|This article does not cite any sources. (February 2009)|
Ninjō (人情 "human emotion or compassion"?) in Japanese, is human feeling that complements and opposes the value of giri, or social obligation, within the Japanese worldview. Broadly speaking, ninjo is said to be the human feeling that inescapably springs up in conflict with social obligation. As ninjo is a culture-specific term, the validity and/or importance of this concept is subject to a wide range of viewpoints, inextricably tied into one's perspective on nihonjinron as a whole.
The classic example of ninjo is that of a samurai who falls in love with an unacceptable partner (perhaps somebody of low social class or somebody of an enemy clan). As a loyal member of his clan, he then becomes torn between the obligation to his feudal lord and to his personal feelings, with the only possible resolution being shinjū or double love-suicide. The correspondence to William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet or the Aeneid would be made by Japanese and non-Japanese alike. The question of whether modern Japanese still feel a greater sense of giri than their Western counterparts, and thus remain in some ineffable way psychologically closer to this sort of giri-ninjo conflict is precisely where nihonjinron divides into the Japan-centric and Japan-skeptic camps.