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Monday, Oct. 29, 2012

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Global views: Panelists speak during the discussion session at the symposium organized by The Japan Times and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Tokyo on Oct. 6. TAKUTO MINAMI

STUDY IN JAPAN, WORK AROUND THE WORLD

Event on global education, careers


Staff writer

On Oct. 6, high school students, their parents and others interested in a global career and universities that nurture global minds attended a symposium in Tokyo. The event focused on international education and career planning, and was organized by The Japan Times and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU).

About 80 people participated in the symposium, titled "Study in Japan, Work Around the World," and had the chance to mingle with alumni and teachers of APU, based in Beppu, Oita Prefecture.

The symposium consisted of two parts, the first being a lecture titled "Why You Should Consider Studying at International Universities in Japan" by James Yellowlees, the president of Pacifica Consultants and CEO of Global Daigaku.com K.K.

During his lecture, Yellowlees, who holds a Ph.D. in modern Japanese politics and economics from the University of Tokyo, talked about his background, saying he had studied Japanese intensively at Sophia University and that the commitment to Japanese language learning was very important.

He explained that global economic trends are changing all the time and it would be best for students to prepare and position themselves for unknown job requirements in the future. He also said university selection is important because human networks built at universities will be for life.

"Future businesspeople need to get ready for the reality that they will likely be moving to different countries during their careers, amid these ever-changing global trends, so they must become flexible in many ways," he said. They need to create strong bases and to keep learning, he added.

The second part of the symposium was a panel discussion on career planning of globally minded international students studying in Japan. The panelists were Yellowlees, Kenji Yokoyama, the dean of the College of International Management at APU, and two APU alumni: Zulfiya Shafiyeva, a woman from Uzbekistan, and Tahmid Moin, a man from Bangladesh who is a naturalized Japanese citizen.

Shafiyeva is a manager in charge of online sales at toy and children's products retailer Toys "R" Us Japan. Moin is the financial controller of a German maker of car parts, garden tools and other goods, and the founder and president of PIKT Co., an online English conversation operator.

Yokoyama said global human resources are international and domestic at the same time. They have language skills as well as communication skills for different cultures and backgrounds, to people of various backgrounds, he said.

The APU alumni mainly talked about corporate cultural differences between Japanese and non-Japanese companies from the viewpoint of non-Japanese employees.

Moin used to work for a Japanese manufacturer before Bosch. He changed jobs because Bosch "values my work," he said, in the context that it is difficult to be fairly evaluated in Japanese companies.

The floor was opened to the audience and APU alumni Emdad Hoq, the founder and president of human resources consulting company Black Pigeon Inc. shared his opinion.

He said the reason English-speaking employees do not stay with Japanese companies for a long time is that they are discouraged by a combination of the following: lack of individual performance evaluations, a hierarchy-based management system, seniority-based promotion system and long working hours.

"Employees who work for hierarchy-based companies get exhausted with this time-consuming management system," Hoq said.

On seniority-based promotion, Hoq said, "Talented employees do not like this system at all. They would like to work harder, show performance and get monetary or non-monetary rewards."

Hoq urged Japanese companies to set up proper evaluation systems and less time-consuming decision making systems, promote employees based on performance rather than seniority and make rules forcing employees to leave at a regular time if they want to retain talented employees.

Another APU alum, Andrey Pak, an associate consultant at recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Japan, echoed Hoq's views.

"I can clearly see the problem with allocating and utilizing young foreign talents. This is a big issue that most major Japanese corporations will face this decade. Changing policies toward hiring young foreign talents is one thing, however, the important factors will be how company's utilize them and keep their turnover rates low," the Uzbekistani national said after the symposium. "This dilemma will only intensify as Japanese firms continue to globalize."

During the coffee social time at the end of the event, high school students, APU alumni and others chatted over refreshments.

APU, established in April 2000, educates students through classes taught in Japanese and English, aiming to make students at least bilingual upon graduation. It had 5,734 students, including 5,427 undergraduates and 211 postgraduates, enrolled as of May 1. Domestic students accounted for 3,208 of the total and foreign students from 83 countries and regions accounted for 2,526.



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