INTERVIEW: Datuk Ichiro Suzuki

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MD of HIRO FOOD

Starting business in Malaysia and the background of the business

I grow up in Malaysia since I was young and even though I’m a Japanese, my childhood friends are Malaysians. Some of them are working in company and also active in politics. Spending most of my time in Malaysia made me always think about coming back here even when I’m in back home in Japan or travel to any other part of the world. Tun Mahathir the Prime Minister of Malaysia,he started the idea of ‘Look East Policy’ to modernize Malaysia. I on the other hand was a graduate from an engineering faculty with hand-on experience in Manufacturing; was coining the Question of “what I can do for Malaysia?”. The idea was whether “food manufacturing technology” is a suitable contribution to this country.

Next, I started manufacturing food packaging using Japanese technology and know-how, and now the product is distributed around 80 countries worldwide.

Merit and demerit of developing business in Malaysia

Expenses in Malaysia is cheap compared to Japan. Thus, it is more suitable for manufacturing industry. Also, Tun Mahathir’s Look East Policy sees Japan as the role model where his focus is to observe and learn from Japanese work ethics. The introduction of the policy has made starting a business here for a Japanese became easier.

Another merit is, since Malaysia is a Muslim country, there are many Islamic and Halal market that offers a lot of business opportunities. Demerit of developing a business in Malaysia is we experience gap between productivity and cost GPI (Gross Productivity Index) every year. However, Japanese should respect and adapt Malaysia’s business practice when doing a business here. As a foreigner, it is important to start a business here with the intention of understanding local culture, capitalizing on local knowledge and become a good example to local business here. Must remember we are only guest who have been given opportunity to stay and do business in Malaysia.

How were you awarded as Datuk
I was awarded with Datukship by His Majesty the King of Malaysia (Yang Di-Pertuan Agong) Sultan Abdul Halim Shah on 1st of February 2014. Some people will be nominated but only a few selected people were awarded. For that particular year, there were only two foreigners including me, that was awarded with the title. It is a honor to be bestowed the title recognizing your contribution to the country. But maybe my family have been here for two generations, I was honored with the title. Also, I feel like this title is more like a responsibility for me to work harder. I hope I can contribute to Malaysia as much as I can.

How do you spend your free time
I love golf and usually I will spend my holidays and weekend playing golf. My wife likes to play golf as well, thus we will spend our time playing golf together. I think golfing is a family activity. I also like to eat, so usually on a business trip, I will bring my wife to dine at restaurants that offers delicious food.

 

[LEFT] Datuk Ichiro Suzuki, CEO of Motoko Resources Sdn Bhd, MD of Hiro Food Packages Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, Chairman of Doka Sdn Bhd, CEO of One TA Partners Sdn Bhd and CEO of Nodoka Trading Co. and [RIGHT] Shozo Yamaguchi, CEO of Unlock Design.

“I will be able to bring as much as possible volunteers to the world and to put on all efforts in contributing anything that I can to Malaysia.”

Malaysia’s potential from your perspective

Even though population in Malaysia is not large, the country’s economy is getting better and is heading towards the second largest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in ASEAN, following Singapore. Malaysian Government wants to attract more FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to Malaysia and as Tun Mahathir being the current Prime Minister,  transparency has become a priority and it makes Japanese companies to invest more easily. I am also in a mission of bringing more FDI from Japan, I think I would help to attract more Japanese investors and companies to Malaysia.

What is your current vision and what do you want to achieve now?
The world will keep developing and I am doing as much as I can to share my knowledge and connections as well as to educate Malaysians and Japanese. There are many things I would like to share with them. I have decided to live for Malaysians and I would like to do a variety of projects in collaboration between these two countries. My vision is, through business in Malaysia, I will be able to bring as much as possible volunteers to the world and to put on all efforts in contributing anything that I can to Malaysia.


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