Japanese children learn from their earliest days that human completion comes from close association with others. Children learn early to recognize that they are part of an interdependent society, beginning in the family and later extending to larger groups such as neighborhood, school, community, and workplace. Dependence on others is a natural part of the human condition
In personal relationships, most Japanese tend to avoid open competition and confrontation. Working with others requires self-control, but it carries the rewards of pride in contributing to the group, emotional security, and social identity. the notion of harmony within a group, requires an attitude of cooperation and a recognition of social roles. If each individual in the group understands personal obligations and empathise with the situations of others, then the group as a whole benefits. Success can come only if all put forth their best individual efforts.
Decisions are often made only after consulting with everyone in the group. This style of consultative decision-making involves each member of the group in an information exchange, reinforces feelings of group identity, and makes an accomplishment of the decision smoother.
Cooperation within a group also is often focused on competition between that group and a parallel one, whether the issue is one of educational success or market share. Symbols such as uniforms, names, banners, and songs identify the group as distinct from others both to outsiders and to those within the group. Participation in group activities is a sign statement that an individual wants to be part of the group.
Working in a group in Japan requires the development of successful channels of communication, which reinforce group interdependence, and the sense of difference from those who are not members of the group. Yet social interaction beyond that which occurs with individuals with whom one lives and works is a necessity in contemporary society.
Japan is an extremely competitive society.