Japan has always been big on outsourcing, but it takes a different form in Japan than in other countries. Since Japan gained economic strength in the 1980’s it became very expensive, and they had to outsource labor and services. It was common for Japanese to fly to Thailand to get some dental work done and then relax at the beach sipping on coconut water and enjoying some Rad Na (noodles). Japanese would even go overseas just to go on a shopping spree. Of course, now the Japanese economy has been suffering for a long time. I could never figure it out. Japanese are the most efficient people on the planet, but they are no longer in the top ten for per capita income.
The primary country for outsourcing is India, and the primary language used is English. Japanese have never been strong in their foreign language skills. Since they are East Asian, and there are many local countries to outsource to, they might often prefer outsourcing to China, Korea, or Thailand.
Many Japanese nationals are moving to foreign countries to outsource themselves. One call center employee moved to Thailand to get a job servicing Japanese companies. The overhead is a fraction of the cost in Thailand, and the noodle dishes are just as good too! American companies are happy with English speaking Indian employees in India, while Japanese companies prefer to hire their own nationals transplanted in foreign soil. The linguistic handicap of the Japanese people is one of the reasons for outsourcing to their own nationals, but cultural condusiveness and politeness is another. Japanese are not very tolerant of those who have not mastered their infinitately complicated forms of etiquette.
Companies such as Transcosmos and Masterpiece have created call centers, data entry offices, and technical support services in Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Other jobs are going to Jakarta, Indoesia, and other places. Many of these jobs are for larger companies, while the freelancers have gained a much higher market share recently.
Although Japan is the most efficient country on earth in my mind, their inability to outsource work to well established outsourcing countries like India is a huge handicap. India can get programming, data entry, call center work, and any type of BPO, KPO, LPO, or other work done very quickly and for very reasonable prices. The Japanese reliance on their own culture is a handicap that is very inefficient in this age of globalization. I am personally happy that I am a universal human being and not addicted to any particular culture . You can put me in an African, Latin, Indian, European, Arab, Israeli, or American cultural environment and I’ll be quite happy. But, for our friends in Japan, few will ever have the flexibility that I have due to their culture which traditionally is not accepting of foreign ideas. The word for different in Japanese is the same word for “bad” unfortunately.
To end this post with a joke. There was an old Woody Allen movie from many decades ago where a beauty pagent winner was giving a speech. She said that it’s okay to be different, just as long as you are not TOO different. That was just too funny, because it was an honest version of what otherwise would have easily been a hypocritical speech.
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