“… endlessly long meetings in which everyone tried to figure out what everyone else was feeling without tipping their own hand. Politics – tense, back-stabbing power-play politics – in which various managers who had come to the project from different backgrounds tried to line up factions against one another. All this had to be done without creating so much as a ripple on the surface of the pool (harmony must be preserved!), so naturally it took far more time than open warfare would.”
About Face by Clayton Naff
Good point that. Another important factor is that the Japanese prize hard work above creativity or efficiency. I think the most important factor might be, however, that being the only one to leave early makes it seem like you are leaving the work for others to do (even when that’s not true) and generally not doing your best to fit in with the company culture, as those are certainly the reasons why Japanese only take one of their two weeks on annual leave.