I have been thinking…

Yes, I have been quiet for a long time. My sincere apology and “mea culpa”. As the title says last few weeks I have been thinking a lot. All simply because more and more news confirmed what I had assumed earlier, but because I could not prove it myself, I had disregarded it. So how should I react when for me inexcusable actions come to the light? Accept it as a unique trait of Japan? Or is now Japan following a global trend? Chances are by disregarding the potential of a worst case scenario, I had unknowingly still my pink glasses on in regard to Japan.

– I have heard about “creative accounting” at bigger companies in Japan, but I never could confirm it myself. Therefore I saw the likelihood as being true small or very few cases in Japan. I have heard from several company employees that some were forced to create fake purchase order to manufacture an increased sales turnover… At the end now the actions taken by the management at Olympus or Daio Paper have shown the limited respect towards shareholders and employees. Can we expect better accounting practices in the future from 2017 onwards with the Japanese adjustment to the global accounting standard? I doubt so.

– Thank goodness we had an earth quake? For sure certain priorities in life have changed since March for me as well. The most recent JWT Japan Anxiety report (http://anxietyindex.com/japan/) shows that in September, 94% of respondents believed that, recovery aside, Japan has many other serious problems to address before returning to prosperity, and 84% felt the disaster brought many of these to the surface. Does this mean we should be grateful for the disaster experienced, because it allows us to create a better Japan? Looking at the data provided from JWT it does not look bright at all.

“Only 56% felt the disaster has acted as a catalyst to positive change, and 40% felt the country would be prosperous again relatively soon. Much of the blame for this pessimism seems to fall on the shoulders of the government and Japanese businesses, with nearly 80% believing the political system has eroded and 60% believing Japanese companies are becoming less globally competitive. As mentioned before, there is a yearning for political vision and leadership, now more than ever—and this sense of lack of vision, leadership and direction is spilling over to domestic companies.”

Yes, on a social level I see and hear many people wanting to create a better future for Japan. Then in reality according to the JWT data solely 28% perceive their life as back to normal. In business I have yet to see a company that is using the disaster earlier this year as a chance to turn around their business approach to become more effective and increase their productivity.

– I wonder how much of the news I have heard earlier but dismissed is actually true? How about news of the increasingly popular cosmetics brand mainly found at convenient stores and large supermarkets? Could it be that this Japanese company had actually fired all employees who did not show up the first Monday after the disaster happened? The reason for the dismissal was that they did not show up on time at work.
Or what about the news that the radium dealt on the Tokyo black market after WWII is now simply popping up at certain sites in Tokyo, because radioactivity meters have become popular?

At the end I have to say, I am facing an even bigger question now: Why are these Japanese weaknesses exposed now. Is it really just because the earthquake shook the present system and the perception of the people? With seemingly now more exposed in Japan, who at the end actually profits from all this exposure? I have learned this year that news is promoted for a certain reason, because it is in the best interest/most profitable for someone. Who is this now? I do not have the answer and I will continue to think…

Brought to you Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

4 thoughts on “I have been thinking…

  1. Even before the genpatsu shinsai, a lot of things were wrong in Japan. There have been fewer new Japanese products on the market, for instance, and the falling birthrate is worrying when you consider pension funds. Scientists have been predicting a disastrous earthquake/nuclear incident in the event of a strong earthquake, but the government has put its own interests above the good of the people for far too long.

    In many ways, the fact that all these bad things are coming out now is a good thing: it shows that people are tired of being complacent and are less susceptible to having the wool pulled over their eyes. I can’t believe it’s too late. If any country can recover from something like this, it’s Japan.

    • Dear Mary,

      thank you for taking time to comment on this blog.
      Yes, I have noticed as well that in some aspects product innovation in Japan seems to be decreasing. At the same time I have to say the falling birthrate is a common problem of the so called developed world and is not unique to Japan. It seems to me that only a few countries, if at all, can provide secure long term pension funds. Along the same lines for sure my biggest lesson learned in 2011: It is my job and my duty to take care of the wellbeing and wellfare of my family, assuming that society or the government will protect and support me is wonderful if it happens, but I cannot expect it.
      I have found the Japanese media become much more critical of the present status and topics are brought out into the open that were avoided in the past.

      Let’s hope for the best and a bright future for Japan.


  2. So far the damage to Japan was smaller than I expected.
    I expected that economic crisis or a big change of government would happen.
    I hope a bright tomorrow.

    • Dear Cocomino,

      thank you very much for taking time to comment.
      I agree with you. So many times when I see an old neglected house in Tokyo that seems to collapse potentially any minute had survived the earthquake. Furthermore for the month of November the number of visitors to Japan the number was only 13% lower than the year before. A potential economic crisis or then change of government seems to proceed as in the past: Very quietly and very, very slow.

      Let’s hope only for the very best for Japan,


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