Japan Country Manager: Top 13 Mistakes

#1. After 10+ years in the country, the foreigner speaks, read and writes “decent” Japanese

Japanese is a complex language but if your Country Manager cannot speak, read or write Japanese at N1 level after 10 years in the country, it’s likely your new manager will never be able to carry on difficult conversations in Japanese. In the US, you would not hire an illiterate for a top position, would you? why would you then hire an illiterate foreigner as your top manager in Japan? Although some information is available in English, it’s nothing compared to what is available in Japanese.

Only interview candidates with a Japanese N1 certification. This exam is the only way to prove verbal, writing and reading proficiency in Japanese.

#2. His/her English is “OK”

Like #1 above, never settle for somebody who is not very fluent in English. I have seen it many times, Country Managers who are unable to explain business or technical issues to the headquarters and fell into “bitching HQ mode” with their Japanese staff (e.g. “Blame the HQ for everything”).

Ask your Country Manager candidates for TOEIC or TOEFL scores. Look for 90% percentile or above scores.

#3. He/She comes from a big company. He/She has lots of business connections and he can bring into the new Japanese entity

Coming soon!

#4. I can manage Japan from Australia/Singapore/Hong Kong (pick your place…)

Coming soon!

#5. I graduated from a Top Japanese university

Coming soon!

#6. Yes, unfortunately your nationality and race matter: don’t pick a Japan frenemy (Warning: Bigotry, bias and discrimination)

Coming soon!

#7. I sold $10 million at my last company (…without making a call)

Coming soon!

#8. I need lots of Press Releases (with my name on them)

Coming soon!

#9. His/her tech skills are “OK”

Coming soon!

#11. I need a Japanese sales team, Japanese tech support and a decent office in order to sell…

Coming soon!

#12. I know Japan: I have lived in Korea/China/Singapore/Taiwan…

Coming soon!

#13. I need membership in the American Club, ACCJ, etc…

Coming soon!

#14. I have contacts with distributors/resellers who cover 90% of the market…

Coming soon!