Mitsuya Fujimoto is a top Japanese CEO who runs Ganapati Plc, a huge entertainment corporation. An entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience, he certainly knows a thing or two about Japanese business.

We wanted to find out what the big issues businesses are facing over in Japan are, and how the 2020 Olympic games will impact the those businesses. Yet, when speaking to Mr Fujimoto, we started chatting about fushikaden - the huge trend that’s yet to hit the West. This is why we all need to know about it, pronto. As, after all, Asia  is a huge untapped markets for many of our English-language companies here in the UK and in the US.

1. As a top Japanese CEO, what do you think are the biggest challenges Japanese businesses are currently facing?

Japan’s greatest business challenge is its declining and aging population and the stagnant nature of the workforce. With over a third of the population aged over 65 years, there will be increased pressure on businesses to hire and retain good people. Recent plans to open up the country to foreign workers may help alleviate this pressure and inject some fluidity into the market, but time will tell.

Another challenge is Japan’s ‘karoshi’ culture of overwork, which has attracted negative headlines worldwide in recent years. The Japanese government recently said that one in five workers are at risk of death from overwork. So it will be important for businesses to address this in their policies. Otherwise we are likely to see further ‘brain drain’.

2. How is the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo going to impact businesses in Japan/Asia?

Japanese culture is taking the world by storm right now. Whether it be runaway successes like the Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen single, Japanese-inspired Hollywood releases like Ghost In The Shell or Cherry Blossom festivals cropping up everywhere around the world from London to LA.

In the run up to Japan 2020 and other high profile events such as the 2019 rugby world cup in Japan, we can expect the interest in Japanese culture and brands to continue to grow. For Japanese businesses this creates an exciting opportunity to reach a global audience.

The Japanese government is capitalising on this enthusiasm for all things Japan with its Cool Japan initiative. This will further strengthen the ties between Japan and other countries. As a Cool Japan partner, Ganapati is proud to support this programme to promote the very best of Japanese thinking, ideas and technology to a global audience.

As Japan announces new immigration policies to make it more attractive for highly skilled workers from overseas and rumours of a new free trade deal with the EU, we are likely to see the country opening up more and more to the global market. It has never been a more exciting time to be a Japanese business!

3. You have mentioned business trend fushikaden. How would you describe what is it?

Fushikaden is a way of life in Japan. In essence, the concept is about transferring ‘the flower of creativity’ from one generation to the next. In other words, each generation must learn from the previous one and add something of its own before passing it on to the next.

It’s an important concept for businesses and it informs the way we approach business at Ganapati. So much of today’s culture is ‘disposable’ with a focus on what is new, of disrupting and often disregarding the past, rather than focusing on what we can learn from it. By embracing fushikaden as a business we can be creative in a way which is more authentic to our customers.

Fushikaden permeates everything about our brand – from our attention to detail, to our creative ideas and products. So it means we can deliver authentic, Japanese experiences to our audiences. Too many brands try to imitate Japanese culture and fall at the first hurdle. Why? Because audiences today are sophisticated enough to see through their pretence.

We, at Ganapati Plc, are fortunate to work with some of the most dynamic and creative minds in different sectors, all with a deep personal connection to Japan, including Emmy-award winning writers, Hollywood animation producers and top journalistic talent.

4. What are the best restaurants you can recommend for business meetings in Tokyo.

There’s a huge range to choose from, but here’s some of my favourites. Firstly, a hidden gem called Gato in Aoyama. The food is fantastic, the private dining rooms are exceptional and I can guarantee you’re unlikely to want to ever eat anywhere else once you’ve tried it!

For a truly authentic Japanese experience, Misono-Ginza is a fine steakhouse which originated from my home town, Kobe in late 1940’s.

And lastly, for something a bit different, check out Kinoe, an Italian delight in the heart of Tokyo where some of the best ingredients in Japan can be discovered.

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