I recently made a trip back to Japan after 13 years away.
The one thing that struck me was how assimilated the IT and tech business is within "Japan Inc" (the country, not the magazine - ed). Back in the 80's and early 90's, technology was still considered 'something' new and foreign - even with Akihabara at its peak.
But now I see that every large Japanese corporation has an IT department and one no longer needs to argue about the benefits of employees utilizing online technology for work. The challenge will be to get "Japan Inc" to start blogging and using social networking – within the corporate Firewall. That's what's coming next.
CEO, Broadband Mechanics
I read with interest your piece on Mr Misawa and his ‘germ heat’ invention. It puzzles me as to why such “green” inventions are not given greater government and commercial support. We live in an age where our energy security and climate is increasingly coming into question and it is imperative that we conduct our lives in a more energy efficient manner. Please keep up the good work at J@pan Inc in terms of bringing these innovations to our attention. We all need to do more to support innovations and initiatives which enable greater environmental (not to mention economic) sustainability. An idea for an on-going J@pan Inc series perhaps?
Resident and Business Owner, Tokyo
I read with disappointment that Shinzo Abe is expected to "trundle along" with little reform to economic policy ("Lonely at the Top?", Spring 2007, No.71). Abe inherited a Japanese economy in far better health than Koizumi did in 2001. Koizumi's greatest success was cutting the nonperforming loans that dogged Japan's financial markets, and thereby steadying its banking system. The Japanese economy cannot afford Abe the comfort of resting on Koizumi's laurels.
Abe needs to address the problems in many of Japan's consumer and service sectors. Encouraging foreign investment and imports may be one way of inducing competition within these areas, thereby invigorating the sectors. The European Union's shared cartel and anti-monopoly laws are a good indication of how to obtain healthy competition, however the parallels to be drawn with Japan are currently limited. Japan has sufficiently sophisticated competition control mechanisms, and has done since the occupation years, but to be effective they must be deployed prudently and in synchrony with the economy's growth rate. Abe may have a difficult time persuading his supporters to abandon any traditional Japanese notions that competition is harmful to business, but this challenge, one of many presently facing him, is one that he should tackle head on.
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