I had huge expectations of the internship at GR Japan, as I heard many great things about the experiences from my “senpais” and friends. I was heading towards the end of my stay in Japan, and I was debating whether the two weeks could be better spent elsewhere. But, I decided that I am up for the challenge, and I have not regretted my decision.
GR Japan is a company that specializes in dealing with government relations and providing consulting service to those companies that look to penetrate into or expand their share in the Japanese market, familiarize themselves with relevant policy trends in Japan or even lobby to have them work favorably to their business interests. Other works include providing stakeholder mapping, translation and research services. The kind of works that is being done in GR Japan is, arguably, as close as it gets to the practical application of classroom learning in public policy. And this was what I was hoping to get out of the experience, as well as an experience of having worked for a Japanese company (although GR Japan is by no means a typical Japanese company, and that in a very positive way).
I was a little unsure as to my Japanese proficiency was up for the task, but the colleagues were considerate of my limitations and strengths, and assigned me to works that I could learn from and meaningfully contribute to. It was the first time (and possibly the last) to have done Japanese-English translation, and although there is no doubt that two weeks were too short, I improved my Japanese. I also looked into some research concerning a potential lawsuit regarding Intellectual Property Rights violation and wrote biographies of relevant stakeholders. The two weeks overlapped nicely with the cabinet reshuffle period, and I could listen to some expert opinions on the appointments.
Located in Tameikesanno, which is the heart of Japan’s politics, GR Japan offers experience that was an interesting mold of “the goods” from Japanese companies and multi-national corporations. The colleagues all had first-hand experience with authentic Japanese politics and were very devoted, but the working atmosphere and condition were close to those of Google. Despite my short stay, I had small welcoming and farewell parties, and we even managed to sneak in one nomikai with my younger colleagues. There are two regrets that I have of my experience at GR Japan. One is that I could not carve out a larger chunk of my summer vacation that I could have spent for a longer internship. The second is that I did not have time to stop by the office when I came back to Tokyo for my graduation. Besides those two, my internship experience at GR Japan was truly great, and I can say with confidence that I learnt a lot. I would strongly recommend my friends and “kouhais” to strongly consider doing an internship at GR Japan, if he/she is interested in Japanese policy making (as should all students of GraSPP should be). I thank all those at GR Japan and internship office for making my experience possible