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William Pesek

Corporate Japan Gets a Jolt From an Outsider

Sometimes you need a gaijin to shake things up.
Insiders need not apply.

Insiders need not apply.

Photographer: Scott Olson

The word gaijin is used in Japan both to describe foreigners, and to suggest their inability to truly understand Japanese culture. The term no doubt came to mind Thursday when the non-Japanese president of the giant Internet firm SoftBank used his own money to place a big bet on the company.

Japanese business executives might be tempted to dismiss the news as a typically superfluous gaijin flourish. They would be far better off if they simply followed SoftBank's lead.