The Ecphorizer

Japan Joins the Industrialized World
Barry Leff

Issue #21 (May 1983)

TOKYO, Japan - Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan announced today that Japan is taking some drastic measures to appease the outcry coming from the United States of America and other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations regarding Japan's large trade surpluses.


It was discovered that Japanese managers aren't writing enough memos.

has been exploiting its position as a developing nation for too long. The OECD members feel that now that Japan has joined the ranks of industrialized nations, it is imperative that Japan stop trying to dominate world trade. There are potentially very disruptive effects to the Japanese trade surplus.

[quoteright]The Japanese trade surplus is largely being attributed to the magic of "Japanese Management." The judicious application of the many "Japanese Management Techniques" has resulted in a nation where people work 14 hours a day, are completely devoted to their employers, and willingly take pay cuts during bad years. The typical Japanese worker saves 25% of his disposable income. The Japanese employees willingly engage in group calisthenics, and even start the day by singing the company song. There is very little crime, and very few problems with drug abuse and alcoholism. Japanese taxes are low as there is no Social Security and hardly any military.

Sophisticated statistical studies, including linear trend analysis, have shown that if allowed to continue the Japanese would be providing all the world's manufactured goods by the year 1995. All other nations in the world would be providing raw materials to Japan, in exchange for cars, video tape recorders, and Sony Walkmen.

Recognizing the threat, the developed nations are insisting that Japan get in line with the other industrialized nations and share in typical problems. In order to test the feasibility of remaking Japan into a modern industrialized, developed nation, a team of American management experts has been working in Japan, attempting to introduce some American management practices. The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MITI) appointed Yoki Electric as site for a field test of the American practices.

The American team first held a meeting to determine the possibilities for entering into a meaningful dialog. After carefully analyzing the situation, the team of experts wrote a 40-page memo (which for political reasons was not routed to 3 of the people needed to implement the process). A further meeting was held to debate the minutes of the earlier meeting.

The calisthenics and company song business was the first thing to go as being deemed inappropriate for a developed nation where individuals are encouraged to "Do Their Own Thing."

The long work hours and possible pay cuts (through withholding bonuses) were also immediately abandoned as being counter to all industrialized nations' union policies. All employees were granted COLAs, 17 holidays a year, and four weeks of paid vacation. (Vacations in Europe are longer, but the transition to developed status must be gradual).

It was discovered that Japanese managers aren't writing enough memos. Seminars were held on how to "cover one's ass" through obfuscating memos.

After two weeks, the results were a very satisfactory 27% increase in labor costs and a walloping 54% reduction in productivity. Employee turnover increased from .03% to 34% on an annualized basis.

Mr. Yoki, President of Yoki Electric, committed Seppuku (ritual suicide) with a letter opener yesterday. 

Barry Leff, a long-time observer of the Asiatic scene, once lived in Thailand.  He became an expert at running from revolutions in various Southeast Asian countries.

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