Many foreigners mention the good behavior of Japanese as one of the things that surprises them the most after coming to Japan. Foreigners are surprised that Japanese walk in an orderly manner in Japan’s busy and crowded cities. They are also impressed to see Japanese forming lines – even when they were receiving relief supplies directly after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Japanese, who essentially all belong to the same racial group, exhibit a particular trait in that they all tend to move in the same direction. In other words, they are good at exhibiting group behavior.
These behaviors are related to the Japanese concept of a harmonious culture in which respect and the maintenance of good relationships with others are considered important. Not bothering others means behaving in a respectable way as respectable people. An outstanding example of this is the fact that Japanese are usually very punctual and on time. Japanese try their hardest not to be late for business appointments, order deadlines, and arrivals and departures of trains, except, of course, in the case of accidents.
Japanese are often described as being people who “follow the rules” and this is also seen in the workplace. Japanese rarely arrive late at the office, leave the office early or take days off without notice. In addition, they usually work very well in accordance with what they are expected to do. This is why Japanese are often referred to as being “diligent.” The Japanese work ethic and character is a powerful weapon being used to promote international competition.
On the other hand, when Japanese are apart from their group, they often show a lack of public manners and may be seen carelessly tossing away drink cans and cigarette butts and urinating in the streets when there are not many people around.