Corporate Communications: A Comparison of Japanese and American Practices

By William V. Ruch | Go to book overview

6
Communication in the Japanese Corporation

Since earliest times, the Japanese have used various means of communicating. Most people don't know that the smoke signal, whistle, horn, and drum helped the rural residents of early Japan communicate. Drums, for example, called the samurai to the castle. None of these, however, could communicate over long distances. For that they used the letter.

The Persian king in the sixth century B.C. began the exchange of letters on a systematic basis. His letters helped him rule the Persian empire, a practice continued under the Roman empire. 1 There was an exchange of letters between the rulers of Japan and China as early as the third century B.C. It was from Queen Himiko of the ancient Japanese state of Yamatai to the ruler of China. 2

Another method of communicating in early Japan was the use of way stations. Beginning in the seventeenth century, they were placed every 16 kilometers on all the trunk highways. There men and horses were posted to relay messages, just like the American pony express.

Official post offices were established in 1872, patterned after Britain's. A little earlier telegraphic communication was introduced. When Commodore Perry came in 1853, he presented to the Shogun Tokugawa a Morse telegraph inscribed, "For the Emperor of Japan." 3 Because it was expensive, however, few Japanese could afford to use it at the time. Also, some Japanese considered telegraphy a form of Christian magic and made it a point to sever the cables and cause other disruptions.

In 1908, communication with the United States was begun with the laying of a submarine cable between the countries. 4"Now," says Minoru Hirota, "the stage of communication has expanded to space. Various

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