Monday, January 28, 2013

On The Algerian Gas Plant Incident

Most of my posts are about idiocy and venal failure. However, sometimes it is worthwhile to close the jaundiced eye and offer praise where it is deserved.

The deaths of so many hostages in the firefight between Algerian military forces and insurgents in the third week of this month was a debacle of the first order. The Algerian government carried out a rescue operation on its own terms, with tragic consequences.

Despite having almost no solid information, no guidance from the Japanese government and the likelihood of a catastrophe on their hards, the executives of JGC Corporation comported themselves with dignity and strength. The performance of investor relations head Endo Takeshi, the company's face and voice during the early days of the crisis, was simply masterful. Watching his press availabilities and the later appearances in public by JGC president Kawana Ko'ichi -- and realizing that no one in Japanese corporate life has had to handle the loss of 16 of workers, 10 of whom were Japanese nationals, in a terrorist incident or military confrontation -- one could only wonder, "Where did they get these guys and can we get more of them? (Link)

No crying jags, no whining about how little the government could tell them about the situation in Algeria, no checking into the hospital for stress, no idiotic standing up and bowing to take responsibility for things they had no control over...

The stoic yet caring conduct of JGC Corp.'s executives almost makes me forget Prime Minister Abe Shinzo's ludicrous reference to the dead workers as "corporate war dead" (kigyo senshi - Link - J) and the news media's attempts to make an issue out of one of those killed's having been a dispatched worker from a personnel firm -- as if we all bought in to the concept that the killing of a full-time employee was somehow less sad.


Johntaro said...

Nicely put. Just one small question - is it JCG or JGC?

aragoto said...

Abe's comment refers to "corporate warriors who lost their lives," so he doesn't go quite as far as "war dead." I'm not even sure I'd treat 企業戦士 as having military overtones given how hackneyed the phrase is--I took it more as a comment about people who had given their all to the company meeting a tragic end. But re JGC, yes, absolutely agree.

MTC said...

Johntaro -

Thank you for catching the switch of letters.

panÓptiko said...

I wanted to write about this but have not find the time. What do you think about all the bravado around the incident being used to justify a stronger SDF?

Besides, I am very happy to see that you mention on the other foreign workers of JGC—Filipinos if I am not mistaken. Why do they send company workers but bring back compatriots? Senseless patriotism.

Finally, one link is not working.


MTC said...

panÓptiko -

Thank you for pointing out the broken link.

The bravado seems relatively low key. I presume the LDP will follow through and submit a bill allowing ASDF to fly and the MSDF to sail to danger zones to evacuate Japanese civilians and repatriate the remains of dead citizens. That Japanese have to rely on the kindness of strangers is embarrassing even for non-reactionaries.

MTC said...


Whoa! It seems my above comment is garbage.

According to my morning dead tree news delivery device, the ASDF and MSDF already have the authority to enter conflict zones and disaster areas to evacuate Japanese citizens. What the LDP powers-that-be are talking about is a loosening of the rules regarding the use of weapons by SDF members engaged in rescue operations.

Anonymous said...

A few days late, but I absolutely agree with your comments re JGC, the PR head and the president. Very dignified, and all the more poignant in their grief.
Re the SDF, my understanding is that they can already assist evacuation by sea or air but they are not authorized to do so by LAND, and this is where they want to amend existing law. In other words, they could have gotten to Algeria but could not have traveled overland to Ein Amenas to participate in any rescue/recovery operation.