The country is Japan. The setting is a commuter train. The situations is a pregnant woman, wearing a badge telling people around her she is pregnant.

The reason for this is so other sitting passengers will stand up (if they can, due to the crowded train!), and let the pregnant women sit down.

But… why does she not just say she´s pregnant, or why do (typically men) not stand up out of themselves? Or people will eventually see she is pregnant!

Japanese Culture Explained:

Japan is a country with a collective society (score 46 on the Individualism dimension from Hofstede). One of the characteristics of collectivism is that your opinion is secondary to that of the group; in this case you do not claim your seat.

Second Japan is a very Masculine society (using Hofstede’s Masculinity dimension, Japan scores 95). One characteristic of high Masculinity is the limited role overlap between man and woman. Meaning that a man should do what a man should do, and a woman should do what a woman should do. In this case, the man should sit on the train, and therefore not the woman.

Last but not least Japan has a society “based” on the thinking of Confucius (in terms of Hofstede, Japan scores 80 on this 5th dimension). In Confucian thinking, everything should be done in “moderation”, no peaks, no excesses (if there are excesses, it is done under special circumstances, ritualized). In the train case, you do not make a fuss about not getting your seat, even if you´re pregnant.

You can watch the BBC video by following the link here!

Want to learn more? Why not get one of these books!

Books on Japanese Culture


Chris Smit
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