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Where is Japan going?

23 4 6

The presidential election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is coming up soon, and if he sails to victory as expected, Shinzo Abe will be on course to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister ever.

In his “Innovation 2025” vision released in 2007 during his first stint as prime minister, Abe announced that he is committed to turn Japan into an innovative nation. But today, 11 years later, not only is Japan not an innovative nation, it is losing the innovation race to China, the United States, South Korea and others such as Taiwan, Germany and Singapore. Why?

This is not Abe’s fault alone. While technology has advanced globally at lightning speed, Japanese business, society and government remain largely closed to change. Instead, they cling to glorified memories of the past and strongly resist introduction of new technologies, and the social values necessary for their absorption.

Uber is not allowed in Japan because the taxi industry lobbied the government against it while internalizing the Uber system for itself. Airbnb listings have been dramatically reduced since the introduction of new regulations by the Diet in response to lobbying from the hotel industry. Lawmakers are quick to respond to particular industries’ demands, but very slow to achieve an innovative and........

© The Japan Times