Major companies roll out red carpet for local Chinese recruits

by Junko Horiuchi

Kyodo

Panasonic Corp., retail giant Aeon Co. and four other domestic firms arranged a joint recruitment event Saturday in Tokyo, targeting Chinese students attending Japanese universities whom they view as critical to their success in China.

The companies decided to hold the job fair at home rather than in China in hopes they would find potential recruits who are more likely to adapt to Japan’s corporate culture. Precision equipment maker Omron Corp., air conditioner manufacturer Daikin Industries Ltd., office supplies maker Kokuyo Co. and Ryohin Keikaku Co., owner of the Muji brand, also participated in the event.

“While there is a race among Japanese companies to hire workers in China, there are many Chinese students in Japan who are looking for jobs,” said Yasumasa Hitomi, general manager at Kokuyo’s human resource department and who proposed the event. “In such a situation I thought, why not hold a recruiting event in Japan for Chinese people?”

The job fair, held at Meiji University in Chiyoda Ward, comes at a time when domestic businesses are struggling to recruit enough workers in China, partly because European and U.S. companies offer higher salaries and are therefore seen as better options, Hitomi said.

Around 100 Chinese students attended the event, listening to presentations about the six companies’ subsidiaries in China and the jobs on offer. It specifically targeted students who are set to graduate in September or next March.

“We hope to attract Chinese students who have learned and understand Japanese culture, as well as the high standards of Japanese customer service, for example through part-time jobs” they may have held, said Xu Jie, manager of Aeon’s recruitment team.

Xu said the supermarket operator is in need of such personnel to continue offering products and services of outstanding quality, noting demand for them is surging in China.

“We may not be able to offer big salaries like our major competitors in the U.S. and Europe, but I hope some Chinese people will feel more comfortable working for Japanese firms,” which put a strong emphasis on thorough training programs, Kokuyo’s Hitomi said.

At a panel discussion, representatives from each company answered various questions from the students, including about career paths, how their Japanese-language skills would be put to use, and the differences between working at corporate headquarters in Japan and Chinese subsidiaries.

“I was undecided about whether to stay in Japan, but after listening to the talks today I feel I can go return home without any worries” and put my experiences in Japan to use, said Wang Shu, a 24-year-old graduate student from Meiji University.

“I wouldn’t have learned about an attractive company like Kokuyo if I hadn’t come” to the recruitment event, said Wang, who hails from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and hopes to work in major cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.

Kenji Tsuru, general manager of Panasonic Corp.’s drive to hire Chinese workers, said, “We hope to attract personnel that will act as a bridge between the two countries as the company expands its business in China.”

Panasonic stressed its business-to-business operations at major events in China, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, hoping to impress and appeal to the students.

Daikin’s general manager of human resources, Wang Bin, encouraged participants to have confidence in themselves, as their time in Japan has given them a major advantage over others in their generation who have not ventured outside China.

“The experience of overcoming difficulties in a different environment is a positive factor in finding work in today’s increasingly diversified” business world, Wang said.

Bai Fengjiao, a 23-year-old graduate student from Musashino University, said the job fair helped to expand his horizons.

“I was primarily looking to work in the hotel and tourism industry, but after taking part in today’s event I think I could have a shot at other industries too.”