Conclusions -6

Other experiences tell other stories. Within the shipbuilding indus-try it is possible that a practical and down-to-earth manner on the part of the Norwegians, combined with an awareness of Japan’s significant international position, contributed to the good relationship which devel-oped in this sector in the 1960s. Norwegian shipping agents in Japan emphasised that a generally respectful attitude to the Japanese way of doing things was important for their success. Business was a formal matter, and a strict adherence to codes was necessary. A cordial slap on the shoulder the American way would not do; the Japanese would take it as an offence. The Norwegians knew this. Neither would it do to push for a premature conclusion to the negotiations; the Japanese pace of doing things had to be respected. The Norwegians might in this case have had a small country’s cultural advantage: the Japanese set the terms, and the Norwegians adjusted accordingly.
Contacts and close relations within the shipping sector have generated meeting points, which have enhanced further interaction. When J0rgen Flood returned to Norway in the early 1970s, after ten years as a shipping agent in Japan, he found that Japanese living there had little contact with Norwegians. His idea was to create a social forum for informal contact. He therefore established Japan-Norway Society in 1977, and became the Society’s first President. The society generally meets several times a year, and arranges a number of activities such as boatrides, mushroom hunting, skiing and a yearly dinner for all members. A similar society – Norway-Japan Society – was established in Tokyo in 1979.
The hundred-year-long story of the relationship between the two countries shows variations and exchanges within a number of fields. The way to friendship has been uneven and partly unpredictable, and hardly steady. Norway’s relationship with Japan has been characterised by indifference as well as hostility, fear and suspicion. It has also been a relationship characterised by curiosity as well as admiration. Since the Second World War the two countries have shown a growing mutual interest in each other. Around the turn of the twentieth century, leading politicians emphasised Norway’s friendship with Japan. The Norwegian state has been an important participant in this development, but there have been several others as well. The relationship has been developed and maintained by several actors. More importantly, it is not a finished product, but rather at a stage in an ongoing process that in the future may take twists and turns yet unknown to us.

Conclusions -5

No single explanation can probably fully elucidate Japan’s economic success.Economic decline in the 1990s meant less euphoric Western statements about Japanese solutions to problems of mass production, and a declining belief in the Japanese model. However, for a considerable length of time, sustained focus on Japanese production systems and corporate culture probably contributed to an enhanced (more…)

Conclusions -2

In academic and non-academic works, Japan has been portrayed as a unique country, unlike any other in the world. A common term for this approach is ‘nihonjin-ron’ (discussions of the Japanese). This term refers to various theories about the Japanese and how they are. Nihonjin-ron has formed notions of Japanese distinctiveness and has been a vital part of the Japanese understanding of themselves and their culture. It (more…)