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Update from Japan: 5th email from GLOBIS & KIBOW

To friends of GLOBIS & KIBOW,

“Japan has few natural resources, 70% of its land is covered by mountains, and full of natural disasters, such as earthquake, tsunami and typhoon, yet maintain the 3rd largest economy of the world. This is the reason why I have decided to learn from Japan at GLOBIS IMBA, especially in this extraordinary timing”. (a speech by a Malaysian student at the entrance ceremony of GLOBIS International MBA).

Yes, Japan has presented tremendous public spirit at the time of crisis after March 11th, at the same time, revealed weakness in terms of leadership in government and TEPCO. This gap between civilized citizens vs. weak leadership has attracted media attention after 3.11.

-Japan’s disaster: A crisis of leadership, too | The Economist
This, I must say, is caused by the lack of leadership education in Japan, therefore, I am putting strong emphasis on the education of leaders in GLOBIS.

This 5th letter from Japan will focus on the following 3 topics.

1) Panic in Korea and China, while calmness in Japan

We have heard the news that “More than 100 Korean schools closed in Gyeonggi province, despite the PM’s office saying radiation levels in rain pose no health risk”, while no school closed down in Japan maintaining calmness.

- South Korean schools close amid radiation fears | World news | guardian.co.uk
In China, salt-buying panic has happened and people rushed into supermarkets to buy salt, while Japanese people always queue up calmly to buy necessities.

-Chinese panic-buy salt over Japan nuclear threat | World news | The Guardian
I am not trying to say that Japan is better or worse, but this is the result of the sensational media coverage overseas. The best thing that Japan did was to avoid “Panic”. Even after the French government sent chartered flights to evacuate French citizens out of Tokyo, there was no panic of exodus out of Tokyo by Japanese people.

Even though I always criticize the Japanese press, this time I must commend on their tone and accuracy of its reporting. The Korean media, I heard, is one of the worst, therefore, 60~70% of Koreans have left Japan and they have not yet come back, so far.

However, I must add that the people, especially “netizens” in China and Korea, have been supportive of Japan all the way from the beginning, the fact of which gives us great hope that the relationship with them would improve after the crisis.

2) The US vs. Germany and France

“The US has just been incredibly supportive. The U.S. showed us who is a real ally and a friend in the world.” This was the response I have sent out to my friends in the U.S. I would feel unjust, if I did not point out about US Military’s support through “ Operation Tomodachi”. “Tomodachi” means “friends” in Japanese.

-Defense.gov News Article: Operation Tomodachi Mission Continues Strong
The U.S. has been supportive not only through military troops, but also with the commitment to stay in Japan even in the crisis. That contrasted with France and Germany. France triggered an exodus of foreign residents, but was pardoned after they sent President Sarkorzy to Japan. On the other hand, German Embassy still remains in Osaka, which I heard, has become the only embassy among G8 to remain outside of Tokyo.

-German embassy in Japan moved to Osaka amid nuclear fears

This attitude of the German government, I believe, is causing Lufthansa to stop over at Seoul and leave German crews “safe” and let Japanese crews take over Seoul – Narita flight.

At the time like this, when 30 thousand people died and many cities devastated, Japanese people would remember who has been good or bad to us, even though we do not shout at or complain to them.

3) Buy Japanese Products for Solidarity

“How can we help? “, I have written the following email in response to that specific question.

“Hopefully, act reasonable and calm to what you hear on the news, be patient to the delay of delivery which might happen, and buy Japanese products. We are working hard to get back to the normal operation, so please be patient to the delay which is causing some plants and factories in the world to be idled”.

I heard that quite a few foreign airports and ports are rejecting Japanese cargo without any scientific ground and data. The foods that you would be afraid of. We would be, too. However, rejecting ordinary industrial cargo without any proof would jeopardize our relationship. After the following news, China has stopped doing so for a while, however, we hear that they are starting again. This is worrisome.

-China Turns Away Japanese Cargo Plane on Concern Over Radiation – Bloomberg

I also heard that Japanese restaurants overseas are suffering from rumors. This, I believe, is caused by the sensationalism of foreign media coverage.

So my friends, I sincerely hope that you would go to Japanese restaurants as usual and eat “Sushi” & “Tempura”, and buy Japanese products for solidarity.

It is a beautiful season in Japan. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom, but we see very few foreign tourists in Japan. It is becoming warmer, so we do not have to suffer from rotating blackout until Summer time, when we need air conditioners.

In the next email, I would like to write about a debate on Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

I have decided to write this email weekly so that you can update yourself on what is happening in Japan, from the perspectives of an entrepreneur living in Tokyo. You can distribute, and publish it anywhere you like. I encourage you to do so, because the purpose of my writing this email to you is to get as many people as possible to read this.

You can read my previous emails on my blog.

-GLOBIS CEO Yoshito Hori Blog Views from an Entrepreneur

So my friends, I will come back to you next week. Until then, I hope you will have a great time, wherever in the world you may be.


Yoshi Hori
Leader of GLOBIS and KIBOW