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Experience of the 8th CLMV Leadership program in Japan (Through memory of one participant)| Tran Ba Cuong Deputy Director of WTO Division Multilateral Trade Policy Department Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam [Date of Issue: 30/November/2014 No.0237-0954]

Date of Issue: 30/November/2014

Experience of the 8th CLMV Leadership program in Japan
(Through memory of one participant)

Tran Ba Cuong
Deputy Director of WTO Division
Multilateral Trade Policy Department
Ministry of Industry and Trade of Vietnam


The Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST) has organized the 8th CLMV Leadership program in order to provide the experience of Japan in human resources development (HRD) to the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam). In this program, the Japanese government and companies introduced the way they develop and manage their own human resources for strengthening their competitiveness in the global market. In addition, participants of CLMV countries also gave information on their country's human resources development policies, educational and vocational training system. As a participant to the program, I would like to share some of my views and understanding about this program.

1. The HRD measures and policies of METI

METI introduced its policy on promotion of internships. METI promotes internship projects in collaboration with Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) for strengthening and expanding practical education through university-industry collaboration. METI has been involved in the creation of the overall framework and conducted surveys, studies on the promotion of industry participation and the dissemination of internship opportunities. It has also engaged in awareness-raising activities.

Internship program was very comprehensive and practicable. In fact, the program provided a good chance for fresh students to practice their skills and apply knowledge into the real business. By joining this program, the companies will have a chance to recruit the excellent students when they graduate. This is a good point that the CLMV countries can learn from Japan.

2. A visit to the Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA) and presentation by Professor Tomikazu Hiraga of NLI Research Institute

HIDA was established on 30 March 2012 by merging The Association for Overseas Technical Scholarship (AOTS) and the Japan Overseas Development Corporation (JODC). HIDA stated its mission as coexisting and growing together and highlighted its spirit as a devotion to people in developing countries.

During our visit, we were introduced the facilities of HIDA center and had a chance to listen to a presentation on HIDA's commitment toward HRD initiatives in CLMV countries. It was widely known that HIDA had provided a lot of training activities for industrial human resources development, including technical training and management training programs. In pursuing management localization, Japanese-affiliated companies overseas tend to allocate more core personnel who were recruited locally and train them to the higher positions including executives, planning, design and development. HIDA training and expert dispatch programs have been used to develop their core personnel in this localization process. In both of presentations by HIDA representative and Professor Tomikazu Hiraga, we were made to aware that Japan (METI) had a global Internship program aiming to develop human resources that can serve as the bridge for strengthening economic cooperation and developing business ties between Japan and host countries, including CLMVs. To that end, under this internship (working experience) program, young and promising Japanese are dispatched to governments, government agencies, industrial organizations, local companies and Japanese companies overseas, in developing countries. Though CLMV governments have difficulties in implementing such programs due to financial constraint, we hope that a similar program, at a limited scope for selective officials who are awarded scholarship granted by developed countries, would be introduced by our governments. By learning and doing this way, we can develop and nourish good human resources for our governments.

3. The HRD strategies of SMEs

The HRD of Japanese SMEs are also very useful and practicable. Though these HRD programs are very costly, Japanese companies still adopt and maintain such programs for the benefit of themselves, the host countries and the local people.

On our visit to Nambu and Nikko Kinzoku, we learned that these companies have a good human resources development strategy though they are small and medium enterprises. These companies decided to invest and set up subsidiaries in South East Asian countries and they tried to train the local workers. The training programs include courses for executives and workers in the local countries and also programs sending local workers to Japan to improve their skills. Though these programs cost a lot and made their initial investment increase, such companies do not hesitate to put their money to develop the capacity of the local human resources. In some cases, these companies have to bear themselves the risk of breaking commitment by the local workers (the trained workers quit after training). With these strategies, the companies could ensure a good human resources development for their operation in the local countries which require a long term investment. Through the visits, we learned that investment on human resources for a long term would bring a good result for business.

4. On-the-Job-Training (OJT) and other programs

Most of the companies we visited, such as Nambu, Nikko Kinzoku, Family Mart, Mani, and even Toshiba use OJT. When training new employees, they start with the basics and the experienced workers teach the newly recruited ones through the detailed steps of work. The new workers learn through actual work experience and grow with superior's/mentor's guidance and assessment. By doing that way, the workers could develop their skills and learn from training programs.

Besides that traditional training, big companies like Toshiba combined the OJT with other modern forms of training such as global training, training by levels, training by job, and leadership development. Toshiba has a training center which is operated by Toshiba Human Resources Development Corp. Toshiba has a basic policy for developing global talents, too. The core courses for developing global talents in Japan include global talents basic course and young executive candidate school. Additionally, Toshiba has training programs for expatriates aiming to equip Japanese staff who are scheduled to go to foreign countries. These programs comprise of pre-departure expatriate training, global negotiation training, and family support training. Toshiba also has a good recruitment policy in CLMV countries. For instance, Toshiba recruits its staff from Vietnam's top universities and has internship collaboration with 2 universities, namely Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Japanese IT skill and Japanese language) and Vietnam National University (Toshiba Collaboration Laboratory established in 2007).

5. Japanese HRD strategy vs Western HRD strategy

Visiting Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Group) envisioned us the differences between the Japanese and Western human resources development strategies.

Japanese HRD strategy focuses on the lifelong employment and promotion based on seniority while the western HRD strategy is built on the merit-based pay system. Japanese attachs importance to the service years (seniority) and treat every staff equally. And most of Japanese employees chose to a long-term employment for a company until they retire. In Japanese companies, loyalty is important and one of the most important factors to evaluate the employees. Further, Japanese companies respect the team work very much. In recruitment aspect, Japanese companies tend to recruit new graduates.

On the contrary, in the western HRD strategy, employees are paid for their own performance with a job description designed specifically for theposition/assignment. The company only hires the applicant if he/she qualifies for the position with required skills, experience and qualification. In addition, Western companies prefer the individual performance, rather than team work.

As a global logistics service provider, NYK found a need to adapt itself to both trends. For the headquarters in Japan, it applied the Japanese strategy while it applied Western style for the Japanese-affiliated companies overseas. This adopted flexibilities in its operations abroad while maintained its traditional style in Japan.


Japanese investors have been viewed as one of the most responsible entrepreneurs in our CLMV countries. Japan becomes the number one investor in some CLMV countries, too. Japanese companies are also well known for its' human resources development with human-focused strategy. Good examples of the Japanese investment into Vietnam could be highlighted as Toyota, Yamaha, Hitachi, FamilyMart, Toshiba Corporation, Mani, NYK Line, AEON, Canon, Denso, etc.

The HRD strategy of Japan is very suitable and applicable to CLMV countries as Japan and CLMV share the common value of culture. CLMV countries also pay much attention to seniority, experience and attitude of the employees. On one hand, qualification degrees are acknowledged, on the other hand, we highly welcome those who are willing to respect the seniority, hard-working, cheerful, and devoted to the work. We like the model of a more family-like corporate culture (i.e. team work), respect and promote the employees who grow and mature through work. The OJT is also a good model for us to follow Japan and it will become one of the most important elements in our HRD program which is going to be designed soon.

The CLMV leadership program included a various kind of site visits to leading and successful companies. 12 government officials of CLMV countries had a chance to discuss and exchange views with representatives of these companies. By joining this program, participants obtain various suggestions in developing human resources for their economies. In opinion exchange with successful Japanese companies operating in Asia, participants learned Japanese expectations and their contribution on human resource development in Asian countries. From such discussions, participants may consider reviewing their HRD policies to see how to improve them to match with those expected by Japanese investors so the CLMV countries can attract more investment from Japan.

In conclusion, we would like to thank the IIST, HIDA, METI and the companies we visited for sharing HRD knowledge with us. We have learned a lot from the CLMV Leadership Program, specifically from our visits to the SMEs. We found the program very productive and meaningful as well as enjoyable. We look forward to having more chance to work with you in the future for other themes.

(original article : English)

Related Page
The 8th CLMV Leadership Program in Japan (FY2014)

(For the Japanese version of this article)

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