As a member of the 21st century had to live abroad: Akiko Maruyama

After so many discussions about why the numbers of Japanese actually living abroad has dropped, let’s hear a very personal story. Akiko Maruyama is an example of someone, who has desired from very early on to spend time abroad. Presently she is working at an amusement park in Osaka. For sure I appreciate her honest feedback.

Sibylle Ito: Recently in the news all the talk is about less people want to study or work abroad. You behaved different. Why did you want to study abroad?
Akiko Maruyama: I had a dream to live abroad since I was a teenager. I do not know exactly why it became such a desire for me to go abroad. I would say my father influenced me. He thought me English words when I was 2 or 3 years old. He always told me how important it is to see the world, especially for the people who live in 21st century. So I naturally believed that I would go abroad to study something someday.

SI: In regard to your professional career was it helpful to have studies abroad? Would you do it again?
AM: Yes, it was helpful. While I was in England, I got to know the many kinds of “differences” between countries. For example, language, policy, way of thought, religious, role of gender, and so on.
Then I was able to understand what diversity was. The company I work now is very young and has many divisions, which have its own different culture. When I work for cross functional teams, the point of view of diversity is helpful to understand other members and make the whole team stronger.
If I have a chance, I would like to do it again, of course. BUT, with my husband and a dog! I don’t want to do alone….

SI: If you could start all over again, would you do live abroad again?
AM: Yes, I would. I was born on this earth, so I would like to be global person.
Even when you can lots of information from all over the world by media, it is still hard to understand what it actually means. By living one place abroad, or acting; seeing the place, communicating with other countries people there, you can start understanding what is going on.
Next time, I would like to go abroad when I am a high school student. It must be much easier to master foreign language, and to change one’s mind or way of thoughts.

SI: You have worked at both typical examples of Japanese and foreign company. In a business sense where do you see differences?
AM: First, there is a difference in the gender role in the office. Typical Japanese companies somehow progress and change their perception of the value of female employees, still women are perceived as a risky asset, because women can become pregnant. Secondly, there is difference sense of “assertiveness”. A foreign company has a stronger sense of assertiveness than a typical Japanese company. But if almost all the people are Japanese in foreign company, I would say, there might be no big difference between them.

Thank you Maruyama san for taking time to answer so personal questions. Your honesty is greatly appreciated. If you want to connect with Maruyama san you can find her on twitter (

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

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