Editor's Letters

Ok, let me understand this. The thesis of Takaaki Ohta’s article, “Unlocking democracy?”(J@pan Inc, Spring 09), was that Japan needs to better democratize and enliven its elections and that using the Internet may help with that. And yet, Mr. Ohta contradicts himself throughout the article by focusing on academic claims that Internet electioneering is actually bad for democracy. Furthering his own confusion, Mr. Ohta claims that more online regulation of political speech is needed in order to ensure a healthy democracy. The other word for “regulation” is “bureaucracy,” and yet excessive regulation and bureaucracy is exactly what has stifled Japanese elections, according to Mr. Ohta himself.

So which is it? I guess Mr. Ohta might claim that there should be some sort of happy medium between regulation and freedom, but he does not state that, nor does he provide any examples of the proper regulation of internet electioneering. This is perhaps the first example of an article I’ve read where the solution to the problem is cast as a serious problem itself. For me, I would prefer the rough and tumble of the Internet to Japanese or American government attempts to control political speech.

Oh, and Thomas Daniell’s silly assertion that as it is now, “our planet now holds more human beings than it can sustain,” is laughably false. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t exist. Population bomb alarmists have been at it since the 18th century and their worst fears have never been confirmed. The real problem right now isn’t too many people, it’s bad government, bad economics, and too few people in developed countries.

Trey Hoffman, State of West Virginia, Japan Office

The Labor Market piece—“Poles Apart,” and the two pieces on entrepreneurs— “Challenging perceptions” and “Dipping from the well” (J@pan Inc, Spring 09), were particularly informative in the context of the current downturn and its effect on the workforce globally and in Japan. Business as usual—in the form of government regulations that favor big business, career-path hiring fresh out of university, on-the-job training, and years of long employment with the same company is no longer meeting the needs of Japan’s changing society. Even though formal education remains traditional, technology is changing the way young men and women relate and collaborate on a social level and the way they envision shaping their future work. For many the fire of entrepreneurship is burning in their bellies. The growing cohort of “freeters” demonstrate a longing for an alternative to the salaryman career path. Highly educated women graduates of Japanese universities are capable of making a substantial contribution to the success of all kinds of business.

Marcia Johnson

J@pan Inc Blog:

In response to Hugh Ashton’s online piece “Where have all the QR Codes gone”:

In the marketing communication industry this sort of “boom” often occurs. I’ve been looking at many companies who hurry to adopt advanced communication technology such as blogs without effective/practical strategy development. They just do it as a demonstration and pray it works.

Simply speaking, how many steps do you think we need to go through to get from the QR code to the site using a mobile phone? It is not so simple as you would imagine. In addition, it was developed for people “on the go,” but when you are on the go, taking a picture is not so easy!

From people who have looked into the issue, “don’t bother me with such a boring message,” is at the core. In many cases, QR codes just take the audience to the site where there is no surprise, no refreshment, no unique, additional value. People soon began to lose interest.

Another factor as to why QR codes are disappearing, is that search words can be better at motivating audiences to go to a site if the advertisers use a riddle that relates to the product, for example. QR codes on the other hand, cannot communicate anything.