By Ryoji Shimada
While Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic Corporation, is famous as one of Japan’s leading business leaders, the man currently in 2021 being broadcast on NHK’s (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) historical drama series is Eiichi Shibusawa, who is said to have laid the foundation for capitalism in Japan.
As a businessman, he started and grew hundreds of companies. But he was born in the middle of 19th century, which seems like a long time ago from the present 21st century. However, due to the influence of NHK, many Japanese people have started to read books about him. There are countless books on him, for example, one from Chikuma Shobo has already sold over 500,000 copies.
Many Japanese managers have also read Shibusawa Eiichi’s books. There is a section in the book that summarizes Shibusawa’s thoughts on how employees should be.
If foreigners working in Japan behave as Shibusawa envisioned, they will be highly valued by their companies.
Eiichi Shibusawa’s ideal employee here is based on the premise that we live in a time of peace. You don’t have to be an innovator. If you want to be an entrepreneur, this may not be helpful for you. However, if you want to start out as an employee, please embody the ideal image described below.
(1) Be honest
You must be honest, kind, and respectful of moral principles. A person who is ignorant of the moral principles of deceit and deception may be able to work well for a while, but it is doubtful that his success will last.
(2) Diligence and hard work
It goes without saying that we need to be diligent and work hard in everything we do. Diligence and hard work are the basis of success.
(3) Be steady
If you handle things steadily, there will be no omissions or mistakes in your work. This trait is especially important in corporate and bank accounting work. Do not act rashly or inappropriately, as is often the case with oriental greats.
(4) Be energetic
The clerical work of a company or bank is very busy and involves many things, so the person doing the work must be energetic. However, even if you are energetic, you should not be rough and messy. It means that the work should be done as soon as it is ordered. If you are not energetic, your work tends to stagnate. Don’t confuse lack of energy with steadiness.
(5) Respect for discipline
It is necessary for a person to follow the company’s rules and regulations, listen carefully to the boss’s orders, and know how to behave. Otherwise, it will disrupt the company order and cause confusion in the office.
(6) Have patience
The most important thing is to have patience, in other words, to keep in mind that once you start a job, you will not stop until it is completed. It is only after many years of perseverance and experience in the office that you can succeed.
This may sound a bit old-fashioned and idealistic, but in Japanese companies, people like this are highly valued. No matter how great a person is, he or she started from the bottom and gradually worked their way up.
When you are interviewed for a job in a Japanese company, you may be asked, “Who is the person you admire?” I think it is good to answer, “The person I admire is Shibusawa Eiichi.” Of course, don’t forget to think of a reason for your answer.