Working for that Lying Guy
I hate working for people who lie. They are liars, that’s why. But they don’t know they are liars, and so they innocently end up being a plague upon me more than income-generating benefactors. And this is the way it is with a lot of Japanese bosses. The Japanese notion of what constitutes the Truth is often unrecognizable to Westerners and mistaken as malicious falsehood, contributing to an unfortunate reputation that Japanese have in the world for being morally obtuse. Over time I have learned better, but in addition I must constantly caution myself that I am not one to cast names around like that. In today’s world, who isn’t morally obtuse? Someone could sue me for saying it, even though saying it falls within my internationally protected human right to free speech.
It does not take long for a newcomer to Japan to realize that Japanese will say anything at all to you if they think that 1) it is what you want to hear; 2) it constitutes what is most likely to go over well in the situation of the moment (i.e. preserve the Asian virtue of harmony); and, 3) if they think they can get away with it (i.e. tell the foreigner anything, just get him away from me).
I spent 15-years working for a lying bastard, and why did I put up with him for so long, with the patience of Job? Because I am loyal and sincere, that’s why. I don’t like surprises and I don’t like change. I also tend to be more passive than many foreigners, which plays well in Japanese culture which cultivates a greater degree of passivity among people in a vertical hierarchical society. Most of the proactivity I witness in foreigners is selfishness-based proaction. I am less self-centered than others, so I might appear to be less proactive in my personal affairs. I finally left the old boss after his chronic mental illness made him impossible to work for. So, he wasn’t just a liar, but a crazy liar.
My new, current full-time employment is, thankfully, much better. However, I still encounter a wide variety of (Japanese) people through private, or part-time work that I do on the side, around the schedule of my full-time job. And it is sad, but I have got messed up once more with a liar. Is it a natural risk of dealing with middle aged Japanese men?
Maybe what is at the root of the problem is the Asian notion that work is the purpose of life - the exact opposite of the prevailing opinion in North America - and so Japanese employment involves mutual feelings of obligations of employee-to-employer that makes it acceptable for the latter to impose upon the former. Or, maybe not.