Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
It’s been over two weeks since the final puck was walloped and the last skin-tight lycra suit was hung up at the Vancouver Olympics.
And while Japan’s poor performance still rankles, the passage of time has given me the chance to find some bright spots in the country’s measly haul of three silver and two bronze medals.
Not least of which is the role played by small Japanese companies in supporting our athletes at a time when corporate behemoths, such as carmaker Nissan Motor and Seibu Holdings, an operator of hotel chains and train systems, have severed ties with teams including baseball and ice hockey squads.
Two of the three women in the team that won silver in the ladies’ pursuit speed skating belong to a skating club formed by tiny surveyor Daichi Corp in Toyama Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo.
What are the odds, but on the morning after a few Seibu shareholders asked the transport firm to offer male-only rail cars to avoid the stress of possible train groping allegations, I mistakenly walked into the women-only car in Shibuya during the crowded rush hour.
Whoops, I suddenly realized - no blue suits and ties, discarded racing newspapers and pornographic manga, or slumped-over passengers letting neighbours support their weight, and it smelled decidedly better. Something was dreadfully wrong.
The world’s No.2 economy, mired in what may be its longest and ugliest recession, is not wearing its misfortunes on its sleeve — at least not literally.