Finally finished it, read other stuff in between. Quite enjoyed it and still digesting it.
Stevens' dignity and duty above all, his pride in service, feeling important even though he is really just serving important and self important men. Service in the face of his father's death and of Miss Kenton asking him to stop her marrying her suitor. Not replying to either with anything other than standard pleasantries was at the same time comical and tragic.
I wouldn’t have thought of the Japanese analog but it makes a lot of sense, rather dutifully serving the Emperor making his choices. Interesting to read this after reading Black Rain with Ishiguro born in Nagasaki but raised in England from a young age. The Japanese concept of hinkaku which goes beyond dignity, their ultimate sense of duty. I lived in Japan for a short time and I really believe they think differently than westerners.
Must put Never Let Me Go on my reading list now.