17 November 2016

Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (continued): #57: Masao Miyamoto

The psychiatrist Masao Miyamoto (1948–99), who had spent some time in the US, broke away from the conformist Japanese norm. His book Straitjacket Society: An Insider's Irreverent View of Bureaucratic Japan (1993) sliced into Japan's three social religions: work, punctuality and lack of innovation. Understand these, Miyamoto said, and you understand Japanese society. The group rather than the individual is all-important, to move away from it is anathema to the well-oiled functioning of the country. Dr Miyamoto hated this world of 'work junkies and masochists'. He was a higher civil servant in the Japanese department of health, and asking for fourteen days' holiday was unheard of, his boss (who had not taken a day off in ten years) told him. Needless to say he suffered a great deal of criticism, but his book sold in hundreds of thousands.

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