Friday, April 9, 2010

The sun will set soon

Hello, my dear readers.

I have been away from this blog for a few months...not for specific reasons. Well, maybe, part of the reason would be the fact that my Japanese blog got popular recently and I was busy with updating that blog. Since a number of people read a new entry on my blog once I post it, I can't update it casually like before any more. This is a side effect of getting popularity on my Japanese blog.

Contrarily, no attention is paid to this English blog. Nobody really cares what I write here. This fact gives me some relief.

I also tweet. But I don't tweet in English that much any more because most of my followers are Japanese speakers and perhaps many of them are not good at reading English. So I am also exposed under pressure to write in Japan there, too.

Now I am not in the mood of updating my Japanese blog. I have been thinking of how to revive Japan's economy. But I feel more and more depressed when I think of the current gloomy political situation in Japan. Many thoughtful people point out the fundamental problems of Japan's economy. Solutions to address them are also actively suggested among the intellectuals. However, nothing changes. These radical reforms are not supported by the public of Japan.

Lawmakers from the coalition show off their populist policies, which deeply disappoint me. But that's exactly what the public wants. The lawmakers are just doing their job. If the majority so wish, how can I object to it?

As The Economist puts, the economic situation of Japan won't be sustainable soon or later. If the catastrophe is inevitable, what's the use of worrying about it? This kind of resignation is a Japanese way of thinking when coping with a serious disaster(I suspect that it has to do with the fact that big earth quakes regularly destroy everything on the ground in Japan) Anyway, thinking of Japan is too depressing now.

Yeah, surely, we need a "big bang" in the Japanese society to break the ice. But it's a long way to go, though.


AndyM said...

Most of the Japanese fundamental issues and solutions to them have been already pointed out since 90s. For example, I knew that Japan will have serious issues with its aging population when I left Japan 20 years ago. Sadly, as I predicted there hasn’t been enough political will to tackle with any of these big issues in Japan. I think that what it takes for Japanese people to accept radical reforms is a serious crisis such as a financial meltdown triggered by the government bond problem.
It takes big political capital to do a big reform because there are many people who enjoy a status quo even if the status quo is unsustainable. Historically Japanese leaders are the most reluctant to accept the change and they will wait till the situation becomes clearly disastrous. For example, Japanese military leaders didn’t change anything at all after Tokyo was decimated near the end of World War II. I think that the type of mentality is created by multiple things. First, the influence of “Kotodama belief” that makes it difficult for Japanese people to speak up and take actions to resolve issues early on (since the belief is “saying bad things will cause bad things”). Second, “the nail that sticks out gets hammered down” mentality. After all, no good deed goes unpunished in Japan. Third, the effort to “save face” that delays actions by Japanese political leaders. Forth, the die-hard belief that Japan will be saved in the end (originated from the historic event of fending off the Mongolian invasion thanks to a typhoon).
Come to think of it, they are mainly caused by Japan’s technological modernization without psychological modernization although it will be foolish to argue that Japan should have traced European modernization since French revolution. (I cannot help giggling to hear that the Japanese prime minister advocates “Fraternity” today.)
Another way to look at it is that nation states are too big to catch up with the fast changing world. I think that there will be a crisis of nation states in the future when people start to realized that nation states cannot provide solutions to the issues in the rapidly changing world. Regions and multi-national corporations will fill the gap while nation states will focus on basic things such as defense and diplomacy.

Anonymous said...

Yukichi Fukuzawa said in Encouragement of Learning, "foolish government stands above the foolish people". He asserted that the basic intellectual ability among people will determine how competitive the goverment which govern them are.
It is for the current issue in that If we really need to change or improve the economical environment, it would be already changed by using some measures. But it wasn't, that means the change is still not the trend for our society until now, and probably till the time of facing point of no return.
It is worth noting that Yukichi said it almost 140 years ago.

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Anonymous said...

I stumble upon your blogs when I was searching for information on Japan. I lived in Japan for a few years, and love many aspects of its culture. Although I have left Japan, I am still following news on Japan and developments in Japan. Thank you very much for your blogs.