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JB: What was that all about, Izumi, trying to figure out how to take over the Internet?

AIZU: How to follow the game, or how to catch up is a better description. The Japanese can play the game of catching up much better than everybody else. The problem is, it's usually very difficult for Japanese to be the front runner.

JB: Why is that?

AIZU: The Japanese tradition is importing the culture. Almost two or three thousand years ago we started importing from China. About 150 years ago we started importing the culture from the West. We not only swallowed this culture, but very often, almost always we changed it, or added, or modified, and thus it's become a very unique, original. The problem is it's sometimes very difficult to find where the real origin of Japanese culture is. That though doesn't mean the Japanese culture is not original. We at GLOCOM tend to make a clear difference between the culture and civilization. Civilization is more of the actual forms of life — life styles, the use of gadgets, etc., while culture is much more deep, and it's hard to change, even when you try consciously. In terms of civilization, Japan can export things, like cars and VCRs, but we never really exported the Japanese culture. Americans are now eating sushi as part of the California cuisine. But that doesn't mean they partake of Japanese culture.

JB: Don't tell me that Japanese culture is sushi. The culture to me is unfathomable. You happen to be the rare exception, a Japanese technocrat who speaks perfect English. Almost all the people I work with in Japan understand English, and can read it, but they are not trained in school to speak it — and they don't.

AIZU: Or write it.

JB: Because they're not trained to speak, they don't want to be embarrassed, and you wind up in a situation where you're completely dependent on translators, and you have no idea what the translators are saying. Americans don't know what's going on and it's thus very difficult to read this culture, because what you hear may not even be what is being said.

AIZU: For the Japanese speaking and writing, expressing yourself, can be embarrassing. We have difficulty exporting internal ideas to the outer world. We have a history of not having to export ideas. We just take from the outside. So we can read, we can hear, and understand English, but we haven't really cultivated expressing, or communicating, or interacting in English.

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