There is a new ambition and self-confidence here in corporate Japan. “Showing up differently” doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of Japanese companies over the last decade. They have continued innovating but, due to an arguable lack of confidence about the future during the past two decades of economic stagnation, many have been reticent to make bigger bets and do something different. This has led to a considerable fall in the presence of Japan’s brands globally as their Asian neighbors in Korea and China have blossomed. Much of this can be attributed to communications – compare the aggressiveness and depth of Samsung’s (Edelman client) global marketing campaigns to those of Sony in recent years, for example.
But today, as the Japanese economy awakes from its two decade-long slumber, some in corporate Japan have now fully woken up to the fact that they cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. We are seeing many companies trying to win back Japan’s leading position in the global marketplace through courageous business bets. Softbank’s acquisition of Sprint, for example, sent shockwaves through the global business community; or Rakuten’s decision to use English as its main language at HQ in Tokyo. Then there is Takeda’s (Edelman client) choice of GSK’s Christophe Weber as the leading candidate to become its next chief executive officer in a bid to capitalize on the Japanese company’s growing global network.
But making big business bets is one thing. Japanese companies are also learning to talk about these efforts in a different way – especially to a global audience outside of Japan.
For example, Nikkei, Japan’s leading Japanese-language business media group, has just launched Nikkei Asian Review (Edelman client), a new business publication in English aiming to tell Asian stories from an Asian perspective. It is a bold move by Nikkei – going up against the incumbent and dominant western-owned media and attempting to become a platform for Asian voices in the global marketplace. It is an attempt to take leadership and provide the world with another way of looking at the globe’s fastest growing region. This story is a powerful one, but it will take a different approach to tell their story in a way that resonates with savvy, international leaders.
Long may this tale of Tokyo’s renaissance continue. As the world pivots towards Asia, it will surely be these forerunners of the new Asian century that, thanks to showing up differently, taking leadership positions and communicating in ways that truly resonate with audiences will be remembered as the pioneers of the region’s success, and will no longer be “lost in translation.”
Dan Lochmann is an account manager in Edelman Japan’s fast-growing corporate PR practice team. A highly valued counsel on communications strategy and stakeholder engagement, Dan plans and executes programs for global firms in Japan and for Japanese clients growing their business internationally. He has advised blue chip corporate clients in a broad range of business sectors including media, energy, technology and aviation. twitter.com/danlochmann