Presentation on theme: "Bipolar perceptions about the future of Japan University Norio Ota York University."— Presentation transcript:
Bipolar perceptions about the future of Japan JSAC2012@Carleton University Norio Ota York University
Hiatt, Fred (2012.3.8) ‘A year after the disaster of 3/11, Japan looks inward’, Opinion, Washington Post. Hiatt describes the gut reaction of Japanese in comparison with the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. ‘…. disbelief at the failure to anticipate such a crisis, anger at official obfuscation as it unfolded, frustration at the slow pace of reconstruction ever since. The scale of the catastrophe provoked another sentiment Americans will recall: the sense that, after this, nothing will ever be the same.’ His interviews with Japanese reveal that Japanese start reflecting on themselves as they did after the WW2. The general consensus seems to be abandonment of pursuit of growth based on materialism, and Japan being reduced to a less powerful nation.
Buchanan (2012.3.13) ‘Land of the setting sun’, uexpress. The gravest problem facing the Land of the Rising Sun is that it is dying. The sun that set on the Japanese Empire in 1945 has begun to set on the Japanese nation. Every new Japanese generation is one-third to one-half smaller than the one that came before. Japan's high school graduation class has fallen by more than one-third in just 30 years. Nippon seems to be collectively committing national hara-kiri. Japan's growth rate in the 1960s was 10 percent a year. In the 1970s, it was 5 percent a year. In the 1980s, it was 4 percent — still a healthy growth rate for a mature economy. But in the 1990s, the "lost decade," Japan's growth fell to 1.8 percent a year, and that anemic rate has continued into this century. Japan's expenditures during the lost decade to reignite the fire sent the national debt soaring above 200 percent of gross domestic product, eclipsing the debt-to-GDP ratios of Greece and Italy today. In 2011, for the first time in 30 years, Japan ran a trade deficit. January's figure, $19 billion for the month, was a record. During the decade of "Japan, Inc.," in 1988, Nippon boasted of being home to eight of the world's top 20 corporations in terms of capital investment. Now she is home to none, and only six of the top 100.
Diamond (2012.4.25) ‘Three reasons Japan’s economic pain is getting worse’, Opinion, Bloomberg view. Japan’s ratio of government debt to gross domestic product, currently about 2.28, is by far the highest in the industrial world, almost double that of even Greece and Italy, and steadily growing. Japan’s trade balance is about to go negative for the first time since 1980. Land values and Nikkei stock values have fallen to about 30 percent of 1989 levels. Throughout the industrial world, birth rates are falling, and fewer people are marrying. Japan’s rate (7.31 births per year per 1,000 people), already the world’s lowest, is still dropping. Japan’s marriage rate is low, too, even by industrial-world standards: 5.8 marriages per year per 1,000 people, compared with 9.8 in the U.S. The average age of marriage in Japan is now 31, and 18 percent of Japanese women 35 to 39 have never been married. Again throughout the industrial world, falling birth rates and improved medical care have resulted in aging populations, making it harder to fund retirement systems over the long term. Those trends reach their extreme in Japan because of its record- low birth rate and relatively healthy lifestyles. This rejection of immigration not only bodes ill for the future of Japan’s retirement system, but also deprives the country of the pool of workers, artists, scientists and inventors that immigrants represent for the U.S., Western Europe and Australia. ……. Japan may be the First World country most opposed to sustainable policies. ….
The Future Since Japan’s economic problems result from its social problems, their solution will require changes in Japanese attitudes toward women’s roles, immigration and sustainable resource use. Can Japan undertake the painful reappraisals this will require? One cause for cautious optimism is the country’s history. Twice in modern times, Japan has accomplished selective change. The most drastic example came with the Meiji Restoration that began in 1868. The forced opening of ports by Commodore Perry in 1853-54 raised the specter that Japan might be taken over by Western powers. But the country saved itself with a crash program: It ended its isolation from the outside world and jettisoned its shogun leader, its samurai class, its feudal land system and its ban on guns. It adopted a constitution, a cabinet government, a national army, industrialization, a European-style banking system, a new school system and much Western clothing, food and music. At the same time, it retained its emperor, language, writing system and most of its culture. Japan thereby not only preserved its independence, but also became the first non- Western country to rival the West in wealth and power. Again, after World War II, Japan made drastic selective changes, abandoning its military tradition and its notion of a divine emperor in favor of adopting democracy and developing an export economy. Once again, Japan can selectively reappraise its core values, let go of those that no longer make sense, and retain the ones that still do and that give the country strength.
Schuman (2011.7.18) Is America facing a Japanese future? Time Business: Economy & Policy. The word “Japan” has become synonymous with economic malaise. Any time an economist wants to describe how bad things could get for an industrialized economy, he or she inevitably says something like the place “could end up like Japan.” And there is good reason why Japan has become a four-letter word in the world of economics. Ever since a gargantuan stock-and-property price bubble deflated in the early 1990s, Japan has never returned to its pre-crisis glory days. The economy slips in and out of recession. Japanese companies seem dazed and confused, and are losing out to more aggressive rivals from South Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere. The welfare of the population has stagnated. Meanwhile, Japan’s policymakers and political leaders do a lot of blabbering and very little reforming. They often appear out-of-touch with the real problems of the economy or unwilling to fix the ones they do recognize. Japan’s mess is that dreaded “L”-shaped recovery, in which an economy collapses, and then just goes flat, year after year, never quite recovering from its fall.
Hoffman (2011.11.13) Creating a future of Japan’s aging society, Japan Times online Japan is an elderly country. Twenty-three percent of its population is 65 or over. By 2050, nearly 40 percent will be. ……. ……. Japan has grown psychologically old. Old age has reshaped the mental landscape. Death is inevitable and implacable, and it is important to face it bravely, but articles of this sort unwittingly remind us how close Japan is drawing, emotionally and physically, to death — not, as in ancient warrior times, on the battlefield bathed in glory, but often in swarming anonymous cities, in solitude, neglect and despair. ……. "Japan: Suicide Archipelago." For 13 straight years, suicide has claimed more than 30,000 Japanese lives annually, carnage worthy ……. of a civil war. This is not exclusively — but is increasingly — a senior-citizen problem: Last year, people over 60 accounted for 37.8 percent of all suicides. ……. "there's nothing for me to do but die." National Police Agency figures show failing health to be far and away the leading cause of suicide, with financial problems a distant second and domestic troubles an even more distant third, but underlying all that is depression, considered a factor in 60 percent of cases- a growing sense of isolation, a feeling that "nobody cares about me." Shukan Josei chronicles a near epidemic of senior-citizen shoplifting. Overall, the offense is down over the past two years, but it has soared 10-fold in the past 20 years among the elderly. During the first half of this year, 14,295 shoplifters aged 65 and up were apprehended nationwide — as against 8,769 aged 19 and under.
The Economist (2012.1.14) Seeing red: After half a century of trade surpluses, Japan is now in deficit, Japan’s trade balance …. But there are powerful structural reasons to expect Japan's current account to move towards deficit. A nation's current-account balance reflects the gap between domestic saving (by households, firms and the government) and investment. Historically, the Japanese were keen savers, with national saving greater than investment. But a rapidly ageing population saves less because people draw down their assets when they retire. The more retired folk there are relative to workers, the lower the saving rate. Japan's household-saving rate has fallen from 14% of disposable income in the early 1990s to only 2% in the past couple of years. The government's budget deficit (10% of GDP in 2011) also counts as negative saving. The current account has remained in surplus because shrinking household saving has been offset by a surge in corporate saving. Since 1990 Japanese firms have swung from being big borrowers to big savers as they sought to repay debts. Wage moderation and low interest rates lifted their profits, and they invested less. As the population continues to age, households' saving rate is likely to turn negative. Firms are also unlikely to keep piling up cash as much as they are now. Profits are being squeezed and they may invest more abroad. If private saving shrinks while the government borrows heavily, Japan will inevitably move into current-account deficit and become a net importer of capital. A shrinking surplus would be good news for Japan and for the rest of the world if it were caused by a strong rebound in domestic consumption and investment. Instead, it mainly reflects weaker exports and higher energy imports, which will bring little benefit to other rich economies. It will also weaken Japan's growth. Over the ten years to 2010, net exports accounted for half of Japan's real GDP growth. To fill the gap, Japan would need structural reform to boost domestic spending. Even more worrying are the implications for financing Japan's government debt. Its net debt-to-GDP ratio—more than 130% in 2011, according to IMF estimates—is second only to that of Greece. Yet Japanese bond yields are among the world's lowest largely because it has a big current-account surplus and willing domestic investors (unlike other fiscal sinners such as Italy and Greece). Around 95% of Japan's sovereign debt is owned by domestic investors. But if Japan's current account moves into deficit the government will need to rely more on foreign investors, who are likely to demand higher yields.
Negative factors (summary) Aging nation Low marriage and birth rates Lack of and aging labour force Huge national debt Rejection of immigrants Political inability Depleting personal savings Cost of healthcare Poor education Losing competitive edge High cost of resources Lack of sustainability
Fingleton (2012.1.6) ‘The myth of Japan’s failure’, SundayReview, The Newyork Times. Japan’s average life expectancy at birth grew by 4.2 years — to 83 years from 78.8 years — between 1989 and 2009. This means the Japanese now typically live 4.8 years longer than Americans. The progress, moreover, was achieved in spite of, rather than because of, diet. The Japanese people are eating more Western food than ever. The key driver has been better health care. Japan has made remarkable strides in Internet infrastructure. Although as late as the mid-1990s it was ridiculed as lagging, it has now turned the tables. In a recent survey by Akamai Technologies, of the 50 cities in the world with the fastest Internet service, 38 were in Japan, compared to only 3 in the United States. Measured from the end of 1989, the yen has risen 87 percent against the U.S. dollar and 94 percent against the British pound. It has even risen against that traditional icon of monetary rectitude, the Swiss franc. The unemployment rate is 4.2 percent, about half of that in the United States. According to skyscraperpage.com, a Web site that tracks major buildings around the world, 81 high-rise buildings taller than 500 feet have been constructed in Tokyo since the “lost decades” began. That compares with 64 in New York, 48 in Chicago, and 7 in Los Angeles. Japan’s current account surplus — the widest measure of its trade — totaled $196 billion in 2010, up more than threefold since 1989. By comparison, America’s current account deficit ballooned to $471 billion from $99 billion in that time. Although in the 1990s the conventional wisdom was that as a result of China’s rise Japan would be a major loser and the United States a major winner, it has not turned out that way. Japan has increased its exports to China more than 14-fold since 1989 and Chinese-Japanese bilateral trade remains in broad balance. Much of the story is qualitative rather than quantitative. An example is Japan’s eating-out culture. Tokyo, according to the Michelin Guide, boasts 16 of the world’s top-ranked restaurants, versus a mere 10 for the runner-up, Paris. Similarly Japan as a whole beats France in the Michelin ratings. But how do you express this in G.D.P. terms? Psychology aside, a major factor in the West’s comprehension problem is that virtually everyone in Tokyo benefits from the doom and gloom story. Economic ideology has also played an unfortunate role. Many economists, particularly right-wing think-tank types, are such staunch advocates of laissez-faire that they reflexively scorn Japan’s very different economic system, with its socialist medicine and ubiquitous government regulation. During the stock market bubble of the late 1980s, this mind-set abated but it came back after the crash.
Japan’s achievement is all the more impressive for the fact that its major competitors — Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and, of course, China — have hardly been standing still. The world has gone through a rapid industrial revolution in the last two decades thanks to the “targeting” of manufacturing by many East Asian nations. Yet Japan’s trade surpluses have risen. Japan should be held up as a model, not an admonition. If a nation can summon the will to pull together, it can turn even the most unpromising circumstances to advantage. Here Japan’s constant upgrading of its infrastructure is surely an inspiration. It is a strategy that often requires cooperation across a wide political front, but such cooperation has not been beyond the American political system in the past. The Hoover Dam, that iconic project of the Depression, required negotiations among seven states but somehow it was built — and it provided jobs for 16,000 people in the process. Nothing is stopping similar progress now — nothing, except political bickering.
Seifert (2012.3.9) ‘Japan’s future may be bleak – but not so bleak after all’, Jan Seifert’s Blog. Given Japan’s structural similarities to (aging, industrial) Europe, it is in many ways ten years ahead. – The challenges Japan has been facing for a while are those many European countries are beginning to phase already – with a bit of a time-lag. Maybe the three most relevant are aging, increasing levels of debt and the end of economic growth as we know it. And when you think about it, Japanese society has coped with these challenges surprisingly well so far. Firstly, the country is still amazingly rich (while lacking the Asian bling-bling) – without an apparent inequality. These levels of wealth have persisted despite 20 years of de facto economic stagnation. Hence, lesson one: measuring economic ‘progress’ in terms of GDP does not work anymore in advanced industrial societies like Japan. …Secondly, you feel that you hit a deeply cultural place as soon as you land in Haneda and this impression has been reinforced by the people and all these small things between Tokyo and up to the smaller villages we visited in the north. Lesson two: Japanese have style, they have fashion and there is a lot of cultural content generated on so many spheres. Only after having been to Tokyo have I really understood why young people across Asia look for the whole range of cultural products and content from Japan. Thirdly, people’s reaction to the harshness of 3/11 has seriously impressed me. There is an amazing sense of resilience in the country and it stretches beyond the effects of disaster. Lesson three: if you are ever responsible for managing natural disaster, try to get hold of some Japanese to help you sort out the mess. Fourthly, Japanese infrastructure is pretty amazing. This starts with the crazy roads and metro/rail tracks that are all over you in Tokyo (and under conditions of constant earthquake danger) to the reliability and speed of the Shinkansen. Lesson four: get Japanese managers to run your railways. Fifthly, resource efficiency goes without saying in Japan. This is possibly one of the observations which is closest to the German mentality. – It’s simply no biggie to recycle everything possible and trying to develop ever more efficient electronic products (following the famous top-runner principle). One MP from a very rural constituency in the north was very proud to tell me that a small local company from his district was a leader in rare earth recycling. Lesson five: wonder if German and Japanese recycling and efficiency efforts cannot be closer combined. Sixthly, I had a bit of a feeling that Japan might witness a political spring moment. Not only had decades of LDP rule been broken with the historic success of the DPJ in 2009, this shift as well as the 3/11 disaster seem to have encouraged more people to question government-as-they-knew-it and get involved or raise their opinion. A number of interesting individuals and movements have begun to spring up over the past months, and the current prime minister is even considering tackling the revenue-deficit with a significant VAT raise. Japanese politics might eventually become dynamic and interesting – to the great benefit of the Japanese people. Lesson six: follow these developments and provide information to those groups active in the energy field. Japan appears to have strong cultural and economic foundations that may well serve it long into the future. Disaster could hardly have been worse than 3/11 and yet the country remains one of the richest countries in the world and with continuing opportunities for successful entrepreneurs. More can and needs to be done and if that potential is realized very much depends on my last observation: will the politicians evolve in Japan release the country from its bonds of the past? There is room to be optimistic. And even if the country fulfills half of its potential in the next ten years, it is unlikely that anyone but possible Korea or Taiwan will come anywhere near its level of economic development. Growth will slow down in places like China eventually and sooner than they think will they face those aging and debt issues that Japan faces now – but with maybe only half the average income levels. It is up to Japan to show itself and others that these obstacles can be overcome. After my first visit to Japan I am confident that the Japanese have what it takes. Now it is up to them to get involved in making Japan big again. Lesson seven: return to Japan in a year and check on its progress.
JapanUSAGermanyItalySouth KoreaChina GDP/capita47,96049,05445,61937,57625,9485,715 GDP in bn6,12515,4953,7072,2871,2757,744 Debt/GDP220%94%84%199%33%34% Population in mio1283168161491,354 >65/population23%13%21%20%13%9% Unemployment rate4.8%9.0%6.2%8.5%3.3%4% # prime ministers (presidents) since 2000 922532 Key indicators for Japan and selected countries (2012 or newest) All economic/demographic data from IMF World Economic Outlook Database, September 2011.
Green (2011.5.24) ‘Crisis as opportunity: the future of Japan after 3-11’, CSIS. Strengths: 1. The first strength is the enormous esteem with which Japan is viewed around the world. 2. A second strength that was revealed in this tragedy was the professionalism and effectiveness of Japan’s Self Defense Forces (JSDF) and their partnership with the U.S. military. 3. A third strength has been the energy and unity of purpose among Japan’s youth. Challenges: 1. The first challenge will obviously be economic. After 3-11 there was initial concern that Japan would not have the domestic savings pool to raise the funds necessary for reconstruction –estimated to be somewhere above $600 billion—because of Japan’s large debt-to-GDP ratio (now close to 200%). However, most analysts, ratings agencies and international financial institutions now assess that the Japanese people do have the savings necessary and the readiness to pay for reconstruction through special taxes or disaster bonds. The larger risk may be further “hollowing out” of the Japanese economic structure. The interruption to global supply chains caused by 3-11 revealed how crucial Japanese inputs are to high technology goods produced from Korea to California. 2. Second, Japan’s assumptions about energy resources may now come under stress. Third and finally, Japan faces some near-term challenges building political consensus and leadership for recovery and reconstruction. Conclusion: In short, even the challenges Japan will face in terms of political leadership, economic planning and energy strategy offer opportunities for renewed leadership on the domestic and world stage. These will obviously be Japan’s choices and Japanese leaders alone will have to articulate and implement a way forward with their citizens. At the same time, however, this crisis has also revealed the unique depth of America’s alliance with Japan and the ties between the American and Japanese people. If we stand squarely with Japan it will make a difference in the months and years ahead – for Japan, for us and for the world.
Sorman, Guy (2011) ‘Japan, After March 11: The country, resilient as ever, remains Asia’s true power’, City Journal: Spring 2011, vol. 21, no.2. Another way to “open” Japan is to promote its image abroad. One means of doing so is foreign aid, which Japan can dispense in Africa, India, and the Middle East without being accused of neo-imperialism, since the country was never a colonial power there. Culture is also a strategic asset, the government believes. Though it isn’t often recognized, Japan is today the world’s second-largest exporter of cultural content after the United States: Japanese movies, comic books, animation, pop music, fashion, food, and design are enjoyed everywhere. Japanese companies are world leaders in software development for video games. Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films rival Disney’s in popularity worldwide. The Japanese architectural firm SANAA designed the New Museum on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with boxlike levels rising above the Bowery. A more literal kind of opening would be allowing more foreigners to immigrate. The most ardent proponents of greater immigration, including Kato and Kojima, advocate Swiss-style “selective immigration,” which would increase the number of immigrants working in Japan and let them stay longer, though they would have to obtain work contracts before entering and leave at the expiration of the contracts. But even Kato is skeptical that this modest proposal would help defuse the soon-to- explode pension bomb. “None of our weak coalition and short-lived governments will seriously tackle either immigration or the debt,” he says. “A better alternative is to perceive our graying population as an economic opportunity.”
Meredith (2011.7.13) The main challenges presented, over and again in almost every piece: - graying/aging population - low birthrate - hidebound political system and political actors - hidebound business practices - lackadaisical, unambitious, unadventurous, inward-looking youth - messed up national finances - inward looking, risk-averse culture - over reliance on manufacturing sector as opposed to service and other - energy issues - rise of China The main residual Japanese strengths presented that may help overcome some of the above: - still a rich country - highly educated people - social discipline - some scattered entrepreneurial and/or young innovator types of inspiring case histories‘ presented - some corporations successfully getting more globalized, more diversity in the management suite, etc. - soft power, culture stuff attractive to the world - some Japanese athletes doing well in international competitions - rural depopulation may restore ecology, boost eco-tourism - China may be best future target market for high end Japanese brands and luxury goods - economic revival may possibly derive from basically good existing technology base in health care, green energy, etc. - elites in Japan starting to realize more openness and innovation needed
Ishii (2012.6.25) suggests the following Plan B roadmap envisioned for post 3-11 Japan, centered on the “mottainai” (what a waste) concept. 1) Wean society from dependence on petroleum and nuclear power; evaluate renewable energy sources through the use of EPR and focus on their feasibility. 2) Recognize that the planet has limits; shift to a regionally dispersed society that coexists with nature and implements Rittai agriculture (three-dimensional agriculture) which combines growing crops, fruit and cattle in a sustainable manner. 3) Shift from a GDP focused model to one centred on a “Genuine Progress Indicator” (GPI) — a more holistic measure of the welfare of a nation that takes into account natural, social, and human-made capital. 4) Build a low-energy society where it is more beneficial to have fewer children and where the elderly can work. 5) Peak oil means fuel crisis; shift from a car-reliant society and focus on trains, public transport, and use of bicycles. 6) Start with reduce, the first R of a re-circulating society: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. 7) Re-think the priority on efficiency and shift from a concentrated population to a regionally dispersed population; coexist with nature; create jobs through local production and local consumption. 8) Build a society that emphasizes spirituality, mottainai, moderation, and interpersonal bonds. To do this, there is a need to start by revising economic indicators. Instead of GDP, the use of a GPI would be a more accurate indicator, leading to a society where people benefit more equally and in a truly sustainable manner.
Ota (2009) Japan could learn lessons from Canada. 1. Multi-racial and multi-cultural society 2. Society with less prejudice and discrimination 3. Society of fairness, equity and equality 4. Protection of human rights and freedoms 5. Nurturing individualistic citizens 6. Anti-super power mentality 7. Least armed forces 8. Neutral diplomacy 9. Comprehensive universal health care program 10. Social welfare system 11. Adopting younger generation 12. Switching parties for government
Conclusion All the facts are in. My prediction of Japan’s future is bleak to say the least, but there is still hope, if Japan and Japanese would adopt a new paradigm not based on the myth of continuing growth and consumption. Japan should do the following – my wish list 1. Decommissioning all the nuclear reactors immediately. 2. Training and hiring workers in the nuclear industry to the ones for alternative energy sources. 3. Dismantling power companies and their monopoly in power generation and services. 4. Changing the election system to empower the other political parties. 5. Overhauling and revamping the educational system. 6. Becoming a model for the post-capitalist society. 7. Eliminating the mandatory retirement policy and encouraging women to continue to work in order to offset the shortage of labour force. 8. Accepting foreign workers and immigrants. 9. Introducing dual/multiple citizenships. 10. Strengthening human rights and freedoms. 11. Reducing armed forces and defense spending. 12. Abandoning super power mentality.
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