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Orderly Japanese

, | japan | 33 comments

The world seems to be in awe before the fact that there are no looting at markets after the disasters that have struck the west coast of Japan. Compliments are poured out over the photos of Japanese orderly lining up to get provisions, and citizens only taking just enough from markets so that others could also find provisions. FT magazine has, in practical terms, called them the pinnacle of human evolution.


The reason for such orderliness could be attributed to strong national pride, high degree of social awareness, and so on, but one of the things that Korean news media has touched on has not appeared in the English media outlets. It is that of strong emphasis on orderliness and constant concern for others. The word 順番 (jun-ban), which means "order," can be easily heard in pre-kindergarten schools not from the mouths of teachers, but from the mouths of little kids. One of the striking examples of the difference between Korean parents and Japanese parents was that of their wish for their children. In one of well-known documentaries in Korea that was shot less than 10 years ago from now (probably around 2000 or so) they had interviewed "average" Japanese parents and they repeatedly said that they would like their children not to be harming others. Whereas Korean parents repeatedly said that they wish to see their children do well in life, or be best in whatever field they aspire to. And this character is clearly reflected in crisis.


Japanese parents teach their children not to be 迷惑 (meiwaku) to others from a very early age. It means not to be harmful, annoying, bothersome, nuisance, or unpleasant to others. Even each prefectures have laws that discriminate against those who act as a nuisance to others.

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