Self-public relations in Japan

It’s common in Japan to ask people to pitch their best qualities and skills when they’re writing a resumé or taking part in some social acts. They call it self-public relations, mixing a Japanese word and the English PR acronym. The resulting word, jiko-PR, is supposed to mean self promotion is a clear example of corporate jargon as there are perfectly Japanese words that would do the job.

It’s common for borrowed words to keep only the meaning that’s more relevant to the destination environment, and cases like this let us see clearly some differences between the Japanese society and the so-called Western one. This time around I’d like to stress the one-way communication nuance in the Japanese use of the word relations as in PR.

Self PR Self Promotion Public Relations

Public relations include communications of the one-way kind but also of the two-way kind. But the Japanese usage of jiko-PR (meaning self promotion) only has a one-way meaning. Words like these are worthy of being included in Shigesato Itoi‘s, corporate lingo dictionary, Otona-go no nazo (something like “the mysterious language of adults”).

This way of using the English word public relations proofs how established and strict are hierarchies in Japan’s business and corporate environments. For instance, it’s hard to find a magazine that reviews products in a honest way, as the companies selling these products are usually funding the magazine itself by investing in advertisement. So the magazine owes them –and their products– respect.

But now that Japan is on the social media train, I think it’s about time for having communications in all ways.