Interview with Mr. Goto, Representative Director and President of Global Trust Networks Co., Ltd. That Operates a Real Estate Website Specialized for People from Abroad, BEST-ESTATE.JP
Hiroyuki Goto / 後藤 裕幸
Representative Director and President of Global Trust Networks Co., Ltd.
Goto was born in 1978 in Kumamoto prefecture. While at university, he started an IT business. In 2003, Goto founded Mu Gate Ltd., Mu Co., Ltd. in the following year, and Global Trust Networks Co., Ltd. (GTN) in 2006.
Based on their corporate philosophy, "外国人が日本に来てよかったをカタチに (: Making Your Stay in Japan Great)", GTN started to address social problems as a total lifestyle support company for international residents. Its business includes a real estate website specialized for people from abroad, BEST-ESTATE.JP, rent guarantor service, real estate, mobile service, credit card business, human resources, etc. In 2016, GTN was selected as one of the 100 Great Start-ups by Toyo Keizai Magazine.
Goto has appeared on TV programs such as, "Gacchiri Monday", NHK-WORLD's "Rising", "NHK Special: Reiwa Mirai Kaigi 2020, Kaikoku-ron (: Reiwa Future Conference 2020, Idea to be open to the World)", "Nikkei Plus 10: SDGs eno michi (: Road to SDGs)", "Sakagami & Sashihara no Tsuburenai Mise (: Sakagami & Sashihara's Establishments That Never Fail)", etc. He also wrote a book, "外国人と共生するニッポンへ (: To become Japan that coexists with people from abroad)".
―What kinds of problems are common during and at the end of a contract? How did Global Trust Networks (GTN) solve them?
One of the problems is garbage disposal. Once there was a big fight between an international resident and a Japanese neighbor because the garbage the resident placed at a collection site was returned to the resident’s front door several times and they thought it was a harassment by their neighbors. What happened was, one of the neighbors checked the contents of the garbage bag, found that it was not properly sorted out, and put it back. The neighbor did not known how to explain and took the easier way, but it is natural to think it was done on purpose. The resident took it as bullying and discrimination. Not knowing how to sort out can be one of the causes, but it could have been clarified by talking about it together. GTN solved this problem by explaining to the international resident about garbage sorting and helping them understand the rules properly.
Another example is about a noise problem.
One neighbor living below an international resident contacted us claiming that there was always a bumping noise heard from upstairs and asked us to warn them because it was disturbing. What was funny when our staff made a phone call to the resident was that she cheerfully answered and recommended to exercise with a trampoline. Although the trampoline was for indoor use, the staff explained that the floor and walls are thin and asked to stop using it. The resident understood and accepted the situation, and the case was solved in the end.
When it comes to house noises, Japanese people are very sensitive.
Troubles can also happen when a resident is away for a long time. Whether it is for a week or for 3 weeks, let the property management company know in advance if you are planning to be away from your place because when a mailbox gets filled with mails, the risk of being robbed goes up. Property management companies would not like such a situation, either.
Sometimes in apartments, there may be drainage cleaning or fire safety inspection that involves going into the apartment unit. We will wonder if the resident will come back if they are always away and does not respond to our contact for those occasions as well as for when there is something important to inform or something related to a housing management to ask for.
Most management companies and landlords do not know the contact information of the residents’ parents. GTN knows them because we are engaged in a guarantor service, but we do not contact them so easily. Getting in touch with parents can worry them, and some residents do not like it. We prefer to only contact them in cases of emergency, so please bear in mind to inform us in advance when going away from your place for a long time.
The last one is a payment trouble when moving out.
Rules of security deposit are not well-understood even by many Japanese.
A quotation (for replacement of wallpapers, repair of scratched floors, cleaning oil stains, etc.) is sent by the inspection authorities in about 2 weeks after cancellation/completion of contract and moving out. At that point, the residents are most likely no longer in Japan, so cross-country assistance is required. For example, if a former resident has moved back to the US, we will send a message, “There was XX,XXX yen shortage in the settlement of the security deposit. How would you like to pay for it?” and complete the last process. GTN always supports both international individuals and property management companies to prevent troubles between them.
We try our best to complete the last process within the month. 50 to 60% of the cases are closed within a day and the rest are usually taken care of within 2 to 3 weeks. In total, 97% is dealt with by the end of the month.
―Could you give a message to the international residents who want to move to another place or are planning to visit Japan?
The real estate system in Japan may be troublesome since documents are valued as evidence. However, there are lots of reliable housing information and new residents can move in to a property in a good condition. With our system that allows to carry out a process from making a contract to moving in seamlessly, BEST-ESTATE.JP offers a wide variety of housing choices for people outside of Japan. As also an IT infrastructure service provider specialized for people from overseas, GTN has the biggest network in the lifestyle support industry.
Specifically, one out of five international students use our guarantor service for their rental contracts. We work with real estate companies and landlords all over Japan, taking risks and screening the applicants to guarantee.
Staff of GTN is engaged not only in housing services but also in consultation for problems in daily life. Since we receive about 80,000 inquiries per year, we have the greatest number of staff in the section. We would like to contribute to building a society for everyone to live comfortably. We have a history and achievement of spreading by word-of-mouth as a service that is dedicated to supporting people's daily lives, which other companies do not have, so please feel free to use our services as well as BEST-ESTATE.JP. There are 13 GTN employees who are fluent in multiple languages and are also certified as Real Estate Notary.
We should be grateful for having a lot of people come to Japan, but Japanese people still do not seem to be ready to welcome people from overseas due to prejudices against them and cultural differences.
International people with different values and cultural backgrounds give us new perspectives.
Japan needs this kind of strength as it considers the next 100 years of its national development. This country has been making innovations by being influenced by other countries, like soy sauce and miso are said to have originated from ancient China.
I believe profit for Japan will be brought by all of you who are involved in economic activities, studying, working in Japan, and becoming to like Japan, which will make connections to other countries. This would be one of the requirements to keep this country as an entity.
I am sure there are many challenges ahead, but feel free to contact us when you need help.
We would be happy to help you love Japan even more.