Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Very Interesting Take on "Flyjin" & One More

The Flyjin phenomenon in Japan has many facets. Generally speaking, Flyjin is a term used as a play on words in Japan. Gaijin is the word for foreigner. "Gai" means "outside" and "jin" means "person." So Gaijin means outside person or foreigner.
The Flyjin came in as an insult and joke deriding many of these foreigners who panicked and left places like Tokyo and Nagoya during the Fukushima accident. It is especially a dig at those who panicked and left co-workers, friends and neighbors (lovers too) holding the bag. It is not targeted at the foreigners who were in the disaster areas who left Japan. Only foreigners who were hundreds of miles away who panicked and fled - many even though their own embassies told them Tokyo was safe.

Nikkei Newspaper, though, has an article about foreigners who have left Japan that is looking at the problem from a totally different perspective. Even though many Flyjin get their feathers ruffled at the insinuation that they showed poor leadership and weak crisis assessment abilities, this article deals with a completely different segment of the foreigner in Japan market. It actually deals with a much larger workforce in Japan than the few westerners (who will most assuredly get angry about this article) that have been brought up in a society that makes people think they are entitled to everything.    
The title of the article asks Japanese people, "Do you think that only Japanese workers can protect your workplace?" From Nikkei:

Many foreigners left their workplaces after the earthquake and due to (Fukushima) nuclear problems. This leaves us with many issues to consider. The reality of the situation in the workplace is that we (Japanese) have been using this (cheap) foreign labor selfishly. Perhaps it is time to consider how these foreign laborers are placed and viewed in Japanese society. Now could be a good time to consider this issue.
Japanese factories have a serious problem without cheap foreign labor
The article goes on to discuss how, due to a rapidly aging population and declining birth rate, Japan desperately needs these people to perform manual labor duties in order for the Japanese economy to run.
While many foreigners might cheer and raise their fists reading this and scream, "Right on! We are taken advantage of in the workplace!" This article is generally not about the highly paid westerners working in Japan. No. Not hardly. It is an article discussing a much larger and much more important labor force in Japan: cheap manual labor from China, Pakistan, Iran and many other southeast Asian nations.
It continues on talking about how Japan must open up more and take better care of these people who come to earn a living in Japan. They are not just cheap labor, they are a critical and important part of the labor equation for a healthy Japanese economy. They deserve to be treated better.
The other story I wanted to mention was about a president of a factory in the Fukushima area that hired many of these people as cheap labor from China.
Because of a bad past history and, in many cases, the Japanese management taking advantage of cheap foreign labor like mentioned above (but, then again, in what country don't they do that?) Japan and Japanese companies often have a bad reputation amongst Chinese workers. 
It is most likely deserved in many cases.
But there's a story about a Japanese president of a factory that risked his life to save some Chinese factory workers who were staying at the company dormitory near Miyagi or Fukushima when the earthquake and  tsunami hit. 
Anyway, this president heard about the tsunami warnings and realized that he had several Chinese workers staying at the company dormitory and that this dormitory was in the path of the tsunami. People were told to evacuate immediately and head for higher ground. But the president knew that these workers wouldn't understand the announcements and so he risked his life and drove full speed ahead to the dorm and got those workers out of there and saved their lives.
Soon after the Chinese workers left Japan (because of Fukushima) but, according to the article, they reported back in China that, "Not all Japanese company president's are bad guys" and that their company president risked his life to save theirs and they were grateful.
I looked for the article about this story, but am unable to find it. If I find it later, I will paste it into this post.
The moral of the story? Not all Japanese bosses are bad guys. Not all Flyjins are westerners and not all of them are bad guys either.


Marc Sheffner said...

Moral of the story? If you get a chance, risk your life for some Chinese employees. It's good PR!
Jus' kidding.
Nice story, one well worth spreading the word about. And if you (or anyone) finds a link to the original story, I hope you will post it here.

Anonymous said...

Right - this man is a hero. He perished in the tsunami after saving his trainees.