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Global

27

Mar

Karaoke – Like It Or Not, It’s Here to Stay

By Debbie Howard
Chairman, CarterJMRN K.K.
 

One aspect of Japanese leisure culture to which nearly every visitor to Japan is exposed is the ubiquitous practice of karaoke – the practice of singing popular songs with recorded background music – usually involving copious libations and a modicum of self-humiliation.

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14

Feb

It Is Not Obsession, It Is Love

Why Japan’s Cuisine Will Capture You

By Dominic Carter

 

The beginning of 2014 marks the end of my fifteenth year in Japan. That’s more than enough time in one place for any self-respecting expat so, on visits back home, despairing friends and relatives will often ask what on earth I’m still doing here.

I just point to my belly.

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06

May

Cool Japan

By Dominic Carter

 

On a recent business trip to Singapore I was taken aback when told by someone well connected in the American business community there, “Japan? Oh that’s just a niche market, nobody’s that interested in it anymore”. What a wake up call for anyone who has devoted his career to this market! With its tendency to control and limit foreign goods and influences, it’s fair to say that Japan seems to have worked very hard to earn this position as a niche player. To anyone living in this huge market, the description as “niche” seems, frankly, ridiculous. However when you consider the Everest-style learning curve required and all the challenges of growing a foreign-owned business here, it’s easy to see how some would think of Japan as a large, but largely irrelevant market.

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24

Nov

Facebook & Social in Japan

By Dominic Carter

 

At the beginning of 2011 The New York Times wrote a piece with a headline “Facebook Wins Relatively Few Friends in Japan”. At the time it seemed like Facebook had failed to ignite anything like the kind of addictive behaviour it had everywhere else in the developed world. Although Twitter had been growing strongly, for more involved interactions with their peers Japanese seemed to be studiously ignoring Facebook in favour of locally developed platforms, led by Mixi. What a difference a year or two makes. Fast-forward to the end of 2012 and Facebook appears to be catching on like wildfire, as it has in country after country around the world. So, Japan is not so different after all?

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01

Oct

Standard of Living in Japan Stacks Up Fairly Well

By Debbie Howard

 

During the two so-called ‘lost decades’ since the early 1990s, the standard of living of the average Japanese household has been maintained, and on some counts, has even increased somewhat.

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13

Aug

Japanese Culture Not Hard to Find, Even in Far-Flung Texas

By Debbie Howard

 

I spend a good part of every summer these days in a small Texas Hill Country town, 13,000 some-odd miles from Tokyo. Looking out across the buttes, with deer grazing nearby, hummingbirds thrumming their wings, and the occasional armadillo scurrying through the yard, it certainly feels a world apart.

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21

Jul

Asakatsu

By Dominic Carter

 

One of the first things that struck me when I came to Japan as a young manager was how difficult it was to get people to leave the office at anything like what seemed to me to be a normal time. As many foreign managers will attest, this tendency to hang around the office often didn’t seem to have much to do with productivity. Rather, it was as if people were deliberately working slowly – unwilling to leave work unfinished till the next day, afraid to let the side down by leaving the office before 8, or just suffering from a free-floating anxiety about not being at one’s desk or away from their colleagues. Seeing this behavior as having no basis in rationality I took it on as a personal mission to force people to leave the office at what I considered a relatively late 6 o’clock. After having had a few semi-heated discussions with my team who told me I had no right to tell them not to work (and realizing I was being completely ignored), I gave up, perplexed. At least if any of my overseas colleagues thought I was allowing archaic and abusive work practices to fester, like any number of Japanese prime-ministers, I could put my hand on my heart and say I’d tried my best at reform!

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21

May

Wishing Upon a Star?

By Dominic Carter

 

I have been following with interest the prospective launch of Jetstar Japan. Jetstar, a subsidiary of Australia’s flag-carrier Qantas, is widely recognized as being one of the most successful low-cost airline start-ups in the world. The new “Jetstar family” airline, which is a joint venture between Japan Airlines, Mitsubishi and Qantas is expected to start flying this summer.

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09

Apr

TPP Talks Provide Opportunity for Japan to Rise to the Occasion

By Debbie Howard

 

As negotiations move forward, will Japan be able to muster the political will needed to capitalize on the opportunities that The Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP) has to offer?

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21

Mar

Smartphone Invasion

By Dominic Carter

 

When I first came to Japan in the late 1990s, one of the most telling signs of the country’s consumer technology progress versus America, Europe and Australia was its cell-phone network. Not only were Japanese handsets much more advanced than what was available on the GSM and CDMA systems in Western countries, but Japanese carriers had also pioneered business models such as NTT Docomo’s Internet capable i-mode, that went hand-in-hand with advanced hardware.

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