Asia business experience – 【Hong Kong】The world’s most difficult airport to land at

 I visited Hong Kong for the first time in 1993. The current Hong Kong International Airport is located in Hong Kong New Territories Islands District, but the former international airport at that time was in Kowloon, close to the center of Hong Kong. The airport grounds are narrow and there are mountains nearby. Since the plane could not go straight ahead and land, the route was to make a large turn in a certain place and fly over the height of the buildings. At that time, I thought that the aircraft would crash into a building at any moment. As I later learned, it was called ‘the most difficult airport in the world’ to land at.  The purpose of the trip was to attend IT-related seminars and have meetings with distributors. I walked around the city in between business, but there were many buildings and people in the city, and it was very lively. Also, when conversing in English, I remember that the other party spoke quickly and it was difficult to keep up with the conversation. (Image: Food-related exhibition, Hong Kong)

Asia business experience – 【Malaysia】 The only country in Southeast Asia with domestic automobile manufacturers

 Malaysia is a popular country for long-term stays and migrations. I first visited Malaysia in the 1990s, but I felt that prices were cheap, the food was delicious, and the city was safe. Malaysians are multiracial, mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian. They also have different cultural backgrounds. One of the reasons why Malaysia is so popular may be because it embraces diversity.  As you may know, Malaysia is the only country in Southeast Asia where there are domestic automobile manufactures. There are two companies, Proton and Perodua. I had the opportunity to visit an automobile manufacturer for a business meeting. It made me think about what it takes to survive and grow in the competitive automotive industry. (Image: Automobile company in Malaysia)

Asia business experience – 【Myanmar】A country that feels nostalgic

 I first visited Myanmar in 2015. I have had many business trips to Asian countries, but I have never had a business trip to Myanmar until then. Around 2015, economic sanctions were lifted, efforts for economic development began, and democratization was promoted.  I stayed in the center of Yangon, but the number of Japanese restaurants was gradually increasing. I was able to hear from a person who publishes a newspaper for Japanese people locally. He said he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Myanmar. When I asked him why, he said that he did not feel uncomfortable with Myanmar and rather felt nostalgic. It is true that there are many temples and 90% of them are Buddhist, so I think it gives a sense of familiarity. The city was full of energy and people were busy, but I realized that it was a calming country. (Image: Yangon, Myanmar)

Asia business experience – 【Philippines】Manila Airport now and then

 I first visited the Philippines in the mid-1990s. I had a very unique experience at Manila Airport. That was when I used the toilet at the airport. When I stood in front of the wash basin, the toilet cleaner next to me twisted the faucet and let out water. And when I finished washing my hands, he gave me a tissue towel. It was my first time to receive such a service at the airport and I was impressed that it was a wonderful country. But when I was about to leave, the toilet cleaner reached out and asked for a tip. I couldn’t believe this was happening at the airport.    And something even more surprising happened. When I passed through customs and left the lobby, there was a person selling photos. It was a picture of me. It was a photo taken on the way to the immigration procedure when the plane arrived at Manila Airport. By the time I leave the airport, the photos are developed and sold.    At that time, such things may have been tolerated, but now the economy has grown and the standards of international airports have risen, and no such scene can be […]

Asia Business Experience –【Indonesia】The terrorist bombing incident in Bali shocked me.

 It was about 20 years ago. At the time, I was working for computer peripheral manufacturer and was responsible for sales and marketing in the Asia Pacific region. The development of distributors for computer peripherals has progressed steadily in each country, and the number has exceeded 20. Around this time, we invited all distributors to hold a distributor meeting once every two years.  We planned a 2002 distributor meeting in Bali, Indonesia from Oct. 21st to 25th. In line with this, we had almost completed preparations 10 days before the date of the event, such as adjusting flights for participants from each country, booking accommodation and meals, and preparing presentation materials for the event. All that was left was to make the final adjustments and board the airplane. The terrorist bombing incident occurred on October 12 in Bali. The damage was enormous and shocked all over the world, and the distributor meeting was canceled. If there was a terrorist bomb attack during the distributor meeting, it would have been disastrous.  We also prayed for the souls of the victims of the terrorist bombing. (Image: 45th anniversary event of Indonesia distributor)

Asia Business Experience – 【Vietnam】Changes with economic growth

 In 1986, the Doi Moi policy was launched in Vietnam. In the 1990’s, the results of economic stability and growth began to appear. And explosive growth began in 2000. I first visited Vietnam in 1998, and I was able to fully feel the momentum of economic growth. At that time, I stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, but the number of motorcycles was overwhelming. I got the impression that motorcycles are prioritized over cars. I saw many women riding motorcycles dashingly wearing the traditional Vietnam costume Ao Dai.  The photo was taken in Ho Chi Minh City in 2015. There were still many motorcycles, but the car society also penetrated, and the road was shared by cars and motorcycles. And I could hardly see a woman wearing Ao Dai among the riders. I felt the changing times. (Image: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)

Asia Business Experience – 【Thailand】A country where there are many respectful and polite people.

 In the middle of 1990, I went to Thailand for the first time. I arrived at the airport in Bangkok and looked for a taxi through customs. I found that the taxi charges are in advance. I took a taxi without having to worry about the taxi’s fee. But my taxi was almost stuck in traffic as it approached the center of Bangkok. Because the infrastructure had not been maintained I did not know what time we would be at the hotel. And I was convinced that the taxi’s fee was prepaid.  And it took about two hours to get to the hotel. But I looked closely, and it was not the hotel I booked. When I told the driver about it, the driver recommended me that I should change the hotel because it is inexpensive and better service. It is never going to happen in Japan. But I saw a blind smile, I could easily forgive it. My impression of Thailand still does not change that much. A country where many respectful and polite people are. (Image: Chiang Mai, Thailand)

Asia Business Experience – 【China】Large-scale building remained impressive.

  I first traveled to China in the late 1990s. I worked in the IT company, and I was involved in a project that would set up a subsidiary in China. A Chinese employee played an important role as a bridge between Japan and China. The project succeeded and we could establish a subsidiary in China.  When the project was ongoing, I traveled to Beijing, China almost every month. My business contact showed me the city and the surroundings of Beijing. Government buildings and commercial facilities in the center of Beijing are very large, and there are no similar buildings in Tokyo. I saw the Forbidden City (National Palace Museum), and I felt the history of the emperor as well as its size. And when I saw the Great Wall, I was overwhelmed. I felt a mind-boggling when I imagined how many thousand kilometers of walls were built. (Image:  Great Wall of China)

Asia Business Experience – 【India】My first business trip to India

 I had business trip to India nearly 40 times. My first business trip to India was June, 1995. I was stimulated by India and I have changed my outlook on life a little. At that time, I mostly went on a business trip by myself, my first business trip to India was also alone. I remember booking a hotel with no internet, using a travel guidebook to fax.  As for my first business trip to India, I visited four cities for ten days. The first time I arrived was Chennai Airport. It was midnight, so I got into a taxi right away. After left the airport, road lamps became more less and the road was getting dark. Then, the taxi driver suddenly put brakes even though there was no traffic light. I felt like I was waiting for long time. I was a foreigner and I was worried what I would do if I was attacked. At the very time, a few black cows were slowly crossing the road. I heard cows are God in India, and it was really true. My worries have completely disappeared and I could not help laughing. (Image: India)

Asia Business Experience – 【Singapore】What I learned through hiring people

 Singapore has the same area as 23 districts of Tokyo, but it has about 5.7 million people. Singapore’s markets are never big, but the infrastructure is being developed as a business base in South East Asia. In Singapore, English, Chinese, and other languages are used as an official language.  Singapore encourages foreign investments and company set up in Singapore. Singapore’s strength is that there are many skilled and experienced people.  I stayed in Singapore for six years and experienced management of the subsidiary set up by Japan HQ. When you hire people in Japan, most people agree to keep current salary. However most people expect more than 10% increase of their salary in Singapore.  The reason is simple: because they are going to change their jobs. The new job market has been established, and the salary increase is common practice. And then we create Job Description like Western companies and make sure the job is clear. (Image: Singapore)