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Japan takes fresh look at education, work styles

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By Noriyuki Suzuki

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Since his return to office in 2012, Abe has been calling for better use of human resources through slogans such as creating "a society where women can shine" and "the dynamic engagement of all citizens."

Producing slogans is the only achievement of the Abe government.

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Japan takes fresh look at education, work styles

i wonder how much they spent taking that look...

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My prediction is this is only happening due to the intense focus the Olympics will shine upon Japan. Once 2020 has passed, the 'revolution' will slowly fade away. Hopefully it won't - but the only way these things will ever come to fruition is if a new generation of young, open minded leaders are able to overthrow the old boys who dominate almost all positions of power.

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"We intend to create a big policy design to build an economic and social system looking to an era when people will live to 100," Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said earlier this week as he announced the line-up of panel members..........

Cynical political mumbo jumbo, festooned with Toshimitsu Motegi unique brand of economic gibberish.

A distraction from failure to implement any meaningful structural reform programmes. This panel is bureaucratically unproductive. The 'brief and report back', customary self-serving method of choice Abes san ruling LDP government deploys as a means of electioneering to hedge and shore up a cabinet reeling in the polls from political scandals and gaffes.

There would need to be unparalleled fiscal and monetary change to address the unavoidable question,  securing the funding  to meet the cost of free education let alone child care.

The so called 'multiple' funding options/proposals are in fact the issuance of more government bonds to cover the costs, the catch is maintaining low interest rates to reign in cost of such debt.  Debt that is already a burden to future generations.

Government cannot constantly Institutionalise or defer responsibility or authority directly or indirectly to 'panels' or 'groups' when difficult unpopular decisions need to be taken.

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Thank you JapanToday for my Sunday morning comedy!

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and what is the plan to handle all the oyaji in the way of change?

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Words.....sounds ok, albeit about 30yrs late! BUT until I see some actual implementation, changes in the workplace etc its just hot air as we approach the cliff.

I just don't see anything useful happening in the near or long term

JAPAN please prove me WRONG!! I would love to be wrong on this.....

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sf2kToday  09:04 am JST

and what is the plan to handle all the oyaji in the way of change?

Some days I think this is the biggest barrier. It's not that Japanese people want to live like they do, it's not that Japanese culture is incompatible with a more reasonable approach to education and work, it's that a handful of very old men paid their dues in an abusive system to get to the top and can't fathom letting anyone below them get through without the same suffering. Too many companies in Japan make work hard for the sake of making it hard.

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What cracks me up.... the Japanese spend massive amounts of time studying and at work but the dividends from all that effort barely are rewarded to society overall. Why.... because they constantly build in wasteful layers to everything they do. Its not like they're trying to build these layers on purpose.... they cannot help themselves... it is part of their culture. In Japan nothing can be left to doubt because that would be awkward, so they make another rule in order to take away the doubt or potential for a mistake. It is their own style of a legal system within the culture.

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"What matters is how you want to live your life."

What life? There is nothing in this article about living a life. It's all about working a life and building a stronger Japan Inc. They already have people working themselves to death and they want to increase the productivity? That will be at the expense of more 'Karoshi'.

In one scenario, married couples will not need to think twice about having children because education and day care services for preschoolers will be free while students will be able to start paying college tuition once they build their own careers.

This made me laugh out loud. Where is Abe's magic wand that is going to miraculously make child care centers appear?

It's nice to see them having a dream coz dreams are free, but this report must have cost millions. It's a very nice work of fiction set in a false reality.

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wealth of any nation is population only

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This government does nothing but lip service. How's he going to giggle free education and reduce working hours when there is zero support for either and with the declining population given that they refuse to allow in MIMI grants?

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Immigrants

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In one scenario, married couples will not need to think twice about having children because education and day care services for preschoolers will be free while students will be able to start paying college tuition once they build their own careers.

This, THIS, is doable. Edit out the assumption that married couples will no longer have to seriously think about having children but offering free day care is just about the money. It's not asking anyone to hurry up and get busy in the child-making department. Same with the college tuition - it's just about the money.

In 2008 the birthrate of children 'out of wedlock' in the US was 40%, France 53%, Sweden 55% in Japan the rate was 2%. Changing something like that? Good luck.

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Fantasyland propaganda credible only to the most gullible.

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This might be a strange statement to make, but what if many women don't want to work? We keep hearing how they are the last best hope we have, but Japan being the country it is, I think many women think or feel that once they marry and have children, there place is at home raising the kids and taking care of the family.

Abe the the LDP are under the "spell" that women are dying to get back into the workplace and resume their careers, but if that is not true, then what?

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MarkXToday  10:33 am JST

This might be a strange statement to make, but what if many women don't want to work? We keep hearing how they are the last best hope we have, but Japan being the country it is, I think many women think or feel that once they marry and have children, there place is at home raising the kids and taking care of the family.

It may be that that is the case for many women, but if people are going to believe it they should do so because they have data supporting their case, not because they personally believe a woman's place is in the home and it makes them happy to imagine the entire country of Japan agrees with them.

Personally though, I know very professional, very intelligent, very driven Japanese women who would laugh at anyone so foolish as to suggest their place is in a home. And if they want to work, but institutional policies are in place that prevent them from working, then the system is broken regardless of if there are some number of women who enjoy the status quo. I guarantee you there are no housewives who would rather stay home but who are out looking for work just because Abe wants them to "shine".

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Whatever, this article is rehashing ideas from societies around the world and stating that Japan is thinking about maybe doing some of them. I'm going back to sleep, and it's almost 11:99

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This article tap dances all around the true and most real problem and that is the great shortages of employees needed. For every 147 job openings, there are only 100 applicants. This situation is even worse in some industries such as restaurants. Some good restaurants are closing for the lack of employees. What course of action is the government taking to overcome this, as this will only get worse in the future.

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I like the idea of lifetime employment. It, where implemented, brought stability rather than wondering if the part-time or full time jobs one has to work will provide enough hours to scrape by. Lifetime employment, salary only (abolish wage and commission), cap of 1800 hours per year before mandatory vacation kicks in for the remainder of year, independent agency with anonymous phone to report businesses violating the above as well as undercover spot checkers. This would apply to schools as well with any homework being included in that time (average time to finish calculations can be done).

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A vision of the future is striking me:

After 2-3 years of group meetings, white papers, serious debate with a lot of teeth sucking, spending a lot of money for the 'expert panel' who will debate this, and just in time for the Olympics.... the government will come out with a list of things that it 'urges' companies and schools to do.

Such urgings will be, of course, totally voluntary, or if not voluntary and backed up with a law, will have no penalty for violation of said urging or law.

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Raising kids costs money in every country in the world. It is misguided to think this the one and only problem for parents in Japan. We have kids and know parents who think the government should do much more, but the most vocal ones tend to be clueless about the cost of raising kids and tax levels in other countries.

I think Japan's problem is that it will not embrace diversity so that every family, worker, parent, and schoolchild is assumed to fit some outdated stereotype without recognizing their various needs and desires. The rules over custody of kids are so messed up because divorce is not part of the stereotype. School PTA with OTT duties are the norm because working mothers are not part of the stereotype. Overtime is the norm because men helping with child rearing or housework are not part of the stereotype. Reemployment in your forties and fifties is very difficult because people needing it are not part of the stereotype.

In many ways, I think the country is still fighting the Second World War and just wants good little citizens who'll take orders and do their bit for the war effort. Infantrymen with buzzcuts, if you want an image.

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Japan needs to learn from the mistakes of the West where the handout mentality hasn't changed the birth rate to the positive.

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People who get child daycare services don't need it to be free.

People who don't get child daycare services, despite paying their taxes like everyone else, are the ones who should get the money. It'll help them to pay for their private daycare costs.

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Making Tokyo money living in the countryside would be awesome

Yes Reckless, quality of life, living space, environment, financial stabily, day care for your family, schooling

However there is a draw back, and a major deal breaker, in most cases, salary sacrifice.

Major skills requirement for certain companies coupled with experience and everyone's a winner,  but otherwise the prospects can be limiting, sorry.

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What the hell is that?

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The worst labor shortage in over 4 decades' ... about the same amount of time I've lived here, and after resigning in protest from a tenured teaching position because of power harassment and breach of Japanese labor law (Jissen Women's Educational Institute), I have a hard time even being accepted for community volunteer work, much less finding a job that pays enough to keep the rent up.

Could it be that these top-down, institutionally privileged think-tanks, commissions, and government sponsored committees might have another priority ... and that being to maintain their institutionally sanctioned place of privilege?

For all but a handful of ruling elite in Japan, the U.S. or England ... the overriding purpose of mass education is not personal growth, fostering creative problem solvers, or community sustainability. The priority is compliance. Unquestioning obedience to authority.

A technically literate and compliant work force is the purpose of 'education' for the nation state.

Despite the fact that companies go through the motion of whining and complaining that colleges are not producing creative, out-of-the-box, problem solvers ... such creative types is the last thing either the hierarchies of educational institutes OR the corporate sector wants.

Creative problem solvers, and by implication, a liberal arts education, is subversive by nature. And these institutionally entitled committees damn well know it. Subversion of 'the Japanese Way' is just a euphemism for subversion of the entitled's lock on power.

Top down demands for creative problem solvers by those whose priority is to remain on top? I repeat, a crock of shite.

Or for more delicate eyes and ears, I don't know whether the word I am looking for is 'oxymoron' ... or just plain 'moron'.

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Japan takes a fresh look education and work styles and decides there is absolutely nothing wrong with their versions of each.

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Creative problem solvers, and by implication, a liberal arts education, is subversive by nature. And these institutionally entitled committees damn well know it. Subversion of 'the Japanese Way' is just a euphemism for subversion of the entitled's lock on power.

I agree with much of what you say, but reading this, a potential employer might see you as a bit of a trouble maker. You might also want to remove the RIP reference on LinkedIn too. I would see that as a bit of a red flag.

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No, Ah_so, this is not off topic at all. Rather, at the core of it.

Thanks for the advice. With that RIP (resigned in protest), I realize I may be knotting my own noose, but I would have been just another suicide statistic had I stayed at that job ... like a colleague in the same department. I've never been a fan of human trafficking, but that is pretty much the school's modus operandi regarding non Japanese faculty members. As a member of P.A.L.E., I'm aware that my former school may be just the tip of the iceberg. And as a fellow P.A.L.E. member recently attested, being bilingual and even a former Dean, is not enough to protect oneself from exploitation to the point of dehumanization.

If you are interested, I've written a bit about that on Quora, and documented my sources. But the 'bottom line' managers of most educational institutes depends on NOT being interested in reading about either documented or potential institutional dysfunctions. They are absorbed in playing a zero sum game of trying to wring every last drop of blood from employees before disposing of them, and externalizing costs, and concentrating investments into the hands of the managing elite. Morally, and functionally, many if not most institutions have not really progressed much past the work houses of Victorian England, and if the current trend of lassiez-faire, neo-liberalism continues to dominate the ideals of leadership, it will grow much worse before imploding.

I am persistent, if not stubborn. But I am also able to speak truth to power because being single, I don't have a wife and kids held hostage by that regular monthly paycheck. I think Benjamin Franklin had something to say about that, but a lot of what he wrote is also irrelevant, even subversive, to public 'education' in neo-liberal nation-states.

As for Linked-In, I figure I'd be up front from the get-go so as to avoid jumping from the frying pan and into the fire. The single greatest cause of mortality among JAPANESE males between the ages of 20 and 44 is suicide, and most of that is work related. How much tougher it must be for the eternal gaijin. I guess I should feel lucky I am not from a developing country or female.

With that indicting statistic in mind, a few years ago, the government was forced to pass a law requiring all corporations of 500 employees or more (schools are conveniently in a gray zone), to offer yearly psychological health evaluation and treatment along with the yearly physical check up. But, as usual, government and big business are in bed with each other, and a little side tag to the bill insured that corporations would not be financially over-burdened by the law ... any mental health assessment and care need not be administered by a mental health care specialist. Any quack will do.

And just as bad, there is a little note at the bottom of the assessment that asks you to check a box if you want to allow your assessment to be read by superiors. That is a pretty neat trick that magically happens to benefit the managers. If the report is damning of management for harassment or misconduct, the box will not be checked, and my guess is that chances for a promotion are approximately that of a snowball's chance in hell. If the report is all roses regarding management, regardless of the brutal reality, the employee is all to happy to see their superiors read it.

This is pretty good example of why the phrase 'structural reform' makes up a constant and major part of our news vocabulary regarding institutions. It is a euphemism for corruption.

That RIP is meant to be a red flag to any company I don't want to work with. I have a close friend, female, in managment at Mitsui Sumitomo ... which is similar to Denso in having its pick of 'Ivy League' graduates. But even in such a pedigreed company, she recognizes that for other than a handful of opportunists with connections, in the end, even the most competent employee is just another brick in the wall. And when they reach a pre-determined, one-size-fits-all age, they are disposed of.

The more experienced the worker, the less valued they are to 'the company', probably because 'the company' is a euphemism for the ruling elite within that company. Similar aged employees are more likely to seen as potential rivals rather than collaborators. The majority of institutions are still locked in zero-sum games. I just turned 62, and refuse to spend my few remaining years playing those power games and under those rules.

I not only posted a red flag on Linked-In, I am waving it furiously to fend off human traffickers posing as corporate or educational communities. The question is this, are there any educational communities in Japan worthy of that flag and capable of using it? The way I see it, it is their loss. Not mine.

Besides, I figure that if my personal reputation as an educator and community volunteer has not preceded me enough to tempt an inquiry or interview from the NPO's, companies, and schools I've worked with ... then I don't deserve to be in the classroom again, much less making a difference in any community.

Seriously thinking about dropping that Linked In account. Self-promotion has never been one of my strengths or priorities.

Meh, maybe just a case of wrong time, wrong place. Perhaps I should have skipped that article and just practiced a few arpeggios over rhythm changes instead.

Cheers, Ah_so.

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