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Whistleblower says Olympus ignoring court order


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The Americans and the Japanese decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance.

On the big day they felt ready. The Americans won by a mile. Afterward, the Japanese team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommended corrective action.

The consultant's finding: The American team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the Japanese team had one person rowing and eight people steering.

After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the consultant firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the Japanese team.

So as race day neared again the following year, the Japanese team's management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The next year, the American won by two miles. Humiliated, the Japanese corporation laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.

18 ( +21 / -4 )

In most other countries, the corporation, government and judiciary would all want to move fast and decisively (for different reasons) with tough action (huge fines, executives fired, whistleblower rewarded) to make this embarassment go away and give the impression of zero-tolerance for bad guys and rewards for whistleblowers. Olympus & J-Gov must not care how ridiculous this makes Japan Inc look. Abe should be concerned as a key part of his structural reforms are attracting foreign investment. How many US or UK firms would want to partnwr or invest with Japan corporations when they've watched this Olympus circus playing out for years?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Is it just me or I can't help wonder why this Hamada guy is still working for Olympus? Fighting in court for some money makes sense but staying there, wanting to be reinstated into his regular job? Why not quit and go work for someone else? People quit their jobs for much less than this, annoying colleagues, a bad boss etc. Being a whistleblower seems to qualify...

1 ( +5 / -4 )

In other countries Hamada and Ishikawa would simply have quit and taken their talent somewhere else where it is appreciated. But the system in Japan discourages employees from leaving, and standard hiring practice (only young, new grads are chosen) makes it extremely difficult to find a position with another company.

In Japan one must include a photo in one's resume. In America a photo is not required. American anti age discrmimination laws also allow applicants to not even mention their age in a resume or job application. If an American company chooses a younger candidate over an older one based only on age, the company can face criminal prosecution and civil litigation. The same laws exist in Japan, but like many other laws here, they don't even receive lip service, let alone implementation.

Modern in so many ways, Japan is one of the most primitive of nations when it comes to employment policies and company culture.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

That people like the Olympus crooks, US banksters engaged in fraud and police who commit criminal acts almost never go to jail like an "ordinary" person would just perpetuates this kind of thing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is harassment in Japan just a civil offence or is it also a criminal offence?

Okinawamike, nice story.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We had like to hear SONY on the story... the major shareholder in Olympus

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He won in the Supreme Court in June last year -Japan's first such whistleblower case.

There was another whistleblower case deserving protection before this one.


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Does Olympus have any company compliance?


Did you find your story here?


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bernie, that's an interesting link, but if you read the article you'll see that he won in a lower court and "The trucking company is not appealing the ruling," which explains why he didn't need to go to the Supreme Court. (ie: He got the protection he deserved.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Did you find your story here?

Na, got in an e-mail today and changed the names to protect the innocent.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good on them, nothing will change untill someone leads the way. There are clear workplace laws that are ignored.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

CanadianJapanJul. 30, 2013 - 08:21AM JST

Is it just me or I can't help wonder why this Hamada guy is still working for Olympus? Fighting in court for some money makes sense but staying there, wanting to be reinstated into his regular job? Why not quit and go work for someone else? People quit their jobs for much less than this, annoying colleagues, a bad boss etc. Being a whistleblower seems to qualify...

I think half the problem is that it will be very difficult for him to get a job in another company and even if he does he has to start from scratch. Most Japanese remain in the same company for life which has serious benefits in terms of bonuses as well as pension. All he did was pass on a supplier’s complaint...that in itself should tell you how bizarre Japanese Corporate culture is. Surely if a supplier which is key to your production has a complaint you deal with it or change supplier. You don’t victimise the messenger! I think I would be doing exactly what Hamada-san is doing except I would be asking for a large payout which would cover his loss in income for the rest of his working life as well as a decent pension as his current career, regardless or any court ruling, is effectively over...Make em Pay for your early retirement!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I guess it makes for a more interesting story rather than the truth to say Woodford was fired when he actually quit

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Damn I would never want to work for a J-company just too primitive, clearly ijime has more to do with J-culture than even sushi for petes sake!

Courts need to hand out some REAL settlements because even if a whistleblower or wrong employee wins, they still lose because of the pathetic amounts in the settlements, you really have to only expect moral victory as one is NEVER compensated for REAL loss in Japan, you are merely shuffled off to the side & hammered down.

Japan can be a damned cruel place, I feel for these two guys & am routing for you!

2 ( +3 / -1 )


Thanks. In my case, I always change names to protect the guilty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Funny. I do translations(often internal memos/letters, etc.) for Olympus and they're always touting all the "reforms" they've made and patting themselves on the back for their "new vision" of the company... Slippery as eels these guys are!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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