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Analysis

How does the history of Japan and America cause the difference between their current business strategies?

Introduction

Each country has its own unique history and background, but while some countries have existed since the BC era, other countries became nations only a few years ago. This article will focus on Japan, one of the oldest nations in the world, and America, one of the youngest. Despite their difference in age, America and Japan are known as developed countries that lead the world economy and business world. According to the GDP (gross domestic product), which shows the economic power of each nation, the United States is the country and Japan is in third place.

RankingCountryUnit: $1000000
1USA20,932,750
2China14,722,840
3Japan5,048,690
4Germany3,803,010
5UK2,710,970

Even though the two countries look similar in numbers, they have had completely different histories, cultures, and backgrounds. Such differences have a great influence on their individual business strategies and decisions as a nation, even still today.

Differences between the U.S. and Japan

One of the biggest differences is the “flexibility of companies”. Flexibility here refers to how typical companies in each country respond to new ideas and how they make decisions. In America, companies tend to adopt novel ideas, and/or techniques by receiving input from people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Such a management style can be described as innovative. On the other hand, people in Japanese companies are homogeneous, meaning that there are only very narrow perspectives. This may explain why Japanese companies tend to respect their existing techniques and work with their resources and do not implement new ideas as often or as easily. In fact, a survey shows that 35% of people said that America is the most innovative country whereas only 12% of them said that it was Japan. But how are these difference explained by the histories of Japan and the U.S.? 

First, we will take a look at how history affects the diversity of the two countries. For America, as widely known, Columbus found an American continent where native Americans had already settled. After his finding of the continent, many Europeans began migrating to the American continent and ultimately colonized the continent. This means that since its discovery, America has been a very diverse country, which it still is today. This in turn means that companies in America consist of a diverse community of people. As opposed to the history of America, Japan has developed with only a single race: Japanese. Because Japan is a small island country, not many countries have tried to invade Japan in its history. In addition, from 1639 to 1854, Japan was a closed country, which means that no one was able to come to Japan and there was no trade with other countries. Such conditions caused  Japan to become an even more homogeneous nation.

The second main difference is the ability of companies to adopt new ideas and approaches. In Japan, because the Japanese culture has been able to flourish for more than 2000 years without being confronted by other cutlures, there are many traditional ideas that people still respect, such as the existence of the natural state. One example of this is that some Japanese words that were first “invented” 1300 years ago to represent body parts and nature are pronounced exactly the same — examples of this are nose and flower as well as tooth and leaf. Because the idea of living “with nature” still penetrates widely in Japan, and there is a belief that long-lasting traditions should not be abolished, people tend to make more conservative decisions. Conversely, Americans have more realistic ideas of nature. For instance, Newton (even though he was from Europe) who found the existence of gravity considered the tree with an apple as an experiment objective, not something to see and enjoy the phase of the tree as the Japanese did. Also, because there are not many long-lasting histories in America because of the late independence, there would be less pressure for people to decide to adopt new, what could sometimes be seen as a bit risky ideas and/or techniques.

Conclusion

In this article, by unraveling the history of the United States and Japan, the huge role that the relevant history of the two countries plays in the business sector was discussed. History has greatly influenced each country’s business greatly, thus explaining the vast differences between the two countries. Based on this article, my suggestion is that businesses should be open to adopting new ideas and techniques, but at the same time, I do think that is important to follow some respected traditions at the same time and not abolish them. Generally, it is always interesting to see the connection between the history of the country and the current situation of the country and explore how the traditions have impacted such developments.

Sources

https://www.globalnote.jp/post-1409.html

Categories
Analysis

The Reaction to the Tokyo Olympics

Introduction

17 days after the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the Olympics officially ended on August 8th. The Tokyo Olympics are considered to be the most controversial Olympics in history due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On July 13th 2021, about 35% of the Japanese population were in favor of canceling the Olympics, whereas 36% thought it should take place. The question remains, how did the world react after the Olympics? Did global viewers think the short-lived Olympic Games were successful?

Change in the opinion of Japanese people

Surprisingly, a survey conducted by a newspaper called Yomiuri Shinbun found that out of 2478 people in Japan, 64% of them answered that taking part in the Olympics was a good idea. On the other hand, 28% of them said that the Olympics should not have taken place. Compared to the survey before the Olympics, a significant number of people had changed their opinion during the Olympics. In fact, before the Olympics, the highest number of COVID cases in a day was 2520 cases in January 2021. However, on July 27th, the day after the opening ceremony for the Olympics, there were 2846 cases, 300 more than the previous record. Since then, the number of cases kept increasing with a new record high of 5042 cases on August 5th. The increasing Covid cases in Japan suggest that more and more people are challenging the lockdown and becoming more in favor of in-person events. But why are so many inhabitants changing their minds? There are three main reasons; the number of people who go out, feedback from Olympic parties, and COVID cases among Olympians.

Reasons for the change in opinion

According to NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), significantly more people have chosen to stay at home rather than go out or travel since the Olympics started. On July 23th, a Japanese holiday, the number of people who left their homes in Tokyo had decreased by 17%, compared to the previous four weekends. While the exact reason is unknown, many people speculate that such a reduction had occurred as the Olympics had begun, people chose to stay home to watch Olympic games all day rather than go out. Another possible reason is that Japanese people may have wanted to make a good impression on the international Olympians and visitors. Before the Olympics, many people were concerned that athletes and visitors would not be able to enjoy their stay in Tokyo because of the COVID-19 restrictions. However, despite these concerns, the Olympic athletes seemed to have enjoyed their time in Tokyo. For instance, a journalist from Singapore tweeted the excellence of ice that he bought from a convenience store, and went viral with over 28,000 likes. Also, the UK’s gymnastic team — during a video call with President Johnson — praised the Olympic Village’s facilities, such as the dining room where athletes were able to eat anything anytime for free.

The final reason is that the number of COVID cases among Olympic parties remained relatively low. According to a report by NHK, there were only 458 positive cases related to the Olympic Games which included coaches, media, contractors, etc. in the 14 days that the Games lasted. Considering the 17,000 people who traveled to Japan for the Olympics, these 458 positive cases made up a mere 0.02%. These statistics are enough to show that Japan succeeded in protecting themselves and their visitors from the virus.

In addition to those factors, many Japanese people initially disagreed with the Olympics because the mass media was demonizing the games. However, once the Olympics had begun, all TVs stopped reporting negative side-effects and started broadcasting the results of the Olympics, cheering on the athletes. The people who regularly watch the news were thus more likely to change their minds as well once the news outlets shifted their opinion.

Graphs showing this change

Conclusion

Although each person in the world has different opinions about the Olympics, no one should not forget to respect all athletes who participated in the Olympics. All of them have done their best to win gold medals in the Olympics, and they showed us how great sports are with sportsmanship through the 17 days. Some people write defamations to athletes’ social media to criticize their performances, sometimes just because the athletes won a gold medal and the athletes from the people’s countries lost. Such things are unacceptable no matter if they oppose the Olympics or not, and should be punished. Despite Japan’s population divide due to the Olympics in the beginning, it’s fair to say that the majority of the inhabitants were pleased to host the games and welcomed thousands of athletes from around the world.

Sources

  1. https://twitter.com/MatthewMohanCNA/media?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1423957548923641864%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fencount.press%2Farchives%2F205294%2F%3Fpage%3D2%2F 
  2. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210809/k10013191821000.ht
  3. https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/yoron-chosa/20210809-OYT1T50143/
Categories
Analysis

What can Japanese businesses do during the COVID outbreak to survive?

Introduction

On July 9th, the Japanese prime minister Suga declared a state of emergency for the fourth time. With this declaration, all stores are required to close by 8 pm and are not allowed to serve alcohol under any circumstances. In fact, Japan has been in a state of emergency for roughly ⅔ of 2021 already. Due to these conditions, there have been 3,044 bankruptcies from January to June 2021. The question now is, should companies in Japan really follow the state of emergency laws and put themselves in danger of bankruptcy? Can they do anything to save their own business and make a profit while not breaking the rules?

Context: Restrictions in Japan

Before talking about the business system in Japan, let’s start by getting some context on what Japanese people think about the government and the state of emergency itself. The truth is that the feeling of discontent towards the Japanese government has risen since the start of 2021 for two reasons, namely the frequency of state of emergency declarations and the lack of compensation for business owners. Japanese people are starting to think that the government has declared a state of emergency too many times. The below chart provides justification for such claims. It shows the number of COVID-19 infection numbers in Tokyo in 2021, and shows that the government announced the newest declaration on April 25th, only a month after the second declaration had been lifted. The COVID-19 cases at that time in Tokyo were 635, which was far less than the number of cases on January 7th when the second declaration was declared (in January there were 2447 cases). The second reason is the lack of consideration for those who follow the rules. For example, in Tokyo, the government provides subsidies for all businesses — but only around 500 dollars per day, 1000 dollars at the most. However, if the store makes 2000 dollars per day on average, and gets only 1000 dollars as through from the government, then in theory the store would be losing 1000 dollars a day. 

How businesses adapted

In such a harsh situation, business owners developed creative solutions to keep their stores afloat. For example, restaurants offered delivery services and many retail stores turned to online shopping with delivery opportunities Many shops were thus able to survive the duration of the first state of emergency from April of 2020. However, once people became accustomed to those ideas, they stopped showing interest, leaving business owners scrambling to develop new solutions again and again. In reality, there have not been many novel ideas recently,  so it is time to think about what they should do not only from a business perspective but also from an ethical one. For instance, they can open the store until midnight, and serve alcohol hypothetically because the Japanese government doesn’t have the capacity to enforce the law everywhere, but if people see such a store, they might post the name of the store to social media and the store could easily be bombarded with criticism. What can Japanese companies/industries do to keep the economy going, but not contribute to the spread of the virus at the same time?

Outlook to the future

One idea for some businesses to keep making money is to seek opportunities outside of Japan. Some countries like China and the United States have reached the point of resuming a pre-pandemic lifestyle. For instance, at the major league baseball game (MLB) last June no players or audience members present in the stadium wore a mask because the vaccination rate at the time was already higher than 55%. Resuming a pre-pandemic lifestyle in these countries means that the demand for products such as Japanese food and cars would increase due to an increased number of people who want to and do go out. There is a survey that asked 2,722 Japanese companies who are interested in overseas business about the impact of COVID-19. In FY2020, 64.8% of 2,722 companies answered that there was a “negative impact” on overseas sales. However, in FY2021, the number of companies saying this decreased to 27.3%. The survey shows that the demand from overseas for Japanese goods has begun increasing again. By exporting Japanese goods and/or food, Japanese businesses have the potential to grow again.

 The other idea, especially for small businesses which don’t have a chance to trade with foreign countries, is cooperation between companies. This would mean that some small companies can work together to overcome this unprecedented economic challenge. As small companies do not have as many resources as big companies do they should work together by gathering the know-how of each company. For instance, if a small manufacturing company knows how to make high-quality products but doesn’t know how to advertise their products, and a small advertising agency knows how to do so, then those two small companies can be a good match to help each other getting through these challenging times together.

Conclusion

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the majority of people in Japan did and do their best to still continue with their lives and at the same time cooperate with the country’s government to decrease the number of cases. To decrease the number of people who suffer from economic problems, there are some potential solutions for Japanese companies, such as seeking out opportunities abroad or working together with other companies. Hopefully, the business conditions will improve soon not only in Japan but in other countries around the world as well.

Sources

Categories
Analysis News

Should the Tokyo 2020 Olympics take place?

Introduction

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have officially declared that the 2020 Olympics will take place from July 23rd, 2021 onward. The decision is very controversial around the world, especially in the host country, Japan, because of the COVID-19 situation. Should the Olympics really take place? Or should they be canceled? In this article, I will cover two different perspectives: the individual perspective and a business/economics perspective.

Individual Perspective: First of all, what do people in Japan think about the Olympics? 

The above graph is the survey that asked more than 9000 Japanese citizens what they thought about the Olympics. The graph shows that Japanese citizens’ opinions about the opening of the Olympics are very spread. In August 2020, about 50% of the interviewees said that the Olympics could take place without any postponement. However, in June of 2021, only 36% of interviewees said so, and about 35% of the people interviewed thought that the Olympics should be canceled. As time goes by, it seems that more people are against the Olympics going ahead.

 In the background of such a result of the survey, from an individual perspective, there is almost no merit in the Olympics taking place this summer because simply, allowing all Olympics players from abroad means we have to expect more covid cases will occur in Tokyo. In addition, the IOC and JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) have made rules that all players do not need to be quarantined for 2 weeks even though other foreigners who do not relate to the Olympics do. And, they also set a rule that players are allowed to bring, buy alcohol whenever they want to even though the Japanese Government prohibits stores from serving alcohol after 9 pm in Tokyo. Such “special treatments” increase the dissatisfaction of Japanese citizens. In Japan, just like other countries in the world, people try to spend time in their home as much as they can even though most of them want to travel or hang out with friends. In such circumstances, making special rules just for Olympics players make people think that this is unfair and feel disrespected.

Business perspective

On the other hand, from a business perspective, the Olympics can benefit not only a country but also some companies. The organizing committee announced that the economic effect of the Olympics can be estimated as 16,365,000,000 dollars. It means that if the Olympics are canceled, the amount of money will be lost in some ways. For the Japanese government, they spent large amounts of money to maintain places such as Japan National Stadium and Olympic Village because they thought all budgets they spent could be taken back by taking place the Olympics so that they certainly want to take place the Olympics no matter what. The Olympics also affect domestic companies a lot. The below graph shows what 4,092 companies will think if the Olympics is canceled. It shows that about 41% of them think that it is better to cancel the Olympics in terms of companies’ profits prediction. However, about 59% of them think that they will get more profit if the Olympics takes place. It means that about 60% of companies in Japan think that the Olympics will somehow benefit them even though foreigners will not visit Japan. Companies think this way because even though people from foreign countries are not able to come to Japan, the Olympics itself has a large impact on companies, especially hotels, restaurants, and airline companies because people take planes to come to Tokyo, eat meals at the restaurants, and then stay at the hotels. 

Conclusion

The Olympics should be a sports festival that everyone in the world enjoys. However, because of the spread of the pandemic, people argue who is responsible if the Olympics do not succeed, not how to make the Olympics better. In the background, many Japanese people disagree with the opening of the Olympics mainly for two reasons.

  1. They are concerned that the number of COVID cases will skyrocket once players around the world enter Japan.
  2. They feel they are treated unfairly by the government based on the special treatment that the government has made for Olympics players.

On the other hand, many companies in Japan think that they are able to take advantage of the Olympics as a chance to gain their profits while some of them don’t consider the Olympics as a big opportunity due to the prohibition of foreigners to enter Japan. It is interesting to see the different reactions toward the Olympics between citizens, and companies due to their consideration from different perspectives. Anyhow, the Olympics will begin in about 3 weeks from now. I hope the Olympics will succeed without any problems related to coronavirus and give hope to those who have suffered from the virus…

Sources

  1. https://www.tsr-net.co.jp/news/analysis/20210615_03.html
  2. https://www.nri.com/jp/knowledge/blog/lst/2021/fis/kiuchi/0525

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!