Of the two ‘lost-decades’ that Japan has experienced since the bursting of its economic bubble, there have been few economic success stories. Sure, new products from the likes of Sony or Toyota have been big hits, but since 1991 new and original companies have been few and far between.
One of those few, however is Uniqlo, the brand that began in Yamaguchi Prefecture and has since gone on to conquer the streets of Ginza and now has its sights set on the likes of Oxford Street and Fith Avenue. Uniqlo President, Tadashi Yanai recently gave an interview with the Mainichi Shinbun in which he raised some interesting arguments for Japan’s economy, amongst them; that Japan is economically defeated – the US and Asian rivals are now angling for the top positions in the world while the country is in steady retreat.
This, according to Yanai has been allowed to happen as a strong yen and export-driven economy have kept the quality of life artificially high. In turn, Yanai argues that this has made Japanese folks over-reliant on their own country and stubborn in their faith in Japan’s position ahead of Asia.
Yanai paints a grim picture, claiming that if changes by the government do not happen soon that the economy in general faces the risk of collapse. His suggestions?
Allow mass immigration. As he argues, immigrants would expand the market size in Japan, allow for more robust economic growth and help the country as a whole internationalize itself. As Asia continues to rise, working closely with its neighbors is also in Japan’s best interests, he argues.
Read more on what Yanai has to say over in Mainichi – it’s in English and the CEO makes several interesting points on the general economic situation of Japan. One of the final points he makes is that he is forcing all of his staff, from store manager up to speak English at TOEIC 700 and is rapidly hiring more foreign staff.
Thoughts are welcome below – do you think Yanai’s way of creating an English-speaking company in Japan is the right way to go? Do the benefits of mass immigration into Japan out weigh the drawbacks?