Japan and Japanese companies are in crisis and the flood waters will only continue to rise as the population ages, as Japanese young people continue their decline into apathy and seclusion and as Japanese top level and mid-level managers continue to refuse to see the truth that is causing their profits and competitiveness to dwindle.
Its bad as it ever was and can only start to get better if it is faced right now. There is no longer any debate, no way to put a spin on thing to make them look even remotely positive.
The fact is this; if many Japanese companies don’t put into effect changes now, they are signing their own death warrant.
If your population is aging and your young people can’t see to find their way out of their own house, you need to find new sources of workers. Perhaps foreign talent? Or if you want to “keep it Japanese”, what about Japanese women? They have been a traditionally, institutionally neglected resource. There seems to be a lot of those and most went to college and want to really work and be productive. There is no excuse of language barrier there.
What about technology? Japan has mainly focused on manufacturing but the huge potential of information technology can be a major tool to combat the lack of bodies.
Most Japanese companies' growth has reached their peak and is even declining at home. New revenue for Japanese companies needs to now come from outside of Japan if a lot of these companies expect to stay profitable.
Large companies like the financial giant (in Japan) Nomura is putting a lot of money and time into it plan to become a global financial player and it knows that for that to happen, they have to ignore the aversion to risk that many Japanese firms have and roll the dice in the global game. Yes, its going to cost them money. Yes its going to cause major upheavals in their boardrooms and in their workforce. Yes, the old guard will be very upset. That is a given. Still it must be done.
Number one with a Bullet
The game has changed so much that companies that are traditionally Japan bound are seeing the need to broaden their scope. JR Central (the railway giant) is competing for a slice of the U.S. rail expansion pie that the president has set aside for developing high-speed train service in America. Japan has some extraordinary technology in high-speed trains so it is more than time to sell that technology to other nations like the U.S. that lack in that area.
More than Tofu
I read in the New York Times last week that the Japanese food industry is looking more and more towards international tables for growth and profit. Not just in the U.S. but in other Asian markets as well.
Here in America, of course certain items are popular already like tofu and other soy products but more and more products will be getting a ‘makeover’ to fit them to the palate outside of Japan. Could the dried squid and octopus be making its way here?
Having lived in Japan for years, I know there are some fantastic food products that would sell very well here in the U.S. Not just in the traditional Japanese specialty markets but on the aisles of major grocery stores.
Japan has a tremendous amount of potential in many areas still and always will. Past mistakes, scandals, fears, denials, bad management, lack of foresight and pro activity has withered some of that potential on the vines in a lot of cases but that can be no more.
The times now necessitate that Japan, Inc. revitalize itself and fully utilized its potential. A painful process it will be in many cases but it can be done and I feel it will be done.