Masanori Nakano took charge as Consul General of Japan in Chennai in April 2011. After spending four years in Chennai, which is the hub for Japanese manufacturing companies in India, he is returning back to Japan.
Nakano played a crucial role in bringing investments for a number of Japanese companies including Yamaha, Mitsubishi, Toshibha and others to India.
The number of Japanese companies that invested in South India increased to 857 (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh) from 403. The major beneficiary was Tamil Nadu, where number of companies increased to 523 in 2013 from 286 in 2011.
In an interview Nakano tells T E Narasimhan, India and Japan are natural partners and Japanese aid and investments will only go up (according to Japan Bank for International Cooperation Japanese companies plans to invest Rs 75,000 crore in India in 3 yrs) . He wants the Governments to focus on infrastructure and new initiatives, which can make doing business in India more easier.
How has been the four years for you in India?
It was really a good experience both as Diplomat and personally. Everything here inspired me especially Tamil Nadu, which has a long history, dating back to the 15th century with Japan. In 1704, when a tall Buddha statue was consecrated at the Todaji Temple, the master of ceremony was Bodhi-Sena from Tamil Nadu.
Like any person from outside, what I thought was different from what I have seen. India is a promising country and got huge potential, though there are problems which can be overcome easily, since there is energy here and young population.
During your tenure the number of Japanese companies almost doubled in South. How did you manage to bring so many companies?
Economic relationship is one pillar between the two countries and it is remarkably developed. Each companies decision is based on the opportunities they see in the domestic market and using India as a hub, thanks to its geographical advantage, to cater to the export markets.
We are a facilitator, help them when they face any problem and help with Government-related issues.
In 2008, there were just 143 companies in Tamil Nadu. But today, Tamil Nadu houses 577 Japanese companies including Nissan, Toshiba, Yamaha, Mitsubishi.
Is Tamil Nadu loosing out to Maharashtra, considering now there are more Japanese companies compared to Tamil Nadu?
Tamil Nadu is a manufacturing base. It will continue to attract investments since it got good talent, ports and social infrastructure.
At the same time numbers in Maharashtra have increased since new companies, in the financial sector, have come in the recent years.
Apart from FDIs, Official Development Aid (ODA), that Japan extended to another country, is increasing to India, which is the first country ODA was extended. India continues to remain the top most receiver of ODA from Japan.
What are the challenges Japanese companies face here?
Infrastructure is one of the major challenges, though it is improved in the last four years lot more need to be done. We are ready to co-operate to improve. Japan fund metro rail projects, water projects, transmission lines etc., now it will be extended to health care. Soon Japan would support Government to build outpatients wards.
Political stability, law and order, policies are also important to do a business.
Governments (both Centre and States) should look at initiatives which will do business more easier.
Indians are good visionaries, while the Japanese are pragmatic. Indians see everything at a macro level, while Japanese see micro-level details. Together, the two nations can do wonders and we are natural partners in the new era.