- Ruth Jarman is a long-time resident of Japan and is the CEO of Jarman International, which focuses on business development for nine unique partner companies on real estate, financial services, eco-friendly energy, and publishing.
- Ruth is the first western woman to hold a Japanese real estate license and has spent the past 20 years working in and with Japanese companies. She has combined her knowledge of Japanese business with her love for Japan to author her first book. Titled 日本人が世界に誇れる３３のこと, it chronicles all the great things that she sees about Japan.
Back from Fukuoka
Anthony is back in Tokyo after spending a week down in Fukuoka, a compact city with wide, open spaces and building architecture quite different from Tokyo. This gives it a distinctive look and feels to the cosmopolitan. It is also close to the ocean and mountains. He was there to film some videos for Go Go Nihon, a company which helps international students to come to Japan. If you want to break away from the busy Tokyo and typical Osaka tourist route, Anthony recommends visiting that city instead.
Good Things about Japan
Ruth Jarman has been in Japan for 24 years but she grew up in Hawaii. She relays that Hawaii has a good opinion on Japan and its people. The tourism industry there considers Japanese people like treasure troves, thus hotel people put up signs in kanji and even speak Japanese.
Ruth studied International Relations in university where they were required to master a language to a degree. Moving to Nagoya and living with a host family made Ruth realize she felt more comfortable in Japan. Hawaii’s exposure to Japanese culture also made it easier for her to fit in.
When she started working for a company, she was extremely overwhelmed because there was no English in the job. She couldn’t even write her name in Katakana! Luckily, her mentor Hiromasa Ezoe gave her the confidence to pursue what many managers would say they can’t do. He did not focus on her weaknesses but rather encouraged her instead. This made her realize that it was not her or her Japanese skills at fault; she was just one of those big thinkers who liked getting things done.
Contrary to the shy, island image of Japan, coming into the company Recruit made her realize that the Japanese could also be loud and crazy. Their morning meetings would have everyone screaming and cheering. It was more genki, welcoming, and forward-thinking than anywhere Ruth has been in the US. This 4-year experience with Recruit became the basis of her corporate opinion of Japan.
Ruth points out that Japan’s desire for harmony can also be its strength. Because everyone is attuned to each other, mobilization is not hard to do. An example of it is public opinion on nuclear power plants. While some mayors wish to restart the plants, they cannot do so because the public is strongly against it. Their constitution also makes it impossible for a single person to be in charge and there is a sense of power from the people. At times, the government may not be so sure of what to do despite doing their best, an example of which is when the Tohoku earthquake happened. While Ruth acknowledged the country lacked someone taking the lead towards globalization, the initiative to move into that direction can still come from multiple sources. Promote an entrepreneurial view that everyone can agree with and they will want that. Compared to other countries, Japanese people are much more connected to one another.
Writing 33 Reasons
Ruth’s book is a compilation of selected articles she wrote for 2 years in a publication citing positive views on people. She was assigned to write good things about Japanese people that they may not consciously realize. Because she had no direct feedback from people reading them, she was surprised how it sold out and even got featured in a blog popular across Japan. A lot of people thanked her as it made them feel confident and encouraged. It also got published in a time when the Japanese needed to hear good things about themselves. Ruth cited examples such as having gaman or patience not to honk loud and often on the roads, expressing their gratitude in numerous ways, and being very responsible.
The book 日本人が世界に誇れる３３のこと (Nihonjin ga Sekai ni Koreru Sanjuusan no Koto) will hopefully be written in English, but geared towards a foreign audience on the same topics. In the meantime, the book’s launch party is on June 6 at the Civic Center in Bunkyo ku. Sponsored by the Human Resources Members Association, registration is at ¥ 6,000 which includes dinner. In the event, people would be able to see Ruth do the hula as an expression of gratitude.