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Thu 18 December 2014

Event Report: Year-end Lecture and Cocktails at the Netherlands Embassy, December 2014

On Dec. 10, the Royal Netherlands Embassy organized, in cooperation with the NCCJ, a year-end lecture and cocktails socializing event for NCCJ members and embassy invitees.

Mr. Harold Meij, Chief Operating Officer of Tomy Co., Ltd. (also known as TakaraTomy), gave a presentation in which he offered valuable insights into Japanese business culture.
Mr. Meij, a Dutchman who learned Japanese as a child and is now virtually a native speaker, has enjoyed a rather varied business career, including stints at Heineken, Coca-Cola Japan, and now Japanese toymaker TakaraTomy. He has held his current position of COO for about 10 months. Even in that short time he has made his mark on the company and the industry, with innovative and sometimes controversial — but effective — marketing strategies, such as viral videos, which he described in detail.
He spoke about the strengths of Japanese business, including the enviable work ethic, fine craftsmanship and attention to detail of Japanese employees, and the high level of trust in business here. He discussed a few of its weaknesses — such as the discouragement of individual initiative, group mentality, low level of foreign language ability, and so on. He also suggested a few solutions, including hiring more professional managers from outside the firm and finding ways to turn some of the weaknesses into strengths — as he noted, “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down — unless you want nails sticking up.”
Bill Hall and Trond Varlid of the Japan Market Expansion Competition then gave a rundown on their organization’s activities in organizing the increasingly popular JMEC business plan writing competition. JMEC is a non-profit organization that has proven very effective at energizing young businesspeople with its course on practical business skills, in which the students attend a series of lectures and then write a business plan for a real case of a company with a business issue to address.
The mentoring by businesspeople, including members of 18 foreign chambers of commerce in Japan, has been invaluable in unleashing the passion of the participants and helping some of them to start businesses. Participating companies get the benefit of a well-written, well-researched and well-documented business plan at low cost.
Everyone then rounded out the evening with an hour or so of networking and socializing over food and drinks provided by the Embassy.

Event Photos