But after living in Japan on and off for a quite a few years, I think I've identified a general feature of Japanese culture that does lend itself more or less to blanket statements. And - even more surprisingly - it's one that I suspect may be holding Japan's economy and society back in significant ways.

Basically, Japanese culture is too averse to argument.

To see what I mean, try to start an intellectual debate with a Japanese person at a house party, bar, or coffee shop. Chances are that the reaction will be immediate discomfort - looking away, changing the subject, or just not saying anything. Often, Japanese people react to attempts at argument as if they expect you to physically assault them any moment. Many times I've tried cheerfully to debate some assertion a Japanese friend made (just as I would have done in my college dorm), only to have them ask: "Why are you upset?"

1–1 (1)