An Insider's comments on Japan's high tech business world

* * * * * * * * 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, Oct 30, 2017, Issue No. 920

– What’s New — Four Golden Rules for Hiring Good Japanese Staff
– News — Delay in implementation of minpaku law
– Upcoming Events
– Corrections/Feedback
– Travel Picks — Japan’s best burgers, in Fukushima; Hostel in Shibuya
– News Credits

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As many readers will know, we used to run Japan’s first online
mid-career recruiting website, a specialty site for bilinguals, called At the time DaiJob started, in 1998, there was exactly
one other online recruiting site in all of Japan, which was a Recruit
site for university graduates. No one offered a mid-career recruiting
site because it was considered shameful in a society of lifetime jobs to
think of betraying one’s company and jumping somewhere else. This of
course made it extremely difficult for startups and foreign firms
arriving in Japan to find staff, and so provided a fertile environment
for the growth of headhunter firms.

It’s amazing how things have changed in the last 20 years, and now the
average young Japanese changes jobs 3 times before they are 30 (an
unofficial industry statistic). There are of course still many elites
who go to a good school, join a brandname company, and who would never
consider changing employers until they retire, but the companies hiring
these types of employees, mostly listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, in
any case only hire about 15% of the nation’s workers. It’s the other 85%
who are the job hoppers and thus are a new mid-career resource pool for
employers. Then of course there is the occasional scandal at major firms
such as Toshiba, which has created such an outflow of talent that
Toshiba is having trouble keeping its operations running smoothly.

So if there is an increase in job mobility, why is it still so difficult
for small business operators to find staff?

There are 4 major reasons that we can think of:

1. The exit of roughly 10m workers from the Dankai no Sedai (Baby
Boomer) generation between 2007 and 2014 (depending on the retirement
age of each person), has put unusual pressure on the labor market supply
side. This is about 15% of the workforce, and although many more women
are entering the workforce, they are not enough to fill the vacated

2. In an era of ongoing international uncertainty, most Japanese workers
over 30 are thinking of families and want security over personal growth.
Of course small companies are not considered financially stable and so
any job hopping being done is generally into the brands that the media
and their mom’s have been telling them to follow. Workers under 30 are
certainly more impetuous and free of ties (other than what Mom thinks)
and so are more interested in following a personal aspiration, opting
out of the formal job economy completely, or going overseas to study now
that they have some money in the bank. The challenge is that this
transient group needs more effort to get their attention.

3. Desirable candidates who are thinking of changing their jobs for
something more aspirational are generally biding their time, researching
and considering their options. At some point they decide to make their
move, they’re on a roll, and as an employer you have a very short window
of opportunity before they commit to someone else. Hooking up with these
people is a mix of serendipity and timing. We see all too many small
companies come across great candidates but who then pass on them because
they are not ready to hire another person yet. Then a few months later
they are desperate for someone.

4. It’s a noisy world out there, and as a small company you’re probably
hard to find. We feel it’s the duty of all small business
managers to be in recruiting mode continuously, and to be creating
content and connections for consumption by the outside world that will
further that aim.

So how do you overcome these challenges? How do you create an ongoing
flow of candidates that takes the pressure off having to hire the next
warm body coming through the door when a vacancy becomes really urgent?
We have four golden rules that have stood us in good stead over the last
34 years of business in Japan. Note that none of these rules involves
using a job board or a recruiter, and it goes without saying that both
methods can be effective if you really need someone tomorrow. The thing
is that recruiting channels are not only much more expensive, they also
mean you’re pressured into ignoring your instincts in exchange for
nice-looking resumes and good-enough interviews.

—————– Kashima Arts “Bisai” ——————–

Kashima Arts is holding a special exhibition and sale called “Bisai”
until November 5th, at their gallery at Kyobashi, Tokyo. Around 430
selected artworks – from Katsuhika Hokusai, Ito Jakuchu, to Leonard
Foujita – are on display and for sale. You can touch and feel the
artworks on display at the gallery. Kyosai Kawanabe Exhibition will also
be concurrently held at Kashima Arts.

Access: Kashima Arts Gallery, 3-3-2, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 10am – 6pm *open every day during the exhibition

[…Article continues]

1. The number one method of getting good candidates is the law of
natural attraction – meaning, you need to look attractive and need to be
visible online and in your network. If you are looking for young
Japanese bilinguals (who isn’t?) then you need to be online in places
where those people will be looking – either in Japanese (preferable,
because most people are better persuaded in their native language) or in
English, since this is where they would be looking for better salaries
and conditions. Not just social media like Facebook and Linked In, you
should also be posting to your own blog and your company’s website.

Online we always try to humanize the leader (ever wonder why Japanese
company websites have a President’s page?) and inspire the viewer that
we are doing something that they personally want to contribute to. We
tend to focus on exciting new technologies, new international markets,
international working environments, and our differences to traditional
Japanese firms.

For our network of friends and supporters (almost ten thousand people)
we maintain regular channels of communication such as this newsletter,
and allow this network to continuously introduce us to new candidates.
Does this mean we can “turn on” this network when we need a person? No.
Generally speaking, unless you’re a headhunter and specialize in
contacts with people actively looking for new jobs, your network is not
going to magically introduce someone to you. Instead, you have to plan
ahead and be ready when the right person comes along. Which leads us to
Rule No. 2…

2. You need to be flexible. Most operators of small companies are overly
concerned about budget control and physical space – which means that
they are less likely to hire someone when they don’t particularly need
them there and then. But the fact is that the best people are not
conveniently available when you’re ready to hire. Instead, they have
their own personal circumstances and desires that push them into action,
and if you’re not ready to take them on when they appear, you will have
gained a short-term conservation of resources but lost a long-term
source of growth. We are growth-oriented, and would rather adjust our
workforce in some other way (Let that persistent low-performer go?
Automate that unnecessary administration job?) rather than lose the
opportunity to take on an outstanding candidate.

3. You need to be looking in the right places. Candidates looking for
new positions are typically found in rich clusters, just like veins of
gold. If we’re looking for young bilinguals, we’re going to make
ourselves known to young adults who are returning to Japan after
studying abroad. This means being visible on intern sites, publishing
opinions about your industry on your blog so that it will be indexed by
Google, and reaching out to specific universities to post on their job
boards and take part in their recruiting fairs.

4. You need to be ready to hire on personality and drop the experience
in later. This is a philosophical decision – whether to hire a trained
person who is ready to go, or someone who has great attitude and
aptitude but no experience. Our philosophy is that there are very few
jobs that you can’t train someone for over a reasonable period of time –
with the possible exception of certain licensed positions and high-end
technical positions (and for those you can probably make do with a
non-Japanese-speaking foreign person).

How long will we wait for the experience to kick in? Around 6-12 months.
Of course you can argue that with a headhunter’s fee of 3 months, that
is more efficient than paying out for 6 months for a similar output. But
the fact is that taking someone and giving them the new skills they need
not only gets you a skilled person, it also buys you time to learn
whether the candidate is the real deal, it brings you loyalty, and over
the following 2 years or so, it offers a lower wage base for comparative
services. Again, it’s a case of long-term versus short-term thinking.

Lastly, Japan Travel did a small fund-raising back in June-July, which
went well and the company continues to roll out new services and grow.
Thank you to those readers who have become shareholders. We still have
one small tranche of shares that wasn’t taken up, and so these are still
available on the same terms and conditions. Anyone interested in buying
in to, please contact Terrie at All inquiries are confidential and

…The information janitors/


——– Kurashinity Housekeeping Service, by Pasona ——

“Kurashinity” is an affordable, top-tier housekeeping service produced
by Japan’s leading human resource company, Pasona Inc.
Kurashinity provides skilled Filipina housekeepers who are hospitable,
professional, and trained to maintain the cleanliness of your lovely home.

Packages start with two-hour cleaning sessions twice a month for a 1LDK
apartment and three-hour cleaning sessions twice a month for a 2LDK

Monthly packages start at a very reasonable JPY10,000. Service
registration has just started, so if you’re having a busy day today, why
not try our service? Our current service areas are Tokyo and Kanagawa.

Tel: 0120-700-809 (English and Japanese)
Register at

+++ NEWS

– Delay in implementation of minpaku law
– Teen sues school over hair dying rule
– Getting paid on time is hard in Japan
– Legal attack on tattooists
– Tax breaks for higher salaries?

=> Delay in implementation of minpaku law

Although the new Minpaku (Airbnb) law was supposed to be implemented by
March 2018, it now appears that the actual implementation will be June
or later. One cause is that the government, through the Japan Tourism
Agency (JTA), is allowing cities around the country to designate their
own subset of rules after the JTA rules are released (at the end of
March 2018). ***Ed: There seems to be some concern that some regions,
such as Kyoto, plan to introduce a draconian subset of rules so as to
make it difficult to run an Airbnb establishment in that city.
Anticipating this, the government has apparently said that it will
ensure that at least minpaku owners can open 180 days a year – so this
looks like it could become a major point of conflict.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Sep 09, 2017)

=> Teen sues school over hair dying rule

Another instance of Japan’s stupifyingly conformist education system can
be found in an Osaka law suit in which an 18-year old girl is seeking
damages of JPY2.2m for being forced by her school to dye her hair black,
even though the natural color is brown. The law suit states that she
suffered rashes and scalp irritation from the application of the dye.
***Ed: At the heart of the problem is the school’s assumption that all
Japanese have naturally black hair, which in today’s multicultural
environment is ridiculous. The rules are of course trying to tamp down
the non-conformist rebel kids who dye their hair other colors as a
challenge to authority – but clearly they discriminate against kids who
are not the right color. But then, Japan has no anti-discrimination
laws, so we’ll be surprised if this ex-student gets a favorable decision
from the court.** (Source: TT commentary from, Oct 27, 2017)

=> Getting paid on time is hard in Japan

A paper published by debt collection firm Atradius, offers up some
interesting stats on B2B payment problems in Japan and the greater Asia
Pacific (AP) region. For example, over 90% of international suppliers to
B2B customers in the region have experienced payment delays. China was
the most difficult market with 96% of payments being late, followed by
Singapore at 93.1% and India at 90.6%, and the best performer was Japan
with 74.7%. More specific to Japan, the nation had the highest
percentage of credit sales (versus cash in advance) and the average
payment period was 42 days.
(Source: TT commentary from, Oct 24, 2017)

=> Legal attack on tattooists

It’s hard to understand the mentality of the Japanese judiciary when
they feel they need to attack the tattoo profession and effectively
drive it back underground, with a ridiculous finding last month. The
Osaka District Court found a 29-year old tattooist arrested by police in
2015, guilty of operating without a medical license… ***Ed: Yes, you
read that correctly, the court’s view is that tattooists require a
medical license if they use tools that puncture human flesh. Yes, this
is old news, but as we’ve said previously, Japanese judges are a strange
lot – far removed from real life and notably lacking commonsense – which
is highly problematic given their role in society.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Sep 27, 2017)

=> Tax breaks for higher salaries?

Interesting rumor coming out of the Yomiuri Shimbun that the government
is considering lowering company tax rates for those firms giving their
staff pay raises of 3% or more. The tax reduction incentive will be
around 5%, from the current 29.97% to 25%. In spring 2017 the average
pay raise was just 1.98%. ***Ed: This tax cut incentive of course only
benefits the 30% of Japanese companies that actually make a profit, so
it’s not as magnanimous as it might first appear.** (Source: TT
commentary from, Oct 28, 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.


——– Harvest Festival 2017 tour by JapanTravel ——–

Enjoy a full day of wine-filled recreation at Harvest Festival 2017!
Held on the rolling hills of Ashikaga in Tochigi prefecture, this event
is organized by Coco Farm and Winery, formerly started to raise money
for autistic individuals. Enjoy different types of locally-produced wine
paired with delicious Kanto cuisine while relaxing on the grass and
listening to a live lineup of well-known Japanese musicians!

Japan Travel is organizing a tour to the festival on Saturday, 18th
November – this includes round-trip bus transportation to the event, an
English-speaking tour guide, and an entry package consisting of festival
memorabilia and a bottle of locally-produced red or white wine! Join our
group as an individual or book together with friends and family!

Book the tour here:
Contact us: 03-4588-2679


———- ICA Event – Thursday 1st November ————–

Speaker: Brent Reichow – CEO & Co-founder, Blueshift Data Protection
Title: “Rise of Ransomware is Stopping Businesses. How can your
organization Stay Resilient?”
Details: Complete event details at

Date: Thursday 1st November, 2017
Time: 6:30pm Doors open
Cost: 1,000 yen (members), 2,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No sign
ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 6pm on Monday 27th October 2017
Venue: TMT Bldg.,4-2-22 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku,Tokyo,150-0002


None this week.


—– TiE Japan Special Event: “My Story by Masi Oka” —–

Put your hand up if you watched all four seasons of “Heroes” ten years
ago when it came out? If you did, you would have followed the time/space
exploits of one of the central characters, Hiro Nakamura, played by
Japanese-American actor Mr. Masi Oka. Now you can meet Mr. Oka in real
life as part of a special Fireside Chat with TiE Japan, at the Startup
Hub here in Tokyo. Mr. Oka will be speaking about how he got into the
movies and his experiences in working on a worldwide hit TV series.

Who is TiE Japan? It’s the local chapter of the world’s largest
entrepreneur network (aspiring entrepreneurs also very welcome) –
fostering the next generation of business creators. [TiE Japan’s Facebook page for this event]


=> Fukushima Burger Summit, Koori Town
Vote for the best burgers of East Japan, then eat them!

Since 2014, a brouhaha of burger masters and their foodie fans have
gathered in Koori town, Fukushima Prefecture to decide the best burger
in East Japan – often by eating as many burgers as humanly possible! It
all started as a fun way to help East Japan revitalize through tourism
and in spirit after being struck by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Loosen that belt because this early autumn event happening in October is
getting bigger every year. 2016 marked a record attendance of 23,000
visitors. The rainy weather in 2017 caused a drop in attendance, but
those who made it out saw the number of burgers exhibited swell to over
30 varieties! What kind of burgers are there? Seemingly everything. Take
the local Koori town burger, for example. It features a Japanese pork
patty, local stir-fried veggies with a spicy miso sesame sauce and buns
made out of Koori rice flour. Using mostly local ingredients seems to be
an unwritten rule. The Namahage Burger from Akita is a beautiful
miniature tower of local black cow wagyu, high quality egg and fresh
lettuce, perfect for a monster appetite. Lamb and deer meat can also be
hunted down at other burger booths.…

=> Wise Owls Hostel in Shibuya
A fun, friendly hostel in the middle of Tokyo

A lot of the hostels in Tokyo are around the peaceful historical
district of Asakusa, and until recently there have been few budget
options in the livelier areas. However, this is changing and there are
now more central hostels such as Inno in Akasaka, and Wise Owls, an easy
walk to Shinsen or Shibuya stations.

The first floor is shared with Farmer’s Table Mother, a restaurant and
bar serving dishes made with organic seasonal vegetables, and when you
check in you’re greeted by both the cheerful English-speaking staff and
Meg, an animatronic bowing wooden owl. If you’re on a late-arriving
budget LCC flight, then you’ll still be OK, because check-in is open
until 2:00am.

They’ve made the most of the limited space: I didn’t count, but
according to the website, there are 97 beds across four floors, divided
into family rooms, twin or double rooms, or labyrinthine dorms. I was in
a dorm, but I was impressed by the comfort of my capsule, with a nice
thick mattress rather than a thin little futon thing, and the
soundproofing, that completely kept out noise from the main road
outside. I also enjoyed the aesthetic, with lots of wood, big numbers on
the walls and beds, and economical use of space, with cabinets in the
capsules and shoe-lockers under the steps to the upper beds.



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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (

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