Introduction to Companies in Osaka
National Australia Bank Limited
Interviews with foreign investors in Osaka 2009.12.10
National Australia Bank Limited
QWhat is your impression of Osaka and Kansai?
In 1996, I moved to Kobe (to reside) from Nagoya and worked in Osaka (Osaka Business Park) serving as the Australian Consul General in Osaka. So I experienced both Kobe and Osaka. What impressed me most was that doing business must be easier in Kansai, because, compared with Tokyo, people let you know Yes or No more clearly. In Tokyo, sometimes I still don’t know whether they mean Yes or No often causing delicate situations and taking too much time to decide one way or the other. But in Kansai, if they are interested, the response is “Yes, let’s go ahead”, and if not, it is “No, not interested”. I thought it a very effective approach in doing business.
Also in Kansai, there is an atmosphere among people to enjoy things. Apart from work as the work to be done, they are good at creating an atmosphere to enjoy it providing good food or organizing parties etc. That reminds me of the Latin atmosphere in southern Europe, in countries like Greece, Spain and Italy. But Tokyo seems to me more formal and conservative, similar to northern Europe. I felt Kansai had a softer, more enjoyable atmosphere that made doing business much easier.
Now looking at the economy of Osaka, I think Osaka still has great, strong potentials. Through the burst of the bubble economy and damages by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, they had various economic difficulties and still continue to have such difficulties amid global depression, but basically, Kansai remains strong on the solid foundation of its population and its companies that had been built. It may take some more time, but I feel that Kansai will eventually regain its strength.
QWhat is your strategy from now on for your business in Osaka?
Currently for our business in Osaka, we are focusing on ‘retail private banking’ for the wealthy class. But we have a plan to build up new business including finance to small and medium enterprises. 90 percent of Osaka/Kansai companies are those of small and medium sizes forming a huge market. Trade between Japan and Australia involves various exchange activities, most of which can be divided into two groups: One is energy-related including coal, iron ores etc and another includes various other products like foods, furniture etc and IT and services. As well as the resources-based exchange activities with major ones like the Kansai Electric Power and Osaka Gas, the exchanges with the small and medium companies are also highly valued. From now on, we will also closely look at such small and medium companies to do business with.
QHow will ‘investment in Japan’ develop after the global recession?
With the strength of economy and population, Japan is an advanced society. With its established laws and systems as well as the trustworthiness, Japan has many more attractions than some other countries. ‘Lehman shock’ has affected everywhere worldwide making it hard for some time to move, but now it is getting easier to move. For example, an Australian company named Toll Holdings has recently acquired a large Japanese company called Footwork Express. This is a good case reminding other foreign companies of Japan’s attractiveness. With the Australian dollar strengthening and with expectations for improved economy of Japan, there may be more cases like this from now on. Toll is a large, well-known company in Australia while Footwork Express is unknown. Only a few Australian companies have so far invested in foreign countries. Now Toll Holdings has made this investment in Japan, particularly in Osaka. This is sure to serve as a good model for the future.
(This interview was conducted all in Japanese, and the following is the English translation of its gist :)
|National Australia Bank Limited Tokyo Branch, Osaka Sub-branch|
|Address||Hanshin Sankei Sakurabashi Bldg. 11F, 2-4-13 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0001 Japan|