Running head: CULTURAL EVALUATION
Cultural evaluation: Changes in presentation of arguments to suit the Japanese culture
Learning Team A
BCOM/275 Version 2
February 10, 2014
Cultural evaluation of Japan
The Japanese people have a unique culture. This culture affects the way they conduct
themselves, the way they communicate, as well as the way they relate with other people. The
Japanese culture sharply contrasts that of the western world and, therefore, several considerations
needs to be done while engaging with the Japanese. Even while debating, the unique Japanese
culture would require several changes to be done.
One of the primary change that would need to be done in a debate paper for a Japanese
audience is to make the debate informal. Unlike the western culture where formal debates are
believed to be superior and where the quality of the argument matters a lot, the Japanese prefer
informal discussions in which the debaters reveal personal information about themselves
including their age. In Japanese culture, age and authority are considered the epitome of
knowledge. The presentation of the debate would need to be changed so that the positive
credentials such as the educational background and age of the author are revealed.
In the Japanese culture, reinforcing one’s viewpoint with great certainty is considered
self-centeredness. However, most western cultures believe that explaining one’s arguments with
clarity is the best way of winning a debate. A typical debate in western cultures involved
supporting one side of the argument and demonstrating that counterarguments are not valid. In
Japan, dismissing the arguments of other persons is considered selfish and disrespected.
Therefore, the debate paper must be changed to have a balanced presentation of both views and
must not be seen to argue in favour of one side.
The debate paper would also need to be modified to avoid asking questions such as
“how” and “why” which are taken as attacks on a person’s authority or position. In Japan, people
are so assured of their views about certain issues that they do not expect to be criticised. Asking
direct questions is seen as attacks on people’s believes and personalities and should, therefore, be
The Japanese language is also unique and quite different from western cultures. The
difference in translation between Japanese and English need to be considered in the debate in
order to avoid confusion. For instance, the Japanese world for think is “omou” which does not
refer reason but to “feel.” The debate will involve use of several Japanese words whose English
equivalents are different.
There is a cultural inclination to avoid debate on controversial issues in Japan especially
when they touch on the complexities of the Japanese identity (Kingston, 2013). It is considered
disrespectful and immoral to openly discuss such controversial topics. Therefore, the debate
paper would need to be changed to have less controversial issues in order to avoid offending the
audience and readers.
The discussion paper must also be changed to include what the Japanese people would
consider valid arguments. According to the Japanese culture, it is unprofitable to engage in a
debate that is out of touch with social realities. Discussions on issues that are considered status
quo may draw mixed reactions from the audience who may feel that the debate is not legitimate.
For instance, certain aspects of the Japanese social-cultural systems such as the control of the
government by some major banks and industries are considered status quo and not profitable to
Kingston, J. (2013). Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.