Nagatoshi Yashiki, the principal of the Japanese Saturday School in Newcastle, was explaining to a Scottish Office education seminar last week that Japanese people do not like to act differently from others round about them.
The ship is sinking, for instance. It has only one lifeboat that cannot hold everyone. Some will have to jump. But how to persuade the various foreign nationals to go over the side?
"To the British the captain says, 'you are such a gentleman'. To the Germans he says, 'this is an order from the captain'. To the Americans he says, 'don't worry, you are insured'. And finally to the Japanese, he says, 'please jump, everybody else has'."