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Main/The Peoples of the East/East and Southeast Asia/Japan in Comparative Socio-cultural Studies (Abstract Collection)/

Kawabata Takzei. Japan and Western Civilization

The paper deals with the problem of the image of modern Japan in Europe and in the USA. Japan is an advanced unique country that has assimilated and refined the western material and harmoniously combined it with national traditions. Adopting Western model of democracy, Japan has maintained its egalitarianism, whereas in Europe, the political system is elitist — status, education and origin play an important role.

The author explains the success of the modernization in Japan (since the Meiji era) by three factors. Firstly, the Japanese were ready for restoration and perception of all new; they deliberately selected all the best from Western models and rejected the unsuitable for their country. The planned modernization established such priorities as: 1) capitalism in the economy; 2) democracy in politics; 3) change from craft to factory production; 4) universal education; 5) establishment of the armed forces; 6) creativity encouraging.

Secondly, the national character of the Japanese (with such features as lack of inertia, flexibility, sensitivity, practicality, common sense) laid the foundation for modernization. The third factor, according to the author, is the rejection of Christian monotheism and reliance on Buddhism (its teachings are based on the idea of impermanence, which implies the Japanese aptitude for changes.

Keywords: Japan, Europe, USA, modernization, tradition, Buddhism.

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