Venture steps up business security

A VENTURE between the local office of Pinkerton Asia and a unit of Sumitomo Corp of Japan aims to stop the Japanese being considered easy targets when they work elsewhere in Asia.

''They don't care about security in Asian countries - Japan is a very safe country and they do the same things in other countries as they do in Japan,'' said Masatoshi Suzuki, a general manager within the Japan Research Institute, a think-tank within Sumitomo.

He said an increasing proportion of Japanese executives posted abroad found themselves not in the United States or Europe, but elsewhere in Asia such as Hong Kong, Vietnam or Thailand.

''They have really been considered soft targets over the years,'' said Pinkerton Asia director Dan Grove.

Incidents range from theft of microchips in Malaysia to kidnapping the children of Japanese executives in the Philippines.

The two groups have linked up to produce a complete information service called Risk Information Far East (RIFE) for Japanese companies operating elsewhere in Asia, with the first issue of their quarterly bulletin finishing production in Hong Kong last week.

Not only personal threats such as kidnapping or theft, but a whole range of issues from civil war to financial risks to screening staff are discussed, right down to naming hotels which have a history of room thefts and other incidents.

''For instance, the second issue will feature China,'' said Mr Grove.

''We'll be focusing on succession, the potential for regionalism, corruption, safety . . . - all these things.'' In addition, RIFE will be providing seminars and a fax bulletin.

Unlike the US Government, the Japanese Government does not take an active role in advising its citizens of sudden changes in the risks of overseas travel, which is one of the aims of the fax bulletin.

Pinkerton Asia is the local arm of the legendary US security consultants.

, and has long provided this sort of information to its clients in the region, with US companies the largest group of customers.

But according to Mr Grove, Japanese companies have a different perspective on security issues to their US rivals: they have a much broader appreciation of those affected by an incident, against the American focus on the impact of profits.

Mr Grove said Japanese companies previously regarded losses as ''part of the cost of doing business''.

He said the recession was accelerating a shift away from this acceptance. ''I think Japanese are tired of being ripped off overseas.''