“In Japan there is little unemployment. It’s really a candidate-driven market”


Mining the flexible economy

It may not be as immediately recognisable as Walmart or McDonalds but The Adecco Group is the planet’s third-largest employer after those two American behemoths. The Zurich-based staffing company manages 1.3 million workers in 60 countries, and posted €22.7 billion in revenue worldwide last year.


Also featured this month


Pierre-Antoine Guillon

“I read novels by Japanese authors when I was a teenager,” says Pierre-Antoine Guillon, Japan representative and Asia Pacific sales manager at Kerneos. “The atmosphere and the themes in them were quite different from what I read in French novels.” Guillon, originally from Vendôme in central France — a region famous for its fashion and jewellery — was a voracious reader growing up. Cheap paperbacks of Japanese literature, translated into French, were readily available, so it was curiosity that led him initially to Yasunari Kawabata, and then to writers such as Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasushi Inoue and Yukio Mishima.


Not cutting the mustard

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics approaches, Japan is working to bring its often unique sets of regulations — in a wide range of fields — more in line with international standards. One area receiving particular attention is food safety. While the nation is known for paying fastidious attention to cleanliness and hygiene, this is surprisingly not always reflected in the hard and fast rules covering the food industry.


Constancy and change

The predecessor to today’s The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, the Tokyo Hilton, was home to The Beatles in 1966, during their only trip to Japan to play a series of concerts at the Nippon Budokan. The Hilton had opened in 1963 — a year before the Tokyo Olympics — and the Fab Four found themselves virtual prisoners in the hotel. They were hemmed in by a massive security operation to keep at bay hysterical fans and nationalists outraged by the musicians’ defiling of the Budokan, a spiritual home for Japanese martial arts.

APRIL 2017


Holding to her convictions

Since taking office in July 2016, Tokyo’s first female governor, Yuriko Koike, has proved herself to be a politician committed to doing what’s best for the citizens of her city. She has postponed the move of Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu over concerns that contaminated soil at this new location could pose health risks. She has also taken steps to control the ballooning budget of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Also featured

APRIL 2017 / Q&A

The royal advantage

This year, Luxembourg Ambassador to Japan Béatrice Kirsch celebrates 25 years working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She started her career representing Luxembourg at the United Nations in New York, dealing with human rights issues, social questions and gender issues. She has also served at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, focusing on disarmament and security issues in Eastern Europe; and on the Council of Europe, once again dealing with human rights issues.


Safety in numbers?

The issue of personal data protection has been gaining increasing attention as ever greater chunks of our lives are recorded, and conducted, on the internet. Networks belonging to government pension systems, e-mail servers, gaming platforms and major companies have all been the victim of hackers. When it was announced, the Japanese government’s My Number system was widely understood to be simply needed for tax and social security purposes. However, individuals’ numbers are already being required for some financial transactions, and the government has announced trials for later this year that could see the system expand in scope.


Ship Shape

If you drive a foreign car, chances are that venerable Scandinavian firm Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics helped bring it to you. Not so long ago, there weren’t any foreign cars on Japan’s roads. For decades, the Europeans, too, drove mostly European vehicles. “It took until the 1950s before somebody thought about exporting and importing cars,” says Axel Bantel, president of Asia Pacific at Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL). Today, the chances are that if you drive a foreign car in Japan, Europe or the US, his company helped transport it.

MARCH 2017


Secure through the storms

At a time when many people feel that the world is once again entering a period of considerable instability due to unexpected political shifts, and increasingly rapid changes in the technology and business landscapes, financial security is more important than ever. “I like to think what we’re trying to do is create certainty from uncertainty,” explains Trevor Webster, managing partner at independent wealth management firm Taylor Brunswick’s recently opened Tokyo office.

Also featured


Luigi Colantuoni

Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees in southwest France, is a small town of just 15,000 people, but it draws six million visitors annually. Since the mid-19th century — when a girl named Bernadette Soubirous saw numerous apparitions of the Virgin Mary — it has been a site of pilgrimage and miraculous healings. Luigi Colantuoni, chief representative for Japan at French energy firm Total, took his first trip to Lourdes when he was 18.


Litigate or arbitrate?

It all seems a long time ago. In 2011, Michael Woodford, the first non-Japanese president and CEO of Olympus, triggered a scandal that eventually revealed a $1.7 billion accounting hole at the company. The revelation toppled Olympus’s top executives and wiped 75% off its share price. The ripples fan out still. Last December, a group of more than 60 offshore institutional investors won ¥4 billion in damages from Olympus for losses sustained in the scandal and subsequent share-price collapse. Before that, in 2015, another group of Olympus investors were awarded ¥11 billion. Those settlements, however, were reached in very different ways.


Touting transformation through tech and trees

Finland joined the European Union, together with Austria and Sweden, on Sunday, January 1st, 1995, and the day after, on Monday at 9:00, Jukka Siukosaari reported for his first day at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Consequently, his career has been coloured by his country’s membership in the EU, working in areas such as EU integration, and foreign and security policy. However, his work has not been entirely about Europe. He was posted to South Africa from 2000 to 2002; he spent the past four years as Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay; and he has been in Tokyo since September.



The noble viking

As a philosophy student at the University of Edinburgh, Keita Koido was deeply impressed by the writings of British philosopher Peter Winch. In his essay “Understanding a primitive society”, Winch observes that if you want to understand another culture, you can’t approach it through your own values and pre-established standards of judgement. And this idea has influenced how Koido works and communicates with others.

Also featured


The matchmaker

As an ambassador for the happiest country in the world, Denmark, His Excellency Freddy Svane infuses all of his work with good humour and unflagging energy. He was posted to Brussels in the 1980s where he negotiated treaties, including those for the Economic and Monetary Union; he organised the first trade mission to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; he helped to modernise the Danish Agricultural Council; and he previously served as ambassador to Japan from 2005 to 2008, as well as to India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives from 2010 to 2015.


Japan’s pollen problem

Spring is not a happy time of year for the over 30 million people in Japan who have been diagnosed as having cedar pollen allergies. Over the past 30 years, the number of Japanese who have fallen victim to the scourge of cedar pollen has been growing steadily. From 1998 to 2008 alone, the prevalence of those with the allergy rose from 16.2% to 26.5% of the population.


What now for the TPP?

To the dismay of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and other leaders of Asia–Pacific countries, US President Donald Trump has taken his country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The new American president has declared a preference for bilateral trade deals over multilateral, and is simultaneously looking to weaken the North American Free Trade Agreement.



International law, samurai spirit

A full-service independent business law firm, Okuno & Partners has a history that dates back more than 90 years. It aims to uphold the samurai-inspired principles of its founder, even as it moves to internationalise its operations. The firm now consists of around 60 staff, including 35 lawyers, and is the only Japanese law firm that advises on cases involving Swiss law.

Also featured


Presenting and representing a nation

For most of his career, Austrian Ambassador to Japan Dr Hubert Heiss has had Europe on his mind. He was assistant to the chief negotiator when Austria was discussing terms for its entry into the European Union, acted as permanent representative of Austria to the EU in Brussels, and, for 12 years, dealt with European policy from within the Austrian government.


Bucking globalisation

Friday 9 December should have been a day of quiet satisfaction for Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. After months of acrimonious debate, the House of Representatives ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free trade deal covering an estimated 40% of the global economy.


Skill-set specialists

Nothing is more important for success in business than finding people with the right skill set and cultural fit to help a company prosper and grow. And today’s increasingly rapid pace of technological change and globalisation have made this more of a challenge than ever.



Smooth ride

Despite the shrinking domestic automobile market in Japan — which is widely-perceived as having considerable import barriers for foreign cars, and particularly US vehicles — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has been posting remarkable growth for its portfolio of marques. The group, formed through a merger of Fiat and Chrysler that was initiated in 2009 and was completed in 2015, represents three Italian brands — Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Abarth — and two US brands — Chrysler and Jeep.

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A unique position

Since starting his career in the early 1980s at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, Netherlands Ambassador to Japan Aart Jacobi has had postings to the US and Spain, and served as ambassador to the South American country Suriname and to China. He has had a lifelong interest in Japan — studying constitutional law at Kyoto University and Japanology at Leiden University — and, between 2001 and 2005, worked at the embassy in Japan as head of the Economic Affairs department.


Trump’s triumph threatens Asia

Donald J Trump stunned opinion polls, the US establishment and media — as well as his Democratic opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton — in winning a crushing victory to be the 45th president of the United States from 20 January, 2017. If Trump fulfils his campaign promises, it threatens to be a tough time for Asia. Critics claim that his limited grasp of foreign policy makes him a dangerous isolationist. He threatened to impose 45% tariffs on Chinese goods; “to bomb the shit out of” ISIS and steal the oil.


The hybrid recruiting-consulting firm

The challenges Japanese companies face today in recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce are well-documented and are set to become even greater in the coming decades — given the country’s demographics of an ageing population and a low birth-rate. However, female and older workers remain hugely underleveraged sections of the talent pool. FocusCore Advisory, the consulting arm of the FocusCore Group, is in a position to help companies tap these two available human resources.



The WAA factor

The lofty goal of Unilever Japan’s new WAA (Work from Anywhere and Anytime) super-flexitime system is nothing less than to change the way Japan works, according to the company’s human resources director Yuka Shimada. The consumer goods giant has already taken some large steps in that direction in the few months since WAA — which is also a play on a Japanese expression that means “excited” — was launched on 1 July.

Also featured



Promoting strong global relationships

Swiss Ambassador to Japan Jean-François Paroz only arrived in Tokyo in September, but his career with Switzerland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spans nearly 30 years. In the four years before coming to Japan, he was Ambassador to Hungary, and between 2007 and 2009, he was posted to Dakar, where he oversaw six west African countries — Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Cape Verde, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.



The sky’s the limit for biometrics

Science fiction films are often a template for emerging technology. The 2002 thriller Minority Report has a memorable scene in which Tom Cruise’s character undergoes an instant retinal scan as he walks into a Gap store and is then offered personalised clothing suggestions. While that scenario is still part of the future, public facilities, banks and work places around the world are increasingly turning to biometric identity checks to control access.



Helping people be happier

“As my therapist was saying to me…” is not a refrain often heard in the restaurants and izakayas of Tokyo. But all that is about to change if Dr Tyson A Furr and his team at Herald Square Psychology have their way. Having established a successful practice in Herald Square, Manhattan, Dr Furr is bringing to the Japanese capital the open attitude to therapy that New York City is famous for.



Manoeuvring through uncertainty

The Tokyo offices of Morrison & Foerster (MoFo), one of the world’s leading international law firms, is busy helping Japanese clients prepare for the potential implications of Brexit on their business operations in Europe and the UK, as well as advising SoftBank on its $32 billion acquisition of UK chip-maker ARM Holdings.

Also featured


At the pinnacle of a rewarding career

German Ambassador to Japan Dr Hans Carl von Werthern has had a fruitful and rewarding 32-year career with posts to countries such as Paraguay, Belgium, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and China. He is someone who has placed a high value on lifelong learning, earning a PhD in economics, and later taking a mid-career sabbatical for a Master’s in international relations from King’s College, London.


Universal basic income

Imagine if every citizen, regardless of age or employment status, received a modest, yet guaranteed, income from the state — no strings attached. It sounds like a pipedream, but universal basic income is becoming a reality in parts of Europe, and has sparked a debate among experts in Japan.


Centred on people

Founded in 1885 in Ingelheim, a small town on the Rhine River where it remains headquartered, family-owned pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim now has more than 47,000 employees at 145 affiliates around the globe. The fourth generation of the founding family is now at the helm of the firm.



State of the art

Marking its 35th year of operations in Japan — as its parent company celebrates its 100th anniversary worldwide — BMW Group Japan is enjoying double-digit sales growth, even as the domestic auto market shrinks. The 35 years since becoming the first entirely owned subsidiary of a foreign manufacturer in Japan has been commemorated with the opening of an expansive, state-of-the-art dealership in Odaiba.

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Celebrating two cultures

An avid reader of history and a collector of antique books, Italian Ambassador to Japan Domenico Giorgi has spent his career in the foreign service in places such as Beijing, Geneva and Brussels. He also served in Kabul from 2001 to 2004 as Ambassador to Afghanistan, shortly after the fall of the Taliban; a time when the international community was trying to start solving the enormous problems of institutional and economic restructuring facing the country.


In capable hands

It is said that in Tokyo you are never more than a few hundred metres from an automated external defibrillator, or AED. The device is now a familiar sight at railways stations, hotels, government buildings, police boxes and, increasingly, convenience stores.


Business support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Two years ago, neither of them had a company in Tokyo, but today both Saburo Takahashi, Managing Director at Rhino-Powa Japan Co., Ltd., and Allan Watanabe, Managing Director of PIPELINE Japan, are running successful, thriving businesses here. Rhino-Powa Japan Co., Ltd., which is less than a year old, is a rugby equipment brand headquartered in the UK.



Leader, mentor, inspiration

Lady Barbara Judge has had a singular career, blazing the trail for women into the highest positions in business, and encouraging them to follow. Her extensive list of former and current titles — including commissioner on the US Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman of the UK Pension Protection Fund, and UK Trade and Investment business ambassador — is proof of a life of vision and determination. Now an outside director on the board at LIXIL, a major Japanese housing equipment and building materials manufacturer, Lady Judge has worked with Japanese companies throughout her career and continues to make important contributions to businesses in Japan.

Also featured

AUGUST 2016 / Q&A

Representing a small nation’s unparalleled expertise

In 1986, shortly after Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held their historic meeting in Reykjavik, Ambassador Hannes Heimisson joined the Icelandic foreign service. He has worked in Paris, Stockholm, and in the Icelandic government as director of the culture and media department.


Omotenashi for the surging number of tourists to Japan

Back in the ’70s and ’80s, when countries like Indonesia and Thailand were beginning to milk the tourist dollar for all it was worth, Japan was content with the occasional Western face mixed in with the hordes of domestic tourists packing Kyoto’s mossy temples.


Fernando Iglesias

“Uruguay is a unique country,” says Fernando Iglesias, president of Clestra Hauserman Japan. “It’s one of the smallest in South America. The population is only 3.4 million — some neighbourhoods in Tokyo have more people than that.” Iglesias was born and raised in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, on the Atlantic Ocean. The cultural diversity of the country is one of its many remarkable characteristics.

JULY 2016


At the centre of it all

Central Tokyo is changing. Leading up to 2020, the Toranomon area — a short distance from Tokyo station, Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace — will have been extensively redeveloped with a new subway station, new office and apartment buildings, and tree-lined streets with outdoor cafés. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is calling it the Champs-Élysées Project. Already standing in the middle of this dynamic business and leisure hub is the 52-storey Toranomon Hills mixed-use skyscraper, whose top floors are home to the lifestyle boutique hotel, Andaz Tokyo.

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An untraditional career

French Ambassador to Japan Thierry Dana describes his career in the foreign service as being both traditional and untraditional. The traditional part includes diplomatic postings to places such as New York, Algeria and Hong Kong, as well as time spent working on security and strategic issues under President Jacques Chirac in Paris. The untraditional part of his career is that he stepped away from the diplomatic corps for nine years to run an investment and trade business between Asia and France.


Getting ready for work

The intricacies of Japanese society and culture can sometimes feel like impenetrable riddles. However, some things are easier to understand and are, quite literally, closer to the surface. It’s no secret that Japanese women spend a great deal of time, effort and money on their appearance, and that these habits have spread to many young men. The reality is, Japan’s personal grooming market is simply one of the most sophisticated in the world.


Frank Bignone

France is known for its rich food, historic landmarks, and influential culture; but the country is not so well known for its karate dojos or its Muay Thai boxing gyms. For Airbus Japan’s Frank Bignone, originally from Nice on the Mediterranean coast, these were places that defined his childhood.

JUNE 2016


Breaking out of the old system

Intelligence Global Search (IGS), a division of one of the largest recruiting companies in Japan, Intelligence, Ltd., has fostered a culture of diversity since it began. Aiko Tokuhisa, senior manager of talent management; Eiko Kishida, accounting and finance manager; and Sayoko Higo, corporate services manager, sat down with Eurobiz Japan to discuss changes they are observing at Japanese companies, women in the work place, and some of the ways IGS is supporting its own female employees.

Also featured



Appreciation and not comparison

This year, Ambassador Magnus Robach celebrates 40 years with the Swedish foreign service. His career has taken him all over the world, with postings in places such as Paris, Brussels, Cairo and Brasilia. He sat down with Eurobiz Japan to speak about trade relations between Sweden and Japan, ways in which the two countries are working together, and something he learned from his father.



Better courts for better protection

“Japan remains a key and highly regarded intellectual property [IP] jurisdiction worldwide that IP lawyers and practitioners watch very closely. It also remains a driver of legal development in the IP field,” says Richard Bird, partner and head of the Intellectual Property Practice Group in Asia for Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which is based in Hong Kong. “Look at where the smartphone patent wars were fought out: in the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea.”



Jean-Louis Moraud

Although half of Jean-Louis Moraud’s 40-year career at the electrical systems company Thales has been spent away from home — he has lived in Germany, Canada, South Africa, Taiwan and, now, Japan — “my heart is still in the south of France,” he confesses.

MAY 2016


Johanna Honeyfield

Just before moving to Japan from Singapore in 2013 to take up the position of Representative Director for Diageo Japan, Johanna Honeyfield was asked to go in for a routine medical check-up. When one of the tests came back with a slight anomaly, she was advised to have further tests done.
“Long story short, the doctor tells me — just as all of our stuff is being packed into a container to move to Japan — ‘You have colon cancer’,” she recalls.

Also featured


MAY 2016 / Q&A

Open markets, stronger economies

“If we can work together effectively on the basis of open markets, our economies will gain, our businesses will gain, and our consumers will gain,” insisted EU Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska in her speech at the EU-Japan Business Round Table in Tokyo to an audience that included Japanese Cabinet Ministers and businesspeople. “The free trade agreement that we are negotiating will stimulate growth on both sides.”



A leap in the dark

With Japan’s demographic time bomb ticking, how will the government fund millions of retirements? And how will its pension reforms affect Europe?
Until recently, the office of the planet’s biggest public pension pot could be found in a dingy old building in central Tokyo. However, the Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) now resides up the road in the swanky Mori Tower, among the movers and shakers of the global finance industry.



The Pebble Beach of Japan

“We think of Pebble Beach as our competitor,” says Hiromichi Murai, general manager at the Kawana Hotel in Izu. That’s California’s Pebble Beach on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Not many courses would have the audacity to compare themselves to one of golf’s legendary venues but, then again, what other resort courses in Japan have been visited by Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, John Wayne, Boris Yeltsin and Gary Player?

APRIL 2016


Richard Collasse

At 17, Richard Collasse came to Japan knowing very little about the country, except that he wanted to buy a Nikon camera. Now, after having lived here for over 40 years, 20 of them as president of Chanel Japan, he has a deep appreciation of the country’s language, culture, history and people, as well as a keen understanding of the business of the international luxury goods market.

Also featured



Karl Hahne

“I need to accomplish new things all the time, so my life is a continuous trial and error,” says Karl Hahne, president and representative director of Häfele Japan. “I cannot sit still. I need to find new stuff [to do]. And I always believe that my greatest accomplishment is yet to come.”



Work Perks

Although salary may still be the first thing job seekers look at when scanning potential positions, perks and benefits are being increasingly recognised as crucial ways for companies to attract and retain staff, as well as keep employees happy and productive.



Yoshitaka Sonoda

Founded in March 1998, Sonoda & Kobayashi Intellectual Property Law offers reliable legal services to clients around the world. The firm has assembled an international staff of 80 people from eight countries who strive for clear communication, transparency, and mutual understanding.



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