“I am following him everywhere, except into the rest room.” For nearly twelve years, interpreter Yuki Morimoto has been Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s adapter to the Japanese world. The lady is a miracle. She simultaneously translates Ghosn’s high-speed stream of wit and Gallic sarcasm into Japanese, and translates Japanese back into perfect English. Morimoto is so in tune with Ghosn that she sometimes finishes his sentences before him – in Japanese.
Morimoto-san is proud of conveying precisely how her boss feels. She does not pretty up what people say, she translates it as it comes.
In a land where the waving of arms makes you suspect of suffering from epilepsy, Morimoto has adopted Ghosn’s trademark body language that underscores words with gesticulations. She transposes Ghosn’s undulating emotions into wave after wave of likewise emotional Japanese, and when the boss gets loud, Morimoto is known to crank up her voice.
If Ghosn is displeased with you in Yokohama, you will hear it. If you don’t speak English, you will hear it again from Morimoto. Amongst the executive crew at Nissan’s headquarter in Yokohama, the saying goes that “when the CEO yells at you, you get yelled at twice.”
For more than a year, I had been bugging the troops and generals in Yokohama to let me do a story about Morimoto, who I had been surreptitiously recording anyway. When I suggested it, a lot of sucking air through the teeth ensued, I was told that it would be, you know, muzukashii, or difficult, because she’s shy in real life, and, sumimasen, the CEO’s personal translator, wakarimasu ka? I kept suggesting it, they kept sucking air.
Today, to my thorough dismay, I find this seven minute feature-length movie about the (shy my eye) translator on YouTube. Produced by Nissan’s global newsroom, it confirmed my worst fears: Those guys are here to put us all out of business. After more than a year of tut-tutting and sucking air, they wait until I’m out of the country, and steal my idea. Wait until I’m back in Tokyo, Dan Sloan.
Dan hasn’t put us out of business just yet.
In the week since the Morimoto video was up on YouTube, it attracted a shocking 419 views. If you see more than 419, then these are all ours, adding clicks to injury.
The non-amount of clicks stands in no relationship to the importance of the lady, and, dare I say it, the production value of the video. We really need to talk, Dan Sloan.