Thomas Friedman wrote something similar in his book about the social and industrial paradigm shift in the 20th century. He did not specifically discussed about Japan. But Kurokawa concisely summed up the possible cause of the stagnation of Japan, which enjoyed the unprecedented economic growth after its defeat of the WWII. Individuals can easily chose their own action on the face of change. The changing the fundamental social and economic structures that have worked so well previously is very difficult.
But Japan is finally changing a little bit better or worse. Political shake ups should serve as catalysis for much needed, over due social reforms, even though in short term it may become more unstable. It is very likely that we will see a very different world in 2020.
Japan can learn valuable lessons from what is going on in Europe since many European countries are experiencing similar problems that we face; like aging and immigration etc. Also its own neighboring countries provide a good lesson or two.
How Japan can regain its vitality By KIYOSHI KUROKAWA
Special to The Japan Times
In my observation, this paradigm of the 20th century clearly reached its limit after the 1973 “oil shock.” And exactly 20 years ago, in 1989, three major incidents in the world presaged a sweeping change in the paradigm: the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square military crackdown on prodemocracy protests, and the surge of the Nikkei stock average to an all-time high of 38,915, which, in retrospect, marked the end of the era of “Japan as No. 1.”
In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union ended the Cold War and ushered in the global market economy. What we recognize today as the Worldwide Web began in 1992. Yahoo, Amazon and Netscape were all founded in 1994, and Google was founded in 1997. In just over a decade, the world has changed dramatically.
While the world is becoming increasingly flat, connected and networked, Japan categorically adheres to the conventional business model marked by mass production of standardized products and vertical integration. No doubt, Japan excels in manufacturing, but this is becoming Japan’s weakness.
There is no need to be the number one when it is not efficient and many other think the proposed technology is doomed to be too narrow focused like a “vector” super-computer. Even a Nature article argued that the super computer is based on a fringe dead end technology and many insiders already knew it. Many scientists protested about slashing its budget but it was very good though many other results seemed to be immature political stunts.
I have been advocating that all large project proposals should be written in English and be scrutinized by a capable peer review team that include foreign experts of the subject. By so doing, we can avoid unnecessary duplication of research efforts already being pursued elsewhere and also identify possible research partners or collaborators. It does not make sense at all to pour hundreds of million dollars to develop, for instance, a super-computer or a telescope, just for the sake of making a No. 1 device in the world, without thinking through whether such an expensive equipment can be jointly developed with international partners. We have to break the insular mentality of the Japanese academic and scientific community by assessing their proposals on large projects.
I hope this will come true. EU, Flemish, institutional project proposals can be written in English. Using English in wider level will surely meet strong resistance. In Belgium, for example, there are tremendous resistance in using English as the official language even though the institute tries to be a world class innovative institute. The departmental meeting is conducted in English but a “higher” level meeting is done in Dutch.
問題点：日本は既存技術の改善、完璧化には長けているが、新ビジョン/新アイデアの創出には欠ける。(Japan is superior with improvement and perfection of pre-existing technologies, but it is incapable of creating new visions and innovations.)
This is a very good point. The improvement and perfection of pre-existing technologies have been the strong Japanese assets. But these tasks become increasingly easier thanks to computers. Final refinement might have required craftsman’s skill in the past but these days, any one with sufficient equipments may perform such tasks.
Dynamic software development requires and probably favor innovative diversity in work places, not uniformity.
Production cycle products whose added value are based on the quality of software is much shorter than technology predating IT.
In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the key to Future Prosperity (Hardcover)
“He argues that we cannot rely on financial services to rebuild our economies. He points out that basing the US economy on `information industries’, as post-industrialists have recommended, would cost 25 million jobs. Post-industrial services’ start-up costs are low – but so are real gains. (IBM, then Microsoft, made exceptional gains only because they monopolised setting the standards for computer operating systems.) US financial trading grew thirty times over between 1970 and 1995, while American workers’ real living standards actually fell in that period. Fingleton calls finance `a cuckoo in the economy’s nest’: even George Soros called on governments to regulate capital markets to `stop the market destroying the economy’.”
“Japan is counter-intuitive for most Americans and Europeans. It is another civilization and should be recognized as such.
For those academic and journalistic “flatlanders” who think that all countries are converging on the US model so quickly that differences can be ignored, Eamonn Fingleton’s book is a clear and well-argued protest to the contrary. Japan (and many other Asian countries) do not follow the American model and do not plan to. We ignore this at our peril, no matter what many of our Euro-centric, “flatlander” journalists and academics say. There are far fewer universal truths than most of them admit, even in business and economic policy.”
Here is a review on Japanese economics by a prof at Yale.
This is not an important point but other Japanese profs like Kurokawa and Kobayashi can write excellent English, but Hamada writes awkward sentences. I am sure he does not make silly grammatical mistakes and his knowledge on the subject is excellent. He can write perfectly correct English that do not deliver strong punch lines or message; his writing on even interesting subjects is just boring. This is clearly obvious that I am writing about his writing style instead of its content just after I skimmed the article.