It is still the case that Chief Executives of large EuroAmerican corporations have incomes about 200 times greater than the lowest paid in their businesses, whereas in Japan the ratio is more like 20.
The difference between them is very much to do with the culture both blocs inherited from their pre-industrial era and, in turn, the culture had much to do with terrain and the particular type of hard labour involved in farming.
In our tradition the land — mostly not mountainous — was largely owned by small number of aristocrats and their incomes were derived from the thousands of others who toiled away — not particularly skilfully — growing cereal crops on each land-owner’s estate.
The aristocrats lived prosperous leisurely lives and it didn’t matter very much if — within reason — the weather varied from years to year or if some of the tenant farmers or farm labourers who worked for them were lazy.
Japan, however, is 95% mountainous and so rice could only be grown in relatively small pockets of land. There were no aristocrats of the land-owning variety so there were only rich peasants and poorer peasants. The slightest change in the weather would produce a highly variable flow of water down the mountainsides so every farming hamlet had to pay the most careful attention to regulating the sluice gates and irrigation channels.
Any lazy or irresponsible peasant among them could cause a complete wash-out of everybody’s smallholding sending all its top-soil elsewhere or, on the other hand, deprive the community of a great deal of water to fill the terraces at crucial times when they needed to be.
All this explains the disparity in hierarchical differences between EuroAmerica and Japan. Their traditional cultures have persisted even though EuroAmerica began industrialising 250 years ago and Japan 150. No doubt in both countries, as we proceed into a post-industrial era, the income differentials will regress to something similar, but that may be hundreds of years away, such is the persistence of culture in people’s minds.
But this is too big an assumption to make just now. As we proceed into a post-industrial society, a much higher standard of education is going to be necessary. Meanwhile, competition between countries will be intensifying as products and services become increasingly sophisticated in the EuroAmerican countries.
Perhaps although income differentials between the very rich and the very poor will regress to an acceptable middle range, yet the overall cultures of advanced countries will themselves be dividing bodily. It has happened many times before in mankind’s more distant past and is called sympatry.
Whenever an environment — and in our case this includes the world economy, too — starts to span a wider range thn previously then some parts of a species will specialise in some survival activities and other parts in others. There’s more than a suggestion already in some of the EuroAmerican countries that an elite sub-population — of about 15% to 20% — is pulling itself away from the rest. Better educated — and better connected — by far than most of the population, they’re already responsible for almost all the decisions that need to be taken to keep the nation-state on the road.