TT-912 -- The Good and Bad of Using Linked-In Within Japan, 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, Sep 02, 2017, Issue No. 912

- What's New -- The Good and Bad of Using Linked-In Within Japan
- News -- Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - None
- Travel Picks -- Kodaharu Oyster House in Shimbashi, Heinraku Chinese Chow house in Takayama
- News Credits

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Back in 2015, James Riney, the head of 500 Startups in Japan, wrote a piece speculating why the Japanese don't use Linked In, and how the tool isn't all that useful for doing business in Japan. Instead he noted that Japanese business people use Facebook and Twitter. Riney surmised that Linked In isn't popular because: a) when Japanese business people first establish a personal relationship, they do it with a face-to-face meeting, and b) because laying out your resume publicly is seen as "boasting". Instead, he reckoned that Facebook's design allows "humble bragging" and therefore is better suited to the Japanese psyche.

Certainly we agree these are valid points. We joined Linked In around 2006, and the lack of Japanese counterparts in the community is very noticeable. Not that there are no Japanese on the platform, but most who are there are internationalized in some way, making them a small percentage of potential users. So we would expand on Riney's notes by saying:

1. Japanese are indeed a private people, who don't like to have everything aired out in public. This is a highly competitive society and exposing your personal details to anyone wanting to see them might in some inadvertent way open you up to attack or disadvantage later. For example, where you went to school, your stagnating career, or even your lack of international experience.

2. It's a noisy world out there, and the same societal competitiveness also results in unwanted approaches from the unfiltered public. Given that life is short and most business people are happy with the suppliers they already have, it's a psychic intrusion at worst and irritation at best when new company recruits - as they are forced to do for their first 3-5 years (to toughen them up) - start bombarding you with sales pitches.

3. Probably the main reason, though, that Japanese don't post on Linked In is that their boss might see it. The mere fact of publishing one's bio online suggests that you are looking for a new job. Once the boss gets wind of that fact, they are hardly going to promote you into more responsibility.

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This last point about seeking employment opportunities is in our opinion the biggest challenge for Linked In. Elsewhere, the platform is primarily a recruiting tool, as evidenced by the resume format of content and the prevalence of recruiters, but in Japan there is not really a sufficient volume of resumes to support a recruiting practice and so the ecosystem needed to make the platform work, fails. From experience, we've found that running Positions Vacant ads on Linked In is an expensive waste of time if you want Japanese - the sole (but important) exception being if you want foreign-educated bilinguals, then the quality of candidates is pretty good, but the volume of candidates is still sparse.

Linked In need to re-think how resumes are presented, and to educate Japanese job seekers how to use the site in a way that doesn't betray their intentions to their boss. If they can do that, there really isn't an equivalent platform available from a local company, and so they still have a chance to build a decent business here.

Another problem for Japanese business users (and many non-Japanese here), apart from how to anonymize their details, is to understand that with Linked In there is a certain etiquette for initiating interaction that isn't immediately obvious to those users, being: the need to gently but competently connect, then to evolve the communication, THEN move on to something more concrete. Again this is due to a lack of education, and Linked In needs to address the problem - something that the company doesn't seem to care about. As a result, you get a these hard-selling fresh recruits trying to make their quotas who pester other more senior members by demanding meetings and deals without even establishing a personal connection. Head hunters in particular are slow (or too greedy) to understand this fundamental point, which is why we and many like us refuse head hunter connection requests out of hand.

Another part of that etiquette is to show respect to others by maintaining a complete profile and contributing to groups and discussions sufficiently to maintain name awareness and qualify as an expert in whatever area you want others to approach you for. Because many Japanese create a Linked In profile but don't bother building them out, they come across as being unsubstantiated - potentially fake postings - and again, users like us will reject the connection because the requesting member profile looks like it was written by a Nigerian scam gang.

As an aside, there ARE many fake profiles on Linked In, something that the company ignores on its site documentation and yet obviously knows happens since they have functions that specifically help you report impersonators. You can easily spot them because the person has a nice professional-looking photo and has a bunch of impressive credentials but can't spell. Or they have gone from being a Lawyer to becoming a bank manager (wanting to lend you US$10m). Unfortunately in all-too-trusting Japan, you often see Japanese members who are not able to discern scamsters, accept the connection and thereby unwittingly lend their name and respectability to these crooks.

What Linked In in Japan is good for, is finding bilingual staff. Since competition is fierce to connect to the smallish number of active members who are probably available to recruit, there are some techniques that yield better results than just diving in with job offers. For example, we don't go looking for people who are looking for a job, because often these people are unemployed for a reason, and we'd prefer not having to be the next go-around. Instead, we focus on bilinguals who have attended college overseas and after coming back to Japan have listened to their moms and taken a job with a prestigious Japanese firm. About 12-18 months later, these people become especially receptive to the idea of changing jobs, as they start to discover just how ruthless Japanese bosses can be (hours, hierarchy, rules, low salary, gender discrimination, etc.) - completely different to what they learned was normal in their overseas university courses.

The second thing Linked In in Japan is good for, is to present a thorough, credible and curated profile to the world around you. Doing business internationally from Japan, we are always surprised how many business development discussions with companies abroad are quickly verified by them with a Linked In check. It may be obvious, but Linked In is a sufficiently trusted proxy internationally that you must have a presence and a believable one at that. How to make your profile credible? Well you have to put some work into it (look at Mr. Riney's Linked In profile for "text book" construction), having a very complete profile, plenty of endorsements from reliable sources, and Recommendations, again from credible sources. Once again, Linked In needs to educate the Japanese business community that this kind of self promotion is worth doing and will open up export doors for their firms.

The third and last good thing about Linked In is the groups. Unfortunately, Linked In is polluting these communities with so much promoted content that the value of them is rapidly diminishing. One standout group which is a good information source if you can put up with all the native ads is the "Business in Japan" forum, which currently has about 54,518 members. It is probably the largest English-language Linked In group in Japan.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Civil servants' retirement age to rise
- Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money
- Working mothers' definition of failure
- What's US$50m between friends?
- Another grey August

=> Civil servants' retirement age to rise

It was already unfair that civil servants could retire at 60 while private sector workers are on track for a phased increase in retirement age to 65. However, the government now appears to be preparing to raise the retirement age for government workers to 65 as well. The legislation, if it is passed, will go to the Diet next year and likely be implemented in 2019. ***Ed: Given that the government still likes to favor it's own, we think is is only a matter of time before the private sector retirement age is lifted yet again, whether to 70 or 75 is hard to say at this stage.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 01, 2017)

=> Japanese firms sitting on mountain of money

The nation's non-financial companies held an estimated JPY406.23trn on their balance sheets in FY2016, according to the Finance Ministry last week. This amount is up 7.5% on last year, and will add fuel to the argument that the government should pass some form of legislative penalization of companies hoarding cash instead of paying it out to employees and making investments. The amount is the highest in five years since 2013. ***Ed: How much is JPY400trn yen? Well if you took the amount in JPY100 coins and stacked them, you'd have a pile that would reach the moon and back about 8 times** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 01, 2017)

=> Working mothers' definition of failure

Surely the best definition of failure to tens of thousands of mothers who want to re-enter the workforce but cannot do so because of lack of day care access, must be PM Abe's hollow promises that he would help working mothers out. Right now there are 26,081 kids officially waiting to get into nursery schools. But if the total number of kids waiting included those wanting private day care facilities, then there are apparently about 69,224 kids with nowhere to go. That's almost 70,000 mothers who should be contributing to alleviate workforce shortages but who logistically cannot. ***Ed: We have two working moms at our company, and both are still having problems getting day care, after more than a year each trying. Pathetic.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 02, 2017)

=> What's US$50m between friends?

Insurer Sompo Holdings has announced that it will sell its UK subsidiary, Sompo Canopius, to private equity firm Centerbridge Partners. The selling price will be US$952m, about US$50m less than what Sompo paid for the business back in 2014 when it bought the firm from Lloyd's of London. ***Ed: Although Sompo is putting a positive spin on the deal, saying that it will replenish the firm's coffers for other deals, the reality is that they clearly failed to manage and develop the Canopius business. In this sense, it's remarkable that Sompo only lost US$50m. Other Japanese majors who joined the M&A trend in the early 2010's lost their shirts on write downs.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 01, 2017)

=> Another grey August

As happened several years ago, some parts of Japan have been enveloped in overcast skies for weeks on end, spelling trouble for the nation's vegetable and grain-growing regions. For example, Sendai had 36 consecutive days of rain, leading to a potential outbreak of rice blight. As a result, we can expect that not only will vegetable and fruit prices increase, but with the price rises consumer sentiment is expected to become more negative, leading to lower consumption in other goods. ***Ed: Economists are forecasting more deflation as a result.** (Source: TT commentary from, Aug 31, 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.



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Title: "Tokyo IT Professionals Networking Party"

Details: Complete event details at Please follow the link within the write up to register for the event and pay online and note the requirements for New Sanno Hotel. This event is joint collaboration with AFCEA Tokyo, ACCJ ICT Committee, Women in Tech Japan and ICA Japan.

Date: Friday 29th September, 2017
Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Cost: $35 USD (members), $60 USD (non-members) Open to all and no signups at the door. Strictly payment online -
RSVP: By 5pm on Monday 25th September 2017
Venue: New Sanno Hotel, 4-12-20 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0047


=> No corrections this week.



=> Oyster House Kodaharu, Shimbashi
Restaurant specializing in oysters

Oyster House Kodaharu, located 2 minutes from Shimbashi station, is somewhere not to miss if you are an oyster fan. The oysters are carefully selected from different areas around Japan, so they cover the whole taste spectrum in terms of saltiness and sweetness. The staff are keen to introduce the many ways to prepare and enjoy oysters, such as serving them raw, grilled, or even shabu-shabu style (hot pot) style, and they'll help you choose.

For those who are not satisfied with eating only oysters, Oyster House Kodaharu also provides a variety of seafood, such as the combination of oyster and sea urchin, whose rich flavors and creamy taste complement each other. Sashimi is also popular as you can enjoy the freshest fish each season. Oyster House Kodaharu serves more than 90 types of alcohol to accompany their menu, including oyster sake which you will not normally see in other restaurants.

=> Heianraku
A lovely little restaurant in Takayama

Takayama in central Japan's Gifu Prefecture is a beautiful destination for several reasons - a well-preserved Edo Period old town, its spring and autumn festivals (considered to rank among Japan's three most famous), and wonderful people and fantastic food. The latter two come together most delightfully at Heianraku, a small Chinese restaurant on Kokubunji-dori.

As tiny as it is charming, Heianraku embodies Japanese hospitality. The cozy restaurant seats about a dozen people at low tables on tatami mats or at the counter, where you can watch chef and owner Hiroshi work his culinary magic. The cuisine served at Heianraku is mostly Chinese, but Japanese classics such as udon or sukiyaki are also on the menu. Opened in 1963, Heianraku offers great, homemade food in a traditional setting, but most of all, Hiroshi and his wife, Naoko, welcome their guests as part of the family. Heianraku has ranked among Japan's top ten restaurants twice in a row on TripAdvisor, even making it to the very top of the list in summer 2016 despite being a tiny 2-people operation.


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