I got this info from the professor of my Group Problem-Solving and Decision-Making class up at Metropolitan State University, in St. Paul. He had worked as the CEO for the Japanese division of an air conditioning manufacturer. The division was having profitability issues, and he was tasked with finding the problem and resolving it.
What he found was that in Japan they have a different approach to career mobility than here in the U.S. There, you’re expected to make solid forward movement throughout your career, achieving positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in a CEO-ship.
There is an age limit on succeeding titles within organizations – by, say, 50 you must be a vice-president, by 55 a C-level, by 60 a CEO (don’t quote me on the specific ages/titles). Once you pass the upper-limit for the position you’re in, if your work does not justify that next promotion, you are moved to an honorary position and given a desk along the outside wall to await appointment to another, smaller company, where your skills are more appropriate for the next level up.
You become manohito – the man by the window.
Your CEO, using the connections he forged in school, is tasked with finding you such a position and getting you off the company payroll. At my prof’s company, their profitability was impacted by having too many manohito, chewing up payroll but unable to contribute anything.
Consequently, his recommendation for addressing the problem was to appoint a Japanese CEO, with the appropriate school-ties to repurpose the manohito.
We have a similar belief here in the U.S., except that we think that if people haven’t made it to the top of the org chart by the time they’re fifty, they are fit only for welcoming people to Wal-Mart.