Reischauer, Edwin O.
January 1974
Foreign Affairs;Jan1974, Vol. 52 Issue 2, p341
This article explores the nature and strength of cultural bonds existing among countries of East Asia. The basic ethical concepts and value systems of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam are surprisingly uniform. For example, all show a strong emphasis on family solidarity, on filial piety, on subordination of the individual to the group, on the ideal of group harmony as opposed to a balance between conflicting rights, on social organization, on careful political integration, on hard work as a value in itself, on frugality, and on education as morally uplifting and the proper road to personal and family success, though the Japanese have added to these values a special emphasis on stoicism, marital virtues, and extra-family loyalties derived from their feudal experience. There never has been in East Asia any accepted concept of a community of nations. The national units, for one thing, have always been too uneven. China still has some 80 percent of the population of East Asia. Japan's present possession of more than two-thirds of East Asian economic production unbalances the area in still another way. But more important is the historical tradition, which, while recognizing cultural similarities, has never built on these a concept of an international community.


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