TOKYO — A car company that hid dangerous flaws to avoid embarrassing recalls. A meat processor that sold ground pig hearts as beef. A fancy restaurant chain that served customers leftover sashimi from other diners.
In recent years, Japan’s faith in its corporate establishment has been shaken by a series of scandals in which companies of all sizes have been caught in frauds ranging from the merely nauseating to the patently dangerous. More shocking than the misdeeds is the fact that employees are blowing the whistle.
A decade ago, corporate whistle-blowing was almost unheard-of in Japan. A person’s place of employment was part of his identity, and unflinching company loyalty was the highest of virtues. But the unquestioningly obedient salaryman is becoming a relic, the result of a broader transformation of Japan and the global economy.