Our story about an American whistleblower came about because someone left a blog comment, telling me about the lawsuit. The lawsuit says that NUMMI plant management routinely pressured an employee to downgrade or delete reports of serious auto defects. Another link to the story.
I did a story about whistleblowers in Japan.
Someone who has the courage to speak up against the Establishment is special in any culture.
But they are extraordinary in Japan because of the tremendous pressures to enforce corporate loyalty.
I faxed a copy of the article to Mr. Semba, a whistleblower in my story.
I guess he didn’t know the article was going to be in English.
He wanted it translated into Japanese.
It would be impossible to get anything else done if I had to translate every article I did.
But I knew he couldn’t understand the story that was about his three-decade battle, and I had to do it for him.
He was very sweet: “You wrote all that? You are a genius!”
But in translating I realized the Japanese word for “conformity” was “wa,” which means harmony, something totally positive.
Did you know that the word for “individualism,” “kojinshugi,” sounds really negative in Japanese?
How all this relates to the idea of crime was what I was getting to.
The individual courage and integrity of the whistleblower are such contrasts to the criminal.
The whistleblower speaks up, saying “No.”
Most of us look the other way, shrugging it off as someone else’s problem.
The criminal doesn’t merely pretend not to know.
The criminal carries out the act.