Culture is a complex and diverse aspect. It entails the way of life in a particular group of people. It is characterized by different aspects, for instance, beliefs and behaviour.
Cultural differences could be seen through looking at different elements that define a certain culture for instance artefacts, myths and stories, rituals, rites, symbols, assumptions, values, norms and ethical codes and attitudes towards different things among others. Different cultural groups have different cultural elements (Sugimoto, 1997). This piece of work gives an in depth evaluation of cultural differences in Japan with much emphasis being given to health care and mental illness in particular.
Generally, the culture of Japan is characterized by collectiveness where individualism is not usually a key concept in various practices in different sectors of the economy such as the education system, health care, and politics. Although collectiveness sounds to be advantageous at the face, it is not always beneficial and in some cases some special groups are left to suffer in the name of collectiveness or placing all aspects at the same level (Hendry, 1995).
In regard to Japan’s health care, culture in the country has both positive and negative impacts. In respect to mental health in Japan, collectiveness of the culture does not add value. People suffering from mental illness are looked down upon by the society. Towards the beginning of the 20th century for example, those who suffered from the mental illness in the country did not integrate with the rest of the society but rather they were secluded and restrained to their households.
The situation was not any better until the enactment of Mental Health Hygiene Law of 1950, which gave the mentally ill some rights including integrating them into the society. The situation is not however any different and the mentally ill are still looked down upon by the community and are seen to be a source of shame to a family and the society at large.
As a result of the high value that is placed by the Japanese culture on the issue of uniformity and collectiveness, there has been some negative effects in the health care sector where many people who suffer from mental illness are at a loss since no special care is given to them as expected but rather they are treated as any other patient.
This leads to a poor life standard as compared to the mentally ill in other cultures. The only positive aspect is that mental health care in Japan is being improved day by day and the stigmatization may reduce as days go by (Tajima, 2000).
In terms of ethical issues related to the treatment of the mentally ill in Japan, we can clearly see that it is unethical to treat the mentally ill in a bad manner; as a source of shame to the family which causes stigmatization. This is because they do not have any mistake and mental illness is just like any other disease. The mentally ill should therefore be treated with the due respect a human being deserves.
It is evident that there exist various major differences among cultures. Japan is a country that is known for various conflicting cultural issues especially when viewed in respect to other countries.
The cultural issues usually conflict with the expected or general stipulated ethical, moral, and sometimes legal issues hence bringing about conflicts that raise a lot of concerns especially when it comes to international ventures. Cultural differences in the country need to be handled in a strategic manner so as to facilitate unity that will in turn lead to success in most of the practices involved.
Hendry, J. (1995). Understanding Japanese Society, 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Sugimoto, Y. (1997). An Introduction to Japanese Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Tajima, O. (2000). Mental health care in Japan: Recognition and treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,62 (13), 39-44.