Whereas in the West, we have the saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." In Japan they say Deru kui wa utareru, "The nail (stake)that stands up gets hit/hammered down". It is often quoted by foreigners(a little too often, I think) and seems to imply what is wrong with Japan. Japan is a country of conformity and thinking as a group. In this culture, someone who is too different, opinionated, or outspoken might be viewed as a selfish show off and potentially a threat to the rest of the group. I've noticed this with high school students. The system does it's best to bring up the underacheivers, but at the same time, in a culture where praise is rare, you get the feeling they discourage the exceptional students from being "too smart" or at least showing off about it. If you get to full of yourself, society has ways to bring you down a peg or two.