Fixing Japan’s talent mismatch

One man’s feast is another man’s famine. The shortage of qualified workers in many crucial fields in Japan is proving a challenge for companies across the board. With bilingual professionals in ever shorter supply, this is, however, proving a boon for professional recruitment experts as the battle for qualified candidates continues to heat up.


“Organisations are going to have to start offering better training, both to be competitive in the marketplace and to attract the talent they need.”

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Learning to pilot as he flies

Having won a scholarship to study political science in Bulgaria from 1995 to 1999, Leon Malazogu, today Kosovo’s ambassador to Japan, was safe during most of the Kosovo War.


A space oddity

In October 2018, an Ariane rocket will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, taking space exploration into an unknown world, and Japanese-European cooperation into a new era.


Lighting the way

The gender equality statistics for Japan are not encouraging. The country ranked 111th globally in the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap Report. While Japan’s female workforce participation rate is now above the OECD average …



Rising to the top

The frozen, ready-to-bake bread and food group Aryzta can trace its history back to the final years of the 19th century, when the Irish Co-Operative Agricultural Agency Society was founded in 1897, renamed that December as the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society. A century later, the group undertook a major international expansion through acquisitions in Europe and the US.

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The negotiator

Mauro Petriccione speaks with the voice and authority of the European Union, and represents the collective interests of its member states during trade negotiations.


Ahead of the pack

Japan’s love affair with high-end European bikes seems to be unquenchable. The market, once dominated by Italian steeds Colnago, Bianchi and Pinarello, expanded in the 1990s to include French offerings such as Time and Look, and has widened again to make room for German and Swiss brands.


Peter Kronschnabl

“Without change, we would never achieve anything,” says Peter Kronschnabl, CEO of BMW Group Japan. “Maintaining the present will always lead, at a certain point in time, to mediocrity.”

JULY 2017


Creators of convivialité

“We consider ourselves to be creators of conviviality, in French créateurs de convivialité; it is our overarching reason for being,” says Tim Paech, president and CEO of Pernod Ricard Japan, the local operations of the Paris-headquartered global wines and spirits group. “Conviviality is about friendship, hospitality, entertainment and sociability,” adds Paech.

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Raising Ireland’s profile in Japan

This is a year of celebration for Ireland in Japan — 2017 marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and it is the 25th anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo. Ambassador Anne Barrington also has an anniversary this year. It is 40 years since she entered Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.


Speed wins

The Luddites who outraged British industry in the early 19th century, smashing Jacquard looms in a bid to protect jobs and workers’ rights, would be horrified at the ubiquity of labour-saving machines today. After all, there are more robots now than there were people in London in 1815. But these machines are smart and getting smarter.


A big moment

The exchange of two daruma dolls by EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida on 5 July marked the announcement of an agreement in principle on the Japan–EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Daruma dolls symbolise perseverance and good fortune …


An ally of the LGBT community

The mayor of Tokyo’s Shibuya ward, Ken Hasebe, is responsible for introducing to his district the partnership certificate, a non-legally binding marriage certificate for same-sex couples. Born and raised in Harajuku, Hasebe first worked for an advertising firm …

JUNE 2017


Exquisite and powerful

I’m driving down Shinjuku-dori and tapping the accelerator very gingerly. There’s a 410-horsepower Ferrari engine under my foot and it growls at the slightest touch, like a beast ready to pounce. It’s a shame to be behind the wheel in a Maserati Quattroporte S in the middle of Tokyo, where there are stoplights and rivers of pedestrians at every corner.

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Broker of peace, champion of prosperity

Throughout his 32-year career in the foreign service, Ambassador Giorgio Starace has had postings on almost every continent. In addition to working at embassies in Guatemala and Beijing, he has served as diplomatic advisor to the minister of agriculture in Rome, head of press at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York, deputy ambassador to India in New Dehli …


The virtuous cycle is stuck

Last month brought a rare piece of good news for Japan’s 65 million workers: their wages had risen by 0.4% in real terms in 2016, the first year-on-year increase in six years, according to government data. The modest rise was a rare bright spot in an otherwise futile effort to realise Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “virtuous cycle” of robust wage growth and consumer spending.


Focused on innovation

In April, German-headquartered global pharma firm Boehringer Ingelheim reported worldwide sales growth for 2016 of 7.3% to €15.9 billion, and a jump in operating income to €2.9 billion. This success was driven in no small part by its commitment to innovation, evidenced by the €3.1 billion it spent on R&D. “That is one of the benefits we have as a company that is not listed on the stock exchange,” says Thorsten Pöhl, president of Boehringer Ingelheim Japan …


Saachi Partners

Saachi Partners is the fresh new face in the talent search industry in Japan. However, its founders are anything but. Mithun Soni and Ryoko Kamo have each been at the forefront of the financial services and healthcare markets for over a decade. “Our clients come to us for inside information about their own companies — they say we know more than they do,” says Kamo …

MAY 2017


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.

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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.

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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.



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