To those who see Michael Woodford as a hero for blowing the whistle on a $1.5 billion accounting cover-up at Olympus Corp., the firm’s insistence that he was fired for failing to understand the Japanese business culture is absurd.
Yet to Chris Berthelsen, a Tokyo-based consultant who has researched the experience of foreign executives in Japan, there may be some weight in Olympus’s claim.
Continue reading “Was Woodford tripped up by cultural misunderstandings?”
Meet Toyoko Suzuki. She lives right on the border of the 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant:
Continue reading “Minami Soma.”
After a couple of months of almost mainlining the news on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, I turned off. I made a conscious choice to stop reading the updates in details and to not get paranoid or worried; there’s only so much energy you can expend before you become exhausted. At that point, you have to decide whether to commit to the issue or not- and I simply wasn’t worried enough about the impact of radiation on my own health to remain constantly abreast of the daily developments.
Continue reading “The Unperturbed vs. The Doubters.”
Pavlov would be thrilled. In the 1890s he trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell in St. Petersburg. Now, in the 21st century, Japan has trained its womenfolk not to urinate unless they hear the sound of a waterfall.
Hold on, you say. Does this mean the lot of them have to haul ass to the nearest nature spot to take a leak? Fortunately not: instead, Japanese technology has sorted out that particular conundrum for them by installing neat little boxes in toilets, the “Otohime,” which emit a tinny version of Niagara. Apparently many of them find it difficult to tinkle without the jingle.
Continue reading “Exporting Shame”
I never thought I’d see a happy marriage between two of my most disparate interests: electronic music and animal husbandry.
But if anyone was to do it, it’s Matthew Herbert, a man who has made entire albums out of the sound of crumpling coke cans, stomach rumblings and torn newspapers. According to his manifesto, he rejects drum machines and any recorded music that already exists, building everything out of samples of his immediate surroundings, or else live instruments. For the album “Bodily Functions,” he recorded yawns, coughs, fingernails across skin, and all the other infinitesimal sounds that human bodies make, and then formed beats, loops and melodies out of them.
Continue reading “Piglet to plate.”
“This isn’t Japan,” the old man said. He gestured towards the still intact part of the city. “Us living out here, them living over there—this kind of inequality hasn’t existed since the war.”
Behind him, the dawn tide was still pooled around the hollowed out houses, a kilometre inland. A pig farm stench was seeping through our masks. Sewing kits, rice bowls and t-shirts still lay in the mud, where horse-flies buzzed in clusters. No, I thought; this isn’t Japan.