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How Japan's stress on teamwork has created a civilised society but a weak economy-and children who cannot win at musical chairs

I never intended to scar these Japanese kids for life. I just wanted to give them a fun game to play. It was my son Gregory’s fifth birthday party last year, and he had invited all his Japanese friends from the Tokyo kindergarten which he attended. My wife and I explained the rules of musical chairs, and we started the music. It was not so awful for the Japanese boys. They managed to fight for seats, albeit a bit lamely. But the girls were at sea.

The first time I stopped the music, Gregory’s five-year-old girlfriend, Chitose-chan, was next to…

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