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Japan’s business sector faces numerous challenges and opportunities. One significant challenge facing the world’s third largest economy, is the continued threat of global competition. Proving Japan’s ability to overcome hurdles, competition from the likes of China and South Korea has forced Japan to take innovation to a whole new level. Changing their primary focus to high-tech and precision goods, Japan has not only maintained its leadership, but advanced it in certain fields including electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering, optical equipment, industrial robotics, chemicals, biomedical research, semiconductors and metals. Japan is presently home to over 300 companies from the Forbes Global 2000 – including internationally renowned names like Toyota, Nintendo, Canon, Honda, Sony, Takeda Pharmaceutical, Panasonic, Nippon Steel, Toshiba, and Sharp. Japan’s success, in the light of foreign competition, gives hope as it deals with other trials and tribulations. The list includes – unfavorable demographics (an aging and shrinking population), reliance on export driven growth, rebuild expense from the 2011 “triple disaster”, persistent deflation and growing sovereign debt.
To do business in Japan, its important to understand the Japanese variant of capitalism. Several distinct features include – the close interlocking structure of manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors, known as keiretsu, plus the unique Japanese work environment characterized by lifetime employment and seniority-based career advancement. While these features are eroding due to global competition and demographic change, traits of each are certain to be preserved within the Japanese business culture.