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Essence of Japanese Culture and the Foundation of Business J. D. Han
Contrasts and Contradictions Pointed out by Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture (1946)
• both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic, both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new ways. . .
We may add • “ cunning and honest, individually ethical and collectively at times immoral, calculating and forgiving, and extremely materialistic and spiritual at the same time”
Illustration of Susi • Essentially ‘Nutritionally poor meal’ for a poor country • The Japanese overcome the material limitations by infusing artistic, philosophical and religious nuance into Susi • Susi still remains the most coveted dish in Japan after the limitations are long gone, and thus remain healthy.
The Epitome of “Kizaemon” Ito. Chawan (“喜左衛門” 井戶茶碗) • http: //dawan-chawanchassabal. blogspot. com/2010/01/kizaemonido. html • The National Treasure No. 26 of a broken tea cup reflects the Neo-Confucian Asceticism. • It runs parallel to the ideas in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
The Tea House in a Mansion • A great Japanese mansion is never complete without a tea house, which is usually built separately from the main house, and is built with bamboo and thatches. • Glamour of the main house should be balanced with humility of the tea house. • While you live in luxury, your ideal is ‘naturalistic’ • Thus you can transcend the earthly desire and reach ‘nothingness’ through practice= ‘Zen’.
• This idea is based on the Chinese Neo. Confucian scholarly life of The Seven Wise Men in Bamboo Forest.
The Essence of Power exists in “Self- Control/Self-Denial in Conformity”, Which is the very basic foundation of Neo Confucianism (新儒學)
• Self-Control or Asceticism(克己 禁慾) Comes from the influence of Buddhism, which practices Reflection (Zen: 禪)
• Conformity comes from the influence of Confucianism. • The guiding principle is Personal Principles of ‘Doing the Best’(誠) towards the Social Ethics of 4 pillars- Benevolence(仁), Righteousness( 義), Courtesy(禮), and Wisdom(智).
• The ultimate result is the zeal of The Puritanism (淸敎徒) devoted to Worldly Perfection (現世完成). • This tremendous energy is the potential for any social development. • Whatever the collective goal is set for the society through consensus, the energy will push forward.
Historically • No economic growth is accidental • In most cases, a rapid economic growth is a result of nation-building efforts. • In Japan, the nation building efforts were started with the Meji Reform(1868: 明治維新 ; めいじ いしん ), which adopted Neo. Confucianism as the guiding principle.
Meiji Restoration(1867) • Came after the humiliating Perry Incidence(1854)
Nurturing the Entrepreneur Class. • For quick catch up, the Japanese government had to ‘raise’ big corporations. • In other words, they needed ‘Industrial/Corporate Leadership’ • They were given patronage, protection and monopoly.
• Some entrepreneurs were selected by some standards by the government • People expected them to be exemplary leaders.
• The standards were Neo-Confucianism(moral power) and Entrepreneurship (world ability). • The chosen people to lead the business world were former Samurai, or Neo-Confucian. Read Kozo Yamamura, “Evolution of Japanese Confucian Entrepreneurs”.
Why ‘Neo-Confucian’ Entrepreneurship? • Why was it regarded as ‘conducive’ for a rapid economic growth? • What are the legacies today? ascetic CEO concentration of social wealth in corporate
Zaibatsu as the Japanese Social Contract • In a resource limited family, the most able child gets concentration of resources at the sacrifice of all siblings; later he shares fruits of his success with them • The Zaibatsu and Keiretsu’s are expected to be embodiment of Neo-Confucian principles and virtues. • The social welfares are given by the Japanese corporates – lifetime employment; subsidized schooling, retirement home, health-cares • In return, they get social supports from the Japanese people and the government.
Harry Harootunian also says In his paper, “The Progress of Japan and Samurai Class, 1868 -1882”
• These companies grew to be Conglomerates called Zaibatsu, and Keiretsu. • Its evolution and current state are given in my summary.
Relationship between Japanese Government and Corporate • The government economic planning works effectively through these Zaibatsu’s. -Network -Ama-kudari
• Korea copies the Japanese Zaibatsu system when it started economic growth in the 1960 s and 1970 s. - Samsung (Byung Chul Lee) - Hyundai (Joo Young Chung) - Dawoo (Woo Jung Kim)
Question • Would China go this way? - Traditionally Family-oriented small and medium enterprises - Some experiences of Confucian merchants, such as Jinshang