Thursday, January 19, 2006

Let's Learn Japanese: Jibun De Maita Tane Da

Jibun de maita tane da. (Proverb)
You reap what you sow.
(Literally: It is a seed thrown by oneself.)

You may have read about how the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed twenty minutes early this week (the first such emergency closing in history), due to a sudden 14 percent drop in the value of the stock of Livedoor Co., Ltd., internet service provider and last year's "it" company. The sudden devaluation was a result of a Monday night raid on Livedoor's Roppongi Hills offices by police, under suspicion that the company may have engaged in securities and accounting fraud.

Livedoor was a news leader for most of last year, thanks in part to its young, atypical CEO Horie Takafumi (nicknamed "Horie-mon" because he allegedly looks like Doraemon, the beloved robotic cat; Wikipedia disagrees, claiming the nickname is based on a racehorse...I like my explanation better). Horie-mon (pronounced "ho-ree-eh-moan") dazzled the press and confounded business competitors with his unusually casual business attire and cavalier say nothing of his shocking attempt to acquire Fuji Television and unsuccessful run for parliament last year. (January 21, 2006, ADDENDUM: Lest we forget, he was also preparing to debut as a pop singer until the Livedoor scandal truncated that endeavor.)

Rumor has it that the police were tipped off to Livedoor's shady doings by one of Horie-mon's political opponents. Memo to Horie #1: Don't run for office when you're a high-profile CEO.

Upon hearing of the company's scandal many, including myself, were gratified; after last year's media blitz, most of Japan is pretty much sick of Horie Takafumi and his condescending attitude. Consider this quote from Horie's November 2005 interview with Lorraine Hahn of CNN, on his "shocking" business tactics:

...It's not that I'm deliberately trying to shock people all the time. I'm just doing things that are obvious to me. It's because the public doesn't understand my way of thinking that they get surprised. Sometimes, I find it frustrating, but I suppose that can't be helped. The problem is with Japan's education system.

Memo to Horie #2: Quit being a jerk. Condescending is an important duty for us all, and I do my fair share of it. But with people walking around talking like this, maybe I can afford to take a year off.

Fast-forward to this afternoon, when Noguchi Hideaki of H.S. Securities, a brokerage firm which reportedly has a close relationship with Livedoor, was found dead in his hotel room. He apparently committed suicide.

The death of that executive is a sobering thing, but it won't act to quiet the mutterings of everyone who agrees that Mr. Horie has spent enough time grandstanding, and is now preparing to pay the price. Rumor has it that he will be formally charged next month.

Memo to Horie #3: Act tough in prison.

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