In October 2011, Michael Woodford was suddenly ousted as CEO of Olympus Corporation, a multi-billion dollar Japanese optical company. What followed was international media furor which ...
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In October 2011, Michael Woodford was suddenly ousted as CEO of Olympus Corporation, a multi-billion dollar Japanese optical company. What followed was international media furor which exposed one of the biggest scandals in Japanese corporate history. The film chronicles the saga of egregious corporate malefactors and a doomed East-West clash.Written by
Exposé of a Company's Misdemeanors That Also Offers Comments on Orientalism
Hyoe Yamanoto's documentary, filmed over a five-year period, offers an exposé of Olympus, the long-established Japanese camera firm which tried to compensate for its heavy losses during the Nineties and Noughties through a series of shady deals.
The man to expose them was the British-born Michael Woodford, who took over as the company's CEO and discovered that large sums of money had been spent on acquiring apparently worthless companies. Confronting his Japanese co-director on the subject, he was informed in no uncertain terms that the entire affair had little or nothing to do with him, and that he should leave well alone. Unable to take this advice, for fear of alienating the company's overseas shareholders, Woodford embarked on a campaign of uncovering the misdemeanors, aided and abetted by articles published in an obscure financial journal by a Japanese journalist.
Superficially this was another tale of big business deliberately sacrificing its integrity in pursuit of survival. Perhaps more significantly, however, it focused on the difficulties experiences between two cultures - the openness of Woodford contrasted with what he perceived as the secrecy (some might say two-facedness) of his Japanese colleagues. Perhaps he was unable - or unwilling - to accept the interrelationship between personal and political that dominates Japanese society; often to expose some misdeeds involves sacrificing one's honor, which is something that many Japanese business people seemed reluctant to admit.
Hence the documentary in a sense had two cross-currents; on the one hand it tried to be an exposé, telling the truth about capitalist corruption; yet simultaneously it was about two cultures trying and failing to understand one another. This lack of comprehension doesn't say much for the future of global business transactions.
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