I received an e-mail from Vice President Iwase of Lifenet Insurance Company the morning after the session where the controversial statement was made. He found Mr. Mark Du Ree’s e-mail address on the World Economic Forum website and forwarded it to me. I sent the following e-mail to Mr. Du Ree immediately.
Mr. Du Ree,
I have written the following tweet on twitter and written a blog in Japanese.
>Mr. Mark Du Ree, CEO of Adecco Japan said “Young people in Japan have no values” at WEF EA Summit. He owes an apology to Japan’s youth.
I was at the panel listening to your comments yesterday.
I felt your remark was of a very one sided view with overgeneralization. Most of the Japanese people I informed are angry at your remark. I would like to hear your views on this.
Mr. Du Ree answered my e-mail one hour later. We decided to meet over lunch. His secretary seemed to have informed him about my e-mail that morning. Maybe he sensed he made an unusual remark. He looked very embarrassed. We exchanged our views for about 30 minutes after a handshake. In the course of the conversation, Mr. Du Ree agreed to make a formal apology. Speaking with him one on one, I realized Mr. Du Ree is a person with his heart in the right place who loves Japan. He agreed to send me an e-mail containing his apology and let me post it on my website for making it public.
As the time for me to speak as a panelist drew near, I left shaking Mr. Du Ree’s hand politely. Then, I took part in a panel on innovation. After the panel, I ran into Mr. Heizo Takenaka. Mr. Hiroshi Tasaka was also around. The three of us spoke over tea for about an hour.
The following e-mail from Mr. Du Ree was in my mailbox, when I returned to my hotel room:
From: Mark DU REE
Sent: Monday, June 07, 2010 3:40 PM
Subject: My Sincere Apology
Dear Hori San
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.
Clearly my choice of words was not appropriate for the Forum which we are attending, nor was it an appropriate message for the young people of Japan. For this, I am profoundly sorry, and offer my deepest and most sincere apologies.
I have lived much of my life in Japan, and I love the country and its people. This is why I have stayed as long as I have and it is why I try so hard to help make it a better place, whether in my business activities or when interacting with the young people at the university. It is my sincerest hope that the young people will take more initiative in the affairs of their country, whether that means business or politics. This means “standing for something” and making one’s voice heard. For some people, this may be outside of what is normal and usual for them. But, I think that for the continued success of Japan, this is critical.
In this case, Hori San, you stood for something, and brought it to my attention. Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me. For this I offer my gratitude.
Again, I offer my sincere apologies.
Mark Du Ree
Touched by his words, I immediately e-mailed the following reply.
It was a refreshing moment for me to have a chat with you for over a half an hour. I felt your passion to Japan. So I may have been the one who might have misunderstood your motive behind your statement. In fact, I felt very relieved after the discussions with you.
Thank you for apologizing on your comment. After a chat with you, I felt strongly obliged to work harder for Japan and for Japanese youth. I will stand up and endeavor to make changes to Japan.
BTW, Mr. Takashima of Oisix also wants to talk to you. He was another Japanese at the panel who also got offended. I told him the outcome of our discussions, but he still wants to talk with you in a friendly manner. I will give him your email address, but it is totally up to you to decide.
In the meantime, I will put up your email to my website as promised.
All the best and hope to see you again, soon.
Mark’s words came back to mind after I wrote this e-mail. “I love Japan. That’s why I’ve lived in Japan for 25 years. But Japan has disappointed me in the last 20 years. I expected a lot from the young people who would shape the future of Japan. That’s why I started teaching at a university. Disappointment grows as expectation rises. I want you to understand my disappointment caused me to choose those strong words.”
What he said gave me mixed feelings. We should not disappoint someone like Mark who loves Japan so much. Each and every one of us must stand up and work to make Japan a better place. Pledging myself strongly to this cause, I decided to upload this opinion, “Different Values in the Global Community and Japanese Society – Part 2) An Apology, Reconciliation and a Pledge,” onto my blog.
The closing panel discussion for the East Asian Economic Summit was about to kick off on a lower floor at the hotel. “Rethinking Asia’s Leadership Agenda” was the theme chosen for this final discussion. I would like to keep thinking earnestly about what Japan and other countries in Asia can do.
June 7, 2010
At a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Postscript: Later, I received the following e-mail response from Mark.
Thanks so much for your kind words. I am greatly relieved that we had the chance to speak and that my passion for Japan was better understood. I am sorry for my weakness with words and will try diligently to better express myself.
I myself will redouble my efforts to support and help the young people of Japan, and hope to be able to have future dialogs with you, so that perhaps we can make Japan and the world a better place through our efforts.
If Takashima San is still here, I would be pleased to have a friendly chat with him. If we are not able to meet here, I would be happy to meet him some other time in Japan, or via email or telephone.
Thanks again and kind regards