Last Updated Jan 16, 2008 2:17 PM EST
But now Wal-Mart has made a savvy move. It has announced that Vicente Trius, from its Brazilian operations, will take the newly created post of president and chief executive of Wal-Mart Asia. That puts him in charge of Japan, where Wal-Mart is still losing money.
Trius is obviously not an Asian expert, but his Brazilian savvy should help Wal-Mart continue its steep learning curve about Japanese employees and customers. Wal-Mart's fundamental problem has been that it tried to apply the small-town values of Bentonville, Ark., to Japan. It was not able to make the cultural leap. But Trius should be able to help the company get Japan right.