TT-885 -- Japanese Job Hopping Goes from No One to Millions in 20 Years, e-biz news from Japan

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, February 26, 2017, Issue No. 885

- What's New -- Japanese Job Hopping Goes from No One to Millions in 20
- News -- Experts recommend reclassifying definition of "old" (hint:
it's 75)
- Upcoming Events - KEA event in Tokyo
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Longest Wooden Bridge in Shizuoka, Nanataki Falls in Akita
- News Credits

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Back in 1995, at the beginning of the internet age, we met with a
gentleman named Dayle Bowen from Santa Cruz who had started a new
business called "online recruiting". Although not many people could
actually use the internet at that time, mostly because we were hampered
with slow 2400-baud modems and text-based browsers (Mosaic/Netscape was
only just rolling out), the fact that many engineers were playing with
the technology meant that at least for recruiting engineers it was a
great tool.

We never did get a deal with Dayle, mostly because he realized the
potentially huge value of the business and wasn't interested in having a
co-investor. So, after several more years of thinking and planning, and
all the time watching the meteoric rise of Softbank's ISP business and
the rise of broadband, we finally decided to set up an online recruiting
company of our own in 1998 called The timing of our launch
meant that we were the first "tenshoku" (mid-career) recruiting company
to go online, just months after Recruit launched a web version of its
university graduate "Recruit B-ing" site and about two years before
Nihon Brain Center spun off

During that two-year gap, we consulted with many business experts and
investors about the viability of offering jobs to young Japanese online.
We were told many times that it was unlikely to be successful because
99% of smart young Japanese wanted to work for a big-name company for
the rest of their lives - at that time, a working lifespan of about 35
years. It was disheartening to hear this even as we witnessed the
phenomenal growth of online recruiting companies overseas, like in the USA and JobsDB in SE Asia. It was for this reason
that we named the business "daijoubu" - meaning "It's OK" [to switch
jobs] in Japanese.

From the launch of the business until our successful Series A funding
some 18 months later in April 2000, we managed to register 160,000
people and resumes on our site, and in the process became a web
phenomenon of our own. Now, 16 years later, is still
going strong and remains one of the largest online recruiting sites
serving job placements at foreign firms. We [Ed: Terrie and investors]
sold the company in 2005 to Human Holdings, a Tokyo-listed firm based in
Shinjuku and embarked on a new adventure.

--------- From Veggie Burgers to Carrot Cake --------------

Our commitment at Alishan Organics is to give our customers the best of
western organic foods, but prepared with a Japanese twist. That's why
our menus cover such a broad range of styles and tastes. If you're just
getting to know us, why not visit our cafe by the river in Saitama? That
way you can try out a variety of dishes and decide for yourself. Choose
from an Amy's organic pizza straight from the oven, a mouthwatering
veggie burger packed with seasonal greens and reds, or if you're feeling
chilly, a filling vegetable curry with rice. And although we're healthy
minded, we don't skimp on desserts. Favorites include Jack's scrumptious
carrot cake, vegan brownies (of course with vegan ice cream), and baked
banana cheese cake.

Our Cafe:

[...Article continues]

Little did we know that between our efforts and those of many
competitors (now well over 100 major players), the online jobs market
would not only bring choice to young Japanese but it would significantly
change their attitudes as well. With a continuous flow of real, live,
mid-career jobs being offered, no longer was it risky to your career to
switch companies, because, frankly, even if you made a mistake, you
could always wait 1-2 years then try again. Furthermore, those unable to
graduate from a prestigious university could now remedy that situation
by upgrading to a brandname company through a judicious mid-career

So it was with some interest that we saw a press announcement put out by
the government's Statistics Bureau several weeks ago that stated a
whopping 3.06m Japanese switched their jobs in 2016. According to the
Nikkei, which reported the announcement, many of these job hoppers have
not just been young people trading up, but also mid-career professionals
in their mid-40's - 500,000 of them in fact. On the younger side,
770,000 people aged between 25 and 34 also switched jobs. This trend for
established middle aged workers to move jobs is particularly interesting
because someone in their mid-40's now was of course in their mid-20's
when we launched, and so there does appear to be a direct
correlation between exposure to the concept back in 1998 and attitudes now.

The Nikkei article goes on to say that the number of openings for
experienced managers is one of the strongest growing segments for
recruiting. They posit that the reason is because slashed recruiting
budgets in the early 2000's hollowed out the cohort of experienced
specialists and business managers around today. Apparently online
recruitment firm Intelligence has 160,000 mid-career positions open,
about 23.4% up on FY2015. Demand for engineers is particularly fierce,
as is that for experienced managers and corporate planners.

This of course is all having an effect on wage growth, and while
employers are still not significantly increasing pay for existing
employees, the Nikkei points out that those switching jobs are enjoying
effective pay increases of 10% or more. Therefore, we think it won't be
too long before the pain of out-flowing staff is high enough that even
low-paying firms will get the message and start increasing wages to
retain staff. Thus we will see the start of a virtuous cycle of wages
inflation and hopefully the much-needed and long-waited for boost to

Another side effect of this competition for technologists in particular
is that immigration of suitably qualified foreigners will also start to
noticeably increase. In particular software engineers, who don't really
need Japanese language skills to be effective. Furthermore, with Trump's
politics creating a (perceived) hostile environment for immigrants in
the USA, perhaps Japan will become a desirable second choice for
engineers from Asia in particular.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- MariCart tour company gets slapped with copyright lawsuit
- PM Abe gets caught up in right-wing school scandal
- What Premium Friday?
- Experts recommend reclassifying definition of "old"
- Listed companies' net profits up average 11%

=> MariCart tour company gets slapped with copyright lawsuit

Nintendo, the developer and owner of Mario and the Mario Kart video
game, has filed a copyright lawsuit against new start-up tour company
MariCart. Readers may have seen MariCart go-carts around town. The
company rents out go-karts and costumes to adult tourists with a
driver's license. Those costumes include Mario get-ups, complete with
cap and mustache. The activity is highly popular and photos of drivers
have gone viral on social media boards all over the world. ***Ed:
Actually, rather than Nintendo, we thought that perhaps the Police
Agency might want to shut down the MariCarts business, since they are
using a legal loop hole to allow drivers to buzz around with no helmets
on. The loop hole is that vehicles with four wheels are assumed to be
regular automobiles and thus don't require the riders to have the head
protection that motorcyclists have to wear.** (Source: TT commentary
from, Feb 26, 2017)

=> PM Abe gets caught up in right-wing school scandal

A right-wing primary school has become the center of a scandal over
favors between right-wing groups and the LDP, including possibly the PM
and his wife. The Tsukamoto Elementary School was found to have
purchased through a related organization called Moritomo Gakuen two
acres of land from the Finance Ministry for just one tenth of the market
price (1/7th of the tax assessment value). The Finance Ministry has
tried to dismiss the abnormally low price by saying that Moritomo had to
recondition the land, which contained some pollutants. However, the
Asahi Shimbun, which broke the scandal, has found that the clean-up
costs were just a fraction of the discount offered. PM Abe became
involved when it emerged that the Moritomo head was also a director of
the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, a controversial revisionist right-wing
group that includes Mr. Abe. Furthermore, Abe's wife, Akie, was the
honorary principal of the school, although she quickly resigned as the
scandal emerged. ***Ed: We've said all along that the LDP will be the
source of lots of scandals over coming years. You can't have
near-absolute power without the attendant problems, and given that human
nature is what it is...** (Source: TT commentary from, Feb
24, 2017)

=> What Premium Friday?

A government-backed campaign to help out the economy by pushing
employers to let their staff leave the office early (around 15:00) one
Friday a month started last week. The so-called Premium Friday program
was tepidly received by businesses, but the media reports that, indeed,
bars and restaurants opening mid-afternoon (they're usually closed until
17:00) found many of their tables occupied. Commentators are saying that
it's too early to say whether the program will actually be successful.
We believe that those smaller firms and companies in highly competitive
sectors will be unable to afford the loss of 3-4 hours productivity each
month. ***Ed: Premium Friday is not mandatory, and we very much doubt
that the bulk of employers will implement it.** (Source: TT commentary
from, Feb 25, 2017)

=> Experts recommend reclassifying definition of "old"

How old do you have to be to be considered "old". The Japan
Gerontological Society and Geriatrics Society have issued a report that
a new definition is needed. According to them, and in view of the better
fitness and nutrition of today's aging citizens, the answer should be
75, not 65 as currently defined. The two organizations say that if their
recommendation is adopted, then Japan can increase the number of
potential workers available by about 10m people, or a 16% increase. They
go on to say that "Old" should mean people aged 75-89. People between
65-74 should be referred to as "Pre-old", and those over 90 as
"Super-old". ***Ed: A recent government survey confirms this position,
with 51% of people aged over 60 saying that they didn't consider
themselves as senior citizens. Rather, they thought that term should be
reserved for people aged 70 or older.** (Source: TT commentary from, Feb 16, 2017)

=> Listed companies' net profits up average 11%

A Nikkei stock review report has found that most listed companies will
enjoy a record year of profits this year, up by 11% on average from
FY2016. The report covers all sectors other than financial institutions.
Manufacturers are seeing a drop of 1% y-o-y as a sector, but this is
more than offset by global export gains from the semiconductor,
chemicals, and telecommunications industries. ***Ed: Although the yen is
now weaker than the last 12 months and so one might hope that this
surplus would continue, exporters are now increasingly worried about
border taxes that the Trump administration seems to be planning in the
USA.** (Source: TT commentary from, Feb 23, 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.



------------------ KEA Tokyo Inspire Event ----------------

Kea is a global community of Kiwis and friends of New Zealand that
exists to inspire, connect and enable a borderless nation of one million
advocates, champions and storytellers for New Zealand. The organization
is hosting a joint event with the ANZCCJ chamber, to bring together the
New Zealand community here in Japan. Keynote speaker will be Terrie
Lloyd talking about lessons learned in the inbound travel sector.

Date: 17:30-19:30, Tuesday 14th of March
Where: New Zealand Embassy, Tokyo (20-40 Kamiyama-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Fee: ¥5,000 (Spaces are limited so please RSVP by 7th March, 2017)
RSVP: Cristina Merino

----------- ICA Event - Thursday 23rd March ---------------

Speaker: Thomas Nevins - Founder and Chief Consultant. TMT Inc
Title: "Doing Hard Labor in Japan"

Details: Complete event details at
Date: Thursday 23rd March, 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 5pm on Monday 20th March 2017
Venue: Room F, 9F, Sumitomo Fudosan Roppongi Grand Tower, 3-2-1
Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032


** No corrections or feedback this week.



=> Horai-bashi: Longest Wooden Bridge, Shizuoka
Located over the Oh-i River near Shimada

Horai-bashi Bridge, which spans the Oh-i River that runs through Shimada
in Shizuoka Prefecture, was certified as the world's longest wooden
pedestrian bridge by the Guinness Book of Records on December 30th,
1997. This wooden bridge was originally constructed in 1879. However, as
its piers had been damaged so often by the increased water and rapid
flow from rain, they were partly changed from wood to concrete in 1965.
The bridge is 897.4 meters long and 2.4 meters wide. Only pedestrians
and bicycles are allowed to cross, paying 100 yen for those above 12
years old or on a bicycle, and 10 yen for those under 12.

Until the end of the Tokugawa government in the middle of the nineteenth
century, Japanese local sovereign lords had been reluctant to construct
bridges because rivers, especially large ones, often played a role in
the defense against attacks from outside. The Oh-i River, starting at
the steep 3189m Mt. Ainodake in the northern area of the Southern Alps
in Shizuoka Prefecture, had been famous for its rapid flow especially
after rainfall. This situation persisted until dams were constructed
some time later. As there had been no bridges over the river, travelers
often had to wait for several days until the depth of the water was safe
enough to walk across. There's a well-known poem that reads, "Even
though horses can go over the Hakone Pass, they can barely go across the
Oh-i River". Small boats were available but they were unstable, and
people were carried over on floats held by four to six porters. There
were 350 porters stationed on each side of the river.

=> Nanataki Falls
Northern Akita's Beautiful Slice of Nature

Less than 20 km southwest of the famous Lake Towada lies another beauty
of nature, the Nanataki Falls. Literally meaning "seven waterfalls,"
Nanataki Falls was listed as one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls by the
Japanese Ministry of the Environment in 1990.

The Legend of Nanataki says that long ago, a great landowner named
Magozaemon, in attempt to show off his power, threw firewood over the
falls despite it being prohibited. As the firewood fell, a horrible
pained groaning emanated from the falls, and the earth and heavens alike
began to shake. The firewood hit the water but never resurfaced, and
soon after Magozaemon became bedridden with disease. As it turned out,
the waterfall was actually the incarnation of a snake spirit, and the
spirit appeared in Magozaemon's dreams to curse him for his arrogance.
Reflecting on his actions, Magozaemon built the Nanataki Shrine,
absolving him of his sins.



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