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Japanese businesswoman explains how to appreciate one’s own culture more often

Women cross a street during a rainy day in Tokyo on June 4, 2021. (AFP)
Women cross a street during a rainy day in Tokyo on June 4, 2021. (AFP)
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05 Jun 2021 03:06:24 GMT9
05 Jun 2021 03:06:24 GMT9

Nader Sammouri

OSAKA: “They have it better abroad” a popular quote that may repeat itself on the tongues of locals in many countries of the Middle East, among other regions.

And yet, many times, people who go to experience life abroad end up coming back home and try to remind the locals of the blessings they aren’t able to see and may have taken for granted.

Japanese businesswoman Miho Akasaka founded the family travel ambassador program in Japan. She lived in Germany and the US and travelled to numerous countries globally, mostly in Europe and Asia.

During her time abroad, Akasaka said she realised that there were differences in communication between her people and foreigners.

“My experience [abroad] taught me that Japanese people’s attempt to be polite results in a very indirect and ineffective way of communication, especially in business. Japanese in business also have what we call ‘Nemawashi (根回し)’, which is a frustrating issue for Japanese women,” Akasaka said.

Nemawashi, ‘Ne’ meaning roots and ‘Mawashi’ meaning around, is the process of cultivating around the roots, a business practice in Japan aiming to informally secure prior affirmation or approval. That is when men go out after work for casual drinks and indirectly reach important agreements or project changes, disregarding the opinions of the women involved in the company or the project.

Akasaka told Arab News Japan that she appreciated Japan much more after living and traveling abroad.

“I got to be much more aware of Japan’s beautiful qualities like the cleanliness, punctuality and the top-notch quality of service,” she explained. “Aside from the positive qualities of every county, I was shocked, for instance, to see the bathrooms in China and how, in Germany, one has to decide their career paths during high school. The traffic in Indonesia made me appreciate Japan’s order, and the US made me grateful for Japan’s safety.”

Akasaka added a special note in the end, saying:

“The world’s diversity is so beautiful, so it is very hard to judge or take a position. I found pluses and minuses everywhere I went, and that was limited to what I was blessed to see. In the end, I discovered that people’s core is the same.”

Comparison is a plague and a ‘subtle pandemic’ in itself that we often don’t discuss. Shallow judgments tend to lead to false assessments of other countries, behaviors, and people. Prejudice, fear, envy, pride and insecurity may frequently leave us handicapped with a subjective illusion that marginalizes what is different, creating a mirage of reality.

Mohamoud Yussuf, a Somalian who grew up in Holland and currently lives between London and Egypt, where he moved to eventually, has travelled over 35 countries. He has a goal of being the first Somalian who travelled to every country in the world. With his global perspective, Yussuf shared the following:

“I appreciated London’s organization. The relative corruption-free society and not fearing the police would extort me for money every time I see an officer was something I valued there.”

Many people living outside of the United kingdom may have the tendency to instantly agree on the above, turning a blind eye to what lies on the other side of the coin, which people usually fail to see.

“The other side of the coin is that the weather in the UK is very depressing, as the cold rainy weather exists for the majority of the year. The pace of life is also very fast, which makes everyone stressed and always rushing to work, or for something at least. It affects people’s mental health,” said Yussuf.

One may find many people in Egypt, for instance, complaining how “people abroad”, especially in first world countries, have it better, but Yussuf explained that upon living in Egypt, he noticed the following:

“The food here is just amazing, and life moves at a much slower pace compared to London, making life here more relaxed. Moreover, Egypt lies at a very strategic location at the center of three continents, so it is very convenient to travel within Africa, Europe and Asia.”

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