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.