More Than Half of the Companies Older than 200 Years are Japanese

The Bank of Korea made a study to better understand which are the oldest companies in the world and what are the common characteristics that have made them survive for so long. According to the study there are 5,586 companies older than 200 years, of which 3,146 are Japanese companies. Germany ranks second with 837 among the oldest in the world and the Netherlands and France tie for the third place with 196. In Spain there are only four companies older than 200 years, all of them distilleries: Raventóns, Can Bonastre, Codorníu and Chivite.

Oldest companies in the world are in Japan

It seems like one of the keys to the survival of a company for many years is its headcount; it turns out that almost 90% of the companies older than 100 years have less than 300 employees (maybe this fact is related to the Dunbar’s number). Another of the common characteristics of these companies is that they all seem to be controlled by families whose priority doesn’t seem to be to make as much money as possible but they are concerned about passing the company to the next generation and that the company provides benefits to its community, employees and clients. The Japanese people are specially careful about all these aspects in their companies; while some people criticize some of these aspects, saying that they are one of the causes of the slowdown of the Japanese economy during the last two decades: “companies should die and be born in order for the country to progress”. Some others say that it’s one of the keys to the success of Japan: “the stability and strength of our companies makes our economy robust and resistant in the long term”.

Nowadays, the oldest companies in Japan are related to construction, hospitality, metallurgy and services. I wonder how will this list be in 200 or 300 years; what kind of companies there will be on the list? Will Microsoft, Apple, Google, Wallmart and BP continue to be alive?


Japanese Strikes – The Spanish Urban Legend

In my home country, Spain, almost everybody believes that when Japanese workers go on strike instead of not showing up for work, what they do to protest is to work even harder than on normal days. They are known as “huelgas a la japonesa” which mean Japanese-style strikes.

I think this urban legend only exists in Spain and some countries in Latinamerica! I wonder how did it originate.

In Japan there are no “huelgas a la japonesa”, but “normal” strikes do exist. They are less common than in other countries and when there are protests or manifestations they are usually very civilized.

Workers of the railway company Japan Railways JR during their strike protesting with signs at the the south exit of Shinjuku station:

Japanese strike

Japan Airlines President Routine

Japan Airlines (JAL) is one of the top 10 airlines in the world by passengers. Although Japan Airlines has a lot of clients, the company is having a lot of financial troubles and in 2010 they declared bankruptcy.

Japan Airlines is the largest company in Japan, however its CEO since 2007 Haruka Nishimatsu commutes to work by bus every day and earns less money than any pilot at his company. He earns around 80,000 euros/100,000 dollars per year, he eats in the company restaurant with other employees and works in an open space with the rest of his team. On the other hand, the president of Lehman Brothers Japan used to commute by helicopter to get to his Roppongi Hills office until the company went bankrupt and sunk the world economy along with it.

Japan airlines

Japan airlines

Japan airlines

Japan airlines

Via forocoches