Japanese business culture prepares citizens for disaster

A tsunami, tidal wave smashes vehicles and houses at Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan on March 11, 2011.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Those disasters have sent Japan to a near breaking point. It was already buried by debt and squeezed by recession. But the Japanese citizen and worker perseveres. And generations of the culture there demand it.

David Weinstein is with the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia University. Good morning David.

DAVID WEINSTEIN: Good morning to you.

CHIOTAKIS: Japanese business culture is pretty distinct, right? I mean, does it hold up under this stress of a major disaster?

WEINSTEIN: I think so. Japan is a country that suffered a large number of catastrophic events -- both earthquakes and the bombing of their cities. And Japanese businessmen and the Japanese people in general are quite prepared for these kinds of events. Or at least as one can possibly be. It's a testament to that preparedness that if you talk to people in Tokyo, the situation is relatively calm.

CHIOTAKIS: We keep hearing that, you know, the Japanese are very resilient people, that hey can bounce back from disaster such as this one. What is it about the Japanese culture that sort of helps them along?

WEINSTEIN: I think they value a Japanese word which is "to persevere." The sense that you can bare the unbearable is very strong in Japan. And also, I think physiologically, they've been expecting a major Earthquake for years. They've dealt with these in the past, they know with certainly probability that these are coming and there will be more down the line.

CHIOTAKIS: David Weinstein with the Center on Japanese Economy and Business over at Columbia University in New York. David thank you.

WEINSTEIN: Thank you.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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