Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Employment Stability Through Revival of Manufacturing Industry
Atarashi Kinju / Executive Managing Director, Japan Information Processing Development Corporation

December 10, 2001
There is no doubt now that the Japanese economy is plunging into a deflationary spiral. The government is hanging its hopes on a recovery that it expects will result from a structural reform of the economy under its "Sturdy Framework" policy. However, even if the government succeeds in resolving and normalizing the bad loans issue which is at the heart of its policy, there is no guarantee that economic conditions would improve. The current recession was caused not only by a decline in private consumption, but is basically the result of lack of demand such as plant investment which in turn has been caused by a hollowing out of the economy, and the worst ever unemployment rate of 5.4% has been an inevitable outcome. Resolving the bad loans issue is expected to alleviate the burden of the banks and encourage them to increase lending, but that in itself will not be enough to stimulate domestic demand, and the obvious side-effect will be rising corporate bankruptcies and unemployment - it offers no hope of an economic recovery, let alone bolster stock prices.

Under the current economic environment, even Information Technology industries in areas such as semiconductors - considered Japan's stronghold only two or three years ago - are being forced to reduce personnel, a sure sign that a rapid decline in international competitiveness of industry is necessitating rationalization to ensure corporate survival.

The core of the government's "employment safety-net" measures consists of providing vocational training so that the high-technology software sector and venture companies with new technologies can absorb workers spewed out by traditional industries. But that does not necessarily guarantee success. If redundant personnel in the semiconductor sector can be employed in systems development and software sectors by applying training, IT companies need only to absorb them through internal transfers. The fact that they are forced to lay off workers reflects the mismatch where vocational training is insufficient in dealing with the different nature of the required skills. Likewise, the government's ambitious plan to create 1,000 venture companies from universities over the next three years will not be realized through slogans alone unless Japan reforms its system and management of Research & Development and technology transfer, which are fundamentally different from those of the United States.

While one hopes that newly-created service industries would absorb excess labor, these industries will not become the profit-earners in international trade, even if we included the less competitive finance and insurance sectors. Japan must therefore seek its path to survival through manufacturing. We must make a resolute effort to revive the manufacturing sector if Japan is to survive as a country built on trade. Under the realization that we need an economic and industrial strategy with an outlook for at least a decade ahead, it is important that we do the following: (1) Strengthen basic research in science and technology, and to introduce more flexibility to the country's R&D system, freeing it from the constraints of a single budgetary year; (2) In the area of foreign exchange, to accommodate and guide the Yen lower, instead of demanding a revaluation of the Chinese Yuan; and (3) Establish a system where countermeasures such as anti-dumping tariffs and emergency import restraints can be applied as necessary within the limits of the World Trade Organization.

We must review our economic policies that have been dictated by simple market mechanism, which allowed corporations to take the initiative during the period of economic growth. It is time to engage in an economic-industrial policy debate that emphasizes employment stability from the standpoint that corporate interests and national interests are not the same.

The writer is Executive Managing Director, Japan Information Processing Development Corporation.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

新 欣樹 / (財)日本情報処理開発協会 専務理事

2001年 12月 10日





(筆者は(財)日本情報処理開発協会 専務理事)
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Employment Stability Through Revival of Manufacturing Industry