Japan Day 3

By: William Woska, MBA Candidate 2018

On their final day in Japan, students enrolled in the Doing Business in Japan and Singapore global business course participated in both business and leisure activities. To start the day, students headed over to the Research Institute of Economy, Trade, and Industry (RIETI) where they were greeted by Mr. Mitsuhide Hoshino, Director of Research, and Mr. Willem Thorbecke, Senior Fellow at RIETI. Discussion once again focused on productivity in Japan with stagnant demographics the theme. As pointed out in several meetings, Japan’s aging population and lack of immigration mean that not only is population skewing older, but overall population is declining. Messrs. Hoshino and Thorbecke noted that these two trends are the most troubling for many Japanese, especially those with a vision for the future of Japan. Unfortunately, though many citizens understand the implications for the future of the country, there is little desire to change. The number of one-person households is increasing while new births are declining over the last 15 years. Nonetheless, students learned in their visit to Waseda University that Japan is one of the most innovative countries in the world.

At Waseda, students participated in a 60-minute business conversation about Wal-Mart’s (failed) entry in the Japanese market. Waseda faculty fielded questions from students such as whether Wal-Mart was presumptuous to believe that its discount price strategy would immediately be successful in Japan. This experience was differentiated from case studies in the classroom in two ways. In one instance, the instructor worked on the case in that he was the senior auditor to Wal-Mart’s venture. On the other hand, the case was about the misfortune of an American company in a foreign market. Oftentimes cases focus too heavily on success or what a company could have done differently rather than what missteps the company took whether investing or in this case, marketing. Afterward was a breakout session with enrolled. MBAstudents at Waseda.

In the evening, students participated in a sushi making class complete with sushi, sashimi, and sake! The class took place in a room at the foot of the illuminatedTokyo Tower. All students participated making many creations such as salmon with cucumber, scallop, and wasabi, whatever one could dream could be made under the careful eye of one of several master sushi chefs. The night was full of laughter and of course, several different types of sake were offered by chefs, one from Mt. Fuji! It was a fantastic capstone to the experience, one that will not be forgotten by students for many years to come.

 

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