Monday, November 08, 2010

For understandable reasons, Japanese often benchmark their country against the U.S. But in many cases, the differences between the two societies are such that importing U.S. models would be like a gardener in subtropical Okinawa looking for inspiration in the flora of Alaska. As Japanese policymakers worry about another round of "Japan passing" and consider ways to more effectively engage the world, they would do well to look to their Korean neighbor for inspiration.
Why can't Japan be more like South Korea? [Japan Times]


  1. Japan finally has a close neighbor that (somewhat) consistently provides a standard worth benchmarking.

    Taiwan, I suppose, could also be a good benchmark for some things.

    Anyhoo, Japan, like South Korea, routinely benchmarked the US and many European countries, I believe. Like South Korea (which also had Japan as a significant benchmark), it filtered and triangulated the best results. And this raised both countries out of backwaterdom.

  2. This is really surprising. That the Japan times published it is even more surprising, and I think that if this kind of thinking (not necessarily of seeing Korea as superior, but rather seeing Korea as not inferior) continues, Japan's going to be alright.

    I'm very proud of Japan to see an article like this.

  3. Japan and Korea are in rather different places in terms of demographics and technological development. Japan is post-industrial and in demographic decline. It's a very interesting and serious predicament.
    Korea is reaching a highly developed state technologically, and the demographic challenge is still a generation distant.
    I don't know which country can learn more from the other, but it's certainly nice to see them playing the same game as equals and competitors.

  4. Eugene,

    I don't know about S. Korea not facing a demographic decline. The government is offering tons of incentives for women to have children right now.

  5. Sungoh,

    Yes, the Korean demographic decline is impending. I just meant that they are behind Japan on that curve.
    Korea is a little more liberal about immigration than Japan, and the incentives to conceive may be enough to make a significant difference here.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Oops, I deleted a link to a Guardian post that I think everyone may enjoy reading, but forgot to post the actual link, haha. Here's the fixed one.

  8. This is much like Japanese version of "soul searching" as other countries are seemingly passing them economically...Like what the US is doing right now???

    The fact is Japan is still a Global powerhouse. Yes, China just passed them in term of overall GDP. But in terms of per capita, China is very poor. I believe Korea has the same problems as Japan in terms of openness? Look what happen to the Free Trade agreement between US and Korea.

    I do agree that Japan AND Korea needs to embrace more openness within themselves for the sack of its shrinking demographics and global prestige!


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