Japanese manners are often remarked upon with awe and wonder by visitors to this country, but you seldom hear a word about Japanese courtesy.

If manners are the form and framework of ordained behavior within a society, courtesy is the street-level, day-to-day deference to and respect for the needs and rights of others. While the protocols of formality are admirable, if a culture does not also enshrine the quotidian compromises, small and large, that comprise simple courtesy, the former are next to worthless. And in this respect, Japan is woefully deficient.

Before going further, let me stipulate to a few objections from the gallery.