By LIN Jiayan , SMU School of Accountancy
This Accounting Study Mission (ASM) to Japan has been an eye-opening experience for me. Besides indulging in the delicious Japanese food and its culture, the company visits have allowed me to gain insights into the various fields of work in Japan.
During our visit to UOB Tokyo, I observed how the speakers carried themselves professionally while sharing with us more about UOB Tokyo and its operations in Japan. Although the sharing session was held behind closed doors, it was fruitful as we could exchange opinions candidly to clarify our doubts.
One of the most exciting parts of this trip was the tour around the Tokyo Stock Exchange compound. Besides being able to see for ourselves the area where stock brokers work and how they trade, we also played a trading simulation game which was fun but challenging. Having no prior experience in trading, I felt proud that I managed to clinch fourth place!
Next, we were given the opportunity to explore Kajima Technical Research Institute to understand the research and development function of the company. For example, the 3-D shaking table system demonstrated the level of detail that goes into their projections, which require high precision and accuracy. They also shared with us insights on their massive project restoring the Tokyo Station, which I understand, was their most challenging project and their greatest achievement so far. The onsite visit allowed us to understand their businesses better and how they leveraged on new technologies to provide a safer building for the Japanese.
Group photo taken under the Tokyo Tower with new friends from Keio University
The Sustainability and CSR function of Deloitte Japan was also kind enough to offer us their expertise on the environmental accounting in Japan. The speaker, who is an expert in the field of Sustainability and CSR, shared with us an overview of the company, its structure and operations. The 2-hour session at Deloitte Japan was interactive and engaging as we learnt about environmental accounting and reporting in Japan, and examined the three case studies of Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
The session provided me with the relevant information required for my own case study, as well as accounting knowledge that went beyond my lessons in Singapore. It was a fruitful trip as we gained further insights into the work as an accounting professional in the field of Sustainability and CSR in addition to Audit and Assurance which we have more exposure in. For an accounting student who wishes to work in one of the Big Four companies, this would help him/her gain a better understanding of the audit process.
We ended our five days of company visits with RICOH whose great hospitality made me feel very welcome. We visited its Eco Business Development Centre where they were very open in sharing their daily operations ranging from the manufacturing of their printers to the new technologies that RICOH adopts.
The RICOH visit proved to be one of the most interesting and productive visits as the speakers had a vast knowledge of their businesses and displayed a great level of openness and professionalism while briefing us during the site visit. I was also shocked to learn that 99.9% of their products collected from customers are reused or recycled into new products or materials. I was immensely surprised with the strong commitment such a big company had for environmental conservation. This impressed upon me an interest to work with them once I graduate!
Squeezing in sightseeing during our free time
All the information shared with me by the companies was one of my biggest takeaways for ASM Japan. This precious knowledge can’t be gained within the classroom environment. In addition, I also gained new friends during the trip – both SMU peers and students from Keio University. My buddy, Saki, from Keio University kindly shared with me her life as an undergrad student. We also exchanged views on the struggles of being a student and our plans for the future. She even offered to bring us to view the Tokyo Tower which was a 10-minute walk from the campus. She was very friendly and I was extremely glad to have made friends with someone my age in Japan.
We also had sufficient free time to explore Tokyo on our own. My new friends and I ventured into Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku and Ueno to enjoy the local food, sight-seeing and shopping. The time spent together forged closer bonds between us.
Taking neo-print in its country of origin with my new friends made during the trip
Lastly, Japan has taken a special spot in my heart. I definitely have no regrets signing up for this trip as it has allowed me to experience many firsts – shopping in premium outlets; seeing Mt. Fuji with my eyes; dipping in an onsen; walking along the Shibuya crossing; eating sushi in Tsukiji Market and much more.
Overall, ASM Japan 2017 has been an unforgettable trip that has broadened my horizons.