Nihonjinron

The term Nihonjinron (日本人論?) literally means theories/discussions about the Japanese. The term refers to a genre of texts that focuses on issues of Japanese national and cultural identity. The literature is vast, ranging over such varied fields as sociology, psychology, history, linguistics, philosophy, and even science. Though published predominantly in Japan by Japanese, noted examples of the genre have also been penned by foreign scholars, journalists and residents.

The term itself came into vogue after World War II to describe books and articles that aim to analyze, explain, or divagate on the putative peculiarities of Japanese culture and mentality, above all by comparison with foreign countries, especially Europe and the United States. However, Asian countries increasingly figure in recent works. Such texts share a general vision of what constitutes the uniqueness of Japan, and the term nihonjinron can be employed to refer to this outlook. One may also speak of books written by non-Japanese authors as nihonjinron, insofar as they share, contribute to, or reflect the vision, premises, and perspectives characteristic of the Japanese genre.

Though the generic word nihonjinron is most frequently used to describe the phenomenon, a variety of topical terms are also current that classify the many sub-genres of nihonjinron, according to specific theme or subject-matter. For example:

  • shinfūdoron (新風土論): "new theories on climate" (implying the influence of climate on peoples)
  • nihonbunkaron (日本文化論): "theories on Japanese culture"
  • nihonshakairon (日本社会論): "theories on Japanese society"
  • nihonron (日本論): "theories on Japan"
  • nihonkeizairon (日本経済論) "theories on the Japanese economy"

Read more about Nihonjinron:  Types of Nihonjinron, History, Specific Thesis of The Nihonjinron, Nihonjinron As Cultural Nationalism, Quotes