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Long, polite briefings reflect Japanese crisis style

20 Comments
By Yuri Kageyama

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could we pleeeeze get rid of all the pomp and brief the public somewhere between japan incs "orderly agenda" and cnns "hyper-mode"?????

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This just sounds like the work of a whiny reporter that doesn't want to do their job. "We need more detail!" people scream. Now it's "Oh it's too much detail, and so boring!"

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The result is a marathon of highly technical information delivered in dull and excruciating detail that regularly drags on for four hours or more, to the dismay of the patiently long-suffering reporters.

Mmm, maybe I feel better that they are "just" churning out hard facts and data. If those TEPCO engineers got some smooth presenter to give it a slick presentation, I could see it all descending into spin.

Maybe the reporters are being lazy and just want a few soundbites?

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Japan's media management fails to inspire anything other than concern. Their utter lack of confidence, endless apologies and answers so vague they could be about other topics add up to making these briefings as pointless as the political leaders orchestrating them.

While "style" seems to be the obsession of much of the nation most of the time, a crisis is no time for "style" or image. Instead rational, clear and comprehensive information released by people in a confident manner is needed. With this we can avoid panic and mistrust and assure society that the situation is being properly managed.

But, since it is not being properly managed, the leaders lack confidence and have no concrete plans for the future, I supposed "vague, confused and lacking confidence" as a style is at least honest. See there is always a silver lining if you look hard enough.

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Instead rational, clear and comprehensive information released by people in a confident manner is needed. With this we can avoid panic and mistrust and assure society that the situation is being properly managed.

That is EXACTLY what the reporter in this article is complaining about receiving. A 4 hour detailed briefing is the definition of rational and comprehensive.

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The result is a marathon of highly technical information delivered in dull and excruciating detail that regularly drags on for four hours or more, to the dismay of the patiently long-suffering reporters.

"Wordy" is not the same as "polite". Using 20 words to express one, is exasperating, to say the least.

Speak plain, to the point, and factually.

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These meetings are like a typical Japanese wedding. Way too many words that say poopoo. They bring the food, then 15 minutes later take those plates away and then bring some more, with this routine going on over and over again. Nobody eats because they are too polite to interrupt with the sounds of mouths chewing like horses and silverware clinking on the dishes. I hate weddings here. They are just like these nuclear clods yapping on tv just to hear their own voices.

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What, exactly, does the reporter want? Not enough detail? It's a cover up! Too much detail? Cut it down! Highly technical information delivered in dull and excruciating detail? Heaven forbid!

I'm with Smorkian on this, how can a briefing on an out of control nuclear disaster (two months after the incident) focus on anything but technical details? It's not like they can jazz this up for the public, this is a very long, tedious process that is far more about engineering, chemistry and physics than it is about human interest.

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Japanese in general, don't get to the point as quickly as Westerners do, but Japanese politicians are at the extreme end of equivocation. This drives me crazy but do Japanese find it grating as well? But Japanese newspaper editorials are just as bad about discussing a problem without coming to a conclusion with concrete solutions proposed.

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It`s not just nuclear crisis briefings, it is EVERYTHING here. My recent PTA meeting only finally ended when I smashed my water glass and stabbed myself in the head with it.

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miamum - you're right. Every time someone leaves my office we wind up in the same dismal restaurant, having had pretend meetings for weeks about reaching a decision on where to go, then there are the speeches, which are invariably prefaced with a feigned panic of "Eh? Eh?" as though they hadn't expected to be asked to speak, followed by a rote-learned list of platitudinous guff, delivered by the leaver and several Chosen Ones, while everybody else nods sagely and mutters "So desu ne".

Weekly routine meetings are now at the three-hour mark, where nothing that could not have been circulated in a memo is accomplished, but which close down the entire section for most of the afternoon.

Let's face it - the locals will always, always spin out the simplest task into the longest possible rigmarole of byzantine nonsenses. Which is why nothing ever gets done here and why most of them need sixteen hours t do a day's work.

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IMO the folks complaining about the reporter's laziness or agenda are missing the point of the article. The point is not whether the press conferences are too long, and focus on too much detail and bury the key facts in the middle of everything else -- which we all know they do. The main point is that these press conferences are simply one symptom of the failed Japanese management here during the crisis --

"Fukunaga says Japan is skilled at teamwork, which is good under normal times. But it’s a dismal failure at having a clear leader take control—a vital necessity during a crisis.

“The leaders tend to be more of a figurehead when what you need is someone to roll up your sleeves and jump in,” she said."

Since no one is clearly in charge, the underlings are free to go on for hours and hours covering details, with no real plan or strategy. That is not just a collosal waste of everyone's time, but it does not get to results any quicker, just more process to make everyone feel good.

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The biggest complaint I've read from journalists is they are getting swamped in figures and not getting answers from specific questions. So the officials gang up, flood everyone with numbers and deflect questions regarding what the numbers mean in terms of safety.

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Since no one is clearly in charge, the underlings are free to go on for hours and hours covering details, with no real plan or strategy.

According to... whom? The reporter complaining? Such a crisis is all about the details. It's a daily press briefing, not a strategy meeting. The strategy was all laid out publicly weeks ago.

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I hate going to work meetings in Japan, where they give you a mountain of documents, and then someone gets up and just reads straight off those documents for hours.

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Smorkian - I don't know about you, but I would get frustrated if, after a medical exam, the doctor was absent, leaving the MRI technician to explain to me in pedantic terms the process of the scan; ignoring my requests for the implications of the results.

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Smorkian - I don't know about you, but I would get frustrated if, after a medical exam, the doctor was absent, leaving the MRI technician to explain to me in pedantic terms the process of the scan; ignoring my requests for the implications of the results.

Yeah, but nobody listens to what the government, TEPCO, or WHO say anyway so what's the point of having one of these organizations explain things? There's plenty of detailed information on what's going on and what it means but still people screech "lies!" because it doesn't fit their doomsday scenarios. Honestly, all involved parties are damned if they do, damned if they don't.

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IvanCoughalot - Wonderfully astute observations.

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According to... whom? The reporter complaining? Such a crisis is all about the details. It's a daily press briefing, not a strategy meeting. The strategy was all laid out publicly weeks ago.

Smorkian -- agree with horrified. Seems you are really reaching to respond to posts. Try re-reading the article. The author quotes several objective experts in crisis management/leadership to support his point. I trust their opinion a lot more than yours. And, as usual, you miss the point. Details are meaningless unless they are provided to make a specific point in support of an overall plan/strategy. That is called "presentation 101". You don't need to show the birth, just the baby.

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The author quotes several objective experts in crisis management/leadership to support his point. I trust their opinion a lot more than yours.

There's ONE person in crisis management quoted. And one politician (who doesn't say what you think he says). The rest of the article is just the author's opinion. If you want to trust a random AP writer's opinion that's certainly fine.

Details are meaningless unless they are provided to make a specific point in support of an overall plan/strategy.

Maybe for you, but I read the strategy a few weeks ago and don't need to have it jammed down my throat. Just give me details of what's going on, thanks.

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