EDIT: Listening to snippets from the rest of the recording, it seems that Mizuho is explaining that they want to cancel Mt Gox's accounts with the bank. Karpeles seems to be protesting and asking why the accounts are being shut down. The guy from Mizuho explains (at 28:00 for Japanese speakers out there) that it's a combination of a lot of factors, including recent technical issues, which make the bank uncomfortable dealing with Mt Gox. Karpeles also mentions following the orders of the Financial Services Agency (金融庁）
EDIT2: 15:00~16:10: Mizuho guy explains that the Mt Gox bank accounts will have to be shut down eventually. Karpeles says that he understands that position, but he thinks that the bank has been rude about trying to force the closure, and would appreciate a more cooperative approach.
EDIT3: 18:00~19:00: An awkward discussion of Karpeles' Japanese. The Mizuho person seems to be offended by Karpeles' rude Japanese, which frequently lacks the correct honorifics that would be expected in a business setting. A woman (I think she's on the Gox team?) explains that Karpeles' first language is French and that he means no offense.
I can work on a fuller description of the call, but just wanted to get a quick verification of its authenticity out there, along with some snippets of the contents.
On the other hand, I'd say that the bank person has enough reasons besides the honorifics to be really angry at the guy. The info posted indicates that they want to get rid of him and given that they cite technical difficulties, it might well be possible that their tech team already suspected the "non-banking-grade" software quality we are now hearing about.
Does it require concentration for a native to avoid faux-pas in a discussion? Can it become much more difficult depending on your social origins (i.e. how effective is it as a social discriminant)? I'm wondering how much time and thought is typically spent on those matters, to the detriment of actually thinking and communicating information.
(I guess this post is extremely rude from a japanese PoV, but I'd genuinely like to understand all this better, and I'm sure typical HN readers can understand this approach)
As explained below, Karpeles referred to himself as "ore". "Ore" is mostly used by men, and carries a boastful tone. Moreover, pronouns aren't necessary to make grammatical sentences, e.g. "I went to the bank" = "Ginko ni ikimashita" = "[Bank] [to] [did go]".
The only function of the word "ore" is to emphasize your own high status relative to whomever you're speaking to. In a bar, after a couple of drinks, among equals, it's quite typical for all the men (usually not women) to use "ore". But in a formal business meeting --- this is known to be an absolute no-no by anyone who has formally learned even a small amount of Japanese.
A fairly close analogy in English would be to randomly sprinkle the word "fuck" in your speech.
I was once speaking to a good friend of mine here, in English.
"Do you want to go out for yakitori?"
"Go fuck yourself!"
"... switches to Japanese Have I recently done anything very major to offend you?"
"No, of course not."
"Oh, OK, I was worried. So that phrase, that's something you would only say under extreme distress when you had maximal desire to offend me, or I suppose you could use it jokingly between friends, but neither you nor I generally talk that way."
"I learned it from a movie. I thought it meant "No.""
"You might want to not repeat it ever again."
Along the same lines, I was getting a shave from a super hospitable barber last November in Gifu and the topic of conversation in very broken English (from him) and correspondingly broken Japanese (from me) was basically whether I had seen all of his favorite American movies. We were chatting and laughing quite a lot. When the time came for him to shave around the Adam's apple, he pointed right at my face and said: "You! Shut up!" It was so funny: He had obviously picked that up from a movie, but it took everything in me not to feel a little hurt, even though I knew he didn't mean to say what he said with that sort of edge. I can only imagine how many times I've done something similar in reverse. :-)
Complicated grammar in general generally comes from historical traces: there often is a literature associated to it, nuances that express best the ambiguities of life and what you might want to hide from. Case in point: relationship statuses, and the many way to say ‘mmh friend’.
When associated to people via honorifics, these are things people care deeply about, both because they came at what seem a cost (PhDs are hard, promotions longed for, and Noblesse Oblige) and, after being repeated every time one was addressed to, became a core part of your identity. The fact that they are flattering makes it even more crucial. Think of parents who insist on being called ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’: of course you know what their first names are, but using them can be seen as a lack of love, or respect for their authority, or consideration for the spectacular sacrifice they made. It remains hard to explain why on the spot: it just hurts, and comes off as defiant.
There is finally (and that is certainly true in Japanese high society) an attachement to class & country, a way to protect what was once precious and unique and unpregnable. That actually takes the form of genuine and sincere preference for the formal and appropriate: I would be offended if someone told ‘I love opera, it's so-o fricking cool!’ Yes, it is, and I consider the Opera to be a very buoyant and accessible art form, like Hollywood; but it still comes with a decorum that became part of my enjoyment of it.
Japanese, especially business people, are confronted to foreigners enough to understand that doesn't come naturally. Kerpeles however does more than ignore that: even in French (probably the second most culture riddled with grammatical antique quirks -- and I'd know, I am French and love those) he comes off as defiant, irrespectful, and likely to have willingly commited what some accuse him off. That’s not ignorance from his part, but open lack of respect for institutions. Those could be modernised and improve, but they still serve a purpose. Like anyone who's worked at university, I don’t call ‘doctor’ anyone with a PhD, but I still think it’s the most compelling experience someone can go through and I’d understand if, like in Italy and Germany, that remains part of everyday interactions.
(I can't listen to the recording right now and wouldn't get much out of it even if I could, since I can't hear well enough. :-/)
> Frequently used by men. It can be seen as rude depending on the context. Establishes a sense of masculinity. Emphasizes one's own status when used with peers and with those who are younger or who have less status. Among close friends or family, its use is a sign of familiarity rather than of masculinity or of superiority. It was used by both genders until the late Edo period and still is in some dialects.
The closest thing I could think would be to conduct a business meeting in which you only describe your actions and refer to yourself in the third person, and then only as "Big Mark".
"Big Mark understands your position but thinks you're being a bit rude about all of this. Big Mark thinks we should cooperate more" etc, etc
Why is it that way? I don't know the history, but the short answer is, because that's the way it is used.