The quintessence of unspoken mutual understanding is to be found in the word yoroshiku: 'You have understood what I want you to do. I have understood that you have understood what I want you to do. Therefore I leave it up to you to finish the task and I expect it to be done in the way I want it to be done. And I thank you for understanding me and agreeing to take the trouble to do the task.' All this in four syllables. For all the apparent worship of the way of the warrior, being yasashii, which means being gentle, tender, caring, yielding and considerate, is very important in Japan. Asked what a Japanese values most in a potential spouse, both sexes tend to put being being yasashii at the top of their list of desirable virtues. The concept is even applied to the inanimate. For instance, a car or shampoo can be yasashii to you, to the eye, and to the environment. Sahoko Kaji is an ecomist and a professor.
Sahoko Kaji is a much travelled economist and university professor. When at home, she enjoys the genial nature of the people and the fact that things work. When abroad, she revels in Western emancipation and independence but constantly finds herself checking that the taxi will indeed be coming to take her to the airport. Apart from this typically Japanese desire for precision, she has been influenced by the cultures of both East and West for so long that she has accepted she belongs to neither and simply floats somewhere in the middle. Noriko Hama works for a Japanese multinational. An economist and author with a special interest in economic developments in Europe, she lived in Britain from the age of 8 to 12, after which she was plunged back into the Japanese education system. In the 1990s her job returned her to London for a further 8 years. She is frequently invited by television and radio to give her views on European and Far Eastern economic affairs which she attributes to her belief that to achieve recognition in her profession you have to be convinced that you are right and that everyone else is wrong. She works hard to give this impression. Jonathan Rice is a management consultant who specialises in explaining Japanese business style and tactics to Europeans - and vice versa. Involved with Japan since his schooldays in Tokyo, he has headed a British electronics company in Japan, climbed Mount Fuji, judged the Yamaha World Popular Song Contest and competed as Japan's leading bowler in the 1972 cricket season. He loves noodles and hanami but can live without Japanese electioneering and tamagotchi.
Jonathan Rice, Noriko Hama, Robert Ainsley, Sahoko Kaji