Friday, May 29, 2009

Judge a book by its cover and

learn the same old lesson.

Was talking with a fellow who seemed somewhat bright. Doesn't work for one of the big Japanese companies, but for a Tokyo branch of another company headquartered in northeast Asia. Things were going well for the first 5 minutes we spoke, then he mentioned the recession and the record drop in Japan's GDP. This was because folks had stopped spending money and were saving it instead, he informed me. He then told me how he had heard that Westerners behave differently than Japanese in a recession---don't reduce spending and such. He asked for my thoughts on this puzzling issue.

Honored as I was to be asked to speak for all Westerners, I didn't really have much of a clue about what New Zealanders or the Spanish, or even Canadians do. Maybe they spend more in a recession, but I expect they are humans too, so maybe they don't. How could anyone enjoy a recession if they keep on buying and making and selling things?

Although I wanted to ask him if he were naturally stupid or if it were something that he worked at, I could think of nothing clever or polite to say. In the end, I simply let the poor fellow know that, no the Japanese were nothing special, most folks reduce spending in a recession. I then found a reason to excuse myself.

The odds were, of course, very strong that he was a university graduate. A university graduate, and a "professional" who not only lacked even the slightest understanding of economics, but of the human race. Should I ever meet this fellow again---and I might---I will see the word baka written on his forehead.

Nihonjinron/nihonron: Deny that natural, widespread human tendencies, emotions, customs, and so on could possibly be shared with non-Japanese. Instead claim those things as especially or uniquely Japanese. This will advance the much blabbered about "mutual understanding."

1236AM: I am certain that I could go back to the US or nearly any other country and have an equally idiotic conversation with someone about Japan.

*He stayed in Florida.

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