Well this guy certainly doesn't mince any words. New PM Hatoyama hand-picked this guy for the job and he's already making waves. This rather seems to be by intent as Mr. Hatoyama was highly critical of corporate practices during his campaign to unseat the LDP in last month's election. Quite a statement yesterday, sure to piss off executives everywhere at a time when employee morale is already low nationwide:
Shizuka Kamei, Japan’s new Financial Services Minister, has launched an “astonishing”, full-frontal assault on corporate Japan, in which he charged the country’s largest companies with raising the national rate of family murders.
The domestic murder rate has advanced in Japan, he said, “because companies have stopped treating humans the way they should be treated”.
Mr Kamei’s philosophy appears to hark back to a period of Japanese corporate life when companies were encouraged to think of “sufficient” levels of profits and then circulate the excess throughout the rest of the economy, an often woefully inefficient practice that prompted many outside observers to question whether Japan was a capitalist country at all.
Through the rebuilding years of the 1960s and 70s it was common practice for corporations to cap their profits and establish social outreach and lifestyle improvement programs for employees. In return large companies usually culled favors from the government, namely bailouts when they ran into trouble or regulatory relaxation when they were pushing boundaries. There are several interesting books on the subject of the odd command economy / capitalism mix that was employed by Japan to secure GDP growth rates of over 8% for nearly 20 years.
Despite its status as the world’s second-largest economy, Japan’s suicide rate has remained consistently high. It also increases in times of deep economic trouble. Police have said that they are on alert for an increase in suicides this year as the downturn continues to wring the life out of Japanese exporters.
If his charge extends to suicide it's a somewhat dubious suggestion as many companies have counselors on staff and confidential help lines available for employees with mental or other life troubles. Whether or not people choose to use them should not be seen as corporate responsibility but they may find a way to blame companies for that as well at the rate they're going!