History - AustralianAustralian CultureCultural Comparisons Between Australia and other Countries

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Cultural awareness: to stereotype or not?

Emotion & innovation

Group vs individual

Tradition & change

Cults of multiculturalism

Warden & Convicts

Failed revolutionaries

Thinkers and Drinkers

Immigration and emmigration

Colonial masters

India Cultural Differences Between Australia and India
Convicts and Maharajas

Samurai & Convicts

New Zealand
Convicts vs Do gooders

Papua New Guinea
Chiefs and Elites

East or west?

South Africa
Kaffirs and Convicts

Coolies and Convicts

South Korea
The middle-powers

"Australians appear very naive to the newly-arrived Japanese. They speak the same way with everyone."
Hiro Mukai - Japanese

"Australians risked becoming ‘the poor white trash of Asia."
Lee Kuan Yew - Singaporean

"I can personally affirm that to stand before an audience of beaming Australians and make even the mildest quip about a convict past is to feel the feel the air conditioning immediately elevated."Bill Bryson - American

"You have no need to feel iffy about a country where "relaxation is the aim". There's nothing to be worried about if "no worries" is your mantra. People have killed for less."
Soumya Bhattacharya - Indian

" What sort or peculiar capitalist country is this in which the workers' representatives predominate in the upper house....and yet the capitalist system is in no danger?"
Vladimir Lenin- Russian

"You feel free in Australia. There is great relief in the atmosphere - a relief from tension, from pressure, an absence of control of will or form. The skies open above you and the areas open around you"
D.H Lawrence - English

" The Australian, who are the men our troops have had opposite them so far, are extraordinarily tough fighters. The German is more active in the attack, but the enemy stakes his life in the defence and fights to the last with extreme cunning."
Major Ballerstedt - German

"New Zealanders who emigrate to Australia raise the IQ of both countries."
Robert Muldoon - New Zealander


Japanese Whaling

Cultural Differences Between Australia and Japan


Population 127,288,419 (July 2008 est.) 20,600,856 (July 2008 est.)
GDP per capita ($US) $33,600 (2007 est.) $36,300 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1.4%
industry: 26.5%
services: 72% (2007 est.)
agriculture: 3%
industry: 26.4%
services: 70.6% (2007 est.)
Public debt 195.5% of GDP (2007 est.) 15.4% of GDP
Racial groups Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6% White 92%, Asian 7%, Aboriginal and other 1%
Export partners US 22.8%, China 14.3%, South Korea 7.8%, Taiwan 6.8%, Hong Kong 5.6% (2006) Japan 19.6%, China 12.3%, South Korea 7.5%, US 6.2%, India 5.5%, NZ 5.5%, UK 5% (2006)


Because the Japanese environment is not conducive to the formation of fossils, it is unknown how long it has been occupied by humans. Homo erectus was known to be in what is now Beijing (close to Japan) 850,000 years ago so potentially it could be hundreds of thousands of years. Actual evidence of occupation only dates back 30,000 years.

Whereas agriculture commenced in China around 9,000 years ago, it wasn’t until 400 BC that agriculture developed in Japan. The delay could be attributed to the difficulties in adapting Chinese rice varieties to Japanese conditions. (Rice was not suited to the northern island of Hokkaido. As a result, the people of Hokkaido remained hunter gatherers until the early 20th century.)

Once agriculture developed, the social structure of Japan changed. Instead of being egalitarian with tribal elders, it became hierarchical with warlords and emperors. Burial mounds became more elaborate as individuals were able to accumulate more wealth and attempt to take the wealth into the afterlife.

As farming was the basis of economic prosperity, different clans warred over the relatively little arable land. This gave rise to the Samurai in the 12th century, who ruled for more than six centuries. Samurai culture was based on loyalty to a master, a rigid adherence to rules, a distrust of foreigners and a lack of compassion to the weak. Under the Samurai, the emperor had symbolic power but no military power (much like European royal families have today.)

Change came in the 19th century when American Commodore Mathew Perry sailed into Japan and announced that the country would be invaded if it didn't trade with America. The Meiji Emperor saw the obvious power difference between Japan and America along with an opportunity to gain the military power that Japanese emperors had always lacked. When the Americans returned, the emperor traded with them for guns and subsequently announced that the Samurai could no longer carry swords or behead members of the public that disrespected them. The Samurai rebelled but their swords were no match for the Emperor's new power.

The Emperor and the general population seemed to appreciate change and the benefits brought by trade. European and America customs became highly fashionable as the Japanese modelled themselves on the west. Initially, the modelling was in regards to clothing but soon it extended to colonialism. Japanese invasions of Korea, China and Taiwan soon followed.  

For western powers, Japan had become too much like themselves too quickly and frictions over the carving up of Asia emerged. At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, Japan further tested the western powers by seeking to have a racial equality clause inserted into the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was an assertion the western powers rejected, (although they used Australian prime minister Billy Hughes as the mouth piece of the anti-equality campaign.)

Embittered, the Japanese became more hostile to the western powers, who in turn reacted by trying to constrain Japan's rise. This led to European sanctions, support for China in their resistance to Japanese invasion and an American led oil embargo. Japan reacted by attacking the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, which brought America into the war and united the Asian and European theatres of the war. The war culminated with America dropping two nuclear weapons on Japanese cities.

After surrendering, the Japanese were expecting the Americans to rape and pillage. Instead, General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Tokyo on August 30 1945 and immediately decreed several laws: No allied personnel were to assault Japanese people and no allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food.

America did not seek to punish or extract reparations from Japan. Instead, they wanted political change. The Americans re-wrote the Japanese constitution to replace Japan’s previous militaristic system with a liberal democracy. Of particular note, the constitution stated of the Emperor that "his position stems from the will of the people with whom resides sovereign power". Such a statement was a marked change from previous declarations that the Japanese emperor was a god. Additionally, the constitution guaranteed equality before the law and outlawed discrimination based on "political, economic or social relations" or "race, creed, sex, social status or family origin". This paved the way for greater gender equality in Japan. No amendment has been made since its adoption.

Evidence of human occupation of Australia appears longer than human occupation of Japan. The fossil remains of Mungo Man suggest a history that dates back 62,000 years. Excavations of Cuddle Springs in north central NSW has found evidence of grinding stones dating back 30,000 years. These predate all other grinding stones around the world by 20,000 years and may suggest the development of agriculture during a period of more favourable climatic conditions. At the end of the 18th century; however, all people in Australia appeared to be hunter gatherers. In 1788, change came when the British decided that Australia would make a great place to dump criminals. For the next 80 years, Australia was supplied with the humans that Britain didn't want.

During World War II, Australia and Japan locked horns in Papua New Guinea. Although the Australians emerged triumphant, the fear of another Asian invasion motivated the Australian government to try to increase migration to build Australia's power. Because the British had little desire to migrate to their old Convict dumping ground, the Australian government targeted economic and social refugees from Southern Europe who were likewise accustomed to unsavoury labels.

The Immigration Restriction Act (White Australia Policy) initially prevented Asians from following the European riff raff. The policy was deconstructed after Australian soldiers stationed in Japan married Japanese women and insisted on bringing them home to Australia. These marriages subsequently opened the door for Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese refugees to head down under. After Asians who had low status in their countries laid the groundwork, high status Asians started migrating to Australia.

The different histories of Japan and Australia are reflected in their respective cultures today. Because Japanese history is considered to be noble (World War II excepted), the Japanese use it as a muse of inspiration for their creativity. On the other hand, because Australian history carries some unsavoury labels, most modern Australians either ignore it, or seek an excuse to degrade it.

Anui and Australian Aborigines

The economic organisation of society affects social structure. Both the Ainu of Japan (left) and Aborigines of Australia (right) were hunter gatherers, which produced egalitarian values. Instead of chiefs or emperors, the cultures had a series of elders that shared in leadership.


Indigenous peoples

The indigenous label is somewhat problematic when talking about Japan. The Ainu people of Hokkaido are often referred to as indigenous on the basis that they were hunter gatherers in the early 20th century and evidence of that hunter gathering can still be seen in their culture today. It is impossible to ascertain; however, whether they are the descendants of Japan's original peoples.

Language and genetic testing suggests that the Japanese are a mix of origins. It seems that there was a migration of Siberian people from the north, a Melanesian migration from the Pacific Islands and a Han Chinese migration from the Asian mainland. Because the Han brought with them a writing system, the written history of Japan came from their perspective and in turn gave rise to the Samurai.

Japan Last Ice Age

During the last Ice Age (which ended approximately 15,000 years ago) Japan was connected to the continent through several land bridges.

Like it is for the Ainu in Japan, the indigenous label in Australia tends to be used in reference to people who have hunter gathering in their recent ancestry but it is very difficult to ascertain whether they were the genetic descendants of the first people of Australia.

At 62,000 years old, the fossil of Mungo Man is the earliest example of human occupation in Australia. The ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research found that Mungo Man's skeleton's contained a small section of mitochondrial DNA. After analysing the DNA, the school found that Mungo Man's DNA bore no similarity to the other ancient skeletons, modern Aborigines and modern Europeans. Furthermore, his mitochondrial DNA had become extinct. Aside from having unique DNA, Mungo Man had a unique bone structure. His skeleton was thin boned like modern day Aborigines; however, most skeletons between 10,000 and 50,000 years of age where thick-boned. In northern Australia, the 17,000 + year-old Bradshaw (Gwion Gwion) paintings record the history of a people that were culturally distinct from the hunter gatherers at the time of European colonisation. Instead of depicting animals, they use humans as the primary subject, which is very rare for paleolithic art. In addition, it shows them with tassels, hair adornments, and possibly clothing. Such body adornments are usually only found in agricultural societies that have developed hierarchical systems of status. The only real expert on the Bradshaw art was the late Graham Walsh, who documented and studied the art for over 40 years. The combination of the pictures themselves and the oral history of the local tribes led Walsh to conclude that they were painted by an unknown Asiatic race before the last ice age. Walsh also concluded that there were a form of iconography (picture writing).

Some archaeologists have classified theories of multiple migrations based upon skeleton structure. Early theories proposed that the first humans in Australia were the "negrito" Tasmanian people, who were displaced by "Murrayans", who were in turn displaced by "Carpentarians". These theories tend to be politically sensitive.

At 17,500+ years, the Bradshaw paintings (Gwion Gwion) record a lifestyle that has humans as the primary art focus. Furthermore, they show tassels and hair adornments usually used to mark social hierarchies in agricultural societies. Finally, they use the repetition of figure use found in iconography (picture writing.) Could they have been made by an agricultural society?


Most Japanese define themselves as atheists despite observing customs and traditions that are religious in origin and nature. Perhaps the approach to religion can be explained as stemming from the lack a monotheistic institution ruling Japan like Christianity and Islam ruled in Europe and the middle-east. Without a politically minded institution using a monotheistic god to persuade followers, Japan was able to fuse many religious doctrines into varying aspects of Japanese life. The Japanese could then follow various practices without needing to declare a religious identification.

Shinto seems to be the orginal religion of Japan. Like religions in hunter gatherer societies, it is animistic and is based on belief that plants and objects have living souls. Devotees worship Kami (spirits) that occupy the same world as humans. Torii are erected in significant sites for the kami to pass through.

Into Shinto beliefs, the Japanese infused aspects of Confucianism and Buddhism that were imported from China. Specifically, the Japanese embraced Confucian philosophy that proposed a social hierarchy in which each individual fulfils the obligations of their place to the fullest for the benefit of the entire society. Buddhism was popular amongst the Samurai; however, it was changed to create the concept of Zen. This taught meditation in order to “awaken,” and live in the immediate present, to be spontaneous, and be liberated from self conscious and judgmental thoughts. Among other things, this allowed the Samurai to behead people without any guilt.

Christianity is the dominant religion in Australian society. Like the Japanese, many Australians define themselves as atheist but will still observe religious customs like Christmas gift giving. In the penal era, religion and politics were intertwined as they were in Europe but the influence of the church on politics diminished over the 20th century. Christianity is very different from the Japanese religions as it conceives of a spirit realm separated from the real world, it encourages judgmental thoughts, is monotheistic and encourages adherents to live for the future.


Often found at the entrace to a shinto shrine or other significant places, Torii symbolically mark the transition from the profane to the sacred.


The landscape has had a significant influence on Japanese cultural development. About 72% of Japan is mountainous and only 11.26% is arable land. In the past, there was intense warring for the few areas where agriculture was suitable. Those who controlled the land in turn used it to gain maximum yields, which tended to be rice over livestock. Animal protein therefore came from fishing.

Over 90% of Australia is dry, flat and arid. Almost three-quarters of the land cannot support agriculture in any form. It was due to environmental difficulties that agriculture didn’t develop in Australia until foreign plants and animals was imported in the 18th century.


The prevalence of tsunami and earthquakes influenced Japanese building design. Because solid brick constructions were difficult to build and dangerous when the earth was shaking, Japanese designed houses out of wood, paper, bamboo and mud. These moved with the ground during earthquakes and if they did fall down, they could be rebuilt quickly. The downside was that they were very cold in winter and were a fire hazard. Today, small Japanese houses still use the flexible building materials. Larger houses that use concrete are built to be able to move with earthquakes.

Australian housing has generally followed European approaches thus is yet to show significant adaption to the landscape. Specifically, houses are rarely designed with bushfires in mind or the extreme heat of summer.

Japanese houses are more sturdy than in the past, but paper walls are still popular.

Love hotels

Love hotels are a very prominent feature of the Japanese urban environment. They are hotels that exist for the sole purpose of having sex.  To ensure discretion, payment may be made to hands that appear from behind curtains or via an electronic display with buttons.

Foreigners typically interpret the existence of love hotels as evidence of a decadent side to Japanese culture.  In their eyes, the existence of a hotel that exists solely for sex must mean that Japanese are prone to cheating. Such an interpretation tends to reflect the motivations for hotel sex in foreign countries. The real explanation is far more conservative. Basically, traditionally married Japanese often live with parents in houses with walls made of paper. It is therefore difficult to have sex in ways that don't draw the attention of parents or children. In addition, children often live with their parents until they get married so it is not always easy to have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend in ways that don’t disturb their parents. The love hotel provides the solution for couples that want to do more than hold hands but don't want share their intimacy with others.

In Australia, there are no love hotels because there is less of a culture of married couples living with parents or children living at home until they are married. Furthermore, houses usually have thick walls where couples can gain some privacy. If teenage couples really need privacy that they can’t get at home, the car or a green belt in the city provides a degree of isolation.  

Social etiquette

On Japanese streets, it is generally considered polite for sick people to wear a face mask so that they don’t spread germs. Blowing one’s nose into a hanky or tissue is considered to be a disgusting habit so swallowing mucus or spitting the mucus onto the pavement is preferred. It is acceptable for drunk men to urinate on the street but less so for sombre men. (Women are expected to use a toilet.) Honesty is a highly prized trait and lost wallets and purses are often returned with money still enclosed.

In the restaurant or izakaya (drinking establishment with cheap eats), etiquette is reasonably relaxed aside from refraining from actions that have death associations. One taboo is sticking chop sticks up right in rice, as this is how rice may be presented to deceased ancestors in the obon festival. Another taboo is passing food using chop sticks. While it maybe a flirtatious act in many Asian countries, in Japan it has associations with passing the bones of cremated loved ones. Tipping is not required in Japanese restaurants and may even be considered to be rude. Other customs, such as the manner of holding chopsticks and methods of serving, relate to eating in refined ways. Expensive sushi is eaten with the hands.

When entering the home, shoes are removed and exchanged for a pair of slippers. It is rare to be invited into the home so it is considered polite to bring a small inexpensive gift.

In business, bowing is sign of respect and the lower the bow the more the respect given. Business cards are usually exchanged and respect is typically demonstrated by accepting the card with two hands, studying it, looking impressed and then putting it away.

On Australian streets, sometimes drunk men are seen urinating but it is considered very poor etiquette and may attract police attention. An obvious swallowing of mucus would be viewed as disgusting as would spitting mucus on the pavement. Honestly is a prized trait but it is unlikely a lost wallet or purse would be returned with money still enclosed.

In a restaurant, etiquette varies according to the nature of the restaurant but generally it is taboo to use hands on anything except chips and bread. Australians do more entertaining in their homes than Japanese, which is turn reflected with Australians spending more money on entertaining areas and renovations. When being invited to a dinner party or barbeque, it is generally polite to make a contribution of alcohol such as wine or beer.



In Japan, renters pay key money when they move into a house or apartment. This is a sum of money that is given to the landlord and which the landlord keeps. It covers the cost of new mats and any other repairs once the tenant moves out. When moving into a neighbourhood, it is polite to give a gift to the neighbours.

In Australia, renters pay a bond. This is a sum of money that they get back if they have not damaged the property. There is no need to give a gift to the neighbours.

The different renting systems can perhaps be attributed to the desire of Japanese for new tatami mats whenever they move into a new place versus an Australian comfort with second hand things.

Shame culture versus guilt culture

American anthropologist Ruth Benedict classified Japan as a "shame" culture and cultures with a Christian base as "guilt" cultures. She basically meant that shame is ruled by external moral standards while guilt is ruled by internal moral standards. Benedict used the cultural framework to explain the behaviour of Japanese soldiers, who often considered a sense of honour to be more important than their own lives.

Some Japanese have used the shame-versus-guilt definitions to explain why Australians are more opinionated or honest about their beliefs than they are. For example, if a Japanese person was given food he or she didn't like, he or she may politely say it is tasty. The intention is to keep harmony in the communities.

Aside from the different religions that underpin the value systems of the Australia and Japan, there are numerous influences that may make the Japanese less likely to express their opinion and more likely to be shy. Firstly, the Japanese language is hierarchical. As a result of using it, individual Japanese become relatively more conscious of their inferior social status as they are growing up sorrounded by people superior in status (because they are older). Because they are more aware of their inferior social status, the Japanese may be less likely to express their opinion for the same reason an Australian might not express their opinion around their boss. Specifically, individuals usually only express an opinion when they don't feel they are inferior in status. Unlike the Japanese, because Australians use a language that does not accord status, they feel more egalitarian as they are growing up. As a result, they have more confidence in their opinions because they feel more equal with those around them.

A second reason for the reluctance of Japanese to express their opinion is that Japan lacks the social diversity of Australia. Therefore, the Japanese are less likely to feel that being different is acceptable.

Thirdly, democracies place symbolic power in the common person. Furthermore, they diversify the population by encouraging debate. In this way, democratic government can counter hierarchical social structures as well as the oppressive nature of monocultures. Because Japan has only had democratic governance since World War 2, it hasn't had the same amount of time to diversify its national myths like Australia. Perhaps the recent influence of democracy could be seen in the behaviour of Masanori Murakawa, a former wrestler turned politician. On his first day of work in 2003, Masanori arrived wearing a mask in addition to his suit. In response to criticism, he said,

"I have absolutely no intention of taking it off, no matter how much opposition there is,"


Masanori Murakawa

Masanori Murakawa


Bleach - The plot of Japanese anime Bleach shows a useful play on the guilt versus shame ideology. Byakuya, the captain of the greatest noble house, always obeys rules; including the rule that his sister must be executed. He fights Ichigo, an Australian like character with blonde hair, who doesn't care about rules but cares for his friends; including Byakuya's sister.



Most Australians like the idea of a labourer being able to have a beer with the Queen and seeing her as different but his equal. For example, the trucking magnate Lindsay Fox (net worth $350 million) said of Australia: 

'We don't have a class structure. We have people who relate to people. No body is superior. No body is inferior. The people who I went to school with collect the garbage around here. But if they want to come in and have a drink, that's fine with me.'

The egalitarian sentiments are reflected in Australian English. Australians may refer to some foreigners as "mate" instead of using more respectful titles such as your honour, sir, madam, mrs, mr, ms, lord, and your highness.For example, when cricketer Dennis Lillee greeted Queen Elizabeth, he used the words: "G'day, how ya goin'?" For many Australians, Lillee’s actions were an act of equality and understanding. After all, it wasn’t the Queen’s fault that she couldn’t play cricket and that her subjects were terrible players as well. For the British; however, Lillee’s act of equality was the act of an upstart colonial who didn’t know his place.

Unlike Australia, Japan is a hierarchical society. A different language is used for addressing people of different status. When addressing people of higher status, Japanese use a more formal language that includes different words and honorifics.

The hierarchical nature of Japanese can cause some confusion when dealing with Australians. For example, in 1980 a Japanese prefecture sponsored a weekend seminar to discuss problems that Japanese people might experience in Australia. One speaker, Hiro Mukai, stated:

"Australians appear very naive to the newly-arrived Japanese. They speak the same way with everyone."


Dealing with problems

The Japanese often deal with problems by politely looking the other way. This has led to a psychological condition known as Hikkomori Syndrome, which involves a young person withdrawing from society. Unusually, a kid will go to his room and stay there for years. His parents will leave food at the door. The parents are confused about what to do so they just ignore it.

Due to the cultural mentality, gambling and pornography thrives in Japan even though both are illegal. According to the Japanese, someone is only gambling if money is won. If a prize is won instead, it is not gambling. To exploit the loophole, pachinko parlours (like poker machine palaces) give gamblers the chance to win prizes. These can be then be sold for money at a shop located next to the pachinko parlour. Even though it is obviously in violation of the spirit of the rule, the Japanese look the other way. Pornography is treated in the same manner. A loop hole states if the penis and vagina is pixelated, the material is not porn. Exploiting the loophole, pornographers depict extreme hard core sex acts yet can still sell it legally as long as the vagina and penis are pixelated.

Australians are usually quick to denounce anyone exploiting loopholes or problems in societies. (Dealing with pornography is perhaps an exception. Technically, pornography is illegal in every Australian state. Even so, the porn industry thrives due to a mail-order business operating out of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.)

When Australians visit Japan, the cultural difference can cause problems. The Australians are in the habit of looking for problems in Japanese society so that they can be exposed to a wider audience. For example, Ryann Connel, the ex-chief editor of the English website of The Mainichi Daily News, busied himself with writing columns about a Japanese restaurant where patrons allegedly have sex with animals before eating them and Japanese men who cheat on their wives. For a while, Japanese politeness held sway and they simply ignored the Australian. Eventually, the Japanese just returned fire. A blogging campaign commenced with comments such as:

"Ryann Connell is a degenerate scatologist - a typical Australian."

Sponsors also reacted, and pulled advertising estimated to be worth more than 20 million yen ($195,000). The newspaper issued a 1277-word apology, reprimanded several staff and put Connell on three months' disciplinary leave.

Relaxation and socialising

To relax, Japanese often sit in hot springs or hot baths that are seen to have medicinal benefits.

To socialise, karaoke boxes are popular. Groups of friends rent out a room with a karaoke machine and take it in turns singing. Instead of pubs, Japanese have izakaya, where alcohol is cheap and is consumed along with small meals.

The beach is to Australia what the hot spring is to Japan. Karaoke is popular in Australia but it tends to be in pubs in front of strangers instead of private boxes with friends.


In Australia, karaoke is popular in bars in front of strangers. In Japan, it is in private boxes.


Most Japanese don't eat whales and have no desire to eat whales. They do; however, reserve the right to eat whales. They consider criticism of whaling as a form of racism that is akin to an Indian telling an Australian not to eat beef. According to Buddhist ideology, there is no difference between a fish and a marine mammal and Australians have no moral right to say there is. In any case, the Japanese have noted that they are being targeted in a way that other whaling nations, such as Norway and Iceland, are not. This selective targeting of Japan is seen as a sign of Australian racism. In addition, because Australia has actively tried to stop the Japanese taking whales from Japanese waters, the Japanese consider Australia's anti-whaling stance to be interference in its territorial integrity

Like Japan, Australia has a long history of whaling. In 1792, Sydney Cove was the centre for the profitable whale and seal trade around the southern coasts. Numerous other coastal whaling stations were established around Australia in the late 1820s to 1830s. The whaling stations were the economic heart of communities, they brought in a cosmopolitan mix of people from around the world, and they inspired paintings, scrimshaws, and novels.

The whale's role as an object to be consumed continued until 1978, when commercial whaling ended with closure of Australia's last whaling station, the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, in Western Australia. In 1979, Australia adopted an anti-whaling policy.

Today, whales are still part of Australian culture; however, the role they play reflects a degree of cultural evolution. Instead of been harvested, they are watched. Tour groups take people to watch the whales as they migrate up the Australian coast. This industry is worth an estimated $250 million a year.

As well as contributing to the economy, whales also contribute to community spirit. As they swim up the Australian coast, people will flock to watch them, photograph them, paint pictures of them and give them names. Occasionally, a whale will swim into Sydney Harbour, and for days Australians will gather on the harbour foreshores to watch the whale play. The community spirit is covered in local newspapers, and on the TV news.

In order to protect the whales that migrate up the Australian coastline, in 2000 the Australian Whale Sanctuary was created in Australia's Antarctic Territory. Should those whales be killed, then part of Australia's culture dies with it. Japan might be deliberately targeting these waters because Australia is trying to stop the Japanese taking whales from their own waters.

The Japanese are correct that Australians have targeted them in a way that they have not targeted Icelanders and Norwegians; however, it probably isn’t for racist reasons. Many Australians can’t stand loopholes being exploited so when Japan argues that it is hunting whales for scientific reasons, Australians want to expose the lie. If the Japanese simply said they were hunting for commercial reasons, as do Norway and Iceland, they would probably be ignored just as Norway and Iceland are ignored.

Immigration identity

Although Japanese are open to change, they don't want that change to include non-Japanese migrating to Japan. If they do, they are not recognised as Japanese. For example, the descendants of Koreans who migrated to Japan a century ago are still defined as Koreans and must carry foreigner cards.

To deal with an aging population, Japan is allowing some Brazilians of Japanese descent to migrate to Japan. These people are classed as Brazilians, not Japanese.

While the Japanese define migrants as foreigners, when a person migrates to Australia, they are pressured to see themselves as Australians. Many Australians dislike migrants waving the flag of foreign countries. They want the migrant to identify themselves as Australian and if they do, they will be treated as an Australian. The idea of a 3rd generation Australian identifying with a foreign country is off-putting for many Australians.

Blood type

Japanese often use blood types to define personalities much like some Australians use astrological signs. For example, Type As are peaceful but high-strung. Type Bs are caring but selfish. Type ABs are rational but indecisive, and Type Os are sociable and honest but dislike authority.

Not only are blood types used as an ice-breaker, they are also used when forming opinions on other cultures. Because O is the most common blood type in Australia, Japanese tend to view Australians through the prism of the blood type. Specifically, Australians are viewed as not liking authority and being rude but being good at team sports. (A is the most common blood type in Japan.)

Ironically, Japan never wanted to invade Australia prior to World War 2 because officials felt that with so many O blood types, Australians would be too difficult to control. The Japanese had had similar experience with Type Os in Taiwan and felt they were far more active than the submissive Blood Type As in Haikado.

War remembrance

Australia is one of the few countries in the eastern hemisphere that doesn't have a major issue with Japan's approach to remembering its war dead.

The Japanese approach to remembrance doesn't involve judging whether the dead were good people or bad. All that matters is that they died serving Japan. The approach comes from the Shinto religion, which views the spirit of the dead as being separate from the body of the living. Consequently, Shinto does not recognise the crimes of spirit's body when walking the earth.

In the 1800s, the Yasukuni Shrine was designated as a place to pray for the souls of the fallen. The Shrine does not honour the soldiers. Because Shinto views all killing as a crime, the shrine exists as a place where spirits can be preyed for so that they may rest peacefully. Yasukuni literaly means "Pacifying the Nation."

For the Japanese, the approach has a positive effect in creating passivism. Not only does it encourage the Japanese to remember the fallen, it discourages them from being bitter at their enemies. From the 1850s to the 2000, France, Holland, Russia, England, China, Japan and America all had competing self-interests in east Asia that expressed themselves in conduct many Japanese would consider to be morally objectionable. The Shinto faith makes it easier for the Japanese to simply forgive and move on.

Concerning some of Japan's neighbours is the fact that 14 soldiers convicted of being Class A war criminals are enshrined at Yasukuni along with 2,466,000 other men and women. Visits to the shrine by Japanese politicians are therefore judged to be a sign that Japan lacks remorse over World War II.

The Australian approach to war remembrance has some similar elements to Japan, and this may explain why Australians haven't had the same violent reaction to Japanese remembrance as have other countries. A central feature of Australian remembrance is the Ode, a paragraph taken from the poem 'Ode for the Fallen':

" They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. "

Like Shinto belief, the Ode doesn't encourage judgements about right or wrong. The only thing that matters is that people died and those who live should remember them.

In addition to refraining from judgement, the Australian approach is on remembering fallen soldiers, not the evil of the enemy. Because it's more focussed on the self, there is less attention given to the wrongs committed by others.

While the Japanese approach is anchored in the Shinto religion and national pride, the Australian approach is anchored in mateship. The tradition of Australian remembrance commenced with an informal gathering of ex-soldiers in 1923. These ex-servicemen were not interested in politics, nor national pride. They simply wanted to express their sorrow and remember fallen comrades. It wasn't until 1927 that their tradition received any political sanction or recognition.

Cute - kawaii

Most Japanese love cute things. At times, the cuteness can be a little extreme by Australian standards. For example, when Japanese women refer to each other, they may add the title ‘chan’, which means ‘child.’ As far as most Japanese are concerned, there is nothing strange about a business woman wearing a suit but having someone refer to her as a child as she adjusts her make up using a pixie power mirror.



Japanese Hello Kitty

Japanese ladies associating themselves with Hello Kitty to increase their sex appeal


Koda Kumi - feminine body language








"Australia's culture has always been characterised by someone trying to make rules to live by, and someone else trying to break them."