Friday, January 13, 2006


"Let's just say we won't be pursuing links with Kurume in the future."

The understated words of Ryan Aaron, chairman and CEO of Australasian corporate behemoth Aaroncorp, who until last week was about to instigate a multi-billion dollar expansion into northern Kyushu, were the Tasmanian-born multi-millionaire once taught in a conversation school. However, following his impromptu visit to the company he sought links with, Aaron has not only cancelled his project but posted a scathing report on his corporate website,, detailing the reasons for his actions.

In short, Aaron claims that when he visited the Kurume company Ha Ha Miwa last Thursday, he discovered what at first seemed to be "a normal-functioning, work-conscientious office place where everythings seemed to be in place." However, once he started talking to some of the 500 or so workers, he became increasingly suspicious. "I asked to see the boss and had to wait an ordinately long time, before being escorted to a distant office. I then proceded to introduce myself and started to question him, only to be told that he would have to refer me to his boss, which he did, and the waiting process began again. When I met the new boss, I was again referred, and again, and again and again, a total of 10 times in all, and to my surprise I found myself back at the office of the first so-called boss."

It was when Aaron started to investigate the day to day duties of the staff that alarm bells really started ringing. "Every single person I asked was unable to give me a satisfactory answer, and essentially told me the same thing in a hundred different ways - 'I liase between departments'. After a day of questioning and exasperated searchines for company records and information, I can categorically say that Ha Ha Miwa is a non-entity. That is, it doesn't actually function as anything, other than a place for 500 people to spend 10 hours a day in. All the phone communication that I witnessed was between employees in the building, as were faxes and emails. In short, it's a giant piece of red tape that pays people for zippo," he concluded, a little cryptically.

Aaron has reportedly promised to make his findings known to the relevant authorities, though with the status and encompassing corporate membership that his website enjoys he may not have to. Whether the staff of Ha Ha Miwa were fully aware of their situation is unknown, although this is not the first time that such things have happened in Fukuoka prefecture. The Japanese unwillingness to question orders and ingrained desire to be seen to be doing a good job aside, it seems remarkable that such wool gathering could continue unchallenged for so long. How did it start? Who started it? Where does the money come from? What will happen next? These are questions that no one seems to know, least of all Ryan Aaron, who must be mightily relieved to have backed out when he did.


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