Japan News

Embrace the world, English, too: Ogata | The Japan Times Online

That Sadako Ogata, of all people, has to still be stressing the importance of English to Todai students in 2010 is a testament to the complete failure of Japan’s education policies around English.

Referring to her stint as U.N. leader on the refugee issue, Ogata stressed the importance of knowing one’s capabilities, being able to grasp the situation, and . . . learning English.

“Language is the foundation of understanding yourself and the others. . . . English is the international language. Without speaking English, it’s hard to communicate overseas,” she said.

Embrace the world, English, too: Ogata | The Japan Times Online.

Japan – Japanese students being left out in trend of international hiring

With Japan’s domestic market expected to shrink because of the low birthrate and graying society, Japanese companies are expanding into overseas markets. Hiring people with experience abroad is simply part of their global strategies.

Japanese students who remain in Japan are finding themselves in a seemingly no-win situation. If they study abroad, they will miss the early recruitment drive by companies in Japan. But if they stay at Japanese universities, they find themselves taking a backseat to foreign students here in gaining employment.

In addition, companies view Japanese university students as vulnerable to adversity and overly eager for job security.

via朝日新聞社):Japanese students being left out in trend of international hiring – English.


Translation of Keiji Inafune’s Capcom departure interview – NeoGAF

Translation of an interview with legendary Japanese game designer, Keiji Inafune, where he announces his resignation from Capcom. If anyone doubts that Japan’s “soft power” is in jeopardy, this is an important data point.

KI: Even when I submitted my letter of resignation, nobody contacted me about it. (laughs) There should’ve been a, “Hey Inafune, do you have some time?” or, “What do you mean by this? I want to hear it straight from you.” Nothing. Zero.

4G: …You’ve got to be kidding.

KI: Well of course, my actual staff asked me not to quit, but you would think that someone from management would want to at least try and stop someone with such skills from leaving, or even ask about it.

4G: Hmm…

KI: That’s fine, though. I expected that. But for a company whose whole business is making and selling games, you’ve got to think that development would be the key point. If you ignore development, the company can’t stand, so that’s the way things currently are.

I can’t say that I haven’t been able to make lots of different things, but I would’ve liked for the development-side to be more trusted in making games.

4G: It isn’t?

KI: No. Not a single member of the board of directors understands games. I didn’t ask to be a board member, but if you don’t have someone who understands games in the position of making those final decisions, there winds up being a business-side that doesn’t understand games and development-side that wants to make games. I feel that’s the biggest problem Capcom will be facing.

Then later:

4G: So what are the cons of using western developers?

KI: First, you can’t just leave them alone. Even with technical skills, they often lack adequate ideas and concepts for utilizing those skills. That’s exactly why I’m such a good match for them. (laughs) They don’t have to be a top-notch development studio. I just want to work with a team that has good potential and a positive work attitude.

Then later:

KI: So if I can, I want to change the Japanese game industry. I don’t want to abandon it. After I leave Capcom, I don’t want to, for example, just work for EA, Activision, and Rockstar. That would be abandoning Japan.

Translation of Keiji Inafune’s Capcom departure interview – NeoGAF.


Jan Hatzius and Paul Krugman on Japan’s lost decade

Very sobering.

All of this is very familiar if you studied Japan in the ’90s. In fact, we’re [USA] doing worse than the Japanese did. Our monetary policy is a bit more aggressive, but our fiscal policy has been less aggressive. We have a larger output gap than they [Japan] did, and we’ve had a surge in unemployment that they never had, and our political will to act has been exhausted much faster than theirs was. On the current track, we’re going to look at Japan’s lost decade as a success story compared to us. What we should be doing is a really big dose of stimulus on all of these fronts. Throw the kitchen sink at it. But if you ask me for ways to solve this problem that lives within the constraints of policymakers who don’t want to be bold, I don’t know that I have an answer for that.

Will America come to envy Japan’s lost decade?


Takeaway From Japan’s 20-Year Malaise

Thus Japan’s 20-year malaise has been a comedy of policy errors. Listening to people like ex-bank governor Mieno and veteran politician/finance bureaucrat Kaoru Yosano gives a big hint why, i.e., there is a severe lack of critical thinking and a severe allergy to trying something new — particularly as regards restructuring/reorienting Japan’s economy — in Japan’s policy circles. For most of the last 20 years, the Japanese government has spent most of its time just hoping the problem would go away.

The only encouraging progess was made between 2003 and 2007, when the Koizumi Administration cleaned up the banking sector NPLs and attempted to restructure Japan’s economy. Japan’s stock market bottomed in April 2003 at 7,600 and rallied to over 18,000 (137%). Since then, Japan has slipped back into malaise, deflation has returned and trend growth in government debt is accelerating, while stock prices have plummeted 58%.

To get Japan out of its current funk, Mr. Takenaka believes that a one-time massive infusion of fiscal stimulus is needed to eradicate a demand-supply gap still in the tens of trillions of yen range, spending the money on Haneda Airport and other clearly beneficial infrastructure projects, while pushing up growth in Japan’s M2 +CD money supply to 5%~6%–with the DPJ abandoning clearly unattainable election promises for something that actually works.

via Takeaway From Japan’s 20-Year Malaise: The Danger of Delusional Thinking — Seeking Alpha.