No choice but need to hire from abroad?


When you think about a multicultural/international working environment I believe most of you agree with me that a multinational Japanese company would not pop up in your mind. Gradually Japanese companies seem to move towards a multinational approach due to market demands that cannot be met locally.
For example Uniqlo (major apparel company) and the chemical maker Toray Industries Inc. are expanding their business alliance for joint development of Heat Tech. (Heat Tech: Rather thin thermo clothes or underwear, which became a huge sales hit locally.) Heat Tech is presented as advanced fiber technology in Japan, but it was actually developed by Chinese researchers abroad at a center Toray set up in Nantong in China. It seems that Chinese universities generate more competent workers for the textile industry, which are then hired at the Toray research center, who has 200 such graduates working with them.
Another example of a more international approach is IHI Corp., who started hiring young South Koreans graduates, because the basic academic skills of Japanese science and engineering majors have weakened. So far they are employing 12 South Korean, who are working on designing automobile parts and developing information systems. Further at Sasebo Heavy Industries Co according to Tae-Jin Kwon, a previous South Korean managing executive officer, who was surprised about the gap he found in Japan at the use of information technology at work. In order to turn business around the goal is to become as cost-efficient as the South Korean rivals amid rising steel product and other materials prices.
In order to keep up with the global speed of development of optical technology-based diagnostic devices, Nitto Denko Corp. had set up a R&D center in Singapore, because development and operations are progressing much faster outside of Japan compared to the local R&D centers. The major difference achieved seems to be based on the use of the leadership skills of a nuclear physicist from Thailand, who graduated from a U.S. university.
Based on my experience with life science instruments from a global perspective Japan has no choice but to catch up in some sectors, because the common local standards cannot measure up anymore to the global needs. I truly hope more Japanese companies understand the urgent need for keeping up with global standards, especially as most likely the end-user or potential patient is not even aware of the actual risks involved due to different standards.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

6 thoughts on “No choice but need to hire from abroad?

  1. Hey, I attempted to email you pertaining to this post but aren’t able to reach you. Please e-mail me when get a moment. Thanks.

  2. Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs we have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically magnificent

  3. Sibylle, I think your blog is very interesting, have been following for some time now.

    In regards today’s post – the positions you indicate are mostly pretty technical ones, where people say Japan is falling short in numbers (engineers, etc.). I would be interested to know if you have any information (or if any of your contacts do) about Japanese companies which target international managers (MBAs, for example). In my experience, they are still looking for native Japanese speakers, even for overseas positions, whereas in Korea they are starting to see the value of a diverse management team.

    Also, I would like to share this article with you because although it is not about today’s issue, you might find it interesting: http://www.japanintercultural.com/en/blogs/default.aspx?blogid=100

    Mary Granger
    Associate Director
    Admissions & Career Services, APAC Region
    ESADE Business School

    • Dear Mary,

      thank you so much for taking time for commenting on the blog and reading my articles for a while. You point out two interesting points:

      – Diverse management team: From my experience I have heard several reasons why there are very few diverse management teams found in Japan. The most common reason stated, why not hiring a foreign national over a Japanese national: A foreign national would not have enough understanding of the Japanese language, plus furthermore not fully comprehend the unique business culture and therefore will not allow the business to run smooth.
      – Link for Japanse love for data/graphs: For years working in technical sales in Japan I am facing this challenge. It seems only in Japan such a variety of data or graphs is needed. Getting enough detailed data for the Japanese end user has been constant struggle. As you might know business presentations in Japan have a very different set up, especially the Western Image of “less is more” and focus on a picture present the rest orally is not found.

      In case of any requests or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Sibylle Ito

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