No country is without problems, and the list of challenges Japan faces in the 21st century is certainly not short. Sometimes we foreign expats in Japan take it upon ourselves to point out the things we perceive as being “wrong” with the country, something I’ve been known to do in my J-List updates, for example taking the government to task for massive construction projects like the Shinkansen bullet train to Hokkaido or the building of new universities despite the coming drop in the Japanese population. To be sure, foreigners pointing out Japan’s faults can go too far: there’s a book called Dogs and Demons in which longtime Japan resident Alex Kerr lays out every problem he sees with the country, which was so depressing to read I had to take breaks between the chapters. Still, the desire to not be viewed in a negative light by its foreign community can be a powerful agent for change, like when Japan was finally embarrassed into passing a law requiring the use of child safety seats in the 1990s, or home smoke detectors a few years later. One area I’m regularly concerned about is the lack of “entrepreneurial spirit” by the average Japanese, who are much less likely to seek interesting business opportunities than people in the U.S., China or South Korea, and it’d be great to see the government do more to support start-ups and small businesses.
So what do you think the biggest problems in Japan are?
There’s a lack of “entrepreneurial spirit” in Japan..