back to article NTT slashes top execs’ pay as punishment for paying more than their share of $500-a-head meals with government officials

Japanese tech and telecoms giant NTT has temporarily slashed the pay of several top executives, to reprimand them for paying too much of the bill at $500-a-head lunches with government officials. NTT is part-owned by Japan’s government and is also the nation’s dominant telco. Meetings with officials from the Ministry of …

  1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

    Gosh, a punishment that seems to fit the crime!

    The UK could learn lessons.

  2. tip pc Silver badge

    Good but extreme

    Not sure how much those execs are paid but if your not earning much then 40% pay cut is extreme.

    Let’s say a uk exec is on £150k, that’s £12.5k per month -40% leaves £7.5k which is then taxed to take home £5075 instead of £7555.

    A significant drop especially when considering mortgages and other life costs that need to come out if that.

    It works in Japan due to the honour system, in other countries like the uk execs would just demand more pay to compensate for potential fines like this.

    Something does need to be done to curb this kind of behaviour though, maybe some criminal records and jail time will focus the minds more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Good but extreme - No

      It is certainly good but it is not extreme, it is appropriate

      Jail would be very extreme. Firing would be extreme. Either would blot the employee's reputation.

      This is ideal. It's an internal company matter which punishes the employee but can be rescinded once the employee has proven himself.

      BTW, $500 is cheap. The best sushi restaurant in New York charges $650 per person, even at lunch, not including drinks.

    2. very angry man

      Re: Good but extreme

      Seems right and fair to me,

      you sound like somerag that could be in line for this if you get caught

  3. GraXXoR

    Japan is generally very ethical on the whole.

    After the egregiousness of the 80s, Japan has clamped down hard on "incentivising" government officials to "consider private business favourably"

    Likewise, govt. officials are not allowed to invest or put money into private company purses other than for general daily life.

    They have come down REALLY hard on shoring up the borders between private and public interests.

    A notable case recently was the firing of a local official who gave a gift, worth only about $200 to a local family after a senior member passed away which is a common occurrence (I have given such gifts several times)...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      That seems a bit exaggerated. Did the local official pay out of his own pocket, or did he invoice the department for it ?

      In the latter case, it's still a bit exaggerated, but in the former, it becomes outrageous.

      1. GraXXoR

        He paid out of his own pocket.

        $200 worth of top quality melons. (The fruit variety, not the female variety).

        Here, if you are a civil servant, you are a civil servant. Full stop. Doesn’t matter the time of day or where the money comes from; your behavior is expected to reflect your social position.

        Remeber that in Japan, civil servants, public school teachers and other municipal staff are treated with a great deal of respect and receive benefits such as being considered extremely low risk for things like loans and insurance. Conversely breaking the rules is dealt with rather harshly.

        That’s why the public servants and politicians here tend to be generally honest but a little uninspiring and lacking in imagination and ambition.

        1. very angry man

          Should be a lot more of this, lets try it in the west? i would be very happy to gift the firing squad with bullets

    2. onemark03

      Re: Japan is generally very ethical on the whole.

      That shit would never fly here in Germany. Executives have been known to sue and win.

      (Sorry, no link or ref.)

  4. batfink

    I'm clearly dining in the wrong establishments

    I've eaten in some of the top-name restaurants in the UK and I'd struggle to hit $500 a head. They must've been playing in the deep end of the wine list.

    Having said that: full marks to NTT for giving their Gods a kicking. In most companies, this would be found to be the fault of some lower-grade minion, who would therefore be caused to throw him/herself in front of the incoming flak and take the fall for Those Who Must Be Protected.

    TBF it was probably the minion who was told to put the bill on their credit card in the first place.

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: I'm clearly dining in the wrong establishments

      Go eat in a place in Mayfair or Chelsea that will serve you a vintage Petrus as accompaniment with your meal. You'll be amazed by how quickly that inflates your per head cost.

      1. batfink

        Re: I'm clearly dining in the wrong establishments

        Yeah been to the Chelsea and Mayfair places - avoided the Petrus though! Plenty of "lesser" wines that only cost arm&leg, without having to throw in the first-born...

        But agreed - it would have been the booze that inflated the price.

        But surely Japanese civil servants would be the same as our own esteemed lot, and would refuse the slightest offer of booze during a business meeting? Heaven forfend!

    2. GraXXoR

      Re: I'm clearly dining in the wrong establishments

      Look up Ryotei (or Ryoutei)

      They are super exclusive and super luxurious traditional restaurants. They used to feature geisha to help look after the customers, but these days geisha rarely feature.

      One of the interesting features of the Ryotei is that the money and the bill is never discussed. You go there on the understanding that the meal is going to be pricy.

      Generally speaking and traditionally, the bill would be sent to the home of the guest to be paid at a later date.

      When I came to Japan in the 1990s I was taken to a Ryotei by a local businessman. Though he never told me the price, one of his co-workers mentioned that the two of us came to about $1000.

  5. John Robson Silver badge


    * The Register has no knowledge of the menu at the meals but couldn’t resist some linguistic whimsy — Ed.

    And then ignored the opportunity to use flavour as well...

  6. Dinanziame Silver badge

    Curry is a very common dish in Japan, and they have lots of cheap restaurants specialized in curry — Japanese restaurants tend to be specialized in variations of a single dish, so if you go there, everybody must eat some kind of curry. That's not the kind of place to charge $500 a pop, though.

    They deserve beer with the curry.

    1. Edwin

      Japanese curry

      I found Japanese curry to be one of the most interesting imports and exceptionally good value - to the point of finding out where to by the spice mixes after returning home :)

      Can't beat okonomiyaki though :)

      1. mjflory

        Re: Japanese curry

        Japanese curry must have improved greatly since I lived there (albeit several decades ago). Back then it was mild and oddly sweet. (I wonder if "Vermont Curry" is still being sold?)

  7. MrBanana

    Sushi + Saki + ...

    $500? That is *a lot* of sushi and saki. Those execs may have already had their punishment waking up the next morning. Or maybe it was the kind of restaurant where the young girls kept having to bend over to pick up a fallen chopstick.

    1. WolfFan

      Re: Sushi + Saki + ...

      Ahem. That’s the young girls wearing abbreviated sailor suits and not much else kept having to bend over’. And ‘chopstick’ is a funny name for what they were bending over. And it hadn’t fallen. Nope, nope, nope, not fallen at all.

      There are those who say that I have a bad attitude. I can’t imagine where they got such an absurd idea.

  8. Chris 244

    Shed a tear over curry

    I still miss Lester...

    1. Zarno

      Re: Shed a tear over curry

      GNU Lester Haines

      He's on the Clacks forever.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The most recent meals came after recently appointed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga signalled his intention to shake up regulations that make it very hard to port mobile numbers between carriers in Japan."

    I remember that "intention" from over a decade ago (different PM obviously) . TBH, I assumed it had already been put into practice, and the fact that it hasn't indicates, well ...

    Once, in Japan, in the late 2000's I took about 20 pictures with a function phone, and forwarded to my email. A surprise bill of plus +100 dollars. After a long discussion with the rep, I was finally convinced that it was not a mistake and was indeed working as intended.

    In '87 NTT made it first public stock offering and demand was so high there was a lottery to buy (yes). Within a few months the price dropped by half. Then in '90 came the recruit scandal [ latimes+com / archives / la-xpm-1990-10-09-fi-2322-story+html ]. Part of it was an 80 yr old NTT exec received unlisted shared in a company 'Recruit' before official listing and price rise, and NTT reciprocated with cheap land lines. The exec was fined $175,000, which was only equal to his illegal gain, and a suspended sentence.

  10. Intractable Potsherd

    I'm probably a barbarian...

    ... but I don't think there is a meal anywhere in the world worth $500 per head. In fact, I'd only very reluctantly pay $50 a head.

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