The Japanese culture used to be summed up as people putting the needs of others before one’s own.
Characteristically and often stereotypically portrayed as over-the-top quiet and polite, you probably saw a few television shows where this was the case. Or maybe you saw a special about the country of Japan on DIRECT tv. It seems that in an island community literally overflowing with people, that way of life was really the only way so many could co-exist in such a small space.
This, unfortunately, has been changing in recent years as the younger generations step up to define the future of the country. In a country where it is not terribly uncommon for families to stay together, more and more Japanese are moving out on their own and fewer and fewer couples are having children. This creates a kind of cultural gap between the young and the old and traditional beliefs and customs like overwhelming courteousness and respect for fellow countrymen are falling upon deaf ears of the young.
Some people blame Western influence for this shift in cultural consciousness. While independence was never completely absent from the Japanese culture, independence to the point of selfishness is considered abhorrent but is, unfortunately, becoming a regular thing.