What do Japanese have to be so unhappy about? In the 2017 World Happiness Report, Japan ranked 51st on the happiness scale, sliding in between Belize and Lithuania. Among rich and advanced nations, only South Korea ranked lower at 56th.
Rounding out East Asia, Taiwan was happiest at 33, Hong Kong was 71st while China was the laggard at 79th. Is there a Confucian values factor at work?
There are endless scholarly debates about whether culture skews the results of such international comparisons based on survey data. For Japanese, I wouldn't rely on self-assessments about happiness because for all sorts of reasons they would respond less positively, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt (or a dash of soy sauce). People around the world will vary in how they interpret or respond to the same questions because of differences in accumulated experiences and knowledge. And respondents will vary in their interpretations of wellbeing based on objective data because such assessments are refracted through different prisms.