On another blog I made a comment that while there may not be a Japanese national "character" there are Japanese ways of doing things. You may or may not have heard of the Japanese concept of "nemawashi" (根回し), a way of gathering support for some change in a policy, project or whatever. As Wikipedia notes, "It is considered an important element in any major change, before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all sides."
My wife tells me - either from watching CNN or from Chinese media - that there was a small town that, right after the earthquake hit, whose town council was having a meeting to decide what to do about the tsunami, how to evacuate the town, etc.
You can guess how the story ends - it wasn't pretty for the town council.