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The uniqueness of the Japanese character is the result of [#permalink]
18 Nov 2011, 13:04
The uniqueness of the Japanese character is the result of two seemingly contradictory forces: the strength of traditions and selective receptivity to foreign achievements and inventions. As early as the 1860s, there were counter movements to the traditional orientation. Yukichi Fukuzawa, the most eloquent spokesman of Japan’s “Enlightenment,” claimed: “The Confucian civilization of the East seems to me to lack two things possessed by Western civilization: science in the material sphere and a sense of independence in the spiritual sphere.” Fukuzawa’s great influence is found in the free and individualistic philosophy of the Education Code of 1872, but he was not able to prevent the government from turning back to the canons of Confucian thought in the Imperial Rescript of 1890. Another interlude of relative liberalism followed World War I, when the democratic idealism of President Woodrow Wilson had an important impact on Japanese intellectuals and, especially students: but more important was the Leninist ideology of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Again in the early 1930s, nationalism and militarism became dominant, largely as a result of failing economic conditions.
Following the end of World War II, substantial changes were undertaken in Japan to liberate the individual from authoritarian restraints. The new democratic value system was accepted by many teachers, students, intellectuals, and old liberals, but it was not immediately embraced by the society as a whole. Japanese traditions were dominated by group values, and notions of personal freedom and individual rights were unfamiliar.
Today, democratic processes are clearly evident in the widespread participation of the Japanese people in social and political life: yet, there is no universally accepted and stable value system. Values are constantly modified by strong infusions of Western ideas, both democratic and Marxist. School textbooks expound democratic principles, emphasizing equality over hierarchy and rationalism over tradition; but in practice these values are often misinterpreted and distorted, particularly by the youth who translate the individualistic and humanistic goals of democracy into egoistic and materialistic ones.
Most Japanese people have consciously rejected Confucianism, but vestiges of the old order remain. An important feature of relationships in many institutions such as political parties, large corporations, and university faculties is the oyabun-kobun or parent-child relation. A party leader, supervisor, or professor, in return for loyalty, protects those subordinate to him and takes general responsibility for their interests throughout their entire lives, an obligation that sometimes even extends to arranging marriages. The corresponding loyalty of the individual to his patron reinforces his allegiance to the group to which they both belong. A willingness to cooperate with other members of the group and to support without qualification the interests of the group in all its external relations is still a widely respected virtue. The oyabun-kobun creates ladders of mobility which an individual can ascend, rising as far as abilities permit, so long as he maintains successful personal ties with a superior in the vertical channel, the latter requirement usually taking precedence over a need for exceptional competence. As a consequence, there is little horizontal relationship between people even within the same profession.
The author is mainly concerned with
(A) explaining the influence of Confucianism on modern Japan
(B) analyzing the reasons for Japan’s postwar economic success
(C) discussing some important determinants of Japanese values
(D) describing managerial practices in Japanese industry
(E) contrasting modern with prewar Japanese society
2. Which of the following is most like the relationship of the oyabun-kobun described in the passage?
(A) A political candidate and the voting public
(B) A gifted scientist and his protégé
(C) Two brothers who are partners in a business
(D) A judge presiding at the trial of a criminal defendant
(E) A leader of a musical ensemble who is also a musician in the group
3. According to the passage, Japanese attitudes are influenced by which of the following?
I Democratic ideals
II Elements of modern Western culture
III Remnants of an earlier social structure
A I ONLY
B II ONLY
C I AND II ONLY
D II AND III ONLY
E I,II AND III
4. The author implies that
(A) decisions about promotions are often based on personal feelings
(B) students and intellectuals do not understand the basic tenets of Western democracy
(C) Western values have completely overwhelmed traditional Japanese attitudes
(D) respect for authority was introduced into Japan following World War II
(E) most Japanese workers are members of a single political party
5. In developing the passage, the author does which of the following?
(A) Introduce an analogy
(B) Define a term
(C) Present statistics
(D) Cite an authority (E) Issue a challenge
6. It can be inferred that the Imperial Rescript of 1890
(A) was a protest by liberals against the lack of individual liberty in Japan
(B) marked a return in government policies to conservative values
(C) implemented the ideals set forth in the Education Code of 1872
(D) was influenced by the Leninist ideology of the Bolshevik Revolution
(E) prohibited the teaching of Western ideas in Japanese schools
7. Which of the following is the most accurate description of the organization of the passage?
(A) A sequence of inferences in which the conclusion of each successive step becomes a premise in the next argument
(B) A list of generalizations, most of which are supported by only a single example
(C) A chronological analysis of historical events leading up to a description of the current situation
(D) A statement of a commonly accepted theory that is then subjected to a critical analysis
(E) An introduction of a key term that is then defined by giving examples
8. Which of the following best states the central thesis of the passage?
(A) The value system of Japan is based upon traditional and conservative values that have, in modern times, been modified by Western and other liberal values.
(B) Students and radicals in Japan have Leninist ideology to distort the meaning of democratic, Western values.
(C) The notions of personal freedom and individual liberty did not find immediate acceptance in Japan because of the predominance of traditional group values.
(D) Modern Japanese society is characterized by hierarchical relationships in which a personal tie to a superior is often more important than merit.
(E) The influence on Japanese values of the American ideals of personal freedom and individual rights is less important than the influence of Leninist ideology.
9. The tone of the passage can best be described as
(A) neutral and objective
(B) disparaging and flippant
(C) critical and demanding
(D) enthusiastic and supportive (E) skeptical and questioning