The Sun Also Rises (陽はまた昇る), starring Ken Watanabe (Westerner's will know him from The Last Samurai and Inception) is a great movie showing Japanese Leadership & Innovation at its finest -- in this case concerning the development of the VHS tape standard and VHS Video Tape Recorder by Victor Japan (JVC).
In a nutshell, how does one overcome the deep and inherent cultural and linguistic informational asymmetries in this domain?
Well, today we'll hear from William "Bill" Lise, a Tokyo-based expert, and
arguably the foremost authority on the field of Japanese patent translations and patent litigation interpretation.
Don't miss out!
If you've been attention lately you may have noticed that we've been in the process of completely rebooting FirstPoint Japan.
We expect the full reboot to be completed by October 1st.
Now, many have asked, "Why are you rebooting FirstPoint Japan and in what direction are you taking it?"
The answer is this: FirstPoint Japan is being taken back to its original direction which was and is to serve as the first and only English-language portal that helps you Accelerate Your Japanese Business With Expert Advice™.
Ultimately, FirstPoint Japan™ is to be the place Where Japanese Business Begins™.
Specifically this means several things:
1. We will focus only on business related themes. Very rarely will consumer themes (e.g., what's the "hottest bar" or "best night spot") or "hey, isn't Japan weird?" themes be discussed unless such information is very relevant and would be of interest to our readers whereby they could better understand the Japan marketplace or cultural expectations.
2. The core readership for FirstPoint Japan is primarily Gaishikei (foreign firms) either entering the Japanese market, building out existing operations, accelerating growth, maintaining themselves in a sustaining phase or rebooting.
3. An additional target readership is (primarily) Japanese-language bilinguals (i.e., people of any nationality or ethnicity who are bilingual with one of their business level languages being Japanese) who are working for or would like to work for a gaishikei firm in Japan.
4. Given that Japanese firms are moving overseas and investing again in such operations again, another target readership is foreign individuals (non-Japanese or overseas Japanese) who are interested in working for a Japanese firm in a local market. For instance, such as a local person working for or interested in working for a Japanese firm like Honda in Vietnam.
5. The hottest topics previously as well as now include market entry and company build-outs. This centers much attention on issues such as hiring and the use of third party agency recruiters. Previously we maintained a large reviews database of "good eggs", "neutrals" and "bad eggs" recruiting agencies.
However, since the industry is so opaque and "rough and tumble" (to put it mildly) we found ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time maintaining reviews that, for the most part, were just "bad egg" recruiting firms which was just a waste of everyone's time.
We are now reversing the model.
This means that now everything is considered and deemed suspect unless it is on FirstPoint Japan. We will be talking to, reviewing and placing on our site recruiting firms and other vendors with whom there is some level of trust, ethics and professionalism.
By the same token, any vendor that isn't on this site you can approach at your own risk since we'll consider them "radioactive".
The list will start out small, it may even remain small, but rest assured we do the best we can to vet the lists and collect feedback on the firms listed.
6. The vendor directory will include recruiting firms, training and coaching firms, paralegals and lawyers (incorporation paperwork, IP issues, visa issues and so on), accountants and CPA's, HR consultants, translators, interpreters and so on.
We have a lot planned so we hope that you'll check back in frequently or if you'd like get the FirstPoint Japan Newsletter delivered straight to your inbox click on the button below.
The last time Masao Namiki bought machinery for his company, Emperor Hirohito had just died, Japanese investors took the Rockefeller Center as a trophy, and a new central bank chief was about to prick the bubble economy. It was 1989.
The $1 million Namiki borrowed to outfit his workshop with computerized lathes and drills almost bankrupted him as orders from clients Canon Inc., Panasonic Corp. and NEC Corp. evaporated. As interest rates cranked up to 6 percent, crashing stock and land prices wiped out $15 trillion in wealth and triggered an economic malaise that still drags on.
The bubble, and the five recessions since, help explain why business owners like Namiki aren’t buying into investor euphoria over new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign to end deflation. Even after the steepest five-month slide in the yen for 18 years made global companies like Toyota Motor Corp (7203). more competitive and Japan the world’s best-performing major stock market, Namiki said he’s still not ready to invest.
“If we had the orders I’d think about adding equipment, but right now the work’s just not there,” the 72-year-old said at his small factory in Tokyo’s Ota district, where he and a handful of employees have made thousands of steel molds for phones, stereos, and keyboards. “The manufacturers are still in wait-and-see mode.”
The reluctance to borrow and spend of companies like Namiki’s that don’t operate abroad and make up the bulk of Japan’s economy is the biggest threat to Abe’s plans, said Nomura Research Institute Chief Economist Richard Koo.
‘Bottleneck’“The greatest bottleneck in the private-sector economy today is the lack of private-sector borrowers,” said Koo. “That comes from the fact that they went through this balance- sheet correction for the last 20 years. Americans went through the same thing in the 1930s, and many who lived through the Great Depression never borrowed again.”
Japan’s trauma was greater still, Koo said. The wealth lost was three times gross domestic product. The U.S. crash cost a year of 1929 GDP. And just when Japan was showing signs of recovery, the 2009 global financial crisis hit. Then came the 2011 tsunami. After all that, the Nikkei 225 Stock Average is two-thirds off its 1989 peak. Land is cheaper than in 1981.
To jump start investment, Abe and his handpicked Bank of Japan governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, said they will double the money circulating in the economy to drive inflation to 2 percent within two years, remove structural barriers to growth and add fiscal stimulus with tax cuts and other incentives.
Japan's electronic giants once ruled the world. Sony, Panasonic, Sharp were household names. Now those same companies are in deep trouble, losing billions of dollars a year. How have the mighty Japanese companies fallen so low? The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo looks at what went wrong.
If you want to get an idea of what's gone wrong with Japan's electronics industry go for a ride on the Tokyo metro.
The Tokyo metro (or a lot of it) now has 3G mobile reception. But you're not allowed to talk on your mobile phone on public transport in Japan, so everyone in my carriage was busily texting away on their 3G devices.
And what particular device were they using? A quick survey of the carriage I was in found about 80% were holding an Apple iPhone.
That's admittedly not a scientific result - but the evidence is pretty stark. Where once everyone would have been listening to a Sony Walkman, today it is Apple and Samsung that dominate, even here on Sony's home ground.
The evidence can also been seen in their financial results. Japan's electronic giants are bleeding red ink.
Sony may make a small profit this year, its first since 2008. Panasonic (formerly Matsushita) is expected to post a $9bn (£6bn) loss this year. Sharp, which is much smaller, is losing money so fast it will not survive another year without a major infusion of cash.
So what went wrong?
By KEITH BRADSHER
Published: April 8, 2013
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Tiffany & Company is quietly building a diamond-polishing factory in Cambodia, a country popularly associated more with killing fields and land mines than baubles.
Some of Japan’s biggest manufacturers are also rushing to set up operations in Phnom Penh to make wiring harnesses for cars and touch screens and vibration motors for cellphones. European companies are not far behind, making dance shoes and microfiber sleeves for sunglasses.
Foreign companies are flocking to Cambodia for a simple reason. They want to limit their overwhelming reliance on factories in China.
Problems are multiplying fast for foreign investors in China. Blue-collar wages have surged, quadrupling in the last decade as a factory construction boom has coincided with waning numbers of young people interested in factory jobs. Starting last year, the labor force has actually begun shrinking because of the “one child” policy and an aging population.
“Every couple days, I’m getting calls from manufacturers who want to move their businesses here from China,” said Bradley Gordon, an American lawyer in Phnom Penh.
About FirstPoint Japan
"Where Japanese Business Begins™"