JIN-240 -- Uncle Sam Gives Japan a Nasty Dose of Workplace Stress

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. 240
Thursday, August 21, 2003


++ Viewpoint: Uncle Sam Gives Japan a Nasty Dose of Workplace Stress

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++ Viewpoint: Uncle Sam Gives Japan a Nasty Dose of Workplace Stress

Like it or not, American working practices have properly landed in
Japan. The signs have been miserably lurking around for many years,
but now they are grinning at everyone in plain sight. That First
Section listed Japanese companies now suddenly feel the need to report
quarterly earnings to the market is just one of numerous little
impositions that ultimately come from Uncle Sam and his neurotic
approach to work. Two more sets of market figures each year: That
means twice the number of reports, twice the number of late-night
analysis, twice the amount of news flow to digest and half the holiday

Sure, the arguments all look perfectly sound -- and particularly so in
the wake of Enron, Worldcom and the other all-American triumphs. More
hard corporate earnings information is probably no bad thing, but is
it really possible to argue that the Japanese are not working hard
enough already?

Almost a bigger problem is that the Japanese, while perfectly prepared
for dealing with their own working practices, are not at all ready for
the new stars 'n stripes style of workplace stress.

Two little pieces of evidence strongly back this up. For the first, we
took a little stroll to a brand-new "Stress Center" just outside the
Tokyo financial district. Booked in for a session exactly in the
middle of the lunchtime rush, we sat and listened to the noises
emanating from the little booths that line the two walls of the
building. Unhappy-looking salarymen bustled in, plonked themselves
down in front of their counselors and began their "treatment." The
only audible noise during that hour was sobbing.

So we strode out to a bookshop for some Japanese-style self-help books
for workplace stress. We were not disappointed. One of the big
best-sellers of the moment is "Golgo 13's work techniques." Golgo 13
needs little introduction -- for 35 years he has dominated the manga
scene as one of its most famous characters. Unfortunately, he is a
notoriously violent, sexist assassin, whose main techniques involve
either stony silence or shooting whoever gets in his way. The book
explains to Japanese salarymen how, by emulating Golgo's no-nonsense
approach to closing that "killer" deal, they too can enjoy decades of
success in their working life.

If, as seems inevitable, the Japanese are forced to adopt Wall Street
work patterns, the rest of the world had better keep fingers crossed
that the Americans also send over a decent-sized shipment of shrinks.

--The Editors

"Fighting Tech Stress with Style" from our June issue

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


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