14: Leave human resources. This is the best. (January 13, 2012)
current government is in the middle of cabinet reshuffle, even though it started
several months ago claiming "right person for the right place." Seeing
the departure of several incompetent ministers, Japanese now realize that the
ruling party is in short of excellent human resources. Absorbed too much in factionalism,
current leaders seem to have missed the duty of developing human resources. Shigeru
Yoshida, unquestionably Japan's greatest postwar politician, left such excellent
leaders as Nobusuke Kishi, Eisaku Sato, and Hayato Ikeda. Developing human resources
is a toilsome and time-consuming job, but it one of the most important duties
that a leader has to perform. Several months ago, it was clarified that the president
of a leading paper mill company donated as much as 10 billion (not million) yen
to gambling establishments in Macau in secret for nothing. He is a grandson of
the founder of this company. Shinpei
Goto, a great politician from the late 19th century to the early 20th century,
gave an excellent lesson to his successors. He said, "Leaving money is the
worst, leaving a company is in the middle, and leaving human resources is the
No. 13: Ongoing and endless discussions on nuclear
power generation (December 29, 2011)
there are still ongoing and endless discussions on what Japan should do with nuclear
power generation. As a matter of fact, Japanese are very fond of discussing an
issue that does not have a correct answer. The discussions always end with no
consensus, and the only agreement is that lots of more discussions are necessary
to find the right solution of the issue. The opponents resort to sentimental argument,
while the supporters emphasize the safety and reliability of the technology. It
is totally out of the question to focus on sentimental argument in this issue.
Doubtlessly, Japanese and people on the earth alike sympathize with the victims
of the disaster on March 11, 2011 with no exceptions. However, the fact remains
that we cannot go back to the past. The more affluent a society grows, the more
energy it needs. It is very simple and clear. A diet member told, gWe should ask
all the Japanese people on what Japan should do with nuclear generation.h National
ballot? What can we learn from the national ballot? A national ballot will create
another endless discussion on a nationwide scale. Diet members are representing
the opinions of Japanese to avoid endless discussions of this kind, arenft they?
No. 12: Yes or No? The answer is between the two (December 6,
The Japanese government is still unsuccessful
in formulating decisive and effective policies on how to get involved in the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP). All diet members and Japanese alike share the same opinion
that it is necessary to make the domestic agriculture industry stronger. Nonetheless,
diet members fail to reach an agreement on Japanfs direction toward the TPP. The
turmoil can be attributed to the declaration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
declared, gThe Japanese government will start negotiations with the countries
involved to start discussions toward the participation in the TPP.h This rather
unintelligible declaration caused the current stalemate. The Japanese government
does not take his declaration as an official decision to participate in the TPP.
What on the earth is his attitude, yes or no? The answer is between the two. As
is often the case, no breakthrough can be found for this stalemate. A strange
equilibrium exits between the supporters and opponents.
measures and policies depend on future progress, both parties are very cautious
about taking concrete actions. However, the Japanese government should not forget
that it formulated only follow-up measures in the Uruguay Round (1986-1993) under
the slogan gDo not allow foreign rice to come to the Japanese marketh and wasted
a 6 billion yen budget. The present Japanfs top leader does not seem to take a
risk, as is often the case of a leader with excellent academic records. It should
be noted that excellent academic records are merely one of the prerequisites to
be a top leader.
No. 11: Once upon
a time in Japan (December 4, 2011)
government managed nuclear company, will come to Japan with its nuclear technology.
Under the initiative of Prime Minister Putin, the state company wishes to establish
business relations with Japanese leading companies in the nuclear business and
plans to participate in the operations in the devastated Fukushima nuclear power
plant. Once upon a time, we Japanese had an easygoing prime minister claiming
proudly that Japan should abandon nuclear power generation and focus only on renewable
energy. Time passes very fast. While Japan had barren and wasteful discussions
on what Japan should do with nuclear generation, other countries are developing
nuclear technology very fast. It is necessary to make strenuous efforts for one
year to make up for a loss of half a year created by negligence.
No. 9: Who is the real winner in the long run? (November 3, 2011)
The price of a residential photovoltaic generation system has been decreasing
in Japan because of the inflow of low-priced products from Europe and China. The
industry sources are much concerned about the decreasing profit of domestic makers.
They say that the average price of a system dropped to 529,000 yen per kW lately,
an 8.5% decrease from the previous year. Because a solar battery module accounts
for 50% of a photovoltaic generation system in cost, countries capable of building
solar modules cheap naturally have a strong competitive edge. However, you need
to think about the background of the inflow of foreign products. European countries
including Germany reduced the support for the introduction of a photovoltaic generation
system. Actually, the world market is estimated to decrease 20% in 2011 from 2010.
Then, Japan is a rather promising market because it will enact the system to buy
whole amount of renewable energy next year. In a word, the policy to enhance the
happiness of Japanese people ends up with the decreasing profit of Japanese makers
and makes the domestic economy even worse. What an irony this is.
No. 8: Look west! Times have changed (October 28, 2011)
Look West! This is the phrase that Japan has to keep in mind to activate its economy.
Under the strong and impressive leadership of the incumbent president, Korea is
increasing its presence in the world market quite rapidly. In contrast, Japan
is losing its presence as we see from the TV business. Neither Panasonic nor Sony
is the biggest TV set manufacturer in the world market. The world leaders are
Samsung and LG Electronics of Korea. Under any circumstances, Japan should not
hesitate to participate in TPP. Look East! This is the phrase that Mahathir bin
Mohamad, Malaysiafs fourth prime minister, used to stimulate the economy of his
country. Times have changed. Now the time Japan has to look west. There is no
room to place too much importance on consensus. It is totally impossible to work
out measures equally acceptable to all people concerned.
7: Democracy is not the same as the agreement based on discussions (September
One of the ministers of the present government
quit because of his careless statements. He seemed to have been overjoyed by his
promotion to a minister. He talked to the accompanying newspeople in a friendly
manner during his on-site review of the devastated Tohoku region, not knowing
how influential his statements were to the Japanese society. What is important
here is not his departure from the government staff. What matters most is that
the formation of the present cabinet was totally based on the deliberation to
allocate the ministerial positions equally to political cliques. That is, it can
safely be said that the agreement based on the discussions between political cliques
formed the current cabinet. An underlying concept is vital to make the agreement
based on discussions workable as democracy. In this case, it is what is the best
cabinet to tide over the current turbulent economic and political situations.
Without an underlying concept, an agreement is just an agreement.
No. 6: The manifesto contained too many dreams. (July 23, 2011)
current government officially admitted that the Democratic Party was too optimistic
about how to realize the promises mentioned in the manifesto. The party promised
to realize lots of hard-to-realize dreams as if money falls from the sky, but
scarcely any of them were realized. The Japanese bureaucracy remains unharmed
despite the partyfs declaration to crush it. There is no charge-free super expressway
despite the partyfs declaration to make the expressway toll free. The situation
around Japan is growing serious and grave despite the partyfs promotion of the
spirit of fraternity, and the Okinawa issue still remains unsolved. The ear-pleasing
phrases like gfrom concrete to peopleh have to change to more realistic ones.
As always, windy eloquence ends in misery.
No. 5: Disclose everything
to minimize the damage should an accident occur. (July 21, 2011)
No company can be free from harmful rumor. The president of a Japanfs leading
department store, Takashimaya Department Store, always asks his employees to disclose
everything should an accident occur to minimize the damage. One day, the department
store mistakenly sold a sandwich containing an egg-based material to a customer
who should have bought an egg-less sandwich. It immediately announced the mistake
using the in-house broadcast, but it was not able to specify the customer. Subsequently,
it announced the mistake on its website and published a press release through
mass media. Transparency is of the highest importance to corporate value, and
it is vital to minimize the damage. The current Japanese government should have
learned this golden rule. It did not disclose critical information in the Fukushima
disaster supposedly on purpose not to let the Japanese worry about the worst scenario,
but the worst scenario is developing contrary to its intent.
No. 2: Private companies naturally try to save their assets. (July 12, 2011)
Meats contaminated by radiocesium were shipped to retailers and restaurants
in Japan. They are from cows shipped by a farmer in Fukushima Prefecture. The
farmer gave straws to his cows in violation of the government order not to give
straws because they are contaminated. That is, rich people and gourmets had very
delicious meats with lots of radiocesium in exchange for lots of money. Private
companies, whether they are big or small, naturally try to save their assets.
This simple action is epitomized by Tokyo Electric Power. Despite the fact that
leading scientists around the world claimed that meltdown had already occurred
inside the nuclear reactor, the company gave the first priority to the recovery
of electricity. All Japanese agree to allocate lots of money for the reconstruction
of the afflicted areas because tunami is a natural disaster. However, the huge
and serious damage caused by the meltdown is not a natural disaster but a human
No. 1: Who is the top
leader? (July 9, 2011)
Turmoil is still prevailing
in the Japanese political world despite the disaster on March 11. Three Diet members
including the prime minister presented three different opinions on what Japan
should do with nuclear power plants across the country. Asked why there are three
different opinions in the Diet, the prime minister said without the slightest
hesitation, gWhy donft you ask other two Diet members directly about the subtle
nuance of their opinions?h What an answer! Who is the top leader of Japan? He
has to study leadership from the very beginning. Do you trust a company where
the president and two executive have three different opinions on the direction
of future business?