Building bridges

Daiki Fukushima of technology, import and export company Toho International on how advances in remote business can bring Japan and China closer together

“The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to change our lifestyle, our way of working, and our mindset,” says Daiki Fukushima, president and CEO of Toho International. “There is, however, a silver lining: IT businesses are booming and the internet has expanded into a universe of endless possibilities.” The majority of Toho International’s business is between China and Japan, including a newspaper published for Chinese expats living in Japan. Fukushima believes the new digital age offers opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. “There are three remote businesses that I believe have wonderful developmental prospects and will enhance Japan-China relations: remote tourism, remote education, and remote healthcare,” he says. “None of them have launched fully yet, but I have no doubt that all three will bring the two countries closer together.” Here are his visions for each field.

“The internet has expanded into a universe of endless possibilities”

Remote tourism

“Remote tourism is more than just a business. It brings people closer, acting as a bridge between countries. Japan and China are said to be close yet distant – many Chinese people know little about Japan, but more than 80 percent of those who visit Japan want to return one day or move there. I believe that remote travel will gradually see more people outside the country fall in love with Japan. There are over 1.4 billion people in China but only a few of them can come to Japan, especially while travel is restricted by the pandemic. Remote travel is easy and cheap – and could even be free if funded by advertising.”

Remote education

“The pandemic has affected those planning to studying abroad. Most international students in Japan are from China, so we are currently teaching Japanese remotely at high schools in China. We have also collaborated with China’s Ministry of Education to set up the Asia-Pacific Education Innovation Association in Japan. Chinese people who study Japanese are more likely to study or find a job in Japan, and sightseeing in Japan becomes easier.”

Remote medical care

“Toho International has started the Japan-China Telemedicine Physician Discussion Organization, which allows Chinese patients to request a second opinion from Japanese doctors. The medical facilities in China are second to none but the population is large: doctors don’t have much time to spend on individual patients. This lack of individual attention explains why we receive so many requests for consultations. When Chinese people receive a diagnosis for a condition such as cervical cancer, 90 percent will immediately undergo surgery. Japanese doctors may take different views, and so their assessments can be very valuable.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Keisuke Tanigawa