The last few days has shown to me that Japan is actually changing. Most likely the disaster is pushing local governments into a proactive mood focusing on getting things done, instead of relying on the “proper” Japanese business etiquette. According to Reuters, Japan’s newly appointed reconstruction minister is expected to resign after being cut short in expected mannerism based on hierarchy last weekend, after being solely a week in the job. Matsumoto Ryu was appointed to the newly created post of reconstruction minister at the end of June, when he become famous due to his expectations of the proper etiquette towards him as a governmental official.
According to the Wall Street Journal Japan (quoting the communication directly from the Wall Street Journal Japan website) everything started when the disaster affected Governor of Miyagi Murai Yoshihiro dared to keep Matsumoto san waiting for a meeting (weekend tour for the region by the minister Matsumoto). The goal of the meeting was to update the minister about the status of the local recovery efforts, plus then pointing out the further needed assistance for Miyagi prefecture. To make matters worse Murai san’s entry into the meeting room then showed limited respect in his body language, when Murai san was seeking a handshake. The 60-year-old Matsumoto san pointed out before the governor arrived: “It’s a matter of good manners that a host of the meeting should be present in the room to welcome a guest (when he arrives)”. Matsumoto san seemed to be rather tense after waiting and furthermore being expected to shake hands with a subordinate let him to lecture Murai san: “When you are expecting a guest, make sure to be in the room first, understood?” In a rather aggressive voice he continued: “I’m sure that Japan’s military, which understands the order of elderly and young, would do it.” As Miyagi prefecture is still debating internal about the most suitable quake reconstruction-related request, Matsumoto san seem to me even more caught up in his hurt price. “You be sure to get a consensus on it. Otherwise we won’t do anything.” To make matters worse, media had been present for the whole conversation, so Matsumoto san was trying to get everything now to have happened off the record and threatened the present reporters: “By the way, the conversation the just happened is off the record. OK? Understand? You write this up, and it’ll be the end for you.”
So that you can make up your own mind, see below the TV broadcasted version with English subtitles.
Honestly personally I am happy to see the public outcry. For me it is a good sign that Japan values being proactive and getting things done in a difficult environment as more valuable than keeping the still rather common hierarchical based business Japanese manner. Japan needs to get back on its feet as soon as possible. Let’s get things done quickly and not prolong it any further simply based on individual pride.
Brought to Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)