Japan has the best football fans at the World Cup, according to a report in the British tabloid newspaper, the Sun.
It says that the Japanese football supporters stayed behind to clean up the stadium in Russia following their team’s win against Colombia.
Apparently, the well-organised supporters took bin bags to the game with them, just as Japanese fans did when their team played in the 2014 World Cup.
The Sun, which is a paper obsessed with football, reports their behaviour with admiration and surprise.
Another website, News.com.au claims “this incredible gesture from Japanese fans has embarrassed every other supporter base at the Russia 2018 World Cup.”
I am not particularly surprised by this group clean-up. Nor do I think for a moment it was designed to embarrass or shame the fans of any other nation. It’s simply part of the Japanese mindset.
School children in Japan learn to clean the classrooms and playgrounds from a young age. Adults often judge others on the basis of their cleanliness. People say that a person who follows complicated rules on recycling is a “good neighbour”.
I have observed that the Japanese are particularly strong in two related areas – teamwork and problem solving. Group cleaning, whether at a football match, or at a school or an apartment block, is a reflection of those qualities. The Japanese also like to leave a good impression abroad and this is partly motivated by their desire to create a good basis for trade. In business, their primary goal is to gain influence and wealth through trade – and thus bring security and prosperity to their homeland.
Well-managed businesses play an important role in formulating ideas and guiding the behaviour of staff and wider society. Big companies have grand ambitions. For example, Itochu, one of Japan’s largest trading houses, has a mission statement which commits it to the Global Good and pledges to maintain “the Itochu values – Vision, Integrity, Diversity, Passion and Challenge – which have not changed since we were founded over 150 years ago.”
The personality traits of the Japanese are distinctive and intriguing. They leave a strong impression everywhere they go – just as they have in Russia. I am pleased that the Japanese national team won a victory in their opening game. But I am also pleased that their supporters showed in a simple way their nation’s strong sense of group responsibility – so much so that even the tabloid newspapers sing their praises.
Cleaning up the litter in a football stadium won’t serve the world’s problems. But it does show the Japanese are energetic, well prepared and ready to get their hands dirty.