Mr. Seiji Takaramoto and Mr. Koji Umei Japan Air Line (JAL)



JAL are a Matsuri sponsor and were popular last year with a paper-plane targeting game.
2019 is JAL’s 50th year of flying to Sydney. JAL Sydney’s Service and Appreciation.
Interviewed with Japan Airlines (JAL) Australia and New Zealand Office, Mr. Seiji Takaramoto (Vise president, Australia) and Mr. Koji Umei(Assistant Manager, Australia) about their service-focused approach and appreciation for Australia and also enthusiasm for this year’s Matsuri.



JAL’s Australian operations are joint-operations with local companies

Mr. Takaramoto: In addition to our flights to Sydney, in September last year we added flights to Melbourne as for our flights between Japan and Australia. We currently have 14 staff working at Sydney airport, 14 in the office in the city of Sydney and 11 in Melbourne airport. You might be thinking this is quite few. Well, we pull this off by leveraging local operators. Qantas, for example, assists with check ins, plane maintenance and baggage handling. However, we do not lose Japanese airline company’s unique attention-to-detail and keep JAL’s standard by having JAL staff quality control at important points. For instance, JAL’s maintenance officer performs the final check on each plane.

I sense a benefit of allying with local operations is the Australian-way of providing friendly service is added to the Japanese-style of politeness and being a stickler for time.

My interactions with Australians lead me to conclude that Australians respect Japan more than other Asian countries. We endeavor to provide warm service and personalized interventions with accuracy given a situation to live up to the good image Australians hold of Japan as a well-manned people that bow to show appreciation.

Not just about being on time: JAL’s world-no.1 strength

Mr.Takaramoto: It is not too much to say that JAL is the only airline in the world that provides premium service to economy passengers. For example, as for Boeing 787 which flies to Australia, rather than the usual 9 seats per row, only JAL has 8, providing 5 extra centimeters to improve our service to customers. By reducing the number of seat, customers are able to sit comfortably and it also becomes easier for JAL’s staff to pay more attention to customers. The in-flight meal includes an appetizer, salad, main and dessert on the standard meal-tray. With this extra service added to JAL’s well-established brand name, half of our customers using our flights between Japan and Australia are now Australians.

The keyword for JAL as a bridge between Japan and Australia: Expanded network

Mr.Takaramoto: As a transport provider, I think JAL’s current mission is to expand the network between Japan and Australia. From Japan, JAL has flights to Sydney and Melbourne, only Qantas has direct flights to Brisbane, and no company has direct flights to Perth. I believe it is important to expand our network so that more people can travel, particularly during Australia’s spring and summer seasons.

Knowing core Japan better through the Tokyo Olympics

Mr.Takaramoto: The Rugby World Cup will be held in 2019, and The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are in 2020. JAL hopes these opportunity enables more Australians to like Japan. There are already good things being said about Japan in Australia. However, we hope to enlarge peoples’ interest to travel to regions beyond the popular Tokyo to Hiroshima route and ski resorts such as Niseko and Hakuba. Examples include trekking Nakasendo or Kumano Kodo; cycling the Shimanami Kaido; or seeing a sport match such as the Rugby World Cup in 2019. We hope to use these two large sport opportunities to showcase the beauties of Japan over the next two years.

This year’s Matsuri theme is 「ありがとう~appreciation~」. JAL’s appreciation to Australia.

Mr.Takaramoto: The first thing we appreciate is that Australia loves and respects Japan. A lot of Australians learn Japan and a number of people in business bow and use Japanese phases such as “thank you (arigato)” and “good morning (ohayo).”We appreciate and are happy that many people have an interest in Japan, its language, food and culture.

We appreciated that at last year’s matsuri our paper-plane targeting game was very popular. We collaborated with the Paper Plane Association to share this fun part of Japanese culture with the world and were pleased that we always had 30-40 people lining up to play. For this year’s matsuri we have made further upgrades in goods and would like to introduce paper-place as a part of Japanese culture.

Enthusiasm for Matsuri Japan Festival 2018
“Popular Paper-plane targeting game”

Mr.Takaramoto: At this year’s we plan to increase the number of people able to participate in the paper-plane targeting game from last year to over 2,000. We will do our best with no breaks (lol). We hope this opportunity develops Australians’ interest to visit Japan and like Japan. We wish to share with people that Japan is a fun, cheap and easy place to travel, as opposed to the view that Japan is expensive held long time ago.

Mr.Umei: Getting more fans of Japan and JAL through the fun of the Matsuri would be great. With next year being JAL’s 50th year of flying to Sydney, we aim to be a better connector between Japan and Australia.

Editor’s note

This interview showed the zeal that JAL’s staffs have to share Japan’s service and politeness part of Japanese culture, as well as their desire for many more people to visit various parts of Japan. This interview renewed my determination to make this year’s Matsuri an opportunity for everyone who visits this year’s Matsuri, including JAL’s staff, to feel appreciation. I thank Mr.Takaramoto and Mr.Umei for agreeing to this interview.

Interviewer・Editor: Takaki Sayako