"I wouldn't blame the Japanese culture for all the problems, although I don't doubt that blind obedience is a strong current in that culture. Don't forget that people of other cultures can also be stupid unto death:"
In this case I suspect that the problem was caused by a combination of social circumstances, which are in my view unique to Japan.
As an example of the "sensei (teacher) says" attitude - on one winter walk I did with the guide I mentioned in an earlier post we found ourselves walking in deep, fresh snow with heavy snow falling and strong winds in -14 C temperatures. That was alright, but at one point the guide - who was 30 kg lighter than me - decided that from this point on we would switch from snowshoes to crampons. The problem was that whilst he and the other walkers weren't postholing in the fresh snow, myself and a couple of the bigger Japanese guys (who were a fair bit bigger than me, for the record) were postholing. I queried why we were switching but got a lot of outraged looks because I was questioning what sensei was commanding us to do. When I was living in Japan I tried to not cause too many ructions so complied. Myself and the other two then spent an hour struggling through hip deep snow, until I pulled the plug when I started to get uncontrollable leg spasms. The guide and shop owner (my friend) were not pleased about me going back (shades of the group stays together attitude) but I did anyway, with one of the other two guys.
Re groupthink, on another trip, to Hokkaido to climb two Hyakumeizan mountains (does that sound familiar?), I pulled out halfway through a trip when it began to look as if a typhoon would isolate us on the island we were on. I had to be back at work the day after - and I'd've probably lost my job if I hadn't been back - so I changed my flights and got out on the last ferry to the main island. As the shop guide said to me - and he was really p...ed off, this is not what we do in Japan.