"What can Japanese students do to become an international business professional?"
16th March 2018 (Fri)
The Founder of WASABI Creation, Tong was contacted by a group of students from Tokyo University, who are interested to learn about doing business internationally, as they planned their self-funded trip to Malaysia and Singapore. A sharing session was conducted over web conference, where Tong answered questions from the students, shared his own experiences, and gave advises to the students what they can do to groom themselves into international professionals.
Here are the reviews and comments from the students.
Reflections on March 16th discussion
【小林翔太郎 (Kobayashi Shotaro)】
My reflections on today’s dialogue are as follows.
1. The importance of intercultural understanding
This was a conclusion that we kept reaching, even when discussing other topics.
I learnt that the Japanese tend to perceive and judge things only based on Japanese values and standards. As such, the Japanese tend to not be able to conduct business smoothly.
From here onwards, the Japanese labour force is facing a downwards trend; as a result of that, the foreign labour is increasing.
I think that, for Japan, the era in which intercultural understanding is not important will end soon in about ten years.
The state of the lack of intercultural understanding amongst the Japanese will make for a dangerous situation when that time comes.
I think that even for those living only in Japan, the intercultural understanding will become a necessary asset to have.
2. The importance of self-improvement and expanding one’s worldview
Complacency with the status quo, and the lack of the drive for self-improvement has led to the current situation of Japan in which there is a lack of will to work to gain anything, and in which people no longer really go overseas.
Conversely, I learnt that a Japanese who is unsatisfied with the current situation, will be able to challenge himself overseas too.
I believe that one of the members who participating in this planned tour (Andou) fits such a description.
I am someone who has never gone overseas, and don’t like to challenge myself; however, being dissatisfied with my current self, I decided to participate in this tour.
I want to create an environment in which many Japanese students will be able to challenge themselves overseas as much as possible, even if they can only start with the little things.
3. Desire to do business overseas:
Like Tong, I wish to be able to leave my mark on history.
For that purpose, I must create a service that will be used widely throughout the world.
With that goal in mind, I gained important insights as to what is necessary in order to work with those overseas. I wish to be able to gain the relevant skills in order to do so, as I wish to eventually set up a business in Japan.
Personally, I wish I could have discussed mine and Tong’s philosophy and vision more in-depth.
I plan to search for more participants for the next time, to visit Singapore and Malaysia.
Due to a lack of time during today’s dialogue session, I was unable to discuss our thoughts in greater detail; as such, if there is another opportunity to do so in the future, I would like to discuss about mine and Tong’s ideal world.
5. Things that I would have liked to ask more about:
The purpose of improving one’s skillset and abilities (such as intercultural understanding) is not just for the sake of showing them to others.
In actuality, the significance of education lies in not the outcome, but the process itself.
As we discussed how exactly Tong and other Japanese manage to acquire such ability, I began to feel that it is not that difficult to work hard and achieve the same. (Apologies if I am supposed to find out by myself how exactly I should go about acquiring such skills.??)
Thank you for taking the time to answer our doubts and questions, and to give us advice despite your busy schedule.
【貝塚れいご (Kaizuka Reigo)】
1. Why the Japanese are falling behind the rest of the world/ The way to continue surviving in the midst of internationalization.
I think that every race/culture in this world has good aspects to them. Although this certainly also applies to the Japanese, I only began to truly understand this when I listened to Tong’s opinions. However, at present there are many Japanese who have absolutely no contact with foreign countries, and as a result, they cannot work well with foreigners.
I pondered on these problems, and accordingly, also on the importance of internationalizing the Japanese, as well as the importance for Japanese to develop and advance overseas.
However, I realized that that has become a huge problem when it comes to the hiring of foreigners domestically, as well as doing business with foreigners.
Also, I realized that the problem in which Japanese have little opportunities for contact with foreigners is not just caused by language differences, but also by the lack of intercultural competence, as the Japanese judge everything according to the cultural standards of Japan.
I think that, while many Japanese recognize that their lack of English language ability is a problem, they often do not realise that their lack of intercultural competence is also a huge problem.
The lack of intercultural competence amongst many Japanese may be due to the fact that as much as 98% of the Japanese population is ethnically Japanese, as well as the lack of opportunities to express and advocate for one’s opinions.
In other words, this is not just a problem that’s caused by the Japanese education system, but also the environment which Japan has faced up till now.
While it is important to tackle the wave of internationalization – if we wish to continue living in this society – through education, I think that it is also just as important to tackle this through political means.
I think that, although there are many difficulties that come with trying to act globally, correctly perceiving such problems and dealing with them accordingly will surely benefit us in the future.
Also, I learnt something new – networking does not merely involve the exchange of greetings, but also the continuous, regular communication that follows after.
Thank you for answering our various questions and sharing so much with us despite your busy schedule.
【内田太一 (Uchida Taichi)】
After this discussion, I have now recognized that, after all, and from now on, it is extremely difficult for the Japanese to cultivate talents who will be able to be actively involved overseas. I learnt the importance of understanding international standards, as well as the importance of adjusting how one deals with the other party, according to who the other party is. Additionally, I also learnt the importance of the ability to network.
Approaching others, as well as maintain already existing social networks, cannot be achieved through merely exchanging name cards. I will keep this in mind, and seek to acquire such networking skills. Tong mentioned that the one important thing to do as a Japanese undergraduate student is to expand one’s worldview, and to overcome one’s self-imposed limitations. I agree. I feel that, through this study tour, I have managed to make new discoveries, and achieve personal growth. Also, I believe that one huge problem that Japanese university students face is the limitations that they impose upon themselves. I feel that there are many people who, upon observing the friends around them, decide that they are unable to do something, and fail to challenge themselves; they give up right from the very beginning. If we do not overcome the limits we impose upon ourselves, I think that Japanese students will find it difficult to go on exchange programs, and to find jobs in the future.
After listening to Tong, I learnt that at minimum, Japanese university students should seek to acquire the necessary abilities and skills during our time as students. Thank you so much for sharing so much with us despite your lack of time.
【安藤大樹 (Ando Taiki)】
I found that our discussion involving the weaknesses of the Japanese, from the perspective of a entrepreneur from overseas, was similar to the content of a previous discussion I had while in Japan before.
Also, it was a good opportunity to be able to listen to the perspective of someone who has, in actuality, experiences the differences between Japan and other countries.
I discovered the importance of expanding one’s worldview.
About what was said regarding what students are supposed to do, during their time as a student – does it really apply to everyone?
It was a precious experience.