By: Zlavia Melia Nur Islami
Mentor: Joni Rollis
Indonesia and Japan have variety of cultures. Both countries have culture exchange program that is purposed to introduce each country. Most Indonesian, especially youth, know about Japanese pop cultures such as manga, J-pop like AKB48, and anime like Doraemon. Likewise, many Japanese people also know about Indonesian Batik, traditional dances like Saman dance and musical instrument such as Gamelan. But the culture they introduced to each-other mostly for entertainment, and that’s why we rarely hear about the social-culture in those countries. Japan and Indonesia have similarities in their social culture, since both of them located in the Asia continent, but they also have their own uniqueness that makes different from each other.
First, we can compare them in the term of collectivism. Collectivism can be interpreted as a practice where people put the priority on the group over the individual. Collectivism is the state of mind where in the values and goals of the group, whether extended family, ethnic group, or company is primary (Hofstede, 1993). Collectivism pertains to societies in which, from birth onward, people are integrated into strong, cohesive in groups, which throughout people’s lifetimes continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty (Mangundjaya, 2010). Both Indonesia and Japan is collectivist country, even though it can be seen in the different aspect.
Indonesian society is very collectivist, this is clearly visible is in the aspect of the family, like children and parent relationship. Indonesian children are bound to their parents. They take care and give their parent support in their old age because they want to make their parent’s life easier. This collectivism in Indonesia is also apparent in the fact that children in Indonesia keep their old parent at home instead of sending them to any institution (geert-hofstede.com).
People maybe saw Japan as an individualist country, because lots of Japanese do their activities by themselves like study or travel. But, based on Dutch social psychologist, Geert Hofstede, Japan is considered as collectivist even though it is not as collectivist as any other Asian country. “Deru kugi wa utareru” (“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down”) is the expression that used to explain how Japanese prefers conformity and equality in society and oppose individuality (Hooper, 2017). They put the interest of the group above their individual and maintain strong relationship with group members. For example, the Japanese employees see themselves as a member of his work group. When a work group reaches an achievement, no-one questioning about who contribute more because it’s considered as a group work, so everyone in the group is recognized and rewarded (Onken.com).
Second, we can see the differences in both countries about how to show politeness and respect. The expression or gesture may be different, but that has the same intention, to show politeness and respect by their own uniqueness.
There are some way to show politeness and respect in Indonesia. Younger people take elder hand and touch the back of elder hand to their forehead to show respect from the young, such as student to their teacher. In addressing someone older, it would consider more polite adding specific terms like “Bapak” for Mr., and “Ibu” for Mrs., before you mention the name. Smiling is also polite act to show humbleness, kindness, and friendliness, so it’s considered rude if you didn’t reply other’s smile (wikibooks.org).
Different from Indonesia, Japan has the different way to show politeness and respect. They have Ojigi as the tradition to show respect to other people in gratitude and forgiveness by bowing our body around 20°or more, the deeper and longer we bow to someone means the higher we respect to that person. Another way to show respect and politeness is adding the “-san” suffix after the name of a person that is has a higher social rank(inte.co.id).
Not only showing politeness in their attitude and manners, Indonesian and Japanese show politeness in their language. Their language might be different, but both languages have same politeness level. The different person you talk the different words you use.
Although there are no explicit provisions of politeness in Indonesian Language, Indonesian have the different way of speaking to other people in the different situation. Spoken Indonesian language has three politeness level. The most polite form is “Bahasa Indonesia Formal”, this form is used on formal occasions, like talking to your manager or supervisor in the work place. Next is “Bahasa Indonesia Semi-formal”, Indonesian children use this form when talking to elder/parent, some adults also use this form for everyday conversation among themselves. Last is “Bahasa Indonesia Non-formal”, this form is full of slang that is used for very, very informal situation such as daily conversation among children and teenagers, but considered impolite and rude if it is used to talk to older people (thejapanesepage.com, 2010).
Similar to Indonesian language, there are three politeness levels in Japanese. This happens because there is hierarchy in Japan that are determined by many factors, such as job, age, and experience, because of that people are expected to use polite language to the one in the higher position. The politeness level is ‘kudaketa’ as the plain form, ‘teinei’ as simple polite form, and ‘keigo’ as the advanced polite form (wa-pedia.com).
In conclusion, both Indonesian and Japanese society is collectivist, even though the accentuation that shows collectivism is different. Moreover Indonesian and Japanese people have the different way to show politeness and respect toward others, but they have similarities in the politeness level in their language. After all, we know that culture is not all about entertainment. There are some behavior and habit of people that are part of culture itself.