Problems in Japan

by Paul Canosa
(Shizuoka, Japan)

Problems in Japan - The China Solution

I think that Japan and the Japanese need a good dose of cold water because the way things are going doesn't look very promising at all. I find that to be quite
sad and somewhat disheartening as well...

I can recall an excellent interview with a former executive from SONY who was
talking about his conclusions about Japan and its future. He said "at first Japan had a common goal which was to rebuild after the war and to pull together
and work hard. Our collective goal was like the metaphor of climbing mount Fuji.
We strove and sacrificed to reach such lofty heights, and sure enough reach it we did. The problem is now that we have reached the top, what shall we do now ?"
He added the top was reached decades ago.

Without a goal or common purpose, learning to follow the rules without asking questions or making decisions is how things have turned out for many who live on
this archipelago. At least that is how I see things in my meager 7 years here.

Problems in Japan - The Young & Old

Young people linger, while the older folks hang on for dear life. There is no dynamism I can see from my perch here in Shizuoka city. It`s a simple matter of
"stay the course" and "do your best". Yet the Titanic has sailed and the icebergs are ahead.

After a recent trip to Seoul and Shanghai I was struck at how different Eastern Asian cultures are. Truly interesting experience that !

I came to the conclusion that Japan's future is in hitching itself to China. The
Chinese need the financing, experience and dedication to quality the Japanese
bring to the table, while the Chinese provide the labor, eagerness to learn and
honest living while hoping to improve the lot of the next generation. Something
the Japanese can understand all too well. Factories all across China need
effective managers who understand what world class quality and logistics are.
Deadlines and going the extra kilometer to ensure the product is completed on
time and under or near budget. They would share common ground and work together
to improve both their lots in life. This would go a long way towards erasing the
ugly past shared by both former governments.

Problems in Japan - Assigning Blame Doesn`t Help

Trust me the blame game isn't helping anyone now.

I was struck when my friend who is living in Shanghai told me that there are
over 100,000 Japanese currently living within the city limits. They are actually
concentrated in a Japanese city complete with Karaoke, Tsutaya video shops, the
odd juku and Yoshinoya beef bowl restaurants. It sounded alot like Manhattan
Beach in Los Angeles where you can actually live without speaking much English !

Takumi Shibata on Japan`s Education System

Takumi Shibata is one of the great people of Japan and he has this to say on the Japanese educational system:

"The most important thing an education should deliver is the ability to think with an independant mind. The country`s Japan`s educational system needs a paradigm shift away from rote learning--unfortunately, still the focus of our education system--and toward the ability to think. Second, education should train people to reach a conclusion and to produce a solution. And third, the education system needs to provide a global perspective, away from Japan`s `island mentality` and toward a `sailor`s mentality.` Our students need to get off the island and learn from the world."

Shibata is Deputy President and COO of Nomura Holdings. (From p. 337, "Reimagining Japan," Viz Media, LLC)

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