The Japan Initiative and the Tsuru
In order to suggest and push forward any new economic policies the Japan Initiative would need to be a unique organisation with cross political party representation alongside carefully chosen businesspeople, its remit would be clear: to take on the ideas and wishes of all the individuals of Japan act upon them with strong leadership. In order to co-ordinate the activities of the sell brand Japan spirit it would need to be connected to every industry as well as the JFTC itself, it would also need to make itself relevant to the Japanese people, it would need to have an image that reflected the people in order to inspire them. For example, the Tsuru, or Japanese Crane, is an endangered species which is slowly making a recovery, just like the Japanese economy which needs to recover. There would need to be a special website which shows government policies currently being passed into law or being considered, a business section with suggestions for businesses, forums for discussion and a suggestion area for economic policies that would help a company or industry grow and flourish, and finally a section for individuals. This final section would present a strong challenge to the 126 million individuals of Japan, we are the Tsuru and only by everyone’s efforts can we make the Tsuru fly and prosper. This section would provide information on starting your own business or how to gain new skills, it would have forums for discussions on how the economy can be revived and how even one person can make a difference and also a suggestion area where an individual can tell the Japan Initiative what they would need to happen in order to be more productive for the sake of Japan, and also for their own economic welfare.
In addition, Japan must take advantage of its successful 2020 Olympic bid to make strong connections with the UK Olympics Legacy and with the upcoming Brazilian Olympics for the purpose of selling brand Japan. The UK, Brazil and Japan now have the Olympics in common and all three countries can use shared interests to develop their business links. The UK is a strong developed country located within the EU and Brazil is a strong developing country in South America. The Japan Initiative would work together with the Japan Olympic Committee to ensure that business delegations are welcomed from these two countries and that Japanese business delegations go to the UK and Brazil as they both represent gateways to the EU and South America and through them both myriad business opportunities exist.
Many people, especially young people, have become complacent. They view the information that the government provides and find it too overwhelming to understand or believe, they have had power taken away from them as they are left thinking that there isn’t possibly anything they can do for Japan’s economic woes. In order to restore their confidence they have to be inspired, they have to become the Tsuru of the Japan Initiative, they have to be at the forefront of the national recovery from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake as well as the people who will make the 2020 Olympics happen. They need a message that they have a voice that can be heard. Through the Japan Initiative they must be allowed to provide their suggestions for how their businesses, their industries, or their country can be revived and in order to return power to the people the reforms that make clear economic sense must be enacted. The role of individuals in the economic revival of Japan will be to realise that it is up to them whether it succeeds or fails, and take their places as the Tsuru’s wings which gives it the power to fly.
Through the Japan Initiative businesses need to be woken up, there are consumers who they never think about targeting. For most business owners or managers there must be a fundamental shift in thinking, it is quite frankly too easy to fear change and thus oppose it. In the 21st century economic growth belongs to those who can change with the times quickly. Companies need to face up to the reality of 20 years of suppressed economic activity in Japan and what needs to be done to reverse this, just like the Tsuru which became an endangered species as its natural habitat was reduced, Japan can’t wait for economic conditions to deteriorate to the point where drastic change is forced in order to save the Japanese economy from becoming endangered. If companies wish to flourish once more, then their natural habitat, i.e. the conditions required for a company to grow and prosper, need to not only be restored but they need to understand that change is needed as well. The role of companies must be to realise and accept that change is necessary, and actively support it as the body of the Tsuru.
The government needs to remember the original ideals of democracy and that every MP is there to represent the people, for too long MPs have only thought about loyalty to their political party, which has meant opposing every measure that the political party in charge tries to implement. Loyalty is a very positive virtue, but at the same time it is selfish and MPs can’t afford to be selfish when the welfare of a nation is at stake. The constant changing of prime ministers and apparent lack of progress made by any government in recent years has only served to alienate young voters and prolong Japan’s economic slump. The Japan Initiative can lead the way in raising public interest and enthusiasm, as well as provide a gateway through which relevant economic policies can be created and business ideas considered. However, this has to be matched with strong leadership from the government, labour reforms will be opposed by some businesses, as well as any attempts at creating gender equality, fears will be raised about any kind of education reform which would incorporate more vocational training, any government that tries to make big changes will face many obstacles. The role of the government will be ensuring that policies to reform the labour market and address the many structural problems of business, etc, must be pushed through and enacted into law. The Tsuru can’t fly unless the head knows where it wants to go to.
A stable and sustainable global economy depends on strong economies which import and export great volumes of materials and skills, for Japan to contribute to this it needs to become globalised, to be actively competing internationally and to reform its economy. It isn’t just about lowering the value of the yen or fiscal stimulus, as one Finnish business that helps entrepreneurs rather tellingly realised “promoting entrepreneurship is a matter of changing culture as much as providing money.” Japan needs to break down structural barriers that are stifling economic development, and also there needs to be real cultural change to realise the potential of both the Japanese people and the potential of Japan’s economic integration with the world economy. Japan already has the answers to reviving its economy, it can see great examples of successful economic policies around the world, and it is already sitting on one of the world’s largest economies; it is more than past time for its people to take up the challenge of creating a booming country which embraces both its traditions and the future.