How does Japan do it

Japan has performed a miracle. The country\'s economic performance following its crushing
defeat in World War II is nothing short of astounding. The economic expansion of Japan is
second to none. All of the elements are in place for Japan to continue increasing its share
of the world\'s wealth as America\'s gradually declines. The country is on track to becoming
the world\'s largest economy. How did Japan do it? There are many theories and studies
that have traced the Japanese miracle without success. The answer to the mystery can be
found by examining Japan\'s culture, education, and employment system. Japan\'s success is
not just a case of good technique and technology in business, but a real recognition and
development of the necessary human skills.

A better understanding of the Japanese society provides the framework to
understanding the workings of Japanese business (and possibly the Japanese mind.) The
ways of the Japanese provide a foundation for their economic adaptability in modern times.
Japan is a culture where human relations and preservation of harmony are the most
important elements in society. "It is their sense of identity and destiny which gives their
industrial machine its effectiveness."1 "Among the Japanese, there exists an instinctive
respect for institutions and government, for the rules of etiquette and service, for social
functions and their rituals of business. Japan is a traditionally crowded island, the people
are forced to share the limited space with each other and to live in harmony.. The Japanese
are very protective of their culture. They are very conservative to outside intrusion. Their
distinctive ways are a source of pride and national strength."2 Japan\'s striving for purity is
very different form a North American idea of open doors and diversity as strength. Japan is
relatively closed to immigration to outside countries. However, this feeling of superiority
does not stop them from being careful. "This is probably because the Japanese know their
economic house is on shaky ground, literally. Japan is eternally at nature\'s mercy,
vulnerable to the sea that surrounds it, to earthquakes of the soil beneath it and a real
shortage of raw materials, particularly food and fuel."3 A period of extended isolation
could be disastrous to the country. Japan\'s trade surplus is its only generator of wealth.
This is a fact of life that is preached through the media and taught constantly to Japanese
throughout their lives in school, from parents, and when they enter the working world. The
message is clear: Japan is always vulnerable, we must protect her. "Obsessed with national
character, the Japanese are proud and ambitious, constantly measuring themselves against
the world\'s best and biggest. Accordingly, one of the main sources of Japan\'s strength is its
people\'s willingness to sacrifice, to be regimented and homogenized, and to subordinate
personal desires to the harmony of the working group."4 The Japanese people have had to
become a group-oriented society. While in the western world, individuality and
independence are highly valued, Japanese society emphasizes group activity and
organization. The people accept that they will belong to one social group and work for one
company for life. The crowded island conditions have driven society to value conformity.
"The highest priority is placed on WA, or harmony."5 The Japanese have learned to share
their limited space and value the precious distance between themselves and others. The
culture that Japanese people are brought up in causes them to recognize that they have to
work together to succeed. Only harmony will provide improvement. This development of
the human nature and attitude relates directly to Japan\'s business practice and provides a
basis for good business relations.

Japan\'s education system has grabbed the world\'s attention as it is specifically
designed to teach the children skills and aptitudes to give them an edge in the business
world. "The educational system, based on the principle of full equality of educational
opportunity, is widely recognized as having greatly contributed to the prosperity of Japan
by providing a highly qualified work force supplemented by extensive intraining programs
by many of the major employers."6 "The primary and secondary educational system is
probably the most comprehensive and most disciplined in the world."7 Where North
American students attend school 175 days a year, Japanese students attend 240 days. .
Japanese students attend elementary and secondary school six days a week and for two
months longer each year than North American students. In addition, they have long hours
of homework. A large majority of Japanese students attend juku, or preparatory schools, in
the evenings and on