Audio, Why are cross cultural skills crucial for international business with Japan?

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【My business life started improving dramatically
after a cross-cultural training of Japan】

Please enjoy an interview of Ms R, an executive of a major Japanese company in Mexico, who enthusiastically talked about the reasons why the cross-cultural training is a major key to success in international business with Japan.
(By the way, this is my first interview in the audio file!)

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  • Interested in our cross-cultural trainings, coaching and consulting to move forward business with Japan? Please talk to us.

 

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My “Taken for granted” is not the same as yours — Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan

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The workshop of “Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan” was very resourceful, participated by a good-mixture of European and Japanese people.

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Yoshiko Kurisaki is moderating discussion

Here are a summary of highlights for those who couldn’t come and those who wish to know clues underlying the Japanese business:

  • Culture is like an iceberg. Eighty percent of the iceberg is under the sea and we don’t see it. So called “typical” Japanese culture, such as sushi, high-tech instruments, kimono, bowing, are all the tip of iceberg supported by the rituals, geography, history, values, etc. hidden under the water.
  • Major factors from which Japan is made  — Geographic location and its historical consequences, climate, rice-growing culture and the peace that lasted for 700 years.
  • The Japanese trap — Unconscious bias by the Western managers visiting Japan
  • A significant difference in the meaning of silence and space between Europe and Japan. It was proven that thirty-seconds’ silence is too long and uncomfortable for the Europeans, while nothing in particular for the Japanese.
  • Uchi- Soto“, the way the Japanese position you as a European business partner.
  • Relationship, not individuals, counts

It is worth noting that discussion by participants enriched the workshop, as well as eye-opening exercises.

Listening and observing others without judgement by one’s values is a good start for understanding of other cultures. In doing so it is natural that you may get upset or find someone strange. Such moment is a wonderful opportunity for you to know your own values. Think “Against what criteria am I upset? “

Working across cultures is not always easy but rewarding. Cultural diversity enables 1 + 1 be more than 3, 4 and more, and ultimately leads to the innovation.

Last but not the least, many thanks must go to the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC) which invited us for the workshop and Sunstar SA for the nice seminar room and warm reception!

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Veronica De la Fuente

 

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Discussion by participants was a vital part of the workshop

 

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 17 to 21 April, 2017

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Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

17 Apr. Sharp to fight back in household appliance markets, increasing the variations of models of fridges and TVs

The president of Sharp, Mr. J.W. Tai, revealed a strategy to largely increase the line-up of  household electrical appliance such as TV and the refrigerator for the domestic market in 2017. While its computers are reducing the household appliance business due to thin-margin, Sharp dare intends to increase its presence in the market.

Comments: Having been acquired by Foxconn, it remains to be seen if and in what ways Sharp will reborn.

18 Apr. Field experiment of “Robot cat Yamato”, an automatic driving car for the home delivery of parcels started, aiming at the 100% automatic delivery in the future

A giant  of home delivery of parcels, Yamato Transport, and an IT major, DeNA, have begun a field experiment of parcel delivery service by an automatic driving car, “Robo cat Yamato“, envisaging unmanned delivery in the future. Clients can call a car loaded with a locker-type safekeeping box to receive parcels to the place they wish, including the workplace. It is aimed to reduce time and labour of re-delivery for understaffed logistic centers.

Comments: It is an interesting application of technology of the automatic driving.

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19 Apr. Practicing English conversation with AI, which even do web searching to respond to questions

The SOFTBANK commerce & service Crop. has started sellig “Musio X”, a robot which helps you to improve English conversation using the artificial intelligence (AI). Musio X reads aloud English text by right pronunciation and undertakes the web search and answer to you for the questions asked in English. The company plans to add a function to the robot to operate air-conditioners upon voice command in the future. Music X is approximately 22 cm tall and weights 850 g. Its price is 98,000 yen (Approximately CHF 10’000) excluding tax, with monthly payment of 980 yen (Appx. CHF 10).

Comments: What an interesting use of AI! English teachers must use it to know a smart use of Musio X and teachers’ value which the robot can’t offer.

Musio X20 Apr. Trade surplus in FY 2016, for the first time in the past 6 years

According to the trade statistics (breaking news, customs-based accounting) of 2016 announced by the Ministry of Finance, the trade balance was the in the black figure of 4,006,900 million yen. It was the first black figure on the basis of a fiscal year in the past six years, or since the East Japan great earthquake disaster in 2011. This was largely a consequence of a large decrease of the import caused by strong yen and low price of the crude oil.

Comments: Good news for the moment, though the reason of trade surplus is not because of the economic recovery.

21 Apr. Will the initial investment of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet be only 1% of assumptions by NHK?

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications announced for the first time an estimation of costs of the simultaneous delivery of TV over the Internet. As for the case in which TV broadcasting companies jointly use  the delivery system, initial investment to make the system would be 75 million yen per company, and the annual operation costs approximately 21 million yen. In contrast, estimation by NHK was five (5) billion yen for the initial investment and less than 10 billion yen a year for the operation, on the assumption of the single company operation. 

Comments: Does it signal a replacement of TV broadcasting over the air by the high speed Internet? 

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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How can a non-native English speaker be a Grammarian at a Toastmasters Club meeting?

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【I defined my role as a Grammarian】

“I’ll take a Grammarian’s role next time.” —   I came to know that I had encouraged other non-native English speakers, when two people said it to me after the meeting of Geneva International Toastmasters Club tonight. It was an unexpected surprise!

I was a Grammarian of a Club meeting. Grammarian however was the last role I would take. I thought I couldn’t do it.  “How can I correct English grammar being non-native speaker?”

I however did it tonight.

I set my challenge to be a contributor of the meeting in the way I can. I’m not the right person to correct English but there must be something else I can do well.

I redefined the role of a Grammarian.

I  listened to each speech & evaluation carefully and thought in what way I could help the speakers.

I picked up good expressions and sentences that gave life to the speeches. 
After the meeting, I found my evaluation by Christina as a Grammarian super! It went far beyond my expectation.

Why did it happen?

I concentrated in listening to the speeches tonight. It was the only way to pick up good points and share them with the meeting. Concentration allowed me to notice good expressions.

It was respect to all the speakers to listen each speaker very carefully. Every one in the meeting room got what worked well in my comments.

I didn’t have to be afraid of doing bad, being a non-native English speaker.

There is always a way to utilize my resource to help others.

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Open Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan, Etoy, VD, 20 April

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【Unusual opportunity to know what’s inside a Japanese head】
I am delivering “Workshop for Cross-Cultural Understanding with Japan”, an open workshop of Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce (SJCC).

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Are these your problems?

  • “The Japanese decision-making process is so mysterious!”
  • “I don’t know if I’m interacting well with my Japanese colleagues.”
  • “Why do the Japanese always do things in their own way?”
  • “How can I say ‘No’ to my Japanese customers without offending them?”
  • “Japanese customers don’t complain when they are not satisfied with our service, but they just never come back to us.”

If you say “Yes!” to one of the problems above, this workshop is for you. The workshop will enable you to learn about the internal drivers of your Japanese business partners and colleagues.

Topics discussed —

  • Why is culture in business so important?
  • The trap of “cultural bias”
  • Major factors underlying Japanese business culture
  • Five clues to increase productivity in working with the Japanese
  • Your personal action plan

For more detail and registration

  • Date: Thursday, 20 April
    • 18:00 Workshop
    • 20:00 Aperitif and Networking
  • Venue: Sunstar Suisse SA, Route de Pallax 11, 1163 Etoy, VD
  • Fee
    • SJCC Members   CHF 100.-
    • Non-SJCC   CHF 150.-
    • Special Offer: “Come with three, pay for two” — If two people participate from the same organisation, the third person will be free.

For more detail and registration

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Fresh & hot from Japan, from 20 to 24 February, 2017

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Please enjoy fresh & hot news from Japan with comments by Europe-Japan Dynamics.

20 Feb. Developing use of Drone, getting rid of deers, monitoring of marathon race, etc.

Areas of use of the small robot plane, Drone, is expanding. Extermination of birds and animals that eat farm products, weather observation of high above the sky, medical support, etc. The expectation of those concerned is growing that Drone may enable what has been impossible in the past.

Comments: While Drone may bring benefits to farmers, hunters and a variety of people, ecological balance should be taken into account when used for wild birds and animals.

22 Feb. “Astro Boy” to build at home to be on sale, conversation via AI also possible

Kodansha, a major publishing company in Japan, is launching a weekly magazine in April, “Let’s make Astro Boy!”, which will allow the readers to build a robot of “Astro Boy” at home if they collect all the pieces that will be attached to each of the series of 70 issues. NTT DOCOMO and IT major, Fuji Software, worked together to enable natural conversation using artificial intelligence (AI) and distinguish up to 12 people by facial recognition.

Comments: “Astro Boy” was a national hero in the 60s in Japan. He will have life again thanks to robot and AI technologies.

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23 Feb. Buy a drink by smartphone and get it via a vending machine in a station, JR to start a new service to start in March

 JR East water business, a subsidiary of JR East, that run business of drink vending machines at railway stations announced that the company will start a new service by which consumers buy drinks using a smartphone and receive it later from a vending machine in March. Consumers may give drinks to friends as a gift if consumers send the purchase data stored in the phone to friends via SNS.

Comments: It is a type of online shopping that involves the vending machines. A major difference is that delivery system isn’t needed as buyers go to the machine to receive the purchase products.

24 Feb. The first “premium Friday” started today, would it be well integrated in the society?, a skeptical voice says, “We’d just suffer next week for too much work carried forward”

“Premium Friday”, the last Friday of the month when workers leave work at 3:00 p.m. started today. It is the public-private initiative that intends to increase consumption while reducing working hours, thus to chase “two rabbits”. The Government and the business community economic expect “Premium Friday” to trigger consumption increase and the reform of way of working, but would it be well integrated in the society?

Comments: Productivity increase at work would bring substantial changes that will enable shorter working hours and increased consumption.

  • All the news items are picked up from “Asahi Digital”, and summarized and translated by Europe-Japan Dynamics. The articles are not an official translation by the Asahi Newspaper.

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Japanese business culture for international students

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I delivered a class on Japanese business culture to a group of international students studying marketing in a course lead by Professor Masahito Toriyama at Graduate School of Management, Ritsumeikan University.

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In the class, I introduced a method of case exercise based in a real issue. This was a trouble between a Japanese client and an Indian information technology system developer.

Though the Japanese business culture was not a major theme of the students, they did good discussion on the questions associated with the case and reached excellent solutions; such as “I’ll put myself in the Japanese customer’s shoes”, “I’ll make it a habit to talk to my subordinates much more frequently so that our communication will go well.”, etc.

The students deepened their own thoughts through discussion. What a wonderful ability they have!

The real business is full of questions without one correct answer. This even is the case when people having different cultures work together, i.e. the international business. I found that the case exercise was useful to develop a mind-set to look into these questions and find creative solutions that will allow 1 + 1 = 3, 4, 5 … This is the power of discussion, or collective thinking. This attitude is essential for us to benefit from society where a large variety of people live and work together, or diversity in society.

Please find here for your information a power point file used in the class.

Note: The case used here is cited from “Case exercises for business communication, collection os the cases” by Kondoh,Kim et al. (Koko Publishing, 2013).

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