This is a presentation given by Dr. Hisashi Kobayashi. I have extracted most of the text in English. Please read his original and check his web pages for more insightful comments.
October 23, 2009
1) Declining Ranking of Japan’s GDP per capita:
2) Japan’s Deteriorating EducationJapan was a country with a well educated and highly motivated workforce, but not any
longer. English education is disastrous
2) Transform Japanese organizations open and global
3) Rapidly Declining Industrial Competitiveness.
Observations and analysis:
1) Japan’s industrial and education system worked well while Japan was in the imitation and catch‐up mode, but Japan kept this old system too long.
2) Japan’s leaders (industry, government and academia) did not recognize the importance nor made serious efforts to produce ideas that could create new industry and jobs.
3) Japanese institutions and organizations are closed and inward looking. Many of them do not have visionary leaders and lack the human resources that can create new ideas
and new business. Japan has been primarily good at perfecting known technologies.
4) Japanese universities and institutions do not make serious effort to attract and retain top talents from abroad.
5) A majority of young Japanese (men in particular) do not seem to have any great ambition, drive, or confidence. Who are to blame?
6) Japan has not taken seriously the critical importance of Ph.D. level education.
7) Lack of entrepreneurship spirit.
What should Japan do?
At the root of Japan’s closed and inward‐looking culture is the lack of confidence in English communication skill.
a) Overhaul our English education
Assign to every school a native speaker who majored in English education.
b) Research institutions (universities, government, industrial labs) should use English as a primary language for presentations and documentations, and also in meetings.
c) These organizations should hire a native speaker of English as an editor.
Transform Japanese organizations open and global
Require that key managerial positions be made open to non‐Japanese candidates.
This should be a requirement for professorial positions and managerial positions in government positions.
Assign a bilingual assistant to a recruited foreigner.
a) Appoint non‐Japanese (preferably women) for major university presidents, provosts, and deans.
b) Appoint non‐Japanese (preferably women) for director and managerial positions at national laboratories.
c) Corporations without innovative leaders will perish in global competitions. So, no need to impose the requirements stated above.
Strengthen Japanese higher education system, especially Ph.D. level education
a) Aggressively recruit the cream of the crop to graduate schools from the world by offering attractive financial support systems.
b) Research grant proposals should be written in English so that they can be reviewed internationally. The panel review board should include many non‐Japanese.
c) Graduate level courses should be taught in English.
d) Offer a course on “How to start your own business” in engineering curriculum.
Non-Japanese should be able to live comfortably in Japan. This is not that easy and it requires more than just an institution, but it requires at least strong help from a community. People do not want to live in a bigoted society even if an institution is perfect.
Inviting more international students will inevitably require reviewing Japanese immigration policy. Many people are looking for a place for study and research as well as possible future settlement. Quite a few competitive people will likely chose not to come to Japan if they have other options since learning Japanese demands so much but rewards so little afterward at international stages. Using English as an official language is good strategy but ultimately non-Japanese must to learn minimum level of Japanese to enjoy life there. For Korean and Chinese, language difficulty they face might be small and cultural differences are not as serious as people think.