Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are you Godzilla?

The foreigner symbolically is Godzilla to the Japanese. Specifically the USA and the story of WWII told in Japan. A business colleague recently commented to me in which I quote verbatim
‘ Japanese people sometimes feel…foreign English speakers seems like a gojira (Godzilla) to them cause they totally don’t understand what they are talking about’

Get to the Point!
The source of this is based in WWII symbolism:
Godzilla’s very name emphasizes the monster’s foreign nature. Gojira, as he is called in Japan, has his name spelled in katakana, the written characters used in Japan to represent foreign words. … The course of Gojira follows the war in the Pacific as seen from the eyes of an ordinary Japanese. At first, there are reports of ships sunk, representing Japan’s naval defeats and the destruction of its merchant marine fleet by US submarines. … The ship losses are disturbing, but not immediately threatening. Then Godzilla emerges on Oda Island, which stands for all the islands lost to the US, in particular Okinawa, the closest. Godzilla/US now threatens Japan directly. The monster’s attack on Tokyo mirrors the destruction wrought by the US Air Forces. Japan’s armed forces are helpless against the power of Godzilla. Japan’s fighter planes drive back Godzilla temporarily, but clearly without harming the kaiju (monster). Unlike the real war, this allegorical one ends with a Japanese victory as Dr. Serizawa’s kamikaze attack in Tokyo Bay destroys the enemy. Yet the real threat presented by the US was not defeated and continued to be depicted in subsequent films.
This symbolism is strong and as someone living in Japan you can feel like Godzilla many times a day and while not as terrifying as the movie icon, it does lend itself to reflection amongst all foreigners living here.

Again, to know your new market and how you and your company may be perceived is key. Many have succeeded in Japan and made huge gains from getting a foothold here. For the old boys we still want to be Godzilla and crush our competitors and enemies, it is how you become a success right? In the case of Japan, this approach may leave you with closed doors, try opening with a gift and a warm and appreciative greeting. This doesn’t mean weak and wimpy, this means genuine and friendly like you are greeting an old friend.

Key Point: Understand they may see you differently than you think, be genuine, come with good intentions and expect to build a long relationship, which may take longer than you expect to get the trust you normally receive.