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戦争の副産物

今日のウォールストリートジャーナルに気になる記事があった。
要約すると以下の通り(記事全文は最後)。

マイさんという女性はベトナム戦争中、アメリカ軍の攻撃から逃げるためにジャングルの中にある北ベトナム軍の医療施設で働いていたが、その後彼女はマラリアに感染してしまう。
彼女は戦況から逃れるために毎日数時間歩いて北部へ逃げるが、道中で多くのベトナム人が無残に殺されるのを目の当たりにした。
戦後、彼女は旧東ドイツへ渡り、電子工学を学んだ後に帰国。
家電会社で彼女は急速に昇進していき、現在では同社の会長兼CEOを務め、家電だけではなく建設・不動産まで事業を拡大している。
ビジネス雑誌で彼女はベトナム第九位の富豪にランクされ、資産は約66億円だと言われている。
先月彼女はベトナム大統領と共に非公式の大使としてホワイトハウスを訪問した。

記事はベトナム版サクセスストーリーであり、メインテーマは女性が活躍できる文化がベトナムにはある、ということだった。
ベトナムでの女性社長比率は日本はもちろんのこと、アメリカと比較してもずば抜けて高い。
これは、ベトナム戦争で多くの男性が死亡してしまい、女性を活用せざるを得なかったことが背景にある。

更に、記事の中で以下の内容が印象に残った。

彼女はアメリカ人と仕事をするにあたり、過去に対するわだかまりは持っていない。
そんな彼女は言う。
「ベトナム戦争をしなければならなかった理由は未だに理解できないけど、現在、アメリカとベトナムの双方にとって有益なビジネスの機会があるのは確かだ。」

以前、アメリカ人のクラスメートと話していた時、同じような事を言ったことがある。
日本は第二次世界大戦で多くのものを失い数々の悲劇を味わったけど、経済的な側面から見れば、あの敗戦なくして今の日本はあり得ないと思う。
もちろん、敗戦という苦い経験をせずに今の日本を築ければ良かったと思うけど、それは不可能だっただろう。
歪んだシステムや価値観などは戦争のような大きな外圧がかからないと変わらないことが多いと思う。
だからと言うわけじゃないけど、多くの日本人はアメリカ人のことを恨んだりはしていない。

戦争で親族を失った方が聞いたら怒るだろうし、戦争を経験していないから言えるんだろうけど、あながち間違った解釈ではないと思っている。

クラスメートとの会話では敢えて言わなかったけど、アメリカが抱える貧富の差や未だに残る人種差別などの問題も、もしアメリカが過去に一度でも戦争で負けていたら緩和されていたのかもしれない。
また、冷戦構造が無くなった今、資本主義の独走を止める手段も同時に失った、という論調も複数のメディアで目にしたことがある。
以前に宗教の話のところでも書いたけど、独走(独裁)を止めるためには反対勢力(野党)が必要である。


最近、ロシアと英国の間でお互いの外交官を追放し合い、緊張感が高まってきている。
アメリカとロシアの関係も悪化する一方だ。
もちろん戦争に発展して欲しいなどとは微塵も思わないけど、適度な緊張感が独走の抑止力として上手く作用してくれないかと思うのは僕だけだろうか。


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Why, in Vietnam, Women Are at Top Of Corporate Heap --- One Great Equalizer Was Surviving War With U.S.; Ms. Mai Thanh's Power Trip
By Laura Santini
19 July 2007
The Wall Street Journal


HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam -- In 1968, 16-year-old Nguyen Thi Mai Thanh fled American forces in her native Saigon to work as a volunteer medic treating North Vietnamese troops led by her father, an army general, in the jungle outside the city. Later she contracted malaria and escaped north by walking several hours every day along the Ho Chi Minh trail. She dodged U.S. air attacks and saw other Vietnamese killed or ripped apart by bombs.

Today, life has improved markedly for the 54-year-old Ms. Mai Thanh. As chairwoman and chief executive of Ree Corp., a home-appliance, construction and real-estate company, she is one of Vietnam's most successful -- and wealthiest -- businesswomen. Earlier this year, a business magazine here ranked her the ninth-richest person in Vietnam, with a net worth of an estimated 887 billion Vietnamese dong, around $55 million.

Such success for a woman is not uncommon at the pinnacle of Vietnam's business world. The country's biggest company by market capitalization, a former state-owned dairy processor called Vinamilk, has a female chief executive, and four of the company's six board members are women. Sacombank, the largest publicly traded financial institution here, has a female director running the management team. The government recently appointed a woman to oversee the State Capital Investment Corp., an agency in charge of privatizing scores of state-owned enterprises.

In all, companies representing more than 30% of the country's stock-market capitalization have a woman in charge, analysts estimate. In the U.S., fewer than 2% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women. In Korea and Japan, women are often discouraged from pursuing careers and seldom break into upper-echelon corporate positions.

Vietnamese women earned equal footing here as a result of the war. While many served in combat, others, like Ms. Mai Thanh, did dangerous work in support units. The heavy toll of male casualties forced the Vietnamese to abandon strict gender roles because they had to depend on one another for survival.

"When you stand shoulder to shoulder with someone in a rat-infested trench, you think of that person as an equal," says John Shrimpton, a director at Dragon Capital, a private-equity firm that invests money for overseas investors and has a seat on Ree's board.

In Vietnam, the exalted status of women may actually date back millennia. Some historians think that before China colonized the country in 111 B.C., Vietnam may even have been a matriarchal society. Europeans who arrived in the 1600s "observed that women were much more prominent in trading and commerce" than in Europe, says Peter Zinoman, an associate professor of South East Asian history at the University of California at Berkeley.

In many Vietnamese households, women control the purse strings. "My father would turn over his wages to my mother and then ask for money from her when he needed it," says Dinh Thi Hoa, the chairwoman of Galaxy Group, a media company founded by Ms. Hoa here. Women warriors loom large in Vietnam's historical legend.

Around 43 A.D., the Trung sisters are said to have raised an army that defeated Chinese occupiers. The Trungs are patriotic icons here, with a district in Hanoi bearing their name and statues appearing in temples throughout the country.

Ms. Mai Thanh's path to the boardroom began after the war, when she left Vietnam for East Germany to study electrical engineering. On a visit to Cuba to attend a Communist youth rally, she was reunited with a former schoolmate from Ho Chi Minh City. The two fell in love and were married.

When the couple returned to Vietnam, Ms. Mai Thanh took a job at Ree, based in Ho Chi Minh City, as Saigon is now known. She quickly climbed the corporate ladder at the company, which was then called Refrigeration & Electrical Engineering Corp. By the time she was in her early thirties, she was the chairman's handpicked successor.

Her son, Nguyen Binh, 26, says his mother usually made it home for dinner while he was growing up. She rarely appeared frantic about her workload, he recalls. "I felt like we were as normal as everyone else," says Mr. Binh. "Now I read about my mom in the newspaper." Her husband, a former chemistry professor and an amateur ornithologist, retired a few years ago to manage the family's new wealth full time.

At Ree, the chairwoman has aggressively pushed for change. The company was the first to list shares on the country's newly opened stock exchange in 2000. "Everything is different," says Ms. Mai Thanh, an energetic woman whose conversation is laced with laughter. The government used to dictate output. "Today, if we make a product, we have to think, 'Who is going to use it?'" she says.

She has diversified Ree's business, pushing the company to get into real-estate development despite naysayers on the company's board. That move has helped earnings, and now other Vietnamese companies are pushing into property "in a me-too fashion," says Spencer White, a former Merrill Lynch executive who is starting an investment bank here.

Ms. Mai Thanh has critics who raised questions about nepotism when she nominated her son, an account manager for HSBC, for a position on Ree's board. At the company's annual shareholder meeting in March, some Ree investors questioned whether he had the experience for the job. Mr. Binh says his mother insisted that shareholders were free to nominate or elect someone else. Mr. Binh was voted onto the board.

His mother's capitalist flair has put her in good stead with foreign investors. She has attracted support from two fund-management firms -- VinaCapital and Dragon Capital -- backed by Western investors, both of which have representatives on Ree's board. Like many Vietnamese, Ms. Mai Thanh says she doesn't carry emotional baggage from the past to her dealings with Americans. In fact, just last month she accompanied Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet on a state visit to the White House as an informal ambassador of the country's new capitalism. "I still don't understand the reason for the war," she says, "but right now, there is an opportunity to do business and for both sides to profit."
[PR]
by nycyn | 2007-07-20 13:02 | 雑感