Friday, March 25, 2011

Fly-Jin Hits Even the Wall Street Journal

From the "They can run but they can't hide files;" as was reported in an editorial on this very blog on Sunday March 15 (just 3.5 days after the big earthquake), that the blow back from the panic and irresponsible reactions of foreign business management in Japan - at the beginning of the nuclear accident - was disgraceful and that there would be repercussions. 
In some cases, the flight of the foreign community was a crime; it was dishonest and theft against their respective employers. It also first reported and predicted on this very blog that there was going to be blow back against these foreigners. In fact, even the Wall Street Journal has picked up on this story. Let me pat you and myself on the back for creating and commenting on this story nearly 2 weeks before the Wall Street Journal. Read on!

First, a time line. In an early post, just days after the earthquake and the height of the panic, I wrote about how the foreign community in Tokyo were being completely irrational by panicking and running away. This contributed to people missing the important issue: 400,000 people without shelter, food or water in the dead of winter in Northern Japan. The foreigners panicking was completely without base and any scientific reasoning.

Tokyo Crisis Update: Nuclear Meltdowns, Drama Queens, TV News and Coca Cola

I, like most Tokyo people, have merely been inconvenienced by this incredible chain of events. I do not think, though, that I should adopt a "victim complex" like many people do when these sorts of things occur. I think doing so is dishonest. I believe that taking a "victim complex" identity like many people do only cheapens the experience of those who have truly suffered.

One need only remember the group victim complex shown by Americans after 9/11 for an example of that. As for me, I'm doing my best to suppress my inner "Drama Queen." 

Folks in Tokyo have not suffered. We have been greatly inconvenienced. That's all. That's not to say that many people haven't over reacted and panicked. They have.

I will, here, take this chance to strongly criticize the foreign management of Coca-Cola Japan for showing such a compete lack of responsibility to their employees and to the Japanese people. So much for Corporate Social Responsibility, eh Coca-Cola? Also, so much for dedication to your work and company. Leaving on a "business trip"? Disgusting. Don't you clowns have the guts to even say that you are running away? Saying that it is a "business trip" allows you to get paid from your company at the same time you skirt your responsibilities all the while you expect that your staff and workers continue on like everyday? If I were your boss, we'd definitely have more than a few words about this. I'd probably fire you.

I can understand you sending your family away... But you running away too? And then expecting to get paid and your employees to carry on in your absence at the same time!?


This theme held true throughout my blog posting over the next several days. I used a major soft drink company as an example (because I knew it was true first hand) as this is a huge international company, but there were many other  companies whose foreign management fall into the same category. I commented as to how actions by many foreigners and the mass media were criminal (at the best dishonest) and that these people who panicked or induced panic needed to be held accountable - at the minimum to themselves and their families - in some cases criminal. I definitively asked the question about trust between Japanese and the foreign management who in a grossly irresponsible manner left their companies - on paid leave no less - and jumped ship.

If these people really thought the situation was so bad and dangerous, then why didn't they tell their staff to go home and care for their families? 

(Note to selfish foreigner: Your Japanese staff think you are just like an irresponsible teenager, regardless of what they say to your face. Your position and status are worse than "dog house". The respect they held for you - if they ever had any - is completely compromised. Remember: It takes a very long time to build trust, it takes one action to destroy that trust forever.) 

What are you going to do about it, foreign manager? 

Japan Nuclear Disaster? The Scorecard So Far

What's going to happen to the relationship between the Japanese and the foreign community in Japan? I think the actions of many of the foreigners (not just in the media) have created much distrust and disrespect of those foreigners (especially in management) by their Japanese counter-parts. I already posted about one foreign company, Coca Cola, whose foreign upper-management committed the sin of running away while taking paid leave (isn't stealing from your own company considered theft?) while expecting the Japanese to continue working as if nothing at all happened?

If the situation were so bad and they bothered to make rational decisions - while showing a tiny bit of leadership qualities - then they'd have had the guts to say that they were running away and told the Japanese staff to go home; or they would have sent their families away and stayed with the ship. I know for first hand fact that the Japanese staff left over by their panicking foreign bosses have very little respect for those people. They probably should have zero; which were just about the odds of a nuclear disaster hitting Tokyo.

There are many foreigners who read this blog... About one half are in Japan. Why this shirking of duty was explained in excellent fashion by a reader living here in Japan. This brilliant and succinct explanation of the problem appeared in a comments section of one of my posts. The reader was countering the ridiculous argument that claimed that the foreigners who left were, "Forced out" it read:

The people who fled irresponsibly were not 'forced out' as you say. Panicked or not, they acted of their own free will, and left others hanging because of their actions.

Japanese do have respect, manners and kindness for others, and also a sense of responsibility and self-sacrifice. Example: the 'Fukushima 50'.

I have many friends and acquaintances in large corporations and government offices, and they all say that not one of their Japanese bosses fled in panic and left the rest to their fate. Do you know why?


Think long and hard about that word before you bleat any more asininity.

One of the Japanese words for an executive, manager or other person in charge is 'sekininsha', which literally means 'responsible person'. These people are not just responsible for their workplaces and the people below them during fair weather; when the sh*t hits the fan, they are also expected to step up and take responsibility. That is to say, *leaders* are expected to *lead*.

Absolutely. Like I have already written, these people who panicked and left Tokyo in an irrational, irresponsible blur should resign their posts immediately if they are "sekininsha" (responsible person) at their job. Their position has been compromised. They are ruined and they know it.

But, I won't expect them to resign of their free will. They have already showed us their lack of true leadership abilities when they panicked and left. Who would or could expect them to act like a true dedicated leader like Jerome Chouchan of Godiva Chocolates who showed us his true grit?

Mr. Chouchan, a Frenchman, decided to send his family away but he stayed on because he said that he felt like, "If I leave now and leave my Japanese staff to fend for themselves it would be like the captain leaving the sinking ship first."

Soon after these blog posts ran, where I criticized these foreigners, I began taking flak from people defending the actions of these people. I think no one can defend the actions of those whom I attacked. Please read the interesting back and forth between the foreigners who agreed with me and those who wish to defend the actions of those who ran away on the articles that I have linked to. 

The discussion got even more heated when I reported as to how a new word, filled with derision against those who fled, had entered the Japanese lexicon and was hitting Twitter hard all over Japan lead by a famous Japanese TV reporter. 

New Word in Japanese Lexicon: "Fly-Jin"

Akiko Fujita tweets, Learned new term tonight: "Fly-Jin." Foreigners who fled Japan.

Also, in that article, once again I stressed:

The Japanese are not happy - some are disgusted -by the rash actions of the foreign community. They've lost much respect for those who fled like panic stricken kids. The back lash has begun. Whispered voices filled with derision and tittering behind people's backs.

Once again, a reader provided me with a better commentary about the subject than I could ever write in the comments section of that same post countering the apologists for the "Fly-Jins.":

What the Useful Idiots (uh oh, there I go calling names again) fail to understand is that there is a world of difference between getting yourself and family out of potential danger if you have the resources and inclination to do so, and running away irresponsibly at the expense of others like the Coca Cola execs and others did (i.e. lying to justify the expropriation of company funds for your escape, and leaving others you should be responsible for behind to cover your arse as you run).

I have no problem with the former, even if I think it was a knee-jerk panic reaction in this case. If you have the means to do so and your actions do not leave anyone hanging in your stead, knock yourself out. However, I do have a big problem with the latter, and will continue to criticize the actions of the Coca Cola execs and others who acted in such a cowardly and irresponsible manner.

So again, to make things as clear as possible:

If you fled in a responsible manner - that is to say within your own resources and not leaving others hanging in your stead - then I have no problem with you. I also have no problem with anyone defending those people, be they foreign or Japanese.

However, if you lied, stole, or otherwise acted irresponsibly and/or left others to potentially hang in your stead, then to hell with you. And to hell with anyone defending these scum.

Thanks to all of have added to this conversation. I stand by all my remarks as my excuse is that I was merely predicting what was going to happen and told of the future repercussions of failed leadership and poor decision making. I also am guilty of being the messenger boy. Of course, when those who are guilty, hate the message, they try to kill the messenger boy.

Now, the results of this shameful affair have even hit the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reports in "Expatriates Tiptoe Back Into the Office": 

Life in Japan is showing tentative signs of returning to normal, but a fresh challenge may be facing the expatriates and Japanese who left and are now trickling back to their offices: how to cope with ostracism and anger from their colleagues who have worked through the crisis.
One foreigner, a fluent Japanese speaker at a large Japanese company, said that his Japanese manager and colleagues were "furious" with him for moving to Osaka for three days last week and that he felt he was going to have to be very careful to avoid being ostracized upon returning to work in Tokyo.

The flight of the foreigners—known as gaijinin Japanese—has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin. 

Think about it: Everyone knows the government are idiots... You pride yourselves on being in private businesses yet when these clowns tell you to panic, you do? Really? I also remember when they told us about Swine Flu, SARS, Bird Flu and Saddam's Nooklar weapons too... And you fools believe what they say? Ha!

So, now, you foreigners who are apologists for those who shamefully ran away can complain to me or call me names all you want... What you say to me isn't going to do you any good in the minds fo your staff... I am not your judge; they are. 

You messed up big time and you know it. 

Still think you shouldn't feel ashamed? 

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

NOTE: I have information that Coca-Cola has donated $25 million dollars to the relief fund for those poor folks in Northern Japan. Thanks. Everything helps. It is appreciated. But, should we awe-struck? Maybe. Maybe not. 


I have information that I wish for you to use to compare. Try Uni-Qlo vs. Coca-Cola. There's no question as to which is the bigger monster company, right?

Uni-Qlo - a much smaller company than Coca-Cola - on March 14, 2011 - just three days after the earthquake - donated $4 million of dollars to the disaster fund. That same day, the president of Uni-Qlo, Mr. Yanagi, donated $10 million of dollars -  out of his own pocket for this effort! Add to that $7 million dollars worth of clothes to the relief effort. Also, a donation effort at 2,200 Uni-Qlo stores nationwide!  

Now compare that with the efforts of Coca-Cola who is a much bigger company with much more resources... Well, thanks Coca-Cola, but I'm not so impressed... Then again, I guess I should be grateful and can excuse you for not acting quickly. After all, your upper management in Japan had all ran away when they jumped ship at the beginning of this mess. I shouldn't expect that the Japanese middle management would have the authority to make donations or any other important leadership decisions. 

The Japanese staff can only be depended on for holding the bag - not the important decisions - while the foreigners run away..... right? 

A big thanks to alert reader Mark (still) in Tokyo Owens for the links to WSJ!


Anonymous said...

You should respect others' decisions to leave. Namecalling only makes you sound jealous of others' initiative.

And don't think for a moment there would not be a widespread exodus if a similar catastrophe hit the Los Angeles or San Francisco areas. Many, if not most Japanese would leave looking out for their best interests, namely safety. And they too would be in their right.

crella said...

They did not give their workers leave, they just left them to carry on...don't you think they were as afraid, or at least concerned about their families? They can't have had an easy time getting to work either, with the trains running partial capacity, while their bosses were in the US. If that's 'initiative' I'll pass too.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Name calling? As far as what the Japanese are calling them I did not make up the words that they have created for the foreigners who left. The Japanese did. I merely warned those people and have reported on what was going to happen.

I think you are dead wrong, anonymous. Once again, you miss the entire point. You wrote, "And don't think for a moment there would not be a widespread exodus if a similar catastrophe hit the Los Angeles or San Francisco areas." That's completely wrong. Tokyo is about 150 miles (230 kilometers) away from Miyagi. That would be like the people of San Diego leaving if there were a disaster in Ventura, California... No. This panic was because of a inability to speak or read Japanese by the foreigners who live in Japan. All Japanese who live in the USA are pretty darned English proficient.

Poots said...

Mike –

Nice job on exposing the dishonest, lying, corporate cowards for what they truly are.

Although we don’t really want them back here in the USA either, at least some of us are ashamed to have inflicted them on the Japanese people. They are our rotten little cretins, not yours.

I have always said that the real problem with American business today begins right at the top. I can even define it in two words. Two words that are missing from what passes for corporate management in America today. The two words are:

‘Follow me.’

These two words are the difference between a leader and a manager.

A leader will say: ‘…OK everyone; here is what we are going to do. Follow me…” They will then lead the way.

A manager will say: “…OK everyone; here is what I want done. I expect it completed by tomorrow…” Having just made an executive decision, he or she will likely then go to their private country club and play golf.

Even in times of disaster a leader will NEVER abandon his or her people to their fate. They will be honest with their people and tell them that they may not be able to protect them from whatever awaits, but whatever it is they will face it together.

That’s a LEADER.

All we have in American management today are managers.

Keep after them. You have the cowards on the run…


Anonymous said...

No, you did not create the term, but you are self-righteously promoting a derogatory term and that is not fair. Again, people may be leaving simply because of Tepco's long history of corruption, lying, and overall dishonest dispensation of information. And it's completely unfair to connect those leaving to foreigners when many more people leaving are Japanese. You talk of sensationalism in the media; what exactly is this supposed to be?

You come off as an apologist for the Japanese power structure. Maybe you've been in Japan too long.

mike in tokyo rogers said...

Thanks Anonymous. No, you are completely wrong. I severely criticized TEPCO in an article I wrote on 3/14. You obviously don't read my writings enough. I severely criticized TEPCO and their corruption along with government incompetence in an articles that ran on Lew Rockwell (LRC). LRC gets 1.5 million readers a day. You can read that article here:
Each posting has a specific goal. This posting was about poor leadership shown by foreign management.
You should read and study up on a subject before you write nonsense like the above.
Example: "And it's completely unfair to connect those leaving to foreigners when many more people leaving are Japanese." This is nonsense. My complaints are completely about upper level foreign management leaving and shirking their duties. That should be obvious to anyone who reads this.
I attacked whom ever needs to be attacked. In separate articles and postings. Just because TEPCO are corrupt jerks (which I pointed out) doesn't give license for the foreign upper management to steal from their employers and jump a sinking ship.
I don't know what corrupted weird-assed universe you live in but in the real world, two wrongs do not make a right.
You are dead wrong.

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