Tomodachi Summer 2014

In this report we introduce the life and work of a friend of Japan.

Friends of Japan

Supporting Japan’s Deepening Ties with Asia

Shen Minghua

Shen Minghua, a fluent speaker of Japanese, Korean and Chinese, supports Japanese manufacturing businesses expanding into Asia.

 “Convenience stores and ATMs are available 24 hours a day and the trains always arriveon time. Everything runs so smoothly and convenience is taken so seriously in Japan thatI think it’s really a great place to live.” These are the words of Shen Minghua, a Korean Chinese who has lived in Japan for eight years and works for an IT company in Tokyo. She uses her fluent Japanese, Chinese, and Korean to support small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses from Japan as they expand into continental Asia.
 “When you visit a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) you are taken aback by the courteous and meticulous customer-centered service. The meals have a planned order so dishes arrive at the perfect moment. I’d only read about the spirit of Japanese hospitality (omotenashi) in books so I couldn’t quite imagine it before. It’s something that I think foreigners can only understand for the first time if they actually come to Japan and experience it for themselves.”
 Shen first became really aware of Japan when she was in high school. She was spellboundby the glamorous city lives depicted in the Japanese TV drama, Tokyo Love Story, when itwas broadcast in her hometown in Jilin Province, China.
 “I wanted to go and see the streets from the drama for myself. I longed for a lifestyle where people got together and had fun with their friends after work.” She immediately began to study Japanese on her own and later majored in Japanese at university. Later she could fulfill her dream to study in Japan.
 After studying in Japan, Shen thought she would return to China and become a Japanese teacher, but she got used to her life in Japan; she came to understand the way Japanese people felt, and decided to stay in Tokyo.
 “In Japan, it’s considered very important not to cause any inconvenience to the people around you.” At first, she thought this tendency was excessive, leading to a society where people rarely show their individuality. However, as she adapted to her environment, she changed her mind. “If you follow this rule, ultimately it’s a quick route toward feeling good and living an easy life.”
 At the same time, she came to sense the rich individuality of Japanese people through working with business managers in her job. “I’ve been responsible for dealing with around 30 companies, and the majority of the presidents have displayed strong personalities and clear preferences. But when we talk, they will also quietly discuss their problems and listen to advice. I don’t find it difficult to talk directly person-to-person, so it’s very motivating,” Shen stresses.
 “I like China as well, but my life in Japan is also full and satisfying, and my mother lives in South Korea now, so that’s where I go to visit her.” A new generation who can easily operate across international borders, like Shen Minghua, is supporting Japan’s deepening economic ties with other Asian countries.