KPMG veteran Tomoki Kasama returns to lead the Japan Desk

02 June 2021 3 min. read
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Tomoki Kasama, a KPMG partner and 30-year company veteran, has returned to the UAE to help Japanese companies do business in the Middle East. 

Kasama will lead KPMG Lower Gulf’s Japan Desk – a dedicated office set up in 2007 to facilitate business relations between a strong Japanese economy and high-opportunity markets across the Middle East. Services include business expansion, cultural alignment, language support and informed decision-making for Japanese companies. 

“We are in close connection with Japanese companies, assessing their business strategy to find out what KPMG can offer in professional business services, including audit, tax, merger & acquisition and management consulting services,” said Kasama to, offering some insight into his role at the Dubai-based Japan Desk.

Tomoki Kasama, Head of the Japan Desk, KPMG

This includes honing in on any Japanese company seeking expansion opportunities, while keeping prospective clients updated on favourable changes in the tax regime and business environment. An expansive mandate: Kasama is helped along by a vast base of professional experience. 

Accredited by the Japanese institute of Certified Public Accountants, Kasama joined KPMG more than three decades ago – a professional career that has spanned manufacturing, finance and trading services and seen him work across Japan, India, the UK and, most recently, the UAE.

Strengthening ties

Following a recent hiatus due to Covid-19, Kasama now returns to Dubai to head up the Japan desk – enticed by what he believes is a burgeoning economic relationship between the two markets. “In Japan, the population is decreasing, and many Japanese companies are seeking business opportunities outside Japan. The UAE is viewed as an attractive hub for expanding business in the MENA region,” he said.

And there is a strong base for collaboration. In January last year, the UAE’s Ministry of Economy valued non-oil trade between Japan and the UAE at just over $130 billion for the period between 2009 and 2019. An Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce meeting from February 2020 revealed that 340 Japanese companies and 11,000 brands are already registered in the UAE. 

Many more will likely come chasing opportunities in what is becoming a global financial hub – and Kasama will be there to support them. For him, a major part of the job is to ensure cultural alignment between Japanese executives and their Middle Eastern counterparts. 

“Japanese companies usually work with strict budget constraints,” he said, which affects their willingness to pay fixed consulting fees for KPMG, while also driving a tendency to cut costs on hiring. “Even though the Japanese expatriates are fluent in English, they do not usually understand administrative practices in a region like the UAE,” he said, noting the need to deploy multifaceted talent for expansion.

Another challenge is work ethic. “In Japanese culture, things are expected to be delivered on or before due dates. Outside Japan, there is more of a consideration that unforeseen circumstances may alter these due dates.”

“Japanese companies' headquarters are not as understanding and tend to blame their UAE expatriates in these situations. Sometimes, I have to step in as a moderator to explain to the Japanese headquarters on behalf of their expatriates,” he concluded.