Instances where Japanese businessmen come to us seeking to enter the Russian market are not particularly frequent (most do it directly) but they do occur with enviable regularity. For example, we are currently conducting negotiations for the merger of two companies operating in the Information Technology field in Russia and in Japan. A large IT company from Tokyo was looking for a way into the Russian market, they turned to us, and we found them potential partners in Moscow. The Japanese want to invest several million dollars in this project. The first round of negotiations is complete, and now the auditing is being carried out. Thus, now that the documents have been signed off, another round of partnership relations between Tokyo and Moscow is in the process of being wrapped up.
Yury Borisovich BULAKH arrived in Japan in 1986. Up until 1993, through his work in, first, the Embassy of the USSR, and then the Embassy of the Russian Federation, he has helped to forge economic and cultural ties between the two states. On leaving his post, he became the first Russian to be granted a continuous work visa in Japan. He organised the shooting of nature documentary films in Russia, and travelled with Japanese TV around the whole of the Russian Far East. When he turned his hand to business in 2004, he became the co-founder of the company MOSPIC JP. The company, which focused entirely on the Russian market, held a monopoly on the supply to Russia of NEPIA brand household paper products. Today, it supplies a wide range of high-quality Japanese-made goods for the Moscow supermarket chain Azbuka vkusa, as well as several wholesale companies in the Russian Far East. Yury BULAKH considers one of the main purposes of his activity to be to provide services to facilitate bringing to the Russian market representatives of Japanese business with high-quality goods for household and everyday use.
Here’s another example. In 2008, a large tourism company, H.I.S., decided to set up a representation in Moscow. They turned to us. The difficulty lay as much in putting together the formidable set of documents, as explaining to those Japanese businessmen, what the company representative could expect − to stand in line, in person, in order to register with the tax authorities. Other peculiarities of our Russian procedures also evoked surprise amongst them. We found the lawyers to help the company President, a Japanese citizen who wanted to make sure of everything personally, in obtaining a visa and permission to employ foreign workers. Naturally, all of these issues were dealt with.
But, casting my mind back to these negotiations with the Japanese, I still smile. Formalities are formalities, but trying to explain to them that neither I, nor a lawyer, thought them up, that they may be bureaucratic, but they are the rules, turned out to be the most difficult thing about that project. By the way, H.I.S. now operates successfully in Moscow, and carries Russians not only to Japan, but to third countries as well.
Quite often people come to us via the Union of Russian Compatriots in Japan where I am the Chairman of the Board of the Business Council.
The Business Council of Russian Compatriots in Japan is the first officially registered Russian organisation in the Land of the Rising Sun. Not everything is straightforward in Russo-Japanese state-to-state relations. Our two countries are the closest of neighbours. However the potential for establishing relations, especially in the area of business and trade, is, as yet, still very much under-exploited. At this moment in time, our organisation is striving to establish wide-ranging cooperation with companies which provide consultancy services or actively promote the idea of developing relations between Japan and Russia. Amongst them are: consultant.ru, REAL JAPAN, and several non-profit organisations.
What we consider to be yet another important aim of our work is to further the development of ties between the regions of Russia and Japan. At the moment, it is mainly representatives of Japanese local government bodies, interested in developing links with Russia, who get in touch with us. So, for example, I and other members of our organisation provided active assistance to the governorship of Tottori prefecture when the newly-elected governor expressed an interest in cooperation with the Russian Far East. And, since 2009, we have been assisting the prefecture in developing a strategy for entering the Russian market. The prefecture is renowned in Japan for its high-quality agricultural produce and for its fish. And the first thing that was done was to arrange the supply of fruit and vegetables to Russia’s Far East. Representatives of the prefecture also helped with the opening of the Tottori restaurant in Vladivostok. And now, in Vladivostok, the prefecture’s official representative office has already opened its doors.
A large IT company from Tokyo was looking for a way into the Russian market and we found them potential partnersin Moscow.
With their support, a factory making wooden chopsticks, all of which are supplied to Japan, has been set up in the town of Olga, Primorsky Krai,. This is but one of the many examples of how inter-regional communication, partnership between local governments, can become a real engine for developing mutually profitable economic cooperation and contacts between businessmen in the two countries.
Of course, all of the above-mentioned instances of promoting Japanese business in Russia could have come about without our involvement. It would simply have taken a little longer, and would have been a little more difficult, and, perhaps, not everything would have worked out so well.
We are a unique little bridge between the two countries. We try to put Russian realities into a format which the Japanese are more familiar with.
We are a unique little bridge between the two countries. We try to put Russian realities into a format which the Japanese are more familiar with. Large firms, it goes without saying, do not require our assistance or our services. When Toyota, for example, opened their factory in St. Petersburg, they worked directly with the city’s administration. Likewise, when Nissan decided to become one of the shareholders in AVTOVAZ OJSC, they went direct to the Russian government and brought the deal to a successful conclusion. But for small and medium-sized businesses in Japan, as well as in other countries, Russia is still a distant and unfathomable country. How can you do trade there? As the Russian proverb says: “The honey is sweet, but the bees sting”. And straight away, right there, the role of Compatriots organisations are invaluable. Here in Japan, the number of Russian compatriots is substantially lower than in other developed countries, and their experience is not so great at the moment. Nevertheless, we have already sensed that we are able to play a significant role in setting up contacts and establishing links between small and medium-sized business representatives of both countries.
In other words, foreign investors can receive an initial consultation on the business prospects offered by Russia, and conduct their initial search for partners with representatives of local Russian Compatriots organisations, right there, at home, wherever that may be: be it in Japan, France, England, or in any other country. And we can help them to save both time and money.