ETHIOPIA AND JAPAN IN COMPARATIVE CIVILIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVE* D onald N. L evine University of Chicago At rst blush, it is hard to imagine two societies more dissimilar than Japan and Ethiopia. Consider their religious traditions. With most of its historic peoples adhering to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Ethiopia presents an exemplar par excellence of Semitic religiosity, marked by moral subordination to a commanding supernatural deity—as is its lar- gest indigenous tradition, that of the Oromo. In sharp contrast, Japanese religiosity, which draws from an even more diverse range of traditions— Shinto, Buddhism, neo-Confucianism, and Taoism—has been oriented in ways that sacralize the natural world. Or consider their economies. With 7% of its labor force in agricul- ture, Japan ranks among the wealthiest countries in the world; Ethiopia, with a labor force 80% in agriculture, remains one of the poorest. Japan reports a literacy rate of 100%; Ethiopia’s populace is largely illiterate (10% literacy in 1976, about 36% two decades later). Japan’s popula- tion enjoys exceptional health, registering life expectancies of 77 (male)/83 (female) and an infant mortality rate of 4 per 1,000, and supporting one physician per 566 persons; Ethiopians still su V er a number of
Passages – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2001
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