back to article Japanese bank sues IBM over 'difficult' system overhaul

A Japanese bank is suing IBM for $107m over a systems contract it abandoned because Big Blue's proposal was too difficult to carry out. Suruga Bank, based in the Shizuoka Prefecture, filed the lawsuit in Tokyo District Court, seeking 11.1bn yen. Suruga first announced it would replace most of its systems with IBM's "Next …


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  1. Mike

    Someone owes me money...

    "We are suing because we decided it would be difficult to implement the system they suggested,"

    Damn, my boss and almost everyone I ever worked for could be sued for that. I dunno, can you sue for something being too stupid to implement, how about vaporware, can you sue for that too, where do they think they are, the US??

  2. EJ


    If those are grounds for a suit, then I've got several lawsuits needing to be filed....

  3. Morely Dotes
    Paris Hilton

    Is it just me?

    The article reads as if the bank is suing IBM because the bank's IT personnel are incompetent to carry out the changes previously agreed.

    When did the USA start exporting ambulance chasers^W^Wlawyers to Japan?

    Paris, because maybe she understands this lawsuit. Or not, but at least she's better-looking than a subpoena.

  4. Dean


    Last time I looked at a map Japan wasn't part of the USA..

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    "....Big Blue was not available to specify what exactly made the deal go pear-shaped....."

    *cough*GLOBAL SERVICES*cough*

  6. fissuria
    Paris Hilton

    Kiss me you fool...

    It's no suprise... Big Blue indeed has a tendency of making simple things complex...

    Paris, because even a woman like Paris... likes KISS-es...

  7. Matthew Barker
    Paris Hilton

    Difficult is polite...

    I think it's because "Difficult" is the polite Japanese phrase.

    The more direct, Western equivalent would be "Impossible". I'd read this to say IBM took 4 years and gave us nothing. AND they've got lots of PR mileage out of it.

    And if, 4 years on, the system still isn't implemented, it doesn't sound like it works.



    Paris because at least all of her big blue projects succeeded.

  8. amanfromMars Silver badge

    PaleFace Speak with Forked Tongue, Kemo Sabe San.

    ""IBM has fulfilled its obligations to Suruga Bank and will vigorously defend itself in this matter," IBM said in a statement. " ...... Hmmm? How so?

    Was not the obligation to replace most of its [Suruga] systems with IBM's "Next Evolution in Financial Services Systems" (NEFSS) which the sentence "At the time, IBM heralded the deal as the first NEFSS adoption in Japan, predicting full-scale operations ready for Suruga in the second half of 2007." would seem to confirm. If there is no full scale NEFSS operation, how on earth can they possibly argue that they have fulfilled their obligations.

    It seems to be a case of what IBM promises to deliver and what it then subsequently proposes to build are not necessarily the exact same thing. And the way that Wall Street is Imploding in on its own Abuses, swept under the carpet for everyone to keep stumbling over at every turn, to remind them how business is done "their way", the danger to them is that they will have no friends and no enemies to play with as they are dealt out of Future Great Games being escorted from the Casino/Control Room/Building for their own Protection.

    After all, a Plague is a Plague is a Plague and who needs it masquerading as a Cure All.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    looks like a case of polite wording.

    If this were filed over here it would say something like

    "They charged us X amount over y years for consultancy on a solution they didn't deliver."

    Or alternatevely over here the bank would probably go with the unworkable solution then 3 years down the line and three times over budget they would give up and IBM gets a huge windfall for breach.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    U No

    Another argument against "Foreign" trade!

  11. Anonymous Coward

    About time too

    I think the headline should be something like...

    Bunch of consultants and salespeople at long last held responsible for the usual idiocy.

    If they are, of course. They'll probable wriggle out.

  12. Chris

    Is it just me?

    Or has amanfrommars started to almost make complete sense?

    Hey, what happened to the Mars icon?

  13. Ed
    IT Angle

    A couple of scenarios

    In scenario one, IBM promises to perform an upgrade over the course of three years, and at the four year mark, they've still not completed it, despite the customer working with them every step of the way, helping out in any way possible. In this case, I can see this law suit being valid.

    In scenario two, IBM promises to perform an upgrade over the course of three years, and at the four year mark, they've still not completed it, due to the customer blocking every step of the plan, and added hundreds of additional features they wanted the new system to have. In this case, the customer's clearly at fault, and IBM is blameless.

    In reality, the situation is probably somewhere in between these two extremes, and it's up to the courts to figure out exactly where in this spectrum it is and who is liable.

    In any event, at this point, it's your basic he said she said, and we really don't have enough concrete information to judge who is correct and who is not.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    incompetent and naive reading of Japanese news source

    As others have pointed out, this article has been blown out of proportion due to a totally incompetent and naive reading of the Japanese news source.

    In Japanese the word "muzukashii" is used for both "difficult" and "absolutely impossible". It depends entirely on the context, that is fine nuances in speech or use of modifiers and filler words just where on that scale from "difficult" to "absolutely impossible" the intended meaning actually is.

    As an illustration, a couple of simple examples in spoken Japanese:

    original Japanese: muzukashii desu yo

    literal English xlat: difficult it is, indeed

    connotation: this is difficult to do but not necessarily impossible

    orginal Japanese: muzukashii desu ne

    literal English xlat: difficult it is, isn't it?!

    connotation: this is next to impossible, if not impossible, forget it

    The nuances and modifiers in formal written Japanese are different, but it comes down to the same principle that deliberate understatement is a form of mandatory politeness in Japanese society.

    If you were to use the actual Japanese word for "impossible" directly, you might think you just said "I am sorry, but this is impossible to do", but to your Japanese counterpart it would more likely come across as if you had said "There is no f**cking way we are going to pull this off for you, get lost you morons".

    At the same time, you can be more direct with your buddies or with your colleagues, no problem, but you cannot be direct when you talk to a member outside of your own group, ie. customer, supplier, court.

    The rules for Japanese formal language (including business language) are such that it depends entirely on

    1) what group do you belong to in the context of the subject matter, ie. giving or receiving party (think "you guys want something from us, so you must address us as 'sirs' and say 'please' a lot more than we do when we talk back")

    2) your status/level in the hierarchy of your own group

    3) the relationship between your group and the group you are talking/writing to

    4) the status/level in the hierarchy of your counterpart within their group

    When you make a statement that involves both groups, anything relating to your own group has to be understated/humbled down whilst anything relating to your counterpart's group has to be overstated/exalted.

    Thus for example, if you talk about your company's president with your colleagues, he is "our honourable President Kobayashi". If you are talking about him with an employee of a customer, he is simply "our Kobayashi" or "our boss". If you are talking about ANYBODY within the organisation of your customer to an employee of that customer, he will be "your most honourable Mr. Yamada".

    This is one of the reasons why the Japanese have a very hard time when they receive a business card from a western company where there is only a department and a name, but no title that indicates the status of the presenter within his organisation. The Japanese will look at the card and think "Oh, gosh, how am I going to address this guy appropriately, I have no clue if he's the boss or a freshman".

    Other examples are when you introduce your wife which is "my foolish wife", whilst the wife of your counterpart is "your honourable lady"; when you give somebody a present "I'd like to present you this totally boring silly thing ..." whilst the present you receive should be treated as the most exciting thing ever but must never be opened in the presence of the presenter so as not to risk embarrassing him.

    I suppose, by now you can see the pattern and get an idea how Japanese etiquette works. Basically, think Tudor England and how people had to speak back then, very likely the mandatory mannerisms required for speaking at the court of Henry VIII were pretty close to formal Japanese in use today.

    Before this background, you have to realise that an interpretation of Japanese news sources also requires a cultural translation, which was quite obviously missing in the case of this news item.

  15. Name

    Developing trend

    Does anybody see a trend here?

    Another such story...

    Damn, global services ! or GTS or GBS -- whatever crap they are calling it. Worst people are 'IBM certified' IT specialist/architect. They are self-proclaimed idiots -- know nothing about technology.

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