Working out the site at the moment. I actually just wrote this particular piece and have it be loaded by Morgane’s account. To be honest it makes no difference, but I want to say something more about Japan.
Note that this represents one perspective in which someone in the NKT might take this. This is neither the official NKT answer nor is it meant to speak for everyone.
Japanese society is largely driven in my opinion by harmony. It is far more important for the individual to keep to themselves for the benefit of the greater society as a whole. You can see this from our language and etiquette to how Japanese society has worked traditionally. Even in the Japanese constitution the term for harmony appears many times.
To Japanese, it is very important to belong to a group. In historical times you belonged to a clan. In pre-Showa era you belonged to a town or an organization or a clan or an organization loyal to something. Those of you that watch anime knows the various clubs that students belong to. Even our otaku feel a strong sense of belonging in the 2D worlds that they live in.
This brings us to why I wrote this to begin with. Morgane has said that the shipgirls cannot be spoken of as a whole. This is true even for the Japanese ones. However what they are trying to figure out is exactly to what extent should they allow themselves to be individualistic.
I know it is ironic that the modern NKT still worships morale like the Imperial Army and Navy. However, the unique nature of each shipgirl’s gear and the random nature of their “upbringing” (Japan does not have access to MERLIN and thus depend on blind luck and other shipgirls sensing each other to find more) means that the NKT’s first goal is to instill a sense of unity within the Japanese shipgirl service as a whole. It is necessary to have the right values before creating anything pertaining to the nation. Even American militaries have something called indoctrination at boot camp.
As you can imagine this is difficult. Sometimes adjustments and punishments are necessary. It may seem cruel but to the NKT’s perspective it is for the good and the health of the organization as a whole. If a shipgirl cannot adapt or listen or follow the orders she is given, then she cannot be useful because her reliability is then called into question.
In other words if we are to say that the Americans are trying to unlock the potential of each shipgirl based on as they are, the Japanese are trying to do something very different. There is already a perfection or a highest grade that is known. Everyone should strive to emulate that and be the absolute best.