Re: Looking back over my life and business in the United States(3)  March 11, 2022

American society of those days when I transferred to New York in June 1978 fell into ruin badly, and New York was dangerous city where the number of the murder was number one in all of America. I was advised not to walk alone even in the central of Manhattan when it became dark or to walk around widely when I turned a corner in order to avoid the crime at a corner. There were several Japanese representatives who actually encountered the crimes.

It is pointed out that the background of this badness of security is an aftereffect of the Vietnam War for ten years (ended on April 1, 1975). In the end, there were about 5.8 ten thousand fallen soldiers, and US armed forces withdrew because of a collapse of the Government in South Vietnam. The dark side of the Vietnam War is described in the movie “Platoon” too. As a result, this war became “the war without any justice”. Under a severe antiwar movement returned soldiers were not welcomed by the people, and could not find any job, and then committed crimes after wild lives.

Incidentally, the current population of New York City is about 8.4 million, and ethnic makeup is white 33%, Hispanic 29%, black 23% and Asian descent13%. Chinese is predominating in Asian descent, and there is a Chinatown in Manhattan. Japanese is less than 5 ten thousand (less than 1%), and there were less Japanese when I lived in New York. When my daughter, who had come to New York at the age of two, returned to Japan temporarily three years later, I was told that she asked to my wife “Mama, why so many Japanese, here!”. She felt strange, because she was living in the melting pot of races every day. On the other hand, when we, Japanese walked in Manhattan, local people asked the way to us many times. They have a feeling that once anyone is in the United States, he/she is an American.

The nickname of New York is “Big Apple”, and as for the origin, there are various theories. My own interpretation is “the city which is worth biting”. In New York, there are art galleries, opera houses, Museum of Natural History, Botanical Garden, and Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. And famous Carnegie Hall, theaters on Broadways, and so on. I was rather a boor, and at the beginning I was brought into musical theater such as by tying my neck on rope, but I fitted in gradually. New York is an exciting city which is full of attraction indeed.

As for a meal, a steak is definitely the leader, but my recommendation is Italian food. There is a Little Italy in the downtown, and drinking wine by thinking about the world of Godfather was the best. Speaking of wine, when I visited a decent restaurant and asked a sommelier “whether white or red wine is suitable for this dish”, a sommelier replied “It is OK for you preferring one because you pay the bill”. This kind of thing never happens in France. American people have a basic idea but are tending as if it all depends on individual freedom. I like such unaffected “frank” attitude.

And tipping system does not exist in Japan but exists in the United States. If a representative knows when tipping is needed and how much he pays, he becomes a man. In the United States, fixed salary working in the service industry is low, and tipping has a high weight of personal income. Therefore, those people are trying their best in order to get more tips, and it is reasonable that this leads to the improvement of quality and productivity of service. On the other hand, there is no tipping in Japan, but serving spirit of Japanese workers is praised by foreign people. However, labor productivity level in Japan seems to be 30~40 % level in the United States. I think that as this background there is remains of the labor surplus days, and the structure in which there is excessive competition condition →excessive service →low labor productivity in the service industry standing about 70 % of total employed persons in Japan.

The lack of labor power continues furthermore in Japan from now on, and scramble for talented persons among industry types and enterprises will occur. “Water and security” which have been considered as free are not the case in Japan, and this has become national common sense. In addition to these two, I think that we have to change our mindset in the direction in which “service” is not free.

Other blogs