Traditionally Japanese companies have placed a high importance on age and seniority by the use of titles to identify certain individuals. However the use of keigo, honorific language used to elevate or humble oneself, has fallen out of favor at many Japanese companies. Hoping to create a more open culture where employees are free to share ideas, many companies have dropped the use of formal titles. Explaining this, companies wanting to become more competitive place a higher value on performance than seniority. There has also been a shift in Japanese culture and parents no longer emphasize honorific language to their children.
See Norimitsu Onishi, The New York Times, October 29, 2003