The Added Value of Inward Investment

for August, 2015

The Added Value of Inward Investment

Posted on 20 August 2015 in News, Published Article -

Japanese firms support education and community links

Look at any region of the UK and you will find Japanese firms’ headquarters and manufacturing facilities, mergers and acquisitions, R&D projects carried out jointly with British firms and many academic links. All these are contributing to unprecedented growth in both the British economy and employment figures.

According to UK Trade & Investment’s Inward Investment Report 2013/14, Japan is the UK’s key investment partner in Asia, having delivered 116 projects across the country in 2013–14 and created 3,040 new jobs. Moreover, half the cars manufactured in the UK in 2014 are by Japanese makers.

Hitachi Rail Europe’s training carriage arrives at the Port of Tyne in North East England.

Recent case studies

The same may well be true of trains soon. Hitachi, Ltd. recently set up their global headquarters of Hitachi Rail in London, and production at their factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham—the firm’s European rail manufacturing base—is due to start in 2016.

In the field of M&A, in 2014, Suntory formed Lucozade Ribena Suntory when it acquired two popular British brands. Advertising giant Dentsu Inc. continues its buying spree in the UK after having acquired, in 2013, the Aegis Group PLC, , in one of the industry’s biggest acquisitions ever.

Snack manufacturer Calbee, Inc. recently made its first European investment in Flintshire, Wales, and has just unveiled their first product to be manufactured at the factory.

Some of this activity may have been prompted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s growth strategy and an economic need for Japanese firms to globalise, moving out of a relatively uncompetitive domestic market.

However, there is no doubt that the strategic positioning of the UK, its openness to inward investment, the strength of its workforce and leading expertise were also key considerations when making these decisions.

The benefits of this inward investment are not solely economic; there are also social, cultural and educational ones. Living in the East Midlands myself and working with Japanese firms across the country, I have seen links develop at a grass roots level that have had regenerative effects on local communities.

To continue to read the full article, which was published in the British Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Acumen Magazine, June 2015, go here.

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BBC Radio 4 Misunderstanding Japan: Contrasts and Complexities

Posted on 20 August 2015 in Cultural Awareness, Inter-Cultural Training, News -
midunderstanding japan

I recently spoke on a Radio 4 programme called “Misunderstanding Japan”, where I wanted to convey that Japan will naturally seem quirky and incomprehensible to people who have no understanding of its cultural context. People wanting to do business or engage with Japan need to understand the complexities of the cultural context to avoid misunderstandings. However, things are not always as they seem. At a recent UKTI seminar on Business Japanese for Beginners that I delivered to local businesses looking at working with Japan, we covered many interesting contrasts in Japan that can sometimes muddy the waters nad indeed revealed some interesting pre-conceptions. Some examples include:

  • The clutter of outdoor advertising and information vs the order and Zen like calm attributed to Japanese lifestyles
  • Hierarchical company structures vs an emphasis on a very Japanese style of consensus within decision making
  • The status and importance of Japanese business leaders vs their fairly anonymous presence in marketing campaigns/PR about the company (although this is changing with entrepreneurs such as Rakuten’s Hiroshi Mikitani and Masayoshi Son)
  • The bureaucracy and seriousness of Japanese government institutions vs the cute mascots they take very seriously to promote them
  • The seemingly submissive role of women within one of the most masculine societies on earth vs the relative dominance of women within the home/ child rearing and control over finances.
  • The infantile behaviour and use of childish, cute objects on TV adverts/reality shows and the drunken fairly inhibition free after karaoke-session vs the conservative behaviour within traditional Japanese corporate life.
  • The immense need for detail contrasted with the indirect vagueness of Japanese oral communication
  • The garish packaging of the “kawaii” culture vs Japanese minimalism
  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, J pop idol- a grown woman who dresses and acts like a 10 year old vs kimono -clad, demure enka singers
  • The hidden emotions and public masks vs the immense emotional outpouring at national competitions and the general irony-free sentimentality of the Japanese
  • The sensuality and open acceptance of sexual desires and practices vs the low birth rate and reported lack of interest in sex amongst the younger generation.
  • The peace of a Japanese temple vs the onslaught of noise and announcements within Japanese everyday life.
  • The expectation of convenience and high levels of politeness & hospitality displayed in the service industry vs inefficiencies and a lack of flexibility within this industry
  • The high-tech nature of Japan and their use of the latest gadgets vs the fax machines still used in most Japanese offices and the emphasis on written communication.

The list could go on-do you have any more?

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