On 11th March 2011, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which triggered a 10 meter tsunami in the north of the country. The giant waves swept away cities, homes, even a train, leaving a path of death and devastation. The earthquake struck about 560 km² northeast of Tokyo and an estimated 28,000 people died or went missing.
The World Bank anticipated that Japan’s disaster would cost $100 to $235 billion and take five years to rebuild. Japan has so far been able to finance the rebuilding program from its national savings. The Bank of Japan provided market liquidity to ensure the stability of the financial markets but the long-term impact might be negative. Some major companies, like Nissan, Toyota or Sony, had to shut their plants or suspend their production. The national debt has increased and was in May 2012 already twice as big as Japan’s annual economic output.
In April 2012, Takao Otsuka opened the first Antal office in Japan. He has a varied background in banking and recruitment sectors and specialises in healthcare, energies, consumer products, accounting, finance and airline industry.
We wanted to know what his thoughts about the situation were.
How do these problems affect business in Japan right now?
Japan is facing a lot of problems, from the inside as a consequence of last year’s events but also from the outside due to the crisis Japan faces at the moment with China. The closest countries like China and Singapore are now mainly interested in local candidates and Europe or USA markets are difficult to reach. This is a shame as Japanese candidates are highly qualified and interested in working in these countries.
Are you positive about the Japanese market and the development of your business?
The Japanese market is not very good at the moment. A lot of Japanese companies were mainly exporting to China but with this new crisis, they need to find new markets. But I am very positive about the future and hope the market should recover within the next months.
Takao-Sama, how has life been after the tsunami and what are your feelings now?
The situation is still hard for a large amount of people. There are still radioactivity issues and that will remain for at least another 10 years. As a consequence, thousands of people had to be relocated and are now unemployed.
I remain positive; I am very busy meeting clients and interviewing a lot of candidates. With the help of the Network, I will be able to place some very good candidates worldwide.