Terrie's Take 912 - The Good and Bad of Using Linked-In Within Japan, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Sep 4 10:40:29 JST 2017

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, Sep 02, 2017, Issue No. 912

- What's New -- The Good and Bad of Using Linked-In Within Japan
- News -- Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - None
- Travel Picks -- Kodaharu Oyster House in Shimbashi, Heinraku Chinese 
Chow house in Takayama
- News Credits

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Back in 2015, James Riney, the head of 500 Startups in Japan, wrote a 
piece speculating why the Japanese don't use Linked In, and how the tool 
isn't all that useful for doing business in Japan. Instead he noted that 
Japanese business people use Facebook and Twitter. Riney surmised that 
Linked In isn't popular because: a) when Japanese business people first 
establish a personal relationship, they do it with a face-to-face 
meeting, and b) because laying out your resume publicly is seen as 
"boasting". Instead, he reckoned that Facebook's design allows "humble 
bragging" and therefore is better suited to the Japanese psyche.

Certainly we agree these are valid points. We joined Linked In around 
2006, and the lack of Japanese counterparts in the community is very 
noticeable. Not that there are no Japanese on the platform, but most who 
are there are internationalized in some way, making them a small 
percentage of potential users. So we would expand on Riney's notes by 

1. Japanese are indeed a private people, who don't like to have 
everything aired out in public. This is a highly competitive society and 
exposing your personal details to anyone wanting to see them might in 
some inadvertent way open you up to attack or disadvantage later. For 
example, where you went to school, your stagnating career, or even your 
lack of international experience.

2. It's a noisy world out there, and the same societal competitiveness 
also results in unwanted approaches from the unfiltered public. Given 
that life is short and most business people are happy with the suppliers 
they already have, it's a psychic intrusion at worst and irritation at 
best when new company recruits - as they are forced to do for their 
first 3-5 years (to toughen them up) - start bombarding you with sales 

3. Probably the main reason, though, that Japanese don't post on Linked 
In is that their boss might see it. The mere fact of publishing one's 
bio online suggests that you are looking for a new job. Once the boss 
gets wind of that fact, they are hardly going to promote you into more 

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This last point about seeking employment opportunities is in our opinion 
the biggest challenge for Linked In. Elsewhere, the platform is 
primarily a recruiting tool, as evidenced by the resume format of 
content and the prevalence of recruiters, but in Japan there is not 
really a sufficient volume of resumes to support a recruiting practice 
and so the ecosystem needed to make the platform work, fails. From 
experience, we've found that running Positions Vacant ads on Linked In 
is an expensive waste of time if you want Japanese - the sole (but 
important) exception being if you want foreign-educated bilinguals, then 
the quality of candidates is pretty good, but the volume of candidates 
is still sparse.

Linked In need to re-think how resumes are presented, and to educate 
Japanese job seekers how to use the site in a way that doesn't betray 
their intentions to their boss. If they can do that, there really isn't 
an equivalent platform available from a local company, and so they still 
have a chance to build a decent business here.

Another problem for Japanese business users (and many non-Japanese 
here), apart from how to anonymize their details, is to understand that 
with Linked In there is a certain etiquette for initiating interaction 
that isn't immediately obvious to those users, being: the need to gently 
but competently connect, then to evolve the communication, THEN move on 
to something more concrete. Again this is due to a lack of education, 
and Linked In needs to address the problem - something that the company 
doesn't seem to care about. As a result, you get a these hard-selling 
fresh recruits trying to make their quotas who pester other more senior 
members by demanding meetings and deals without even establishing a 
personal connection. Head hunters in particular are slow (or too greedy) 
to understand this fundamental point, which is why we and many like us 
refuse head hunter connection requests out of hand.

Another part of that etiquette is to show respect to others by 
maintaining a complete profile and contributing to groups and 
discussions sufficiently to maintain name awareness and qualify as an 
expert in whatever area you want others to approach you for. Because 
many Japanese create a Linked In profile but don't bother building them 
out, they come across as being unsubstantiated - potentially fake 
postings - and again, users like us will reject the connection because 
the requesting member profile looks like it was written by a Nigerian 
scam gang.

As an aside, there ARE many fake profiles on Linked In, something that 
the company ignores on its site documentation and yet obviously knows 
happens since they have functions that specifically help you report 
impersonators. You can easily spot them because the person has a nice 
professional-looking photo and has a bunch of impressive credentials but 
can't spell. Or they have gone from being a Lawyer to becoming a bank 
manager (wanting to lend you US$10m). Unfortunately in all-too-trusting 
Japan, you often see Japanese members who are not able to discern 
scamsters, accept the connection and thereby unwittingly lend their name 
and respectability to these crooks.

What Linked In in Japan is good for, is finding bilingual staff. Since 
competition is fierce to connect to the smallish number of active 
members who are probably available to recruit, there are some techniques 
that yield better results than just diving in with job offers. For 
example, we don't go looking for people who are looking for a job, 
because often these people are unemployed for a reason, and we'd prefer 
not having to be the next go-around. Instead, we focus on bilinguals who 
have attended college overseas and after coming back to Japan have 
listened to their moms and taken a job with a prestigious Japanese firm. 
About 12-18 months later, these people become especially receptive to 
the idea of changing jobs, as they start to discover just how ruthless 
Japanese bosses can be (hours, hierarchy, rules, low salary, gender 
discrimination, etc.) - completely different to what they learned was 
normal in their overseas university courses.

The second thing Linked In in Japan is good for, is to present a 
thorough, credible and curated profile to the world around you. Doing 
business internationally from Japan, we are always surprised how many 
business development discussions with companies abroad are quickly 
verified by them with a Linked In check. It may be obvious, but Linked 
In is a sufficiently trusted proxy internationally that you must have a 
presence and a believable one at that. How to make your profile 
credible? Well you have to put some work into it (look at Mr. Riney's 
Linked In profile for "text book" construction), having a very complete 
profile, plenty of endorsements from reliable sources, and 
Recommendations, again from credible sources. Once again, Linked In 
needs to educate the Japanese business community that this kind of self 
promotion is worth doing and will open up export doors for their firms.

The third and last good thing about Linked In is the groups. 
Unfortunately, Linked In is polluting these communities with so much 
promoted content that the value of them is rapidly diminishing. One 
standout group which is a good information source if you can put up with 
all the native ads is the "Business in Japan" forum, which currently has 
about 54,518 members. It is probably the largest English-language Linked 
In group in Japan.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Civil servants' retirement age to rise
- Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money
- Working mothers' definition of failure
- What's US$50m between friends?
- Another grey August

=> Civil servants' retirement age to rise

It was already unfair that civil servants could retire at 60 while 
private sector workers are on track for a phased increase in retirement 
age to 65. However, the government now appears to be preparing to raise 
the retirement age for government workers to 65 as well. The 
legislation, if it is passed, will go to the Diet next year and likely 
be implemented in 2019. ***Ed: Given that the government still likes to 
favor it's own, we think is is only a matter of time before the private 
sector retirement age is lifted yet again, whether to 70 or 75 is hard 
to say at this stage.** (Source: TT commentary from asia.nikkei.com, Sep 
01, 2017)


=> Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money

The nation's non-financial companies held an estimated JPY406.23trn on 
their balance sheets in FY2016, according to the Finance Ministry last 
week. This amount is up 7.5% on last year, and will add fuel to the 
argument that the government should pass some form of legislative 
penalization of companies hoarding cash instead of paying it out to 
employees and making investments. The amount is the highest in five 
years since 2013. ***Ed: How much is JPY400trn yen? Well if you took the 
amount in JPY100 coins and stacked them, you'd have a pile that would 
reach the moon and back about 8 times** (Source: TT commentary from 
japantimes.co.jp, Sep 01, 2017)


=> Working mothers' definition of failure

Surely the best definition of failure to tens of thousands of mothers 
who want to re-enter the workforce but cannot do so because of lack of 
day care access, must be PM Abe's hollow promises that he would help 
working mothers out. Right now there are 26,081 kids officially waiting 
to get into nursery schools. But if the total number of kids waiting 
included those wanting private day care facilities, then there are 
apparently about 69,224 kids with nowhere to go. That's almost 70,000 
mothers who should be contributing to alleviate workforce shortages but 
who logistically cannot. ***Ed: We have two working moms at our company, 
and both are still having problems getting day care, after more than a 
year each trying. Pathetic.** (Source: TT commentary from 
the-japan-news.com, Sep 02, 2017)


=> What's US$50m between friends?

Insurer Sompo Holdings has announced that it will sell its UK 
subsidiary, Sompo Canopius, to private equity firm Centerbridge 
Partners. The selling price will be US$952m, about US$50m less than what 
Sompo paid for the business back in 2014 when it bought the firm from 
Lloyd's of London. ***Ed: Although Sompo is putting a positive spin on 
the deal, saying that it will replenish the firm's coffers for other 
deals, the reality is that they clearly failed to manage and develop the 
Canopius business. In this sense, it's remarkable that Sompo only lost 
US$50m. Other Japanese majors who joined the M&A trend in the early 
2010's lost their shirts on write downs.** (Source: TT commentary from 
reuters.com, Sep 01, 2017)


=> Another grey August

As happened several years ago, some parts of Japan have been enveloped 
in overcast skies for weeks on end, spelling trouble for the nation's 
vegetable and grain-growing regions. For example, Sendai had 36 
consecutive days of rain, leading to a potential outbreak of rice 
blight. As a result, we can expect that not only will vegetable and 
fruit prices increase, but with the price rises consumer sentiment is 
expected to become more negative, leading to lower consumption in other 
goods. ***Ed: Economists are forecasting more deflation as a result.** 
(Source: TT commentary from bloomberg.com, Aug 31, 2017)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of 
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.



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Title: "Tokyo IT Professionals Networking Party"

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp. Please follow 
the link within the write up to register for the event and pay online 
and note the requirements for New Sanno Hotel. This event is joint 
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Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Cost: $35 USD (members), $60 USD (non-members) Open to all and no 
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RSVP: By 5pm on Monday 25th September 2017
Venue: New Sanno Hotel, 4-12-20 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047


=> No corrections this week.



=> Oyster House Kodaharu, Shimbashi
Restaurant specializing in oysters

Oyster House Kodaharu, located 2 minutes from Shimbashi station, is 
somewhere not to miss if you are an oyster fan. The oysters are 
carefully selected from different areas around Japan, so they cover the 
whole taste spectrum in terms of saltiness and sweetness. The staff are 
keen to introduce the many ways to prepare and enjoy oysters, such as 
serving them raw, grilled, or even shabu-shabu style (hot pot) style, 
and they'll help you choose.

For those who are not satisfied with eating only oysters, Oyster House 
Kodaharu also provides a variety of seafood, such as the combination of 
oyster and sea urchin, whose rich flavors and creamy taste complement 
each other. Sashimi is also popular as you can enjoy the freshest fish 
each season. Oyster House Kodaharu serves more than 90 types of alcohol 
to accompany their menu, including oyster sake which you will not 
normally see in other restaurants.


=> Heianraku
A lovely little restaurant in Takayama

Takayama in central Japan's Gifu Prefecture is a beautiful destination 
for several reasons - a well-preserved Edo Period old town, its spring 
and autumn festivals (considered to rank among Japan's three most 
famous), and wonderful people and fantastic food. The latter two come 
together most delightfully at Heianraku, a small Chinese restaurant on 

As tiny as it is charming, Heianraku embodies Japanese hospitality. The 
cozy restaurant seats about a dozen people at low tables on tatami mats 
or at the counter, where you can watch chef and owner Hiroshi work his 
culinary magic. The cuisine served at Heianraku is mostly Chinese, but 
Japanese classics such as udon or sukiyaki are also on the menu. Opened 
in 1963, Heianraku offers great, homemade food in a traditional setting, 
but most of all, Hiroshi and his wife, Naoko, welcome their guests as 
part of the family. Heianraku has ranked among Japan's top ten 
restaurants twice in a row on TripAdvisor, even making it to the very 
top of the list in summer 2016 despite being a tiny 2-people operation.



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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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