Mansi Parikh (University of Southern California, USA)
In Anthony D'Costa's recent article, he highlights Japan's imminent labor shortage when the baby boomer generation begins to retire. This will create a serious gap in the Japanese workforce, especially for the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector, which few young people are interested in. D'Costa's solution resembles a mutually beneficial relationship, where India can supply Japan with the necessary skilled workers. In return, Japan can make significant long-term investments in India's economy. However, he continues by stating that within his solution lie several problems, problems Japan can and should directly address in order to solve the forthcoming labor shortage.
Japan is among the world leaders in the ICT industry and to maintain this position will be difficult given much of their talent is retiring. In addition to the decrease in workforce, businesses need to stay updated on global IT advances and continue to raise industry standards with new innovations. For this reason, D'Costa states that it is imperative for Japan to look internationally for highly skilled talent. More specifically, he finds India to be a top candidate since it sends approximately 1 million qualified individuals abroad for employment.
I strongly agree with D'Costa's approach to Japan's employment woes and possible solutions. While he is thorough in describing the issue and discussing his solution, he fails to resolve the problems inherent in his own solution.
D'Costa states that there are several (solvable) problems within his solution, namely the global competition for highly skilled talent in the IT industry. In this competition, the U.S. and other Western countries are acquiring most of the workers. Many potential candidates do not find Japan to be a very attractive destination; however, Japan must take action to gain a competitive edge. Given this recommendation, the author does not go further in detailing how Japan can achieve the goals set to overcome labor shortages.
To expand on D'Costa's argument, Japan needs to, first and foremost, be more receptive to international workers. While many argue that the country appears to be "unable or perhaps unwilling to attract foreign talent", there needs to be a more encouraging outlook. Economist Kanzo Kobayashi states that "Japan's presence in the globalized world is getting smaller" and a slow-changing mindset and cultural reasons contribute greatly to this (Global Mindset). Much like Kobayashi, the author should recommend a more proactive approach and state that Japan is, in fact, able and cannot be unwilling because the shortage is a real and inevitable problem which needs to be dealt with at once.
Furthermore, D'Costa should stress the importance for Japan to offer a package that is just as attractive, if not more so, than the United States. Through competitive salaries, high potential for growth, and unrivaled professional experience given its position in the IT industry, Japan can make an appealing bid for foreign talent. Additionally, Indian and Asian support can be gathered to draw attention to the "Asian workforce dilemma" where, D'Costa states, globalization and low demographic development are causing domestic labor shortages. Moreover, these countries will face low economic growth given this trend of sending the most qualified individuals abroad. Therefore, it is necessary to promote a sense of nationalism in order for highly skilled talent to see the importance of staying in Asia and to sustain and build its economy.
D'Costa further mentions that there is somewhat of a mutual problem, with India also expressing apprehension. While expressing their concerns, he fails to discuss their recent progress. Establishing the "Japan-India Global Partnership in the 21st Century" in August 2000 proved to be very effective as both countries have high levels of bilateral trade: trade from India to Japan at US $2.5 billion and Japan to India at US $4.1 billion in 2005 (MOFA). A recent joint statement also reaffirms the partnership and highlights the importance of high-level dialogue and increasing exchange in the ICT field. Furthermore, there are already strong relations given that approximately 17,000 Indian nationals currently reside in Japan and 350 Japanese company branches are located in India (MOFA). Seeing as how the two economies and cultures have strong connections vital to their growth, these concerns D'Costa mentions can be mitigated.
Furthermore, as an incentive for India, Japan can set goals for short-term investment in India's economy and development. Additionally, long-term investment can also be proposed. For example, establishing more Japanese IT/manufacturing plants and offices in India would create jobs and facilitate growth for both Japan and India. Overall, an aggressive approach is needed to convey to both countries the importance of the problem and the high potential for growth.
The article raises a very important issue for Japan and thoroughly discusses the problems it will be experiencing. However, a detailed explanation of solutions would provide a more comprehensive and positive outlook on the situation. For the most part, D'Costa's article has quite a dismal message in discussing the numerous challenges Japan faces. Then, the article unexpectedly ends on a somewhat optimistic note, stating that with a proactive attitude, Japan has the ability to overcome the obstacles. This seems like somewhat of a cliffhanger, not providing readers with a sense of how Japan is to accomplish its goals. The recommendations prescribed above directly address the problems D'Costa mentions yet does not elaborate on. They provide a clear understanding of Japan's predicament and give a detailed explanation of how Japan can overcome the obstacles.
Kobayashi, Kanzo. "Global Mindset in the Information Age." GLOCOM Platform. 9 April, 2007.
"Japan-India Relations." MOFA: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. June 2007.