“Driving a Maserati is very therapeutic. You enjoy every moment.”
JUNE 2017 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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. But then I turn onto Route 414 and there’s nothing in front of me for 100 meters. I give the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine some gas and we’re off …
Also featured this month
JUNE 2017 / THE INTERVIEW
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 …
JUNE 2017 / FEATURE
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.
JUNE 2017 / BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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 …
JUNE 2017 / WORK PLACE
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 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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.
MAY 2017 / EBC PERSONALITY
“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.
MAY 2017 / FEATURE
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.
MAY 2017 / BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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 / THE INTERVIEW
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.
APRIL 2017 / Q&A
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.
APRIL 2017 / FEATURE
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.
APRIL 2017 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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.
MARCH 2017 / EBC PERSONALITY
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.
MARCH 2017 / FEATURE
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.
MARCH 2017 / THE INTERVIEW
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.
FEBRUARY 2017 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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.
FEBRUARY 2017 / THE INTERVIEW
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.
FEBRUARY 2017 / FEATURE
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.
FEBRUARY 2017 / EXECUTIVE NOTES
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.
JANUARY 2017 / BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
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.
JANUARY 2017 / THE INTERVIEW
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.
JANUARY 2017 / FEATURE
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.
JANUARY 2017 / INVESTING IN JAPAN
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.