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Explanation Please!

I preface everything I am about to say in this post with the following statement: I write this post based on my own experience of the Japanese language, culture, people, and interpretations therein. It is out of sheer curiosity that I say this. So without further ado…

Someone please explain what is wrong with Japan!! The country has compounding problems that, to date, don’t seem to be getting resolved. Let’s start with number one.

Education: The latest chatter is about getting rid of the JET program. Despite years of English in their curriculum, the general proficiency in English is poor to fair. The school models for teaching the language haven’t been updated to reflect the demand. They’ve let ripoff English specialty schools supplant what should be standard practice in secondary school education. Don’t blame JET for lack of improvement. Take a good look at the methodology -it doesn’t work. The English curriculum needs to be more robust. They should take a page from other systems teaching English as a second language that reflect a higher proficiency rate.

As for their own language, in this hyper technology age, children are having difficulties writing their own characters!

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.74f06613ea91a1f1041b96c96477427f.561&show_article=1

All the agony and despair I go through to remember kanji and Japanese students are forgetting it? I’m rather beside myself.

Then there’s…

Economy & politics: These two areas have to be put together, since policy is what drives change economically. Slowdown is expected; it is a global trend right now. But this slowdown has been ongoing now since the 90s with only minor changes over two decades. Until the political landscape calms and concrete decisions are made, nothing is going to happen and the chance for recovery is going to be now and more difficult to attain. Now there’s this article talking about how the yen may fail without intervention:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-08-27/japan-yen-intervention-may-fail-without-u-s-eu-coordination.html

What fascinates me further is how Japanese citizens perceive this whole political situation. They care, but they only care so much. This is an inherently “Japanese thing”, to expect the government to fix its own messes and that the clean sweep method is the only way to work it out. I’m all for taking responsibility (especially with the corrupt nature of some areas of the Japanese government) and coming up with solutions, but I feel like the government fails to involve and engage the people so that they feel like they are part of the solution. And without that, its all a hands off approach, which will never get the people to feel like they have a voice.

And for the love of Pete, if they don’t do something about this overly strong yen situation, I won’t be able to travel there! Yes, I say this for purely selfish reasons. Tourism will suffer because purchasing power is diminished, plain and simple. There is a clear revenue stream there, but the government and related agencies are not banking on this opportunity. The USA has national debt problems, but Japan is not much better off:

http://www.examiner.com/japan-headlines-in-national/japanese-national-debt-surpasses-900-trillion-yen

Lastly (because I could go on and I don’t have all night to write this):

Social Resources: We’ve known for some time that there is a declining youth population in Japan, so much so that there is a concern about the long-term feasibility of the social system to support an aging population. There are many schools of thought on this — women in the workforce have changed the family dynamic and therefore encourages less children, the economic factors currently are forcing people to work longer and harder to support themselves.. you name it, it can be a reason. The bottom line is that without a back-end to support what will be a large elderly population in a generation’s time, Japan will be faced with major problems, those that will affect the fundamentals of the country. They need incentives, they need industry growth… not pipe dreams.

I don’t have any idea what the fighting parties plan to implement, but whatever they do, they better move quickly. The clock is ticking….

What do you think? I’m particularly interested in those folks that have to deal with these concerns on a daily basis, among others. What is affecting you in Japan right now? What can be done to improve it? Shout on it..