Taking a Break from the Japanese and their Corporate Environment


First and foremost, this is not a rant post. This is an honest piece of writing.

It's been close to a month since I left Kentucky to go back to Dallas to start a career change. Most days since my arrival have been really good. I mean, my blood pressure levels have returned to stable levels (almost a 40 point drop), my weight is starting to creep down, and I am sleeping better now that I don't have to worry about taking calls in the middle of the night from my former expat coworkers. In addition, economic moves in American auto industry has made it more better to buy an American made vehicle rather than getting a foreign made car, so it has effected the Japanese auto industry here in America (which is ironic because I just bought a Honda CR-V, but hey, I love Hondas more than I do Fords).

With me getting close to a possible career change this week, I have never felt happier in my life. I don't deal with Japanese people whom are clearly not happy to be here in the United States. I'm no longer exposed to the xenophobic attitudes that pervade throughout the industry by the Japanese expat community. And the best part is that I am no longer made to feel like a foreigner in my own country again.

That doesn't mean though that I don't like Japan or Japanese stuff though. I still actively read in Japanese almost every day and continue to study for the JLPT N2 (which I will be taking in Houston this December). I still have a preference for video games that can be played in Japanese. I still have an affinity for samurai culture and history. And I still have a love for most of the Japanese culture.

I think the one thing that I really enjoy is NOT HAVING TO DEAL WITH JAPANESE PEOPLE ANYMORE. When I decided to leave the industry, I personally made the decision to break contact with almost all Japanese people I have met while working in the Midwest and while living in Japan, either professional or personal. Other than Ayaka, her parents, and her one close lady friend that has supported our relationship since the beginning, I have essentially terminated all relationships with Japanese people. And I have never felt happier.

Now of course, I have had some Japanese "friends" from either my days in college, or people that were "friends" whom just used me for English try and reach out to me and ask me what is wrong. But I just give them a "tatemae answer" that is an equivalent to saying "drop dead" in Japanese.

I genuinely do not think they were true friends to begin with, so I don't really feel any sort of remorse or any sadness in doing so. If they really were my friends, they would have made time for me in the past for my messages or calls and not just message me when they have a question about English or wanting to keep me around to practice their English with me, so why bother watering a dead plant?

Does this mean that I am racist towards the Japanese or harbor any xenophobic feelings towards them? Absolutely not. If I were racist, I would personally attack them for being Japanese (but in my opinion, being racist takes time and energy, which I could use to improve my skills, a more beneficial thing). And if I was xenophobic, why would I have taken the time to learn about their culture and language and taken the time to have lived over there for a total of three years? Yet, at this time, I feel it is within my best interests mentally and professionally to refrain from making Japanese friends (other than the relationships that I have deemed important).

Now, if a Japanese person genuinely wants to become friends with Mike Viscusi (the person) rather than "Mike Viscusi, the tall foreigner that speaks Japanese from Dallas and is good for giving English lessons or as a punching bag", then I would be open to doing that. But we all know that Japanese men are scared of big guys like me, so I wouldn't plan on it at all.

Speaking of professionalism, I don't regret burning any bridges with the Japanese contacts or firms that I have worked at over the years. Since I am not working in their realm any more, it really isn't necessary for me to keep cultivating those relationships. Would you continue to water a dead plant?

I have plenty of other professional contacts that speak very highly of my work ethic and drive, and don't harp on the fact that I am "a white man" or "an American" or "Tall" or "Big".

I mean hell, I've even told the Japan Society of Dallas-Fort Worth, a long time organization that I have volunteered at for years that I am no longer interested in helping them if it meant that I made Japanese people uncomfortable with my size and language skills. This, of course, shocked them, but they understood my decision and told me that I was always welcome to come back whenever my heart was ready. But honestly, I don't think I will go back. But because they were so good to me in the past, they at least deserved some common decency and courtesy.

But for all the others, since I knew that I would most likely never see them again after coming back to Dallas, I just played stupid with them and only spoke English to them while they were trying to goad me into speaking Japanese. Since I really didn't (and still don't) have the inclination to speak Japanese to Japanese people that I do not know on a personal level, it drove them up the wall and got them out of my hair. No regrets doing it.

Now does this mean I will never work closely with the Japanese or Japan again?

That... remains to be seen.

For now, I just want to focus on my new career change, get new skills in computer science and business management and to further improve my skills in blogging, and of course, my written Japanese skills. It could take a year, maybe twenty before I decide to go back to the Japan realm. But seriously, it might take a good decade or so before I even seriously think about going back to work for a Japanese company.

But for now, I am planning on climbing the ranks at a US company that is known throughout the world. If it happens that I will be working with their Japanese branch in, I don't know, 20-30 years from now, then I probably will be fine with it.

But for now, I gotta get back to my SQL and Oracle DB class. Glad that I have more time for myself to learn about things that fascinate me.

And the best part is... when I am typing in coding and PL (Programming Language), I don't hear any backtalk from Japanese managers saying that the way we do things here in America are foolish... which makes my blood pressure stay at a healthy 110/80.

But on one final note.... it also gives me time to work on my greatest project for Simple Gaijin... more on that will come out in 6 months or so.


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Email: mike@simplegaijin.com

Phone: 214-892-3207

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