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Musings / April 6, 2019

The Yomiuri Shimbun As I was flipping through a collection of jokes by Takashi Hayasaka, who is often quoted in this column, a piece titled “sprint” caught my eye. Apparently it’s about how hard Japanese people work and how strange this looks.

The joke goes like this: People from different countries are running at full speed. Why? The Americans are running to stay healthy. The Italians are doing it to get a good build so they can be popular with the ladies. The Germans are doing it to drink a tasty beer. The Japanese are ... building up physical strength so they can work. This joke is included in “Shin Sekai no Nihonjin Jokushu” (A new collection of jokes from around the world about Japanese people), published by Chuokoron-Shinsha Inc. as a Chuko Shinsho La Clef book.

When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke a lot worse than the one mentioned above. A center for bank transfer fraud was recently busted in a Thai tourist city. Fifteen Japanese men who had been living together and engaged in the fraud were arrested on suspicion of working illegally in the country.

In the raid on the rental house, 52 internet protocol phones, 19 laptop computers and written manuals for conducting fraud — just like what would be found in a sales company — were confiscated. In addition, posters on the wall read: “Don’t be negative,” “Be responsible,” “Really concentrate” and “Make money by any means.” When Thai police investigators stormed in, they probably couldn’t believe their eyes, wondering what kind of office it was.

The youngest of those arrested was reportedly aged 22. If he wanted to work earnestly, he was in the wrong place.

(This is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s April 6 issue.)Speech

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