As different as the Japanese and Quebeckers are, the two peoples have more in common than they seem.
When the Quebec entertainment, artistic and technological creation firm Moment Factory looked for a first base in Asia five years ago, its co-founder and chief innovation officer, Dominic Audet, already knew where he wanted to go. “I wanted it to be Japan. “
Like everyone else, he had heard that it was long and difficult to carve out a niche in this wealthy country relatively closed to foreigners and so different from Western culture. “All of this is true, at least initially,” he says. But it was like a call to me. I had grown up with Japanese cartoons and video games. It was my chance to work with icons in our entertainment, tech and culture industry like Sega, Sony and Bandai Namco. “
As soon as you have success in nested markets in the United States or Europe, come to Japan right away. It is a country for you.
The affair has also gone rather well, the Quebec company multiplying, since, projects and partnerships in Japan. As in Quebec, it is already on its third illuminated forest trail. It has also just inaugurated a multimedia space at the world’s largest rail hub, Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, where 3.5 million passengers pass every day.
Moment Factory will also be featured during the Olympics. The organizers entrusted him with the creation of an interactive multimedia podium in the Olympic agora that they have planned in downtown Tokyo. Well known, among other things, for its projections during large-scale shows, the Quebec firm will also be associated with “another big event” directly linked to the Games, Dominic Audet indicated two weeks ago, while specifying not to have the freedom to give more details.
Quebec and Japan have much more important ties than one might think, explains the head of the Quebec General Delegation in Tokyo, David Brulotte. Very stable, their trade thus suffered relatively little from the COVID-19 crisis, temporarily pushing Japan up from the 5e to 3e rank of the most important export markets in Quebec. A large part of these sales are of mining and agrifood products, but they also benefit the aerospace sector, the information technology sector and even culture. “Moment Factory is a good example of these exchanges in the cultural sector,” notes the Quebec delegate general. Japan was also very important in the development of Cirque du Soleil in Asia, and artists like Robert Lepage and Céline Dion are very well known here. “
The same cannot be said of the subsidiaries of Japanese companies present in Quebec, which generally prefer to be discreet. However, many have been there for a long time and they still employ around 10,000 people in total. “We can therefore speak of major economic relations between Quebec and Japan, but rather little known. “
It is true that Japan is a mature economy where it can be difficult for a foreign company to find its place, says David Brulotte. “But it is also a very innovative economy which seeks niche and quality products. An economy in which companies, especially large ones, are extremely well capitalized and don’t worry too much about prices. “
Time to get to know each other
The general delegate would like to succeed in convincing Quebec companies in strong growth not to wait so long before considering the Japanese market. “As soon as you have success in nested markets in the United States or Europe, come to Japan right away. It is a country for you. “
However, it must be remembered that there are not only the barriers of distance and language, recalls Dominic Audet. “There are countries where it may be enough to organize three meetings to sign a contract, but if you try to do that in Japan, people will welcome you kindly, you will feel like everything is fine, but this will not lead to anything. I went there for two weeks, every two months, for four and a half years. You have to go there, and go back, and go back again, to build, little by little, personal relationships of trust. You have to get used to moving slowly. “
The artist-entrepreneur does not see it as a flaw in Japanese business culture, quite the contrary. “We knew the Japanese were very attracted to novelty, technological innovation and the artistic side, but they exceeded our expectations. They are extremely nice. Even in business, they start with human relationships. Yes, you have to put in effort, but when you do, you create real and beautiful bonds that last. “
Despite the world that separates the two cultures, this importance given to human relations can sometimes recall certain character traits that are also attributed to Quebecers, confides David Brulotte. “I would say that it shows particularly in the pleasure we have in being around the same table, sharing a meal and talking about all kinds of more personal things. “
In short, “Japan is far away, it requires effort, but it offers a lot of possible encounters,” he said. “It’s a big hidden treasure. “
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