JIN-215 -- Is Japan A Promised Land for Korean Java Engineers?

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the Week's Business and Technology News
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Issue No. 215
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Tokyo

CONTENTS

++ Viewpoint: Is Japan A Promised Land for Korean Java Engineers?

++ Noteworthy News
-ADSL Price War Hits New Low: Providers Offer Connections for Free
-Vodafone May Sell Part of Its Japanese Venture
-Mori Trust Boosts Stake In Parco

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++ Viewpoint: Is Japan A Promised Land for Korean Java Engineers?

More Java-savvy Korean engineers are viewing Japan as a place for
future employment. It all started in 2000, when the former prime
minister Yoshiro Mori and the former South Korean president Kim
Dae-jung agreed on a basic framework for the South Korea-Japan IT
Cooperation Initiative.

South Korea is seen as a broadband giant, but its market is still too
small to absorb all of the country's young and ambitious engineers,
industry sources say. According to them, the Korean IT market is still
one-seventeenth the size of Japan's. At the same time, Japan is
committed to hosting more foreign engineers under its e-Japan project.

The South Korean government has publicly announced that the country
plans to send one-fourth of the country's IT engineers -- about 10,000
people with computer engineering degrees or their equivalent -- to
Japan by 2006. The plan goes like this: Selected trainees will receive
eight months of intensive training on technologies and Japanese
language in several Korean universities; after completing the courses,
they will be interviewed by Japanese firms with the help of Japanese
matchmakers; those who are selected will then be contracted to the
matchmakers and outsourced to firms in Japan.

Right now, Japan Asia Solution Networks (Jasnet) is the sole
matchmaker in the field, although it has help from IT temp agency Fuji
Profecio, an investor in Jasnet. Other investors in Jasnet include
Japanese IT firms and industry associations.

"Korean IT education is more advanced than its Japanese counterpart,"
says Akira Suwama at Jasnet. In Japan, engineers working in Java
technology often have liberal-arts backgrounds with, perhaps, two-year
job-training certificates. In South Korea, however, having a computer
engineering degree is almost a prerequisite. And while India is by far
a larger source of engineers, Indian engineers tend to seek employment
in English-speaking markets; Koreans are much more able to adapt to
Japan, perhaps because of linguistic similarities, Suwama adds.

Korean engineers also offer cost advantages. "Korean Java engineers
are perhaps 20 percent cheaper than the Japanese," says Takashi
Itsumoto at Fuji Profecio. According to the company's Web site, the
average Korean engineer makes 450,000 yen a month. What's more
important, he adds, is the image that Koreans are reliable and willing
to make long-term commitments, unlike Japanese youngsters who tend to
hop from one job to another. Chinese engineers may be a future threat
to the Koreans, he says, but for now South Korea has the edge.

Japanese firms that directly hire Korean engineers may get bogged down
in difficulties and the hassles of renewing one-year visas, Suwama
says. That's where the training and the matchmakers come in.

The first round of training started in April 2001 and produced 335
trainees -- 230 of those trainees have found jobs in Japan. The second
eight-month training session started last July, but this time the
training is focused solely on Java technology. Another 300 trainees
are finishing their courses and getting ready to find a job in Japan.

The number of Korean engineers getting ready to work in Japan is still
quite small, however. Itsumoto suspects that the shortage of
Java-savvy engineers in Japan may have been overstated. "The market
doesn't seem to have last year's momentum," he says. Despite the
Korean government's bullish plan, the struggling economy at home may
make it harder for Japan to hire more engineers -- be they Japanese or
Korean.

In the meantime, the 10th matchmaking tour is scheduled for March in
Seoul.

--Sumie Kawakami

Sources:
Jasnet
http://www.jasnet.co.jp/

Fuji Profecio
http://www.fujiprofecio.co.jp/it/

Link:
"Limping Towards China" from the March 2002 issue of J@pan Inc
http://www.japaninc.com/article.php?articleID=749

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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

** ADSL Price War Hits New Low: Providers Offer Connections for Free

In Brief: NTT Communications is offering three months of free ADSL
connections for OCN subscribers who sign up by the end of April. Also,
NTT East is offering two months of free Flet's ADSL connections
through September. These NTT group companies are also lowering their
regular monthly fees. NTT West, for example, will cut its 12M, 8M and
1.5M ADSL monthly connection fees by 200 to 300 yen in March.

Commentary: ADSL is getting even cheaper due to this cut-throat price
war. Yahoo! BB was initially one of the cheapest, but now telecom
empire NTT is catching up. The number of ADSL subscribers had reached
5.64 million by the end of December 2002.

Sources:
The Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications
http://www.soumu.go.jp/joho_tsusin/whatsnew/dsl/index.html

NTT West
http://www.ntt-west.co.jp/flets/nesage/

NTT East
http://www.ntt-east.co.jp/flets/misc/muryou.html

** Vodafone May Sell Part of Its Japanese Venture

In Brief: The Vodafone Group said last week that it wants
to sell its fixed-line telephone business Japan Telecom
Holdings, according to the New York Times. Ripplewood
Holdings, an American investment fund that already owns a
bank and several hotels and electronics companies in Japan,
appears to be the front-runner, the newspaper reported.
Vodafone wants to concentrate on J-Phone, Japan Telecom's
profitable cellular subsidiary.

Commentary:
Japan Telecom has made it clear that it wants to concentrate
on its cellular business. The fixed-line business has been
weighing down its financial well-being for a while now.
According media reports, Japan Telecom's fixed-line business
is worth about 300 billion yen, but its debts total
978 billion yen.

Source:
The New York Times, "Vodafone Wants to Shed Part of Its
Japanese Venture," February 5,2003 (password protected)
http://www.nytimes.com/

Link:
"Cost Cutter or Profit Maker? Japan Telecom's Morrow Chooses the
Latter" from the July 2002 issue of J@pan Inc
http://www.japaninc.com/article.php?articleID=838

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** Mori Trust Boosts Stake In Parco

In Brief: Mori Trust, a major real estate company, has raised its
equity stake in Parco, an operator of fashionable shopping centers,
from 20 percent to 24 percent by buying additional shares for an
estimated 1.3 billion yen, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

According to the report, the move has made Mori Trust the top
shareholder in Parco, eclipsing the Saison/Seibu Railway group.

Source:The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (password protected)
http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Search/Nni20030208D08JF953.htm

Link:
"First Tokyo, Then the World" from a Nov. article on the Mori family
http://www.japaninc.com/article.php?articleID=931

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