JAPAN’S COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE: A CASE TO LEVERAGE ON HUMAN RESOURCES FOR ITS POSTERITY.
Is Japan really deficient in resources? Definitely not, and to say that Japan is a resource-deficient nation is a misconception of the true facts. Indeed Japan is endowed with abundant resources that remain untapped. An emphasis of the country’s resources ought not to be narrowly confined to natural resources only. Rather a broad visualization of resources is essential; in which case I would argue in this paper that it is through human resource that Japan can realize its full potential by adequately building an effective human resource capacity so as to enhance productivity for her labor force and for the benefit of the world. Strategies to enhancing its competitiveness shall be suggested to guide Japan in its policy formulation. Notwithstanding the significant challenge of the rapid aging society and the drastic decline in the working age population there is a pressing urge to foster globally competitive human resources through national education and training systems.
Concept of Human Resources: A picture from Japan
Currently, Japan boosts of being the greatest source of human resources in the world. However, one of the greatest challenges facing the Japanese economic down turn compared with the developed countries is its insufficient utilization of its human resource capabilities amid the ageing population and declining birthrate.
Systems of employment and education created during the post-war period when economic growth was at its peak have eventually fallen into a “trap” and has not been able to cope up with the dynamics and thus remains largely unchanged to this present day. The ultimate outcome of this stagnation in these systems has resulted to education levels among children and the youths lag behind compared to the global trends, besides the capabilities of women and the old remains not fully harnessed. This therefore calls for a fast and rapid transformation of the current system to ensure that the human resources are significantly utilized for the benefit not only of Japan, but also the entire global.
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Vitality restoration through women-friendly work environments
Is women empowerment critical? ‘The power of women’ is Japan’s greatest potential for fully tapping on its human resource which remains largely untapped and therefore calls for expediency in tapping it. This is especially critical in securing human capital that will support the growth of the new sectors amid the fears over the decreasing workforce population arising as a result of the decline in the birthrates and also largely because of the aging population.
Enhancing the women’s labor force participation is essential as this reflects a diverse sense of values and thus bringing vitality to the entire economy. Besides, it doubles the household’s income hence increasing their purchasing power eventually setting into motion a virtuous economic cycle.
Policy proposals to fully utilize the Japan’s “women power”
- The employment rate of women especially in the age cohort 25-44 should be raised up from the current 68% to almost 75% by 2020.
- There is need to develop childcare facilities so as to reduce the childcare waiting lists as this will allow women to devote their time to work.
- It should support organizations and companies that actively promote women’s participation in the labor force. By providing tax levy reductions, by doing this companies will be motivated to employ women without the fear that there will be lost revenues when women take childcare leaves and will be rather compensated by the tax levy reduction.
- Towards empowering both the youth and the elderly to work with vitality.
The case of life-time employment should now be a thing of the past especially with the move to replace the old facilities and equipment. Such a move will see more employment opportunities expand in the new growth sectors.
Japan’s should lay emphasis on labour fluidity rather than ensuring employment stability among its workforce. This would ensure that labour is moved from mature sectors to the new growth sectors without necessarily creating unemployment. Instead, of having to move from temporary to another temporary job the best and most appropriate policy would be that which enable people find jobs whose incomes are commensurate with their abilities. If individuals are in a position to find jobs whose incomes are modest they are better placed to raise a family thus reversing the current trends in population demographics and they would be in a position to nurture the next generation and thus adding to the existing stock of human capital.
Policy Proposals to promote the youths and elderly labor force participation
- In an attempt to tap into this population Japan should move away from the policy of maintaining current job positions to a policy that supports motivated employees to take up positions within the growth sectors after expanding opportunities for improving their capabilities.
- It also needs to take full advantage of the vibrant private sector in matching people with jobs. This can be done by making job information concerning a public employment program open to the private employment and recruiting agencies.
- Re-training of elderly adults should also be adopted in the face of the unprecedented rate of technological changes within japan. These trainings should also be extended to the youths so that they stay up-to-date on the dynamic technological progress.
- Developing Japan’s youth into globally competitive human resources
Japan’s youth face competitions from those across the globe. In order for them to win in global competitions, and to play active roles on the world stage in areas such as academic research, culture, and to make contributions in the international scene, it is an urgent matter to raise the level of education up to international standards. Japanese universities should be elevated to world-class statuses. There should also be profound emphasis towards strengthening English education from primary through secondary education.
Policy Proposals to enhance global competitiveness among the youth
- The system of higher education should be reformed, for instance it should reform its national universities by striving to place more Japanese universities in the top ranked universities globally.
- It should also seek to triple the number of Japanese students who study abroad from the current numbers which is still considered very low. This can be achieved by offering scholarships to young bright students to study abroad in academic courses and this will eventually lead to the adoption of education to globalization.
- Importantly it should strengthen English education from primary through secondary education as well as establishing English as an elementary school subject as well teaching junior schools in English. This will help enhance Japan’s global competitiveness in its human resource.
- Leaping into the world and attracting the world.
The global market continues to expand exponentially and this is driven especially by the emerging countries. For Japan with largely untapped resources, whether or not Japan will be able to succeed in the competition is of critical importance. In order to also take a portion of the cake provided through the rapid globalization it should undertake the following proposals.
- It should tap into the growth of the emerging countries by promoting economic partnerships as well as investment agreements by removing the institutional impediments currently constraining it from reaching at these agreements. This can be done by increasing the export of SMEs to higher levels than it currently is exporting. It can also strengthen and deepen its economic partnerships with the world’s major countries and increasing its penetration in developing countries to enable it reap from the growing middle class that is unprecedentedly growing.
- It should also strive to promote Japan as a destination for foreign investments and also as a tourist destination through aggressive campaigns of a cool Japan.
- As far as the overseas activities of companies are concerned, it should make dramatic shift in the view that business matters should be left solely to the private sector. Both the public and private sector should make concerted efforts in order to strategically acquire a portion of the global market share, including infrastructure export.
The government’s economic policies and business models that served Japan so well during the postwar catch-up phase through the 1980s have become liabilities for Japan in the post-cold war of the 1990s and the 21st century. To regain its competitiveness, Japan needs to make major changes to cope effectively with the forces of globalization. Among the central changes needed is diversity and innovation that might be described as a ‘global change agent.’ The policy proposals outlined in this paper is a blue print that Japan cannot wade away from them if it is to strategically brand itself as a human resource hub for the globe. It must therefore remain committed to implementing them.
Investment in human capital is a priority for Japan to remain competitive both locally and globally. It was paramount in the my opinion to address the issue of human resources since unlike other resources, human capital is not subject to diminish in value through its use; rather on the contrary its value appreciates.
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