Guest post by Ashley Bozeman, senior studying international business and marketing
On Thursday, October 17, I and other students and faculty from the University of Washington had the privilege of enjoying the “Japan Update: Opportunities for 2014 and Beyond” discussion with Koichi Hamada, Tuntex Professor of Economics, Yale University, and Joseph A. Massey, Professor Emeritus, Dartmouth College. Both are esteemed professors with years of international business and economic policy experience. Needless to say, I think many of us Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) students were a bit intimidated. I am happy to report that they were far from intimidating; they had everyone laughing throughout and left all of us inspired and optimistic for the future of Japan.
This event was a great eye-opener to some of the problems Japan is currently facing. We had the opportunity to learn from Professor Hamada, Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Abe, and Professor Massey about possible solutions for strengthening the Japanese economy. Professor Hamada shared that one of the major challenges in Japan today is its aging population. Japan has the oldest population in the world. Consequently, the workforce is declining. Professor Massey stated that the solution should not be an attempt to make up for the decreasing population, but rather an increase in productivity and an adjustment of Japanese cultural norms. Both of our guests touched on better utilizing well-educated women in the work force and working until an older age. Both of which can be done, but will take time and challenge current cultural norms.
Our speakers also discussed business opportunities in Japan due to these demographic changes. The two main opportunities were health care and child care. The population is aging, so health care will be a hugely important and growing sector. In order for more women to pursue higher education and enter the workforce, it is necessary to have more child care opportunities so they are able to work outside the home.
I was impressed by Professor Hamada and Professor Massey’s optimism and their proposed solutions and opportunities for Japan in the coming years. I now have a greater awareness of the Japanese economy and culture and am looking forward to keeping up with the country’s progress in the future.