Lawyers are different in Japan. They're not aggressive and
sometimes perform their services almost reluctantly.
To confirm what I think I remembered, I recently called the Bar
Association to get the current number of San
Francisco lawyers. A Japanese government agency
advised how many there were in Tokyo.
The numbers continue to amaze me.
the world's largest city with a population of over twenty-six million had 6,973
lawyers. San Francisco,
population seven hundred and twenty-four thousand, had 9,800. Tokyo,
thirty-six times the size of San
Francisco, had fewer lawyers.
This dramatic, almost unbelievable, difference reflects the
contrasting attitudes of government, business and individuals. In Japan, as in most of Asia,
the word is a contract more binding than pages of legal details. In the United States,
lawyers are needed to close a business deal or resolve a personal problem. In Japan,
individual integrity is the dominant force.
I recall an example of this. At a meeting with Tetsutaro Iida at Takashimaya, I mentioned that our Jackson
Comer in their Osaka
store had been operating for almost a year without a written agreement.
"Do we need one?" he asked.