Japanese people are like children, even if they get very old, who are scared of being kicked out of the family.
Connecting - not
This fear of exposing a bad English was one of the insights I had when meeting and listening to Shin Iwata, who works with foreign investments in Japan. One of his biggest challenges was to speak english in front of an international audience where his bad English would be exposed.
In that sense, it does not matter if you and I live in Japan, Sweden where I lived most my life or Colombia where I am right now.
In Sweden, guilt is more present and shame shows up in a different ways. Of course the religious influence is there, even if most people probably have lost the religious connection. What Sweden really has is the "law of Jante" that in many ways has similarities to the Japanese way. Jante, is a negative and condesending attitude towards individuality and success. And yes, there are similarities between the Swedish and Japanese ways of relating, for example in handling conflicts, where avoiding could be used to describe both cultures.
But, Japan is far more advanced when it comes to how shame affects the whole society, from the government, big companies to families, small groups and love relationships to the individual.
Japanese people are, even if they get very old, children who are scared to be kicked out of the family.