Nicholas Benes, Representative Director of BDTI (The Board Director Training Institute of Japan), has first-hand experience as a board member of listed Japanese companies. He has also been on the Experts Committee of the Japan Investment Council (an advisory group to the Japanese Cabinet on FDI policy) and the Corporate Governance Liaison Committee of Japan's Financial Services Agency. Nicholas, who has lived in Japan for 32 years, is a member of the bar in California and New York, and has taught business ethics to university students in Japan.
Japan is embracing greater diversity and flexibility in its corporate culture in order to achieve sustainable economic growth despite its decreasing population. In this two-part series, journalist Aika Nanao joins leading economist Jesper Koll and lawyer Nicholas Benes for an in-depth look at the country’s efforts to stimulate the dynamic engagement of women, seniors and highly skilled expatriates in its bid to increase both the number of workers and productivity.
The power of women is perhaps the greatest unleashed force in Japanese society. Sustaining the country’s economic growth by boosting its labor force in terms of both volume and productivity demands the urgent evolution of traditional work styles to ensure women are able to fulfill their potential.
While boosting a sluggish birthrate remains Japan’s long-term goal, its labor-market squeeze can be eased more readily by welcoming more senior citizens into the workforce, as well as women. In addition, Japan is opening its door to highly skilled foreign professionals to embrace their knowledge and experiences.
Aika Nanao is a freelance writer and television reporter whose forte is Japanese diplomacy, politics, and economics. Using extensive knowledge gained through a career in broadcast journalism, she offers consultation on corporate crises and media strategy to global enterprises. Previously a correspondent for Bloomberg Television and an anchor on Nippon Television’s nightly news, she has covered events throughout Asia. Aika has also moderated international symposiums such as an IMF panel on the Japanese economy.
Jesper Koll, Chief Executive Officer of WisdomTree Japan K.K., has been researching and investing in Japan since becoming a resident in 1986. During the previous two decades, he served as Managing Director of Research and Chief Strategist for J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch. His analyses and insights have earned him a position on several Japanese government and corporate advisory committees. Jesper is one of the few non-Japanese members of the Keizai Doyukai, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.