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Blame Hailston’s Ignorance and Advisors

Date Posted: 2001-02-23

An e-mail leak reveals the true side of Lt. Gen. Hailston, causes a stir in not only the local media but the national media, and may result in the end of his position as commander of the U.S. Marines in Japan. In the e-mail, he referred to the local politicians that he often deals with as “wimps” and “nuts.“ Although some may understand his point of view considering the frustration he continually faces when dealing with them, it is surprising to me that his advisors have failed to provide him with information concerning the basic mannerisms when dealing with the Japanese in general. His unusual choice of words was his way of adding emphasis to his disbelief that several local politicians that he met earlier acted politely and agreed with an opinion he stated and later failed to counteract a damaging resolution to the US military by the local government that was a direction reaction to several recent crimes committed by US military personnel.

Western negotiators with limited educational background on Japanese cultural behavior, be it business or government, are often victims of a culture shock with one common misleading problem in particular, “yes in your face.” Most of us would be more familiar with the term “two faced.” However, in Japan, the people are non-confrontational. They would rather agree with you than disagree in your presence since that kind of behavior would be considered rude. I believe Lt. Gen. Hailston was a victim of his own ignorance of Japanese culture, and some blame should also be placed on his advisors for not informing him, if that may be the case. This does not change my belief that he would need to be replaced in the very near future. I think his ability to deal with the local politicians has been permanently damaged.

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