Japan Management Profiles
|Shigeo Maeda – Chairman|
Shigeo is a fourth generation farmer in the Hokkaido region. He believes strongly in connecting the farm to the table, and feels that quality, creativity, and a sense of communication are success factors. Shigeo's credo is "supply customers straight from the field with what they like to cook and eat."
Operating the family farm which dates back to 1899, Shigeo grows 5 varieties of bread wheat, oats, sugar beets, Azuki beans, spring wheat, and corn for making popcorn.
Shigeo was a 2016 Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference delegate, and has hosted numerous Nuffield Farming Scholars and groups.
|Yuichiro Asai – CEO|
Yuichiro Asai is the President and CEO of Asai Nursery, Inc. The company was founded in 1907 and he is the fifth-generation owner of his family business. Originally, they produced trees and shrubs for 110 years, but the burst of Japan’s bubble economy in the early 1990’s changed that situation. The tree market sharply decreased, and they could not continue with only the tree business. Nine years ago,Yuichiro started to produce cherry tomatoes in high tech greenhouses to revive the business. He then expanded the business each day by repeating trial and error every time. Now, Asai Nursery is one of the biggest horticultural company in Japan.
After graduating university, Yuichiro worked for five years at a management consulting farm in Tokyo. Then he moved back to hometown and took over Asai Nursey in 2009. At the same time, he attended Mie University where he earned Ph.D., majoring in functional genomics and tomato breeding. That experience would be his company’s strong point. Making full use of its strengths, the company has successfully increased its market share. In addition, he is developing Tomato harvesting robots for several years by collaborating with Automobile company in order to solve the lack of human resource.
His company’s concept is to be “An R&D oriented agricultural company dedicated to improving field performance.”
Asai Nursery has been able to construct an agricultural value chain through variety development, highly systematised production, and national market distribution. Also, they are proud to be a diverse company with talented team members from around the world who will be agronomists skilled in business, science and cultivation.
|Aoi (Anna) Fujita – Secretary General|
Aoi was born in Hyogo prefecture, Japan, and is now based in Tokyo. She started her career as business consultant at Nomura Research Institute, one of biggest consulting firms in Japan, after finishing an MA in international relations (2007) and BA in history (2005) both at the University of Tokyo. Aoi was a 2019 Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference delegate.
Aoi has been engaged in a variety of fields of Japanese industry including automotive, electronics, food, trading and infrastructure, and done many kinds of research and advisory service. What she noticed there was although Japanese industry are overall sophisticated and looking for internationalization, there is one exception; agriculture. At the same time, however, Aoi realized potential of Japanese agriculture; high productivity, latest technology, highly-qualified seeds and nursery.
In order to enforce Japanese agriculture and let herself be a member of strong agriculture, Aoi changed her career and since June 2016 she has been working for Farmship inc., which develops and runs five and more indoor-farming hydroponic plant all over Japan. There she has expanded her specialty to not only business development, but also human training, plant management, corporate planning, external relationship management.
|Yosuke Narasako – CFO|
Yosuke is from Kagoshima and now living in Miyazaki, Japan. He works for a sweet potato company called Kushima Aoifarm as executive vice president. His company produces, packs and sales sweet potato. Yosuke administers the entire operation, but his main role as executive vice president is finance and international sales. Their current market is not only in Japan, but also in Southeast Asia such as Singapore but they would like to expand their market to Middle east and Europe. Yosuke was a 2019 Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference delegate.
Yosuke is interested in the utilization of IT for root crops like sweet potato. Compared to vegetables produced in greenhouse like tomato, the utilization of technology for root crop is behind. He believes that there is some way to utilize the updated technology for root crop production.
He is a graduate of Kagoshima university with a BA in International law. After graduation, Yosuke worked for a language solution company in Mumbai, India for 2 years. After that he joined in a trading company in Tokyo. At that time, he learnt deeply about sweet potato and believed sweet potato was filled with possibilities because sweet potato could be baby food, food for the elderly, side dish, main dish, dessert, distilled spirit and so on. Now he really loves sweet potatoes, and so joined this company.
Yosuke usually eats 3 sweet potatoes every day and consumes more than 1000 sweet potatoes in a year! He would like to tell sweet potato’s attractiveness to people all over the world.