World Cup gives a glimpse of a culture based on respect

Watching the World Cup - and staying firmly away any Qatari controversy – did anyone else notice footage of Japanese fans cleaning up behind themselves?

The World Cup showed how the Japanese have created their culture of cleanliness and respect. It’s a different lens through which to view the creation of “a safety culture”.

Supporters hand-picked rubbish into blue waste bags from underneath the seats of the Al Janoub Stadium as a gesture of respect and goodwill.

And apparently, the Japan team left their dressing room at the Khalifa International Stadium absolutely spotless.

Pictures shared on social media showed the floors swept, litter sorted into neat piles and even windows left open for ventilation in the Japan changing room.

This didn’t surprise me at all: it’s all about the Japanese culture.

I lived in Japan for three years and everything there is spotless. And customer service is impeccable.


s x 5

They follow the 5 Ss as a means of lean efficiency. There is

  1. Sort (Seiri)
  2. Set in Order (Seiton)
  3. Shine (Seiso)
  4. Standardise (Seiketsu)
  5. Sustain (Shitsuke)

These five Ss provide a methodology for organising, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment.

The trains always ran on time and were amazingly clean. I think in my entire time there, only one train didn’t run. And there was a replacement service.

I distinctly remember witnessing a mother cleaning the bullet train for the best part of the entire journey after her child spilled juice on the floor under their seat.

But this is ingrained in the culture. The Japanese have managed to create a culture where you expect everything to be clean, polite and organised.

And because it always is, life is predictable and easy when you’re in that culture.

It’s a world where the taxis are always on time and are spotless. Petrol forecourts are immaculate.

And no one would ever dream of coming into your house with outdoor shoes on. In fact, swimming pools and gyms are specifically designed so outdoor shoes never meet the changing and exercise areas.

Creating a safety culture

Now, imagine working in an environment that has that type of safety culture.

Where everything is done logically, calmly and according to procedure because that is what everyone expects. The whole team naturally behaves in that way.

Safety becomes predictable and an everyday way of life.

Everyone understands it, everyone buys into it and everyone expects it.

If we look at how the Japanese have created their culture of cleanliness and respect, it’s a different lens through which to view the creation of “a safety culture”.

Food for thought.

At Marex, we offer a risk-based approach to clients that is driven by compliance, resilience, performance and efficiency. If you want to talk about how we can help you create your safety culture, give us a shout. No blue bags required.

Neil Smeaton

Wayne Henderson Managing director

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