Thursday, March 24, 2011

Foreigners in Japan: Where Are the Leaders? Where Have All the Real Men Gone?

I have read about a time when "real" men were considered the "strong, silent type."
"Where have all papa's heroes gone?"

Where have all the strong silent types gone today? Previously, I asked what lessons did panicking and running away from Japan - without thinking and doing some cursory, calm and level-headed risk assessment - teach our staff and associates about what kind of people we are? 

In an earlier blog post entitled: Tokyo Crisis Update: Nuclear Meltdown, Drama Queens, TV News and Coca-Cola.

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 at the same time!? 

In that article, I take Coca-Cola Japan executives to the mat for their cowardice and dishonesty. But you can be sure that they are no more or less guilty than many foreign upper-management at other companies. The Japanese have lost respect for those people. Their positions of authority have been completely compromised. In many cases, their companies should start to look for replacements.

It takes a very long time to build trust. It takes one action to destroy that trust. The Japanese no longer trust these people.

I have even written in Nuclear Disaster: The Scorecard So Far how the back lash against these people has begun:

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.

Let me give you an example of a leader who deserves massive respect and knows how to make a company culture whereby his staff and workers will follow him to the end of the earth. I heard from an extremely reliable source that, during the crisis, the foreign president of Godiva chocolates, Jerome Chouchan, 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." He said this and this gentleman is a French citizen! (This means you other westerners who diss the French must bow their heads.) Bravo!

Don't believe me? I also posted about how the ridicule has begun amongst the Japanese in New Word in Japanese Lexicon: "Fly-Jin":

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

Perhpas even worse than the disrespect we have created, what about the longer lasting, and more devastating effects did our actions teach our children? What did our actions teach them as to how to handle themselves in the case of an emergency? You can bet your bottom dollar that our kids will face more than one emergency in their lives. What a great lesson in responsibility and calm, level headed thinking did our blind panic teach them?

What will our children think of us when they grow older and compare us to, say, our grandparents who sacrificed all and fought and died in World War II?

Where have all the real men gone?  


Magister Aurelius said...

Mike, my personal opinion is that the real men stopped being real men when concepts like honor and loyalty became something to be laughed at or scorned by those who were 'too cool' and sophisticated for such arcane patriarchal conceits. Mark Twain did say that against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. I think that the lack of consequences and lack of shame for dishonorable acts (let alone illegal ones in the case of the banksters) have led people to conclude that all that matters is if you can get all you can while the getting's good. The U.S is no country for old throwbacks.

crella said...

'Mike, my personal opinion is that the real men stopped being real men when concepts like honor and loyalty became something to be laughed at or scorned'

Right about the time when the word 'patriarchy' (old definition) became a dirty word...

Kelly Rain said...

I manage a small team here in Tokyo. I am American. I am still here in Tokyo along with a lot of other foreign managers are workers the company I work for. We stayed, not because we are `Real Men and Women` but because this is our home and the people here are our community.

I deeply despise the BS concept of `real men` it is the same kind of thinking that makes for war and for conflict. That sword cuts in both directions for good and evil.

Lets face one hard reality. Business and many of the leaders working in business care only to the extent of the profitability of what they are doing. Companies are the same caring only as long as the profit picture is positive. When things get hard the cut staff but keep their high salaries. How much self sacrifice did we see in 2008 by company leaders?

It is naive to expect business or business leaders as a whole to demonstrate higher qualities. That is now why either exists.

What we really need are not `real men`. We need real `Citizens` people who care about their co-workers, staff, community, families and city they live in. It is the true citizen that is the real hero. The person who takes responsibility for the people around them and shares in their hardships and triumphs.

A good Citizen would reduce his high salary rather than lay people off. A good Citizen would see to the safety of his community as much as his or her own. A good Citizen would do all he or she could to help the community around them.

So my respect goes out not to `real men` or macho ideas of stoic strength. My respect goes out to the regular person who took care of the people around them. Who made sure his or her loved ones were safe and that the people he or she was responsible for were ok.

This applies not only to foreigners in Japan, but to the Japanese as well. People who live the real values of community are the people we should put in high regards.

mike in tokyo rogers said...


My apologies. You are right. I hope it is because of our generation gap that we have a difference in vocabulary... You definition is much better than mine.... Yet, I believe that our goals are the same. Maybe my use of the language is dated.

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