Japan Update: A Truly Global Business

Previously, large shipping players in Japan had kept their staff composition largely “traditional”. We are now starting to see a trend towards embracing the uptake of foreign talent within their labour force. This has been largely apparent in publicly listed companies however we are beginning to see this trend being echoed by those in the privately owned sector. This shift in mentality has been prevalent across the entire shipping value chain – from yard workers, technical superintendents to commercial managers. 

MOL for example, has led the charge with bold ambitions to turn the company into an international brand and develop a global enterprise. This “international mindset” has resulted in the company rapidly employing foreign nationals who they believe hold the necessary skills and expertise to enable them to achieve their long-term global ambitions. 

As the shipping industry faces tougher challenges set forth by decarbonisation, it is apparent that relying on the shrinking domestic labour force alone is not realistic. Japanese shipping companies are therefore compelled to branch out beyond their local talent pool, with the idea that this will give them the ability to acquire foreign businesses to complement their existing operations. Companies with the ability to integrate foreign talent seamlessly and therefore adapt globally will be well-positioned to combat the upcoming challenges the shipping industry faces. 

Given its importance in the world shipping community, it is critical for the domestic Japanese market to constantly adapt and embrace change in order to maintain and enhance its relevance in the global landscape. 

Rather than allowing it to become a hindrance, the domestic players can capitalize on its extensive shipping history to take them to the next level and become a truly global business.

By Eugene Quek, Partner & Head of Projects in Japan, SSY

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