The One Liner

Know The Ins and Outs the Japanese Management Technique

Diptaraj Bhaduri

February 2, 2022. 4 minute Read

Japan is always known for its quality. But, when you talk about quality, it’s evident you have an efficient management system that is hard to beat worldwide. But what makes me even more curious is what made Japan so successful as a country. Predominantly, Japan has always been a fish and rice country.

A brief History about Japan

It’s 1945, and Japan is devastated after losing in the second world war. The horrific bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki have just turned Japan into a country of mess, starvation, and poverty. People lost their loved ones; industrial conditions collapsed, leading to high unemployment and a sharp drop in the nation’s per capita income. Japan came under the USA’s occupation and became a weapon for the USA to control Asia. After dismantling of the Japanese army, it led to the unemployment of nearly 13 million people around the country. The USA took away Japan’s authority to build an army. As a result, Japan could use an army for self-defense purposes only. But these things later helped Japan as they got more money to invest in education and industrialization by investing only 1% of the economy in defense. 

Slowly Japan became a home to some of the world’s best industrial companies, world-class companies like sony and Toyota. Today, Japan has big corporations like Softbank, which have immense power in the world’s financial sector. They even fund many startups in India today. Later, Japan became the second largest economy in the world, beating rich countries like France, Britain, and other European nations, and was also a threat to USA’s hegemony as the world’s sole financial superpower. Japan was known as the ‘Economic miracle of the 20th century’. But what was the secret behind this immense growth of Japan? And how did the private sector contribute to it at a large scale?

The work culture of Japan  

Japan is often known as a country of hard-working people. It is no secret that there are plenty of workaholics in Japan. The notion of an excellent work-life balance is a myth here in Japan. People in Japan are highly involved in their work. Japan is a hard-working nation, despite the considerable effort in the work culture. Employee involvement and participation in a company are unbelievable in japan. A lot of Japanese people work nearly 80 hours of overtime per month. As a result of the rigorous work culture, many people died because of working overtime in Japan. Here, in Japan, they term it Karoshi. Karoshi is a term used in Japan to explain death caused by overwork. Many people die because of Karoshi in Japan every year. But this work culture of the ‘salaryman’ in Japan has helped Japan’s corporate houses multiply, contributing to the national interest in growing the economy. But currently, the government of Japan and private companies have taken a joint responsibility to decrease the working hours in Japan.

Japan’s workforce even went into trauma after putting in the rigorous effort required to make it a modern, industrialized nation. 

After World War II, Japan overtook several Western economies to become the second-largest economy in the world, but the workforce adopted the practice of overworking. Japan’s workplace culture is gradually evolving toward a healthier state. A significant improvement is an apparent reduction in working hours! Management systems of Companies are also taking action to reduce excessive work: some even practice turning off all office lights at 10:00 p.m. to ensure nobody works past that time.

Japan’s work culture and mindset are still evolving despite this advancement. To understand why the Japanese work culture became physically, emotionally, and cognitively draining for many people, consider Japan’s history. 

But Japan’s management system is also desirable as many people outside Japan want to work in Japan, and it has been a matter of discussion for different media companies for years. So we have covered why people are trying to get a job in Japan and why they are fascinated by the Japanese Management System.

1. Transportation Fees are Paid by Companies There

Japanese companies know that most employees commute to work via public transportation. Companies will cover these costs for you to reduce the stress associated with commuting. 

Almost all Japanese companies cover your transportation cost even if you travel by bus, subway, or train.

2. Lifelong employment 

In Japan, employers offer people lifetime employment and permanent positions. Up until they decide to retire, they have job security. The idea is how Japanese businesses can use their workforce as a source of competitive advantage. Not only do the workers feel secure, but the management can also count on the workforce to stay committed to the system. However, Japan experienced significant economic volatility throughout the 1990s. Due to this unpredictability, Japan has implemented a significantly lower level of lifetime employment. Only about one-third of the workforce currently has access to a job for life. But still, this system improved the trust level of employees in corporations.

Know The Ins and Outs the Japanese Management Technique

3. Job training

Japanese corporate houses spend a lot of money on employee training. Even before they hire prospective employees, they enroll them in training programs to ensure that the workers have the abilities needed to do general industrial roles. The potential employee demonstrates dedication to their potential employer by participating in and completing this exercise. Successful candidates are given employment rotations in various operational areas after being chosen to increase staff morale and decrease the likelihood that they will become burned out.

Companies in the technology sector also cover all the costs associated with taking seminars or learning new computer skills. Some businesses are willing to assist foreigners in learning the Japanese language by paying the associated costs around it.

4. The architecture of their Workplace

Happiness doesn’t choose you; you choose joy in life. Every morning motivate yourself by saying things today, “I chose happiness; I am grateful to everyone for being so good to me; Today, I will be successful at work. ” Constantly harvesting goodness is essential in life, while breaking your head on negative emotions is time-consuming, does no good, and brings no peace.

5. Seniority system

If you know how to swim, walk, drive, cook, peel or chop veggies fast, it is a habit you have cultivated subconsciously over time by doing it again and again. For your own sake, cultivate the habit of thinking good; the power of your subconscious mind is so that you eventually manifest things in life. Always choose good habits; it helps a lot.

6. Equality in gender roles -

For the growth of any corporation or nation, both genders need to participate equally and contribute to the journey. In many countries, the participation rate of women is very low, including India. But in Japan, both genders get equal chances and opportunities to take their career to any height they want. However, many corporations still prefer male employees over females, which is a severe worldwide issue.

7. The Ringi System - 

The Ringi System is the name for the customary decision-making procedure used by Japanese businesses. The procedure entails sending suggestions to each firm manager who a future decision may impact. Though top executives may also make proposals, middle managers typically start them. In the latter scenario, an executive typically shares his concept with his team members and allows them to make the presentation. Managers from several departments meet and attempt to get to a loose agreement on the issue. Then a formal document, known as the ringi sho gets circulated for the appropriate manager’s approval until all agree.

The ringi system necessitates lengthy lead periods, which makes it challenging during an emergency. This strategy has fallen out of favor with many organizations in recent years due to the emphasis on making decisions more quickly. Nevertheless, one of its guiding ideas is still in use today.

8. Drinking after work - 

Nomikai, or drinking with coworkers after work, is a social etiquette essential to traditional Japanese businesses. This activity is known as nomunication, which combines the English term communication and the Japanese word for drinking, nomu, and fosters camaraderie among coworkers, especially between managers and staff. 

Nomikai is an integral aspect of networking in Japan, and taking part in such gatherings can open doors for workers looking to advance their careers. Sometimes these late-night drinking sessions with the boss last for hours till someone gives in or passes out. However, there has recently been an increase in opposition to the practice of nomunication, with many members of the younger generation of employees starting to abstain.

9. Team collaboration -

Group harmony (wa), one of the most fundamental tenets of Japanese culture, places the demands of society above those of the individual. Japanese businesses typically use a holistic strategy, emphasizing group agreement to ensure harmonious coexistence inside the organization instead of making decisions based solely on personal choice. In the interest of harmony, employees even go far and beyond to be accommodating to one another. Employees might forego taking vacation days to spare their coworkers the burden, or they might put in extra hours because people who quit early are a sign of individualism and selfishness. By doing so, the so-called “harmony” of the team is broken, which further adds to the problem of death by overworking long hours.

10. Enterprise unionism

One common misconception is that the foundation of the Japanese industrial relations system is the single union agreements. However, even though one might anticipate a single union to have its roots in an outside trade union, this is not contradictory. A series of lockouts at Toyota and Nissan that the Japanese government supported gave rise to the modern Japanese trade union.

As a result, independent trade unionism in Japan will get replaced with the enterprise unionism system. The basic prerogatives of the Japanese trade unions are the security of employment and the stability of the enterprise, with the goal being shared prosperity.

Know The Ins and Outs the Japanese Management Technique

11. The well-being of employees

Japanese manufacturers offer comprehensive welfare programs for their workers, including low-cost tangible stuff, health care services, affordable housing, low-interest loans, etc. According to observers of the Japanese system, the use of loans gives management some indirect control over workers.

Medical care in Japan is relatively affordable and is usually of high quality. If you are above 20 years old and do not have health insurance, it is against the law in Japan. Various insurance plans cover services that are unusual in other nations. In reality, everyone in Japan is either insured by Japan’s government health care system or a private health insurance plan. Companies also cover the cost of employees’ yearly health examinations.

Japan has a large population working in these corporate sectors, which contributes to the country’s economy. Still, personally many people are unsatisfied with their jobs in Japan. According to a survey, Japanese people are least satisfied with their job among people in thirty-four other nations. Despite having a low unemployment rate, Japan’s minimum wage has barely increased since 2000 for its workforce. Many people in Japan often complain about the common pay scale in the country. As a result, the persistently low inflation rate in the nation forced businesses to reduce labor expenses rather than run the risk of losing customers by raising prices. 

Lifetime work in Japan entails little opportunity for advancement. The majority of movement occurs laterally through job rotation. Seniority has a role in promotions, as well.

Employees are here and even get evaluated on qualities like originality, honesty, earnestness, maturity, and cooperation with others in addition to their production. Since employee evaluation is not a result of short-term performance, long-term performance is more prioritized here. Employees are naturally motivated to show loyalty and dedication through their attitudes and behaviors.

Final Thoughts

As we have discussed the top eleven qualities of the management system of Japan, we also got you covered about the setbacks of the corporate culture of Japan. Long working hours, i.e., around 18 hours a day, seniority and hierarchy system, language barrier, and low pay scale, are some of the significant setbacks of the Japanese management system. 

Japan has shown tremendous growth and is the third largest economy in the world today, with a tiny population compared to India. We can adopt the good principles of the Japanese management system, which can help India to make itself a dream corporate hub with employment for all and a mammoth size economy. But Japan’s corporate management system and every culture, system, and even human in this world have some good and bad qualities, but we should focus on the good qualities and try to learn from them.

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