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Hajime YAMAGUCHI (President and CEO, Taru Publishing Co.; United States Certified Public Accountant)

Enjoying a quiet drink alone

At the counter of Shimeudon Sanraku, his favorite udon noodle restaurant in Osaka’s Kitashinchi district, Mr. Yamaguchi enjoys a quiet drink alone. While basking in the freedom after work, he can’t help but glance at the liquor bottles and seasonal side dishes in the restaurant, perhaps due to his line of work.

Why did Mr. Yamaguchi, who was involved in finance for many years after graduating from Osaka University, end up in the publishing business? The answer lies in “chance meetings" and a “natural outcome” of the path that he chose.

Wanting to study at OU with its prominent professors

Mr. Yamaguchi is the eldest son of a family in the business of golden leaf stamping on Nishijin-ori textiles in Kyoto. Golden leaf stamping is a technique to draw gold patterns on an object by applying lacquer as an adhesive. When moving on to college, he says, “I decided to enter the school of economics, as I wanted to make use of my favorite subject in school, math. Osaka University, a national university with prominent professors, was just the environment I wanted to study in, which is why I entered the university.”

After entering OU, he majored public economics, and got into the seminar of Professor Hirofumi SHIBATA, who eventually became a dean at the School of Economics Dean. Full of a love of learning, Mr. Yamaguchi says, “Even the courses on Saturdays were really interesting. I had a perfect attendance record and always took notes.”

He loved leisure time as well

His seniors and classmates from high school in the male choir tossed him in the air in celebration when he was accepted into OU, which led him to join the male choir himself. However, he quit the club after only a year to take care of his sick family member.

He focused on his studies after that, but was also attracted to scuba diving due to his love of free diving as a child. He went scuba diving in Australia and Fiji as well as various spots in Japan.

Becoming CPA-qualified to develop his career

When he advanced to his 4th year at university in 1989, Japan was in the midst of a bubble economy. “I wanted to work in finance or trading. Rather than traveling around the country on business, I figured that working in a local bank based in the community would allow me to engage in work that I wanted to do with time and care. So, I ended up taking a position at The Nanto Bank, Ltd. (Nara City)" Three years after he entered the work-force, he applied for a 6-month training period at the Hong Kong Branch of Mitsubishi Bank (which had a strong relationship with his bank), and passed with flying colors.

“I’ve always enjoyed learning foreign languages, so I was able to easily get used to life abroad, and I could even speak a little Cantonese.” For his experience in Hong Kong, he was assigned in overseas investment in the international division for 7 years after returning home. In addition, “To keep with the trend of alignment of domestic accounting standards to international accounting standards, I got my U.S. CPA license.” After working at Nanto Bank for 16 years, he worked at Fidelity (Boston) and other companies, and later, he went on to start a consulting company on his own. This is where he had an unexpected encounter with the publishing industry.

Getting involved in a profession outside of his field

“As I gave financial support to small businesses, I eventually met Mr .Keitaro Takayama, Representative of Taru Publishing (now: Chairman), and began taking on the role of financial consultant, even sitting in on management meetings.” Mr. Yamaguchi always loved looking for good food and drink, as well as writing, so this was a job he was meant to find. Regularly writing a series of essays, called “Hajime no Kyohajiime,” in the magazine, brought he and Mr. Takayama closer, and Mr. Yamaguchi officially took part in management and planning. He became President in January 2015.

Designing the magazine to target people in their 30s and 40s as well, he also wants to create an English version in the future

“It's said that the publishing industry will not prosper in the Kansai region, so most companies have shifted to Tokyo. Even so, we’d like to continue to publish ‘Monthly Taru,’ which has been loved by brewing industry as well as cultural figures in Kansai for the last 35 years since its first issue. We’re now looking to expand ‘Monthly Taru' for the next generation. But how do we breathe life into the publishing industry facing an emerging challenge from digital publishing? This is a serious mission for us. While we do need to consider digitizing the magazine, we take a proactive approach toward the print magazine because print media won’t disappear."

Currently, the magazine’s readers are men in their 50s and 60s, but “we’ve also recently begun to design the magazine targeting readers in their 30s to 40s as well. We have only 8 employees, so I tell them to always engage in the work with a clear-cut aim.” As Japanese cuisine has been added to the UNESCO cultural heritage list and sake and Japanese whiskey gain popularity overseas, Mr. Yamaguchi added, “I’d eventually like to create an English version of 'Monthly Taru' and deliver Japanese food culture to people all over the world.” 

Meeting all kinds of people is a huge benefit

On another front, Mr. Yamaguchi travels around Japan and Hong Kong as a U.S. CPA. In his time off from such difficult work, he focuses on his passion from when he was in junior high school: track and field. “I’m registered with Japan Masters Athletics and enter events about once a month. I  refrain from drinking before competitions, but I occasionally need to socialize…” smiled a sun-tanned Mr. Yamaguchi.

Looking back on a life full of colorful acquaintances, he encouraged current students, saying, “You’ve only got 4 years as an undergrad, so try to meet different kinds of people and maintain your relationships with them. Your personal network will bring benefits to your private and work lives.

Hajime YAMAGUCHI

President and CEO of Taru Publishing Co. A 1990 graduate of the School of Economics, Osaka University, Mr. Yamaguchi entered The Nanto Bank, Ltd. and acquired his US CPA license during his tenure. After working at a handful of companies, including a foreign investment trust company, he began his own consulting company. He took his current position of President and CEO of Taru Publishing Co. in 2015.

 Corporate Information

Taru Publishing Co. , 4-5-11 Minami-kyuhoji-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Taru Publishing Co. launched the first issue of Monthly Taru, a magazine to introduce ways to enjoy alcohol, foods best complemented by alcohol, and food culture, in 1980. Currently, the company prints 100,000 copies each month and publishes independent books, such as Kotobukiya Copywriter KAIKO Takeshi by TUBOMATSU Hiroyuki. 

Website: http://taru-pb.jp/

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