back to article Olympus gets government grilling after firing nosy Brit boss

The Japanese prime minister has called for clarification from Olympus’ board of directors over hundreds of millions of dollars in fees paid out during recent takeovers – deals the company’s short-lived British CEO claims he was fired for investigating. In an interview with the Financial Times, PM Yoshihiko Noda said the board …

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Anonymous Coward

Japan *is* that kind of society!

The Japanese PM should indeed worry, because Japan *is* that kind of society and eventually people around the world will realize.

I have lived in Japan (Tokyo) for 7 years, put up with the corporate waste there for way too long only to realize that it isn't limited to companies - it starts right at university where teachers do not need follow their own rules. In the education system - as in the corporate world - the powerful count on the omerta (a code of silence within the society) to do whatever they like, including not doing their job. Without accountability whatsoever.

Mr. Woodford should be commended for speaking up. It cost him a job, like it cost me a lot of aggravation during my MBA program (and nearly the degree itself), but this is the price to pay for staying true to one's ethics when dealing with the Japanese society.

There certainly are great individuals in Japan, but as a society I am now convinced that Japan is doomed, and so are the foreigners that decide to make dealings with it. If not in the short term for quick one-offs, in the long term at least.

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Anonymous Coward

Not 'doomed' so much as 'restricted'...

I've just shocked myself by finding that the single book that most reinforced my "world outlook", Tribes by Joel Kotkin, is almost 20 years old. Yet in that time I've not seen anything that contradicts the impressions I derived from that book of the nature of the various world cultures.

The impression of Japan is one of a fundamentally, even necessarily insular, inward-looking society. Fascinated by all that is gaijin, it still treasures at heart only what is Japanese. Thus while there may be adoption for appearance's sake of alien conventions, there will be reliance (comfort?) only on what stems from values internal to society.

(Already some have reached for the downvote button.)

As you say, individuals are, well, individuals and can easily be treasures in themselves. And this is a great hope for Japan and all cultures, that individuals may internalize that which is good, or should I say better, from 'outside' cultures and integrate that back into the then richer home culture. This is one of the effects noted in the book, how cultures have been enriched by the various diasporas.

I am afraid that my outlook has been only reinforced over these 20 years. _As a society_ neither Japan nor India will be able to stay at or push to the foremost rank. Individuals will be successful, to be sure. But individuals from those societies are more likely to be *individually* successful outside of those societies, due to the self-reinforcing limitations on individuals inherent in those cultures.

China has a chance to outdo many cultures if it escapes its own inherent traps. But even there many of the same pitfalls seen in India and Japan, heirarchicalism for example, are possibly too embedded to be escaped. This is after all where the people quote the saying "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down". (Hmm, people seem to disagree whether that saying came from China or Japan... hmm...)

Now lest you condemn me as some ... whatever your current demon description of choice is... I am not particularly ignorant or backward. I surprised my doctor by guessing she was named after Sonia Gandhi's daughter, given her likely age. I understand why a friend is trapped in a foreign land by its distinctly better social system, and can't return to my benighted state. And I regret not being able to speak the other language of this region, and because that ignores our local history.

Rather, please understand that what the book looks forward to, the hopeful result for "the future", is an increased and fruitful cosmopolitanism, with each of us enriched by the 'other', while still retaining our 'selves'. Whether we will be able to do that while still surrounded (contained?) by our "home culture" is an open question. Unless, of course, that home culture is able to expand and accept influences from those 'others'.

One can hope that the honorable AC can come away from the last 7 years with sufficient positives to counter-balance the trials. AC-san will surely now treasure both politeness and being forthright.

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Silver badge

Surely this IS the capitalist way?

Lie, cheat, and steal what you can when you can, then do a runner when somebody mentions the word "irregularities"...

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Happy

@heyrick

"Lie, cheat, and steal what you can when you can, then do a runner when somebody mentions the word "irregularities"..."

In Japan it is the whistle blower who has to run.

The "consultant fees" were IIRC c34% of the *whole* deal.

They are usually <5% and in this case a fair chunk of them went to some outfit in the Cayman Islands whose owners are unknown and which appears to have shut down.

Frankly it smells like someone is ripping off the stockholders to line their own pockets.

As to *who* that might be...

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Unhappy

Surely ...

... the first rule of capitalism is that there are no rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Why ?

Why on earth do companies do this when such large sums are prone to be audited ?

I wonder how the mad Welshman dealt with this sort of behaviour at Sony - no scandals there so far...

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FAIL

Unfortunately very true

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Anonymous Coward

If i'm not mistaken...

..the full issue, is not only did they ship the cash to these offshore companies, but also the fact they disappeared from existance a couple of weeks later.

I goverments were really serious about these things, just levy a 5% tax on all transactions to tax havens. Even if it doesn't stop it, at least we'll get a few billion out of it.

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Anonymous Coward

It sounds like Olympus

Has friends with tattoos. That can't be good.

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@Why

They will be audited - by the same accounting firms that they will be offering lots of M&A business to if the accountants report is favourable.

Then the government will look closely at the accounts - and weigh them against the number of jobs that are being created, the number of directorships for retiring politicians and the size of donations to the party's funds.

Apparently it's even worse abroad.

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