In my previous opinion column, I noted that companies should conduct reforms without treating employment as a sacred cow. Companies are not obligated to protect employment. It is true that companies need to sustain the Japanese virtue of community-type management as a natural prerequisite, because that links directly to their strength; but when the surrounding environment is this turbulent, demand for the ability to adapt rapidly to change is placed on them. And in these circumstances, companies may not be able to preserve lifetime employment.
Companies essentially believe that they cannot guarantee lifetime employment. They have a short lifecycle that some would explain with what they call the Thirty-Year Company Theory. Such people consider it impossible for a company to guarantee employment that lasts much longer. The economy did happen to achieve long-term, stable growth from after the war up to the present day, but this might have been a plain miracle. Under the current Internet revolution and global competition, the winner-takes-all/loser-loses-all process occurs at a much greater speed.
In such a state, each and every individual needs to think on his own and measure his own market value objectively. He must judge where the company he belongs to is headed while checking that his skills are not out of date. He himself must continue to develop skills required for the next age, or else he can never guarantee his own employment. The company does not guarantee your job; your own efforts guarantee your job.
We basically have to acquire employment/jobs on our own through individual efforts, while society supplies the safety net. When each and every citizen adapts to change and demonstrates his value, employment/jobs will come. It’s your life; you basically need to be responsible for it. Complaining to the government won’t do anything. Government finance can collapse as well. You basically have to acquire your job with your own efforts, firing up that indomitable spirit.
The collective state of such individual efforts is what produces the national power of this country called Japan. A national system that allows individuals to slack off will not compete against countries with stricter systems, like South Korea and China. Tax or social systems that punish people who are trying hard or producing value are inconceivable. Japan needs to enforce a system that makes individuals try harder, or else the entire nation will never achieve growth.
But this will require new industries that will create such employment. And the people who create such industries and new employment are the innovators. Proactively capitalizing on the explosive growth potential of innovators is, in fact, what I believe offers the quickest solution. That’s why I am expending my full efforts and GLOBIS’ resources on developing such human resources and creating new industries.
In the next opinion column I’d like to take up the topic of innovators.
March 4, 2010