Masayoshi Tamura, GM of Hitachi, on how Japan and India can collaborate for a better world

10th Sep 2014
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Masayoshi Tamura
Masayoshi Tamura, GM of Hitachi, on how Japan and India can collaborate for a better world

YourStory had the opportunity to interact with Masayoshi Tamura, General Manager, of the Software Group, Hitachi India Pvt. Ltd. Tamura San is in charge of and responsible for the software business in India and for the global market from India.

In addition,Tamura San is also the Co-Chair, Japan Council, NASSCOM, which aims to connect Japanese origin companies in India, and to promote their activities here. The aim is to forge stronger relationships between India and Japan. He is also the Co-Chair, Bangalore Japanese Association, which aims to help fellow Japanese nationals in Bangalore.

He is in the process of formalizing the title of Distinguish Professor with a college in India.

Masayoshi Tamura San compared the Indian and Japanese ecosystems and brought out the good and bad about each country explaining how both countries could improve, build relations and help each other. Here are excerpts from the interaction.

The importance of the Indian market for Hitachi 

Hitachi is a social infrastructure company, trying to work for social innovation. Their corporate activities include power, transportation, and several other social infrastructure developments. Even the IT sector’s ultimate aim is to help build the society.

“So, I would call India ‘a field to work’ rather than a market. Necessity is everywhere. For instance, about two years ago, garbage segregation system was introduced in Bangalore, but I don’t think it is working. The Minamata disease affected the Japanese a few decades ago and many people lost their lives because of mercury and other pollutants in the water.”

Tamura San is afraid that this is happening in India now and that the disease may spread in the coming years if we do not take precautionary steps.

The team behind Hitachi, including him, is working on social infrastructure development in India hoping that they can work in India, with India and for India for a brighter future.

Indian ‘jugaad’ vs Japanese innovation

India is known for its ‘jugaad’ while Japan is well known for ‘Kaizen’, just in time philosophies. All these philosophies have their own advantages and disadvantages. India has a different set of strengths compared to Japan, while Japan is also far superior in certain areas.

Tamura San feels that the huge population of 1.2 billion is strength in a way for Indians as it provides a large volume of resource and talent. The young and passionate talent work quickly with a can-do attitude and culture.

Tamura San found Indian movies to be informative and insightful about the culture and attitude of Indians. For instance, “You keep your job, and I keep my attitude,” from ‘3 Idiots’ reminds him about the energy and will power of Indian engineers.

The Indian paradox

Some people do complain that India has had no path-breaking innovators as no noteworthy companies comparable to Google or Apple have been established in India. But at the same time, many Indians have gone on to become extremely successful in India and abroad. Examples include the current CEOs of many international companies such as Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Rajeev Suri of Nokia and many more.

“But actually, the very fundamental part of India has the power of innovation, I suppose. Shiva is the God of innovation as he has no fear and restriction,” Tamura San reasoned. Innovation is in India's blood.

Is ‘jugaad’ productive or counter productive?

Some Indian leaders claim that we should stop ‘jugaad’, complaining that it is a cheap and incomplete solution, which causes problems in the long run. But he thinks that it is an example of India’s strength. Japan is not good at ‘jugaad’ because of quality assurance test and guidelines there. In some other countries, the government might restrict ‘jugaad’ by imposing regulations.

“As India is better at ‘jugaad’, I suppose we can use it as a strength factor. And considering that 400 million people are not connected to the power grid yet, we need many more ‘jugaad’ in India.”

“When I came to India, I thought the traffic was really chaotic. But now I consider that the chaos, might be a source of strength. People in India are trained to deal with confusion and chaos. Probably that is why Indians make good leaders in global organizations.”

Japanese innovation

Japan has a different set of strengths such as punctuality, and Japanese are sticklers for time. In Japan, two minutes is 120 seconds, whereas Indians (laughs) are not very punctual and time conscious. He is looking for ways to combine the strengths of India and Japan to come up with better solutions.

Collaboration between India and Japan

As Co-Chair of Japan Council of NASSCOM, Tamura San is working on having a better understanding between India and Japan. “I have joined several events and meetings about entrepreneurship in India. One of them is the NASSCOM initiatives, the 10k startup program. Several other organizations are helping startups by providing opportunities and support.”

India: a land of Bollywood, curry, cricket and Rajnikanth for most Japanese

India is still a land of mystery for many Japanese, in the same way that Indians are not totally aware of Japan.

Many Japanese think India is a country of Hindus, curry, cricket and Bollywood. “Can you believe the most famous Indian movie in Japan is ‘Muthu’, a Rajinikanth movie from 1995, which is called ‘Dancing Maharaja’ in Japan?”

Tamura San is taking part in activities to bridge the cultural gap and raise awareness between India and Japan. He will be a part of NASSCOM delegation to Japan in Septmember, and will also be speaking for an Indian consulting firm for an event in November in Tokyo.

“I request you Indians to show yourself more to Japan.They don’t know you very well.”

On Hitachi partnering with Indian startups

“Yes, we started our activities in India in the 1930s. Hitachi cannot work by itself. It needs partners.” It started working with Indian partners for offshore development in 1997.A few years ago it started building software business eco-system, and are including startups for that. Understanding the trend and the power of startups in India, Hitachi has been seeing, talking and working with startups.

One well known example is Sierra Atlantic, which was started by Indian entrepreneurs. Hitachi worked with them, and later merged it into Hitachi Consulting. In addition to the business with the integrated teams, Hitachi keeps in touch with the founders, talking about further entrepreneurship in India.

Looking at the future

Having been exposed to both Japan and India, Tamaru San has hopes that Indian leaders will be confident about themselves and be able to solve issues that India is facing in infrastructure, water, and corruption etc.

Many young Indians have often asked Tamura San some pressing questions about why India is behind and how many years would it take for India catch up with the US and Japan?

“I understand there are several issues in India, but nobody is perfect. Japan is behind India in several aspects. I tell them to be confident. Let’s work for the world using your strength. The world is waiting for you.”

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