Posts Tagged leadership

Matsumoto rips Tohoku governors | The Japan Times Online

Much criticism has been levelled at Japanese leadership (or lack of it) after the March earthquake and tsunami. In particular, observers have noted the lack of effective executive decisions and actions. There seems to be much agreement on this matter, at least from the media.

But there is the other side of the coin. It is clear from the tone of the article below and the wave of protests that have followed, that this kind of leadership is actually not tolerated in egalitarian Japan. Most people do not want executive leadership.

Matsumoto is no diplomat and is therefore not suited for the job he is doing, but he would be a good leader in an emergency, I think. Unfortunately, in the exchanges below, he just comes across as a little Hitler. He should not have spoken merely out of irritation, if that is what it was.

Matsumoto initially appeared irritated because he had to wait a few minutes before meeting Murai. When the governor entered the room smiling, Matsumoto refused to shake hands and insisted that it was the governor who should have been waiting.

“When a guest is coming, you should enter the room first and then call the guest, right? You damn well should do that.

“Someone from the Self-Defense Forces would do that if they understood how seniority works. Understand?” Matsumoto said. Murai was an SDF helicopter pilot before becoming a politician.

via Matsumoto rips Tohoku governors | The Japan Times Online.

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World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri

The 5th installment of Yomiuri newspaper’s series on the Fukushima nuclear crisis. As mentioned before, these articles contain interesting content, but overall they are somewhat confusing, or possibly confused. The articles seem to be trying to find fault, yet they also include information that seems to refute the criticism.

For example, TEPCO has in earlier news been criticized for not acting promptly, and yet in this article we are told that not even the French nuclear experts have been able to make progress because of large amounts of contaminated water in key areas. The same may hold true for the apparent delay in opening vents to prevent the hydrogen explosions.

This is the fifth installment in a series focusing on delays in implementing emergency steps by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. to deal with the unprecedented nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.Many countries have grown frustrated with and distrustful of the Japanese government for its poor handling of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis and its failure to disclose relevant information after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11.

grueling questions thrown at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s Deputy Director General for Nuclear Safety, Koichiro Nakamura, at a small-group session of a review meeting for contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna on April 6.

The session was held to check Japan’s compliance with the terms of the treaty. In addition to representatives from the group’s 12 member countries, about 200 international representatives and experts attended–an unusually large number.

“I doubt any of the foreign participants were satisfied with Japan’s explanation,” said a visibly disappointed European diplomat.

A Russian expert was more critical, saying: “If nuclear plants are built on the coast, it’s foreseeable that a major tsunami could occur. Despite being a technologically advanced nation, Japan has no robots that can be used at nuclear plants!”

South Korean experts were the most disgruntled. “Despite being neighbors, Japan did not tell us beforehand that it would be discharging contaminated water into the sea. Communication on disaster relief and assistance between [South Korea and Japan] is not good enough,” he said.

John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was at times annoyed with the lack of detailed information coming from Japan.

At one point his embassy had difficulty finding out exactly whom to contact over the issue–Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Prime Minister’s Office, or concerned ministries–and was therefore unable to determine the assistance Japan needed.

Roos tried to collect relevant information by phoning Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other Democratic Party of Japan Diet members he knew personally.

The United States even attempted to gather information independently using a spy satellite and an unmanned surveillance plane, a Global Hawk, possibly indicating a lack of confidence in the Japanese government.

A visiting expert from the U.S. government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was reportedly frustrated with Akihisa Nagashima, a former parliamentary secretary of the Defense Ministry and now a DPJ member in the House of Representatives. At a meeting at TEPCO’s head office in Tokyo on March 18, the expert allegedly told Nagashima it was unclear who was actually in charge of managing the crisis.

About 20 experts from Areva SA, a French major nuclear reactor maker, arrived in Japan and are now stationed at joint task force headquarters set up at TEPCO and other places.

Since Areva has already operated nuclear fuel reprocessing plants, it is expected to provide TEPCO with the technology to remove contaminated water from the reactors.

Yet according to a TEPCO official, Areva has been unable to act. “It is unsafe for workers because radiation levels [near the nuclear reactors] are too high,” he said.

Anne Lauvergeon, chief executive officer of Areva, described the situation as both complicated and unprecedented. She noted the outlook for the plant seemed dismal and that the top priority was to find out what was going on.


via World critical of Japans failure to disclose info : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

Here are links to the other installments in the series:

  1. The first installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Kan’s visit ‘wasted time’
  2. The second installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Hydrogen blasts at plant surprised experts
  3. The third installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government radiation data disclosure–too little, too late
  4. The fourth installment NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government, TEPCO brushed off warnings from all sides


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I made the mistake of checking my email first thing this morning, breaking rule #2 of Tim Ferriss’ list of 9 things Not To Do. However, thanks to this temporary transgression, I learned about a remarkable fellow Brit I had never heard of.  In my iGoogle was a new entry by James Atherton at Recent Reflections “On Yorick”, referring to an article about a Shakespearean theatre company which had been using a real skull for its productions of Hamlet, until it recently decided to stop doing so. Atherton’s blog entry is prompted by the fact that the skull in question belonged to a pianist, Andre Tchaikovsky (no, not THE Tchaikovsky) with whom he crossed paths many years ago, and leads to a reminiscence of his brief visit to Finchden Manor and meeting the charismatic founder,  George Lyward. I have printed out some of the articles at that site, and plan to read them at my leisure, when I have any. Here’s Atherton’s impression of Lyward. It made me want to know more:

Mr Lyward was indeed charismatic (in the Weberian sense). But his charismatic quality was one I had never before (or since) encountered. He made me feel that he was privileged to meet me. I was a callow 28! An upstart tutor on a social work course who had never done any social work in his life. A fraud, basically (although not deliberately so; I was so naive then that I did even know that there were some things a degree in European Studies did not equip you for). And Mr Lyward was honoured to meet me. It was not an act.

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