Terrie's Take 944 - Feudal Bank Culture Collides with International Laws, e-biz news from Japan
terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon May 14 00:04:22 JST 2018
* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.
General Edition Sunday, May 13, 2018, Issue No. 944
- What's New -- Feudal Bank Culture Collides with International Laws
- News -- JPY8,630,000 of debt for every resident...!
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - No nightlife in Kyoto
- Travel Picks -- History and Sorrow in Tsuwano, Shimane-ken
- News Credits
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
Feudal Bank Culture Collides with International Laws
Even in 2018 the capacity for Japanese major corporations and
politicians to shock us with their obliviousness towards social trends
and changing standards is astounding. Such as the comments by 72-year
old living fossil Kanji Kato, an LDP MP who reckons that aged single
women are a burden to the state, and that young couples have a national
responsibility to raise at least three children. One wonders if Kato's
ideal world would be a Japan stuck in the Tokugawa era?
http://bit.ly/2IaEabX [Perhaps this is Kato's idea of the position of
women, young followers, and probably foreigners, too?]
The senior management of some large Japanese companies, especially those
focused on manufacturing or finance, don't seem much better. The
hard-headed punitive ideas of these dinosaurs running billion dollar
businesses, is that men sacrifice to the company, and women sacrifice to
their men, and both should show absolute loyalty as one would expect
from one's "soldiers" (oh, sorry, today they're called employees...).
Yes, well needless to say, this smacks up against the realities of the
21st century, where if you want to participate in such international fun
stuff, like politics, military alliances, trade, and tourism, then there
is a price to pay - that being an expectation to adopt the social
standards of the global society you want to scrounge off. Samurai pride
and slash-and-suicide just doesn't cut it any more.
In today's Take we interview someone who thought they were joining a
Japanese multinational investment banking corporation, only to discover
that in reality, they had stumbled into a feudal society that Saigo
Takamori would have been proud of. That corporation was Mitsubishi UFJ
Morgan Stanley Securities (MUFJMSS). Our interviewee is Glen Wood, who
was until recently one of MUFJMSS's top sales managers. We think readers
will agree that his case is a classic clash between a feudal senior
management and an international employee, and, inconveniently, national
Also interesting is the fact that Mr. Wood's case is not the only one
with the firm, and a similar case will be tried in New York shortly,
which will force MUFJMSS to face up to its international obligations -
especially considering the billions in assets the company has at work in
[Interview starts here...]
TT: Your story is well disseminated in the press. Essentially you
claimed paternity leave, a legally provided employee entitlement, and
you were harassed and eventually fired from your position at Mitsubishi
UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, here in Tokyo.
GW: That is correct. My son was to be born overseas. I inquired with the
Canadian Embassy to see what the process was to get him a passport so
that he could return to Japan. It meant that I would need to be overseas
for a period of 3 to 4 weeks at least to get the passport and return.
When I first approached the firm about this they said that there was no
company policy allowing such leave, and so I should "look into it" myself.
I did this, and discovered that Ikujikyugo or Maternity/Paternity Leave
is a very liberal and strong program in Japan with a strong legal
backing. Any mother or father can take up to 12 months off per child.
Compensation during this time off is from the government - not the
corporation. The responsibility of the corporation is two simple things:
1, to accept the application, and 2, to return the person to their job
upon return from leave. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley
Securities did neither and instead started treating me badly - giving me
the proverbial runaround with bureaucratic forms, asking for DNA tests,
verbal harassment, etc.
https://bloom.bg/2Gb7Tf3 [Bloomberg coverage of the case]
TT: What are your key legal arguments as to why what MUFJMSS did is illegal?
GW: There are 4 key claims in my case: 1. Blocking me from taking
Paternity Leave, 2. Taking away my job when I returned, 3. Stopping my
salary while still under contract (the company stopped paying me in
October last year), and 4. Wrongful Dismissal - the company suddenly
decided to fire me in April this year. The key reason they give is my
performance (and that I spoke with the media about this case). However,
my evaluations were always very positive, I performed well above
expectations - doubling the revenue made by the team under my
management, and there was never any "warning". We are asking for my job
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TT: Why do you think you were targeted? Or is this systemic?
GW: Our team was about 30 people globally. Doing some basic research I
found that 14 people over the past 10 years under the current management
had faced harassment. Most cases ended in monetary settlements with the
company and where they signed non-disclosure agreements. Several had
gone to court. There is currently a second lawsuit by one of the team
members based in New York. His claims are already public information and
revolve around harassment/discrimination from the same management team.
http://bit.ly/2Ihs258 [Coverage of Mr. Fujii's case in New York]
TT: We understand that the senior manager responsible for the original
bullying, is going to retire shortly. How do you feel about that? Do you
think he is being let go quietly as the company realizes that his feudal
attitudes have damaged the company?
GW: I understand 7 people of our current 30-member team have already
"left" the company. This includes the head of New York and the head of
London. Tokyo management is said to be leaving in September. The company
has also recently set up "harassment training" which seems to show that
they know they have a problem and are at least superficially trying to
make adjustments. On the other hand, they continue to deny any
responsibility for both of the current lawsuits.
TT: We find it amazing that MUFJMSS has willingly allowed such a torrent
of bad PR to besmirch the company name. Surely it would have been better
to release the perpetrator after it became clear that you wouldn't give
in without a fight? Is this all about pride? Or something else?
GW: It is puzzling for sure. As a manager I would have dealt with both
of these cases as soon as they emerged. It leaves me to believe their
strategy is: 1, realizing there are many outstanding "me too" cases they
don't want to set a precedent, 2, by dragging this on in the courts they
hope the plaintiffs will run out of resources and walk away, 3, by
dragging the process out they hope that public attention will wane, 4,
they are trying to save face and avoid admitting any problem and/or
responsibility - although as I said, by starting harassment training and
dismissing the perpetrators, they appear to be essentially admitting
fault, and 5, simple hubris.
TT: Management-level bullying of employees, male or female, is endemic
in "traditional" Japanese companies. It's even viewed as a time-tested
martial training technique. Surely you knew this when you joined the
GW: I have been in Japan for 30 years. I read/write/speak Japanese
fluently and have worked in Japanese companies and for the Japanese
Government in the past. I love Japan and always strive to be overly
culturally sensitive. Perhaps I was naive in this case but I never
imagined how extreme the harassment could be until I saw it first hand
at MUFGMSS. I have, needless to say, had a great education through this
experience and I hope to leverage that experience in jobs going forward,
either returning to my job at MUFGMSS or by applying that experience
TT: When and how were you finally fired?
GW: April 9th this year, by letter.
TT: What are you doing now, apart from preparing for the law suit?
GW: The law suit is taking a great deal of my time, however I am also
writing a book about my experiences that I hope this will highlight the
key issues and perhaps help corporations and individuals to avoid these
types of situations in the future. In the end this is about Human
Rights, such as the basic human right to have children and continue
one's career while doing so. Or the right to get sick and yet still be
able to return to one's job. Or the right to be able to work without
TT: What is the timeline for the lawsuit, and apart from your own
lawyer, have you been given any informed opinions about your chances?
GW: Apparently these types of lawsuits typically take about 2 years in
Japan. If we continue on to the Supreme Court it will take much longer.
We are prepared to persevere and I look forward to the educational
experience. The opinions from my lawyers as well as several other third
party lawyers are that we have a very strong case. It is quite black and
white really, which makes MUFGMSS actions even more puzzling.
Buttressing my case will be what happens in New York, which is also very
clear cut. In Mr. Fujii's case, his legal team have applied via the EEOC
(Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and they that received the
Right to Sue already.
TT: What's the significance of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission) in the New York case?
GW: The EEOC is a US federal organization. Typically it gets involved in
issues directly or indirectly related to discrimination, where it has to
rule that an EEOC filing is appropriate. To get such and ruling, the
EEOC does an investigation and then issues a "no cause" or a "right to
sue" decision - so it's powerful. If a right-to-sue ruling is issued
then the employee has the right to file a suit within 90 days and the
ruling is a very positive influence. Mr. Fujii in New York was granted
right to sue and has recently officially launched the lawsuit in the
southern NY district.
TT: What are the core claims in the New York case and how will they
influence your case?
GW: The lawsuit is actually quite explicit in describing what happened
with Mr. Fujii. It's disgraceful to be honest. Discrimination,
harassment, wrongful termination, abuse described in detail. And,
obviously, the management is the same as in my case - it's a very small
Global team. The lawsuits will be evidence in each other's cases and
from any vantage point they show a clear pattern of harassment.
TT: What about opinions saying you will lose?
GW: In many ways, we have already won. Changes are occurring and the
message is out. I have been contacted by many in Japan saying that their
situation improved because of this case. Great news indeed. I'm not on a
crusade to change Japan, I just believe in Human Rights and believe that
Japanese corporations should follow Japanese Law. I have not heard a
lawyer say they thought we could lose.
TT: Given that the Japanese legal system doesn't support the concept of
punitive damages, what can you realistically expect as compensation?
GW: We are asking for my job back. If the company does not wish to do
that, then they will need to take monetary responsibility for forcing me
to retire early.
TT: Is it worth the effort?
GW: Yes indeed. As I said, we have already achieved many wins here.
TT: While all the publicity has been great in raising awareness of the
feudal nature of some of Japan's bedrock companies, at the same time,
your name on the Internet will be forever tied to this case. Do you
think this harms your prospects in the future?
GW: I can't imagine a better education than the personal and direct
experience I'm getting in dealing with this issue here in Japan and with
a company like MUFJMSS. I believe this experience will put me in good
stead for future management roles in Japan and abroad.
TT: What have you learned from this experience? What should other people
be aware of?
GW: Only 3% of Japanese men take Paternity Leave. The Abe government
says they want to increase that to 11% by 2020. Of the 3% who take
paternity leave, some 60% are harassed and/or lose their job. Many women
just quit when they pregnant and if they return their responsibilities
are greatly diminished and they are harassed. This provides great
perspective as to why this nation's people do not have children. It is
also a tremendous opportunity for employers who are willing to treat
people with respect and to be flexible in encouraging families, to come
out publicly and say so.
TT: Are you done with the investment banking sector? What do you plan to
GW: I love my job and would be happy to continue. That said, I come from
a very diverse background, having been a pianist and having worked in a
government think tank previously. so I am considering a variety of options.
TT: How old is your son now? How is his health?
GW: Alexander is 2 and a half now. He came prematurely and it was
touch-and-go for a while. He was in NICU for several weeks. Although my
paternity leave was not approved and I was forced to take Kekkin
(absence from work) in order to be with him at the hospital, thankfully
he is doing well now.
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- Kinshicho crows are the smartest
- Real cost of hay fever in Japan
- JPY8,630,000 of debt for every resident...!
- Kerfuffle over arrogant military man
- SoftBank gets extra US$35m bill on tax haven income
=> Kinshicho crows are the smartest
Cute article about a crow in Kinshicho that swiped a women's card while
she was recharging her pass, and subsequently tried to use it on another
ticket machine. The video is now unavailable on Youtube.com, but as the
article states, there is no doubt that crows are super smart birds.
Twitter user @kinoshi42155049, who posted the original video to Twitter,
apparently said the crow returned the card to its owner. ***Ed: How many
readers know about the "Crow Prison" at Yoyogi Park, where the wardens
lock up crows who have been bad boys (dive bombing kids, stealing food
from picnickers, etc.)? To lock them up means the wardens think the
birds are smart enough to figure out why they are there and get trained
out of such behavior once they are released again...** (Source: TT
commentary from sciencealert.com, May 10, 2018)
=> Real cost of hay fever in Japan
Interesting article from CNN about the real cost of hay fever in Japan.
Apparently the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute has calculated that the
country will lose about JPY200bn in productivity because of hay fever
sick days and partial incapacitation of employees who do show up. 2018
will be one of the worst hay fever years on record, with about 50% of
Tokyo residents suffering effects of pollen allergies. This is up from
30% of residents in 2008. Authorities finger the over-planting of cedar
and cypress trees around the capital after WWII. ***Ed: Of course, on
the upside, pharmaceutical firms are doing a roaring business with mask
and drug sales.** (Source: TT commentary from money.cnn.com, May 04, 2018)
=> JPY8,630,000 of debt for every resident...!
While we're being distracted news-wise by the rise in the stock market
and various political events, we should remind ourselves that nothing
has changed at the core of the government, and the politicians are still
spending like crazy and doing very little to curb their excesses. The
finance ministry says that central government debt for FY2017 (through
to March 31st, 2018) is now at JPY1,087,813,000,000,000 - a new record
high. This is an increase of about 10% over FY2016, and looks ready to
continue at a similar pace through this year as well. ***Ed: We also
need to be reminded that this level of public debt is the worst, by far,
of any advanced nation. Currently we're at 240% of GDP, followed by
Greece at 180% of GDP!** (Source: www3.nhk.or.jp, May 05, 2018)
=> Kerfuffle over arrogant military man
Japan Time's Phillip Brassor covers an incident where anti-rearmament
lawmaker Hiroyuki Konishi was harangued on the street near the Upper
House members' office building in Tokyo by an off-duty officer of the
Self-Defense Forces. Apparently the SDF officer's vitriol included
telling Konishi that he was "disgusting" and an "enemy of the people" -
similar phrases used by the Japanese military before WWII. The tirade
continued for a full 30 minutes. The Defense Minister has since
apologized for the officer's behavior. ***Ed: As Mr. Brassor points out,
the SDF is becoming more politicized as its leadership pander to PM Abe
and his revisionist colleagues** (Source: TT commentary from
japantimes.co.jp, May 12, 2018)
=> SoftBank gets extra US$35m bill on tax haven income
The Japanese Tax Office has presented SoftBank with an additional tax
bill of US$35m for income relating to three international subsidiaries,
owned out of Bermuda and Singapore. The Tax Office declared that US$875m
in earnings over the last four years should have been reported in Japan
as well as in the jurisdictions they are based in. Softbank apparently
disputes the findings, but seems resigned to pay. The company said that
the extra tax amounted to double taxation. ***Ed: Indeed, they might
have had a stronger case if they hadn't sought to shield the income in
Bermuda...** (Source: TT commentary from bizjournals.com, Apr 18, 2018)
NOTE: Broken links
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posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.
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+++ UPCOMING EVENTS
=> No events this week.
*** In TT-942 we ran a news item about tourist night life options
missing the mark. A reader responds about the situation in Kyoto.
=> Reader: A bit of feedback from my experience in Kyoto with the
tourism industry and small businesses, including nightlife. Tourism is
up but it's not doing much at all for the nightlife industry, such as
bars, pubs, clubs, late-night eats, etc. The biggest chunk of traffic
increase is people from East Asia and Southeast Asia, who are just not
into the night scene.
Take Chinese tourists for example. They typically travel in big groups
with or without family. They visit the famous places, shop, dine, and
then go straight back to the hotel, which means zero gains for the
nightlife industry. But it does boost sales at the combini next to the
hotel. Western tourists do go out, but it's generally limited to the
more adventurous types or those being guided by locals. A lot of people
would like to experience the nightlife here but don't know where to go
and can't read up about it. Too many obstacles.
"Hey look! An Irish pub. I know what that is. Check it out, English
menu! Great. I guess I'll have a Guinness." --> Misses the unique
experience you can have at a Japanese bar, unless you meet a friendly
local at the pub to help you navigate the scene. BTW, I have a friend in
Kyoto whose small tour company actually does offer nightlife tours.
As was pointed out, public transport is also a big issue. It shuts down
too early. This limits your transport options if you want to stay out
without taking an expensive cab ride. Walking in an unfamiliar city or
illegally riding your bike after drinks (if you could even find legal
bike parking to begin with) don't cut it. I sometimes wonder if some
almighty taxi industry lobbyists are behind the early public transport
shutdown times! I often hear western tourists complaining about this
Westerners are indeed fascinated by the exotic services offered in
Japan, but this industry is just not open to non-Japanese. Language
barrier, cultural barrier, safety concerns, etc. I don't see that
changing any time soon.
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+++ TRAVEL DESTINATIONS PICKS
=> Tsuwano Japan Heritage Center, Shimane
A look back in time: Tsuwano from 150 years ago
"Tsuwano: Then and Now: A Walk through the Hyakkeizu" (One Hundred
Views); has been designated as one of Japan's National Heritage stories
by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2015. The Tsuwano Hyakkeizu
depicts the Tsuwano Domain at the end of the Edo era, about 150 years
ago. It is a fascinating work that provides a glimpse of the scenery and
customs of that time. However, it is not just the book's drawings that
have became part of Japanese Heritage but the town of Tsuwano itself and
the efforts of its people in preserving their traditions and heritage.
Thanks to these peoples' efforts, some of these book's scenes can still
be seen today in Tsuwano such as: Youmeiji Temple, Yasaka Shrine
Tsuwano, Taikodani Inari Shrine, Tsuwano Castle Ruins, Washibara
Hachimangu Shrine and the Waterfalls of Tsuwano. The festivals of the
Tsuwano domain are also represented in these drawings, like the Yabusame
Horse Archery festival in spring, the Heron Dance and the summer Tsuwano
=> Otome Toge St. Maria Chapel, Shimane
The place of martyrdom for the hidden Christians
Tsuwano has many famous historical spots, but Otome Toge is one where
the history itself is not one of achievement, but rather of hardship and
sorrow. Christianity was forbidden for most of the Edo period (1600 -
1868), but in the first year of the Meiji period (1868) hidden religious
followers revealed themselves in the hope that thawing foreign relations
would create more religious tolerance. Unfortunately, for a five year
period, the prosecution of Christians became even stricter than before.
The Meiji government arrested 3,000 believers and sent them to different
parts of Japan. It was in this turbulent time, when 154 Christians were
sent to the Tsuwano domain, where they were put in out buildings around
the former Korinji Temple, near Otome Toge pass in the mountains behind
the Tsuwano castle town.
The Tsuwano domain itself did not have a community of Christians (that
we know of), and taking in these prisoners was an undeniable order from
the central Meiji government. For five years, the believers were
tortured with different methods, from being ordered to abandon their
faith and trample on holy paintings, being starved to the brink of death
from hunger, through to being thrown into the semi-frozen pond next to
the temple during the winter. Very sad.
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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