Brexitwatch for Top 30 Japanese employers in UK – October 4 2018

Brexitwatch Top 30 Japanese employers in UK October 4th 2018
Company UK employees 2017-8* 2015-18 developments
1 Fujitsu 9,326 The Register reports (20 Sep 2018) rumour that moving back to country based model rather than matrix to be announced Oct 1 2018. UK seems to be losing regional power (3 executives in UK with EMEIA responsibilities have left)
2 Nissan 7,956 Will cut 200 back office jobs across UK and Europe (Chronicle 20 Sep 2018). Warns of serious disruption if Hard Brexit Oct 4 2018
4 Itochu (Kwik-Fit) 6,513 Itochu sold off Quantum Group, dissolved Bramhope Group parent 2017-8
3 Honda 6,472 Warned 18 Sep 2018 that Brexit will cost it tens of millions of pounds in paperwork, but remains committed to production in Swindon
5 Hitachi 4,796 Hitachi Capital opened branch in Netherlands 2017
6 Ricoh 3,547 Telford manufacturing site has been designated “Business Development site” in 2017 restructuring plans. Was closure of its MFP Recycled Machines business but also investment in customer experience centre and product lines eg 3D printing. Ricoh Europe Finance in UK is treasury/funding for Ricoh Group – changed currency to Euro 2017. R UK acquired Ridgian 2015 and fully integrated 2017. 2018 acquired Moving Ahead and Women Ahead (social enterprise)
7 Sony 3,483 Registered Sony Europe BV overseas establishment in UK in Aug 2018. Merged Sony DADC UK with Austria Branch to form Sony DADC Europe in UK 2017.
8 Mitsubishi Corporation 3,170 MC International Europe transferred shares in Triland Metal and Princes (food and drink manufacturer) to Japan HQ.
9 Toyota 3,095 No longer producing Avensis. Will produce new Auris (changing name to Corolla) from Burnaston from end 2018. Warning Oct 2 2018 that no deal Brexit would stop production
10 Dentsu 2,851 Dentsu acquired John Brown Publishing, eCommera 2015. Liveposter 2016. The Customer Framework and Gleam Futures 2017
11 Canon 2,728
12 SoftBank 2,418 Acquisition of ARM 2016
13 Marubeni 2,300 Half of employees = Marubeni Automotive (car dealerships)
14 NTT 2,211 NTT Data Services formed 2016 to absorb Dell IT services unit. NTT and NTT Data, Dimension Data to merge globally
17 Nomura 2,194 Nomura Financial Products Europe GmbH granted securities trading license May 2018. Negotiating for Paris to be post Brexit banking/lending hub Oct 4 2018
16 Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Goup 2,194 Amsterdam to be base for post Brexit investment and securities business
15 NSG (Pilkington) 2,159 Architectural and automotive glass
18 Mitsui Sumitomo & Aioi Nissay Dowa 1,933 MS Amlin (acquired 2015/6) announced June 2017 (approved June 2018) setting up post Brexit EU base in Brussels and restructuring of UK March 2018. Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance shut down PLC and converted to Societas Europeae. Ownership of Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance transferred from Europe to Japan 2018
19 Denso 1,897 Automotive manufacturing
20 NYK Group 1,875 Container shipping merged into Ocean Network Express 2017/8
21 Calsonic Kansei 1,778 CK Europe UK HQ also owns CK Spain and CK Russia – expanding business there
22 Sumitomo Rubber 1,762 Sumitomo Rubber acquired tyre distributor Micheldever in 2017
23 Konica Minolta 1,572
24 Mitsubishi Electric 1,511 Made submission to Migration Advisory Committee 2018
25 Outsourcing 1,506 Outsourcing acquired Ntrinsic 2015, Liberata, JBW, Orizon, Allen Lane 2016, Northgate 2018
26 Yazaki 1,462 Automotive manufacturing
27 Unipres 1,396 Investing for next generation Nissan Juke to be launched 2019
28 Brother Industries 1,384 Brother acquired Domino Printing 2015
29 Olympus 1,348 Medical equipment
30 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group 1,339 Established German entity to deal with Brexit risk
TOTAL 88,176
© Rudlin Consulting Ltd

If you would like more detailed analyses, by sector or individual companies, please contact pernilledotrudlinatrudlinconsultingdotcom, outlining the kind of areas you would like covered – we can incorporate a range of data and information in English and Japanese, covering the history, development and structure of Japanese companies in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

*greater part of year occurs in 2017, eg Apr to Mar 2018 or Jan to Dec 2017. Total of all employees at subsidiaries in UK consolidated at group level in Japan


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Brexitwatch Top 30 Japanese Employers October 4 2018

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Brexit watch – Top 30 Japanese companies in the UK

We’ve been tracking the 30 biggest Japanese employers in the UK for over 3 years now, so it seems a good moment as Brexit draws nearer to see what changes they have made over the past three years, explicitly or implicitly, to prepare for Brexit and beyond. Overall, the top 30 Japanese companies in the UK have had a good 3 years’ in the UK, with total number employed increasing by nearly 15% to just under 90,000, out of the 140,000 employed by 1000 Japanese companies that is usually cited. I even wonder whether that 140,000 ought to be revised substantially upwards, as I believe the estimate dates from 2015.

However the average increase conceals some hefty drops (Fujitsu, Nomura and Yazaki) and substantial increases – the latter largely due to acquisitions.

Nearly every annual report from the companies that make up the 30 biggest Japanese employers mentions Brexit, but few state explicitly what actions they have taken to deal with the risk, unless they are financial services companies facing regulatory issues.  Most note that the outcome is uncertain, and that they are monitoring and planning.

No tax haven please we’re Japanese

As well as Brexit, another factor that some Japanese companies in the UK have to take into account is the tightening of the Japanese tax haven law.  Passive income such as dividends and royalties, if received in a country with a corporate tax below 20%, will be subject to charges from the Japanese tax authorities.  The UK corporation tax rate is 19%, due to go down in stages to 17% and Theresa May has recently promised “whatever your business, investing in a post-Brexit Britain will give you the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G20.”

As I stated in my speech to the UK Tax Forum, because of their long term, stakeholder oriented, risk averse ethos, Japanese companies are not really interested in the UK as a tax haven. Panasonic, seen as a bellwether in terms of corporate governance in Japan, cited the tax law as the reason to move its headquarter function from the UK to the Netherlands, where the headline rate of corporate tax is 25% (although sweetheart deals can be done). I also think that the decision of the European headquarters in the UK of trading companies Sumitomo Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation to sell their shares in investments such as Princes and Triland Metals in the UK to their Japan headquarters is part of this drive – to avoid being seen as using the UK as a tax haven for their dividend earnings.

Whose standards are they anyway?

Japanese companies would be more interested in the second part of May’s statement – “you will access service industries and a financial center in London that are the envy of the world, the best universities, strong institutions, a sound approach to public finance and a consistent and dependable approach to high standards but intelligent regulation”.

But of course the question they will be asking is “whose high standards?”

There are around 200 Japanese companies with manufacturing in the UK, and we estimate around 50% of their production on average goes to the EU (excluding the UK). 30% is to the UK and the remainder to the rest of the world. In Toyota’s case, over 80% of their production in the UK is exported to the EU. So it’s no surprise that, as repeatedly stated, including in the Japanese Ministry of Finance’s “Message to the UK and the EU” of a couple of years’ ago, Japanese business want harmonised regulations and standards across the UK and the EU.

All the Japanese financial services companies affected by EU regulation have taken action – Hitachi Capital and MUFG have strengthened or set up bases in Amsterdam, MS&AD in Brussels, Sompo International in Luxembourg, SMFG, Mizuho and Nomura in Frankfurt.

The rise of the pure UK plays

Looking at who’s in and who’s out of the Top 30, the rise of “pure services” is noticeable, largely through acquisitions such as MS&AD acquiring Lloyds underwriters Amlin and InsureTheBox, Dentsu acquiring multiple advertising and marketing agencies in the UK, Outsourcing acquiring recruitment agencies and government debt collectors. Bubbling under are Park24, now the owner of National Car Parks. Many of these investments are very domestic UK market oriented, so Brexit proof in the sense that they are not reliant on the European single market in terms of supply chains, regulation or freedom of movement.

Conversely manufacturing companies have dropped out – such as JTI, with the closure of its Gallaher factory in Northern Ireland last year and Fujifilm, who have three different production sites in the UK.

Freedom of movement and solutions

As well as emphasising the need to harmonise regulations and standards, and ensure tariff free trade, the Japanese government “Message to the UK and the EU” of two years ago also pointed out that Japanese companies in all sectors employ large numbers of non-British EU nationals in the UK.  Because many of them have UK -based regional headquarters, or have design and engineering or customer support centres in the UK, they rely on the freedom of movement of these non-British EU nationals as well as the freedom of movement of British employees themselves, to visit or be seconded to client sites to provide pre sales, installation and aftercare support.  This also applies to Japanese engineers visiting the UK from Japan who at the moment are finding themselves being turned away because they gave the wrong answer at the border, saying they have come to the UK “to work”.

This last issue is likely to be raised quite insistently in any post Brexit trade deal between Japan and the UK, and if not solved, I would expect to see the numbers employed by the Top 30 in the UK to fall in the years to come.

Click below to see the rankings (pdf file)

Brexit watch Top 30 Japanese employers in the UK Sep 2018 Rudlin Consulting Ltd

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Which Japanese companies have the most non-Japanese employees?

There are more than 80 listed Japanese companies who have more non-Japanese than Japanese employees, but are they truly global companies?

The companies with the largest proportions of non-Japanese employees are mostly electronics manufacturers with factories in Asia and China – Foster Electric (98.9% of its employees are non-Japanese), UMC Electronics (98.5%), Mabuchi Motor (96.4%) and Minebea Mitsumi (91.6%) for example.

Two of these have no non-Japanese in management positions, according to Toyo Keizai. (who define “management” as having management positions in the Japan headquarters). Minebea Mitsumi (with 9 non-Japanese managers representing 0.5% of management) has at least set a goal of having 10% of its management to be “diverse” and Toyo Keizai says there are more cases of, say, a Thai employee being seconded to Indonesia and then moving to Japan headquarters as part of a management development path – something that is more common in Western multinationals.

The Japanese company with the largest number of non-Japanese employees in absolute terms is Sumitomo Electric Industries – a big employer in the Europe, Middle East & Africa region too – with several automotive wire harness factories in Africa.  Other companies with large numbers of non-Japanese include the NYK group (due to employees manning ships and other logistics operatives) and NTT (who have acquired large multinational IT services companies like Dimension Data).

In terms of largest proportions or absolute numbers of non-Japanese in management in their headquarters, Nissan with 163 non-Japanese managers (5.9%) and Nomura with 181 non-Japanese managers (4.1% of management) are the standout companies in Toyo Keizai’s Top 100. The only other companies in the ranking with non Japanese management in double figures are Panasonic (27), Honda (15), Denso (15), Dentsu (14), Fujifilm (14), Fujitsu (14), and Daikin (10).

It is very tough being one of a handful of non-Japanese managers in Japan HQ, and I would agree with Toyo Keizai’s implication, that to offer truly global careers in a global company, both to Japanese and non-Japanese employees, the number of non-Japanese in management positions in the headquarters need to increase substantially in order to reach the kind of critical mass that makes a difference.

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How Japanese risk aversion explains reactions to Brexit and whether UK should join the CPTPP

I was a panellist for the UK Trade Forum on 25th September 2018, on Japanese business and government viewpoints in response to the UK’s request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, TPP as was, often known in Japan as the TP11)

The Chatham House rule was invoked, but I believe that I am allowed to report what I said, so long as I don’t attribute any comments to the other speakers.

As I only had 10 minutes, I decided to focus on risk aversion to explain Japanese reactions to Brexit and the UK joining the CPTPP.  Even so, I had to drop the final part of my speech, so I will add this back in at the end:

“I have spent more than 45 years now living in or visiting Japan and working with or for more than 200 Japanese companies, and one generalisation I feel I can make, even though I am well aware of the dangers of stereotyping, is that Japan as a nation – as well as Japanese companies – are highly risk averse.

The geopolitical angle

I was reminded of this when I attended a lecture by Koji Tsuruoka last week, the current Japanese Ambassador to the UK, who was also the chief negotiator for Japan for the TPP. He gave a very powerful, thought-provoking speech, tackling head-on controversial subjects like Japan’s behaviour in WWII, whaling, defending Big Pharma IP interests in trade negotiations and so on, in a way that didn’t seem strictly necessary given it was an audience of Japanophiles, but I think his message, on reflection, was very clear.  Japan feels very vulnerable, with neighbours such as China and North Korea and Russia, and supposed allies and defenders such as the USA now behaving unpredictably, and it needs a rules based international order because it is energy and resource poor and relies on other countries for imports of these things.  WIthout a rules based international order being adhered to, countries behave unpredictably, and this can lead to war.

So this is why Tsuruoka and other Japanese government representatives and ministers have been very positive and welcoming of the UK wanting to join the CPTPP or roll over the EU-Japan EPA, even if the practicalities of this are not clear. They worry that the UK leaving the EU means the UK is also leaving that rules based international order, so needs to be roped back in somehow.

Why are Japanese companies so risk averse?

So that’s the geopolitical side to this – for the rest of my ten minutes I want to look at the Japanese business side, and three sectors in particular, what kind of trends we are seeing and how they are reacting to Brexit and what TPP might contribute in terms of mitigation or otherwise.

So why are Japanese companies so risk averse?  I think it’s because they operate on a very different model to the Anglo Saxon, short term, shareholder value model. It could be called a stakeholder model, but primarily the motivation is not to make a quick profit, but long term survival. So they don’t want to do anything so risky as to jeopardise that, and they are very hot on ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance – issues.  It’s one of the really good things about Japanese companies, why I am still a fan.

So when the Japan bashing started happening in the 1980s, and many Japanese remember Americans taking hammers to Japanese cars, Japanese companies decided that foreign direct investment was the way forward, and started up factories in the USA and of course also in the UK, with Nissan, and then Honda and Toyota.

They chose the UK – and the UK is the recipient of 40% of Japan’s cumulative FDI into the EU, and has the largest Japanese population in the EU, including intra-company transferees – (but both those numbers are declining these past couple of years – I leave that to you to conclude why, but a hostile environment certainly isn’t helping) – because the UK was seen as a stable, rules based system, low risk place to invest, and of course because we were then members of the EU and a gateway into the EU.

So what is happening now with Brexit in terms of Japanese risk aversion, is that it is tipping them into making decisions and directions they were going in anyway.  Looking at the three main sectors of Japanese investment in the UK – automotive and supply chains, IT and electronics and “pure” services – these sectors make up the bulk of the around 1000 Japanese companies in the UK, employing around 140,000 people.  Actually many of the 1000 don’t really count because they are paper companies, brass plates, or several versions of the same company, but there are 30 or so really big employers who make up more than half of those 140,000 employees.

Automotive supply chains – a pivot to a new chain of right hand driving nations?

So for Japanese companies, trade negotiations aren’t really about trade in products so much any more, more about protecting their foreign investments.  Even then, to be realistic, the EU only makes up around 10% of Japanese companies’ turnover.  Asia is still the really big market outside of Japan, and within that, China, and then secondly the US.  And the UK is probably only around 10% of the EU total.  But the UK is also host to a lot of regional HQs and of course the three car plants.

The main trends you see in the automotive supply chains is that they are shifting eastwards in Europe, to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Japanese car manufacturers also have factories in Russia and Turkey, and the suppliers – of wire harnesses for example – have factories in Africa.  So Brexit is accelerating that shift.

Can the CPTPP help with this?  Well I suppose there are a large number of CPTPP members who are right hand driving like the UK, but when you look at what sells in Australasia for Toyota, it’s pick up trucks like the Hilux, whereas Toyota in the UK is manufacturing the Auris/Corolla.  I suppose that shift could happen – at least then there is access to a market of over 100 million, which is supposed to be the minimum to sustain an automotive supply chain.  Honda is already trying to sell half of its Civic production from Swindon to the US, so it could happen, despite the distance.

Information technology and electronics – integrated disintegration

You’re also seeing a shift in the power balance in those supply chains, towards the components suppliers, and IT, because of Big Data, the Internet of Things and so on.  Which brings me to the second major sector – information & communication technology, electronics etc.  Here you’re seeing what I call an integrated disintegration. Japanese companies are becoming more B2B, solutions based, and trying to integrate back office functions, but also customer support, technical support into low cost locations with multilingual educated workforces – so in Europe this would be Portugal, or Poland.

But at the same time, the regional management and sales are becoming more dispersed.  Anyone who has worked in a multinational as I did working at Fujitsu will know what this means – endless fights about who gets what in terms of money or actually doing the work, and whereas the UK often won those fights, I am beginning to see signs that Japanese companies are reverting back to the country model, are finding the matrix system just too tough.  If you’ve ever run a global or regional virtual team, as I did, you can understand why.  So there is a drift away from the UK and to Germany or the Netherlands, as we’ve seen with Panasonic, and it would seem also Sony now, accelerated by Brexit. And that’s bad news for UK suppliers of services to those Japanese companies.

Pure services also need a rule based international order

But Panasonic did not just cite Brexit as a reason for moving its headquarters to the Netherlands. It was also to do with the tightening of Japan’s tax haven rules from April of this year. Dividends and other “passive income” in Japan’s overseas subsidiaries will be the subject of attention of Japanese tax authorities, regardless of how much real business activity they are undertaking, if the corporate tax rate is below 20%.  And of course the UK’s is 19% and due to decrease further – reiterated by the Chancellor after the referendum to show that the UK is still open for business.

But actually this is not appealing to Japanese companies.  Nor is the “chlorinated chicken” approach about deregulating or having looser environmental or other regulations of much interest to Japanese companies. They want to maintain high standards, and like robust, thorough rules – again, because of the risk aversion.

But there are cultural issues beyond the need for a rules based international order

Although Japanese companies really like being in the UK and I think a lot of the commercial and financial sector companies, like Japanese banks, or trading companies like Mitsubishi Corporation that I used to work for, have no intention of entirely shifting their regional headquarters out of the the UK despite Brexit, if they can help it, one thing that keeps me in business is the cultural gap between Japan’s very process and rule oriented way of managing and the more principles based, some might say “winging it” approach of British management.

I believe Japan is still very reluctant to open up its public procurement and professional services sector, even to the UK, and I can see why. There is not really a developed set of professional specialists the way we have in the UK.  Most Japanese employees follow a generalist track.  So in trade negotiations, such as the CPTTP or the EPA, it must be very difficult to find common terminology in order to agree any rules for recognition of qualifications, or mutual understanding of governance principles for services, much more difficult than defining standards for products.  “Risk” in Japanese is the same word that is used for “crisis”. So it has a very negative meaning, and the neutral concept of risk management is not translatable into Japanese as a result.



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How Japan’s supply chains are changing

Japan’s famous supply chains are under threat, and not just from Brexit and trade wars.  One of the great strengths of Japan Inc, particularly in the automotive industry, was to build eco systems of long term collaborative relationships between the Original Equipment Manufacturers or “brand name” manufacturers and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.  However the final product manufacturers were very much in the driving seat, pushing just-in-time delivery and constant pressure on cost efficiencies.

“In the past, when there was a delay in delivery the sales GM of the supplier would be on the phone to us to apologise”, says THK, a major manufacturer of machine components. “Now, we have to phone them, and they often won’t come to the phone.”

Nikkei Business highlights three reasons why this shift in the power balance has occurred:

  1. A decline in the number of smaller (less than 300 employees) suppliers in Japan

This was in part due to the final product manufacturers moving their factories overseas since the 1980s, which meant that many domestic suppliers could no longer stay in business. The remaining suppliers found themselves having to turn down orders from major manufacturers as they did not have the capacity.

2. Increased demand for high quality technology and components overseas

China in particular has been focusing on improving its hi tech manufacturing capability and has come to rely on Japan’s high quality, high performance components.

3.  Increased demand domestically for highly specialised technology

It’s becoming clear that final product manufacturers cannot go it alone in developing highly specialised technology for Industry 4.0 so Japanese final product manufacturers are having to collaborate with specialized suppliers as equals, rather than sub contractors.

So what do suppliers need to do to cope with this new eco-system?

It is dangerous for suppliers to become too reliant on one industry or one customer. Technology developed for the automotive industry can now also be used for robotics or aerospace.  There are risks to doing business with new customers.  They might steal the technology and ask Korean or Chinese suppliers to imitate it.  Which means Japanese suppliers have to make sure their technology is difficult to imitate.  But new customers that suppliers can grow with are preferable to having to compete on lead times and cost in the automotive industry.  It means Japanese suppliers have to become clearer on what their unique strengths are.

“You can improve your commercial appeal in ways other than technology.  It’s important to focus your marketing on what your customer needs are” says Yuki Yamamoto, GM of corporate strategy at Hilltop.

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Seminar: What can the UK learn from CPTPP negotiations & should it join?

When: Tuesday 25 September 2018  –  8.00-10.00

Where: Kings College London, Rooms SW 1.17 & SW 1.18 (The Moot Court and the Ante Room)

The UK Government has opened a consultation on whether we should apply to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after we leave the UK. CPTPP is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which has been signed but not entered into force.

Please join the UK Trade Forum and Kings College London to discuss the issue further. We are delighted to welcome Vangelis Vitalis, who is Deputy Secretary at New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was their Chief Negotiator for CPTPP from 2017 to 2018. He will be joined on the panel by Sir Martin Donnelly, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Trade, and Pernille Rudlin, an expert in UK-Japan business relations.


8.00 am: Registrations and coffee

8.45: Welcome from organisers

8.50: Chair’s opening remarks – Guy de Jonquières, Co-Founder UK Trade Forum, former Financial Times World Trade Editor

8.55: Keynote speech –  Vangelis Vitalis, Deputy Secretary, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade & former chief CPTPP negotiator

9.15: Sir Martin Donnelly, former Permanent Secretary, Department for International Trade

9.25:   Pernille Rudlin, Managing Director, Rudlin Consulting

9.35: Questions and discussion

10.00: Close

This event will be held under the Chatham House rule

To register, follow this link.

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As well as being foreign, it’s lucrative to retire from President to Chairman in Japan

“You need to be foreign, selling wigs or pachinko machines in order to be well paid as an executive in Japan”, I said in a blog post last year, when Toyo Keizai crunched their amazing database again and came out with  pay differentials for TSE listed Japanese companies,, finding that foreign executives at Nissan and Takeda, as well as presidents of Artnature (the wig company) or Universal Entertainment (pachinko) are the best paid. To which I will now add, “or retire”. Japan pays even humble managers nice big retirement bonuses, so I guess it’s no surpise that these are even more generous, if you’re a retiring executive – moving from President to Chairman particularly.

Toyo Keizai has crunched the numbers again, this time focusing on individual executives rather than companies. Sony‘s former President, now Chairman Kaz Hirai comes out top with Y2.7bn/$24m total package, thanks to his large retirement pay off and performance bonus. After that, it’s mostly non-Japanese again – number 2 is Joe DePinto, President of the 7-11 convenience store chain (the holding company 7 & I is Japanese) with Y2.4bn, then three board directors at SoftBank – Ron Fisher, Marcelo Claure and Rajeev Misra – the President of Softbank ‘s mobile side, Ken Miyauchi, is at #12. If you’re wondering about Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank, he doesn’t feature in Toyo Keizai’s Top 100, as he was only paid $1.2m.

Eduardo Minardi at #6 is another retiree, this time from Bridgestone.  Christophe Weber, the CEO of Takeda Pharma, is at #7 (his fellow board member and CMO Andy Plump is at #34). Kinya Seto, president of LIXIL, is at #8 and another retiree, Ryota Akazawa, former president (and a member of the founding family) at Fuso Chemical is #9.  Didier Leroy at Toyota is #10 (Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota is at #52).

For more details, the Nikkei Asian Review reported in English on a similar analysis by Tokyo Shoko Research earlier this year, which you can find here.

Executives at the biggest Japanese companies in Europe fared as follows:

Nissan: Chairman Carlos Ghosn at #18 with $6.5m, current President Hiroto Saikawa #36

Itochu: Chairman (retired from Presidency 2018) Masahiro Okafuji at #31 with $5m

Nomura: Koji Nagai #45 $3.8m

Fujifilm: Chairman Shigetaka Komori #46 $3.8m

Mitsubishi Corp: President Takehiko Kakiuchi #62

Canon: Chairman Fujio Mitarai #63 $3m

Hitachi: Toshiaki Higashihara #74

Dentsu: Tim Andree #75 $2.7m

Mitsubishi Electric: Chairman (retired as President 2018) Masaaki Sakuyama #88 $2.5m

Side note for Japanese corporate governance buffs, there are a LOT of Tokyo Electron executives in the Top 100 – at least 10.  Tokyo Electron forms about 40% of Tokyo Broadcasting’s securities portfolio, and caused UK based shareholder activists Asset Value Investors to call TBS “an amateur fund with a small broadcasting business” and demand that they sell off their Tokyo Electron shares.







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Seminar: Managing Employee Mobility between UK and Japan

Pernille Rudlin is speaking at a seminar on Managing Employee Mobility between UK and Japan on September 11th in London. You can register for free on Eventbrite.

It is hosted by Gerson Relocation and Koyanagi  in association with Willis Towers Watson featuring specialist Japanese mobility experts who will examine how to manage mobility and benefits strategies between these two key global economies.

If you are an employer involved in managing employee benefits and/or assignments between Japan and the UK, this is an essential update to ensure the smooth running of your programme.


Tom Standring – Head of Global Mobility, Hitachi Europe Ltd.

James Coker – Associate Director / Consultant, Health & Benefits, Willis Towers Watson

Abi Frederick – Senior Associate, Employement Law, Lewis Silkin

Chi Lam – Japan Tax Specialist, Greenback Alan LLP

John Koyanagi – Owner, Koyanagi Worldwide

Helen Collingsworth – AIRINC data

Li Xiang – Immigration specialist focusing on Japan

Pernille Rudlin – Japan Intercultural Consulting


The format will divided into two main sessions, encompassing presentations from key speakers and additional content provided by subject matter experts. Each session will involve key presentations from the panel and interactive open table discussion opportunities.

Attendees will benefit from seeing how other heads of mobility and HR manage their mobility programmes. We will also look at the relocating employee aspect, in particular from the perspective of bringing Japanese assignees to the UK and sending your employees on assignment to Japan.


Arrive for networking over coffees and teas.


Global Mobility Programme Design and Policy
An introduction to Japanese global mobility and strategies presented by Head of Global Mobility.

Employee Benefits Strategy
Key considerations regarding managing your benefits strategy.


Japan Immigration & Tax Considerations
Japan immigration update with working visas for Japanese employees coming to the UK and sending employees to Japan. Reporting, compliance considerations and managing risk.

Relocation, Moving & Housing
Housing budgets, schooling options, customs requirements, banking and settling-in.

Managing Risk and Culture Shock!
What you need to consider to make each assignment a success.


An opportunity to network with your peers and to meet the speakers and subject matter experts.


This is for employers with offices in Japan and the UK: HR, Head of Global Mobility, Comp & Benefits professionals, International Reward.

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No surprise it’s the Netherlands as the Japanese preferred alternative to the UK post Brexit

The choice of the Netherlands for Panasonic’s new financial and tax base for its pan European business, to be shifted out of the UK  in October of this year to prepare for Brexit comes as no surprise – even though most of Panasonic’s regional business coordination is in Germany.  In fact I even predicted Amsterdam would be a top choice for Japanese companies in 2013 when Brexit proofing strategies were first being discussed.

As pointed out in a previous post, the Netherlands has a relatively high density of Japanese company transferees, 4th in Europe after Luxembourg, UK and Belgium. This population has been expanding rapidly since 2015 too – 23% more Japanese people on company transfers in 2017 compared to 2015. The number of Japanese companies in the Netherlands has not risen much over the three years, however.  So most of these transfers will have been in order to strengthen presence there, rather than start up a new operation.

The attractions of the Netherlands as an alternative to the UK over Germany are not only that is easy to function in English, but also that Amsterdam/Amstelveen area has long had a good infrastructure of networking opportunities with an active Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch & Japanese Trade Federation, and plenty of lawyers and financial services companies with experience of supporting Japanese companies (who have been busy recently offering Brexit seminars and advice).  The Amsterdam lifestyle is congenial, and there is a long history of mostly good relations between the Netherlands and Japan.

Which is not to say that Germany has been left out either – according to Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs figures, Germany still has the most number of Japanese companies in Europe – 703, if only incorporated subsidiaries are counted, rather than branches.  This represents a net increase of 20 companies over the past three years,with 8% more Japanese company expats in Japan in 2017 compared to 2015.

The UK is home to the second largest number of Japanese companies in Europe – 471*, and this has remained more or less unchanged in the past three years, and there has been a small decline in the number of Japanese expats posted there.  As can be seen in the map below, Japanese companies are still most concentrated in the big Western European economies:

Crunching the numbers against population size reveals some interesting results – Netherlands has a high density, as you might expect, but Finland turns out to have a higher density – with a  larger number of Japanese companies than you would expect, given the size of its market.  Most of the 46 Japanese companies in Finland in our database are technology or machinery sector, often with production in Finland.  The highest density country, just as it was with numbers of Japanese expats, is Luxembourg – but of course it only has a half million population.  The Czech Republic and Hungary also have a high density of Japanese companies – again a large proportion being manufacturing.  Of the big Western European economies, Spain and Italy have relatively fewer Japanese companies than you might expect.

The really interesting story is where the shifts have been over the past three years – there is one clear winner – Czech Republic – it is home to 82% more Japanese companies than three years’ ago.  Other growth spots are Sweden, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and Switzerland. Big losers have been Italy, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece and Latvia (although admittedly, some of these did not have many Japanese companies to start with).

Newcomers to the Czech Republic that we are aware of have mostly been in the automotive industry: Central Glass, Linical (clinical research organisation), Nippon Paint Automotive Coatings, Hakuto (trading company), Obara (automotive welding products) and Tsubaki Automotive.

So the growth in company numbers is to the east and Nordics, mainly in manufacturing.  The consolidation and integration of services sector business and functions across Europe is benefitting the Netherlands most of all.


*The commonly used figures for Japanese companies in the UK are 800 or 1000.  There at least that many Japanese entities in the UK but some of them are multiple branches, or joint ventures or brass plate only.  I have used the narrow definition of what is called “honten” in Japanese – the main organisation/parent company, to aid accuracy and comparisons.

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German workstyle versus Japanese customer convenience

You can’t have German workstyles and Japanese customer convenience, says Shion Amemiya, a 26 year old Japanese woman who has been living and working in Germany for 4 years and has now written a book about it.  The book hits a nerve in Japan because of the pressure companies are under to reform their workplace cultures and cut back on overtime.  Germany is often pointed to as an example of a thriving economy where people don’t do overtime and take plenty of holidays.

Germany has one of the highest overtime rates in the EU, she says in an article in the Toyo Keizai. Actually, looking at Eurostat’s 2018 figures, the UK has the highest number of hours worked per week per full time worker and Germany is somewhere in the middle.

She points out that Germans will do overtime, if there is work that needs to be finished, although there are more Germans who will stick to their rights and leave on time regardless then there are in Japan.  But as she notes, those kinds of people will not be well evaluated by bosses or colleagues.

Overtime is worked in order to finish a job, and there is a lot less “face time” overtime in Germany than in Japan.  Also, if overtime is worked on one day, Germans will then work fewer hours to compensate for this the next day, she observes.

As for holidays – she says what is great for the holiday taker is not so wonderful for the end user. She notes how in the summer, offices are empty, but that also meant that the local government officials, dentists and doctors she wanted appointments with were also away on holiday, and her favourite cafe was shut. Often, the person away is the person in charge, and nobody else can take care of their work while they are gone, and you are told to wait a month.

In Japan customers will insist on the person in charge being contacted even if they are on holiday, but in Germany she notes, customers and suppliers are seen as equals, with mutual rights – “I take a holiday, so I must accommodate other people taking holidays.”

Because people don’t take much holiday in Japan, it is a convenient country – shops are always open, the person in charge is always available.  Just copying another country without realising the drawbacks is pointless.  Japan needs to come up with workstyle changes that are appropriate to Japan, she concludes.


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