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  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Adolescence in China and Japan: Adapting to a Changing Environment


There is probably no group about which stereotypes are stronger than those concerning children and youth in Japan and China. Part of this situation can be attributed to the eagerness with which the media have presented the most dramatic examples they can find rather than attempting to provide an objective, rounded picture of the adolescent years in these countries.

The image of Japanese or Chinese teenagers as conforming to and being controlled by society, as being devoted to their studies at the cost of participating in other activities, and as being prone to suicide and psychological problems as a result of their devotion to their studies is obsolete and probably never was an accurate portrayal of these teenagers' lives.

We attempt in this chapter to present research findings that dispel such myths and that are helpful in interpreting the rapid developments taking place in these 2 countries. In particular, we focus on how recent societal and economic changes have affected the lives of youth in China and Japan. To accomplish our goal, we cover a wide array of topics, from adolescents' changing relations with their families to their assumption of a role in the civic life of their country.


We chose to focus our discussion on these 2 countries despite the fact that there is vastly more information available about Japan than there is about China.

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