David Blecken
Jul 27, 2017

Dentsu tipped to join One Japan

The millennial innovation network includes the likes of Panasonic, Toyota and Fuji Xerox.

CRE-P is a technology a project realised through collaboration between One Japan members (image: One Japan)
CRE-P is a technology a project realised through collaboration between One Japan members (image: One Japan)

Dentsu is reportedly set to become a member of One Japan, a network of major companies that aims to encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism among less senior company employees in Japan. Network members include Panasonic, Toyota, NHK, Ricoh and a number of other major firms. While domestic companies make up the bulk of the membership, One Japan also accepts participation from international companies that operate in the country.

A spokesperson for Dentsu was not able to confirm or deny the news, but said he saw “no reason not to join since many big-name Japanese companies are already members”. Campaign understands that Dentsu will become part of the group later this year.

It is not clear at this stage what role Dentsu is likely to play in the network or what the effect of joining would be for Dentsu, but both could be substantial. One Japan operates in a collaborative way, with individuals frequently working together on projects that can be mutually beneficial.

At the AI Expo in Tokyo in June, Campaign spoke to One Japan members Yosuke Okawa, an employee of Fuji Xerox, and Shun Matsuzaka, a digital creative director at McCann Worldgroup, about the organisation. They used the expo to showcase CRE-P, a robotic mindfulness meditation assistant that they recently developed together.

Neither was able to confirm or comment on the possibility of Dentsu becoming a member. They noted that One Japan is likely to be a valuable network for millennials over the course of their careers and have considerable influence on the future of Japan’s corporate environment. While companies have been hesitant to publicise their participation in a voluntary scheme that hosts potential competitors, confidence has gradually grown, partly due to positive media exposure.

Okawa, one of three founders of the group, said the principle of collaboration was very important. “If we connect with each other, the impact of [our work] can be much bigger,” he said. “One Japan is betting that star innovators remain [in their companies]. We need to change our way of thinking from saying that major companies can’t be innovative. We believe we can change it.”

Okawa approached Matsuzaka to jointly develop a product after becoming interested in Matsuzaka’s AI creative director. The CRE-P project was realised in a short space of time with input from a number of other companies including Toshiba and IBM. Matsuzaka said without such an outlet for creativity, people such as Okawa “tend to leave to start their own companies or join big tech companies like Google”.

“One Japan is the only way to change the millennial generation,” Matsuzaka said. “There is a lot of great talent in all the major companies but we feel lonely in large companies. There is great technology and good ideas but also a lot of silos and as they are big the speed is slow.”

Speaking to Campaign about One Japan recently, Masaya Haraguchi, a director at ADK, said agencies have an important role to play in supporting innovation among young people and making Japanese companies more internationally-minded. Part of One Japan’s value lies in helping people connect and identify common issues, he said, adding that “the new role of agencies should [also] be that of a connector” by introducing companies to outside parties who can offer a new perspective and helping to bridge the gap between the Japanese market and the global market.

This article appeared first on Campaign Japan: 電通、One JAPANに参加の見通し

Campaign Japan

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