Principal Consultant, SiliconEdge
Over the years there's been much discussion in both the business press and the general press regarding the state of Japan's economy with many (including technology, economic and Japan pundits) concluding that Japan has become nothing short of a complete and utter "economic basket case". Worse, it's said that Japan risks becoming completely irrelevant if it doesn't act in the "prescribed ways", in the very near future even though Japan still has the world's third largest GDP and was only recently eclipsed by China which has 10 times the population and a storied civilization -- one of the oldest and most advanced civilizations in the world we are told. And yet, here we find little, lowly, Japan smack dab in the number 3 slot.
I. What The Pundits & Japan Watchers Say Is Wrong With Japan
In particular, technology and economic pundits as well as Japan watchers have come to the conclusion that Japan is ailed by the following:
1. Lack of innovation.
2. Lack of creativity.
3. Lack of business-level speakers (evidently as a percentage of the population).
4. Lack of inflation (we are told that Japan is in a devastating deflationary spiral).
5. Lack of diversity
6. Lack of immigrants
7. Lack of globalized workforce (besides business-level English skills this includes other important soft and hard skills).
8. Lack of startups / lack of entrepreneurs.
9. Lack of babies / falling fertility rate.
Whether one agrees with these pundits and the press or not, the frequency and pervasiveness of such articles, comments, and themes clearly show how far Japan has fallen from its once rapid and presumably continuous economic ascendancy in the the mid-1960's starting with the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics along with the debut of the Shinkansen / Bullet train service which was heralded as Japan's coming out party all through its defacto economic dominance in the early 1980's when even American stalwarts Intel and General Motors were bloodied and hanging on the ropes screaming "no mas! no mas!".
At the pinnacle of its economic power and influence, Japanese products evoked in consumers a sense of high-quality, innovation and attention to detail, all to be had at a very reasonable price while at the same time, this very same phrase alternately evoked horror and fear in many a competing American firm's management who faced this highly aggressive and unyielding competitive foe on the unforgiving battle field of business.
And let's be very clear about the fact that American management feared Japan businesses and industry for a very good reason: The Japanese economy and assorted Japanese companies were literally on fire and stomping out American, European and global competition left and right.