Taking Charge in Japan

A hands-on guide book for the serious executive determined to build and energize a stronger Japan operation.
Find out about Japanese socio-economic/government workings, business, corporate life, personnel/management techniques, and the people.

(The Japan Times)
JPY 5,250


In a Nutshell

Dedicated to Rules of Employment as Your primary and Most Powerful Management Tool — A Totally New and Different Dimension


Client Testimonials (17 signed client testimonials)


Introduction on How to Read and Use the Book


I. Recruiting–Everyone’s Bottleneck to Success


A blueprint to success and a wealth of practical information for the businessman. Even for the job applicant, a little reading between the lines will provide invaluable insight to anyone seeking a position, hoping to interview better, structure their pay package or succeed on the job.

This exactly follows the outline of a speech of the same title I made at the International House on November 16, 1989, sponsored by the Japan Times and A. T. Kearney.

A rather similar presentation was made at the Capital Tokyu a month later on December 14, 1989, before the French Chamber of Commerce. They asked me to write it up, and the French version of this appeared in the Spring and Summer 1990 issue of their excellent quarterly magazine, Japon Eco.

1. Manpower-inventory-planning and Sourcing Alternatives


Position creation, organizational and titling decisions


Job posting and internal applicants






College recruiting


Temporary help


Employee loans and out placement gifts


2. Getting the Right person for the Right Job — Matching Up Profiles and Interviewing


Evaluation of applications and initial screening


Describing the position and selling the company


Interviewing technique — asking the right questions on adaptability, decision making, delegation, initiative, integrity, leadership, and technical ability


Checking references and employee testing


Massaging egos and keeping candidates warm


3. Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Offer Letters, Contracts, and Compensation/ Benefit Packages


Beware of candidate who wants guarantees on paper


What do the law and practice say about probation, job security, ability to terminate?


Pointers and pitfalls in pay packages offered


4. Timely Solutions to Problem Employees and Cutting Back Losses when Necessary


After selection responsibilities — mentors, briefing, introductions, orientations, training


Position adjustments and re-assignments


You do not have to drink all the wine to know it has turned to vinegar — severance policies


Exit interview aimed at reducing turnover and discovering problems


5. Conclusion


II. On Why They Win and How to Become a Winner


1. Why You Can’t Beat the Japanese at Their Own Game—–It’s Because There Are Different Rules


A fresh perspective and behind the scenes in depth look at the differences between Japan’s and other countries’ legal and regulatory systems. America is strangling itself with litigation and compliance with teeth. In certain areas Japan is more tolerant of the flexible application of the rule or guideline.

This article appeared in a somewhat abridged form in the Spring/Summer 1990 Cornell Enterprise published twice a year by the Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University. The 1989 Business Week Survey of American M.B.A. programs placed the Cornell Johnson School within the top five.

2. Little and Big Tricks of Any Trade for Japan or Anywhere


On the lighter side, new ideas and tips to help you to reach your potential and succeed in business in Japan or anywhere.

3. Managers and Monday Morning in Tokyo and New York


Walks you through a typical day in the life of a manager in Tokyo and New York, so you can empirically experience the pressures, forces, environmental factors, motivators, and de-motivators that each one has to live with and respond to in very different ways — always focusing on how and why the Japanese organization works the way it does.

III. Twenty Questions and Answers on Recruiting, Selecting, Attracting, Rewarding, Managing, Motivating, Controlling Costs of, Disciplining, and Rehabilitating/Firing”the Japanese


Even if you’re not running a business yourself, you can get a lot from these 20 questions. If you are trying to “take charge” and make a difference in Japan you have combined here what the Bible is to the worshiper and the treasure map is to the pirate.

Most of these articles appeared in serial form in the Japan Times in the mid 1980s. They are very different in writing style and content from Japan Times serialized articles of the early 1980’s appearing in Labor Pains and the Gaijin Boss — Hiring, Managing, and Firing the Japanese. (Japan Times, 1984)

The strategic employment contact


Making the most of probation


How to set up the most effective business relationship with your headhunter


The ins and outs of transferring employees


Using temporary workers so they don’t become permanent


The torishimariyaku carrot”


Compensation structure and controlling long-term costs


Other ways to save money


Should the package offered vary depending on rank and status


Corporate rationalization — cutting back pay and benefits


Paying for performance


Increasing sales and profits with commission incentives


Giving your headhunter the support he needs


Firing as a last resort — but, do it right


Investigate — better to be safe than sorry


Tactics towards successful selection and avoiding hiring pitfalls


Persuading reluctant Japanese to sign on


Problems with employee loan and secondment issues in joint ventures


Interviewing techniques and how to evaluate and measure your candidate


Other ways an executive recruitment firm can help you


IV. For a Change of Pace, Other Views on Japan and How It Works


1. What’s Wrong with America? What’s Right about Japan? — All Over Dinner and Drinks


In a hotel room and restaurant you can join a fast-paced and dizzying dialogue between a business visitor seeking orientation and the labor/personnel consultant who is being pressed and stretched to not only present why Japan works so well within the company unit but also how business and government etc. work so well together.

2. Economic Growth Is Fine-But More Important the Japanese Must Wake Up and Join the Human Race


For the many foreigners struggling with the Japanese language or for those who have already paid their dues but are frustrated and feel they are not being let in, here is an empathetic piece — you may not be the only one! Things have been getting better, however, during the ten years since this article was delivered in Japanese speech form before a Japanese audience.

Since I wanted this message to go to a Japanese audience at the time, it was published in the Japanese language by Shukan Diamond in 1981.

3. The Gaijin Boss and Japanese Women — New Opportunities


Working or non-working women will be particularly interested in this article appearing in the March 30, 1986, Japan Times -Guest Forum- in connection with the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law taking effect from two days later, April 1, 1986. When there’s too much protection, there can be no equality. If anything, some legal protection — overtime, holiday-work, authorized type of work were lifted or loosened while companies were asked to stop discriminating. Progress is being made.

At TMT we used April 1, 1986, as a trigger date to set up a separate organization to place secretaries and female clerical staff. ABA (Access Business Associates) is managed “for women by women.

V. Case Studies and More from Behind the Bamboo Board Room


1. Absolutely Required Reading for the Serious Businessman — the Yen and $ Lifeblood and Guts of Your Company


You discover you are by no means the perfect salesman when you find (unfortunately former) clients enthusiastically selling you on the value of your product! Two or three clients over a two month period told me about the millions of dollars in cost savings and opportunities, sales and profits gained because of my management policies and, more concretely, our strategic written policies in the form of Rules of Employment, pay, and retirement policies.

They said I can and should charge more, and the clients would appreciate it more because I would have to sell it better and demonstrate its value. The client would, in turn, understand it better and use it more effectively.

This probably represents the single biggest breakthrough to assist and strengthen foreign capitalized firms in Japan since market liberalization measures in the early 60s! Required reading for the expatriate executive and his head office.

2. Headhunting the Samurai


Tom Peters of In Search of Excellence fame is an older fraternity brother of mine from Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta) and Cornell (along with Ken Blanchard — One Minute Manager) although I never met either of them. Tom’s newsletter on Achieving Excellence had me write a piece on the headhunting scene in Japan.

3. The Japanese (Asian?) Executive Search Trap


If this article saves even a handful of executives from hiring the wrong man for the wrong reasons, I will have been rewarded many times over for the time and energy I spent to write it.

In fact, it was from feelings of frustration at the mistakes even our own clients make that drove me to give this gift to you. Well worth a serious read the night before you interview a slate of candidates.

4. Gaijin Boss Beware! of the $400 Commuter Allowance


We are talking here, not only about ¥’s and $’s but also about equity and fairness among employees. Before the law changed, I made sure this message was aired in the Japan Times, and this article appeared there on March 6, 1989.

It is surprisingly easy to fix this problem and make a strategic adjustment the way I had to do at my own firm.

5. Neck Cutting Leads to Revolt — West Clashes with East


Everything here down to the last detail is a true story — an actual case study. I wrote it many years ago, and it remained unpublished until now as the client asked me to hold off for “at least five to ten years.” Names, places, and nationalities were changed to protect the innocent!

As a sequel to the story, you may be interested to know that within six months of the incident the Japanese president, who was fired and rehired, went to a worldwide sales conference, where he was one of those asked to make a presentation and proceeded to tell all the Frenchmen and other Westerners assembled why they were (sexually) impotent.

I heard he was fired for the final time within a year or so after that.

6. If the Headhunter Could Cry on the Client’s Shoulder — or What the Client should Do for a Successful Recruiting Campaign so the Headhunter Can Make No Excuses


All the orientation information and concepts are fine, but when it comes to succeeding at recruiting something as simple as selling well, along with treating candidates and your headhunters well, is probably more important than anything else.

We have placed over 60 executives and staff into one client and even when they went into essentially a one year hiring freeze, they insisted on paying us our non-deductible retainer. Client/vendor relationships can’t always be like that, but I think we did have a big role in making them number one in their field within a couple of years. All of us at TMT will be forever thankful, and we buy their products every chance we get! Here we would like to supply you with the actual excerpt from our TMT bimonthly “How Are We Doing?”Client Survey. These reminders are presented to clients for reference along with our survey requesting they evaluate our service during the period.

I think it might also assist non-TMT clients with their recruiting program, and help improve your relationship and the results you can enjoy with the executive search firm you are now using.

VI. A Helpful Summary — So as Not to Forget the Key Concepts and Strategic Tools


1. A New Trend in the Japanese (Labor) Market — A Nationwide NHK TV Interview


This is from a half hour interview show appearing in April 1986 on nationwide NHK television. The government subsidized national TV network — perhaps similar to the British BBC.

At the time, Mr. Tatsuya Komatsu was president of Simul International, reputed to be Japan’s leading interpreting and translating service with excellent training facilities in these areas. Mr. Komatsu was born in 1934 in Nagoya and is also a well-known author and commentator.

2. Strategic Tools for Managing Japanese Personnel — Local Practices, Policies, and the Law. Using Them in Six Key Areas


This is largely based on the video text accompanying a three hour video of the same name. Produced by and available from the Japan Times (1987, 19,600 Yen plus 400 Yen postage). * Now available from TMT

We had been talking about producing a video, and I happened to have two speeches/seminars at the American Club within three days. The title comes from the Saturday morning seminar, which was sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) and the University of Maryland.

Material here is capsuled and focused, making it easier for the businessman to readily apply the powerful Strategic Tools.

Manpower sourcing and recruiting — executive search


Compensation and benefits — design and change at multinationals in Japan


Rules of Employment, set-ups and adjustments — should be your most powerful management tool


Problem employee solutions/terminations that work


Staff reduction and cost-saving programs


Union and staff relations/attitudes