It’s the three Gs of gender, generation and a global mindset that can take forward the idea of ‘new capitalism’ as proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to address inequalities and redistribute wealth, said Dr. Nancy Snow, Distinguished Visiting Professor and Advisor in the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University. A Fulbright alumnus and a resident of Japan for the past seven years, Dr. Snow discussed a number of missing links in Kishida’s plan during a fireside chat at Nomura Investment Forum Asia 2022.
“Japan’s largest natural resource is the underutilized talent of the Japanese female,” said Dr. Snow, adding that while goals set under the previous Shinzo Abe administration to advance women garnered initial excitement, there was little progress at the infrastructure level to make them substantive. One such goal, of increasing the ratio of women in management roles to 30% by 2020, was pushed back by a decade to 2030.
Emphasizing the need for substance over rhetoric, she said Japanese women doubting themselves was one of the missing links to achieve Kishida’s new capitalism. They don’t have relatable role models in Japan and are hesitant to speak up and demand more gender equal roles. As a result, some Japanese women are choosing to leave. “Japan is on the precipice of losing productivity, a talent base that will leave Japan. Some will not return but become foreign direct investment elsewhere. That’s a brain drain Japan cannot afford.”
A lack of economic participation and political empowerment for Japanese women is another missing link towards gender equality and advancement. Dr. Snow believes that Japanese women who elect to go overseas are gender diplomats because they represent the face of the global Japanese woman taking on gender biases and stereotypes. She called for more dialogue and research to understand why women are exiting Japan. “This isn’t knee-jerk feminism. This is about the bottom line. It’s just good business,” she said.
Deficits at the global level
Japanese universities also represent a missing link, according to Dr. Snow. They are not doing enough to prepare young people for the global economy, or the type of foreign policy being promoted by the Kishida administration. The “deficits Japanese universities and institutions of higher learning have at the global level” stem from them not having a curriculum of public communications which is standard in many other parts of the world. That’s why Japan sometimes struggles to communicate effectively at the international level.
“Japan is increasingly standing tall on the international stage. It is the world’s second-largest, democratic, capitalist economy, and it reinvigorated its national brand image very effectively under Abe.” Given its position on the global stage, effective communication is critical, she said.
Bridging the link across generations
It is important to link the next generation with the current elder generation through mentor-mentee relationships and coaching, said Dr. Snow. Part of this, she said, is increasing the current retirement age of 65 so that young people don’t lose critical connection points with older people who have wisdom to share. “Kishida’s plan lacks that soul, that heartbeat of society where people want to get involved,” said Dr. Snow, who believes there is a mountain of generational wisdom that is not being effectively utilized.
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