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April 2011

Japan’s Community Assurance: The ‘Ganbatte’ Spirit

Japan’s Community Assurance: The ‘Ganbatte’ Spirit

It’s been one month since the greatest tsunami in Japan’s recorded history struck that country.  It’s an unbelievable catastrophe that has taken 12,000 lives, with another 15,000 people still missing.

Since I lived in Japan for three years and my wife is from Japan, on behalf of the members of the B/OSS community, I’d like to express the heartfelt sorrow that we all feel for the people of Japan.  I’m sure you’ve seen many Japanese citizens from NTT and other telecoms attending B/OSS events and one of the leading B/OSS vendors, Netcracker, of course, is now owned by NEC.

Perhaps this is a good time to take stock of what Japan means to us Americans and the world.

Japanese culture is everywhere in the U.S.: sushi, karate, karaoke, anime, Hondas.  Yet to experience Japan’s spirit, you really need to go there and see the treasures of Kyoto, drink in the fabulous nightlife of its big cities, and get to know the people.

There’s an indefinable quality of life in Japan that touches everyone who has spent some time there.  If you consider material abundance and lifestyle choices, America is probably the greatest nation on Earth.  But when you look at other things such as community, lack of violence, art appreciation, a connection with its history, and a thousand earthly delights from udon noodles and cherry blossoms ... to yakitori and Hello Kitty characters, Japan stacks up very well.

We get the Japanese NHK TV broadcast from Dish Network which has been reporting on the aftermath of the tragedy 24/7.  And the word you keep hearing over and over again from people being interviewed or the celebrities lending moral support is “ganbatte,“ which translates to “do your best,” “persevere,“ or “try hard.”

This one word, ganbatte, is Japan’s lesson for the world.  For Japan has persevered and overcome great adversity throughout its history.  For all of its majestic mountains, gorgeous scenery and natural hot springs, Mother Nature has exacted a steep price, for she’s afflicted Japan with an inordinate share of her tsunamis, floods, mud slides, typhoons, and earthquakes.  And of course, the biggest tragedy of all was a man-made one, World War II.

To persevere in spite of these tragedies, the Japanese have developed a heightened sense of community — everyone pulling together and cooperating for the common good.  Call it community assurance. “Hey, Yamada-san.  The flood wall broke through during the last typhoon.  Let’s perfect the design so next time we don’t have that trouble.“

It’s this same “try harder“ culture of assurance and continuous improvement that has given Japanese products a reputation for quality.  Today, Japan is a popular shopping destination for rich Chinese.  They fly over to buy electronics products with a “Made in Japan” label because they simply can’t find products of the same quality in Shanghai.

Let’s face it: The quality of life in any nation is not measured by the size of its homes or its bank accounts.  A better KPI is the percent of citizens who are artists and craftsmen — people striving for perfection in whatever job they’re in, from kimono designer ... to company president ... to janitor.

So to our friends in Japan, we pray for your swift recovery from this horrible disaster.  Ganbatte, ganbatte.  And arigato for what you’ve taught us.

This article first appeared in Billing and OSS World.

Copyright 2011 Black Swan Telecom Journal

Dan Baker

Dan Baker

Dan Baker is research director of Technology Research Institute (TRI) and editor of the on-line magazines Black Swan Telecom Journal.

Technology Research Institute (TRI) has been writing and researching telecom software and systems markets since 1994.  Its industry reports have covered the gamut of telecom systems from billing and service assurance... to customer care and provisioning.  In recent years, TRI has authored major reports on Fraud Management, Revenue Assurance and Telecom Analytics/Big Data solutions.   Contact Dan via

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