- In my lab, all of the papers written by Japanese students have to be checked by foreign students (which are mostly non-native speakers). The quality of the writing is typically less than mediocre, with a few exceptions.
- We have a seminar every week in which the Japanese students talk in Japanese and will get questions only by the Japanese, while the foreign students present in English and will only get questions from the other foreign students. The environment is a bit toxic.
- I have a monthly meeting of 30 minutes with my supervisor (should be bi-weekly but he almost never has time for it). Those meetings are usually about which journal or conference we should submit an article to, seldom and barely scratching the surface of what my research is about.
- Teachers who give their classes in English will get many complaints from Japanese students. In the end most of them switch (back) to teaching in Japanese again.
- This year I will probably have to go to some sort of job hunting myself, but I'm mostly considering jobs in academia because of the job hunting process for companies seems inhumane. I have heard of cases where students join a company and end up working on projects not remotely related to their research interests.
I often blame myself for not speaking enough Japanese and because of that missing opportunities, but at the same time I am of the opinion that education on the masters and PhD level should be given in English because that seems to be the de facto language of international academia.
There are candidate pools that are "potential hires" with no assignment pre offer, and there are "specialist hires" where you know the team you'll be assigned to. Only accept the latter.
The job hunt process isn't nearly as bad for technical hires as it is for humanities grads.
I completely agree that grad level work should be done in English. I know a few brilliant researchers at Stanford who will likely head back to Japan to take academic posts because their English (and mainly politics of academia) skills just weren't good enough, and their taking the "wiser route out".
I don't know your field, but I hear good things about places like Hitachi Chuou Research.
Don't worry, this is about par for the course (if you have a great graduate advisor, treasure them).
This is normal worldwide - they hire you for your problem-solving skills, not for your tiny research niche
So you wanna change schools? You have to change the system and reposition many teachers, but nope, it's not allowed. Teachers are well protected by the Japanese labor law and they can't do any other job (and from what I saw they're particularly inflexible work force). You want more diverse students? Good luck with finding a good career path for them, because under the lifetime employment system you can get good choices only when you're young, and you have to stay in the same company for the rest of your life. Again, many people assume that way and many financial systems in Japan are built upon this assumption. And finally, you want many more competitive researchers? Nooo, because there are too many mediocre researchers that have tenure already. You can't compete with them. Again, blame the lifetime employment system.
I, too, honestly don't know what's a good exit path from this. Personally I think having more immigrants is a way to go, but then there's this right-wing people and Trumpism going rampage right now. Sigh.
Not sure how true that is or if the article touches on that, since it’s paywalled.
First, many folks, especially at the better schools, are genuinely interested in the topics they are studying. As such, they will go above and beyond in some or all of their classes.
Second, in many programs, the professors have contacts in the field that can lead to premium jobs. These are often the most-adored professor in a given department -- mainly because they add a human side to the sometimes bookish disposition of many of the professors... and they make it rain. The student know who these professors are via their senpais, and they go way out of their way to make a good impression in those professors classes. This effort usually reaps huge dividends for talented students.
1) Do you know anyone from the West who would go to Japan for a professorship? I just asked around my univ (which is top 3 publication-wise) and it seems like if you go there, you basically drop off the face of intl-quality CS work
2) What is the funding model generally (e.g. Gov Grants vs Industry partnerships/grants vs Nonprofits/External Sources like the Wellcombe Institute or Knight Foundation in the US)
3) What is the hierachy like in terms of research group? One thing I currently appreciate is in (at least the US univs I've been to), there tend to be many professors that will let you act as a senior-phd if you can prove skill rather than be subordinate / help other phd's gradute)
4) How important is advisor/field and what is their relationship? (In the US it's ok to go to a mediocre overall univ frequently if your advisor is "big" in that field -- is this similar?) From my understanding pulling something like this in China (i.e. Tsinghua, Peking, Shanghai Jiao Tong vs the rest) isn't really possible.
5) Is there funding and interest to go abroad for conferences? I would argue many conferences (in CS and Bio at least) tend to be North Americas-Euro Centric based? Also could you explain the large aversion to project failure? Research has failures by definition - only slight increments in progress isnt really a top tier paper or generally a best-paper/honorable mention award?
1. There is a very high likelihood that you will "drop of the face of the earth" in terms of research if you go there for a long-term professor gig. You will most likely find that the quality of your everyday peers will be less-than-stimulating academically compared to your everyday peers in a top US program. Note that there will be exceptions, but they will be exceptions. Japan is fine if you think that you will be a third-rate or lower researcher in the US (i.e., no publications that will be highly cited either for broad topics (first tier) or niche topics (second tier) -- those are my terms that I find convenient for differentiating academics). If you just want a taste, one option is to go as a post-doc. Aim high in terms of school prestige if you do this, and try to get on a project in which you can do your own thing or that has a topic that you love. There are some schools (or affiliated research orgs) that do international-level STEM research and definitely want western researchers on their projects.
2. Funding varies, but unless you are Japanese or highly integrate yourself into Japanese society, you are very unlikely to get substantial funding directly from the government or industry. As such, the best way to get funding will be from a sponsoring professor in Japan (this is not uncommon) or piggyback on something from your US contacts. Some schools (e.g., Aizu) seem to have a good gig going in terms of funding for their foreign faculty, but I don't know who is pulling the strings (e.g., in terms of actually applying, etc.).
3. It varies by research group. In general, it works as a hierarchy based on experience on the team. Special treatment for exceptional students/researchers is rare unless they are a hired gun (usu. a temporary gig). Post docs might be a slightly different story. It really depends on the field and the school/professor, but I encourage you to set your expectations for respectful treatment to be very low.
4. Not so possible in Japan... sort of. Basically it is possible to bounce around the Type A schools in the "Top 30" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_Global_University_Project) as a Japanese professor. There is a pecking order within those schools (usu. Todai, but sometimes others in specific fields), and grad students typically filter down (i.e., the best usually stay at their school on a space-available basis, and the others take a step down the prestige ladder within the Type A schools). It's tougher to move from a Type B school to a Type A school (but possible with stellar work and/or the right connections). I think it's almost impossible to move from a non Top 30 school to a Type A school regardless of who your advisor is. Note that moves as a professor will likely require strong personal contacts at the target school as well as strong bona fides. If you are coming from the US, a recommendation from a very well known international researcher will likely get you some sort of a job if you work the right channels. I can't tell if you're asking this as a potential grad student in Japan (don't do it if you want to come back to the US) or as a US grad student wanting to go to Japan, or something else.
5. Professors often have funding for conferences. My school had a "research budget" for each professor for such things. There was also a departmental general fund that could be tapped into for special cases (not routine conference attendance). Other schools handle it differently. Regardless, there is money there.
5a. Project failures. Hmmm... maybe "failure" wasn't the best way to phrase it. First, any research that has a legitimate chance of being published in a western journal can 100% be published in something in Japan. As such, it's not really a failure if you have a paper. Actual failures can come in two forms (that I have seen) in Japan. One form is just not getting results in a series of experiments in a given time frame and not having anything "meaningful" to publish. A second sort of failure is simply not publishing regularly -- for example, it is often considered poor form to work on something potentially substantive for several years and not publish a few small (and probably meaningless) things in the interim. The unwritten rules on this are pretty clear. Frankly, I think this is why some people "drop of the face of the earth" when they go to Japan -- they get wrapped up in these limited-scope papers and forget how to move towards more substantive research. The myopia is real.
Misc. I read a couple of your other comments about "target" schools and whatnot. Be careful thinking that things like "top 3 publication-wise" mean anything in Japan. Your school may be a big deal in Japan or at the specific school you apply to, but the reasons will often be due to less academically substantive reasons and possibly due to something random (e.g., someone in the department studied there). Also be careful about being too proud of what you've done in terms of research/publications -- the frames of reference are different.
Let me know if you have any other questions.
I didn’t mean to imply that nobody tries in Japanese university, of course, especially since I have no first-hand experience. I’d just heard that the culture is, in general, less rigorous than in Western universities.
The point about networking through professors is really interesting to me. Alongside other replies about the intensity of the job hunt for Japanese students, it does sound like the system is geared as a bit of a ‘hiring pipeline’—to an extent at least.
Note: I skipped out on attending university altogether, so I don’t have a strong sense for the extent to which Western universities differ in these regards.
- The rigor in most Japanese universities is in the entrance exam. It's quite tough and is a decent filter for intelligence and study skills. STEM degrees in Japan can sometimes be rigorous as well.
- I would humbly argue that most US degrees (not sure about Europe) are not terribly rigorous outside of STEM fields and STEM-wannabe fields like economics. I have two degrees from two Ivy schools and many professors as friends, so I think I have a decent feel for who has to study hard to graduate and who doesn't.
- The schools are definitely a hiring pipeline, with the main factor being gaining admission. There are two problems with this. First, the average quality of entering students has fallen rapidly in the past 25 or so years. As such, a degree from any school not called Tokyo University has decreased in value and prestige by quite a bit. While a big Japan megacorp may have been willing to hire 20 graduates from a second-tier national university in 1985 (because they were high value-add individuals), they may only see 5 graduates in 2017 from the same school with the same level of value add. Second, there are just fewer salaryman jobs available today. As such, schools that used to be a strong part of the hiring pipeline are now only mariginal parts of the pipeline. Many parents and students are very frustrated by this. Japanese megacorps have started leaning much more on low-prestige temporary workers to replace the missing warm bodies that they are not hiring (compared to the past). These temp jobs are terrible for Japanese society since they are relatively low wage jobs with low stability and low prestige -- it's almost like not having a job other than the fact that you have to be at work. As I have said in another reply, I hope the youth of Japan get sick of this and rebel -- the older generation is massively screwing the younger generation in a gaping societal generational divide.
Most Japanese high schools are ridiculously easy to graduate from.
That said, most of the _competitive_ Japanese high schools -- that is, the ones who send their students to the best schools -- require quite a bit of work to graduate from. There is a reason for this.
High schools are divided into tracks in Japan via entrance exams, so the competitive high schools get students who are largely on board with rigorous study. Their goal is to crush the college entrance exam, and the best schools are quite good at test prep (and often go beyond test prep into "proper" learning of the topic). The students know they will have to work hard, and they mostly do. I humbly suggest that the students in these high schools work about as hard as high school students in the US who are trying to get into highly competitive universities.
That said, most high schools in Japan are not terribly competitive to enter and don't have high academic ambitions for their graduates (and that's totally ok). These students often have a lot of fun in high school, much like American high school students who are aiming at low competitive universities or no university.
Having said that, high level high schools in Japan have a bigger curriculum than what I was familiar with (in Canada). They will cover quite a lot of the stuff that you'd cover in first year university. However, I'll agree that it probably isn't that much different than what students voluntarily cover if they are trying to get into competitive universities in the US, for instance.
Finally, I'd like to echo that students in low level high schools in Japan generally have a lot of fun. It was probably the best atmosphere of any place I've ever worked. Obviously there are some students that are having problems, but the vast majority really enjoy this time. You can see it on their faces -- smiling all day long.
I'm not planning on having kids, but if I were, I wouldn't hesitate to put them into the Japanese school system. Personally, I love it. There are advantages and disadvantages, but as long as the parents aren't pushing their kids into places they don't want to go it offers a lot more opportunity, IMHO.
Just one last point, since it was raised above: employers do spend a lot of time training. I had a friend who graduated from a prestigious university as an engineer. She went to work at a fibre optics company. She spent the first 2 years there building cables and studying. The company wanted to make sure that she understood everything about the business from top to bottom. Now nearly 10 years later, she's managing an engineering group. Very different environment.
In practice, parents who would like their children to keep their options open, struggle in the Japanese system. You have to decide from an early age to either go for it and work like a dog, or to slack off and enjoy life until entering the work-force but then having very clear limitations on your career.
One personal observation relevant to some HN folks concerns Kousen (technical college). The competition to get accepted is only moderate while the quality of education there is high, I feel. It's not the standard route, but it is definitely worth considering for those who wish to pursue a STEM field.
I think you mean "graduation rates", but I completely agree.
That said, there are some majors at elite schools that are very tough. The catch is that the enrollment in these majors/programs decreases rapidly as the weaker students change majors to something that is easier and/or requires less work.
Also if you're looking at Asian univs, Tsinghua, Peking, SNU, NUS, KAIST and (CUHK/HKUST) should be there too ;)
The reason is that while Japan tends to treat "westerners" quite favorably, it does not treat folks from developing countries nearly as well.
Japan is inviting many immigrants from developing counties -- ethnic Japanese from Brazil, undergrad and grad students from a variety of countries, laborers from a few low-cost Asian countries -- but this hasn't really had any positive long-term effects that I could see in terms of immigration. One problem is that these folks are treated like third-class citizens in their day-to-day lives (pay, prestige, news coverage, social treatment, etc.). This makes them feel not terribly welcome and sometimes a little bit scared (e.g., of being blamed with little recourse for a wrongdoing that a fellow countryman committed).
As a result of this treatment, many of the folks from these developing countries just aim for a money grab before they return to their country with a decent pile of f u money.
While many Japanese people I know and have known are interested in different cultures, they do not seem terribly interested in folding these cultures into Japanese culture melting pot-style. As such, I doubt that immigration will move the needle in terms of being a source of change in Japanese.
My only hope is that the youth of Japan get frustrated enough to have a 1960s-style social revolution that the US experienced (although focusing on slightly different vectors).
Source: Me. I was a professor in Japan in the past. I left because I witnessed the beginning of the universities failing (largely due to a massive lack of leadership), and I wanted to get out while the getting was good.
But of course, Japan is very hard on itself and sets insanely high standards for itself at every level of society. If you are bullish on Japan, you're easily dismissed as a nationalist or racist or as living in denial.
I guess the ultimate revenge is living well, so I've already won from that perspective. I feel genuinely sorry for people who can't see a good thing for what it is.
What about wealth and income inequality? And what is there to show in terms of social justice? And why is respect for tradition something to be valued? And the lack of laws that prevent discrimaniton (except for the constitution, which I've read only applies to the citizens)? I'm curious, not trying to come accross as attackative.
You strike me as somebody young, uninformed likely never raised a child. Tradition is what ties together the past present and future of humans. Most would say tradition is a major part of quality of life and in some cases, the only thing in life and part of living life in peace. The world is built on tradition, patterns, cultural ties. It's almost like asking 'what's so wrong with complete chaos in your life?" Seriously?
What about wealth and income inequality? Income inequality is everywhere and will always be, unless you want communism, in which case you end up with disastrous conditions and likely mass murder. What is there in terms of social justice? Well considering that people there live their lives making their own choices, that they have ample opportunity by and large for education and choosing careers, what's the problem? Nothing really, unless of course a western liberal shows up and tries to invent problems like they always do in order to usurp unearned power over others.
Yet you manage to tackle not a single one of those criticisms head on. Of course, nobody read anything into that.
And revenge? For what? For someone not liking you? That right there points directly to what I don't find particularly sexy about lots of Asia but Japan especially, the obedience and the obsession with appearances, apart from not dealing with WW2 a whole lot. Why would you need revenge the opinion of someone else?
And you are saying that Japan among other things is unrivaled in ambitions for the future.. how do you measure that? By almost every measure even. I don't care if you lost count, I'll have the list of those measures the areas in which Japan is number #1. Not because I agree or dispute it is, I just find that in itself so odd that I'd even be just keen on hearing the dimensions you think there is a clear "best" at all.
Meanwhile, here's my first association when it comes to ambitions for the future:
And to tie in with the above,
> Cultural tolerance of suicide in Japan may also be explained by the concept of amae, or the need to be dependent on and accepted by others. For the Japanese, acceptance and conformity are valued above one’s individuality.
Is this totally off the mark? Edit the article then.
> I feel genuinely sorry for people who can't see a good thing for what it is.
It's not about not seeing the good, it's about seeing the bad. In my case, it's about saying "thanks but seriously, no thanks". People who think patriotism or friendship include blindness should start with being a friend to themselves. I don't behave differently towards individuals of any stripe, why should I treat individuals cloaking themselves in the vague word "culture" or "tradition"? If it helps, you can consider that my culture, my personal one.
So to define my beliefs in your terms:
- Japan is not currently wrecked economically, but they are rolling the dice with a ridiculously high debt to GDP ratio. Some of this can be reasonably explained away due to the specifics of Japanese saving in Japan, but not all of it.
- I don't think most Japanese people are in denial at all. They are largely cautiously pessimistic except for two groups (see below).
- I don't think that emulating the west is the best path forward. Many of my Japanese friends agree with me on this front. In fact, I think the manner in which Japan deregulated in the 80s and 90s under western-influenced guidance was a very bad move -- it gutted the core of the Japanese socio-economic structure without providing a reasonable replacement.
- I agree that Japan does many things better than the west. It also does many things worse (paging patio11).
- The only Japanese people I know who don't feel terribly concerned about the state of Japan are upper class people and folks who work for foreign companies or governments. The quality of their day-to-day lives is largely independent of the state of the Japanese economy.
So I wonder a few things about you. How long have you lived in Japan? How well do you speak Japanese? How many close Japanese friends do you have that don't speak English beyond short simple conversations? What do you do for a living?
My guess is that you work with the group I mentioned in my last bullet point, or you are just new to Japan.
If not, I am very very interested in learning from you.
1. How is Japan handling the debt to GDP ratio issue? This is genuinely an issue that is somewhere between scary and terrifying.
2. How are the folks in their 20s and 30s getting stable jobs at the same relatively high rate that they did in the 80s and (to a lesser extent) the early 90s? Note that anyone who went to an international school or a western university is not the target of my inquiry (those numbers are very small in aggregate).
3. How are Japanese banks handling the low/non-performing loans on their books? The last time I checked, they were just engaging in some polite fiction and hoping that a miracle will happen and/or they will be bailed out by the government via free funds or a devalued currency.
I genuinely hope you can show me the bright light of Japan's present and future. I left there because I saw that light dimmming rapidly. I will happily move back if I see any real potential. Please show me that potential in a compelling and convincing way -- I love Japan and desperately want the country to succeed, but I just don't see it now.
First, I'm not an authority on Japan. I've lived here for three years about but have a history of spending long stretches of time here that goes back over a decade. My current situation is more that of a typical Japanese person than a typical gaijin--i.e., no one in my world speaks any English and I see another gaijin about once every few weeks at most. I live in Nagoya, which is obviously a big city, but also a very Japanese city, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I'm not in some satoyama paradise.
I have a lot of money by local standards. I run my own businesses which are state-side from here. My friends here range from taxi drivers to factory workers to CEOs. I would like to think I have a very interesting and diverse cross-section of people in my life. I'm well aware of the intense pressures of life here for people who are just scraping by. I know a lot if people who work in jobs that are soul destroying. They deal with bullies and stupid bosses and so on. I doubt anywhere is free of that kind of nonsense, though. I definitely don't think it's unique to Japan.
I've also never seen a ghetto in Japan, and there's one in every major American city. Japan has a working middle class that should be the envy of America--affordable and good housing, cars, food, healthcare, etc. Lots of unskilled jobs, arubaito, etc. Somehow, this is characterized as abject failure. You say that only upper class people live well in Japan, and I say that by any reasonable standard, everyone in Japan lives pretty goddamn well.
Everyone, everywhere worries about their future. That's not the point. The point is that Japan is not going anywhere. It will adapt, as it has done for thousands of years, but it is uniquely good at preserving some core values and those are what keeps me in this place. Values like being civil to one another, not being a crazy, selfish asshole, trying really hard to do a good job--you know, little things like that.
Coming from America (New York City), I find my life here far more gratifying, and less anxious. I don't care in the slightest if people need to justify their hangups by writing me off as a dupe or weeb or whatever self-inflicted misery they harbor.
I'm not going to answer your enumerated questions because I don't purport to write social or economic policy statements. There is a lot of wealth in Japan tied up in personal assets of old people. If Japan can weather the storm of providing a soft landing for the current generation, the future is bright. I will tell you that I'm moving my business here, and I'm involved in other startups here. I'm more bullish on Japan than the US long term. You are free to call me a fool and disagree.
- Japan, as you see it now and to a large extent as I saw it when I most recently lived there, has a lot of quality of life (QoL) benefits that are common. Things like safety, nice people, high attention to detail, relative lack of poverty, etc. are so common in Japan that it is easy to take them for granted if you've been there for a while. (snark incoming) Note that you come from NYC, so improving these types of QoL aspects are a very low bar. ;-) All joking aside, I think you could find similar qualities that you like about Japan is some second-tier-sized US metropolitan area (much like Nagoya is a second-tier-sized metropolitan area in Japan).
- As a slightly seasoned Japan hand, I can tell you that you seem to lack the perspective of relatively recent Japanese history. From the 50s until the 80s, there were constant and substantial QoL improvements across the board in Japanese lives (in aggregate) -- better housing, better transportation, better food, better economy, etc. Parents always wanted better for their kids, and society delivered in spades. These days, kids are rarely better off than their parents, and holding the line is largely considered a success. As such, those with knowledge of Japan's recent past (perhaps before you were born) don't really see things as that great in the grand scheme of things. The present may not completely suck, but the future outlook isn't particularly rosy either. (Note that a similar comment can be made about the US from the 50s to the 00s with a slightly less negative outlook for today's youth, and I would agree, but the details of the rise and fall strike me as being vastly different -- a topic for another post). I encourage you to talk to older Japanese people about the 60s to 80s and compare that to how Americans (esp. non-New Yorkers... NYC is just different) talk about the same time period.
- On a personal level, I can say that the robustness of the Japanese economy is just a shadow of it's former self. This is most easily seen in the moribund state of the drinking districts (once bustling areas now seem like ghost towns), but it can also be seen in the heavily reduced footprint of light industry and logistics if you poke around the right places. Anyone who was alive in the 80s (and even early 90s) in Japan is kind of hoping for some of that economic swagger to return.
- Japan will certainly adapt, as you say. That's not really the worry. In fact, most Japanese people don't really have a good feel for Japan's rise and (the beginning of the) fall of Japan in the world political and economic scene. That said, those that do understand have been on a wild ride the past few decades, and I think the descent will continue quite a ways. This is and will be distressing to the Japanese elite (e.g., the folks who are internationally minded in terms of business and politics). Maybe this is the facet that you see differently than the negative/doomsayer folks.
- I'm glad to hear that you are in startups. This is one of the potential outlets that Japanese youth have for their talent (since Japan Inc is largely snubbing them). That said, the lack of social status of start up jobs is a potential problem. Maybe Japanese society has moved forward in this area recently and I haven't noticed (a couple of the tell-tale signs will be the quality of marriage prospects for Japanese founders/employees and the ability of Japanese start up founders/employees to rent nice places on reasonable terms when they are making decent money).
- FWIW, I think Japan will become an even better to host a US-based tech business moving forward. I personally believe that earning dollars and spending yen is very solid right now and will be ++++++++EV in the future.
- (side note nitpick, but there's a point) Note that I didn't say that "only upper class people live well in Japan". I don't believe that one bit. I said something like the upper class people and people who work for international companies and governments (note that you are one of these) are the only folks I know who don't worry about the Japanese economy, and that is largely because their/your day-to-day livelihoods are not tightly tied to the vagaries of the Japanese economy.
- It seems like you have a lot of appreciation of some of the dentouteki values of Japan -- I do, too. Sadly, compared to even 20 years ago, the institutions that support these values have deteriorated substantially. Thankfully, there are some diehards who still hold these values dear. I hope that they are able to pass the best of these on to future generations.
So this was a reply that was part for you and part for other readers. If you would like to continue the interaction, please let me know. Throw some sort of site or e-mail in your profile and I will contact you.
Thanks again for your reply -- it has helped me look at Japan from a different perspective.
VE Day. VJ Day.
The collapse of the Soviet Union.
I would characterize the Japanese social changes after world war 2 as far... far... more intense than the destruction of cultural institutions described by the comment above yours.
All cultures change over time, even the ones that some people, for some reason, hold up as icons of homogeneous purity like Japan. A culture which isn't an expression of the people who currently live in a certain place and time is dead. That immigration would inevitably alter Japanese culture is a sign of health and evolutionary progress, not destruction.
I mean, the Ainu might even consider it karma, since they were already there before the Yamato showed up with their weird foreign ideas.
We often think of 'Tea' as a very English thing (and it is in many ways now), but of course it has it's roots in China/Asia i.e. global trade.
The Japanese borrowed ideas from elsewhere for quite some time (as has everyone of course), but they would view 'building Western warships' as something very different from 'importing millions of Westerners'.
Also, one could argue that Japan, for a variety of reasons, was far more isolated than other places.
You're probably going to have a hard time finding a job in Japan that isn't "English Teacher" if you can't speak Japanese effectively - which is an example of the parent culture exacting a price in the form of partial assimilation for the opportunity of cultural exchange.
Plus, most immigrants to Japan are probably going to be from China, Korea or other Asian countries, simply because of proximity. Immigration doesn't necessarily have to mean millions of Westerners.
I can't see why a unique culture ought to be 'preserved' as people say, either. And I can't see why the 'bad' parts cannot be slowly eroded over time. Nor do I see why certain 'races' ought to be kept. This has always been an argument that's been relatively ignored - why exactly is it desirable to keep a certain race or culture, especially when certain elements of that culture are horrible?
Please do not misinterpret me; I do not speak in terms of some 'white man's burden' in a colonial way. It is ultimately the decision of the Japanese citizens. But I do not see why they should be motivated in the name of nebulous and vague concepts of pride rather than what is best pragmatically.
I mean, that's exactly it. Why is it so shocking an idea that the Japanese apparently prefer to retain their homogeneity even if it weakens their economy?
There are tons of places in the world with fairly massive immigration and/or multicultural societies - that are far worse than Japan.
Brazil is a very, very multi-ethnic and blended society - and it's not exactly a paradise.
In fact - the opposite may be true: Japan is not a huge-huge country, and they hit massively 'above their weight' on so many things.
One could possibly argue that their ethnic cohesion and national identity are actually drivers of their success.
On the whole I guess it's hard to tell, but again I don't think it's fair to always assume 'immigration = good for economy'.
Is this true? How do you know?
And it may be a surprise to many westerners who find a need to push their cultural and political perspectives everywhere, but some people do indeed prefer protecting a cultural or national identity over quick economic gains. A non-insignificant portion of the world looks at America and and instead of thinking, "Wow, this is what we need to be", thinks, "This is what I don't want to become."
Very much doubt this is due to our history of immigration.
Is this the same kind of logic that says gay people shouldn't have kids people the bigots will bully them?
> Very much doubt this is due to our history of immigration.
The south is full of racists anyway, according to media portrayal.
> Is this the same kind of logic
Since the US is a multi faceted country you can reasonably assume that it's not all ideally awe-inspiring.
> the bigots will bully
Whereas you take extra care to remain neutral or at least not to flame offensively in an unrelated thread? That doesn't seem to be working for you either.
And as far as the places that have refugees where people are not happy about it, many people are insisting that refugees "help the economy" as a reason it should continue of course it's a narrow assessment and totally invalidates citizens concerns and that's the problem. Not to mention those pushing for refugees never seem to live in the neighborhoods where the burden or problems will need shouldered. It's always some moral stance rather than an empirical one and frankly a citizens preference to not have to deal with the trouble should be the first consideration but lately it hasn't been.
Yes. Because of culture clashes. New Culture B doesn't like how existing Culture A "does things" and demands a change. While they are some small minority, they often get ignored by the majority (Culture A). Over time, as more and more of Culture B immigrates into Culture A, they become large enough of a group that they can no longer be ignored. If Culture B was totally fine with adopting Culture A and adding to the culture rather than demanding things be done their way "culture killing" wouldn't be as large of an issue.
If each culture was 100% identical they would be the same culture, not different cultures. So there will always be culture clash.
One such example of cultures clash is Japan's "cute culture" is often seen as perverted from the outside world and there are often calls to censor things that are seen as being totally innocent in Japan.
What side you think is "right" or "wrong" is largely opinion in most cases and the two sides will fight - and hopefully (but rarely) those fights never escalate past yelling at one another.
What if those in Culture B face problems? Should they not ask for change? What if those in the culture are citizens? The idea that people can't ask or demand for things just because they are of a different culture is ridiculous.
>and there are often calls to censor things that are seen as being totally innocent in Japan.
What are you referring to? At a guess, I'd say lolicon/shotacon pornography (which often faces calls to be censored and has been censored in many countries), which is hardly seen as innocent anywhere. That said, I very strongly disagree with the idea of censoring it.
I find the idea of 'culture clash' to be ridiculous, and the reason is that even within cultures there is a huge aemount of variation as to how things should be done. So why are those people legitimate (such as the Japanese Marxists) but those of a different culture are not legitimate? How is 'culture' even defined, and what elements must one have of it?
It's a very nebulous concept so I do not think that drawing the lines you are drawing makes much sense with regard to actual human interactions. Or I could be misinterpreting you, in which case please correct me. I'd say that ignoring people who are complaining is a very dangerous thing to do, in terms of the happiness and benefit for all in society, not just those of your tribe/race/hair colour/football team/culture.
Sure, they should absolutely ask for change. I think the point is that if Culture B wants to change the course of the nation to something that the currently dominant Culture A really doesn't like, it's not crazy for people of Culture A to not want to import a whole bunch more people who subscribe to Culture B and in the process give said culture way more power.
There is nothing wrong with disagreeing with huge portions of a foreign culture. For example, I have an issue with Sharia Law. Especially the whole "I should be stoned to death" parts of it. As such, anyone who supports Sharia Law can stay the hell out of my country and I will fight to keep it that way. I'm aware there is some number in my country who already support Sharia Law - and I do not want to swing them from "minority with no power" to "majority dragging me into the streets".
>What are you referring to? At a guess, I'd say lolicon/shotacon pornography...
More innocent things, not sexual things. Even in Japan, lolicon/shotacon is not seen as "innocent". I used to get in conversations about these things with a Japanese friend, as he couldn't see what was the problem American's had with certain things. I'll see if I can't find some examples in my old chat logs for you.
>I find the idea of 'culture clash' to be ridiculous, and the reason is that even within cultures there is a huge aemount of variation as to how things should be done. So why are those people legitimate (such as the Japanese Marxists) but those of a different culture are not legitimate?
>It's a very nebulous concept so I do not think that drawing the lines you are drawing makes much sense with regard to actual human interactions.
I'm fine with admitting my line is not very well drawn. In fact, you could call the line I draw completely arbitrary, illogical, and even downright unfair.
I don't identify strongly with any particular culture and am very open to learning from other cultures. I love other cultures. I love the "melting pot" culture of the U.S.A which is, ironically enough, the very thing I disagree with in most other countries. I do not pretend to understand or know the reasons, but the blend of cultures seems to mostly "work" in the US while being a complete disaster in many other countries overall (a few exceptions for some cities/regions that have successfully managed multiculturalism).
This is largely my opinion. I base my opinion on how I see both history and the modern day playing out, from country to country. My issue stems entirely from the "how" they get mixed and not that they "shouldn't mix at all", although I believe some cultures do not "mix as well" as other cultures.
Which is precisely the decision that has already been made that people not part of the culture disagree with. Surprise, surprise, people with different cultural values are disagreeing with the decision made by another culture regarding their own cultural values. Going so far as to argue that they should change their cultural values to more align with the cultural values of the criticizers because their cultural values are "not worth defending" and should be changed. Color me unsurprised.
This is still the most accurate and most depressing comic I've seen regarding timeless topics such as these . You can look into history and see something play out in the exact same way dozens if not hundreds of times, across many cultures and even differing centuries, yet people will insist it won't happen that way this time for whatever reasons they can contrive.
I can list out dozens of cultures that have disappeared with time due to (1) invaders or (2) assimilation. There are many cultures that have changed with time, on their own terms, and those cultures are among the oldest in the world with the oldest traditions - and often are very isolated cultures with few immigrants. You can list out drastic changes in cultures, which often follow wars (for the losing side) or genocide. You can argue some drastic changes in culture due to losing war is overall good (re: Nazis. They lost.) but that isn't the case every time for every war.
I'm all for sharing cultures and learning from one another. I'm not one for destroying cultures because they hold different cultural values than some other group of people who think they are "right". Most of the world's greatest evils have been committed by groups of people who were certain they were the ones who were "right".
Japan wants people living in Japan over the long term to adopt Japanese value and mannerisms.
They value this because they want a harmonious society.
That's a pretty small-minded and dogmatic statement; it basically amounts to "copy US policy, it's the only way." At some point, someone in the world is going to actually have to solve the problem of stagnant or declining populations, without copping out and just importing new populations from elsewhere.
However, drowning your citizens in a sea of immigrants is cultural suicide. If your culture is such that it has allowed your ancestors to build a country that immigrants want to flee their own countries to live in, then your culture is worth preserving, rather than allowing it to be replaced by the culture of those who would happily flood into it.
That means, you can't solve your demographic problems by opening the floodgates. Instead, you need to fix the economic problems that are making people hesitant to have children in the first place.
Trying to credit America's success on the "US Way" is fallacious - I don't think we'd be much worse off if we were ruled by a monarchy, or even an extremely ethnically homogenous culture, since we're protected by two oceans, have massive oil and mineral and forest reserves, and had the native population decimated by infectious diseases before we moved in.
You can't ascribe the position of the US solely to its immigration policies. Especially since it's impossible to correlate immigration trends in recent years in the US to economic trends.
Although I did make an error - it's both Korean and Chinese.
and buddhism isn't chinese.
So, yes, it's a Japanese Buddhist/Shinto temple. But the religion isn't originally Japanese, and neither is the architecture. The only thing native there is the Shinto.
No one considers modern Japan to not be Japanese, despite it being, in some sense, an American reboot of a Prussian remix of Imperial China. If you want to say Japanese culture predates the US by "thousands of years," fine - except you would need to ignore the thousands of years of European culture that America is based on to do so.
And also ignore the fact that, yes, modern Japanese culture is very much a product of the postwar period, making it both older than, and newer than, the US. And the aspects which are newer are likely the more relevant to Japanese people.
... is how many people in the other parts of the world would view that position.
Maybe it's hard to understand for 'New World' people, who don't really have a sense of their own ethnicity, but it's very different elsewhere.
'Japan' is not so much a 'nationality' in the modern, Western sense.
'Japan' is the place where the 'Japanese' live.
The 'nation' of Japan is a legal construct around an ethnic group.
While I agree some degree of openness will definitely help the 'GDP' and on some other measures, it's important to grasp that other people will see it differently.
In new 'New World' - we generally focus on culturally secular measures, such as 'the GDP' i.e. a benchmark for the economy, which 'helps everyone' - and it avoids difficult socio-cultural arguments.
But almost everywhere else it's not like that.
I live in Quebec - and the Quebecois are an 'ethnic group' - and so politics here is totally different. We have state-sponsored child care for example - partly due to the very socialist political perspective, but partly because of the coherence of the community: it's really easy to get others to grasp the social benefits. They naturally seem themselves as part of a community, at least more so than the Anglo universe.
Why do you think more non-Japanese people in the country means the end of Japanese culture? I know many foreigners who live long-term in Japan and have absorbed many ways of working in the society. Why do you think they stay?
Ultimiately, the base belief behind the anti-multicuturalism position is that culture cannot/will not be learned.
Think about the trope of all the people moving to the US for the American Dream. Have they not accepted American culture? People move place for reasons beyond economics.
I think your example is more a case of the Protestant work ethic coming into play (people should help themselves)
Very true. But it's also fundamentally different than if the American influence were to have come from 10 or 20 million actual Americans living in Japan.
"Have they not accepted American culture?"
America does not have a culture in the classical sense of the term, or to be more fair - it's a new kind of culture.
Ergo - there is a 'lot less to accept'.
In America, you can 'do as you please' so long as you're not out go hurt anyone.
In Japan, there are a myriad of rules, spoken and unspoken, that one must adhere to.
It's easy for immigrants to 'get along' in the New World.
It'd be exceedingly hard to do so in places with more established classical culture.
This can be seen in Europe: they are very much intellectually and political open to newcomers, and yet have a really, really hard time integrating them.
There are dangerous, 'no go' zones in Sweden.
There are zero 'no go' or dangerous places here in Canada (or at least not based on migrant residence), where we have a lot more immigrants than Sweden.
In Canada we don't have our own language, customs, no cuisine, few social expectations other than fairly secular ones: go to school, get a job, be good, pay your taxes.
One could argue that American culture is shitty, but it's a direct extension of western European culture. Why else are so many movies retellings of Shakespeare and not Romance of the three kingdoms?
Obviously Canada also has a culture.
Every 'no go' zone claim I've seen is followed by debunking , so forgive me if I take that with a grain of salt.
I dunno. Poutine is pretty tasty.
If you go to any food court in Canada what you will find is a myriad of ethnic foods: Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Lebanese, etc.
There's also a case to be made for culture, and preservation of unique ethnicity.
I'm sure they can decrease inflow at an appropriate time, but for now, they need fresh blood and fresh ideas.
These are two different things. Make the case for the latter.
Could there be some advantage in having multiple populations with some positive and non-negligible but still not super high amount of mixing, over having a single population which, uh, mixes with itself "uniformly" ?
Like, what if random genetic variation over time in the different groups going in "different directions" but always mixing with the others a bit might allow for more diversity of things being "tried" than in the single group, and maybe this would result in "good ideas" being "tried"/"discovered" more often, and which could then spread to the other groups.
The "good ideas" would of course spread to the other groups more slowly than if it was all in one group, but maybe there could be some level of mixing where an improvement in the rate of "good ideas" being "found" was enough to outweigh the cost of "good ideas" taking longer to spread to different groups, so that all the groups benefit?
HOWEVER: note that I am not advocating making any decisions based on this argument. Even if such a level of mixing/not-mixing exists which would be better than having it all be one group, that doesn't mean that that level of mixing is less mixing than would happen if this argument were not considered, so this argument does not mean decreasing mixing would be good. If the level of (genetic) mixing has an impact at all (I don't know if it does), it seems equally possible that the optimal level is greater than the current level.
(Maybe if the level of mixing were "too low", then the mixing would become less effective? In the extreme (unrealistic) case, if the different groups became almost unable to mix, as a result of mixing too rarely, that might be very bad, because then "good ideas" couldn't spread from group to group?)
And even if some levels of mixing would result in better results (e.g. in health) over time than others, and even if a different level were better than the level that would be the result if no one tried to influence this level, that doesn't mean it would be good to try to influence the level towards that "better" level. Attempting to influence that level might be e.g. dehumanizing or un-virtuous, or bad for other reasons.
I want to make it very clear that I'm just talking about this as an intellectual exercise, and am not advocating any actions based on this argument. These lines of reasoning were ignoring the fact that the groups being considered are people, and really, the fact that these people are /people/ makes things relating to that much more important than any of the other considerations, and when they conflict, the fact that these are /people/ takes priority over any concerns about like, "gene flow" or whatever.
If you are concerned that the ideas in this comment might be repeated in harmful ways I am willing to delete this comment upon request, as long as this website lets me do that.
It actually makes more sense with all the talk about the ai revolution.
You're right that income security (and status security, imho) would go a long way towards addressing the problem. That said, that digs much deeper into Japanese social issues -- for example, small business owners (e.g., small restaurant/bar owners, consultants, tech entrepreneurs, etc.) are often perceived as having lower social status than salarymen even though they sometimes make bucket loads more money. Folks in lower prestige careers have a harder time getting married, getting loans, moving into good neighborhoods, etc.
As such, the men who embrace the revolution are ipso facto marginalized in society.
Once Japan can embrace more individualistic careers more favorably, then I think their economy will be able to move forward more aggressively, and the "revolution" folks will have a more prominent and visible role in society.
How does immigration help? Say some people immigrate next year. They stick around. They become Japanese. Their children are (a) trained in the Japanese way and (b) find themselves subject to the same labor policy as other Japanese. What has changed?
Also japanese language (writing and reading) is very difficult for foreigners because one has to learn thousands of kanji characters.
The education system, as the article points out, is underfunded not because they don't have the money, but because they're spending it on other things.
And one sure method to destroying your way of life is to let a bunch of people in who are there for the money and aren't particularly interested in your way of life. If you're a Japanese person in Japan and you don't want to live in another country, why would you want other countries to live with you?
Japan is a resource-poor country without much arable land. They could stand to have a smaller population. From what I can see the only real downside to a smaller population is military power, and in the age of nuclear weapons I'm not sure how much it matters, particularly for an island nation.
While Japan may not presently be gutted in terms of GDP, I wonder if we are witnessing the slow rotting from inside right now.
The older generations are demanding to be supported by the younger generation in a number of ways, but they are not giving the younger folks the means to do so via decent-paying jobs and jobs that are stable enough to encourage the start of a family (i.e., future generations).
Right now Japan is printing money hand over fist to try to make something -- anything -- happen economically. I don't see that it's working, and I wonder how long they can keep doing this before they take a hit on the economic side (GDP or otherwise).
If Japan can make it 25-30 years with something like their current GDP, then they will be fine -- their population will have shrunk, and there will be no big bubble on the top of their population by age pyramid. That said, think their economy will take a huge hit a some point in that timeframe.
Do you see much positive hope on the economic side moving forward?
People treat college degrees like their passports/certificates to get higher positions in society and better works.
They are willing to study harder to enter colleges, and then play for 4 years in university.
It's about cultural problems, especially bureaucracy.
It exists in asian blood.
People would not like to face the truth, but obey the order.
Maybe it's originated from Prussian education system and chinese bureaucratic system(former Roman Empire in Asian), and finally cause the failures of education and creativity.
Tightening job market drove students to study job-related certificates and tests such as Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). This is so grueling for young generations with grow student debts.
Students often defer their graduations to appear fresh in the job market. http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/south-korean-students-delayin...
My point is not to be knee-jerk about the nationality source, but rather look at the claims and evaluate them. If they previously ranked Tokyo University so highly -- should we throw that out too?
Would it really help the average student? I went to Berkley for a semester, and in some courses we watched the professor on video. He literally phoned it in.
I actually had a better learning experience at my local community college.
This is just my subjective experience.
I have known too many people who literally drank/hallucinated their way through an Ivy League school. They graduate, and don't tell anyone the truth about their fancy college learning experience. There's no test at the end to correlate into an empirical metric. It's just, "I graduated from this UC, or Whatever!".
I would like to see every school that accepts federal/state tax money give their students a standardized test, and future funding would be based on the collective students score. It would have to be a fair balanced test. Instead of I graduated from MIT; it would be I graduated with a 95%.
It might level out the playing field? It would prevent networking--maybe? It would prevent having to "kiss ass"? It would prevent me from throwing up in my mouth when a new Princeton graduate puts on the horned rimmed glasses shortly after graduation, and just expects respect.
Test of us non-postmodernists value an education system capable of producing competent elites, who in turn produce value for society (measure that how you like). By that measure, it's pretty apparent that Japan's universities are doing poorly.
And the Japanese agree with this, in case you missed it.
Please stop with this nauseating pedantry.
Japanese people don't think things are going so well.
Many knowledgeable non-Japanese don't think that things are going so well.
My personal take is that Japan is taking a huge gamble by taking on a massive amount of debt relative to their GDP. The piper will need to be paid at some point.
John Mauldin had described the Japanese economy as a bug in search of a windshield. Based on what my Japanese friends in the financial sector say, they agree. Everyone is just crossing their fingers now and hoping that something... anything... happens to force a redirect. No one is quite sure what this will look like (I personally think yen will take a big hit, but that's just a guess).
Not saying that you're wrong but it's not the first time I have read that comment.
Trying to time a short has always been a fool's game. I don't think it's different this time.
That said, I don't see any reason on the ground to be optimistic at all.
This is playing identity politics at its worst. You're saying that a London based publication might have vested interest about things, and therefore somebody from a foreign country shouldn't care about their rankings at all.
You don't address how the rankings are formed, if they're accurate or not, or if they're useful in measuring the economic value of the graduates.
You also don't propose another ranking system/methodology/evaluation system. You're basically bringing nothing to the table except "Asia has an inferiority complex" which is a statement you don't back up with facts.
> London based
Essentially it's hard to get in, once you in, you pass. Work culture in Japan and school is a bit toxic.
As soon as their economy picks up, I bet that THE and others would start praising the virtues of the Japanese education system again, regardless of any changes (or no change) in education.
Japan had their real estate and stock market bubble in 1990. The Nikkei index reached nearly 40,000. People in Japan speculated that Japan would pass the US in GDP in a few years.
Then came the long crash. The Nikkei index dropped all the way to 7000 by 2003. Then it recovered some, but crashed again in 2008. There's been considerable recovery since; it's now around 20,000. But that's still half of the peak.
(The US market is back above its all-time peak before the 2008 crash. It's probably overinflated, but not as badly as before 2008.)
Japan was the first country to hit the "postindustrial wall", or "what are all these people going to do"? I'd hoped they'd come up with a solution the US could copy. But the best Japan has been able to come up with is heavy spending on infrastructure to keep people busy.
Jobs are focused on shoe face, NOT on producing value.
What matters is not how good you are it is how many years you have put into the company working 80 hour weeks.
It is unsurprising to me that a culture not focused on producing value wouldn't produce much value.
The people I knew did this in order to improve their job security and/or job prospects. Basically, having a long list of largely meaningless publications was better received by tenure and hiring committees than making fewer but more substantive contributions. To use a baseball metaphor, they value through their actions the singles hitters more than the doubles or home run hitters.
The government is trying to encourage people to take more risks, but for most of the academics, it just doesn't make sense. The reward for good international-grade research is essentially zero, but the cost of going bust (e.g., a big project without strong publication outcomes) is perceived as being high (although I'm not sure it actually is).
Furthermore, the very best researchers are going to the US and Europe. Research labs there value their Japanese peers more than Japanese labs do in terms of both money and research prestige.
Analogous to how a strong domestic economy has impeded a need for better English education and international business skills.
Many of the journals are essentially pay to play -- join an organization, present at the conference, write a paper for the proceedings that is not completely absurd (slight absurdity is ok), ship $100, and you will get published.
There are journals that are more rigorous, and getting into these at last once is often a key to better employment, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule. Furthermore, I would say that most of the work published in the competitive domestic Japan journals would not be publishable abroad both due to limited impact as well as (in some fields) questionable methodology.
As a simple example of the low quality that I found in some journals, many academics were unable to interpret standard t-tests correctly in their evaluation of their research. It brought a tear to my eye.
And now they're stuck with the debt associated plus the ongoing cost of maintenance.