In the previous post ‘The Falling Sun – Japan to Fade Out by 2050,’ I introduced the Japan 2050 Prophecy, or a report called ‘Global Japan – Year 2050 Simulation and Strategy,’ published by a Japanese think tank, 21st Century Public Policy Institute.
Although seemingly shocking, the Japanese people do not have to panic as if 2050 is the end of the world. This think tank, backed up by the big names of Corporate Japan, is merely advocating their interests as a form of the ‘research.’ This is a strong (and almost threatening) message from the Japanese establishment to the novice DJP government.
A Prophet Sees The Future, Not The Past
The first few pages of the report list up CEOs and Chairpersons of big companies, who sponsored this extensive (and maybe expensive) research. Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Canon, Sumitomo Chemical, Toyota, Nippon Steel Corporation, Panasonic, Tokyo Electric Power Company, et cetera. The report was made by dozens of research members and advisors, who are professors from renowned universities and top-rank officers of governmental and semi-governmental agencies.
In other words, the report was developed by the people – from the private, public and academic sectors – who have driven Japan for a past few decades to where we are today. They are the establishment who had (and still have) a strong influence on Japan’s future. Now the same people are pointing fingers at the current DJP government, who took over the control only 3 years ago.
The Power Game
First and foremost, the report wants the government to build a long-term energy plan. The 3.11 earthquake followed by the Fukushima disaster not only damaged the nation’s power supply but also caused a nation-wide allergic reaction to the nuclear energy in general. The reactors stopped for a security inspection were unable to be restarted due to the strong opposition from the locals. When the last operating one stops for the maintenance on May 6, there will be no active N-plant in Japan.
This zero-nuke situation troubles them in two aspects. One is the direct impact on the nation’s power supply. Corporate Japan, consisting of old economy stakeholders, requires stable and cheap electricity for their business. If that is not attainable, they need to restructure their business model. The second point is an impact on the existing nuclear industry – a closely tied community of private, public and academic sectors. They have invested a lot in the nuclear energy and cannot abandon it easily. But, if the country is shifting its focus on the alternative energy sources, they need to make a drastic career change now. In either case, they want a clear direction from the government.
The paper has several good proposals how to alter the course of the country. The first one is to embrace more women into the workforce. The report proposes the government to provide more daycare facilities and encourage more flexible work time to support working mothers. But what can the government do if companies are not allowing them to leave the office early to pick up the kids, not providing a work-from-home option for them to stay home and work, or not preparing a career path after the maternity leave? Maybe that’s why there is no women in the twenty committe members of this research institute.
Education is another focus area. It is proposed that the academics should grow more young talents with a global mindset coupled with English and IT literacy. But what if the majority of the companies, as we saw in Olympus, still appreciate the traditional Japanese mindset and alienate those who push the global standard? What if the company’s hierarchical seniority system forces the talented young to work for years as an apprentice under the seniors with no English or IT proficiency? Maybe that’s why this research paper is not published in both Japanese and English, nor is tweeted to the world.
Do as I say, not as I do.