Japan in the Asian Century

Japan was the first “Asian miracle” economy. It rose from the ashes of World War 2 to become the world’s second largest economy. Its development was led by exports from Japanese enterprises which conquered world markets, especially in the automobile and electronics sectors.

A financial crisis in the early 1990s led to two “lost decades” of weak economic performance. During the same period, Japan’s manufacturing industry was “hollowed out” as Japanese enterprises invested substantially in both Western and Asian countries. The total GDP of the Chinese economy has now overtaken Japan.

Today, Japan faces a vast array of challenges like its aging population, large public debt, and sluggish economy, as well as the effects of the current global financial crisis and of Japan’s “triple crisis” (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown). The Japanese experience provides many lessons to other countries, which are now confronting some similar problems, or will do so in the foreseeable future.

Japan’s leading electronics companies (like Sharp, Sony and Panasonic), which once dominated world markets, are now struggling in the face of competition from companies from America (like Apple), Korea (Samsung), Taiwan and China. But Japan’s automobile companies are still successful, with Toyota leading the world’s automobile market. A new generation of Japanese enterprises is achieving great success, such as Softbank, Uniqlo and Rakuten. And Japan has become an important exporter of “cultural products” like anime, manga and computer games.

The arrival of the “Asian Century” presents Japan with many challenges, especially competition from Asia’s rising giants of China, India and Korea. But the Asian Century also offers Japan many new opportunities in emerging Asia’s fast growing markets, including tourism from Asia’s rising middle class.

1. Introduction to Japanese business and economy.

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening.
Konnichiwa, Ohayou gozaimasu, Konbanwa.

Welcome to the January 2021 session in Japanese Studies at Tokyo’s Sophia University.
Welcome to the Japanese Business and Economy course.
My name is John West and I will be with you for the next 14 classes.

We will have 14 classes together from Friday, January 8 – Friday, January 29, 2021.
Organisation of the course. For each of the first two weeks, I will post four lectures on Youtube for you to listen to at a convenient time. Each lecture will have two or three sections.
You must listen to the lectures!

We will also have student discussion sessions, using Zoom, on 14 and 22 January. Since you come from countries like Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago, we can have three separate discussion sessions at different times 9.00 am, 1.00 pm, and 5.00 pm (Sydney Australia time). Please contact me by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to choose your time slot.

Then during the last week 25-29 January, we can organise student presentations.
This will be an important part of your evaluation, worth 20% of the overall evaluation. Your participation in our weekly discussions will be worth 10% of your evaluation.

Each student will make a ten minute presentation on their favourite Japanese company.
You should give a brief description of the company, along with the reasons why you think that it is an important company.During my lectures, I will talk about some Japanese companies, to help you get some ideas.

Regarding your evaluation.
There will be no final exam.
Each student will write one paper -- around 2000 words. This will account for 70% of the total evaluation.

Please discuss briefly the main challenges facing Japanese business and economy, and analyse at least three solutions to these challenges.
Due midnight Monday 1 February.

I do not use Moodle.
All the reference material for the course can be found on my website, entitled Asian Century Institute, at the following address:

Using my website, you can also enjoy access to my book, “Asian Century...on a Knife-edge”, which has lots of material on Japan.

2. Japanese business and economy story

Brief overview.
Japan was destroyed by World War 2. This is Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. But it quickly recovered.

Japan was the first “Asian miracle” economy. It rose from the ashes of World War 2 to become the world’s second largest economy in 1968, displacing Germany.

Japan's development was led by exports from Japanese enterprises which conquered world markets, especially in the automobile and electronics sectors by companies like Toyota and Nissan, and Sony and Panasonic.

Then in 2010, China’s total GDP overtook Japan’s such that China now has the world’s second biggest economy, while Japan’s is now the third biggest.

After dramatic rise, struck down by a financial crisis from 1990s. So began Japan’s lost decades. Today, Japan faces a vast array of challenges which started with the financial crisis. But now we have a aging population, large public debt, and weak productivity, as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Japan’s experience many lessons to other countries like China.

Japan’s companies also face challenges. Leading electronics companies (like Sharp, Sony and Panasonic), which once dominated world markets, are now struggling in the face of competition from companies from America (like Apple), Korea (Samsung), and China (Huawei).

But Japan’s automobile companies are still successful, with Toyota leading the world’s automobile market. Even here, Korean companies like Hyundai and KIA are strong competitors.

On the positive side, a new generation of Japanese enterprises is achieving success, like Uniqlo, Muji, Rakuten, and Softbank. And Japan has become an important exporter of “cultural products” like anime, manga and computer games. Here Nintendo is a successful company.

Since 2013, the Japanese government has been trying to revitalise economy through “Abenomics”. It has had some positive effect, with deflation being almost eliminated -- although the target of 2 percent inflation has not been reached.

One of the big success stories of Abenomics has been the boom in international tourism, especially from China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Japan’s mountainous geography means that skiing is a popular past time, especially for tourists.
Skiing in Japan

Japanese economy benefited somewhat from Abenomics (2013-2020), but weighed down by ageing population and weak productivity. And today Japan has been hit hard by COVID-19.

The arrival of the “Asian Century” in the 21st century presents Japan with many new opportunities in emerging Asia’s fast growing markets.

There are also many challenges, especially due to the great power rivalry between China (Japan’s most important trading partner) and the US (Japan’s military ally).

There are many possible solutions to Japan’s economic predicament:
-- immigration, womenomics, robotics.
-- promoting sectors like the cultural industries, and tourism.

-- lifting productivity by openness to trade and investment, and digitalisation.

- Japan almost made it. John West

3. Geographic and historic background.

Mountainous country -- 72% is mountainous -- very different from big continental countries the US, China or Australia.

Little land for agriculture. Must import 60% of food needs. So must export to pay for imports, unless it can lift productivity.

Japan is resource poor. Must import oil, coal, natural gas, iron ore (like China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore). This is a source of insecurity. Complementary relationship with Australia.

Japan’s is population concentrated in a few areas -- Kanto (Tokyo), Kansei (Osaka and Kyoto), etc. Densely populated cities can make management of pandemics like COVID-19 more difficult.

Tokyo is the world's largest city, followed by Delhi, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Cairo, Dhaka, Mumbai, Beijing, Osaka.

Although Japan has two of the world’s biggest cities, Osaka and Tokyo are also among the world’s top ten liveable cities.

Japan lives on the ring of fire, where most of the world’s earthquakes and tsunamis occur.

The worst natural disaster of recent times was the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in 2011, which killed at least 20,000 people.

Japan also has other natural disasters like typhoons and floods.

Another aspect of Japan’s unique geography is geographical isolation from the rest of Asia. Some people argue that Japan has a unique culture which is due to this isolation.

Japan also isolated itself politically from the West from 1639 to 1853 out of fear of foreign domination.

Japan is part of Asia, but isolated from Asia. Is there is similar country in Eurasia?
May be UK?

Do Japan and UK really belong to Asia and Europe? Each country’s best friend is the US, not a neighbour.

Despite Japan’s isolation, throughout its long history, it has always borrowed ideas, culture and technology from other countries, especially from China during the Tang Dynasty.
Chinese writing, Buddhism, Confucianism, architecture, arts, etc.

Japan could not stay isolated from the rest of the world forever.
Under pressure from the US -- Commodore Perry and his black ships -- Japan opens up again to the world in 1854.

A coup d’etat brings a change of regime in 1868. Known as the Meiji Restoration. The key feature of the Meiji restoration was the desire to accelerate its development through modernisation and Westernisation.

Iwakura mission to borrow technology and ideas from West.

Japan developed rapidly and became a colonial power. It copied the West and competed with the West. Defeated Russia in war. Colonised Korea and Taiwan. Invaded China. During World War 2, bombed Pearl Harbour, invaded much of East Asia, bombed Darwin in Australia. Ultimately lost World War 2 in 1945.

After the war, the US remade Japan as a democracy, and Japan has ever since been a close ally of the US.
Prime Minister Abe was a very close friend and golfing partner of Donald Trump.

- History of Japan

4. Uniqlo -- one of my favourite companies

(Geographic and historic background continued.)

History and territorial disputes still shape Japan’s relations with its neighbours today. Japan has complex and difficult relations with China and Korea. While Japan has free trade agreements with many countries, it does not have any with China and Korea.
Prime Minister Abe, with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the photo, has since resigned. Japan now has a new prime minister, Mr Suga.

In 1964, Tokyo hosted Olympic Games (Beijing did so in 2008). First high-speed train, Tokyo to Osaka also in 1964 (China in 2007). Osaka hosted the World Exposition in 1970 (Shanghai in 2010). Tokyo was due to host the Olympic Games again in 2020, but they have been postponed until 2021 because of COVID-19. So China seems to be following a similar path to Japan, just 40 years later.

Uniqlo -- one of my favourite companies.

Uniqlo was founded by Tadashi Yanai, Japan’s richest businessman. His net worth is $25 billion.

The success of Yanai and Uniqlo is one of Japan’s most extraordinary stories (Uniqlo is owned by his company Fast Retailing).

Yanai inherited a clothing company that his father founded in 1949 in the small town of Ube.

From these humble beginnings, Yanai succeeded in his goal to make Uniqlo “the first truly global clothing brand from Asia” with 2,200 stores in 22 countries. Fast Retailing is now the world’s third-largest clothing retailer.

Uniqlo was awarded Retailer of the Year by the World Retail Congress in 2014, while Yanai was named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2013 and one of the 100 greatest entrepreneurial minds by Forbes in 2017.

Uniqlo outsources production to 242 workshops in 11 countries. China still accounts for more than half, at 128 locations, despite efforts to reduce reliance on China as labor costs there rise. Vietnam ranks second with 44 factories, followed by Bangladesh with 24. It also uses garment workshops in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and India. The group relies on just two sewing factories in Japan, which make socks and stockings.

Yanai admits that both he and the company have experienced more than their fair share of failures.
“My most important job is to nurture the next generation of leaders”, said Yanai. “The job is more suitable for a woman, (because they) are persevering, detail-oriented and have an aesthetic sense.”
Yanai donated one billion Japanese yen ($10 million) in March 2011 to the victims of the big earthquake and tsunami.
Yanai is also worried about global warming.

- Tadashi Yanai grew his Uniqlo empire from humble beginnings

5. Japan's postwar resurgence -- role of labour

Japan destroyed by World War 2.

Amazing resurgence. Benefit of backwardness.
1950-73 -- averaged 8.1% economic growth (like China more recently).
1973-90 -- solid growth of 3.0% (a slowdown, like China now). By 1990, Japan’s GDP per capita 80% of US level.

Japan also transformed from low tech to high-tech, from agricultural to manufacturing to service based economy, and from rural to urban society.
But Japan never fully caught up to the US, and has been slipping backwards since the 1990s.

How do economies grow?
Labour (workers). Investment. Productivity (efficiency). Politics.
Governments can help foster economic growth by investing in education and infrastructure, and creating a business friendly environment. An open and growing world economy can help too by providing markets for exports.

In this lecture, we will concentrate on the importance of labor (workers) -- quality and quantity of workers.
Quality means education and training are key.

Educated workers obviously more efficient and productive. Japan has always had a pretty good education system. Indeed, during the 250 years of peace of the Edo period (1600-1868) education became widespread among both the elite and the common people.

The quality of Japan's current education can be gauged from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the OECD. This focuses on reading, mathematics and science of 15-year-old students around the world.

In reading, only ten out of 79 countries outperformed Japan in PISA 2018. In mathematics, four countries/economies outperformed Japan. In science, three countries/economies outperformed Japan.

While Japan performs very well on tests like PISA, many experts question the quality of Japanese education. Many argue that Japan emphasises rote learning, memorisation and training for tests.

Many also argue that there is insufficient focus on critical thinking, analytical ability and communication skills. Certainly, in my experience, many Japanese students never ask questions or enter into class discussions.

This is reinforced by the role of cram schools (“juku” in Japanese).
Many young Japanese students go to night schools to help them with their studies and prepare them for exams.

Another concern about Japan’s education system is the nation’s poor level of English language skills.
According to the EF English Proficiency Index, Japan has a low proficiency in the English language, and ranks only 55th in the world.

This is critical given that English is the language of international business, science and technology, economic and geopolitical analysis.
Many other Asian countries are ahead of Japan -- Singapore (10th), Philippines (27th), Malaysia (30th), South Korea (32nd), Hong Kong (33rd), China (38th), Macau (45th), India (50th).

- OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

6. Japan’s post-war resurgence -- role of labor

(Role of Labour continued)

Japanese Nobel Prize winning scientist Susumu Tonegawa had some insightful comments on Japan’s education: “Having spent a half century abroad since I went to the United States to study, I now regard Japan as a society rather dictated by rules. Within a fixed framework, the Japanese are able to produce things with extreme precision.”

In making a comparison with the US, Tonegawa argues that “A climate that respects individualistic thinking—thinking not bound by conventional wisdom—will produce revolutionary discoveries that shatter the framework. Unlike the Japanese, Americans put their own ideas first, and what others think of them is secondary. It is essential to have education that respects individual abilities and preferences.”

I would like to finish this section with an interview with Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Rakuten, on Englishnization and Diversity.

So that brings to an end our study of Japan’s education, and the “quality” of Japanese labor.
We will now move onto the “quantity” of Japanese labor.

Today, Japan has an aging population -- more and more old people in the population -- working age population has been declining since the 1990s.
But from 1950 until the 1990s, Japan’s working age population was increasing sharply thanks to the postwar baby boom. The “quantity” of Japanese labor was increasing.

This meant that there were lots of young energetic Japanese people to work in the economy and to boost the country’s economic growth.
This was in fact a very important factor driving Japan’s economy in the early postwar period.

As we will look at later on, Japan’s fertility rate started declining from the early 1970s. This eventually led to a decline in the working age population. This is a major factor behind Japan’s economic stagnation during the lost decades.

This brings to an end our examination the role of labor, or workers, in Japan’s dramatic rise after the war.
In short, there were two main factors: (i) Japan’s good education system, even if we can criticise certain aspects; (ii) Japan’s increasing working age population, what economists call a demographic dividend.

In the next lecture, we will look at the role of investment, both government investment in infrastructure; and private investment.

7. Japan’s post-war resurgence -- role of investment

In our previous lecture, we discussed the question of how do economies grow.
There are four main drivers of economic growth -- Labor, Investment, Productivity (efficiency), and Politics.
And we examined the role of labor, both the quality and quantity of labor.

In this lecture, we will look at the role of investment. And we will look at two main types of investment -- public investment in infrastructure, and private investment.
What do we mean by infrastructure?

Infrastructure refers to the structures underneath or supporting the economy.
Infrastructure which is critical for economy includes transport infrastructure (road, rail, maritime and air) and utility infrastructure (electricity and water)

How does Japan rank when it comes to infrastructure?
According to the World Economic Forum, Japan’s infrastructure would be the 5th best in the world. Japan stands just behind countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

For anyone who has visited Japan, this is not surprising. When you arrive at Tokyo’s Narita airport, you are amazed at its modernity and efficiency. And as soon as you get through customs and immigration, you can take a train or bus direct to your destination.

It is the same experience for most parts of the economy. Japanese workers in Tokyo, the world’s largest city, can always take a train or a bus between their home and workplace. Tourists can quickly take a high-speed train from Tokyo to Kyoto and elsewhere

It is the same thing for traders. Exports can be quickly delivered to ports, from where imports can also be quickly picked up. Japan also has very reliable water and electricity supply.
In short, Japan’s excellent infrastructure supports the nation’s business and economy.

But can we ever have too much of a good thing? Could we ever have too much infrastructure? Could there be cases where roads and bridges and tunnels that do not pass a cost/benefit test?

Sometimes there are cases where Japanese politicians lobby the government to build a road, a tunnel or a bridge, to help them become popular with their local community and get reelected. In fact, the construction industry plays a big role in Japanese politics.

Government-friendly companies lobby politicians for local construction contracts. If they get the contract, they can give money to local politicians to help get elected. When a local bridge, road or tunnel gets built, it provides jobs to the local population who then support the local politician.

It is true that these sorts of activities in most countries. Japan is not the only country with such corruption. But it might be worse than many other advanced countries.

Indeed, you could argue that Japan has too much infrastructure, and as a result it has the highest level of government debt among the world’s advanced countries. While Australia and US do not have enough infrastructure.

8. Japan’s post-war resurgence -- role of investment

We will now take a quick look at private investment.
In particular, we will examine whether Japan is an easy country in which to do business.

According to the World Bank, Japan is not an easy country in which to do business.
Japan is ranked only 29th out of 190 countries.

In a very competitive global market, this is not a very good score. Japan should do better.
Some of the countries that do better than Japan are -- Singapore comes 2nd in the world; Hong Kong 3rd; South Korea 5th; US 6th; UK 8th; Malaysia 12th; Australia 14th; Taiwan 15th; Thailand 21st; Germany 22nd.

What are Japan’s problems for doing business?
Japan’s main problem areas are: starting a business (ranked 106th in the world); getting credit (94th); trading across borders (57th); protecting minority investors (57th); paying taxes (51st); enforcing contracts (50th).

Overall, Japan has a strong bureaucratic culture, with lots of paperwork, and the continued use of personal signature stamps, which makes doing business more complicated than it should be. When you enter a Japanese office, you will see paper files everywhere. They need Marie Kondo. She is Japan’s miracle lady for tidying up.

Another sign that something is wrong is the extremely low amount of foreign investment in Japan.
But, at the same time, foreigners need to work hard to understand doing business in Japan

Close this lecture with a few political factors that helped Japan with its very rapid development after 1945.
-- although the US was Japan’s key enemy in World War 2, the US provided lots of financial support for Japan’s reconstruction after the war.

-- US military support for Japan after the war also meant that Japan could spend less on its military than otherwise. Indeed, Japan’s military spending only amounts to 2 percent of GDP.
-- Korean war (1950-53) and Vietnam war (1955-75) were good business for Japan.

-- the open US market enabled Japan to pursue export-oriented development. For a while at least, the US tolerated the relatively closed nature of the Japanese market.
-- Defeat in World War 2, was a national humiliation for the Japanese people. So there was a strong motivation to rebuild their country, and save their country, after the war.

Investment in infrastructure has been important in Japan’s development, even if Japan may have too much of a good thing. But Japan is not an easy country in which to do business. Lastly some political factors have been important for Japan’s economy.

In our next class, we will look at the role of international trade, and the role of Japanese companies.

9. Japanese convenience stores (“konbini”)

Every street corner in Japanese cities and towns has at least one convenience store, which is usually open 24/7.
These convenience stores offer a wide range of products and services from food and cigarettes to ATMs, newspapers and umbrellas in case of sudden rain.

All the main chains of convenience stores are Japanese-owned, and have spread out to other countries.
They highlight the fact that today there is much to Japan than manufacturing, and Japanese companies are very active in international markets.
But today, convenience stores are usually staffed by migrants or international students, rather than Japanese workers.

FamilyMart is a Japanese convenience store franchise chain. It first opened in Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo in 1973. The main shareholder is Itochu, a Japanese trading company, with a stake of 50%.

FamilyMart is Japan's second largest convenience store chain, behind 7-Eleven. There are now almost 25,000 stores worldwide in Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
FamilyMart -- Japanese Convenience Store Tour!

7-Eleven has a more interesting history than FamilyMart. It was founded in 1927 in Dallas, Texas. After 70% of the company was acquired by Japanese affiliate Ito-Yokado in 1991, it was reorganized as a wholly owned subsidiary of Seven-Eleven Japan in 2005. 7-Eleven operates, franchises, and licenses 71,100 stores in 17 countries covering Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania.

Lawson is a convenience store franchise chain in Japan. The store originated in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, but exists today as a Japanese company.
Lawson operates over 11,000 stores which can be found in Japan, as well as China, Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and USA.

10. Japan’s post-war resurgence -- role of trade

International trade has played a very important role in Japan’s development after World War 2.
How does trade help development?

Free and open trade offers many benefits:(i) specialisation in what you are best at -- comparative advantage.
(ii) economies of scale -- production is more efficient with higher production volumes.
(iii) companies can also learn global best practices by producing for world markets.
(iv) for a country like Japan, exports finance imports of natural resources that Japan lacks.

But Japan did not always practice free trade!

In 1945 was a low-tech country, but wanted to become a high-tech country. So it protected its infant industries to give them the breathing space to climb the development and technology ladder.

Protection took form of restrictions on Imports and foreign investment, subsidies and privileged access to bank finance. The exchange rate was kept artificially low (manipulated).

Japan also copied Western technologies, did reverse engineering, bought technology and at time practised intellectual property theft.

Japan's policies were successful for the manufacturing sector, which became competitive on global markets, especially in motor vehicle and electronics industries. Companies like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Sony, Panasonic.

Not only did Japan catch up to Western companies, Japanese companies like Toyota developed new management ideas like kaizen, just-in-time inventory management and lean manufacturing.

Toyota became one of the world’s most innovative companies thanks to its Toyota’s hybrid technology.
Toyota | Hybrid: How Hybrid Works

But Japan was not successful for its services and agricultural sectors which remained focussed on the domestic market.

Average age of Japanese Farmers is 65 years old.... who will rice farm in 10 years?

Today, productivity in services sector is half that of manufacturing.
Tokyo Hidden Gem | Mom and Pop Japanese Restaurant

This concludes the first half of our third class. We examined the role of international trade in Japan’s postwar development.
Free international trade is very effective for promoting development and efficiency.

But Japan followed a different model.

It protected its infant industries to give them the breathing space to climb the development and technology ladder.

This was very effective in developing the manufacturing sector, which competed on world markets and became a world leader.
But it was not effective in the case of the agricultural and services sectors, which remained domestic oriented and inefficient.

Today, Japan is gradually moving towards greater free trade. But it should have moved earlier and faster. Japan’s GDP per capita is only two-thirds of the US, and would be higher if it practised free trade today.

- Getting Better Value Out of Global Value Chains, John West

11. Role of Japanese companies in Japan's postwar resurgence

Traditional Japanese companies had their own "style", during Japan’s high-growth period, from 1945-90.
Teamwork. Cooperation. Somewhat like families.

Students recruited directly from university.
Personality and social activities more important than grades.
It was most important to be part of the corporate team.

Companies offer in-house training to form "company men". University education considered less important.
Each new recruit, “kohai”, was assigned to a senior, “sempai”. The kohai would follow the sempai around, and watch everything he did. This is key to training.

High degree of job security, with lifetime employment common in big companies.
Companies want to benefit from training and not lose staff.
High sense of loyalty between company staff. Staff don’t get fired. But will work very hard.

Most Japanese staff would work very long hours. Much unpaid overtime.
Karoshi was and remains a problem.
Seniority-based pay. Regular job rotations.

Part of corporate teamwork was socialising and drinking with colleagues after work.

Typical Japanese companies would have very few foreign staff.
They were not global enterprises like Apple and many other American companies are today. Not like Rakuten.

Japanese white-collar workers known as “Salarymen”.
Women were typically “Office ladies” -- “OL”.

Very little place for professional women.
“OL” would mainly do “pink-collar” tasks, typing and photocopying etc.
Sexual harassment (seku-hara) a problem.

When women got married and became pregnant, they were expected to leave work, and look after the home.
They might then return to work when the children had grown up. “M-curve”.

In previous lesson, we discussed how the Japanese government protected the country’s infant industries. This development strategy was engineered by the "iron triangle" of business, bureaucrats and politicians. In other words, Japanese companies had a close relations with government.

Senior government officials would usually get a job in a company, usually one they cooperated with. This is known as “amakudari”, or descent from heaven.
This might be a reward for favours granted to a company. It might also help the iron triangle function.
Not surprisingly, Japan has a long history of corporate corruption scandals.

Japanese business meetings ceremonial. Everything pre-cooked through "nemawashi".

Retirement can be a drama for Japanese men.
Find their family again after 30-40 years of marriage to the company.
His wife calls him “industrial waste”.
So many Japanese men get a retirement job, like professor or taxi driver.

The Japanese corporate model was outstanding during the country’s high-growth, catch-up period -- 1945-1990. But now changing. Irregular work -- less full-time, lifetime jobs -- for more flexibility.

More international -- like Rakuten -- even though most Japanese companies remain quite Japanese.
Slowly women now have more professional jobs -- “womenomics”.

12. Japan’s outstanding architects

(Role of Japanese companies cont)

But as this video shows, Japan's corporate culture still needs to change much more.

This brings an end to our examination of the role of Japanese companies in Japan’s rapid economic development after World War 2.
The specific style of traditional Japanese companies contributed greatly to Japan’s high-growth period. But since the financial crisis of the 1990s, Japanese companies have been changing.

Looking ahead, the challenge now should be to reform Japanese companies and their work practices in order to lift their productivity to the levels of other advanced countries. There is still much work to be done.

Architecture is an important part of the Japanese economy. There are over 300,000 architects and about 80,000 students of architecture in Japan, according to the International Union of Architects. Japan has a long architectural tradition through temples, shrines and castles. Not surprising that contemporary Japanese architecture should be so good.

Japan has the world's best architects. In 2019, Arata Isozaki won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, a sort of Nobel Prize for architecture. He is the eighth Japanese out of 46 winners to receive this prestigious annual award. Japanese have won the prize more than any other country, even more than the US.

Arata Isozaki also designed Barcelona's largest covered sports facility, the Palau Sant Jordi, which became the epicentre of the 1992 Olympics. The dome was raised from the ground using innovative hydraulic technology and its imposing outline is reminiscent of a turtle, an organic element that ties in with Antoní Gaudí's work.

When the New York Museum of Modern Art undertook a major renovation and expansion in 1997, it hired Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi.

Kengo KUMA is another one of Japan's leading architects. He designed the stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Let’s listen to some of his thoughts.

Perhaps the most famous Japanese architect is Tadao Ando who is a self-taught architect. He is the winner of the 1995 Pritzker Prize.
Tadao Ando: 10 iconic buildings

Japan’s excellence in architecture is highlighted in its earthquake proof buildings, like the Skytree.
Here's How Engineers Used Ancient Techniques To Protect Tokyo's Skytree From Earthquakes

The Earthquake-Proof Tower in Japan - Secret Revealed

Tomorrow by Japan: Quake Proof Tower

13. Japan’s bubble economy

Japan's economic renaissance after World War 2 is a beautiful story.
By 1990, its GDP per capita reached 80 percent of the US level.
It became the world's second biggest economy in 1968.

What could go wrong?
What did go wrong?
Japan developed a bubble economy, and the bubble burst, destabilising the economy, and starting Japan’s lost decades.

What is an economic bubble?
Dramatic price rise, followed by dramatic fall. Bubbles go "POP".
Often occurs in real estate or stock markets.

How do bubble economies occur?
Easy money fuels price rises. Often followed by irrational exuberance. Can only be sure that a price rise was a bubble after crash.

Examples US real estate in 2008. Japan in late 1980s.
Problems of bubble economy -- people lose lots of money when bubble pops. Balance sheet recession.

Japan bubble economy in late 1980s in stock and real estate markets. From March 1986 to December 1989 stock prices rose by 130%, while land prices increased by 60% from March 1986 to September 1991.

How did this occur?
During 1980s, Japan's exports and economy became very strong. Japan built up a big trade surplus, partly because of protectionist policies, like a manipulated exchange rate.

US and other Western economies felt under threat. In 1985, G5 Plaza Accord pushed Japan to stop manipulating yen and increase exchange rate. This adversely affected Japanese exports and economy.

Japan responded with easy money policies, “QE”, this fuelled bubble. There was also irrational exuberance. Many thought Japan was overtaking US. Japan could be number 1! Value of Tokyo's Imperial Palace higher than the state of California.

By 1980s, Japan became a new global power. US seen as declining power. In US, genuine fears of rise of Japan, just as fears of rise of China today.

Japanese companies went on international spending spree. Mitsubishi bought Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Sony bought Columbia Pictures. Japanese banks, biggest in world, seemed to be taking on the world, like manufacturers.

Late 1989, Bank of Japan worried about bubble, increased interest rates. Bubbles started bursting.
Japan's stock and land prices came crashing down, wiping out billions in wealth and leaving the nation's banks, enterprises and citizens with mountains of bad debt.

Japan thus entered a balance sheet recession. With debt exceeding assets for many companies and citizens, Japan started a long period of deleveraging, as debt was paid off and assets rebuilt.

Japanese government slow to react. Thought prices might recover.
Also, suffered five stages of grief -- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

In such a situation, should save the financial system, save good banks and companies, let others go bankrupt. Japan very slow to react. Iron triangle resisted rapid change.
Took over ten years to solve problem. Different from US in 2008. Suffered balance sheet recession as citizens and companies worked off debt (deleveraging).

14. Japan's demographic drama

Bubble economy continued

But Japan was hit by many other things, not just a financial crisis.
(1) Working age population started declining in 1995.
(2) New competition from companies from Korea, and Taiwan.
(3) Big earthquake in 1995 in Kobe, which government mismanaged.
(4) Also in 1995 domestic terrorist attack in Tokyo metro.
(5) Corruption scandals in government.
(6) Old protectionist model no longer effective. Japan should have opened up the economy to competition to improve productivity.

So the Japanese economy hit the wall. Thus began Japan's lost decades.

Japan's demographic drama

Previous class, Japan’s bubble economy. After bubble popped, Japan began its lost decades of economic stagnation. Another key factor behind Japan’s lost decades is Japan’s demographic drama, its rapidly aging population.

Japan’s working age population is declining since 1995. Weakens the economy. Weakens government budget and debt. Weakens the country in international relations at a moment when China is rising and US is erratic.

Japan’s working age population falling since 1995 -- from 87 million to 75 million today. Could fall to 43 million by year 2100. Japan’s total population started falling in 2010. It could fall from 127 million today to 85 million in 2100.

Life expectancy risen from 63 in 1950 to 84 today, and could rise to 94 by end of century. This is a positive development, but costs the government budget.

Old age dependency (people aged 65 and over, compared with people aged 15-64) risen from 8% in 1950 to 43% in 2015, and could rise to 69% in 2100.

Japan’s fertility is the major driver of its demographic drama. Fertility fell from over 4 children per woman in 1950 to around 2 in 1970, and from mid-1970s it fell below "replacement rate" of 2.1 children per woman. Today, fertility is around 1.4.

Japan is often presented as strange, unusual case. But not so strange. Japan has been merely leading the way in a worldwide trend. Today half the world’s population lives in countries with fertility rates less than 2.1. May low fertility countries have high immigration in contrast to Japan.

What causes Japan’s low fertility?
In Japan, decline in fertility is associated with decline in marriage. And due to socially conservative attitudes, unmarried women rarely have babies, in contrast to Western countries.

Why are Japan’s marriage and fertility rates so low?
For economists: As Japanese women now better educated, more interested in working, despite discrimination in Japanese workplace.

But it is difficult for Japanese women to combine work and family life when corporate life is characterised by long working hours, compulsory overtime, evening socialising with colleagues, and transfers to offices far from home.

- Solving Asia’s Demographic Dilemmas, John West

15. Japan's demographic drama (cont)

Some women choose work over marriage and family. If women just postpone a family, they may settle for one child. The average woman's age for having the first child is 30.7. Japanese corporations need family-friendly work culture and more efficient work practices.

Another cause of declining marriage is the rise in low-paid irregular employment. Boys in such jobs cannot afford to get married and start a family.

More fundamentally, with education, women are now more in control of their lives, and are able to choose whether or not to get married and have children. Some argue that Japanese women rejecting traditional gender division of labor, and would prefer not to get married.

Japan’s poor work-life balance also means that men have little time to contribute to family life, which would support women who wish to work and also to have a family. In Japan, women devote nearly four hours a day to housework and childcare, compared to less than one hour for men.

Japan’s paternity leave is the highest in the world. But very few men take paternity leave.

The costs of housing and education (night school) also act as a deterrent to having a family.
The continuing move of people to high-cost Tokyo exacerbates this.

Lack of pre-school and day-care places a chronic problem. The government has provided many new places, but about 20,000 children are still on waiting lists.

Sociologists talk of Japan's celibacy syndrome, decline of arranged marriages, womb strike, changes in Japan's younger generation (from 2.30).
The rise of Japan's 'super solo' culture

People debate Japan’s low fertility. But fertility varies greatly in Japan by prefecture
-- 1.2 in Tokyo, 1.3 in Hokkaido and 1.3 in Kyoto.
-- 1.9 in Okinawa, Shimane with 1.7, and Miyazaki with 1.7.
This suggests that Japan’s city life is not conducive to family life.

Okinawan women marry younger, have children younger, workforce participation similar to Tokyo. But Okinanwans have better work/life balance, as work less hours. Tokyo, as world’s biggest city, and Japan’s most densely populated area is less conducive to raising a family.

For evolutionary biologists, low fertility is strange. Normally natural selection produces individuals who are good at converting their resources into lots of fertile descendants.

Other economic challenges include: succession problem for family businesses; future of agriculture as average age of Japanese farmers in 67; abandoned houses and villages; rising car accidents caused by elderly drivers.

What to do? Increase fertility rate. Overall, Japan needs a family-friendly work environment so that women can combine work and family life, and so that men can contribute to home and family life, and so that young people can afford to get married. However, many efforts in past, to little effect. Even if effective, that won't solve immediate economic effects of demographic decline.

But demographic decline.
Good for environment. Reduce crowding.
Silver economy.

16. Food in Japanese economy

Food is a very important part of Japanese Business and Economy. Japan is the country with the most Michelin-star awarded cities! In fact, there are 21 in Nara, 117 in Osaka, 135 in Kyoto and 304 in Tokyo!! As a base of comparison, Paris, comes in in 3rd place, after Tokyo and Kyoto, with 134 stars! If you want fine dining, you're in the right country!

One famous Japanese chef is the Sushi Master Yoshihiko Kousaka who has earned a Michelin Star 10 Years in a row.

Some Japanese chefs have become so successful that they have established restaurants all around the world, like Nobu who now has restaurants and hotels in literally every continent.
Nobu’s life is an incredible story!

Despite Japan’s strong food culture, Japan has the lowest obesity rates among the advanced OECD countries.
One reason is the quality of Japanese food. Even though Japanese agriculture is economically inefficient, the quality of agricultural products is very high.

Japanese peaches are especially delicious.
The most famous species of Japanese peach is the Shimizu White Peach grown in Okayama. It is pink and milky white, juicy and sweet, known to be the best species of peach.

Japan also has the highest life expectancy among the advanced OECD countries.

One key reason why the Japanese are so healthy is the Japanese breakfast. Nattō is a traditional Japanese breakfast food which is made from soybeans that have been fermented with Bacillus subtilis var. natto. It is served with karashi mustard, soy or tare sauce, and sometimes Japanese bunching onion.

17. Suicide in Japan

Japan has a suicide problem. But other advanced countries like Russia, Lithuania and Korea have higher rates of suicide, and countries like Slovenia, Hungary and Estonia are in the same ballpark.

After rising sharply in the late 1990s, Japan's suicide rate has been on a steady downward trend.

Apart from young people, for whom the suicide rate is very low, all age groups are affected by suicide.

- OECD Society at a Glance 2016 -- page 118
- Number of Suicides in Japan Declines for Eighth Consecutive Year
- Number of suicides per 100,000 inhabitants in Japan in 2017, by age group
- Suicide. Take time to listen: Rene Duignan at TEDxTokyo
- SAVING 10,000 - Winning a War on Suicide in Japan

18. Japan's corporate scandals

Corporate scandals occur everywhere. But Japan has special problems.

Recall iron triangle -- big business, politicians and government officials -- cosy, non-transparent relationships. One role of government, regulate business. But in Japan, government officials have close friendly relationship.

Corporate governance -- the way companies are governed and managed -- in Japan always different from other advanced countries, not up to international standards.

One aspect is corporate board, supposed to supervise company's management on behalf of shareholders. But in Japan, boards are stacked with insiders, like representatives from the main bank, and former corporate staff members. Results in cosy club, management weakly supervised, blocks mergers and acquisitions, especially from overseas. Corporate decisions on golf course, not boardroom. External auditors don’t always do serious job. Mainstream media often silent -- advertising revenues.

As part of Abenomics, government implementing corporate governance reforms. But change slow.

Olympus scandal. Big losses through bad investments over 20 years ago. Covered up by creative accounting, and shady deals, some involving organised crime. New CEO, Michael Woodford, discovers it. Launches investigation. Board members and senior staff obstruct. Woodford exposes to international media. Japanese domestic media silent. Woodford gets fired. Ultimately, government acted, and ex-chairman and others prosecuted.

Toshiba scandal. Toshiba guilty of accounting scandal of $1.2 billion in overstated profits. Improper accounting, over seven years, started following global financial crisis. Toshiba's corporate leadership handed down strict profit targets, "Challenges", to business unit presidents, often with implication failure unacceptable. Only way to achieve Challenges was cooking the books. Toshiba's corporate culture, obedience to superiors, an important factor enabling fraudulent accounting practices. Culture operated on every level of authority down to accountants who cooked the books. Investigation recommends robust whistleblower system.

Kobe Steel admitted data fraud for nearly five decades. Japan’s third-biggest steelmaker supplies steel parts to manufacturers of cars, planes and trains around world, admitted supplying products with falsified specifications to over 600 customers, , including 222 customers overseas, throwing global supply chains into turmoil. What caused Kobe's problems -- greed, insular corporate culture, dishonesty and negligence.

Yakuza members of organized crime syndicates originating in Japan. Traditionally, Japanese government tolerated yakusa, because crime is inevitable, better be organized. Yakuza acts like second police force, tolerating their existence helps keep petty crimes like theft and robberies to an absolute minimum. More recently, government been cracking down, and yakusa membership declining.

- Ex-CEO of Olympus blows the Whistle on Fraud and a Culture of Dysfunction in Japan. Start 1.50 -- 9.00.
- Toshiba scandal: Why did the boss resign? BBC
- Toshiba boss resigns over accounting scandal
- Toshiba scandal shakes corporate Japan
- New head of scandal-hit Kobe Steel may seek mergers for some business units
- Who are Japan's Yakuza? In 60 seconds - BBC News
- Japan's Yakuza: Inside the syndicate
- Japan calls its corporates to account

19. Japan and China parallels

Chinese President Xi Jinping is worried. China could be turning Japanese!

China shares Japan’s three big problems -- low productivity, poor demography, and big debt. China needs more reform and opening of economy to boost productivity, but Xi is worried about possible instability of reform. China fertility rate has been below 2.1 since 1993. China’s working age population has been falling since 2014. China is becoming old before it becomes rich! In contrast, Japan became rich before it became old.

China’s debt has exploded over past decade. Many are worried that China could have a debt crisis, or lost decades like Japan. How did China get into debt problem.

When US caused the global financial crisis in 2008, Chinese government became worried. Chinese economy had long been dependent on exports to US and other Western markets. And it was concerned about possible unemployment, and social and political stability.

So Chinese government launched a massive economic stimulus program. This program involved increasing spending on infrastructure and housing, encouraging companies to increase production, and easy money. It was largely financed by money from state-owned banks, which was loaned to state-owned enterprises and local governments.

This stimulus was very effective in maintaining growth in the Chinese economy. It was also very helpful to world economy, especially to China’s Asian neighbors, and natural resource exporters like Australia.

This stimulus program did, however, have adverse side effects:

-- not all infrastructure was efficient -- some white elephants, and ghost cities.

-- excess capacity in many industries like steel, cement and aluminium.

-- asset bubbles. Following a rise in stock prices, in 2015 there was a crash. In some cities, housing prices rose sharply, and today there are concerns about housing prices in China's large cities.

-- China's total debt has risen dramatically, from 150% of GDP to over 250%, and could rise over 300% in coming years. Much of this is corporate debt debt, not government debt. But it is still in the public sphere because much is state-owned enterprise debt owed to state-owned banks. Debt in shadow-banking sector also very high.

-- And much of this debt is held by inefficient zombie companies.

Some are worried that China is headed towards a debt crisis. IMF says China’s “credit growth is on a dangerous trajectory, with increasing risks of a disruptive adjustment and/or a marked growth slowdown”.

Others argue that China is safe. It has high foreign exchange reserves, low government debt, and the Communist government has a great capacity to control the economy. Against that, the government seems more concerned about preventing unemployment than its debt, and more concerned about achieving its economic growth targets.

One thing is certain now that China needs to improve its productivity, much of its debt and investment are increasingly inefficient, raising is spectre of stagnation

- Is China’s economy turning Japanese? Financial Times.
- The Vapors - Turning Japanese - 1.10
- Credit Booms—Is China Different? Sally Chen ; Joong Shik Kang. IMF Working Paper
- Resolving China's Zombies: Tackling Debt and Raising Productivity. W. Raphael Lam ; Alfred Schipke ; Yuyan Tan ; Zhibo Tan. IMF Working Paper.
- China's eerie ghost cities a 'symptom' of the country's economic troubles and housing bubble
- A look at China's debt issues
- China's Central Bank Chief Warns Corporate Debt Is Too High
- Xi Jinping, Barack Obama, Winnie the Pooh
- Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, Winnie the Pooh
- China’s Great Wall of Debt

20. Japan and China, peace and prosperity

Japan/US relationship. Very important. But now troubled with Trump. Japan/China relationship warming up.

Every relationship has ups and downs. First half of 20th century -- Japan/China was down. 1970s and 80s -- Japan/China was up.
1990s and 2000s -- down again. But hot economics/cold politics

Japan and China have complementary relationship. Japan is high-tech, China is medium tech. Japan is low-growth, China is high growth. Japan and China are neighbors.

Deng Xiaoping’s visit to Japan in 1978 started large Japanese investment in China.

The total stock of Japanese foreign direct investment in China stood at some $124 billion at the end of 2018, with about 23,000 Japanese companies now having operations in China.

In the early days, Japanese manufacturing companies in the motor vehicle, electronics and heavy industries were taking advantage of China's low cost structure. But today the buying power of China's emerging middle class is a growing attraction for Japanese companies.

China also become Japan's most important trading partner. Trade increased from $1 billion to $317 billion over past 45 years, and now is over 20% of Japan's total trade. Japan is also China’s third largest trading partner.

Japan now has boom in inbound tourists -- from 8 million in 2008 to over 31 million in 2018. Chinese tourists biggest group visiting Japan. In 2018 8.4 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, spent $13 billion, 34 per cent of all spending by foreign visitors.

Japan has boom in international students, 300,000 in 2018, up from 124,000 a decade earlier. China is leading the way, accounting for 115,000 of these students, way ahead of the second-placed Vietnam with 72,000.

Immigration. In 2018, 2.7 million foreign residents in Japan, an increase of 270% since 1990, 2.2% of national population. China jumped ahead of Korea as Japan’s biggest source of foreign residents, with close to 0.8 million. Many of these Chinese residents are skilled workers.

Japan’s economy made major shift to China. From 1945 until the 1970s, during Cold War, US held Japan back from doing business with China.

US-Japan Security Alliance gave US great sway over Japanese foreign policy. Japanese exports focused on US and Europe.

Economic relations drawing Japan and China closer together. So to is Donald Trump, especially his trade wars.

With Trump’s unreliability as political and economic partner, natural that Japan and China seek cooperation.

Both Japanese and Chinese leaders now speak positively of the new era of Sino-Japan relations.

Cannot say that Japan is switching away from US towards China. US/Japan long history. Japan/China many scars.

But Japan now more independent, and closer to China.

Could closer people-to-people contacts between Japan and China improve each country’s low public opinion of the other, and make them become friends?

- China bans Winnie the Pooh film after comparisons to President Xi
- Dend on Shinkansen
- Deng at Panasonic
- Japan FDI and Trade statistics
- Japan tourism statistics
- Japan student statistics
- Japan immigration statistics
- China Japan relations
- The China-Japan Economic Relationship Is Getting Stronger. John West. Brink Daily Newsletter, January 21, 2020.
- ‘Wise diplomacy’ embraced in China-Japan ties

21. Happiness in Japan

Japan is ranked the 54th most happy nation in the world, according to the World Happiness Report. In contrast, Japan's GDP per capita in PPP terms would be the 22nd highest in the world, according to the World Bank.

Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are all ranked as happier nations than Japan.

The OECD's Better Life Index provides interesting insights into Japan's wellbeing. As the OECD says, there is more to life than the cold numbers of GDP and economic statistics. This Index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, namely housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance.

Japan scores quite well for income, education, very low unemployment rate, very low murder rate.

But Japan scores poorly for housing quality, civic engagement (very low voter turnout), self-reported health (despite high life expectancy), life satisfaction, work-life balance (working very long hours), and gender equality.

Suicide is a widely publicised phenomenon in Japan. In recent years, it has been falling. But it is still is the second highest among the OECD countries after South Korea.

Japan as No. 1: The 21st-century version

- World Happiness Report 2018
- List of countries by GDP per capita
- OECD Better Life Index, Japan
- Suicide in Japan is dropping.
- Suicides down, but Japan still second highest among major industrialized nations, report says
- what is well-being?
- Single mothers lead Japan's poor population
- One in three single working Japanese women living in poverty - Press TV News
- Working Poor In Japan
- Homeless in Japan

22. Opinions on Japan

Japanese Nobel Prize winning scientist Susumu Tonegawa

“Having spent a half century abroad since I went to the United States to study, I now regard Japan as a society rather dictated by rules. Within a fixed framework, the Japanese are able to produce things with extreme precision.” In making a comparison with the US, Tonegawa argues that “A climate that respects individualistic thinking—thinking not bound by conventional wisdom—will produce revolutionary discoveries that shatter the framework. Unlike the Japanese, Americans put their own ideas first, and what others think of them is secondary. It is essential to have education that respects individual abilities and preferences.”

Pascal Senkoff, president of Levi Strauss Japan K.K.

Japanese people ... are 100 percent devoted to what they do ... this is one of the keys to success and reasons Japan is successful and unique.

It would be good if they become more positive ... Japanese society is probably too negative, and they need to enjoy more, they need to be more optimistic about the future.

Japan is doing more of is to be more open to the rest of the world. I think [the Olympics] will be great, then we have the exposition in 2025.

You go anywhere in Japan you have tourists now, and I think it’s great for Japan to be more open, and they are more open for the rest of the world to recognize what Japan has to offer.

Could you give some advice to Japanese businesspeople in general? ... first of all to learn English ... When I was here in the ’80s, young people were more open to the rest of the world ... Today, sometimes I feel the young generation are not so open to the rest of the world ... if you look at the number of young Japanese studying overseas at American universities, whatever, it’s declining every year. That to me is kind of a bad thing because I think there is a lot of potential ,,, I think young people need to be more confident in their capabilities and more confident they can compete.

In Japan, it’s very difficult to have Japanese people take overseas assignments ... That’s because maybe because they feel not so comfortable in English ... I think you should take the risk to go overseas.

in Japan you trust people. When you do business, you can really trust the people. It’s a very safe society, it’s a very peaceful society, there is no violence, and that’s really something that changed my ways of working, living.

The BBC reports that "Japan is home to some of the most resilient buildings in the world - and their secret lies in their capacity to dance as the ground moves beneath them."

- Japanese Nobel Prize winning scientist Susumu Tonegawa
- My Japanlology / Strong brand traits allowed deeper connection to culture. The Japan News, January 13, 2019.
- How Japan's skyscrapers are built to survive earthquakes

23. Cybersecurity in Japan

Cybersecurity in Japan

Like all countries, Japan has cybersecurity vulnerabilities. High-tech country. Lack of public awareness. Ageing society. Seniors easy victims. N.Korea, Russia and China could cyber-adversaries. But US is a cyber-friend.

The 2020 Olympic Games and Rugby World Championships are special vulnerabilities.

But Yoshitaka Sakurada, a government minister, deputy chief of the government's cybersecurity strategy office, admitted that he does not use computers. His staff do that.

Last Japanese government launched a new cybersecurity strategy. Many press comments that Japan's corporate and government cyber defenses need improvement.

Japanese private sector lags behind its US and European counterparts. Business leaders lack cyber awareness. Need more cyberprofessionals.

24. Australia-Japan bilateral relationship

Australia–Japan partnership is our closest and most mature in Asia.

Underpinned by shared commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as well as common approaches to international security. In 2017, Japan was Australia's second-largest trading partner, second-largest export market, and second-largest source of foreign direct investment. In 2015, Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

The transformation of Japan from enemy to friend after World War 2 a major achievement.

Australia and Japan work very closely in strategic alliance with the United States. Regularly participate in joint defence exercises and frequently consult on regional security issues.

Australia and Japan close partners in regional forums such as Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Australia and Japan agreed not to let our differences over whaling affect our close relationship.

Australia-Japan economic relationship is underpinned by complementary strengths and needs. Australia a safe, secure and reliable supplier of food, energy and mineral resources. Japan became Australia's largest trading partner in early 1970s.

Japan was Australia's second-largest trading partner in 2017, and second-largest export market, 15% of total exports -- mainly LNG, coal , iron ore, beef , and copper. Japan Australia's fourth-largest source of goods imports, including passenger vehicles, refined petroleum, gold, and goods vehicles.

Japan Australia's largest source of investment from Asia and fourth-largest overall. Japanese investment essential in development of export industries like coal, iron ore and LNG.

- Australia-Japan bilateral relationship

25. Working Japan

ROCHELLE KOPP has some good advice on working in Japan. See article below. The Key points are:


Social contacts
Consensus in decision-making
Planning, process and details
Ability to execute
Lack of pigeonholing
Increased responsibility
Opportunity for learning


The language barrier
Indirect communication style
A need to read between the lines
Lack of positive feedback
Takes a long time to get anything done
Slow to change
Detail orientation
Unclear career path
Long working hours

Demand for non-Japanese engineers is growing, but know what you're in for before you apply

IT engineering is a field in which there are a lot of opportunities for non-Japanese who possess sufficient skills to work in Japan. There are 28,000 non-Japanese IT engineers working in Japan currently, comprising about 3 percent of all IT engineers in Japan, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The ministry projects that Japan will face a deficit of 789,000 software engineers by 2030, a gap that non-Japanese engineers are well-positioned to help fill.

- Thinking of working in Japan? It's good to know what you're in for. ROCHELLE KOPP. Jan 30, 2019. Japan Times.
- Demand for non-Japanese engineers is growing, but know what you're in for before you apply. ROCHELLE KOPP. Jan 30, 2019. Japan Times.