A half a world away… On his return from Japan the firm’s Chief Executive, Bob Law looks back on the different culture in Tokyo and how we might be able to learn to improve business here in the UK.
Together with one of my Co-Directors, Neil Raynsford, I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual DFK International Conference. This year’s conference was held in Tokyo. Japan was a first for both of us. I have to confess to having been embarrassingly ignorant when it comes to Japan and in particular Tokyo.
I was informed that 80% of Japanese claim to be Buddhist, whilst “the other” 70% claim allegiance to Shinto. It seems that Shinto (ism?) is quite a convenient religion to hang on to during life, whilst Buddhism is extremely helpful when nearing the end of your time – for example, it is typical in Japan to register or celebrate a birth at a Shinto shrine, while funeral arrangements are generally dictated by Buddhist tradition.
Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world and has a population of over 13 million. It is in a seismic sensitive area and in 1923 an earthquake of 8.3 (on the Richter scale) killed 142,000 people! I assume that is why there are not many true skyscrapers and also explains why Tokyo covers such a large area.
Japanese people are extremely polite, sensitive, and very respectful. The city is one of the cleanest cities that I have ever seen, has a very low crime rate and thus felt a very safe and secure place to visit. The service we received wherever we ventured was second to none and a sign in our hotel which read “Great service never goes out of fashion” encapsulated this attitude.
We could learn much from the Japanese approach to life!
Sensoji Temple, Tokyo
By the way, DFK is a Top 10, international association of independent accountants and business advisers that we joined in 1999. It offers us the ability to source expertise more or less anywhere in the world on behalf of those clients that are involved (or would like to be)in international business. Having attended the international conferences over the last 13 years, we are often able to make personal introductions to the most appropriate firms that can assist our clients.
Welcome to the Revolution? Well, that was the title of my presentation to the DFK Conference. The revolution referred to is the Information Technology revolution and in particular, the growth of Social Media and its impact on our lives and businesses. If Facebook were a Country – it would be the third largest in the world! For businesses such as ours, LinkedIn is the social media of choice and my research informed me that worldwide membership of LinkedIn rocketed from 100 Million members in 2011, to 225 Million members in 2013! If, like me, you aren’t sure how much we need to be “Liked” in our online presence, then perhaps further research showing that 78% of people trust peer recommendations, whilst only 14% trust advertising, may help change your mind? The full presentation, I gave, will soon be available via a link at www.langdownsdfk.com or via my own LinkedIn page.
I’m pleased to say that in my opinion, as important as an active social media (virtual) presence may be, it will never be a replacement for human contact, or “face-time” as generation “Y” may put it! But there is no conflict here, it should be remembered that used correctly, social media should enable you to make contacts, develop mutual interests and then meet!
The cost of living in Tokyo for expatriates is notoriously high. This is usually based on an illustrative “basket” of goods. My simpler method is to buy a pint of beer – it cost £13. But the service was great!!