The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

I’ve often noted in this column that one of the highlights of my job is meeting so many interesting people with compelling stories to share.

Sadly, I never crossed paths with longtime American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) leader and US–Japan trade champion Ira Wolf. After reading the touching, personal words dedicated to Ira after his untimely passing last year, I sincerely wish I had.

Americana revamped
In December 2015, a book was published called Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style. The book’s author, a cultural historian, delves into the Japanese assimilation of US fashion trends.

Take denim jeans, a prime example of how Japanese brands have done what they often do best: perfected something introduced abroad and made it their own. “Deep Pockets” looks at three brands—one a jeans manufacturer—that have cultivated a strong retail relationship with the United States, in some cases redefining and even exporting items considered ametora—slang Japanese for traditional American—back to America.

Stuff of dreams
Our March issue also revisits the diversity theme, with an interview spotlighting Yuri Akahira, the energetic head of Meltwater Japan. If you think business can be tough-going for young people and women, imagine 26-year-old Akahira leading pitch meetings for a new brand with 10 prospective clients—all of them male and nearing retirement age.

Gender parity was a hot topic at this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The group’s recent report, referenced in our lead story, reveals the finding that it may take another 118 years for women’s salaries to be the same as those of men. Anyone have a hammer for that pesky glass ceiling?

Also at Davos, Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, had this to say: “Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.”

Japan, with its lingering attachment to fax machines and oversized daily newspapers, has not exactly been at the forefront of the digital revolution in business. However, as our feature shows, Japanese companies are finally realizing the potential of social media and the importance of integrated marketing strategies.

Media and marketing are in focus this month, with “Seeing Is Believing” positioning Japanese companies as leaders in the virtual reality (VR) boom. If you thought VR headsets were just for gamers, think again.

With wide-ranging applications from test drives to building tours, 2016 could indeed be the year when VR goes from virtual to reality. Back home in the United States, it is not unheard of to buy a home, sight unseen, using VR technology; for me, this is still the stuff of futuristic dreams!

Brandi Goode has been the editor-in-chief of The Journal since May 2014, and helped lead the magazine’s relaunch last year.