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The pleasant shock of Hiroshima


The Japanese as people
Norman Greenwood Scientist
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But I might say a little bit about the Japanese as people, because that is quite interesting and it is different from what we are perhaps used to in Europe. In my experience they are enormously courteous, they are very helpful, they are very precise in what they are doing and overarchingly honest. I have seen Masuo, for example, stop at a telephone booth in downtown Tokyo, put his briefcase down, go into the telephone booth, come out and pick up his briefcase again.

If you go into a store, you see an article that you would like, and the girl serving behind the counter will come out with a wrapped parcel. And at first I felt a little uncomfortable because there are some places in England where you wouldn’t be perhaps quite sure that what was there was precisely what you had been looking at, it may have perhaps been a second or something like that, but that would never happen, never even occur to the Japanese.

And they have a very keen sense of privacy and rightness – you’ve seen them, of course, bowing, the courtesy is there, they have a great sense of history and they are a people much to be admired. We have had a marvellous time there.

Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.

Listeners: Brian Johnson

Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.

Tags: Japan, Europe, Tokyo, UK, Masuo Takeda

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2011

Date story went live: 25 November 2011