This quote, from Japan Today, is interesting in that it reflects the Japanese tendency to ask blunt questions, as well what it might imply:
"Do you find it difficult to use the huge amounts of money you have earned?" Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, at the outset of his meeting with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Wednesday. Gates answered "Not really," citing world health as an area in which he invests.
Japanese people have no fear in asking your age, maritial status and your opinion of Japan, Japanese food, and Japnese women within 10 minutes of meeting you. So it comes as no surprise that Kolizumi might cut to the chase and ask Gates soemthing that he has long wondered about. I found several of the comments interesting as well. For example, this one from Jay_in_Texas:
I hope this question was taken out of context or translated poorly. Otherwise, it is insulting.
A "punish the successful" attitude is slowly replacing the "admire the successful" attitude in America. I wonder if it pervading other cultures, too.
I do not know Koizumi's personality that well -- so I do not know if this is just a sarcastic dig at Bill, or an ignorant, jealous rhetorical question. Gates seemed to handle it diplomatically, though.
Linux geeks, here is your chance to pile-on our fabulous American icon.
I wonder how we “punish the successful”? I think we still worship the successful, look at Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, The Osbornes, etc… I think we tend to equate monetary success as the only barometer for success. I have to admit I am distrustful of people with money, I’ve never had it and have never really known people how had, that is until I came to Japan. The point is I can admire successful people, and I do admire Bill gates, he has made the world a better place in my opinion, other may argue, furthermore he has been generous to my alma matter the University of Washington and other charities. Take someone else, lets say the guy who introduced outsourcing to the business world, he is probably rich and considered successful, but I see the legacy of this policy wreaking havoc not only on America where thousands of middle class jobs evaporated overnight, but the far reaching effects on exploited workers who are paid substantially less freeing up money for what…the shareholders. I can’t admire this individual, but I am sure almost everyone else in America would.
A friend told me that he has a Japanese business expert friend who gives lectures and he challenges his audiences by saying things like: “In Japan companies take profits and re-invest them in the company rightfully as they should", and my friend says catcalls erupt form the audience: “You don’t really believe that do you?” The western paradigm of profit at all costs is difficult to shatter. In America the averages CEO makes perhaps s much as 100 times the salary as the lowest on the totem pole. And this doesn’t make sense to me, since the workers are the ones who really create the growth not he person who gives the seed money to start the corporation-just another example of how the rich get richer exploiting whoever whenever they can. The history of strike breaking-employing children and women at lower wages (the outsourcing of the past), poor working conditions, company stores and accommodation that came out of paychecks-the messy past of capitalism that doesn’t jibe with it’s image of where it’s at today. It is much more equitable here in Japan, and therefore it has a larger middle class, a seemingly more stable society without the need for as many safety nets, and society seems more equal financially than in places like America, but who knows how long this will last before they adopt western style business standards.
It upsets me that sometimes what’s good for business isn’t good for the environment, the workers, the consumers, but corporations don’t think like rational human beings and therein lays the problem. Then you get disasters like Enron,
In America, if you are a teacher people know that it is supposed to be an important job, but they think you are a chump for doing it. Basically a tough job that doesn't pay much. In Japan at least you get respect for being a teacher it’s part of the culture to respect elders and knowledgeable people.
Basically, it seems to be me that the American/western capitalistic paradigm isn’t the only possible model-can there really be a third way? But, it doesn’t really matter because those who have the power will never cede it and it will stay the same or get worse-especially if you consider every administration in power since Carter in America.