BusinessWeek (International)
December 7, 1998​


Although I applaud your coverage of Japan's economic crisis (''Shareholder rights? In Japan?'' Asian Business, Nov. 2), I think you should devote more space to the institutionalized corruption here and the reasons it has been allowed to go unchecked--which I see as follows:

1. The Japanese tend to protect any authority figure, no matter how corrupt.

2. Japanese companies and their employees tend to cover up anything that might make them look ''dirty''--bad loans, fraud, etc.

3. Because no one person or institution takes responsibility for crises in Japan, they are allowed to fester.

I believe I am qualified to make these judgments. When the Japanese company I was working for stopped paying wages, I formed a labor union to negotiate for our pay--which we were finally awarded in court. After I left the company, it was sued a second time for not paying wages, and although these plaintiffs eventually received a percentage of their pay from the government, the company got away without paying anything (and eventually ceased to exist[1]).

I was amazed that neither our lawyers nor the Japanese newspapers covering the story made efforts to address the issue of the land the company held as assets, which should have been seized and sold off in order to pay us. Apparently, they were more concerned with protecting our employers than with exposing them.

If Japan's institutionalized corruption only affected foreign workers here it would be bad enough, but the world economy is adversely affected as well. Unfortunately, Japan's status quo is so closely linked to Japan's bad loans that it covers them up to protect itself.

Don MacLaren

[1] Actually, I later discovered the company (a private school, based in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, called the "American Club") was still a legal operating entity.  It had not​​ gone bankrupt, despite newspaper articles (in, among other places, the Asahi Shinbun) stating it had.  For more on this please see:
​A: American Club Business Registration, 10 February 2011, Legal Records Office, Utsunomiya,
     ​Tochigi Prefecture, Japan (in Japanese).
B: "Teaching English at the American Japan"
     ​(aka​ "The American Club and the Vermin of the Wilderness"), a story of mine published in
Wilderness House Literary Review, summer 2010.​​.
C: ​"Don't Count on a Reformation." a letter of mine published in The Japan Times,
     ​1 December 2011.

Don MacLaren
Jiangsu Province, China
2 December 2011​​​​

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