Japan is the first country in the world to have become a full-fledged “aged society.” As such, it faces major related healthcare challenges, which include the uneven distribution of physicians—both regionally and in areas of specialization—and a need to revise its healthcare system. The country is also fuel-resource poor, and energy has been a long-standing concern. And since the tragic disaster that hit the Tohoku region in 2011, Japan is confronted with the issues of reconstruction, community building and the strengthening of disaster-contingency planning.
It is the mission of GE Japan to take full advantage of GE’s state-of-the-art technology and global experience to help resolve these and other issues faced by Japan. We seek to not only deliver the expertise we have cultivated through our businesses, but also walk hand-in-hand with communities through volunteer and other community activities—putting our heads together to think of the future, and learning and growing together.
To achieve these goals, each one of us must dedicate ourselves to our work with passion and vitality. GE Japan is deploying various efforts for the further refinement of its corporate culture and the development of leaders, so that employees can further increase their motivation, enhance their skills and radiate leadership.
Helping our customers succeed by sharing GE’s managerial know-how
GE Capital provides financial services to companies, and many of its customers are small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). We consider ourselves not simply a provider of financial services, but also a business partner that helps customers grow.
In its many years of business, GE has nurtured management techniques such as the Work-Out (problem-solving), Six Sigma (improvement of production efficiency and quality) and the Change Acceleration Process (CAP: promotion of management innovation). Because we want our customers to be able to benefit from such managerial know-how, our employees visit customers around Japan to hold the ACFC (At the Customer, For the Customer) seminar. In 2011, we held 179 ACFC seminars, involving a total of 3,523 participants from 1,053 companies. This is just one of the ways we help our customers succeed.
The leadership development programs specialized for employees in Japan
GE has enriching universal leadership development programs, and many employees from Japan participate in them each year. There are also training programs that have been developed specifically for employees in Japan.
One example is the Japan Leadership Acceleration Program (J-LEAP), a one-year program that about 20 senior-level employees participate in each year. They work as groups to promote actual projects, receive coaching from leaders within and outside of GE, and develop their own leadership styles. J-LEAP helps trainees become aware of weaknesses that may be particular to the Japanese people and culture, in the context of the global business scene. It assists them in maximizing their strengths in order to contribute to their organizations, and in developing comprehensive leadership skills that will be effective in the international business arena.
Another leadership development program in Japan is the Female Talent Acceleration Program (FTAP). In GE Japan, women make up 13% of management. Though higher than the average in Japan, this percentage is significantly lower than that of other GE offices in developed nations. FTAP is a six-month program designed to support the acceleration of women’s careers. About 20 women in entry-level management positions participate each year, developing their leadership skills through the promotion of actual projects and by receiving the guidance of mentors.
Building a sustainable future in the disaster-affected area
Japan faces major challenges in reconstruction and the building of communities that can withstand disasters, since the tremendous damage inflicted by the major earthquake of 2011. Fisheries were one of the primary industries in the afflicted regions, but ships and port facilities were heavily damaged or lost through the tsunami. There are many who lost not only their homes, but their livelihoods as well.
GE has established its Tohoku headquarters in the affected area so that we may gain an understanding of the circumstances in disaster-stricken areas and the needs of local residents, as well as work closely with local administrative bodies and companies. Furthermore, we formed a country-wide GE organization to provide reconstruction assistance. It is leading several major projects as a member of the Ishinomaki Recovery Assistance Council.
We joined forces with a partner company to create a new industry in the affected area, and in April 2012 began operation tests of an indoor farm. This farm, which utilizes GE technology, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for the promotion of plant growth, and sensors, is expected to realize stable production of vegetables regardless of weather conditions and at a low cost. If the commercialization aimed at for the spring of 2013 is achieved, it will lead to the creation of new jobs and a new local industry.
Creating a new ideal of healthcare for the super-aging society through reconstruction
A “super-aging society” is one of the major issues being faced by Japan. Today, one in five people in the nation is aged 65 years or older. This aging of the population is accelerating at an astounding speed, and the ratio of the elderly is projected to be 1 in 3 by 2035, and 1 in 2.5 by 2055. Not only are healthcare needs and medical expenses expected to swell, pressuring national finances, an increase in the elderly, who will have difficulty visiting hospitals, will rapidly amplify the need for home calls by healthcare professionals, as well as home medical care. The shortage of doctors will also become a problem in sparsely populated areas, regional towns and cities. A major reform of Japan’s healthcare infrastructure is now of dire need.
Under its Early Health model, which focuses on the prevention of diseases, GE is striving to develop even more advanced diagnostic technology. We are working on the merging of healthcare, and information and communication technologies, which is the cornerstone for the realization of dispersed healthcare.
Before the March 2011 disaster, the Tohoku region provided a snapshot of the issues faced by Japan, such as an aging society and depopulation. There, we are leading the spread of a new form of healthcare through the contribution of eleven “doctor cars.” Each car contains functions equal to that of a small clinic, in addition to highly mobile diagnostic equipment specifically developed to enable doctors to visit patients and carry out diagnosis.
Other industrialized nations will eventually face the issue of an aged populace. Creating a desirable form of healthcare in Japan’s aged society will serve as a beacon for other countries following this nation’s footsteps.
In a country such as Japan with poor fuel resources, energy has been a concern for many years. For the supplier of electrical power, the promotion of green and efficient power generation is a pressing issue. Meanwhile, there is an urgent need for consumers to undertake measures to reduce the amount of electricity they use.
Full-scale energy-efficient road lighting was installed and lit in October 2011 on the Sendai Airport Route Line, which extends from Sendai Airport toward the city center. The Sendai Airport Route line has now been reborn into an environmentally friendly road that has adopted state-of-the-art technology.
Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, was one of the regions affected by the earthquake of March 2011. Untold damage was caused even several kilometers inland from the tsunami. The Sendai Airport Route (Prefectural Highway Route 20), which extends from the coastal airport towards the city center, was among the areas affected by the tsunami, and lost many of its streetlights. GE has been involved with Miyagi Prefecture in creating environmentally friendly communities even before the earthquake. As a measure towards the restoration of this highway, GE donated and installed new LED streetlights along a 2km stretch on Route 20. These streetlights reduce energy consumption by 74% compared with conventional lighting, and the highway was reborn as an eco-friendly road.
This is the first time that LED streetlights have been installed along a 2 km stretch of road in Miyagi Prefecture. With its energy efficiency verified, the installation is attracting attention as a model for environmentally responsive endeavors.
“Be an Inventor” projects—Children think about sustainable communities with GE Volunteers
One of GE Volunteers’ activities in Japan is the “Be an Inventor” project. Through this project, children can develop a better understanding of sustainable communities. Originally formulated by GE Japan employees, it has a 9-year history. In 2011, we held programs at 16 elementary schools, including in the disaster-affected area, in which 1,197 students and 411 GE employees participated.
Sixth graders at the Ishinomaki Kaihoku Elementary School came up with ideas for the reconstruction and future of their city, Ishinomaki, which suffered damage from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Our volunteers were inspired by these strong-spirited children and their dreams of building a sustainable community of the future.
Japan Technology Initiative—to boost innovation and the growth of the Japanese manufacturing industry
GE launched the Japan Technology Initiative in 2007, which focuses on “open innovation” through technological partnerships with Japanese companies. The goal is to combine Japan’s world-class technical expertise with GE’s global marketing and business acumen to create new solutions and contribute to the resolution of global issues. At the same time, the initiative helps boost the growth of the Japanese manufacturing industry.
Although Japan is a matured market, economic growth can be promoted by leveraging the country’s technological strengths and responding to overseas demand. Furthermore, the GE Global Innovation Barometer, an awareness survey related to technology that was commissioned by GE in 22 countries around the world, showed that executives of Japanese companies in the technology field were eager to promote their exports and expand globally. GE continues its efforts to increase the opportunities for mutually advantageous collaboration with Japanese technology companies by utilizing GE’s characteristic strengths—the diversity of its businesses and global network.
On GE Japan’s website, there is a permanent entry form for Japanese companies and research institutes wishing to carry out technological collaboration with GE. We will also continue to hold events and other activities throughout the year for the purpose of technology matching.
For more information on the Japan Technology Initiative, visit: www.GE.com/jp/technology (in Japanese only)