Japan and Germany - A comparison

Term Paper, 2005

32 Pages, Grade: 88%



I: Introduction

II: Facts about Japan and Germany:
II. 1: Germany:
Political System
Geographical Situation
II. 2: Japan:
Political System
Geographical Situation

III: History of Japan and Germany (under special attention of similarities)

IV: What is a stereotype?

V.1 Stereotypical Images of Japanese towards Germany
V.2 Stereotypical Images of Germans towards Japan

VI: Collectivistic culture or individualistic culture

VII: Conclusion and Outlook

I. Introduction:

Japan and Germany, two of the most powerful nations in the world, are strongly connected, but still the people in these countries know very few about each other. In this work the reader should get an overview about both countries so that somebody who doesn’t hava a good knowledge gets an impression of these countries.

In interviews people from both countries were asked what they think about each other, what prejudices they have, how they see the relationship between their countries and which experiences they have made in their own countries.

For sure, this can not be seen represantative for all inhabitants, but it gives an impression of the thoughts of younger people[1] in a world, which becomes closer and closer and in which no country can stand isolated. A generalization e.g. “The Germans, or the Japanese do…” isn’t adequate, because the scientists cannot say that a whole country behaves equally.

Because of the process of globalization it is essential for politicians and managers who work in Japan and reversly to know about the customs in the host country. That is the point, where the work of a modern cultural anthropologist is useful and needed.

Imagine a business man from Germany to be in Japan and not knowing why the Japanese bow to greet. Maybe he thinks, the Japanese wants to attack him by running into his stomach?

It is difficult to write about a country you have never been to, so the sources are based on the interviewed people, facts written in books and another useful medium is the internet.

In order to compare the two countries it is indispensable that the reader knows some facts about the countries. So, in the first part of this paper the aim is to inform the reader about the geographical situation, the political system and the religion in the two countries.

Then a historical overview about Japan and Germany, considering their similarities, will be given.

In the third part of this paper stereotypical images which people in both countries have from each other will be examined. Maybe some prejudices turn out to be true, and some people in the concerned country behave in the way they are expected to.

II. Facts about Japan and Germany:

II. 1. Germany:

Political System:

The Federal Republic of Germany was founded in May 1949 after Germany lost the second world war and was liberated from the Nazi dictatorship. It was considered a project whose ending was unclear because all previous German trials to establish a democratical system failed. (the Revolution of 1848 and the Weimar Republic in 1933)

But with the support of the Allied (e.g.: the “Marshall Plan”, the European Recovery Programme[2] ) and the will of the German population to become democrats the Federal Republic exists until now. An interesting fact is that the German Reich has never been officially abolished but only replaced by the Federal Republic.

The political system is a parliamentary system, i.e. that the government is elected by the parliament The government can lose the confidence of the parliament; in that case a new chancellor has to be elected.[3]

One reason why the German government has difficulties to apply reforms is the fact that Germany is a Federal State. The Federal Assembly has to assent to 60% of the planned laws. (laws which have an affect on the budget of the Federal States). In the Federal Assembly you find representatives of the Governments of the 16 federal countries.

So if there is for example a Parliament and Government dominated by socialdemocrats and a conservative dominated Federal Assembly it is a very difficult process to find a common denominator. For that case exits a conference committee which tries to find a solution with which the Federal Government and the governments of the states are confident.

The Federal Republic is a memberstate of the European Union and a participating state of the 1999 released european currency: EURO (€.) Furthermore Germany is a member of the NATO (since 1955) the G8 and of the United Nations.

At the moment (09-21-2005) the President is Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler (Christian Democratic Party), the Chancellor is Gerhard Schröder (Social Democratic Party) and the President of the Parliament is Wolfgang Thierse (Social Democratic Party).

The Capital of Germany is Berlin.

Here a tabelle with some facts about Germany and its Federal States:

Area and population:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

(Source of the spreadsheet: Federal Statistical Office of Germany: http://www.statistik-portal.de/Statistik-Portal/de_jb01_jahrtab1.asp [Date: 09-21-2005]

Geographical Situation:

The Federal Republic is located in the centre of Europe. The boarders in the North are the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Kingdom of Denmark. In the east the boarder is Poland and the Czech Republic in the South it is Austria and Switzerland. The neighbours in the West are: France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Grand Duchy Luxemburg.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

(Source of the Map: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia: URL.: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutschland [Date: 09-21-05]

The highest mountain in Germany is the “Zugspitze” [engl.: windy top Translation: Georg Fichtner] with 2,962 m.

The greater part of Germany lies in the cool/temperate climatic zone in which humid westerly winds predominate. In the north-west and the north the climate is oceanic and there is rain in every season the year. Winters there are relatively mild and summers comparatively cool. In the east the climate shows clear continental features; winters can be very cold for long periods, and summers can become very warm. In the centre and the south there is a transitional climate which may be predominantly oceanic or continental, according to the general weather situation.


After Martin Luther declared his 95 thesis in 1517 the Reformation began in Germany. This lead to many wars and as a result the northern part of Germany is inhabitated mainly by protestants whereas the southern part is mainly catholic (including Bavaria where the current pope comes from). In total more than 55 million people belong to a Christian denomination. Approximately 33% catholic and 33% protestants. The third group (approximately 31%) are officially religiously unaffiliated.[4]

Despite the fact that still many people are members of Church, the question is: Do they stick to what Church tells them to do?

As for the predujces about Japan, the author of this text asked eight Germans what role church plays in their lives. The answers were similar, the moral conception of Church is seen as old fashioned and the church needs “new wind”. So it is quite obvious that for most of the german youth church doesn’t play a big role. But despite this, there is still a demand for God and a complete rejection might lead to a difficult situation. For example: the CDU/CSU fraction in the Bundestag has only one delegate who is religiously unaffiliated.[5] Also the name of the party: Christian Democrats reflects the status the Religion ought to have. Apparently church services have taken an event character and a place where people come together and live their social relations. The 10 commandments, praying, catechism and moral conceptions are not very important. Example: despite the catholic ban on condoms, many of them were found in pilgrims’ quarters after the Weltjugendtag [world youth day. Translation: Georg Fichtner] in Cologne (400 000 visitors).
But as mentioned in the introduction it is difficult to consider this as a reflection of the position of all Germans.

The third biggest religious group (and the biggest group of foreigners as well) are the muslims with approximately 3,7 million people.[6] After September 11th the muslim groups got more observed than before, because, as we know now, the trace of the terrorists lead to Hamburg in Germany.

According to official data, in Germany there are 400 sects with different beliefs. Some of them are also observed by the state. Example given: The Scientology Organization, bacause, according to jurisdiction, Scientology does not respect the laws and tries to influence the thoughts of their members.

II. 2. Japan:

Political System:

Japan, known as the land of the rising sun, is a constitutional monarchy like the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Japan has a two chamber system consisting of the House of Representatives (Shugi-in) and the House of Councillors (Sangi-in). The House of Representatives consists of 480 delegates. The second and less important: chamber sangi in has 247 delegates. Until 1947 only noblemen were allowed to become a member of the House of councillors. Unlike in Germany the Prime Minister (at the moment Junichiro Koizumi) has to be a member of the Shugi- in and is normally the leader of the biggest party. (Koizumi is member of the LDP[7] ) The cabinet consists of the Prime Minister and the ministers of state. The Prime Minister appoints the ministers and is like in Germany responsible to the Parliament. The House of Councillors (Sangi-in) is comparable with the British House of Lords. If the two houses disagree on matters of the budget, treaties, or designation of the prime minister, the House of Representatives can insist on its decision. In all other decisions, the House of Representatives can override a vote of the House of Councillors only by a two-thirds majority of members present.[8] That is different than in Germany, in Germany the political leaders have to find a consensus between the two Houses. Comparing the two countries, as a matter of fact the Japanese Prime Minister and the first chamber are more powerful than the German Chancellor, because the second Chamber isn’t very strong and normally he (or she) doesn’t have to show consideration for a coalition partner.

Japan is divided into 47 prefectures. These prefectures have to fulfill administrative duties. The government of the prefectures is elected locally. In 2003 Koizumi developed a plan to give greater authority to the regions and to form 10 regional states with greater autonomy, but yet this plan hasn’t been realised. The 47 prefectures have an own tax income. As in a lot of countries, many Japanese, especially on the countryside, identify with their region. Thus they are proud of speaking their own dialect although the number of people speaking dialect in general is decreasing.[9] Except the people from Osaka. They want to speak and keep their dialect. As many people in Munich are proud of speaking bavarian dialect and don’t want to speak “standard-german”.


[1] The paper is based on oral questionaire of 8 japanese and german students aged: 19-25 studing at Venice International University [fall 2005]

[2] The Marshall Plan, known officially following its enactment as the European Recovery Program (ERP), was the main plan of the United States for the reconstruction of Europe following World War II. The initiative was named for United States Secretary of State George Marshall and was largely the creation of State Department officials including William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan.

Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia: URL.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_plan [Date: 09-20-2005]

[3] The Bundestag can express the Federal Chancellor the distrust only by the fact that it selects a successor with the majority of its members and the President asked to dismiss the Federal Chancellor. The President must correspond to the request and appoint the selected. German Grundgesetz §67.1 URL: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/gg/art_67.html [Date: 09-20-2005] Translation : Georg Fichtner

[4] Foreign Ministry of Germany. URL.: http://www.tatsachen-ueber-deutschland.de/338.0.html?&no_cache=1&sword_list[]=Religion [Date: 10-2-2005]

[5] CDU/CSU Fraction in the German Bundestag URL: http://www.cducsu.de/section__5/subsection__3/id__0/Abgeordnete_suche.aspx?hash=c2VjdGlvbj01JnN1YnNlY3Rpb249MyZpZD0wJg==&control=154193995710120448455208124102182186222179 [Date: 09-30-2005]

[6] Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia: URL.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany#States [Date: 09-26-2005]

[7] the LDP (Liberaldemocrats) is a Japanese Party which is in the Government since 1955 (with a short discontinuance in 1993-1994) Liberal Democratic Party of Japan: URL.: http://www.jimin.jp/jimin/english/ [Date: 09-30-2005]

[8] Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia URL.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan [Date: 10-2-2005]

[9] Oral Questionaire of Japanese at Venice International University

Excerpt out of 32 pages


Japan and Germany - A comparison
Venice International University
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Japan, Germany
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Georg Fichtner (Author), 2005, Japan and Germany - A comparison, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/49879


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