Japan vs. India – the land of confusion

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    Interview with Yasushi Hasegawa | Director | Fenetre Partners

    First published in M+V`s India Insight

    In the context of Japan vs. India, Japan is the fourth biggest investor in India. Major industries which have invested a lot are transportation equipment, electronics, finance and retail and distribution. Famous large Japanese players in India are well-known companies like Suzuki, Yamaha, Toyota, Honda, Toshiba, Nissan, Panasonic, Hitachi, etc. We talked to Yasushi Hasegawa of Fenetre, a Japanese Consulting Company, about the differences between India and Japan.

    What are the biggest cultural differences between how business is done in your country and in India?

    The Japanese working culture and ethics are very different from India’s. Japanese companies love to be extremely well organized in every aspect of their businesses, and this can seem excessive to many Indian people. In both Indian and Japanese work places indirect communication with high context is preferred, but how this manifests is very different; Japanese managers don’t speak a lot directly to their staff but workers are supposed to work out their bosses’ expectations by themselves. In addition, Japanese managers love to micro manage by monitoring their staff frequently, while India Inc. often functions on the superbly universal phrase ‘do the needful’. Any of our Japanese clients needs hundreds of pages to answer questions and as a Japanese person visiting Indian companies it can feel difficult to find common aspects in the two cultures.

    Japan views India as ‘the land of confusion’. Japanese people assume that great opportunities exist in India but at the same time they understand that it’s difficulty for them to enter Indian markets. For most Japanese business people who work for multinational companies, India is not an ideal place to be sent, as they rate efficiency so highly and their view on India is that everything – from transportation, to delivery, to people – is always delayed.

    Which segments are the most outward-looking?

    Due to the economic slowdown or potential economic crisis in China, many Japanese manufacturers are seeking alternatives for manufacturing sites and growing huge market instead of China. People expect that India can be a great candidate for the both purposes. The typical companies which have interests in India are industrial goods suppliers such as components, machinery, tools, equipment while most consumer goods suppliers focus on ASEAN due to their admiration to the Japanese culture.

    What are the biggest challenges companies from your country face?

    Every aspect in the Indian business environment can be a large challenge to Japanese companies. A lot of unexpected events happen every day and miscommunication are common place at most offices. This would annoy almost all Japanese business people. They need help from people who are familiar with both cultures.

    About Fenetre

    Fenetre Partners is a leading consulting company of trade, investment, and international marketing, based in Tokyo, Japan. The role of the company is to serve as a bridge that connects international businesses with Japan and the global market, providing various clients with market research, market entry strategy, local partner and distributor search, trade mission support, and representatives for marketing and sales. Its clients are both foreign companies looking to enter the Japanese market and Japanese companies aspiring to go global. Founded in 2008, Fenetre Partners employs 16 staff members and has conducted international projects for over 130 companies in the past 7 years.