could never let it happen again. It worked.

Only the Dutch, who the Japanese felt had a superior knowledge of technology and medical science, and the Chinese were allowed to trade with Japan – and only by landing at the small island called Dejima.

In some ways, Waseda University is like my own little Dejima – an island where plenty of foreign exchange students can visit and meet up with Japanese, but instead of trading goods we are trading culture, ideas and conversation. Just like there are many American students studying at Waseda, and living in Tokyo in general, there are also many Waseda students who study abroad at Portland State University each year.

This foreign newspaper article, announcing Perry’s successful landing in Japan, sits in the Edo-Tokyo Museum. The Tokyo museum is home to many important historical objects and documents, and I was lucky enough to visit just last week.

Perry arrived in a large black-hulled ship, and even today the term “black ships” is used to describe the use of technology and force by the west against Japan. Having been isolated from the world, Japan’s military technology was behind the times, and Perry used his superior cannons to intimidate the Japanese, threatening to fire on Edo unless he was allowed to come ashore with a letter from the American President. This was the dark beginning of what has become a long, complicated, and very close history between Japan and America.

There were always some Japanese who wanted the country to open itself up to the world, and so Japan’s relationship with America, and the west in general, has always been a complicated one. On one hand, America forced Japan to open its doors to the rest of the world, in order to benefit from trade with Asia. On the other hand, this opening of the country forced Japan to modernize, and in the process brought an end to the samurai rule. This allowed the rest of society, from farmers to merchants, to benefit from their own hard work and made Japan a “meritocracy” – a society where people advance based on merit, rather than simply by being born into a samurai family.

This samurai armor also sits in the Edo-Tokyo Museum. During samurai rule, Japan was a feudal society with a caste system – only the samurai class had access to education.

These days, Japanese society, much like American society, is divided between those who are more politically conservative and those who are more politically liberal. The conservatives want to preserve traditional Japanese values, and keep foreigners out, and the liberals seem largely okay with western influence. But if my tour of the Edo-Tokyo museum was any indication, this is pretty much the way it has always been – half of the country want to progress and the other half want to preserve.

What do you guys think of this? Do you think that people in America talk about similar things when discussing politics?

One Japanese girl, who is in my International Journalism class, told me about her feelings on political issues concerning America.

“Most Japanese people aren’t worried about the past,” she said. “Most of us don’t really care very much about politics, we just want to live our lives and be happy. Politicians are the ones who always want to talk about history and problems, either with America or with China.”

She mentioned China, of course, because this is another country with whom Japan has a long and complex history, full of violence, war and disagreement.

This is the actual document signed by leaders from both Japan and the United States, recognizing the surrender of Japan to allied forces at the closing of WWII.

Among the things from history that many Japanese don’t want to think about are the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America, and the consequent surrender of Japan to allied forces at the closing of WWII. What many of you may not know is that Japan’s current constitution was actually written by Americans. Even today, Japan is not allowed to engage in military action because of this constitution.

However, when I asked one scholar of Japanese history why the Japanese haven’t re-written their constitution, his answer was both quick and simple: “Because it’s a good constitution, and it has been good for the country.”

Ironically, Japan’s restrictive constitution has allowed it to focus more on developing its economy, which quickly grew into one of the world’s strongest, while America meanwhile spent billions on its military. This doesn’t mean that the wartime occupation of Japan was a good thing, of course. Many aspects of Japanese culture and entertainment were heavily censored by Americans in the time immediately following the war.

This sign was placed in Tokyo during the occupation of Japan, when American armed forces occupied the capitol city while negotiating the terms of Japan’s surrender.

The kabuki theater, Japan’s traditional popular theater form, was heavily censored by the American forces during the time when Americans occupied Japan just after WWII. Can you guys think of why Americans would have wanted to censor kabuki? What might they have been afraid of happening if they left kabuki theater alone, as it had always been?

Since opening its doors to the rest of the world, Japan has always been a forward-thinking and progressive country, in contrast to its image as a place where “tradition” rules. It is a testament to this forward-thinking manner that only a few generations after America bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan enjoys many aspects of American culture, including baseball, some American films and music, and even western fashion.

The television is an important piece of western influence on Japan. However, Japanese television programs couldn’t be more different from those in America. Even watching the news is very different, partially because Japan has such little violence. There are many more “nice” stories to report.

However, it’s important to remember that Tokyo is an international city, full of foreigners from all over the world. I’m told that were I to venture out in the country, I’d find many more people who might not be so welcoming of western influence.

It’s also important to remember that these stories are not always one-sided; just as America forced Japan to open its doors, Japan at one time colonized and occupied Korea by force. This is another possible reason why Japanese are more willing to “forgive and forget” some of the misdeeds of the past.

The samurai were Japan’s upper-class, but even among the samurai were lower, middle and upper-class people. This game, which sits in the Edo-Tokyo Museum, was basically a version of the “Monopoly” board game, but for samurai.

The truth is that most of the people I meet are indifferent to foreigners. However, within Japanese society, there are a large number of people who feel more strongly one way or the other – most of them feel more strongly in favor of American culture. That is to say, many Japanese are curious about and interested in American culture.

One potential reason for this is that the English language is associated with success and education in Japan. Many of the best-educated Japanese begin learning English in middle school, but those who master it are truly considered to be very well educated. Even more lower-class Japanese often pay for hour-long English instruction courses each week, or visit cafes where foreigners speak to them in English while they have a cup of coffee or tea.

While I want to practice my Japanese with many of my new friends, a lot of them want to speak English with me – which usually means we have to take turns or compromise. Sometimes, it just comes down to whether or not their English is better than my Japanese. Either way, we usually end up talking about the American Presidential elections lately.

The question that I keep asking myself every day that I am in Japan is the same one that scholars have been asking themselves since the day that Commodore Perry forced Japan to open its doors to the west: Is Japan becoming too westernized, and if so, what are the consequences?

Thanks to Commodore Perry’s “black ships,” it’s a question that we can probably never really answer. However, as my walk through the Edo-Tokyo Museum reminded me, sometimes it is more important to ask ourselves the question than to be able to come up with an easy answer.

In 1964, Tokyo hosted the Olympic Games. This was an important symbolic moment in Japan’s history, as it was truly recognized as an important part of the international community in the modern era.

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About Josh

Part-time journalist & student of communication studies.
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59 Responses to Japan and America

  1. Aaron says:

    I think that Japan may have become too westernized, but that the Americans should not have done some of the things that they did. Though, if Japan was out of date when the Americans came
    that was a good thing.

    • Giovanni says:

      I actually do think that Americans talk about the same things that have to do with politics. Usually they will start the conversation with a “who are you voting for this Election year?”. If one of them disagrees, then they will tell each other the reason that they think that there candidate is better. It will start with a simple answer, but it will quickly move on to a reason that the other candidate is bad or does not deserve to be a President. How do the Japanese know about the Election? also, who would you vote for?

      • Josh says:

        Giovanni, thanks for your comment and also your great questions. The Japanese know about our election because America is so involved with so many other countries around the world, it’s difficult for people not to notice big American news like a presidential election. Most Japanese don’t know a lot about the details of our political system, but they definitely always know who our president is. How about if you do some research on the internet and find out who the Japanese prime minister is, then tell your classmates a little bit about him during discussion?
        As for who I’d vote for in the election – it’s a secret! A lot of journalists either don’t vote or don’t tell others who they voted for, so that they can try to remain objective and not appear to be supporting one candidate over another. What do you think about that? Do you think that’s a good rule, or just silly?

    • Josh says:

      Aaron, thanks for your comment. This is definitely a tough issue, and one that people have a lot of different opinions about. I’m glad to know that it’s something you are thinking about!

  2. Paige says:

    You mentioned trading knowledge and culture with other exchange students rather than goods- have you ever had any interesting conversations regarding Japan, and more specifically, the issue of the “black ships” and relations between Japan and China, that perhaps was more interesting and had more of a personalized or “from the horse’s mouth” perspective on the issue? If so, do tell!

    • Josh says:

      Paige, thanks for the really insightful questions. I always enjoy your comments and questions! I have had many interesting conversation with Japanese about the Japan and China relations issue, but it’s not something that most Japanese are willing to speak frankly about. Most young Japanese people simply say it’s not that important of an issue to them.
      As for speaking about Commodore Perry with them, that only comes up in history classes. For most young Japanese people, that’s only something they know about from history books, and not something they talk about.

  3. Annie says:

    Is their hair on the samurai armor? Why are some people so against western culture when they can ignore it and keep living traditionally? Why do you’re friends want to speak english to you? Are they your japanese friends?

    • Josh says:

      Annie, thanks for the great questions. On whether or not Japan has become too westernized, the first question to ask is this one: Can they just ignore western culture and keep living traditionally? It’s a tough question to answer, especially for you or I. As for why my Japanese friends speak English to me sometimes, it’s the same reason that I want to speak Japanese to them: to practice a foreign anguage that we worked really hard to learn.

  4. Meredith says:

    I see that Japan is becoming gradually more and more like america…
    that is very INTerSiNG

    • Josh says:

      Meredith, thanks for the comment. Whether or not Japan is becoming more like America is a big question, and people have a lot of different opinions on it. Some people think that seeing American culture in Japan means that the country has become like America, but others note that the Japanese use American culture in a different way than Americans do. It’s a complicated issue, that’s for sure. All I can tell you is this: I have never once felt even for a second like I was in America in the entire time I’ve been in Tokyo, not even at McDonalds or Starbucks. They just “feel” different.

  5. Rebecca says:

    This is very interesting. I always thought that Japan seemed very alienated from the west even after they made contact, and now I realize that not only do they have many fragments of western culture but their whole constitution is written by Americans. The Japanese seem like a very hardy people though, they have recovered from a lot and are still a very prosperous nation even after so many wars, bombings, earthquakes, tsunamis, and just mayhem that would likely stunt the growth of many other countries.
    As for that samurai costume, it seemed very elaborate. Why does it have what looks like a mustache suspended in front of it? And…blue tassels. Aren’t tassels not a good idea on a warrior’s costume, because they can get caught on things? Maybe it would make more sense if I saw a person wearing it.

    • Josh says:

      Rebecca, thanks for the very interesting observations! You’ve also paid close attention to the photograph of the armor, and raise two good questions worth answering: First, the facial hair, because others have asked about it also. Facial hair was a sign of distinction during the era when this armor would have been worn, and high ranking samurai warriors who often wore armor like this in battle would have another, more practical reason to grow beards as well: A beard made the chin strap of the armor’s helmet much more comfortable to wear. As for the blue tassles that you’ve noticed, samurai wore many layers of kimono and other garments under their armor, and those tassles likely helped them get in and out of the armor more easily.

  6. Huy says:

    How do people know about the presidential election in Japan?

    • Josh says:

      Huy, thanks for the great question. Japanese know about the American presidential election the same way that Americans do: the news. American relations are important to the Japanese, and some American presidents are even very popular in Japan. I saw a book of President Obama’s speeches for sale in Japanese the other day. Michelle Obama is especially popular in Japan.

  7. Sona says:

    HI Josh,
    I was just wondering, Ms. McBride tells me that you are going to be in Japan until next summer… Do you ever get homesick? If you do, what do you do to get over it? If you don’t, why don’t you get homesick?
    Thanks!

    • Josh says:

      Sona, thanks for this very thoughtful and interesting question. I am, indeed, going to be in Japan until next summer, probably right up until the end of August. I rarely get homesick, and part of that is probably because I haven’t left Portland very often for the past six years, so I think I was ready to spend some time outside of Portland – even though I love it there. Also, Tokyo is such an incredible and exciting city, that whatever spare time I have outside of my busy class schedule is easy to fill up by spending time with my new Japanese friends, or going on exciting adventures around the city. In fact, just tonight I went and saw a grand kabuki performance in Ginza. It was amazing! I’ve studied kabuki theater in class, but seeing plays performed now in the same way that they were 200 years ago was like being transported back through time. It was incredible.
      Although I rarely get homesick, I do sometimes feel a little bit lonely. Even though I have many friends here, Japanese people express their feelings very differently than Americans do, and sometimes I feel like I just want to tell someone how I’m feeling in a direct kind of way, but I can’t because this is just not comfortable for Japanese. When I feel this way, I usually just write my thoughts down in a diary or talk to a close friend on Facebook and that makes me feel a lot better.
      Thanks for thinking of me, and thanks for the nice question. You made my day!

  8. Justin says:

    If Japan became too westernized, then Japan won’t have its own original culture. Japan wanted to be its own unique country with its own way of living. Does Japan have any special relationships with America?

    • Josh says:

      Justin, thanks for the great comment and question. Japan has a very special and very long relationship with America, although Japan’s original contact with the west was through Holland. Isn’t that interesting? In fact, the name for “western studies” in Japanese universities was “Dutch Studies” for many years, simply because Holland was “the west” to the Japanese for a long time.
      Now that Obama has been re-elected, we’ll have to see if Hilary Clinton remains his Secretary of State, or if someone else is chosen. This will be important, because a new person may or may not stress a strong relationship with Japan and Asia, like Mrs. Clinton did.

  9. Gabe says:

    I think that japan should be allowed to be affected by western influences but they should retain their uniqueness. and i agree with huy, how do they know of the american election.

  10. Maisie says:

    I don’t think that Japan is becoming to westernized, but if they think so couldn’t they just decide that they wanted to be traditional? Anyway I think it is good that they have museums like the one you were in because people for many generations can come and see their real history not affected by other peoples views and be able to decide for themselves weather or not they want to continue becoming modern or bring back tradition. Do you like being in Japan and do you ever get homesick, i know i would. 🙂

  11. I think the americans wanted to make sure that they didn’t criticize us. So that with the ones that don’t already hate us don’t and the ones that do forget. that sounds like us.

  12. Duy says:

    The politics in Japan are a lot like America half liberal are the Democrats here and half conservative like the Republicans here. The difference I see is that the conservative people here are not the ones that want to keep old traditional values while in America the conservative people are being more conservative of money and cutting everything that is excess. The liberal people are okay with influences in Japan and here they are less conservative and strengthen the middle class. Americans probably talk about different things in politics but are almost the same in ideas.

  13. Marcella says:

    Sometimes we talk about not getting influence from other countries, but there is more talking about other issues, so not many simularities.

  14. Marcella says:

    🙂

  15. Andrew says:

    I think that if Japan becomes too westernized, there could be problem. Tradition and things that help Japan stay unique would disappear. Save the traditions!!!!!!!!!

    • Josh says:

      Andrew, that’s definitely a very good point. Tonight, I went to the kabuki theater, which is a very good example of a tradition that survived. In fact, kabuki today is performed just as it has been for more than 300 years – the main difference is that now it isn’t performed by candlelight.
      After WWII, when American and allied forces occupied Japan, the government censored many Japanese traditional art forms, like kabuki. In fact, the American government wanted to stop the kabuki altogether, but a translator who worked with General Macarthur, named Faubion Bowers, happened to be a big kabuki fan and worked hard to make sure it wasn’t shut down. He is sometimes called “the man who saved kabuki” by the Japanese. Here is a Wikipedia article about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faubion_Bowers
      Mr. Bowers definitely would have agreed with you about preserving traditions!

  16. BALAL says:

    RUN AROURNFJAG

  17. Edil says:

    I think if Japan gets too westernized, they wont really have any traditions. Japan is a unique country and I think they are fine the way they do things and the way they enjoy themselves. They wouldn’t need to become westernized because they’re great the way they are.

  18. YOSAGETAWYMBUS says:

    Well. Well. Well. Hmmmmm… Perhaps the fact is that Japan would not do as well financially as QWERTYUIOPman would.

  19. Molly says:

    I find the Western impact on Japan really interesting. The part most interesting to me is the constitution–it would initially seem like a bad thing, but the American-written constitution is very well-liked in Japan. Also, do you know why the samurai wore those outfits? They seem like they would just be detrimental to fighting.

  20. Sophia says:

    I think that many things in Japan have been “westernized.” However, as you have mentioned in previous posts, Japan still holds a lot of it’s current culture. Some can be bad influences, but some, like television, are good. I think that it is especially important that they kept the signs and memories from WWII, because it reminds them how they stood up for your country. 🙂

    • Josh says:

      Sophia, thanks for your comments. I agree that keeping reminders of the past is very, very important. The Edo-Tokyo Museum was very interesting because of all of the reminders of history, both the good and the bad.

  21. Noah says:

    I think that Japan has a great compromise between Japanese and Western civilization. This can be a consequence or a reward in my opinion.

    • Josh says:

      Noah, that is a great comment and a pretty common point of view. Many people feel that the Japanese strike a very good balance of traditional and western culture. For one example, most western-style Japanese homes have one room that is known as a “washitsu” – this literally means “harmony room” but practically speaking it means “Japanese style room,” because the character “wa” means both harmony and Japan.

  22. ders2 says:

    I do think that it is possible that Japan is becoming too westernized, but considering the way they’re thriving, I think it’s doing the good. Their economy is doing fine (at least a whole lot better than ours), and they’re at peace with the rest of the world. What more could you possibly ask?

  23. Krys says:

    Is Japan becoming too westernized? I think that’s a question that I can’t truly answer. I mean, I can state my opinion and ideas based on my observations of progress in both America and Japan and your article, but unless I visit Japan myself, I don’t think I can form a complete answer.
    But I’d like to say this: Is the westernizing of Japan any different than what happened with the Native Americans in the 18 and 1900s? I don’t think it is. So, though I don’t know much of what’s going on in Japan, I can look back at that time period (which happens to be a time period I’m very interested in, and one that I have studied in length) and think about what happened then and what
    we can learn from it.
    I think what we can learn from it is that change, good and bad, is inevitable. No matter whether we are Japanese or American, we are human, and humans are a changing race. However, I believe that what happened in the 18 and 1900s was done wrong. Due to the government’s over-pressing, a lot of Native American culture is now gone for good. So I believe that there is nothing wrong with wanting to preserve your heritage. In fact, I believe that it is fundamentally important. So really, as long as Japan does not lose key parts of it’s culture, I believe it is impossible to be TOO westernized. Hopefully, the old customs and new influences can co-exist, because I think neither is perfect with out the other.
    Now on to the other question; Whether change has been talked about in American Politics. It has, actually, quite a lot. A lot of people are saying that a politician and a party’s ability to thrive in these times directly correlates to their ability to adapt. I must say I agree. These are rapidly changing times, and those who don’t change will be left behind. I just hope that the change goes smoothly.

    • kevin says:

      Japan ‘s traditions makes it Japan. If Japan was too westernized. would it still be Japan? To me, probably yes but Japan would very boring without its traditions.

    • Josh says:

      Krys, thanks for the great comment. You’ve stated your opinion articulately, so rather than responding to it I’ll add to it with something that is important to note. Since you brought up Americas indigenous peoples, the Native Americans, it is worth noting that Japan also has indigenous peoples, called the Ainu. The Japanese actually treated the Ainu very much like the European Americans treated our Native Americans. So, it’s interesting to note that even while Japan might have been mistreated by America, they have also mistreated others: Even smaller countries can become the “bad guy” in some situations. In fact, everyone might be the bad guy to somebody. Here is more on the Ainu: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ainu_people

  24. tretay22 says:

    I personally do not much about Modern Japan, so that is not a easy question to answer. Rather than what I read from this blog I get information about Japan from comic books that talk about Japan.

    • Josh says:

      What comics do you read and what do you feel they tell you about Japan? I’m interested to know, because as you know, there are so many different kinds of manga in Japan. Right now, I’m reading a manga in Japanese, and it is all about the adventures of a manager at a Japanese company. Sounds pretty boring, right? But it is actually quite interesting.

  25. zaidie says:

    I think it is interesting that Japan has a lot of the same ideas about government that we do here in america. It sounded like they have a lot of the same political ideas as us. When I think of a foreign country I usually think about all the things that are different about us but there are a lot of things that are similar about the two places as well,but we never really notice them because that is what is so cool about far away places, is that they are all so unique.

  26. Kees says:

    I agree with Kevin. If Japan were too westernized, then it would not be Japan. I also think that Japan is evolving in the same way as America, Great Britain, or as China. Although Japan is becoming more and more modernized, it still holds traditions from a long time ago. Another thing I considered this week was: Japan seems very modernized, (from when it was formed) compared to America. But, Japan was formed a long time before America, which leaves a lot more time for evolution.

  27. Anandi says:

    If Japan was too western influence, then it might loose some of the old traditions that it has kept for a long time. That wouldn’t be good, however, a little bit of western influence is okay in my opinion. The Japanese like baseball, and that hasn’t stopped them from keeping old traditions. I think that a little western influence is okay, but too much would overwhelm Japan’s older traditions.

    • Josh says:

      Anandi, thanks for your comment and thanks for reading the blog so carefully. I think it is great that you’ve connected some dots between my baseball post and the current post, and in doing so you’ve illustrated one of the ways that Japan has taken western culture and used it in a uniquely Japanese way.

  28. Anna says:

    I think some western influence is good because countries can learn from each others, like cultural diffusion. Too much influence can destroy culture. Japan still has a very distinct culture and I think if the Japanese people still honor their culture American influence is not a bad thing.

  29. Maeve says:

    Answering your first question, I believe that in America we do talk about similar things when talking about politics. We have two main parties who each believe the other is wrong in most respect. In Japan there are people who want to preserve their culture, while the others wish to progress.

  30. Julie says:

    I think that if Japan were too westernized it wouldn’t be it’s own country. Well it would but if Japan didn’t have its culture, and traditions Japan wouldn’t be original and special. I think it’s cool that Japan formed a long time ago but yet Japan still keeps most of its traditions. Influencing Japan is like getting advice to make your country better, it’s good to have change but you shouldn’t change your culture.

  31. I think that the cultural diffusion can have positive and negative effects on a country. In this case, opening foreign connections helped “modernize” Japan and help encourage trade. That way, countries could spread new ideas to Japan and the Japanese could spread their own culture. But if the culture was too influenced, the unique traditions of the nation could be lost. This could also open the way to the spreading of diseases, after opening the trade, diseases could be brought inland or to other countries. It is a very similar case to that of the spreading of the Louisiana Purchase, it opened new land and trade but no one can forget what happened to the Native Americans. Since America is very into international relations, America does not hesitate as much to trade with new countries. One of the main reasons is because the American culture is already heavily influenced by other countries, we are basically a “great American melting pot”. There are many different races that live here, each with diverse and unique traditions. I also read about the “samurai monoply”. What other games do Japanese play to pass the time? How is the level of education there? Compared to some countries such as China, the US has really low education expectations. Are there any interesting things about Japanese education that you could write a post about?

    • Josh says:

      Thanks so much for the great comment, and the insightful questions! I will be writing a post next week where I interview a Japanese middle school student, and I’ll be talking more about their educational system then. So stand by for that!
      I will say that education in any country is generally tailored to meet specific needs. Japan’s educational system prepares Japanese for adult life and careers in a different way than America’s does, and China’s in a completely different way to both of these. Why? Well, these are three very different societies with different demands placed on adults in work, family, and social life.
      As for other games that Japanese play to pass the time, the game called “go” is very popular with elderly Japanese, video games are of course popular with the young, and something called “pachinko” is absolutely nutso popular with many, many adults, but mostly middle aged to elderly men.
      There are pachinko parlors everywhere!
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachinko

  32. Simon says:

    I don’t think Japan is like America at all, it’s way different, but we do talk about roughly the same political ideas.

  33. Danny says:

    I do bot believe that Japan is not becoming too Westernized. Even though they are taking more culture from Western civilizations and adding it to their’s every day, we still need to think about the Japanese traditions that are still alive. Buddhism is still going storing there, and being Chinese, I have no idea on what other traditions that are kept alive, but I am confident that there are ancient traditions that keep Japan, well, Japanese.

    • kevin says:

      I agree with Danny

    • Josh says:

      Danny, Buddhism is a great example. Can you think of any examples of traditional culture from entertainment that is preserved in Japan? Or even in China? What are some of the cultural or traditional symbols that you think of or picture in your head when you hear the words “tradition” and “Japan?”

  34. Sam says:

    I don’t know how “westernized” they are becoming. It’s kind of like cultural influences from India, China and Korea. It’s sort of an opinion, I guess. It is good that that has happened though. They know us and we know them and we are all in the same world, so it is good for them to get westernized. We won’t have any trouble communicating with each other and we can become allies. Sometimes if countries are too isolated they can become hostile. So no they are not getting to westernized but like I said, it’s just an opinion.

    • Josh says:

      Thanks for the comment, Sam! I’m also happy to hear your different opinions. I think that as long as we share our opinions respectfully, as you have done here, it’s always great to share a multitude of different opinions. It’s the only way that we can see the point of view of others. Thanks!

  35. Ashok says:

    I believe that Japan is not becoming too “westernized” as a culture, though the amount of influence by westerners on trade and government is too much, especially since America wrote out Japan’s entire constitution. After the amount of power America had over Japan after WWII, I’m surprised it did not become a U.S territory or state. One of the good effects of opening up trade to the west, however, was that Japan is now one of the leading countries in hi-tech manufacturing. And when you mentioned Japan’s violent history in China, Japan has taken over parts of China twice, and a majority of the country once. And there is trouble brewing again over Senkaku islands. Relative to the amount of Japans trade with the western world, the influence of western world culture on Japan is marginal.

  36. Hannah W. says:

    I honestly think America could learn a few things from Japan. I like how people support education and the different ideas of working for a groups interest and not your own. In America there are to many people working for their own interests and hurting a lot of people by doing it. I like Japan’s government system a lot better than Americas’s, it seems more equal and I also like their values better.
    I think the fire of western civilization is applied very literally. I think that you should be able to refine or keep your values of traditional culture, but also to progress in the world of modern technology and business. Japan has thrived since the bombing of Hiroshima. “No pain no gain,” is the perfect example.

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