About the Japanese working culture

As part of the “Nearsource” countries I have discussed on a previous post, We now take on Japan, Its working culture and its IT relations with the Philippines.

History and Name
Japan is an East Asian country located just north of the Philippines and east of its larger neighbor, China. Known as the “Land of the Rising Sun”, it has its naming origin as the farthest land where the sun rises, in the east, when looking at the perspective from China. During the ancient times, China has made huge impact culturally on its neighboring countries, since it was a powerful empire during the past. Hence, the name Japanese name of Japan is “Nihon” meaning “Sun’s origin”.

Geography
Japan is an island nation, but it consists of 1 main island where all major cities are located ( Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama ) and several other islands. Japan is comparable to England and New Zealand in terms of its size. Philippines also has a similar land area with Japan, although the Philippines does not have a main island, but consists with several small islands, with Luzon and Mindanao as the larger ones.

Culture
In today’s Japan, the country is described as “Ancient meets Modern”. Age old traditions are seen merging with new age youth culture. Known for its high technology, Japan is very famous for its “Shinkansen” or also known as Bullet Train. The county is also notorious for its complex railway system, which rivals other progressive countries such as France and Germany. Tokyo, Japan is considered as a World Mega City, where its infrastructure and cultural influence is considered at the highest level worldwide.

Japan generates its economy from its world famous products. Cars, Computers, Gadgets, and Animation are its top exports. The economy is driven by consumer spending ( like shopping, food, clothing, and entertainment ), exports and tourism ( Aside from a modern architecture and city life, Japan has some excellent nature parks and world heritage sites ). Everything in Japan is made to be convenient and automated, from transport, to food and other necessities. Japan is not famous for an abundance land, natural resource, or wartime machinery ( They gave up all military capacity after World War 2, but retained and army for medical and humanitarian efforts )

Given these economic factors, Japan’s economy is highly dependent on the skilled workers of the land. Japan is considered as a mono-race country, where almost 90% of the population are Japanese. This may be an effect of the past where Japan has closed its shipping ports to foreign trade, a long time ago during the era when the Samurai warriors ruled Japan. The country also was not colonized by foreign invaders. There were stories in ancient Japan that foreign ships could not invade its land, as they were protected by a Typhoon.

One important Japanese culture you should know is the Japanese Language. The term is “Nihongo”. “Nihon” means Japan and “Go” language. The Japanese Language is used all over Japan, and English is … well not used. Although they understand English, but the comprehension level is sometimes low, and depends on each person. The younger generation seem to fare better compared to the old ones. So in Japan, It is very important to learn their Language. People that are Japanese looking with good “Nihongo” skills can adapt very well, but if you are very foreign looking, you need a lot of convincing to do.

Work Culture
After the World War 2, Japan was heavily damaged. It was after this time that the Japanese people worked very hard to rebuild its country. Known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle in the 1980’s , Japan has created a lot of export products such as Cars, Machinery, Television, Watches and other range of Electronic Products. “Made in Japan” products are known worldwide to have high quality. The Japanese way of manufacturing involves a rigid process and keen attention to details. A lot of global companies have adopted the Japanese manufacturing processes, such as “5S”, “Kanban” and “Suiheitenkai”.


Working in the Japanese IT

Until this time, Most Japanese multinational companies use “time-tested” technologies and processes. Although some modern start-ups adapt to experimental technologies, Japanese multinationals and its clients want a “safe, stable and catch-all” solution. They prefer to cater to all types of systems ( old and new ), rather than upgrading only to the latest versions, than can only be used on a few upgraded systems. There is a fear of back job in case the new and upgraded systems or process has failed.

To adapt to the Japanese way of working, here are the most important factors to adhere.

1.) Learn the Japanese Language – The Japanese Language is known to be one of the hardest to learn, so better study and prepare early to have an advantage. Yet, Japanese can easily be learned by actual use and constant exposure.

2.) Process oriented and Attention to detail – Persist and work hard is the motto of the Japanese worker. As they say in Japan “Ganbare” which literally translates to “Persist”, although the context of “Good Luck” has a more positive translation.

Overall and its relation to the Philippines
Japan is considered as one of the best “Nearsouce” partner for the Philippines. It is known that Japan has a better infrastructure and a more advanced economy compared to the Philippines. Culturally, Japan and the Philippines is also different. The Philippines is an English speaking country, and with a culture almost similar to the United States or Europe. With economic collaboration and the advantage of geographical location, both countries can benefit from each other.

Below are some interesting articles about Japan and its working culture.

http://www.tofugu.com/2014/03/04/why-japanese-education-succeeds-amae-stress-and-perseverance/
http://www.tofugu.com/2014/11/17/japanese-must-wear-black-suit-job-hunting/
http://www.tofugu.com/2015/03/06/japanese-countryside-emptying/
http://www.tofugu.com/2015/03/25/japan-really-hardworking/

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2007/jan/13/careers.work

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