JIN-202 -- Debunking Japanese Stereotypes

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the Week's Business and Technology News

Issue No. 202
Wednesday, November 1, 2002


++ Viewpoint: Debunking Japanese Stereotypes

++ Noteworthy News
- Livin' on the Edge to Take Over Livedoor Net Services
- DoCoMo Forced to Halt Overseas 3G Expansion
- Microsoft to Let Japan Government in on Secret of Source Code

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++ Viewpoint: Debunking Japanese Stereotypes

David Matsumoto of San Francisco State University has an interesting
new book for sale that basically says we are all wrong when it comes
to analyzing the Japanese. In his book, "The New Japan: Debunking
Seven Cultural Stereotypes," put out by Intercultural Press earlier
this year, the psychology professor argues that the typical take on
Japanese culture -- collectivist, conscious of the needs of others,
dedicated to their jobs, et cetera -- is simply not supported by most

Take the assumption that Japanese are more group-oriented than
Americans. In study after study that Matsumoto cites, it is the
Americans who value collectivism more. "If you look at the data, there
is no support for the stereotype that Japanese are more collective
than Americans," he told an audience at a recent Japan-America Society
function in Seattle.

Matsumoto argues persuasively that sometimes the best judge of
Japanese culture is the Japanese layperson. And these people say in
surveys that today's Japanese lack perseverance, tolerance, manners
and morals. In fact, in one survey he cites, the question of whether
Japanese youth lack morals is posed. More than 80 percent of those in
their 20s said yes.

Matsumoto argues that today's youth are not sure what they want out of
life, but they're dead sure about what they don't want: They have no
interest in emulating their fathers and mothers.

Matsumoto, who has done a teaching stint at the University of Tokyo,
says modern Japanese are adrift. "They are butting against a system in
business and in life that's not set up to deal with an increasing
sense of individuality," he says. He also warns companies that they
may need to radically revise their approach to HR, for one, in order
to accommodate the needs of a fussy, alienated, yet well-educated new
work force coming out of the universities.

His arguments make a lot of sense. And they're backed up by a lot of
data. While the picture he paints is a little more pessimistic than
this writer's take on Japan, it's food for thought for anyone doing
business long-term in the country.

-- Bruce Rutledge


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** Livin' on the Edge to Take Over Livedoor Net Services

In Brief: On the same day that livedoor filed for civil rehabilitation
on Tokyo District Court, Livin' on the Edge announced that it would
take over the company's Internet service operations, the Nikkei
reported on Friday. Livin' on the Edge will pay at least 120 million
yen for the business.

Livedoor, which had offered free Internet access since 1999, had a
pretax loss of 1.76 billion yen in the fiscal year ending in July, the
Nikkei reported. It also had about 1.5 million members.

From Nikkei Net (password protected)

14-17 January 2003, Tokyo, Japan
As with our hugely successful 2002 event, 3GMobile World Forum 2003
will aim to present a realistic view of the 3G opportunity, and to
provide a platform to transform 3G technology and demand for new high
value services into revenue across Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US.
For further information, visit: http://www.3gmobileforum.com

** DoCoMo Forced to Halt Overseas 3G Expansion

In Brief: NTT DoCoMo, the founder of i-mode, has said it will consider
freezing its overseas investments as its push to promote third
generation (3G) systems overseas has resulted in little progress.
DoCoMo had hoped to get a head start on setting a 3G standard
by expanding rapidly in Europe, Asia and the US, but so far those
investments have done little but drag the Japanese company down.

Commentary: No one ever really expected DoCoMo to replicate in
overseas markets its success at home. That success was just too over
the top. But what's happening now is closer to a worst-case scenario
for the Japanese juggernaut. Its European investments have turned
sour, its relationship with AT&T Wireless in the US is tense, and it
has written off $4.7 billion in overseas investments in the last few
weeks, according to the BBC. The rest of the world is just not as
interested in pushing ahead with 3G systems as DoCoMo is.

From the BBC

From Asahi Shimbun

"I-mode Goes Continental" from the March 2002 issue of J@pan Inc

** Microsoft to Let Japan Government in on Secret of Source Code

In Brief: Microsoft has said it will let the Japanese government see
the source code for Windows to appease government concerns about
using the software in its e-Japan initiative. The Japanese government
will get specific information on security holes in Windows, the
Nikkei reported.

Commentary: This is an indication of just how much pork will be
delivered to software makers and IT companies as part of the e-Japan
project. And as this news item shows, the pork won't only be going to
Japanese companies.


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Written and edited by J@pan Inc staff (editors@japaninc.com)


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