By on July 16, 2011

One of the pillars of public relations is „do good and tell the world about it.“

Not in Japan. Here, the rule  goes “do good and keep your mouth shut.” Hard-hit Japanese carmakers have been at the forefront of aid to tsunami-ravaged areas. Toyota for instance sent some 100 tractor-trailer loads of fuel, food and other necessities up north to Tohoku – in utter secrecy.  Honda said they donated 1,000 generators and 5,000 gas canisters, and never talked again about the bulk of the help.

None of the CEOs of large car companies are seen on TV shaking hands of dealers and donating cars to the cause. This leaves a void, and nature abhors a vacuum. Nature does, and Carlos Ghosn.

Ghosn is the only CEO of a Japanese carmaker that is pressing the flesh and is giving pep talks to factory staff with cameras rolling. And he does this to great effect. When the large insurance company AXA polled “after the earthquake in Japan, which celebrity should take the lead?“ Japanese did put two foreigners on their list of dream candidates:

Barack Obama and Carlos Ghosn.

Rank Celebrity Job
1 Takeshi Kitano Comedian and movie director
2 Junichiro Koizumi Former Prime Minister of Japan
3 Shintaro Ishihara Mayor of Tokyo
4 Son Masayoshi CEO Softbank
5 Toru Hashimoto Mayor of Osaka
6 Hideo Higashikokubaru Former game show host and Governor of Miyazaki
7 Carlos Ghosn CEO of Nissan and Renault
8 Ichiro Ozawa Deposed president of the Democratic Party of Japan
9 Barack Obama President of the United States of America
10 Akira Ikegami TV reporter

Ghosn handily beats Obama when it comes to saving a country that is in real trouble.

Of course, with a director who is famous for his Yakuza movies in first place, this ranking gives you a little to think about.

Today, Carlos Ghosn was in town and decided to hit the waterfront. At 8 in the morning.

Nissan’s Honmoku Wharf is their largest logistics hub, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama.

The earthquake had caused only minor damage. But it butchered Japan’s electrical grid. And boy, was it ever hot today.

As you can tell, today is Saturday. Nissan, and for that matter most of the Japanese auto industry, is now taking Thursday’s and Friday’s off and works instead over the weekend. The idea is to spread peak power usage out. It seems to work. Friday and Saturday, the digital mercury reached 33 degrees centigrade (91 F), and even at peak time, we still had 9 percent of our available power left. Of course, it’s not just the auto industry that is saving power. Everybody is. Saving power has turned into a national obsession. Even the Japanese hairdresser association got in on the act and recommends pageboy haircuts for the ladies, because it’s cooler and uses less power for the hairdryer.

Ghosn wasn’t in a good mood today.

And the note that was shown to him did not seem to lift his spirits.

“Oh yeah?”

“It’s shelves. What’s so funny about shelves?”

Q&A with the media.

Other CEOs play the media like a fiddle.

Ghosn plays the media like a symphony orchestra.

“I heard that, Bertel. If you keep that up, you won’t be invited back.”

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