On Japan’s future


Once upon a time, Harvard Professor Ezra Vogel wrote a best-seller about Japan. It was the end of the 70’s. Japan had impressively overcome World War II’s cruel consequences and achieved excellence. To such an extent that Japan had become a model, if not an inspiration, for many renown economists. “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” was a hit. Then came the 90’s and the “bubble collapse”, the “lost decade”, followed by another decade, followed by now: an aging society and a struggling economy.

So what does Professor Vogel have to say now? He was recently interviewed by a Japanese journalist and Japan Today relayed some of his perspectives about Japan. While some would say that Ezra Vogel has a rosy view about Japan, and that his opinion may be outdated anyway, we found one very interesting point to alleviate, if not solve, the current difficulties. Just one word: Globalization. That, of course, encompasses quite a few concepts, some of which are cited: “employing outstanding foreign human resources”, “achieving a more cosmopolitan business environment”, “expanding the usage of English”, “starting the academic year in September” (like most other developped countries) and “bringing in excellent students from abroad”.

Of course, we can only subscribe to it, as an Educational Agency assisting foreign students to come study in Japan! The Japanese government is, apparently, in line with this strategy (e.g. the Global 30 initiative, the 300,000 Foreign Student plan). Are all the component of Japanese society ready for this? Are Japanese companies willing to take risks like Japanese majors did after WW II, as mentioned by Professor Vogel? A lot lies in the balance here, for Japan. Japan has a lot of assets to remain and consolidate its economic power (its creativity, its cohesiveness and its hard-working mentality to name but a few assets), but it will take more daring and opening up more and faster to find back some of its luster.

がんばる日本 – Ganbaru Nippon!

Read the Japan Today article here