Thursday, January 13, 2011

Japan on the edge of a social dislocation?

Among the current problem that Japan encounters:

A summary of press agencies and reports of the new year's challenges: Dreadful. What is Magician Kan going to bring out of his hat?

Point 1: No hope: 30,000 people a year have committed suicides since 1998.

"Japan’s aging population, a growing national debt, the heavy reliance on manufacturing, lack of imagination, deep rooted conservatism, seniority (equal to a mental paralysis to progress), all of which are effectively killing what was once thought destined to be the world’s leading economic superpower."

Succeeding Prime Ministers in the last three years and a nasty diplomatic row with China over the detention of a trawler captain by the Japanese Coast Guard is also hurting. And a freeze with the US on the Security treaty obligations.

Not only.

Japan’s population falls due to a low fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman. It is expected that the population will drop from 127 million to just 90 million by 2055, with 40% of that number being over 65s.

No immigration, robots only. Crime and violence on the rise. Example shown in the manga and "anime", Japanese cartoons.

School Days was a controversy in Japan.
"The last episode of the series was banned
from distribution because of its barbarity"

Japan lived with 2 decades of economic stagnation, deflation being chosen in stead of a more vehement economy. Consequences: university students worry whether they can find steady employment or support their families, live their life and create a family, buy their house, make their dreams come true.

A third of Japan’s workforce is temporary workers or "Freeters" going from one job to another. They are unable to qualify for unemployment benefits, and make up more than three-quarters of the nation’s jobless.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Nato Kan, is to reshuffle his cabinet. Is he aware of the crisis? Yes, Has he solutions? He says he is to open the country, reduce trade barriers and tariffs and loosening regulations to make the country a more attractive proposition to outside investors. But is it attractive enough? Is the nation able to shift from 20 years of apathy?

"A free trade agreement with the U.S. and other nations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is also under consideration. Though it could lead to Japan’s economic revival and cheaper imports, it could also cause significant job losses and social dislocation of the rural classes."

PM Kan's wife was a desperate PR on Wednesday to her husband when she addressed pretty well actually the foreign media based in Japan. This will not be enough unfortunately to convince the Japan's flock that current administration is up to the challenges. She actually hinted at it, with words of extra safety care, saying he [Kan] was initiating a sort of new path of reform. Still we are in the 3rd modernization of Japan after Meiji, post-war re industrialization and today's Japan's being reinvented or looking for new models to this achievement. Maybe it goes better when using economy for people's benefits...

Sources: agencies, kyodo, nhk, yahoo, reporter's notes.

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