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TOJ : Japan Companies and its Business Culture

Just copying my substitute report for today’s special lecture. But as always, i’m blurting too much it should be around 300 words, but i ended up with around 800, oh how i love to write! And writing things like this reminds me of my good old high school varsity debating time 😀

 

Japanese Companies and its Business Cultures

 

            As a country, Japan has a quite distinctive business cultures inside a company, especially compared with Western Countries. One of its most distinctive characteristic is about how they always do everything in full of respect to the others, especially the customer when they are doing business. For example, it is a common thing in Japan if you are being given a good service, being greet when you enter and get out from a shop because Japanese way to do business is service oriented. Service is a pillar of Japanese business culture and one of their main goals is to keep customer happy.

The same respectful attitude is also can be seen when doing business with the Japanese. There is a tradition called meishi kohan in the beginning of a meeting, when you have to exchange business card, read it carefully, and refers to it during the meeting. It might be a bit overdue compared to the Western Countries business culture, but this shows that you respect and value the meeting with that specific person. Still inside a meeting, it is also very common to direct one initial comment from the highest ranking person present. It means that Japanese working culture really value the wisdom and experience of more senior employee. In their business culture, the relation between coworkers in workplace are being kept formal and we also have to note that bowing to a person with highest position is a very common thing in Japan.

Japanese business culture tends to be a very structured. A very structured working style is implemented every day. There are strict working hour for the employee, zangyou (working overtime) is also a very common habit as well. Every morning you can see that employees are often gathered in a morning meeting where they shout out their company slogan. The purpose of this is to inspire each individual with working motivations to the company, keeping their loyalty to the company, and company’s goal everyday fresh in mind.

Another common characteristic of Japan business culture is they really try to keep the harmony among people. When dealing with a project, the role of individual contribution is important but in the end the whole group must succeed. Every employee is given the same basic rights inside the company regardless their position. Japan employs a principal called hourensou where information flow and collaboration is attempting to reach all of the employee. Japan also employs another principal called genchi genbutsu where regardless of their position, every employee must be involved in solving problems, even the leader is not exempted from this. Speaking about the rights of each employee to speak out their mind, Japan employs a principal called ringiseido to accommodate this idea. Ringiseido means that every employee can talk their idea to the manager of their group, and then each equal ranking manager have an equal opportunity to speak out their member’s idea in a meeting, so that every idea from every individual can be heard.

One of the interesting point in Japanese business culture is about the lifetime employment that they apply. Generally once a person submit a contract to work inside a Japanese companies, except some rare case happen they will work for that company for all of their life. To keep employees satisfied and working in a good environment, Japanese companies treat their employees like a family, giving them a lot of facilities, financial, health, child education and insurance supports. Good monetary rewards are also being given, the longer they stay the bigger salary that they will get.

The last two things that I want to underline about Japanese business culture are their risk-avoider and process-focusing nature. Japanese companies tend to be decisive and employ a lot of stage in their decision making. Japanese tends to avoid risk, instead of taking risk. Each of their decision making inside a group is being thought deeply and involves the ideas of every person inside that group. This is believed to minimize error, create a consistent, and cautious decision. Japanese companies also believe that process is an important thing. Japanese companies, for example they do not only want to get the ROI (return on investment) back but also focusing on how to get that ROI back.

However, there are some several negative things inside the Japanese business culture, for example sometimes employees are feeling very stressful, because they put work life as a more important aspect than their personal life. Bad work career mainly leads to a stress problem that occasionally leads to an attempt to do suicide. In Japan, suicide is a big problem and it is already known that mostly the people that do suicide is salary man. Apart from some bad impact that Japanese business culture give, we can still conclude, that being one of Asia’s economic giant, Japan’s business culture is one of the most exceptional among Asian countries.

 

Sources:

–  http://www.askmen.com/money/successful_100/134b_success.html

–  http://blog.btrax.com/en/2010/12/15/10-cultural-contrasts-between-us-and-japanese-companies-a-personal-view/

–  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_management_culture

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Review : Autumn Semester Class at 東工大

Hello all!

I hope you all are doing well and fine, because here at Yokohama, it’s becoming quite cold (again) and it will rain until tomorrow 😀

This is, again, a very late post. Actually I really want to post about it from such a long time ago, but i just forget. Since yesterday I have just got my supervisor’s signature for Spring Semester Course Registration Sheet suddenly I remember about my intention to write this post 🙂

 

So in last semester (Autumn Semester 2012) I took 4 Classes, 3 with credits and one no credit class. As a Young Scientist Exchange Program student I took 2 compulsory classes which were Topics on Japan I and Study on Japanese Companies and Industries I. I took Japanese Class with no credit which was J1 and one class from my major which was Advanced Bioorganic Engineering. As an addition, I also had my Seminar and Sotsuron (Research) inside my lab.

And here I will explain a bit about each class, just in case someone is interested on this exchange program, for the full information you can just go here  🙂

 

Topics on Japan I (2 Credits)

Topics on Japan I is a compulsory subject for YSEP student and there we learn about Japan, it was taught by Yuriko Satou Sensei. From basic knowledge (from trivial facts and knowledge about Japanese societies), some history of Japan until some aspect about economic development and education of Japan.

This class was interesting because all the international students were mixed with Japanese student so here we can not only learn about Japanese culture and custom but also other country’s culture! We were asked to make group and give presentation about a country (we can present as our own country or other country). In that opportunity I present about Italy, mainly talking about its music, although some people said at that time it was more or less like a music class! 😀

My Presentation :)

My Presentation 🙂

From this class we are able to exchange ideas and deepen our understanding about Japanese society and in the end comparing it with other countries, thus knowing the strength and weakness of Japan.

The special features of this class are the inspiring special lectures and cultural activities. We have the chance to heard special lectures from David Zopetti, a Subaru Literature Price award Novelist. For the cultural activities we all could watch Bunraku (Japanese Puppet Theater) at National Theater with such a low price and we also had one day visit to Chisetsu Elementary School to do some sharing! 🙂

After watching Bunraku at National Theater :)  photo credits : Alfan Presekal

After watching Bunraku at National Theater 🙂
photo credits : Alfan Presekal

I think it is not hard to get high score for this test, you only have to attend all classes, special classes, participate in cultural activites, be active, and collect the final report (it’s 600-1000 words) 😀

 

Study on Japanese Companies and Industries I (2 Credits)

This class was also taught by Yuriko Satou Sensei. Only one word that can be said for this class : FUN! From the name, we can predict that we visit a lot of companies and industries to see how actually the industrial activities in Japan are. But, actually I think it’s only 20% of the course, the rest 80% is having a fun trip! 😀

First we visited Life Safety Learning Center where we experienced earthquake, fire-fighting, and fire simulation, it was really fun. We also visited Fujitsu Ltd., we had special lecture by someone from Gurunavi (it’s some kind of mobile application to find any restaurant near you, which’s pretty convenient to be used in Japan), visit to Nissan Motor Company and JFE Steel. Here are some photos, photos were taken from http://www.ryu.titech.ac.jp/~ysep/tour/tour.html

Fujitsu Ltd.

Fujitsu Ltd.

 

Nissan :)

Nissan 🙂

 

JFE Steel, with the helmet and safety clothes :D

JFE Steel, with the helmet and safety clothes 😀

But what was very epic? During the Christmas day we were going to Atami, a city at Shizouka prefecture. Indeed, we still have lecture about job opportunities for foreigner in Japan, but I think most of the time we were having fun, enjoying the splendid city, soaking ourselves inside Onsen, eating marvelous dinner buffet, and sightseeing! On the way back home we also visited Asahi Breweries, yummy!

Atami Sightseeing :D

Atami Sightseeing 😀

Visiting Asahi Breweries as well

Visiting Asahi Breweries as well

The score for this course i think was pretty easy, we only have to submit short report after each visit and the best of all, we did not have to submit final report that time!

 

Japanese Class J1 (no credit)

Actually Tokyo Tech’s system about Japanese Class is a bit confusing, and i don’t want to write something misinterpreted, so if you’re curious please just go here. Anyway i took the class without credit which was two times faster than the class with credit. In this class we were using 2 books which were Hakase 1 and Hakase 2 (roughly equivalent with Minna no Nihongo 1). The book was fun, i mean it had funny pictures inside it, and it did not contain as much grammar as Minna no Nihongo 1.

We got regular homework from the class, but mostly it wasn’t such a big deal, only one paper per one lesson. Beside that, the final test was not difficult and i think most of the teacher were very nice 🙂 We can also ask for a certificate to certify that we has passed this class to international student center. After this class we can continue to J2 or Jpb3, or even taking JLPT N5 (just like me!!)

 

Seminar and Sotsuron (6 Credits)

First sotsuron, is your research, basically the central part of your life here, lLOL. It weights 6 credits (i think mine weights much more). So once you arrived at Japan, for several weeks everyone in the lab will tutor you about how to use stuffs and do stuffs. After that your Sensei will decide in which subtopic of the lab’s research will you do research. Basically, we do progress report every 1 month or 2 month during the seminar time. Seminar is kind of gathering for the lab member, in my lab it’s only 2-3 hour per week, but the duration varies between lab and also the number of people inside the lab. There are some lab that can have seminar for whole day, usually they have more than 10 people inside. In weekly seminar we are told to read one paper related to our research and describe it to your friends, and also telling everyone what you have done during the past one week. But as i told you, once every 1 or 2 month, you will have progress report seminar where you have to make slide about your progress.

 

Advanced Bioorganic Engineering (2 Credits)

It’s a graduate class, but since it’s conducted in English, so I follow this class. The other reason why I took this class is because the first half is really related to my research (of course, it’s my sensei that taught the first half of the course). The first half mainly was about book which she edited (cool!), Future Directions in Biocatalysis.

Advanced Bioorganic Engineering Book :)

Advanced Bioorganic Engineering Book 🙂

It talks about novel reaction for biotransformations (like using other solvent than water such as ionic liquid), uncommon kind of biocatalytic reaction (like Baeyer-Viliger Monooxygenases), etc. Those few topics were really what we do in my lab. The last half was taught by Hisakazu Mihara Sensei. Mainly talks about synthetic DNA, and protein.

We are requested to one presentation about one paper and in the end one report about one paper. So it doesn’t actually give you that much burden.

 

And i guess that’s all for the class sharing, I hope that it can give you slight information about YSEP Classes and if you are interested please tell me! 🙂

 

Love

 

Afifa Ayu Koesoema