It has often been stated that the core of Japan's social structure is the family system. Research on any aspect of Japanese life is likely to lead to that subject sooner or later, because of its importance. The Japanese themselves, particularly the conservative groups, understand this fact more clearly than do most Westerners. They find in the family system the essence of Japanism, contrasting it to individualism, which forms the basis of Western culture. In more recent times, individualism was presented as a menace to Japan's “national polity” and as a “dangerous thought.” It became the ideological whipping boy of Japanese nationalists. The term “individualism” itself assumed the abhorrent qualities which the words “nihilism” or “anarchism” had in Europe at the turn of the century. Even today “individualism” means hardly more to many Japanese than selfishness and an antisocial attitude.

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