Q&A with Takeshi Tanaka, President, RX Japan

Leadership People

Q. As the No. 1 event organiser in Japan, what strengths have you been able to draw on to guide RX Japan through the pandemic?   

A. RX Japan is the largest exhibitions company in Japan. I knew that if I asked my employees to "quickly recover our business in the Covid-19 disaster and reopen our events," they would be hesitant to do so. So, I said, "Let's reopen the exhibition as soon as possible whilst also developing other ways to contribute to the recovery of the Japanese economy for those companies that cannot hold business meetings due to Covid-19 and who are losing sales activities. Only we, as the industry leader, can do that." I also emphasized that while Covid-19 has seriously damaged us, we will recover, saying: “There is no night without dawn. And when morning does break, let's not go back to the RX Japan we were before Covid-19, but let's become a ‘new’, more advanced RX Japan. 

Q. RX Japan returned to in-person events as early as October 2020 but continues to offer virtual event alternatives like the recent Nepcon Japan Digital. Tell us about your hybrid strategy. 

A. Last year, in July 2020, I announced to our team that we would be entering the world of virtual events, having not staged a physical event since March 2020. From the start, RX Japan’s virtual events were not conceived as an "alternative for the physical exhibition that could not be held during Covid-19" but as a new core business alongside our in-person events.  Therefore, we have no plan to stop holding virtual events even after our physical exhibitions return. We believe that there is a place for both in this new world. By offering our business communities the opportunity to network, learn and do business both in-person and online, we can maximise their business connections and sales, year-round.  

Q. Your team has a very successful track record for new show launches. What is the secret of your success, and what recent launches are you most excited about? 

A. Passion! The success or failure of launching a new exhibition depends mainly on the passion of its team members - members who have a solid motivation to contribute to the industry and make every effort to ensure the event’s success. The power generated by them is immeasurable and inspirational. Seeing their success gives other teams the belief that they can do it too, and so we have launched more and more exhibitions. Among the latest exciting new additions to our portfolio are Femtech Tokyo, the first Japanese expo focusing on women’s health and empowerment, and Sustainable Fashion ExpoSustainable Material Expo, and Decarbonisation Expo which all promote sustainable solutions in the face of climate change.  

Q. To what extent is life getting back to normal in RX Japan? How are you keeping your people connected, motivated and energised? 

A. Japan has been under a State of Emergency for seven and a half months in 2021, and many companies have been hesitant to exhibit or visit exhibitions. However, since October, exhibitions have been returning, with strict health and safety guidelines in place, and many business meetings are once again taking place. 

During lockdown we made full use of the intranet to acquire, share and access information. We are now back in the office three days a week, and I believe that our motivation and ability to share and learn has been enhanced by our virtual work experiences. To help bring our people back together after lockdown and stimulate interaction, we have renovated our community area, RX-Café, under the theme of "Communication x Motivation x Innovation". As organisers of exhibitions we know how important face to face interaction is, and it is wonderful to see our people excited and inspired to work together again.  

Q. The 2020/2021 Tokyo Olympics has been both a big disruptor and a beacon of hope for Japan's events industry. What does the future for RX Japan look like now that it is finished? 

A. Our vision is to become the industry number one in both physical and online exhibitions. We will continue to launch new events and enhance the value of our current shows to provide more value to our customers. 

The venue restrictions caused by the Tokyo Olympics and the Covid-19 pandemic have brought us further innovation and made us stronger as an organization. The leaders and teams involved in our exhibition are also developing, and I am confident that we will grow our business further and faster.