Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Speaking of holding a grudge.......
However today was a good day and I did not want to wreck it. I had a meeting today in Yokosuka. Rather than get up early and ride with the rest of the herd in a car for an hour and a half, I elected to sleep in and take the train. I got expressions of surprise and disgust about not wanting to drive, as I always do. You can take the American out of America, but you cannot take the car lover out of the person.
Why not go with them you ask? Well, it comes down to the fact that if you want to make any progress at all, you have to be out the door and on the road before 7am or you will be stuck in traffic on the Yokohama Shindo bypass. And I hate that. Especially for a meeting that did not start until 9:30. My way, I got to have coffee, watch TV and I still made it to Shiori station by 9:10. A quick walk to the gate and I was in the door of the meeting room right on time. The other guys had been cooling their heels for only about 30 minutes at Starbucks.
On the way I observed the sunshine for it was a beautiful day. I admired the girls on the train. Spring is coming and skirts are moving up. YEA!
Walked through Yokohama station to change trains, where they have adjusted traffic flow yet again to make up for the never ending construction......... However the Docomo Girls were there selling Cell Phones:
No S**T. They had some models out showing phones!
Read the paper. Hit the trains just right and when I got to the Keikyu platform there pulled up that holy of holy's, a limited express! Those are few and far between, but it meant I only had 2 stops before Shiori...............made it in 55 minutes. Even got a seat. Life is good.
In the paper I read about the story of Tetsuo Tanaka. You think some generals have a beef against Rumsfeld? Imagine carrying on a grudge against your former employer for 25 years:
It's a Friday morning in Takao, west Tokyo, and a sleepy gray army of salary-men and women is snaking through the gates of Oki Electric. At a few minutes before 8 a.m., Tetsuo Tanaka pulls up on a moped outside the factory gates, sets up a mike stand attached to a bullhorn and begins strumming his guitar and singing: "There is a wall between you and me which we can't see Wall of borders, wall of language, wall of history and life." Nobody -- not the bleary-eyed workers, security guards or even the schoolchildren and mothers walking by Oki -- acknowledges the odd sight of a middle-aged man in a cowboy hat serenading in English one of Japan's largest electronics companies with peace songs. After years of performing here every morning from 8-8.30 a.m., it is as though Tanaka has blended into the background like the local milkman. "He's nothing to do with us," sniffs a guard. "He was fired a long time ago."
Tanaka in fact was fired on June 29, 1981, the day after he refused a compulsory transfer order from his managers. At the time the company had been in a layoff mode, dismissing about a tenth of its workforce. He and a small group of other workers fought the sackings, without the backing of the company union. He was to pay dearly for that lack of union support. In a Japanese company, kind of like the military, one way to get rid of a trouble maker is to transfer them somewhere unpleasant.
When Tanaka ran for a post in the company union, he says almost the entire workforce was mobilized against him. At a union meeting of 1,000 employees he took the stage to blank silence. "All of them, except for a few supporters, turned their backs and left.
"My friend said afterward: 'Their faces were pale and blank, like dead men.' "
Shunned by most of his former workmates, Tanaka continued his fight against the restructuring with a handful of supporters before the company ordered him to relocate to a different branch; a common way of punishing recalcitrant Japanese employees.
"It was discrimination because of my fight, so I refused," he says.After 12 years with the company he joined after college, it was to be his last day of work at Oki
He's more than a little intense about his struggle. And a little misguided. In a song called war he intones:
"Someday the Draft system may be introduced in Japan. Just as Hinomaru(Japanese flag) and Kimigayo(National Anthem) were introduced in schools. Someday your children may be given a draft warrant. Just as a transfer order is issued to you from your company"
"The Hinomaru is like the calisthenics exercises in my company," he explains. "They're testing the limits of what we will stand; our loyalty. They are simple tasks but their meaning is profound in the corporate or the political world."
Man get a life! Even I, who was wronged mightly by some useless jerks 9 years ago can't hold a grudge that long. ( But you never know my dear Dr. KB, now do you? )
None the less Tetsuo continues his fight. He even has his own English language web site. What does he want from Oki Denki Kabushiki Kaisha ( 沖電気株式会社) ?
His demands have remained unchanged: an apology, an admission that the company used bullying tactics and the introduction of a proper, nondiscriminatory management policy. And he wants Oki to employ him to oversee the policy.
It seems as unlikely as the Oki workers breaking into a lusty version of "Fight the Power" one morning, but Tanaka says he sings to give people "courage to fight discrimination" andmeasures his successes in small victories.
"Since my firing, Oki has been unable to order a worker transferred to a far-away place, sometimes as punishment. They're afraid they'll create another Tanaka," he says.
When the company rejected his demand that shareholders be allowed to use company
microphones at stockholders meetings, he took along his own PA system "from
which I could be heard 200 meters away," he says. The next year, the company had
microphones for stockholders.
"I will continue as long as my life continues. Look at Oki: they now have 7,000 workers, down from 10,000. The people who harassed me are gone, restructured. I feel sorry for them because they are victims too. It's the same all over Japan."
An Australian company is doing a documentary about him. The S.O. tells me she has seen him on TV. She thinks he is a kook. That's odd coming from the same woman who had to keep her relationship with me a secret for fear her boss would lay her off......(No guilt about it if she has an American boyfriend you know.....after all they could hiring a younger girl for less money....that sort of thing).
You can also learn more about him here. Wonder how he makes a living?
Idealist or nutcase? You be the judge..........
Back to work tomorrow!