The teachings of Confucius have resonated throughout Eastern Asia for centuries and cultivated within these countries, most notably Japan, a sense of ethical reciprocity and a comprehension of the moral implications of one’s actions, as reflected throughout the society in which one lives. (Scalise, 1999) This is the principle focus of the story Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teachings Us About Living in the West by T.R. Reid. The Japanese, as Reid views them, have developed an understanding of virtue that is initially taught and propagated as something to learn and develop, which is in turn a Confucian idea. As Reid argues, this fundamental difference in the understanding and application of morality and ethical behavior is what differentiates the culture from Western cultures, and what Reid believes to be the direct result of Confucian teachings. (Reid, 1999)
As Reid addresses, the Japanese consider moral education too vital to be left to churches or individuals, and this acclimation of the Confucian traditions is evident in Reid’s stay in the country. There is an overarching sense of responsibility that is had by each person in the country, and individuals are taught that they are responsible for the success and safety of their groups, whether they be their families, friends or groups at school. (Chin, 2007) If one individual acts out of line, as Reid understands, all of the individuals in this group are punished in turn. (Reid, 1999) There are essentially five tenets that Japanese society adheres to, and reflects in their culture, which can be seen as charity, rectitude, tact, sincerity and knowledge. (Rainey, 2010) Reid comments on the acclimation of these tenets throughout the book, but there is a prevalent emphasis on these characteristics in the school atmosphere and in Reid’s reflections on the state of the economy in the country, as well as the inspiration that many citizens have to ensure that they are employed and contributing to the greater whole of Japan.
- Chin, Ann-ping (2007) The Authentic Confucius: A Life on Thought and Politics. Scribner. p. 38.
- Rainey, Lee Dian (2010). Confucius & Confucianism: The essentials. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 101.
- Reid, T.R. (1999) Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West. Random House. p. 16.
- Scalise, Paul J. (1999) “Confucian Virtue and Asian Reality.” The Wayback Machine. p. 6.