JFTC Essay Competition

Summaries of the Award-Winning Essays of JFTC Essay Competition 2014

The Grand Prize

Shosha: Road Map for Future Development

Mr. Shahadave Shrestha (Nepal, age 33)

Shosha have been important to Japan since its evolution. Shosha are known for their diversity in the business. It is said that they deal from “Ramen to Rocket”. They are time tested and have capability to adapt to the changing scenario of the business world. They have evolved over time and maintained its role in the global value chain. However, in the course of development of Japan, they have lost that role.

Still, they are important business entity not only for Japan, but for whole business world. As Japan is trying to get rid of two and a half decade long stagnation of the economy; role that shosha need to play is significant. Not only that, world economy is entering in to the period of mega competition. Not just economic events but also political and other events affect the business world. For all these reasons, shosha also need to restructure itself in order to get ready for the competition and to play bigger roles in global economy.

So it is proposed that shosha need to know what is happening around the world and how to respond to it in a faster way. For that, they need to work on four factors which will help them for future development to remain competitive in global scale: 1) They need to develop a competitive edge. Innovation will be the key for that. 2) They should concentrate on creation of value. This covers wider space ranging from creating unique business opportunities to serving the social purpose. 3) They should search for new market opportunities. Penetrating the market like Africa, which has huge potential for growth, will be a good decision. Small countries may also present favorable circumstances. 4) Human resource is a factor that will make all the above mentioned factors work. Shosha should, therefore, give utmost priority to this factor.

Shosha face difficulty with constructive approach and have ability to adapt; it is highly likely that shosha will continue to develop as a unique business entity in the world. Business world will need shosha in the future as they will continuously grow their presence and usefulness which will not be limited to Japan.

The Prize for Excellence

What to expect of the “SHOSHA” for the sake of Japan’s genuine globalization
– For the global presence with the global mind –

Mr. Hiroaki Matsuyama (Japan, age 49)

With the second largest amount of the outward foreign direct investment in the world, the level of Japan’s outward global presence is excellent. Unfortunately, however, gaining ground in Japan for foreign-owned enterprises is more difficult (culturally, linguistically, and structurally) than the Japanese might imagine. It is well apparent when looking at the amount of the inward direst investment, which is at the lowest level among G-20 countries. On the other hand, many foreign-owned enterprises find the Japanese consumer market highly attractive because of the nation’s high income level, its large customer volume, and other factors. Once obstacles were removed, therefore, foreign-owned enterprises would flock to make inroads into the Japanese market, which is highly likely to drastically advance globalization within Japan, including also human resources.

Furthermore, current issues in Japan stem from the fact that many Japanese people misunderstand the meaning of globalization. An act of companies establishing a number of overseas bases and displaying their global presence itself cannot be considered globalization. The issue is whether or not company executives are managing their companies with a global way of thinking. It is essential for the Japanese to be globalized in order for companies to be recognized as globalized around the world.

In Luxembourg, a small country in Europe, there is a system called the Luxembourg Model, in which a variety of economic and social issues is tackled with collaborations between the government and the private sector. By fully utilizing this model, Luxembourg attracts foreign investment with the exceptional linguistic ability of its people and has been reigning as a financial services nation. There is no doubt that Luxembourg is the nation that is promoting, by the government-private cooperation, a national policy of becoming a financial services nation through globalization within the nation.

The “SHOSHA” has been conducting borderless businesses as its core business since its establishment. Therefore, they have the expertise to resolve various problems obstructing foreign-owned enterprises to make inroads into the Japanese market. Competence of the “SHOSHA” is essential to aim for Japan’s genuine globalization through the marked expansion of the inward direct investment while using a successful example of attracting foreign investment in Luxembourg as reference.

The Prize for Excellence

2020 - An Olympic Strategy to use Japan’s Methods, Pathways and ‘Wa’ for the World

Mr. Ramesh Subbaraman (U.S.A., age 58)

The world is changing at a rate that is unsustainable without strains placed on the essentials of life. The challenges are intertwined and made complex by political and social strife.

The timeliness of the year 2020 is very appropriate to take on the challenges of fresh water shortage, unpredictable climate change, population increase and the resulting imbalances in the distribution of life’s essentials; potable water, clean air, nutritious food and affordable shelter. Japan will be the world stage to witness more than the Olympic and Paralympic athletes in 2020. The world will take back views, impressions of outstanding technologies and what has made them a reality. This effort, I think, will help in the decision making process to develop the resources for up to and beyond the year 2020.

Japan’s resources are in its efficient methods, pathways and the culture of ‘Wa’ - the harmony of human virtues that build and sustain peace as well as quality of life. The prudent use of Japan’s resources is evidenced by the efficient, useful and stylish products and lifestyle Japan has produced and exported successfully. Japan has proven technologies and methods of efficiently manufacturing reliable products and distributing them around the world. A continued effort to make these technologies affordable and available globally would be essential to making the program sustainable. The strategy to use the resources must be bound by the ability to sustain the dynamic coexistence of change and stability.

In a fresh way, Japan must face the challenges differently and act sustainably to execute the strategy of utilizing its resources for the net benefit of the changing world.

Japan has been quiet and cautious to take on global leadership. Japan should take up global leadership in an apolitical path of peace and transparency focusing on building a sustainable and verdant world.

Japan’s leaders, from the government and industry, should build a strategy to consolidate and organize all its technologies from electronics, manufacturing, to heavy industry in developing self-contained, self-energized, modular systems and products to enhance the supply of essentials for a life of quality.

The Prize for Excellence

How Japan’s Cultural Capital Can Enrich The World

Mr. Simon Campbell (U.K., age 34)

In traditional terms Japan is lacking in resources. It is a leading importer of natural resources such as oil, gas and coal. The Japanese archipelago is largely volcanic with fertile soils but limited stocks of base and precious metals and other minable assets. With finite supplies of natural resources available in the world the situation for Japan could look bleak. But if we expand our understanding of what constitute resources Japan doesn’t appear deficient.

Japan has a rich and varied culture. If our horizon is widened to take account of the social products of Japanese society as resources then Japan can be said to be resource-rich.  Japan’s greatest resource is its people.  A broader understanding of what constitutes a resource shows that Japanese culture can be used to benefit the world.

Borrowing the theories of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu allows cultural resources to be discussed economically.  Specific examples of Japanese culture will be presented using a framework of cultural capital.  Japan’s rich culture will be shown to be a valuable resource.

In 2020 Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games for the second time.  The first Games in 1964 reintroduced Japan to the global community 19 years after the Second World War and preceded a period of rapid economic growth.  Japan showed the world a new identity built upon the Olympic ideals of peace, education and development through sport.

Japan has endured an economic crash, two lost decades and two devastating earthquakes in recent years.  Tokyo 2020 is a golden opportunity to demonstrate Japan’s qualities of endurance, rejuvenation and innovation.  It also provides a chance to build lasting relationships in business and international exchange.

The eyes of the world will be on Japan in 2020.  This discussion will present three strategies that show how Japanese cultural capital can be marketed to benefit the global population as the Games come to Tokyo once more.

The Selection Committee Chair’s Special Prize

Japan: Insight into World’s Future

Ms. Lejla Hodžić (Bosnia and Herzegovina, age 19)

It is no longer a question whether people have exploited so much the natural resources of our planet. Our planet is exhausted. Natural resources which have offered short-term safety to the world are likely to run out soon, and our environment is struggling. In such a world, it is important to recognize unconventional resources which will bring brighter future for our world. Such resources may be completely unconventional, such as life philosophy which is essential if we aspire to have changes in human attitude towards our world. Japan can not only offer us a beautiful life philosophy, and teach us of humbleness and gratitude, but also a multitude of human-developed and intelligence led resources. Such resources are the ones people should lean on in close future. And such resources are the ones that Japan should offer the world in order for its economy to blossom. In order to promote its incredible resources, Japan should accent the use of these resources during the Olympic Games 2020, and during their preparation. Such an unique event is the best opportunity for the world to open the eyes towards its future. And future definetely lies in what Japan has to offer the world; green technology along with its products, renewable energy resources, fast transportation, developed and modern agriculture and finally robotics. Technology has become so present in our lives, that the next step people will be looking for is not far from robotics. People need to be released from the pressure of the modern world, they need assistants, and Japan should turn to promoting robots as people's assistants. There are yet six years left before the Olympic Games, but the way technology progresses, it would not be a surprise to see actual robots working on the organization of the Olympics. If we want to change the pessimistic view on our future, we have to seek and invest into other resources, and Japan's developments prove my point.