This is not a scientific comparison, but when i saw one scene I remembered another.

This is the recent scene: yesterday afternoon, Naha airport, Okinawa, Japan. Line crew gassing up a Cirrus SR22:

Details to notice below: crew identically dressed in company uniform; complete safety gear -- hardhats, reflective chest straps with procedural checklist clipped on, puffy protective cuff to shield the plane's wing from damage. It's hard to see in the picture, but even the boots are part of the uniform: black, with red laces, and company logos on the back. Impossible to see in the picture: the coordinated shout and semi-bow toward the plane when the fueling was done.

Now, the scene I remembered and mentioned last year: Refueling the same kind of plane in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, China.

With usual caveats against sweeping generalization, what this made me think was: Japan is all about the way of doing things. Practice, ritual, perfectionism, as much fanatical attention to the process as to the result. China is all about finding a way to do things. Improvisation, little interest in rules, putting up with whatever is necessary to attain the result.

(Yeah yeah yeah, there are exceptions: perfectionist operations in China, loosey-goosey ones in Japan. Still.)

At the moment, I am feeling positive toward both approaches. The emphasis on the right way of doing things is re-surprising on each encounter with Japan. And the determination to do things in China, no matter what, commands respect, despite the obvious complications and problems it creates.

But when it comes to refueling the plane....

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