JFTC Essay Competition

Remarks by Selection Committee Chair, Dr. Iwao NAKATANI

The JFTC Essay Competition was held for the first time this year, and we initially had no idea how many essays might be submitted. In the end, we received a total of 134 essays, well exceeding whatever expectations we may have had. There were 86 essays written in Japanese and 48 essays composed in English. A total of 76 of the essays were submitted by Japanese nationals while 55 people of foreign nationality, representing 29 countries (3 contestants did not indicate their nationality), entered the competition. There has seldom been in Japan an essay contest that gained such international participation.

Perhaps because the theme of the essay competition was the rather broad topic of “Globalization and Japanese Companies,” essays conceived from a great variety of perspectives were entered, and this presented a considerable challenge to the judges in selecting winners. To our delight, there were many very interesting essays, and the vote was initially quite split. In the end, however, the prizewinning essays were selected by unanimous vote.

The Grand Prize was presented to “Advocacy for 'Corporate Foreign Policy'” by Akihiko Tamura. The essay persuasively makes the case that, with the advancement of globalization, Japanese corporations well-acquainted with the real business scene should be more actively involved in the establishment of international trade rules and should not leave the matter up to governments or foreign countries. The writing style, the logical construction and persuasive power of the argument, and the timing of the recommendation were all excellent. The high level of the essay in these many respects led to its selection for the Grand Prize. Japanese corporations are outstanding in their ability to respond to rules that are created by other parties, but it has been rare for a Japanese company to suggest what kinds of international rules are desirable. In this sense, Mr. Tamura has made a timely recommendation. The advocacy can also be used as a reference in Japanese corporations’ external activities. For these many reasons, the essay was unanimously selected for the Grand Prize.

The Second Prize was awarded to three works: “Globalization’s New Face: Corporate Social Responsibility,” “Intercultural Management Skills: What Japanese Corporations Need to Know,” and “Globalization of Regional Corporations: Case Studies and Future Avenues.”

“Globalization’s New Face: Corporate Social Responsibility” is a fine essay by Lauma Skruzmane, a 23-year-old Latvian living in Fukuoka. Although Ms. Skruzmane is still young, she has assessed well the various issues faced by Japanese corporations. For Japanese corporations to be more highly respected by the international society, she proposes it is crucial that they actively engage in CSR activities, and innovation in the area of human resources issues is particularly important. Many of the judges agreed with her suggestion.

“Intercultural Management Skills: What Japanese Corporations Need to Know” by Makoto Yoda was deemed to be the most entertaining essay. This is because Mr. Yoda draws on his various experiences abroad to relate in a powerful way the difficulty of intercultural communication. If he had been a little more creative in how he put the material together to compose the essay, he may even have won the Grand Prize.

“Globalization of Regional Corporations: Case Studies and Future Avenues” by Sadaka Inasawa suggests future paths toward globalization for regional companies, which are rarely mentioned in this regard. The regional economies of Japan depend on the government, and this excellent essay passionately describes how these economies can regain their independence and how revitalization of the regions can be achieved.

I understand that the JFTC Essay Competition will be held again next year and in the years ahead, and I am confident that this contest will deepen understanding of the various issues faced by Japanese industry with the advancement of globalization and provide many hints in our search for solutions. In closing, I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who submitted an essay and to the judges.