“Solidarity” is the word used in some news articles to express or explain the respect for the feelings of others that characterizes much Japanese behaviour, and that puzzles so many Western observers. I’m not sure it is the best English word: in Japan, solidarity is more than a spontaneous expression of empathy, it is closer to an ideology; and there is a lot of peer-pressure mixed in with it. To be Japanese is to be bound by solidarity with other Japanese, whether you like it or not.

It is also fear of what others might think (if they went ahead and partied, for instance) that makes many Japanese show self-restraint. It is a kind of self-censorship.

Just a handful of people were sitting under the cherry blossom in Tokyos Ueno Park, and most were sombre.”Before, the picnic blankets would entirely cover the ground,” said one man. “And youd hear people singing karaoke, even this early in the day.””I think a lot of people would feel guilty about those affected by the disaster if they had fun and partied,” added a woman. Normal life A month after Japans earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis, the country has entered a period of what is known as jishuku, or voluntary self-restraint.Out of solidarity with those in disaster-hit areas people across the country are making cut-backs.

via BBC News – Japanese unite in show of self-restraint.