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.

Tokyo, 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.