Japan has a very unique culture in viewing the departure of people. I don’t mean departure from this world, but anything else from people leaving a job to people leaving an activities club, from TV hosts leaving a program to idols leaving a group, etc.
The Japanese never use the word “quit.” The word of choice is “graduate.” When Maeda Atsuko announced her departure from AKB48, her exact words were, “私、前田敦子はAKB48を卒業します” (literally, “I, Maeda Atsuko, will graduate from AKB48”). When Music Station host Takeuchi Yoshie did her last episode on the program, it was announced that the episode will be her last appearance before “graduation.” In my time in the translation industry, 14 people left the company, and at each farewell party, the people would say they will be graduating from the company.
“Graduating” is a good word. I like the choice and view of a departure. It lets out a more positive vibe than “quitting” does. It gives the idea that the person has learnt what they could at the current place and is moving on to learn more and grow as a person.
As people get more educated, they start getting hungry for more. Same reason people get bored with a job. When there is no more challenge to the job; when things start getting repetitive and routine, people leave a company. That is why MNCs and huge companies typically offer transfer of departments within the company to keep their employees satisfied, and also to get them ready to take on more responsibilities. When my former Managing Director learnt of my intention to leave the company in Singapore, he called me into his office and told me I should remain with the company, and he agrees I should leave only when I feel that the company has nothing else to offer. However, after some talk, he understood that I had wanted to come to Japan all along and wished me well.
Brain drain is not a problem exclusive to Singapore. And it’s not just brain. It’s also technical skills drain. Many countries are facing the same problem. Where else do you think the over 2 million foreigners in our country are from? If the government really hates “quitters” as such, what say you of the people who left their country for ours? What say you of the person who left their country for ours and then left ours to return after an Olympic bronze medal? Heck! Most of our ancestors left their country to settle in where we are now. If you hate people who leave, then you are simply hating humankind.
We should have a new outlook in perceiving the departure of people.
We didn’t quit Singapore; we’ve merely graduated.