When a foreign culture is imported, people often use its original name. For example, “honcho” is an English word, and it originated in Japanese: hancho. Being or behaving like a honcho is a Japanese culture. I lived in a small developing country called the Kingdom of Tonga. If I remember correctly, “responsibility” in Tongan language is “responisipiliti”. It’s a foreign culture in Tonga; if I understand correctly, people do not have to take responsibility in traditional Tongan life. When I heard of it, I thought “oh, Tongan…” But I should not blame them. In Japanese, leadership is “lee-daa-shippu”. It’s a foreign culture in Japan.

Now I work with Japanese workers who came to Canada to provide training to Canadian workers. But some of them are not good trainers, and those Canadian workers are often confused (and I seem the one who they can complain to). Who should be blamed? I don’t think those Japanese workers should be blamed because they have not been trained as a trainer; they have been trained as and have worked as workers. By the way, they are nice people and Canadian workers seem to like their personality. Someone, a manager, assigned them to come to Canada to provide training. Should he be blamed? No, not really. If I understand correctly, a manager in Japan is a honcho, and he/she does not have to “lead” his/her subordinates into doing their assigned job. After all, who should be blamed? I don’t know. Japan has developed technologies in many fields and they can compete internationally, but the speed of technology development is faster than the speed of cultural development.

I can think of two options now. One is to further develop Japanese culture so that they can be culturally competitive internationally. The other option is to retain the current level of Japanese culture and find areas where we can be competitive internationally as we are. Why do I distinguish between “they” and “we”? The answer is obvious.