Professor. Olga Dror
30 November 2014
Compare and Contrast China and Japan China and Japan, both with thousand years of ancient culture and civilization history, share numerous similarities and differences. Confucianism is a collectivist based value system which embraces a set of moral codes of behavior designed to regulate the relationships between ruler and subject, father and son, friend and neighbor, husband and wife, and brother and brother. Even though both China and Japan employed Confucianism as the state ideology, there were many features of Confucianism in the two countries that shaped each country’s societies. China and Japan isolated themselves from the rest of the world in the beginning, but later on, the differences in response to the pressure from the West led them to different paths. This essay is going to compare and contrast two main differences between Japan and China, which include a cultural legacy known as Confucianism and the response to the West in 19th century. To begin with, Confucianism stresses particular social relationships, but it is also a universal moral code, which makes it easy for the Japanese adoption. However, the Japanese transform it in their way and to a certain degree Confucian concepts are applied to relationships carrying a different meaning from those in China. At its most basic of culture, Chinese morality is founded on the family structure, with the most important social ties being that of parent and child and its blood-related family clans. The Japanese moral system is founded on a set of kinship relations that go beyond blood ties or extend to members who have no blood relationship, with the primary tie being that between leader and follower. Therefore, Japanese political culture is more group-oriented, more tribal, or more radical. Another example is the paired concepts of loyalty and filial piety that characterize the two cultures. These two values are related: both are the duties we owe to our superiors. Loyalty is our duty to our ruler, and filial piety is our duty to our parents. Both came into the Japanese culture as part of the Confucian influence, but they are treated differently in China and Japan. In China, “filial piety or reverence for parents is the most important of these relationships and the one that binds the Confucian moral system together. Confucianists assume that if everyone internalizes such ‘family values,’ society will come into tune with heaven, and harmony, contentment, and prosperity will ensue as a matter of course” (Miller, John H). When there is a conflict between the two, our duty to our parents usually outweighs that to the ruler. In Japan, the Japanese do not acknowledge this tension or contradiction: one is a filial child only if one gives loyal service to one’s superior. Therefore, loyalty is expressed in unquestioning slave-like obedience and implies total selfless devotion to one’s lord. In other words, loyalty in the Japanese culture usually take precedence over filial piety. In addition, harmony, rather than competition, is one of the core Confucian ideas and the concept that helps to shape both Chinese and Japanese political cultures. Both China and Japan are highly “collectivistic” societies under the Confucian influence, in which each person is born and melt into a collective entity either family, clan, group, society, or state, each person knows his or her status and identity in relation to others in social relations, and each person is required to conform to the collective values. However, in Japan, more emphasis is placed on group orientation and loyalty to the group, for it is the group that gives one a social identity, provides a feeling of security, and receives the rewards of service. Not only the household and the village but also colleagues, fellow students, neighbors, and even industrial sectors constitute the important...
Cited: Miller, John H. "Belief Systems and Religions." Modern East Asia: An Introductory History. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2008. 19. Print.
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