Monday, August 17, 2009

How can Japan be respected by the international communities?

TED Talks: Gordon Brown: Wiring a web for global good

Gordon Brown is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party. According to Wikipedia, "Brown has a PhD in history from the University of Edinburgh and spent his early career working as a television journalist". This speech given by him does not really contain anything special. The content itself is rather mediocre and totally predicable judging by his socialistic tendencies. Yet I admire that he can express his thoughts clearly with humor in front of the large audience. At least, he has a set of coherent political ideas. He sticks to his beliefs and his policies are by and large implemented based on them. Easy to understand.

Take a look at Japanese prime ministers in the past. Very few Japanese prime ministers managed to convey their political beliefs effectively to the Japanese public. (Perhaps, one of a few exceptions was Junichiro Koizumi) Japanese political processes are very hard to understand to outsiders, even to the Japanese public. Japanese politicians have been accused of its lack of political philosophy. There are neither long-term goals nor strategies to achieve those goals.

Japan still has the world's second largest economy. Japan has been donating a large sum of money to the world's poorer countries in the last few decades. However, Japan has yet received sufficient respect from the international communities in proportion to its vital role in the global economy. Why?

I think it's because Japanese politicians don't have clear political philosophy. When certain important values such as human rights are threatened, British politicians like Gordon Brown are determined to object to such a move. They don't hesitate to speak up against other countries that violate such fundamental values on humanitarian basis. Their attitude is consistent and predicable. On the contrary, nobody knows what the Japanese government values the most. They look just inconsistent and opportunistic.

Japanese politicians should define what are the most important for them, prioritize the goals and take actions strategically to achieve them. The goals must serve the good of both Japan and the rest of the world. Only when do they succeed in doing so, Japan will be respected by the international communities.


Thomas Wanhoff said...

First, economic power doesn't mean political power over all. Then, I think Japan IS respected by the international community. It might be a bit different with China, Russia and the USA, but this is mainly because of their military power. Japan isn't involved in any war (and I praise Japan for this fact), it's totally focused on it's own economic progress. Japan isn't really playing a huge role in the international diplomatic scene, but that's Japans self-defined role. That's not bad at all - keeps the country out of trouble.

Ei "Ray" Murakami said...

Unfortunately most of Japanese have never had a friend from a quite different culture. Even within Japanese they tend to gather with those from similar backgrounds. So they never have a chance to learn the true meaning of difference.

In English, difference is rather a neutral word that means only things are not exactly the same. But Japanese for being different, "chigau" always conveys negative nuance, somewhat like being wrong.

So in international communities, Japanese tend to think either themselves or others are being wrong, not only just different. Actually it is natural feeling for human and every people thinks that way some extent, but it seems very significant with Japanese people.

Historically Japanese have been very efficient in learning from other cultures and still being unique and original. Once we open up our mind to the outside world, we would find our true potential.

It would be just a click away.