global

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When I started my career in the late 1990s, my employer encouraged us to have a global mind to cope with Japan’s recession so-called “the lost decade”. By 2000, the words “global” and “globalisation” were used as the keywords — and sometimes buzzwords — for surviving the upcoming new millennium, followed by the dot-com bubble. My coworkers and I were pressured to raise TOEIC scores, to learn SWOT analysis, MECE, and other terms of logical thinking, to abandon obsolete Japanese work style and get accustomed to the global — in many cases American — way of thinking. 

In 2006, those ideas were changed. Seeing the Livedoor scandals and accompanying the downfall of dot-com millionaires, Japanese people found out that the American way did not work. Instead, they began taking a second look at their own country and reviewing the good things of it. The company I worked for focused on the products for domestic customers rather than overseas ones, with “the Japan quality” as its corporate philosophy.

Starting in the 2010s, people’s inward-oriented views were changing global again. Japanese enterprises were going out overseas, not only to the United States at that time but to the Third World such as India, China, Russia, Brazil, and Southeast Asian and African countries. I had more and more opportunities to get involved in the services offered to such customers going to those countries to meet their needs and demands.

The first half of the 2010s was the year of transportation. Low-cost carriers helped people fly abroad at low airfares. Everywhere you can see people travelling to and from all over the world regularly.

Yet you see that people’s favour of the global-oriented mind or the local-oriented one swings from side to side every five or six years. That being the case, such a globalised world will come to an end shortly. The event that happened this week in the United Kingdom showed that the most symbolically. The referendum determined the UK to leave the European Union it had joined in 1973. Other European countries like France, Italy, and Spain begin the preparation of such referendum whether they should leave or remain in the EU by some people tired of enormous numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and accompanying terrorist attacks occurring inside Europe. 

Likewise, in the United States, Donald Trump, saying that a wall should be built on the border to shut out Mexicans and Muslims, has the enthusiastic support of the conservative and relatively poor American population. Even Hillary Clinton, one of the rival candidates of Trump, says that she is against the US to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In Japan, some nationalistic extremists carrying patriotic flags with them are making a hate speech on the street, saying that the people from neighbouring countries should get out of Japan and go back to their own country.

I think that now is the turning point of the era and there will be no more “globalised World” from now on. People of each country will pay attention only inside their own country. A dispute or, in some cases, an armed clash may begin between some countries. Such an era will last five or six years, at least Trump or Clinton’s presidential term. What we can do right now might be to look at such the World and to have as many options as possible to be able to cope with the future fluctuation of circumstances.

National Azabu Supermarket
National Azabu Supermarket at Hiroo, where foods, groceries, books, toiletries and stationery imported from abroad were available, terminated operation as of today due to the age of its building.

The Hiroo neighbourhood is one of the places I visited very frequently because the training centre of the company I worked for was in that area. I visited there from time to time to have an English test or training for English writing or business skills when I was a young worker. Every time I had classes there, I dropped in on the supermarket to see the shoppers coming from abroad, mainly the United States, who looked rich enough to afford the imported products sold there. To see such successful people encouraged me to do my best to learn English and business skills for my success.

However, several years later the training centre was closed and moved to another place. Most of the products sold in the supermarket has become what I can get online for the same prices as in their home countries, without paying extra money at such imported grocery shops. Besides, the United States is no longer the goal for successful persons, seeing the current circumstances of it.

The supermarket was a dream for me, and a wonderland that offered me a space of extraordinariness, but it ended the role as a symbol of success with the change of the times. Without the supermarket, I will visit the Hiroo area more rarely than ever.

Sorry for not updating the blog for a long time. These days I’m hanging out on Facebook and Twitter, rather than writing blog entries. Please visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/masayuki.kawagishi or follow @_Yuki_K_ on Twitter 😉

I see that the world of mobile phones is rapidly changing for years. Nokia, one of the dominant mobile phone manufacturers, is disappearing, and Apple is expanding the market with the iPhone, its flagship mobile phones with a music player, games, and other applications all-in-one. Following apple, various mobile phone manufacturers, from Samsung to small makers in China, are releasing smartphones with the Android operating system developed by Google.

In Japan, I think that mobile phones are rapidly “globalised” in recent years. A few years ago all you could see here was the “Galapagos” handphones sold only within Japan and unavailable once you brought them out of Japan. But recently on the train or the streets, you see the same devices as those seen in the rest of the world — iPhones, Android smartphones, and even Blackberry phones (scarce though).

More than that, this month I had good news showing Japan’s globalisation of the mobile phone environment. News says that from 13 July this year you can send text messages (SMS) to the mobile phones of the different carriers from yours. That is normal in the rest of the world, but that isn’t here in Japan — if you have a mobile phone sold by NTT DoCoMo, you can send SMS only to NTT DoCoMo users, not to au, Softbank, or any other carrier’s users. As the SMS gateways are closed to different carriers, you can rarely see here such services as balance enquiry, network configurations, service registrations, and purchasing something by sending text messages to service providers as you can see in Singapore, Hong Kong or some European countries. The opening of the SMS gateways will probably enable you to have such services even in Japan soon.

Japan and the countries other than Japan don’t stand in the opposite. Japan is an extension of other countries, and any country is an extension of Japan. Anything available in the world must be available in Japan too.

I heard the news that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan started discussing a policy to require mobile phone carriers to release SIM-lock-free handsets from the next generation. As is often written in some other entries of this blog, I have been dissatisfied with the current cellular phones in Japan because they are far from the global standards.
Today mobile phones are widely spread worldwide, ranging from smartphones like iPhone or Nokia N900 communicator to cheap simple cell phones only for calling and text messaging. They are handy, convenient and easy to use even in developing countries where electric supply is not sufficient. Thanks to their size, you can carry them everywhere in the world. In spite of their mobility, there are two major countries where you can’t use them as conveniently as in the rest of the world — Japan and Korea. Especially in Japan, the mobile systems and services have been so unique that they are often compared to the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands, where endemic species are seen.

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