Doing Business In Japan – The Airport Economist [Summary]

This is a quick Summary of a great little professionally produced, 20 minute video introduction and interview based guide to doing business in Japan, from Aussie Economist Tim Harcourt, who is ‘The Airport Economist‘. The Airport Economist is a television show and series of best-selling books which bring expertise and insight to global economics, business and trade. You’ll find their website and social channels overflowing with professional posts and videos about “doing business in the Asian Century”, including country guides like this Japan one.

Watch the whole video here: Doing Business In Japan – The Airport Economist

With a population of 127M, Tokyo 38M, 14 cities with over 1M people, number 26 in the worlds per-capita income – Japan as the worlds 3rd largest economy, is BIG!

The Japanese economy has been expanding at almost 1% per year since 2010. Inflation at 0.8% and unemployment at 3.5%, are both low.

In third place again after US & China, 55 of the Fortune 500 companies have their Headquarters in Japan.

An Advanced workforce and with savvy consumers, Japan is ranked number one in Business Sophistication, gets more Research funding than any other country in the world and the most Nobel prize winners in Asia.

The aging population is an issue with over 22% or nearly five and a half million people, are over 65. This is expected to rise to 40% by 2060.

Produced to give global companies the information they need to decide whether to put Japan on their companies radar, this ‘The Airport Economist’video features interviews with JETRO’s ‘Invest Japan’, companies who have take the plunge into the Japanese market and Advisory Service firms.

Many insights are shared in the Video, such as:

  • Tokyo is where most decision making is done, even if HQ is outside the capital
  • in general doing business in Tokyo is ‘global’ and much similar to other global cities like New York or London, whereas other cities like Sapporo or Osaka can be a lot more local business focused.
  • Foreign GDP of the Tokyo economy is 15%
  • can be helpful to view doing business in Asia versus the EU, with Japan in Asia, being similar to Germany and Switzerland in the EU, with focus on details and being very organized.
  • All about relationships and cross shareholding; partnering with a strong Japanese company you are buying into their alliances. Focus on the relationships first, be humble and show humility.
  • Japan Business is largely built on market share; if you present your business strategy for Japan in terms of winning Market Share you may may get a better reception.

The second half of the video covers Investing in Japan, Start ups, Ecommerce (there’s a whopping 80m online shopers in Japan!), getting products to Japan (interview with Australia Post: Global Ecommerce Platforms), Packaging, how to sell them (Rakuten?), Communication, Cultural issues, more interview with companies doing business in Japan and more.


This Summary was written by Jason Ball, a “Fixer” and people Connector, in Tokyo