It’s official. Japan’s long recession has finally ended. The small but highly productive nation has suffered enormous economic set-backs over the past two decades. To pull themselves out of the downturn, the Japanese business community and its government have followed a consistent and socially responsible course to economic recovery. The Japanese business model has emerged as an important example for how to create long-term profits while maintaining a clear code of ethics and honor.
No Apeing of America
Japan’s new Financial Services Minister, Shizuka Kamei took office this past month and vowed that, “There would be no apeing of America.” Kamei declared the official Japanese business model would embrace “social meaning.” Mr. Kamei called for Japanese corporations to turn away from the American model of “self-interest” and return to the old spirit of “unity and cooperation” that once made Japan’s economy great. ”Japan became No 1 in the world and it is an objective and historical fact that Japan achieved that because of a typically Japanese style of corporate management…I insist that we should return to the traditional Japanese style of management.”
Sampoh-Yoshi: Happiness Times Three
Sampoh-Yoshi, loosely translated as the “Trinity of Bliss…of buyers, sellers, and the general public” is a business code for Japanese merchants dating back to the 12th century. In the medieval district of Ohmi, an area near Kyoto, the ancient business model of “Sampoh-Yoshi” lasted over eight hundred years.” The code declared that Ohmi merchants were honor bound to customers and society alike to sell items of quality at a fair price. If customers were not happy, then merchants had failed in their basic responsibility. Equally important was the seller’s obligation to the community it served. A product or business service must serve the greater society or the promise of “Sampoh-Yoshi” was unfulfilled.
Jobs for Life
Jobs for life are becoming as quaint and old-fashioned an idea in modern Japan as they are in the United States. For three decades, the old concept of “Jobs for Life” has eroded in the U.S. only to be replaced with a brutally harsh job-cutting culture that is corporate America. In the US, companies increase earnings by slicing staff with abandon. Long term employees are famously given 10-20 minutes to pack up years of belongings and “exit the premises.” To ensure compliance, uniformed security guards escort them to the door. Not so in socially conscientious Japanese corporate culture where dignity remains the word of the day.
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