Head Office Interview

  • Director & Executive officer, Planning division
  • Hiroki Yanagita
  • General manager, Legal Department
  • Kentaro Fujimoto

JTC is running a tourism business targeting tourists visiting Japan. How much did you two know about the kind of business that JTC is involved in before joining the company?

  • Since I joined the company after working with manufacturing and consulting firms, I had no experience of working with a firm focusing on retail business. Besides, since JTC stores are aiming at tourists from China or Korea, I felt that I had few chances as a Japanese to learn the kind of customers visiting the store and the products being sold, since there were few stores in the downtown of metropolitan cities. Therefore, I didn’t sufficiently learn enough about the kind of model on which the company was operating its business.

Prior to joining the JTC, have you inquired some information regarding the duty-free retailing industry, Mr.Fujimoto?

  • Similar with Mr.Yanagita my work of fields were focused on the industries of financial securities, informational technologies and law firm, before I joined team. my experience of retail industry is next to zero. Although I did once have an opportunity to get touch with some oversea suppliers and vendors during the time while I worked for a trading company, the opportunities for me to grasp a sense of the 100% foreigner-based business establishments are as few as my experience of traveling abroad. Hence, puzzled by the question that whether the JTC establishments are almost never serving Japanese customers? I initiated my research targeting the Domestic operations of the JTC.

Head Office Interview

How did you come to think of joining JTC despite no in-depth knowledge about the Tax-free business as well as about the retail business, Mr. Yanagita?

  • At the time I was thinking of joining JTC, the government was just about to put into practice policies about the inbound business. This caused newspapers or mass media to be overflowing with topics about tourists visiting Japan. This helped me to think that the business targeting tourists visiting Japan was at its best.
    Moreover, a former colleague of mine also commented that JTC has the potential to grow in Kyushu particularly, and I also came to learn that it is a prerequisite for a growing firm to consolidate its management system. Under such circumstances, I made up my mind to join the company so that I may contribute toward the growth of the company as far as I could, by making the best use of my experience for the management projects on hand for the growth of JTC.

Why did you want to join the JTC, Mr.Fujimoto?

  • It is somewhat embarrassing to say, unlike Mr.Yanagita, I did not have such through research and thinking regarding the target group, development of the industry, the corporation not even the feature of a company that under accelerating speed of growing. I was completely attracted by the charisma and the geographical advantage related rapid growth of the company.
    Meanwhile there's no Legal Department when I joined this comapany. Then I belonged to the General Affairs Department that was under a back to back (two officers a team)system, hence, under the thinking of capitalizing my experience as well as the social background, while learning experiencing more, I joined the company. Surprisingly, after two months that I entered, the current general director at that time retired, with little of preparation, I took the wheel.

Head Office Interview

Incidentally, did you know that there are two kinds of Duty-free shops, that is, ‘Tax-free’ and ‘Duty-free’ shops? I happened to learn about that right after joining the company.

  • Before joining the company, I didn’t know about that at all. A ‘Tax-free’ shop is the one with the added value tax exempted, while a ‘Duty-free’ shop is a retail shop where taxes and added value taxes are exempted, and commodities are sold case by case, involving such things as liquor tax for liquors and tobacco tax for tobaccos along with tariff duties.
    The emblem derived from cherry blossoms frequently found in Japan in recent years represents a ‘Tax-free’ shop, which numbered some 40,000 shops as of April 2017, realizing an 8-fold jump over the past 3 years. Possibly included in the reasons as to why ‘Tax-free’ shops have flourished in Japan is the low tariff rates along with the fact that commodities bought in a Japanese Tax-free shop are tax-exempted right on the spot and right at the time it is bought, compared with elsewhere where the tax refund process starts only after the departure process has begun.

Could I ask you to further explain JTC’s business?

  • With the inbound business, which is Tax-free, booming distinctly in Japan over the past few years, many stores are running businesses under the emblem of a Tax-free business. I would have surely doubted that we could survive amid such excessive competitiveness.
    I think that JTC has a key strength in the inbound business line that is inaccessible by competitors, based on a B2B concept, which has been left wide open. With the exception of a few, many tourists would start from a group tour and a free tour at first, later trying out for individual travel.
    JWhile a travel agency is beckoning tourists from what is called a ‘land business’ that deals with group tours to the one, JTC is a specialist in the tourism business where 90% of all staff members serve the customers while speaking foreign languages, thus putting the tourists at ease by providing services in their respective mother tongues, based largely on broad and profound relationships with the companies in charge of specific tour itineraries. This makes a significant difference and reveals strengths, ranking JTC high in the tourism business line, thus differentiating it from other new entrants into the inbound business.