Multicultural exchange: Looking at SDG issues from the perspective of social norms of different countries #3

Social norms and SDGs in Japan

Cultural Exchange Activities Presented  by Kota and Kazuki


  1. Japanese Social Norms and Background
  2. Culture arising from social norms
  3. Discussion

1. Japanese Social Norms and Background

⑴ Harmony

Japan’s distinctive social norm is a respect for “Harmony”.
This philosophy is fundamental to Japanese culture and enables people to accept and live together with different cultures and ideas. In the age of globalization, it is becoming increasingly important to accept and maintain harmony with different cultures and ideas.

日本の特徴的な社会規範は "和 "の尊重である

⑵ Geographical diversity and ethnic coexistence

Japan has developed uniquely through geographical diversity and ethnic coexistence.
 For the first reason, many peoples coexist in the vast area of Japan, and it is thought that peoples living on the sea, in the mountains, and on the plains have shared their wisdom with each other.
Second, Japan has adopted, or not adopted, foreign cultures with the wisdom of the Japanese people and each ethnic group, or improved them for their own good.
As a result, various ethnic groups from Hokkaido to Okinawa were passive in accepting other cultures, they lived in harmony and had the strength not to lose themselves no matter how much they were influenced by other countries.


⑶ The difference in thought patterns between Japanese and Westerners

The difference in thought patterns between Japanese and Westerners is the following.
 ・Japanese are a race of thinkers who value harmony and are good at cooperative thinking.
 ・Westerners are a race of thinkers who are curious and good at transmitting their thoughts while seeking to know the essence of everything.


2. Culture arising from social norms

① There is a culture of taking one’s own trash home, despite the lack of trash cans in public places

②If there is a red light, people do not cross the street even if there are no cars passing by

③If you drop your wallet or other valuables on the street, there is a high probability that they will be returned to their owners

④Avoid using phones on trains and use headphones to prevent sound leakage so as not to disturb other passengers

⑤Priority seating should always be left open for those who need it, e.g., the elderly, pregnant women, etc.

⑥People voluntarily stand in line at bus stops, cash registers, etc. to keep order

⑦Demonstrate a culture of harmony and respect by giving visitors the utmost consideration and providing a pleasant experience

⑧Respect for elders and superiors at work, school, etc. and following their opinions and directions is strongly encouraged

⑨Use of honorifics appropriate to social status and age shows respect and maintains clear hierarchical relationships










3. Discussion

Q1: Which of the Japanese cultural and social norms introduced in today’s presentation do you identify as uniquely Japanese?


– A:

① 🇲🇾

② 🇨🇳🇨🇴🇫🇷🇮🇩🇹🇭

③ -

④ 🇨🇳🇨🇴🇮🇩🇱🇦

⑤ 🇨🇴🇮🇩

⑥ 🇨🇳🇱🇦

⑦ 🇨🇳🇮🇩

⑧ 🇨🇳🇨🇴🇮🇩🇲🇾

⑨ 🇨🇳🇮🇩

Q2: How is harmony perceived in your country and how important is it in your society?

– A:


– In the Philippines, there is a strong aspect of individualism. In the Philippines, we cooperate with each other, but in a culture like Japan, where conflict is avoided as much as possible, I don’t think there is harmony. Also, although we cooperate with each other, I think there are many conflicts among us.
However, if what you are doing is for the benefit of all, I think it applies to other countries as well.


-Harmony in Colombia is very different from Japan.
The meaning of harmony has changed a lot over time, but now for us it is harmony with nature, with ourselves, and with our close group, which I think is very spiritual.

Malaysia 🇲🇾 

– Harmony in Malaysia, unlike in Japan, is about how different cultures respect each other and do not belittle others in behavior and language. Therefore, it is more like harmony between two different groups, not individuals.


– I think Japanese “wa” is more virtual, about how people behave. And Chinese “wa” is more focused on how people think about things. And because of their historical influence, Chinese people place more emphasis on spiritual harmony than on behavioral harmony.

Q2: あなたの国では「調和」はどのように捉えられていますか?また、あなたの社会では「調和」はどの程度重要ですか?

-  A :