It has been 15 years since Itoi began living overseas. In Moscow as his current base, he offers consulting services in areas such as accounting, taxation business, judicial affairs and M&A for when Japanese companies expand into overseas markets. Itoi realizes the challenges companies are facing by supporting Japanese businesses entering overseas markets. Despite their excellent technological strengths, many Japanese companies are overwhelmed by vigorous neighboring countries in East Asia mainly from language and cultural differences. Moreover, corporate cultures unique to Japan often prevent them from successful overseas business. For example, in Japanese large companies, requests for decision usually have to be screened many times, which often becomes a time consuming process. There was a time when a joint venture was proposed by an overseas company, and the Japanese company took too much time to make a decision. As a result, the overseas company lost their patience and the opportunity was seized by a competitor in another country. There are also times when some Japanese companies may push their Japanese ways in overseas lands. It is important to understand and respect local cultures and differences. In contrast, letting subordinates do their jobs freely, which is considered good management in Japan, may cause uncontrollability in overseas sites.
Even in these situations, the trend of entering overseas markets is accelerating, although workers who are assigned to overseas offices may not be a strong communicator in English nor may not even be interested in working overseas. Regardless, it has been long since Japanese youths are said to be more introverted in nature, and I sense the danger that the future of Japan may sink.
What kind of people development is necessary when we think about the future of Japan? Irrespective of generation, I think that the number of people who can take on challenges without fearing failure is decreasing. One of the reasons for this trend could be the fact that current Japanese companies still have the wrong corporate culture of “playing it safe.” Although it is also important to consider the risks that could be associated with the business, it can be said that decisiveness and speed of decision making are essential for success in overseas markets. I would like current students to go out into the world while being aware of these current situations, not to get used to old corporate systems and to try what they think works. When they are assigned to a responsible position, I would like them to support their subordinates who challenge. If the number of these people increases, I think more companies will begin to change.
How should a student seek a company suited for him or her when the student is interested in jobs that are associated with overseas businesses? Although there are several effective methods, checking the financial report of a company (if it is a listed one) would be the first thing to do in job hunting. Financial reports show the company’s business focus and how much emphasize they place for overseas business. Looking at the ratio of overseas business and how much they are advancing into overseas markets will help you make a decision to apply for that company.
I would like students with no overseas experience to take that step. The purpose could be leisure. Go overseas and see the places with which Japan is associated. Emerging countries have many infrastructures, including airports and railroads, developed by using the technologies of Japanese companies under the supervision of the Japanese government, and the local people appreciate such infrastructures. In Russia, one out of five people prefers and buys a Japanese car. People not only from Russia but also from other countries are interested in Japan and the Japanese people more than we think. I would like the Japanese students to see for themselves and and realize the magnificence of Japan. If you have a chance visit the Chuo University alumni overseas and they will be happy to meet with you.
I have seen Japanese people and Japanese companies that are active overseas with my own eyes, which has made me proud that I am Japanese. I have realized that I am glad to be born as Japanese. When I contribute to the advance of my client companies into overseas markets, I feel satisfied with my current job which can contribute my humble efforts to the success of Japan. I would like students to feel what I have felt. I will be happy if students feel, even at the back of their mind, that they want to do something for Japan when they become workers.