I personally believe that both biodiversity and cultural diversity are threatened by the influence of mankind and that it is important to keep individual civilizations relatively separate to protect variation throughout the planet. Plant, animal and human life are all affected by man’s ever growing presence, and without proper measures to negate this, I believe that the specific lines between societal and biological diversity will become more blurred and less defined. I feel that it is necessary for governments and establishments to endeavor to protect cultural diversity in order to avoid the possibility of mankind eventually becoming an analogous race. Even though I do see the benefits of communication and relations between cultures, I think it is best to keep societal values and concepts protected to preserve the diversity and variability within the human race. Although cultural differences can sometimes lead to disputes between races, I see this as a natural byproduct of the truly dissimilar species known as humanity.
To illustrate this issue, following the end of World War II, the United States and Allied forces greatly influenced the reformation of the Japanese government and political system. Due to allied manipulation, various aspects of Japanese culture were compromised. For example, the emperor of Japan, long believed to be a descendent of a Shinto sun goddess, was forced to reject his proclaimed divinity. In essence, the emperor was forced to deny an aspect of Japanese culture that had been rooted in the nation’s society for many centuries. Additionally, the allied forces also brought great reformation to the Japanese government and lifestyle to fit the post-war world. Ethics and intentions of the Allies aside, this incident illustrates how mankind can greatly influence and corrode cultural diversity if left unprotected. Admittedly, these modifications were made to the Japanese culture due to post-war proceedings, but I believe this idea is absolutely the case no matter the situation. For example, like an endangered animal species on the verge of extinction, various cultures, like that of the Native Americans, have been greatly reduced thanks to shifts in mankind’s influence. In the same way that plant and animal life are threatened by industrialization, cultures that are traditionally rooted in the preservation of life, again like that of the Native Americans, are also threatened in the process. Although the United States has made efforts to preserve what remains of dying cultures, I believe more should be done to prevent irreparable damages. I personally feel that more could be done to protect cultures that lack urbanization and that are unfit to thrive in the modern world.
I can understand why some might suggest that certain unions, treaties and relations between civilizations can be beneficial as they can lead to more cohesiveness and less complications between nations, but I believe these unions need to be as least obtrusive as possible. For example, I recognize that the European Union has helped bring unity to parts of Europe with things like the Euro, but I can also see the possibility of cultural conformity if left unchecked. One thing that makes the European Union successful is the fact that it respects the cultural differences between the nations that participate in the alliance. The nations unite on common grounds, but still operate as individual countries. The union succeeds because endeavors by the governments are being made to protect the diversity within the nations. As I previously stated, governmental action needs to be taken to preserve cultural diversity, and I believe that this is mostly the case with the European Union. However, I don’t believe arguing about the success of unions is valid because plenty of unions can fail due to cultural diversity and lack of leadership. For example, the precursor to the United Nations, the League of Nations, didn’t succeed at uniting the various countries partially due to a lack of cohesion and differing cultural views. Put simply, unions can fail and certain and their existence doesn’t necessarily equate to peace. Even today, Palestinian and Israeli forces are often at arms with each other due to cultural diversity despite being members of the United Nations. Unions aren't perfect and can fail, despite the best efforts of governmental forces.
Japan relies heavily on the importation and exportation of goods and services to support itself. Due to its lack of domestic resources, Japan has been uniquely forced to reach out to other nations for support in its consumption habits. For example, Japan relies on foreign imports for ninety-six percent of its primary energy needs, and the nearly ninety percent of imported oil comes from the middle east ("Japan's energy supply," 2010). To counteract its high dependence on foreign products, Japan exports many different goods and services. Japan has fairly significant industries to help balance its resource needs- the automotive and electronic goods industries both provide monetary support to the Japanese economy. Japan produced an astounding 9,942,793 vehicles to be sold worldwide in 2012 alone ("Production and export,"2013). Attesting to Japan's substantial automotive industry, Toyota was the world's largest auto maker in 2012 (Dawson, 2013). According to The Wall Street Journal, Toyota sold two million vehicles in the United States alone- a statistic that displays Japan's large reliance on exportation (Dawson, 2013). Below is a comparison of Toyota's manufacturing statistics in regards to General Motors'
Japan's technological industry is a significant monetary force in the nation. In fact, the sale and trade of consumer electronics accounts for around a third of Japan's economic output (Hays, 2009). Electronic companies such as Sony and Hitachi sell products worldwide and the exportation of their products helps support the Japanese economy. Additionally, many Japanese companies produce eighty percent of the components that are used in the manufacturing of products like the iPod (Hays, 2009). This illustrates that where Japan lacks in domestic resources, it counteracts this disadvantage with the production of other goods and services the world needs.
I personally believe globalization has been both good and bad for the nation of Japan. On one hand, Japan receives resources that it desperately needs like fuel and natural gas. Without the interdependence of other nations, Japan could not possibly support its staggering consumption habits. On the other hand, Japan is at an incredible disadvantage when it comes to these resources. While it is beneficial that it receives the resources it needs, the reliance on foreign goods has certainly taken its toll on the nation's economy. Japan is currently experiencing a recession and the constant reliance on imports definitely isn't helping. With this weak economy, certain Japanese industries, like the electronic goods industry, have faced hardships. For example, products from companies like Apple have sold well in Japan and have greatly increased the competition (Hays, 2009). While I believe Japan greatly benefits from globalization because it receives the goods and services it needs, I also believe it is negatively impacted by it through forces like competition and economic hardship.
Japan’s energy supply situation and basic policy. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.fepc.or.jp/english/energy_electricity/supply_situation/
Production and export summary. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.jama-english.jp/statistics/production_export/2012/130131.html
Dawson, C. (2013). Toyota again world's largest auto maker. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323375204578269181060493750.html
Hays, J. (2009). Japanese electronics industry. Retrieved from http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=922&catid=24&subcatid=157
Although I had some prior knowledge on the gender roles in Japanese culture, I did not know the full details of the matter until I researched a little. A great deal of what I read confirmed what I had previously thought, until I read a few articles about how women typically leave the workforce after marriage or during pregnancy and are considered part-time workers (Kumar, 2011). Because of this tendency, wage-inequality is a resulting issue that women face in the country (Kumar, 2011).
Although women are becoming more independent in the modern age, gender roles are still prominent throughout the nation (Smith, 2008). Men are still generally considered the bread-winners of a family and call the shots in business, while the women stay at home and take care of the children (Smith 2008). To me, this is somewhat saddening. It is unfortunate that women are still not perceived as entirely equal and it appears that the Japanese are stuck in the "2.5 kids and a dog" mentality that existed in the American 1950's.
Despite the fact that gender roles have been progressively evolving throughout the last century, Japan is still behind other leading countries as far as equality goes. According to an article I read, only 10% of managerial positions are held by women in Japan- paling in comparison to the United States where the percentage is around 43%. I was a little shocked to read this as it further confirmed my idea that women are not seen as equal in Japan. Whereas other countries are slowly progressing towards a balanced workforce, Japan is showing that it believes women are incapable of leading businesses and companies.
A Japanese house wife appearing very similar one of the 1950's American lifestyle. ("The Japanese," 2010)
I was further surprised by the results of a study that was published several years ago. The study stated that only around 18.5% of males believed that family life was important, 40.2% of men believed work was important, and only 19.5% believed both were equally important ("Gender roles clearly," 2007). This shows that the average Japanese male has a tendency to be work-oriented, and is less likely to focus on family time. Again, this saddens me to hear as it puts a lot of the burden on the women to support the family at home and puts children at risk of growing up with only a single caring parent.
In summary, Japan, while evolving steadily, still has clearly defined gender roles. Despite a modern age where equality is on the rise, archaic mindsets still plague that nation and women are not seen as entirely similar to their male counterparts.
Kumar, V. (2011, June 26). Japanese views on gender roles. Retrieved from http://expertscolumn.com/content/japanese-views-gender-roles
Smith, J. (2008, April 28). Japanese views on gender roles. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1009837-japanese-views-on-gender-roles
(2010). The japanese housewife. (2010). [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_W9Y5GzIbxWU/TKn4YQ5FW3I/AAAAAAAAAJA/EoCa2Qw4y3g/s320/japanese50s.jpg