I went to see Michael Woodford, former CEO and President of Olympus Corp, talk at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation last month. It was packed out with a mix of Japanese residents and British Japan specialists. Woodford gave a rivetting, very intense and emotional account of his experiences at Olympus, repeatedly emphasising that he loved Japan, and wished no harm to Japan or Olympus by what he did.
I have posted previously on some aspects of this case but what struck me this time – and also now I have read some chapters of his book in English, to add to what I have read in his book in Japanese – was how he was so surprised that the Japanese press stayed silent after the Facta magazine articles originally broke the story. He was almost expecting the media to come to his rescue, by busting open the cover-up and thereby forcing the Japanese executives to account for themselves, without Woodford himself having to confront them.
I suppose this would be the case in the West, but to anyone who knows how the Japanese press works (and I recommend my friend Jochen Legewie’s booklet on this subject if you do want to know more), it was completely unsurprising that they closed ranks and stayed quiet.
After all, Shigeo Abe, the publisher and editor of Facta, is a Nikkei exile (who was banished to the UK by the Nikkei when his attempt to expose Yamaichi Securities’ problems failed), outside of the press club system, and easy to dismiss as just another sokaiya or anti establishment grudge bearer.
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