For Something More Relaxing

  • There is a place which has
  • a long history of around 1,800 years,
  • a mild climate all year around,
  • and few natural disasters.
  • Let's Stroll around Okayama, Japan!
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  • No War! Peace in Ukraine! Defend Democracy against Wanton Demolition!
  • No War! Peace in Ukraine! Defend Democracy against Wanton Demolition!
  • No War! Peace in Ukraine! Defend Democracy against Wanton Demolition!

Okayama on Map of Japan

    Getting to Okayama

  • - By Shinkansen (Superexpress Nozomi) -

    Shinkansen From Tokyo Station: approx. 3 hr. 15min.
    From Shin-Osaka Station: approx. 45 min.
    From Hiroshima Station: approx. 35 min.
    "Japan Rail Pass" available for tourists making a short stay in Japan. For more information, visit "JAPAN RAIL PASS."
    Hello Kitty Shinkansen decorated with images of Hello Kitty runs almost every day between Shin-Osaka and Hakata on the Sanyo Shinkansen line. It makes one round trip a day.
    Free Wi-Fi service available at several places in Okayama Station, such as the Shinkansen gate and waiting rooms, and the concourse for the conventional lines on the second floor. For more information, visit "West Japan Railway Company".

  • - By Expressway Bus -

    bus From Shinjuku Station in Tokyo : approx. 10 hr. 15 min.
    From Kansai International Airport in Osaka : approx. 3 hr. 35 min.
    From Hiroshima Station : approx. 2 hr. 35 min.
    Ryobi Bus operates expressway bus routes from Okayama to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and some other cities in Western Japan.
    For more information, visit "Ryobi Bus".

  • - By Air -

    airplane From Tokyo (Haneda Airport) : approx. 1 hr. 15 min.
    ( approx. 30 min. from Okayama Momotaro Airport to Okayama Sta. by shuttle bus )
    ( approx. 35 min. from Okayama Momotaro Airport to Kurashiki Sta. by shuttle bus )
    Free Wi-Fi service available at Okayama Momotaro Airport. For more information, visit "Okayama Momotaro Airport".

What's Going on This Week ( February 20 to 26, 2023 ) ?

Hina Dolls at the reunion at Annex of Nozaki's Historical Residence

Kurashiki Haruyoi Akari, or Kurashiki Spring Light Festival, is held around Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter near Kurashiki Station from February 18 to March 12. Back-lit windows and kiriko-cut lanterns are decorated and displayed at night, producing a dreamy atmosphere. The Kurashiki Channel on shops, restaurants, storehouses with white earth and mortar walls running through the area is decorated with illuminated Japanese umbrellas. The courtyard of Kurashiki Ivy Square is ornamented with Japanese lanterns.

In Kojima region, Ohina Dosokai, or "Hina Dolls at the reunion," takes place between February 25 and March 12 in a large room covered with 100 tatami mats in the annex of Nozaki's Historical Residence named Taikado, which is usually not open to the public. Nozaki's Historical Residence is located by Jeans Street, the birthplace of Japan's first domestically-made jeans.

Inside Japan

Happiness Levels

March 20 falls on the International Day of Happiness, whose resolution the U.N. General Assembly passed in 2012. The U.N., on March 18, announced the World Happiness Report that the international organization has released every year since 2012. The report is extensive investigations targeted at 146 countries and regions. The variables are subjective well-being of people, in addition to six factors as GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, social support(whether there is anyone who will help in trouble), perceived freedom to make life choices, generosity(charitable donations), and perception of corruption. The ranking is based on the national averages during the past three years, between 2019 and 2021 for the 2022 version. Finland has been ranked the happiest country for five consecutive years.

Japan placed 54th, the lowest among G-7 nations(Italy is the second-lowest and ranked 31st.) Factors of perceived freedom to make life choices(74th) and generosity(127th) of Japan are significantly low despite healthy life expectancy being high(1st).

As for perceived freedom to make life choices, the pressure to conform to the rules, customs, and the majority is strong in Japanese society and hard to resist. The pressure makes it hard to enhance the personal ability to choose. The pressure is observed in school regulations. Some pointless school rules require students to wear only white underwear or/and to have a specific hairstyle. People try to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity. It is called “uncertainty avoidance.” In countries where the tendency is strong, authorities have established many codified rules and regulations, including conventional ones, to enhance predictability. Japan is one of the countries with high uncertainty avoidance. People in Japan often act following orders and autocratic systems in preference to self-decision. One theory says 70 % of life satisfaction by region is determined by reliability between residents. People require regulations in societies without confidence and cohesion or want to make them. Professor Christian Bjørnskov revealed his finding that the life satisfaction of people who trust friends is 0.5 points out of ten higher than those who do not. The degree of 0.5 points is as same as the degree when you get married to your ideal partner. Many Japanese companies follow the hierarchy. As a result, employees at young ages or with low status have few environments to state their opinions freely. Research on the stress of employees said that employees felt pressured when there was nothing to do to influence the contents and flows of their jobs and they were struggling in a hierarchy. According to a survey by Japanese universities, self-decision made a heavy impact on happiness over income and academic history.

A study by James H. Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, American scholars, analyzed that no strong correlation exists between the changes of indicators used to measure present happiness, such as inequality of income, homicide rate, and life expectancy, and the shifts of the GDP. The same applies to the changes of indexes used to measure future happiness, such as the debts of households, fixed assets for production, and premature mortality. Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman, a winner of the Novel Prize in Economics, announced that happiness increased in proportion to an increase in income and continued to be flat after peaking at an annual income of 75,000 dollars.

OECD reported in How's Life? 2020 Measuring Well-Being that 36% of people in 28 OECD countries available data remain financially unstable. They face a high risk of falling into poverty from unemployment, family breakdown, or disability. In other words, they lack liquid assets for making more than three months of their lives above the poverty line. Over half of the populations in Latvia, Greece, Slovenia, New Zealand, Chile, and Poland fall under the case. By contrast, only 4% of Koreans and 15% of Japanese people fall into this. But South Korea is ranked 59th and Japan 54th in the World Happiness Report 2022, compared with New Zealand 10th. The other countries except Greece are higher than Japan. Some people with high income have a higher level of happiness. Matthew Killingsworth of Princeton University unveiled his finding that people in higher-income households are achieving well-being through their high gains because of the feeling that they control their lives by themselves, not because of earnings themselves. Japan is low in generosity due to the low participation rate in volunteer and charity. OECD indicates people in countries with a high score of interpersonal trust scale engage in volunteer activities, trust the police, and have a high proportion of women among legislators and low degree of corruption in public sectors.

Many Japanese people have lost self-respect because of competing pressures from society. Low self-esteem causes a low level of subjective happiness in Japanese people. A large number of people suffer severe stress and develop inferiority feelings for those around them. Japanese children are half-compelled to get results, enroll in a good university, and work in a large company. Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, developed by Social Psychologist Geert Hofstede, can be used as a framework to understand the differences in culture across countries, identifying six dimensions of cultural values. One of the dimensions is the masculinity vs. femininity dimension. Masculine societies consider achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material rewards for success much more valuable than cooperation, modesty, caring for the weak, and quality of life. Japan is extraordinarily high in masculinity. People have to win the rat race.

Cabinet Office of Japan revealed the results of an awareness survey of youth aged between 13 and 29 in seven countries, including Japan, performed through the Internet. Japan has a lower percentage of youth who feel positive about themselves than Sweden, Germany, France, the U.K., the U.S., and South Korea. The score is 45.8%, half of the U.S.(86.0%) ranked first. Japanese young people play few active roles in uncertainty, compared with those in the other countries, with a high proportion of young fellows who feel gloomy and have no bright hope for the future. Japanese young people have a somewhat lower level of satisfaction and secure feeling with their friends than those in the other countries. A survey showed that a majority of respondents indicated that people need relationships worthy of being respected, great working environments, and open, fair treatments together with challenging tasks to feel happy in their workplace. A wireless network of mirror neurons in our brains creates an emotional state in us based on observation of others, allowing us to feel empathy. Negative emotion spreads widely through emotional contagion across all the society.

Mass media have covered how low Japan ranks in the World Happiness Report every year. But the media and the government have never informed plausible analytical finding why Japan was ranked so low in public. They have treated it as nothing serious for us.

*Reference Sites:

  • Days Of The Year. International Day of Happiness.
  • World Happiness Report. (2022, Mar 18). WHR 2022 | CHAPTER 2 Happiness, benevolence, and trust during COVID-19 and beyond.
  • Helliwell, John F.; Huang, Haifang; Wang, Shun; Norton, Max. (2022, Mar 9). Statistical Appendix for “Happiness, benevolence, and trust during COVID-19 and beyond,”. Chapter 2 of World Happiness Report 2022.
  • Hofstede Insights. National Culture.
  • CFI Education. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory: A framework used to distinguish between different national cultures and cultural dimensions, and their impact on a business setting.
  • Kobe University. . 'Self-decision Raises Happiness rather than Income and Academic History, A Survey by 20,000 Respondents'. Research at Kobe. .
  • Reuters. (2010, Sep 9). Can money buy happiness? Maybe, up to $75,000.
  • OECD Library. '2. Income and Wealth'. How's Life? 2020 : Measuring Well-being. .
  • Penn Today. Money matters to happiness—perhaps more than previously thought.
  • Cabinet Office. . Special Topic, Consciousness of Young People Living in the Present: What You Will Know from Global Comparisons
  • Achor, Shawn; Gielan, Michelle. (2015, Sep 2). . Make Yourself Immune to Secondhand Stress. Harvard Business Review. .

*Reference Book:

  • Boom, Maike van den. (2016, Jul). In Nine Weeks through 13 Countries. (T. Azegami Trans.). Shueisha International.
  • OECD(Ed.). (2021, Jan). How's Life? 2020 Measuring Well-Being. (M. Nishimura Trans.). Akashi Shoten.

March 19, 2022

Joint Guarantors

Japanese parents have warned their children never to be joint guarantors who are sureties as severely responsible as principal debtors. This guarantor system is a uniquely Japanese custom. Once you become a loan surety, the system may put you in financial ruin even though you have not borrowed a simple yen. In Japan, loaners usually demand to get cosigners to tenants, mortgage borrowers, car loan borrowers, and debtors such as privately-owned companies.

The joint surety system peculiar to Japan has some distinctive features counting heavily against guarantors. Loaners have a legal right to demand repayment to either the principal debtor or one of the sureties first. When the leading debtor defaults on payment, a lender can call upon a joint guarantor to repay the debt even if the premier borrower has repayment capacity. If there is more than one guarantor, each bears the responsibility for the full repayment, not an equal share. Most Japanese financial institutions require debtors to get sureties with these features, rentai hoshou-nin in Japanese.

Japan had never reviewed codes on credit and debt in the Civil Code enacted in 1896 for about 120 years. The Japanese lawmakers finally amended them in 2017, and the law took effort in April 2020. A wide range of articles has changed in the revised Civil Code. Under the previous law, a third person can be a joint surety for a company without any written official statement. As a result, many people became joint guarantors for their friends or relatives. It caused a lot of tragedies that joint sureties fell into personal bankruptcy or led to suicide. Japanese law was more likely to protect organizations than individuals and lenders rather than debtors. Meanwhile, many banks offered loans without careful consideration when business was good, as in the bubble era in the late 1980s. Under the new Civil Code, principal obligors have to disclose financial information to the guarantors of credit unrelated to the business. The guarantors have the right to ask leading debtors to make a disclosure anytime.

Most presidents of privately-owned companies of Japan have to co-sign for their companies when taking out loans. Small and medium enterprises(SMEs) in the Japanese industry have accounted for around 99.7 percent. Following the collapse of the bubble era, many unlisted companies with high specific skills or technologies went bankrupt, including chain-reaction bankruptcies, and the management who were co-endorsers went under to pay off the loans. Consequently, most former company presidents have lost chances to re-start their business despite having high professional skills. Many financial institutions survived though some of them merged. But many high levels of skills that privately-owned companies had disappeared.

Business succession is also one of the most serious problems owners of Japan are facing. Business successors have to fall heir to the position as joint guarantors with a controlling interest in the company. Many families such as children tend to refuse business succession because it is too risky for them. A leading business research company reported that 61.5% of SMEs have no business successors. According to a survey in 2021 by Japan Finance Corporation, more than 50% of small-business owners plan to close their business when retiring, even supposing that they have surpluses, and nearly 30% of them expect to get out of business due to difficulty of finding successors.

The Guidelines on Proprietor Guarantees went into force in February 2014. The touchstones are independent guidelines that the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Japanese Bankers Association established and are unenforceable. The applicants must satisfy all or some of the requirements to receive financing or loans without proprietor guarantees; the owners shall ensure the separation of management and ownership in corporate governance, the companies shall have the debt-paying ability just through their assets and profits, the borrowers shall disclose financial information to the lenders in a timely and appropriate manner. Under certain conditions, debtors can keep 990 thousand yen or 8.7 thousand US dollars of free assets at the time of bankruptcy, some living expenses for subsistence, and a less decorative house. In addition, when there are remaining amount of guarantee liabilities borrowers cannot repay with their assets upon fulfillment of guarantee obligation, the debtors can be exempt from the repayment of the rest.  

SME Agency revealed that the average ratio of new finance without proprietor guarantees by governmental financial institutions was 45%, that by private financial institutions was 30%, and that by credit guarantee association was 30.1% in the first half of 2021. Many financial institutions, especially regional banks, still require joint guarantors.

OEDC exhorts SMEs and entrepreneurs in OECD countries to broaden the range of financing instruments available to keep playing their role in growth, innovation, and employment. The international economic organization recommends improving comprehension of the full range of financing instruments accessible in various circumstances and discussing new approaches with stakeholders. An OECD's working party on SMEs and entrepreneurs has long recognized the limits of traditional debt financing. Traditional bank finance has not responded enough to the different financing requirements that SMEs meet throughout their life cycle and has not sustained the most dynamic firms, particularly innovative and fast-growing companies and SEMs seeking international expansion. OECD reported that SMEs have widely used asset-based finance(ABF). It is a financing instrument on the security of assets, including accounts receivables, inventory, machinery, equipment, and real estate. ABF includes leasing and factoring. Asset-based lending(ABL), developed in the U.S., is spreading in countries with sophisticated and efficient legal systems and advanced financial expertise and services, especially in European countries, pledging current assets, such as movable assets and accounts receivable. It provides more flexible terms than collateral-based traditional lending. ABL helps reduce the information gap between lenders and debtors by assessing and monitoring the creditworthiness of the assets. However, ABL is not known among general people in Japan. Crowdfunding has been expanding its financing share for profit-making activities and businesses such as specific projects despite a much minor share of financing. Private equity investments have developed around the world considerably over the last decades. Venture capital and angel investing have offered new financing opportunities for innovative, high-growth potential start-ups, mainly in high-tech fields. Association for Financial Markets in Europe also encourages raising finance from a variety of financial sources. It reported many SMEs used leasing as a means of financing asset purchases. The assets are effectively used as loan securities with lower interest rates, more favorable financing terms than unsecured loans. Many countries in Europe have introduced special programs for smaller growth companies issuing bonds, and they trade bonds throughout the programs. Designing and establishing effective regulations and increasing transparency in the markets are priorities to boost the development of alternative financing instruments for SMEs.

Research conducted in July 2020 that allowed multiple answers reported that 50.5% of SMEs in Japan raised funds from financial institutions, followed by 47.4% of self-financing of management, 32.1% of subsidies, and 12.8% of bond issues. Financial institutions are the largest sources of funding for Japanese SMEs. Other financial instruments, such as crowdfunding, and factoring, are less than 6% each. The presidents of the SMEs replied that 40.6% of them, 12.4%, 11.8% cared about receiving funds from crowdfunding, venture capital, and factoring, respectively. A Study revealed the total ABL commitments by Japan's lenders were 775.6 billion yen or 6.8 billion US dollars in fiscal 2018. On the other hand, those by the U.S. lenders were 465 billion US dollars in 2018. Fulfilling public funding that carries the risk of non-performing loans, shortage of a wide range of third-party assets evaluation companies with high specialty, and lack of storage control system in many SMEs remain primary obstacles to the spread of ABL in Japan. The Bank of Japan reported total household financial assets, usable to invest in business, came to nearly 200 billion yen or 1,760 million US dollars as of September 2021. Japan needs a large scale of structural reforms in the debit field. University of Cambridge Judgge Business School reported the scales of fund-raise by crowdfunding in the U.S. and the U.K. in 2018 are proximate, and that in Japan is one-fortieth of them. OECD informed the total investment value by venture capital to GDP in Japan as of 2016 is 0.03%, the second-lowest among G7 countries, following 0.01% of Italy as of 2017. The U.S. is the highest, accounting for 0.40%, followed by Canada, 0.18%, as of 2017. National Venture Capital Association of the U.S. said the total investment of venture capitals of Japan in 2020 was 150 billion yen, down more than 30 percent compared to the year before, whereas that of the U.S. was 16.7 trillion yen, up more than 10 percent. On top of these, Japan's private financial institutions are severe to finance ventures and new businesses. They look like marketers targeting middle and old-aged people rather than youths with more consumer appetites.

Most Japanese people have a strongly negative image of financing due to the psychological impact caused by the words of joint guarantors, rentai hoshou-nin.

*Reference sites:

  • Saitama Kyosai. (2013, June 6). Important Notice about Risks of Joint Guarantee Contracts. Kyosai Dayori No.588.
  • Ministry of Justice. Concerning Law Amending Part of Civil Code(Amendments of Claim Acts).
  • Ministry of Justice. Civil Law Rules on Credit Guarantees Change Considerably on April 1st, 2020.
  • The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency. Briefing about 2021 White Paper on Small and Medium Enterprises in Japan.
  • Teikoku Databank. (2021, Nov 22). Survey of Rates of "No Successor" in SMEs(2021).
  • The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency. The Guidelines on Proprietor Guarantees.
  • OECD. (2015, Feb). New Approaches to SME and Entrepreneurship Financing: Broadening the Range of Instruments.
  • Association for Financial Markets in Europe. (2015, Sep). Raising finance for Europe’s small & medium-sized businesses: A practical guide to obtaining loan, bond and equity funding.
  • PR TIMES. (2020, Aug 4). [We conduct questionnaires to 1,030 managers!] Do you have anybody you can ask for advice on financing and cash flow problems sincerely?.
  • Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Report on Results of Survey on Various Fund-Raising Methods of Enterprises.
  • ABL Advisor. (2019, Mar 8). First-of-Its-Kind Study Dimensions $4T U.S. Secured Commercial Finance Market.
  • Jiji Press. (2021, Dec 20). The total amount of personal financial assets of Japan reaches 1999.8 trillion yen, the highest level ever, because of higher stock prices at the end of September 2021.
  • Financial Services Agency. (2021, Apr 21). Report on Results of Survey on Facts and Regulations  about Supply of Risk Money of Major Powers..
  • Cabinet Secretariat. (2021, Mar 17). Basis of the Council on the Growth Strategy(the eighth meeting), International Comparison of venture capital investment(to GDP).

*Reference Book:

  • Kinjo, Aki. (2011, Dec 20). Introduction to ABL(Asset Based Lending) for Companies: New Method of Raising Funds through Lending Based on Movable Property and Accounts Receivable. Nikkei Business Publications

January 25, 2022

Updated on January 30, 2022

Status Quo Bias

Japan held the general elections to the House of Representatives on October 31, and the result of the elections was announced on the same day. The Government parties won a majority against expectations. People in Japan have been frustrated with the government and the ruling parties because of constant political scandals and their irrelevant anti-COVID-19 measures. Many people expected a change of government. But, as it turned out, almost no change occurred.

Decision-makers facing a complex decision often stick with the status quo bias that is an emotion-based bias that makes people feel the present state of things to be preferable over any change. It is preferred because we perceive any shift from the current condition as negativeness or a loss. This situation leads to inertia.

The status quo bias is closely related to other psychological phenomenons such as loss aversion and regret avoidance, both of which influence decision-making. Potential losses from a change loom larger than equivalent potential gains. Tversky, and Kahneman, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, estimated a loss aversion parameter of 2.25. In other words, many people value losses 2.25 times more than their equivalent gains. Loss-averse people feel the pain of losing $100 to be as psychologically powerful as the pleasure of gaining $225. In the face of new evidence suggesting that past decisions are not the best for a decision-making strategy, loss-averse individuals continue to support the stale determination. A feeling of regret for bad choices can also lead us to the status quo choice. The decision-makers feel great regrets for terrible consequences resulting from new actions than for similar bad outcomes brought about by inaction. Therefore, they prefer inaction over action. This tendency is known as a form of decision avoidance.

Status quo bias has been maintained because it facilitates decision-making, especially when uncertainty is high or the phenomenon of choice overload occurs. When people decide whether they must choose between the default option and its alternatives, the status quo or the current baseline is taken as a reference point, something to fall back, to reduce the stress of having to make a decision. More complex tasks, higher uncertainty, and larger choice sets tend to make worse decisions because of less mature consideration.

One of the most familiar examples explaining the power of the status quo bias is the default option for registration systems of organ donation programs. The participation rates in the programs are powerfully affected by how the default policy is because the requirement to opt-in or opt-out makes large-scaled differences in the meaning that people attach to participation. The participation rates in average countries with an opt-out system exceed 90%, and those in ordinary opt-in countries fall below 15%. In opt-out countries, such as Austria and Singapore, the default is to be an organ donor. It is considered that people are willing to donate their organs after death unless they have previously stated otherwise. In opt-in countries, such as Germany and Japan, people have to sign up to be donors. In the case of donation, alternatives impose physical, cognitive, and emotional costs on those who must change their status. It is easier for a cooperative participant to be previously registered as a potential organ donor in an opt-out country than in an opt-in country.

Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory developed by Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede is used as a framework for classifying national cultures. Hofstede's model consists of six categories that define culture: Power Distance Index, Collectivism vs. Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Femininity vs. Masculinity, Short-Term vs. Long-Term Orientation, and Restraint vs. Indulgence. Uncertainty avoidance measures the degree to which the members of a society feel uncomfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity and view them as a threat. People in communities that score high in uncertainty avoidance prefer to minimize the unknown through strict rules, regulations, and elaborate preparations for any uncertain situation. In such societies, an act of taking the initiative is not welcome. Conflicts are regarded as a threat to human relations, not as a way of problem-solving in a new or uncertain situation. People in societies that score low in uncertainty avoidance more openly accept the unknown and keep rules and regulations to a minimum. The highest uncertainty avoidance rates are seen in Latin America, such as Guatemala(98) and Uruguay(98), Mediterranean countries, such as Greece(100) and Portugal(99), Russia(95), Japan(92), and South Korea(85). Low uncertainty avoidance rates are shown in Singapore (8), Hong Kong(29), Viet Nam(30) and China(30), the Anglo-Saxon countries, such as the United States(46), the United Kingdom(35), Ireland(35), Canada(48), and the Scandinavian countries, such as Denmark(23) and Sweden(29).

Japan measures 92 in Hofstede's model, recognized as one of the most uncertainty avoiding countries in the world. The high score is attributed to the constant threat of natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons. That explains why Japanese people have a remarkable tendency to prepare for any uncertain situation. The human drive to avoid uncertainty is seen in that changes are difficult to realize in Japan.

Japanese people who prefer the status quo have succeeded in suppressing the number of confirmed coronavirus cases by keeping the rules to minimize risks, such as wearing a face mask. On the contrary, the status quo bias can be used against any innovation.

Fukuoka District Court identified a suicide that a high school girl had committed four years ago due to being bullied on November 25. The school and Fukuoka Prefecture have not admitted bullycide although they have recognized bullying. Not only the school but also so many schools in Japan have denied school-bullying cases. Some education critics allege that directors are afraid that rating is going down at their personnel evaluation if they admit. It is hard to find out bullying and solve the problem. Schools and related organizations have to address the issues on a case-by-case basis. Bullying issues include more complex tasks and higher uncertainty. These conditions lead us to the status quo bias. Many issues Japan is facing are suffering from the status quo bias. They include the issue of imperial succession, gender gaps, and measures against the coronavirus. Few first penguins are observed in Japan. In addition, a few first penguins have not come back to Japan like many capable scientists after jumping into the water. The converse is also true. Distinguished first penguins from other countries have not tried to cross the ocean to Japan.

*Reference sites:

  • Academy 4SC. Status Quo Bias: If It Ain’t Broke, Why Fix It?.
  • Indo, Kenryo. Programming Prospect Theory in Prolog in Economic Bulletin. Vol. 45. Kanto Gakuen University.
  • Samuelson, William; Zeckhauser, Richard. Status Quo Bias in Decision Making. Scholars at HARVARD.
  • The Decision Lab. Why do we tend to leave things as they are?.
  • The Decision Lab. Why do we have a harder time choosing when we have more options?.
  • Scientific American. (2016, Jul 1). What Is Loss Aversion?: Russell A. Poldrack, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, replies.
  • Davidai, Shai; Gilovich. Thomas; Ross, Lee D. (2012, Sep 4). The meaning of default options for potential organ donors. National Institutes of Health.
  • Reality Check team. (2017, Sep 10). Organ donation: Does an opt-out system increase transplants?. BBC News.
  • Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory. What is the Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory?. CFI Education Inc.
  • Hofstede Insights. Country Comparison.
  • Project “Wielkopolska Common Cause”. (2020, Aug 17)– Cultural differences – avoiding uncertainty.

November 7, 2021

Updated on December 2, 2021

Servile Labor

“Trafficking in persons” refers to “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” “The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” was adopted at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2000 and entered into force in 2003, giving the first common international definition of "trafficking in persons.” Japan signed it in 2002 and accepted it in 2017.

The U.S. Department of State reported in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report that traffickers of sending countries and Japan have abused the Japanese government-operated Technical Intern Training Program (TITP) to exploit overseas-based technical intern trainees. Japan has received unceasing reports of abuse and forced labor among TITP participants under government sponsorship and almost every year's proposal to Japan to improve the treatment of foreigners on the program. But authorities have taken no action to identify any trafficking case or victims in TITP. Although it is common knowledge that there is forced labor within the TITP program, the government did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any persons violating labor standards laws and regulations within the TITP program. The ministry of labor informed that sending labor standards inspectors conducted 8,124 inspections of TITP workplaces in 2020, finding 5,752 employers of TITP participants, or 70.8 percent of those inspected, violating the labor laws. Although the Labour Standard Bureau referred 36 cases to prosecutors for investigation in 2020, the government did not reveal whether the referrals were for labor trafficking crimes. Authorities have been reluctant to protect victims of trafficking within the TITP. The government did not even try formally to identify victims. According to the government, 8,000 TITP participants disappeared from their workplaces in 2020. Some were considered escaping from exploitative or abusive conditions and were likely unidentified victims. Authorities went on arresting and deporting TITP participants who fled from their workplaces. Some labor contracts included illegal automatic repatriation clauses for the intern trainees who became pregnant or contracted illnesses while working in Japan. Besides, the bilateral agreements between sending countries and Japan on TITP are useless to prevent from payment of unreasonably high fees to intermediary agencies in their home countries, which has caused debt-based human trafficking in TITP participants. Japan is also taking a passive approach to the ILO Convention on Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the Field of Work. International laws have priority over domestic laws but the Constitution.


The Technical Intern Training Program was established as a formal program in 1993 to transfer industrial and vocational skills, technologies, or knowledge from Japan to developing countries and regions and promote international cooperation by contributing to the development of human resources to be effectively utilized for economic and industrial development in the areas. The Technical Intern Training Act says in Article 3, Paragraph 2 that a fundamental principle of the program is that technical training shall not be conducted as a means of adjusting labor supply and demand. That means the program is not allowed to use to solve Japan's labor shortage at a low cost. Japanese labor-related regulations are applied to the overseas-based trainees just like Japanese nationals except during the lecture period after they enter Japan. Host organizations have obligations to give the same treatment as that Japanese employees to the trainees. Technical intern trainees must receive no less remuneration than Japanese nationals for the same jobs. The training period is a maximum of five years. With the resident status of Technical Intern Training No. 1, technical intern trainees can acquire fundamental skills and abilities at an accepting organization during the first year after entering Japan and taking lectures. The trainees who have passed the basic level of the national trade skills test will obtain the resident status of Technical Intern Training No. 2 and can keep training to acquire more advanced skills for two more years. Technical intern trainees who have completed the three-year intern training can step up to the resident status called Technical Intern Training No. 3. It allows them to continue the training for another two years after a short return to their home country if they have passed the advanced level of the national trade skills test. Technical Intern Training 3 can be given only under excellent implementing and supervising organizations. The trainees can choose from 156 operations in 85 job categories, including agriculture, textile, and construction work, as of March 16, 2021.

There were 2,576,622 mid-to-long-term residents and 309,282 special permanent residents such as Koreans and Chinese people who have resided in Japan since before World War II, and their descendants, adding up to 2,885,904 foreigners registered as residents in Japan as of the end of June 2020. Statics of the residence status found that the number of people with "Technical Intern Training" was the second-highest at 402,422 or 13.9%, followed by that with Permanent Resident with 800,872, or 27.8%. According to the Ministry of Justice, the highest number of technical intern trainees by nationality was 208,879 of Viet Nam, after 63,741 of China and 34,459 of Indonesia. More than half of TITP participants were from Viet Nam. Until 2015, China was sending the highest number of technical interns.

The memorandum of cooperation on the Technical Intern Training Program says the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan and the ministries concerned of a sending country shared the view that the purpose of the Technical Intern Training Program is to transfer technical skills, techniques and knowledge to the sending country, to contribute to the human resource development by which the development of the economy of the sending country would be led and thus to promote international cooperation. Many ministries of Japan are deeply related to the program, so the ministry that shall be ultimately responsible for the performance and results is not identical. The Ministry of Justice reported in a survey conducted between January 2017 and September 2018 that 5,218 TITP participants had disappeared from their worksite because of fraudulent acts on the program by their host organizations. They pleaded guilty at hearing by immigration control officers to mistreating them, with offenses, including minimum wage violation and illegal overtime. Immigration Services Agency of Japan reported in March 2021 that the number of victims of human trafficking, including sexual services and forced labor, who received protection in 2020, was just eight. All the victims were female Filipinos.

As mentioned earlier, there are many cases where TITP participants bear a large number of expenses required for commissions and guarantee deposits as a means to prevent their disappearance during the training period by sending organizations. Sending agencies and accepting organizations are prohibited to burden technical intern trainees other than necessary expenses, including guarantee deposits and penalties. In Viet Nam, many intermediary agencies collect nearly one million yen, around 8,900 US dollars as of October 10, 2021, of guarantee money from trainee candidates. In the country, 25% of the population earns less than 9,240,000 VND, about 400 US dollars per month as of October 10, 2021. Most TITP participants come from poor rural areas. The total amount of the expenses paid to the agencies is at least equivalent to the wages of 22 months. The Technical Intern Training Program-related business is growing fast in the country. But Korea eliminated intermediary exploitation. In 2004, the Korean government launched a new system of accepting foreign workers, called a work permit program, to be responsible for the receipt. Companies with less than 5 Korean nationals are usually not able to sponsor foreign employees at the program. There is no intern training program in Korea. It is appropriate to exclude brokers that disregard the rules while stabilizing the supply of workers. Seoul now places its government offices in sending countries to secure fairness in the system. In Japan, employers force intern trainees to work overtime. However, no employer can make employees, including technical intern trainees, work overtime without agreements under Article 36 of the Labor Standards Act. The act is a document concluded between an employer and a labor union or a group representative organizing more than half of the workers to allow the employer to have the employees work overtime. In the first place, why do the intern trainees need to work overtime? Even for the Japanese, the Article 36 Agreement amounts to a virtual admission that companies can force their employees to work without rational reasons and corporate efforts for a long time. Is it possible to eliminate long working hours in Japan? Some European countries, such as Germany, have been characterized by labor policies protecting workers, including shorter working hours, and have higher per capita GDP, compared with Japan. Most intern trainees are doing simple jobs. The program aims to transfer industrial and vocational skills, technologies, or knowledge from Japan to developing countries and regions and to promotes international cooperation by contributing to the development of human resources. Being engaged in simple jobs for a long time is beside the purpose. It would be easier to do in their home countries in cooperation with NGOs or JICA or with online training. It can be government-based fraud if authorities know that there is forced labor within the TITP program and the situation has almost not improved.

The International Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in December 1948 by the United Nations to establish an international system to secure human rights, rather than depending on each state. Some of the international human rights instruments that the UN has adopted contain an individual complaints procedure in each Optional Protocol, which is a mechanism where an individual, whose rights under the international human rights treaties are violated but can not be recovered by any relief system in the country, such as by going to court, can directly submit a petition to human rights treaty bodies for relief. Japan has not yet accepted the procedure. Likewise, there are national human rights institutions that allow the right to petition for human rights relief, whatever nationality is to anybody living in the country in 118 countries, including Korea, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, across the world, but not in Japan, as of August 3, 2021.

The UN and the US Department of State are demanding tackling human trafficking problems in TITP participants more seriously from Japan. It emerged that TITP participants had been made to be engaged in radioactive decontamination work at Fukushima in 2018. No technical intern trainee can choose a workplace. Some implementing and supervising organizations of Japan claim that many industries, including agriculture, cannot exist without the trainees, and related products would be sold at much higher prices. It can't be justified to sacrifice the foreign trainees to live a rich and comfortable life and buy products and services at lower prices. Is this happening in Japan? Global clothing brands, including Uniqlo, are criticized for selling goods produced through suspected forced labor in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and many users join the calls for boycotts. Although Japan's mass media report on political and economic scandals in Korea on a large scale, they handle human trafficking in TITP participants on a much smaller scale.

Support Organizations for TITP Victims

Japan National Federation of Labor Unions Osaka : (Nine languages available) TEL : 06-6949-0005

Facebook Foreign Technical Intern Trainees Sien :

Catholic Commission of Japan for Migrants, Refugees and People on the Move :

Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees : TEL : 03-3836-9061

Lawyers' Network for Foreign Technical Intern Trainees : (written in Japanese) TEL : 03-6427-5902, 052-414-5901, 011-231-1888

NPO POSSE : Vietnamese and some other languages available.

*Reference Sites:

  • United Nations Human Rights Office of The High Commissioner. Human rights and trafficking in persons.
  • The United Nations. (2000, Nov 15). 12. a) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
  • U.S. Department of State. (2021, Jul 1). 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report: Japan.
  • NHK World-Japan. (2021, Sep 12). 70% of firms with foreign trainees violate law.
  • Prime Minister's Office of Japan. (2021, Jul 1). Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons (Annual Report).
  • JTUC-RENGO: Japanese Trade Union Confederation. (2021, Jun 25). RENGO Statements and Views: Statement on the Entry into Force of the ILO Convention on “Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work”.
  • Japan International Trainee & Skilled Worker Cooperation Organization. What is the Technical Intern Training Program?.
  • Organization for Technical Intern Training. 9. Application of Laws and Regulations. Technical Intern Trainee Handbook.
  • Organization for Technical Intern Training Program. Technical Intern Training Program.
  • Immigration Services Agency of Japan. (2020, Oct 9). Number of foreign residents as of June 2020 (Reiwa 2).
  • Ministry of Justice. Memorandum of Cooperation on the Technical Intern Training Program between the Ministry Of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan and the Ministry Of Labour, Invalids And Social Affairs Of Viet Nam.
  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. (2019, Dec 19). Japan: Ministry of Justice's investigation into missing foreign trainees uncovers illegal employment practices.ères-actualités/japan-ministry-of-justices-investigation-into-missing-foreign-trainees-uncovers-illegal-employment-practices/
  • The Immigration Services Agency of Japan. (2021, Mar 31). Press release: Victims of human trafficking (sexual services, forced labor, etc.) who received protection in 2020 (Reiwa 2).
  • Japan International Training Cooperation Organization. Technical Intern Training Program: Operative Manual for Sending Organizations.
  • salaryexplorer. Average Salary in Vietnam 2021. .
  • The Mainichi. (2018, Nov 26). Editorial: Japan can learn from S. Korea over foreign worker policy.
  • shieldgeo. Immigration & Work Permits.
  • The Japan Federation of Bar Associations. (2019, Oct 4). Resolution Requesting the Implementation of an Individual Complaints Procedure and the Establishment of a National Human Rights Institution.
  • United Nations Human Rights Office of The High Commissioner. (2021, Aug 3). Chart of the Status of National Institutions // Accredited by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.
  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. (2018, Mar 14). Japan: Foreign ‘interns’ doing radioactive decontamination work at Fukushima.

*Reference Book:

  • Sunai, Naoko. (2019, Mar 20). Servile Labor: Truth of  Vietnamese Technical Intern Trainees. Kadensha

October 10, 2021

Updated on June 5, 2022

Statue of Eiichi Shibusawa

"Ethical Capitalism: Shibusawa Eiichi and Business Leadership in Global Perspective," published in 2017, describes study results on the business philosophy of Shibusawa, who was an entrepreneur called the "father of Japanese capitalism," that morality and economic activity can be linked, and public interest should come first before profits. The Lehman Shock in 2008 unveiled the darker side of western-style capitalism. After that, some economists in western countries were looking for a replacement. Eight researchers from and outside Japan kick around Shibusawa's doctrine from economic points of view and historical perspectives.

Shibusawa was born as the only son of a wealthy farming family in a village lying to the north of Tokyo in 1840. He had learned the Analects of Confucius from his cousin since he was seven years old. After joining the movement advocating reverence for an emperor and the expulsion of foreigners, pursued by the shogunate and wandering from place to place, he began to work for Yoshinobu Tokugawa, who later became the last shogun, when he was 24 years old. He followed a brother of Yoshinobu as a member of the shogunate's mission to Europe in 1867 and cultivated his horizons by getting knowledge of up-to-date technologies and social systems such as capitalism, mainly in France. After studying in Europe for a year and a half, the party returned to Japan because of the collapse of the shogunate. Following his career in the Ministry of Finance in disorder, Shibusawa started working as a private business person. He contributed to founding about 500 private companies, mainly in finance, transportation, and communications, and some 600 social welfare organizations. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his significant contribution to international peace at a nongovernmental level in 1926 and 1927.

Shibusawa compiled the contents of his lectures into a book, the Analects of Confucius and the Abacus, to disseminate commercial morality to foster trust, and issued it in 1916. At that time, it was said that the acts of Japanese merchants were based on fraud. It was different from France's commercial policies Shibusawa made a model. He said traders had little knowledge compared with samurais. After the Meiji Restoration, dealers with low social status were dazzled by greed due to drastic modernization and internationalization in Japan. As a result, many worshipers of Mammon appeared. An experience in London where he traveled with his wife triggered the publication. He was shocked when a man in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in London claimed that Japanese traders were unfaithful to their word. The British man remarked that Japanese traders, for example, did not receive goods readily in bad times while they took merchandise soon in good times. In addition, Japanese merchants asked sellers to issue a receipt twice to evade tax. Unfortunately, it reminds us of the current situation in Japan. Last June, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation announced that internal investigations found fraudulent acts, just in the middle of a Covid-19 storm and a dispute over whether the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be held. With fictional data produced by automatic creation programs, the company tampered with inspection data of part of air conditioners and air compressor units for railroad vehicles and submitted inspection certificates with rigged figures to some clients. Research revealed that the misbehavior had lasted for more than 35 years. The inspection scandal also affects pieces of equipment on about 2,600 cars out of 6,400 cars in New York City's subway fleet. Additionally, the 100-year-old firm stated on August 17 that injustice in pre-shipment inspections, spanning 25 years, was uncovered at its factory manufacturing electric switch gears in Kagawa Prefecture. The electric company announced on July 28 that Senior Vice President Kei Uruma took over as its president and CEO. The new president said he would seriously work on changing the company's culture. Although Japan and other countries accused the company of cheating, they seem to lack a sense of crisis. They do not put themselves in cheated another's shoes, as contrasted with Japan Airlines. The carrier filed a petition for protection with the court under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law in 2011 and engaged outside personnel, Kazuo Inamori, who is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and the founder of Kyocera and KDDI, as head of the declining flag carrier of Japan. Skytrax ranked Japan Airlines as the 11th best in the World's Best 100 Airlines for 2019. It is said Townsend Harris, a US diplomat in the 19th century, labeled the Japanese as the biggest liars on earth. The electric company announced on May 25, 2022, that outside lawyers issued an interim report on additional 101 dirty deeds. The number of improper checks totals 148.

Before the new 10,000 yen banknote featuring Shibusawa, which will appear in 2024, was introduced in 2019, few Japanese knew him even though he was the person who led Japan's industrialization. Most Japanese people have never learned about him at school. It implied that indicates the fact that Japan has given little consideration to commercial morality. Luckily, there is his name in recent history textbooks.

Shibusawa was skilled in the art of persuasion. Tokio Marine Insurance Co., Ltd. (the predecessor of Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd., and the first insurance company in Japan) was founded through his untiring efforts in 1879. At first, people around him, including Yukichi Fukuzawa, an enlightenment thinker, and Yataro Iwasaki, a founder of Mitsubishi Commercial Company objected his plan. Iwasaki schemed to monopolize shipping businesses and gave up establishing his own marine insurance company by Shibusawa's persuasion. Shibusawa had difficulty in finding capital investors. He spotted cooperative funds collected for the foundation of a railway company from nobles and ended up having nowhere to go. He persuaded the former feudal lords who were not knowledgeable about the financial protection against losses to invest in the insurance company. His art of persuasion brought him business success, whereas many leaders at that time took what they wanted by force.

At the Lehman Shock, the U.S. Congress faced a "too big to fall" issue because it would pull the trigger to harm the global economy. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 entered into force to minimize the economic damage, resulting in paying government bailout money to some finance companies, including AIG. Although Shibusawa contributed to the foundation of about 500 private companies, he did not form a zaibatsu, a Japanese-style financial and industrial conglomerate. He received pay only from the first bank in Japan he founded, except the yields on his shares, which were invested as capital for new businesses. He also had the business philosophy that fair competition was necessary for the sane growth of industries and cooperations, and total monopoly caused harm to society.

In sharp contrast to Shibusawa, Iwasaki expanded his business with the relentless pursuit of profit. One day, Iwasaki approached Shibusawa with the idea of creating a monopoly by themselves in the Japanese market at a teahouse with 15 geisha girls. The father of Japanese capitalism refused the proposal. Two years later, he and his supporters that stood to be financially hurt by Mitsubishi founded a shipping company to prevent Mitsubishi's monopoly in the marine transportation business. Their fierce competition ended up corporate merger after Iwasaki died of stomach cancer at 50. Shibusawa dedicated himself to philanthropy after his retirement and died at 91. Iwasaki's ambition has been achieved to a certain extent. The Mitsubishi Group, formerly Mitsubishi Commercial Company, is a giant engaged in various industries, from finance, marine transportation, and rocket business to trading in daily necessities. The group comprises over 4,500 companies, including some large sponsors in mass media, with 7.7% sales of all the companies listed on the Stock Exchange as of March 2020. The total sales exceed those of Walmart. However, that has impeded the inclusive growth of Japanese industries. He praised Shibusawa's significant contribution to the nurture of human resources, unlike Iwasaki acting oppositely to his people.

The portrait of 10,000 yen notes is scheduled to change from Yukichi Fukuzawa, who highly evaluated Yataro Iwasaki, who has been behind monopoly capitalism in Japan, to Eiichi Shibusawa, who developed the concepts of ethical capitalism. Is it a sign that may cause changes in Japan's capitalism or just a coincidence? Capitalism is producing dysfunction. Ethical capitalism could be the best agent of change to be welcomed by people in the world, including Japan. It would be incredibly hard for Japan, which has a strong influence by Mitsubishi Group, to realize ethical capitalism.

*Reference Sites:

  • Shibusawa Eiichi Digital Mueseum. (2021, Apr 21). Introduction of Eiichi Shibusawa.
  • Shibusawa Eiichi Memorial Foundation. (2021, Jun 25). Name Change Charts of Companies and Organizations Related to Eiichi Shibusawa.
  • FNN Prime Online. (2021, Jul 2). 20% of Employees knew Inappropriate Inspections?...Cheating Scandal of Testing at Mitsubishi Electric's Factory in Nagasaki, President announced his resignation.
  • JIJI COM. (2021, Jul 1). Camouflage Programs, Everyday Business Practices at Mitsubishi Electric since 1980s.
  • Hoyama, Taisei. (2021, Jul 9). NYC demands more info on Mitsubishi A/C in 2,600 subway cars: Japanese company has admitted to falsifying inspection data. Nikkei Asia.
  • Skytrax. (2019). World's Top 100 Airlines 2019.
  • Kenton, Will. (2021, Jul 21). Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) of 2008.. Investopedia.
  • New World Encyclopedia. Mitsubishi.
  • Toyo Keizai Online. (2020, Mar 16). Unknown Identity of The Mitsubishi Group: An Organization with 870,000 People; Distinguished Zaibatsu with 150 Years of History Still Closely Tied. Toyo Keizai Inc.
  • macrotrends. Walmart Revenue 2006-2021 | WMT.

*Reference Books:

  • Moriya, Atsushi. (2020, Dec). Introduction of "the Analects of Confucius and the Abacus" of Eiichi Shibusawa. NHK Publishing
  • Kikkawa, Takeo. (2014, Feb). Eiichi Shibusawa in Global Capitalism: Gappon Capitalism and Morality. Toyo Keizai Shinposha
  • Shimada, Masakazu. (2014, Feb 13). Chapter 1 Gappon Capitalism of Shibusawa Eiichi: Formation of Unique Market-Oriented Model. Kikkawa, Takeo, and Fridenson, Patrick(Eds.). GAPPON Capitalism: The Economic and Moral Ideology of Shibusawa Eiichi in Global Perspective. Toyo Keizai Shinposha
  • Hunter, Janet. (2014, Feb 13). Chapter 5 "Obtaining wealth through fair means": Putting Shibusawa Eiichi's Views on Business Morality in Context. Kikkawa, Takeo, and Fridenson, Patrick(Eds.). GAPPON Capitalism: The Economic and Moral Ideology of Shibusawa Eiichi in Global Perspective. Toyo Keizai Shinposha

July 25, 2021

Updated on May 29, 2022


A former U.S. president, Barack Obama, described in his memo to the heads of federal agencies that democracy required accountability, and accountability required transparency in January 2009. Obama revoked the Bush regime executive order that severely restricted public access to presidential records from Ronald Reagan forward and provided the ability to cease and retard the release of the records for former presidents and vice presidents as one of his first official acts. He signed the Freedom of Information Improvement Act of 2016 to create an unprecedented level of openness in the government. It encourages accountability through transparency.

In marked contrast to actions by the Obama regime, the Japanese former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been suspected of concealment and falsification of official documents and data. People attribute suicide an official at the Ministry of Finance committed as one of his unlawful actions. His wife made a disclosure request for memorandums that described the fraudulent acts. At first, the government refused to reveal their existence. Finally, the defendant mentioned submitting the evidence at oral proceedings on June 23, 2021. But many people do not doubt that crucial points will be blacked out. On December 17, the government suddenly changed course and ended the lawsuit. The defense admitted responsibility for his death and ensured they would pay the compensation of over 100 million yen, or about 940,000 dollars. As a result, the widow became unable to get to the bottom of the matter. The rights of the issue have been shrouded in darkness. In addition, the state will pay the compensation from tax revenue. Many people are on the wife's side, but people, not the people concerned, will compensate her for her damages through tax revenue. It can be a bad precedent for plaintiffs who accuse authorities of the inadequacy of explanations in the future.

Accountability is setsumei sekinin in Japanese, which means “responsibility to explain.” Many Japanese people think accountability refers to the duties of persons concerned to explain their actions and decisions. An opinion poll conducted in early June showed that 12% of the survey participants, the 3rd most among candidates with a strong candidate of the next generation, except nonresponse, said Sinzo Abe was appropriate to be the next president of the Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 ranks Japan as the 19th most incorruptible country among 180 countries and territories.

People and mass media claim that the prime minister and the government should account for reasons why Japan has to hold the Tokyo Olympics under the coronavirus pandemic in the face of general opposition. Many medical specialists say it is unusual to do large-scale global events when vaccination does not proceed in Japan and the world.  People are unsatisfied with the actions and decisions of the prime minister because he does not fulfill his accountability enough to convince us. He has to be responsible for his actions and decisions. Moreover, he should ultimately be answerable to them and accountable for the performance of his duties. Open and trustworthy persons take responsibility for the outcomes of their actions and decisions. First of all, we know Tokyo Prefecture is their host but, we cannot identify who is ultimately responsible for the outcomes of the international events because the government and the Olympic Organizing Committee are behaving like a host without responsibility. Historically, Japan has tended to avoid clarifying where responsibility lies. For example, we do not know who was responsible for the Second World War. Many Japanese believe that full responsibility lies with the military, not Former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. But which person in the military was accountable? Secondly, there is no clear explanation and justification of the actions and decisions of the authorities concerned in their presentation. The government has not cited figures based on scientific evidence for public assessment. Without appropriate information, we cannot identify why they acted in that way and how they arrived at their decisions. Lastly, the government keeps ignoring things that would be unfavorable to them or public assessment of their actions. The Novel Coronavirus Expert Meeting has not worked well due to the government's egoism. It seems the government aims at all's well that ends well by increasing doses of vaccines.

The Parliament of New Zealand founded the Epidemic Response Committee, chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, on March 25, 2020. It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Health gave information as requested to the opposition majority parliamentary committee that checked the responses to the COVID-19 epidemic with a high level of transparency and accountability. The committee meeting lives streamed on Parliament’s website, and social media were available when hearings were on public view, and people can easily view their on-demand versions. New Zealand topped the list of the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020, along with Denmark. The country has a female prime minister, and nearly half of cabinet ministers are women.

Norway ranks at the top of the list in the Sustainable Governance Indicators 2020 in terms of executive accountability with systems used to maintain watchful eyes. On the other hand, Japan takes 27th place in the lower-middle range. The Norwegian governments value the legislative right for the public to access information. Norway is a high-trust society. Citizens have high trust in government, and government authorities display a higher degree of mutual trust than those in many other countries. In Japan, people believe the government is one of the most treacherous organizations. The Nordic country is one of those that achieved the highest rates for the most female ministers, including the prime minister. Women account for more than 44% of all ministers.

Public accountability has been dubbed the hallmark of modern democratic governance. There is, admittedly, an absence of public accountability in Japan's administrations. Can we recognize Japan as a modern democratic country? Moreover, national transparency perception is one of the cultural factors that considerably influence the development of the whole innovation cycle that causes continuous innovation at a national and corporate level.

*Reference Sites:

  • Commerce.Gov United States Department of Commerce. (2016, Jun 6). Freedom of Information Act.
  • Great Lake Law. (2009, Jan). President Obama and the new EPA Administrator send a message on government openness and accountability.
  • White, Lee. (2012, Sep 1). TRANSPARENCY, DECLASSIFICATION, AND THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY. Perspectives on History.
  • Public Citizen. (2001, Nov 5). New White House Order on Secrecy of Historical Presidential Records Is Unlawful, Bush Administration Officials Should Be Made to Explain Actions to Congress,Public Citizen Says.
  • TBS News. (2021, Jun). JNN Opinion Poll: Who is appropriate to be the next president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party?.
  • Transparency International. (2021, Jan 28). Corruption Perceptions Index.
  • Shkabatur, Jennifer. Transparency With(out) Accountability: Open Government in the United States. Yale Law & Policy Review.
  • New Zealand Parliament. (2020, Mar 30). COVID-19: What is the Epidemic Response Committee?.
  • UN Women. (2021, Mar 10). Press release: Women in politics: New data shows growth but also setbacks.
  • The Ministry of Health. (2020, May 11). COVID-19 Epidemic Response Committee.
  • Bertelsmann Stiftung 2020. Sustainable Governance Indicators;: Executive Accountability .
  • Wiley Online Library. Balancing Governance Capacity and Legitimacy: How the Norwegian Government Handled the COVID-19 Crisis as a High Performer.
  • Lopes,Ilídio Tomás; Serrasqueiro, Rogério Marques. (2017, Jul 5). The influence of culture and transparency on global research and development intensity: An overview across Europe. ScienceDirect.

June 13, 2021

Updated on December 20, 2021

Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is said Albert Einstein had autism spectrum disorder(ASD). He did not wear socks and removed cuffs from his shirts by cutting them off because he was hypersensitive to texture. Einstein said to have seldom thought in words but thought through visual processing. He was not admitted to ETH Zurich at first because he failed examinations for the college except physics and mathematics. His worst subject was language. The German-born physicist did not like to listen to classes in his school days. After enrolling in ETH Zurich, he often cut classes and spent time at the library. His friend, Einstein's lifelong companion, showed Einstein his notebooks so that the man of great importance in future years could pass examinations to put himself through college.

There are a lot of signs and symptoms showing that a person has ASD. The most commonly known feature is that people with ASD have trouble with verbal and non-verbal communication. Their abilities to learn, think, and problem-solve range from gifted to severely challenged. Albert Einstein was remarkably gifted. However, he could not have drawn out his potential without sympathetic supporters such as the friend at ETH Zurich and better environments like a happy home environment. Einstein had typical signs of ASD. Many autistics are oversensitive to touch, taste, sound, sight, smell, balance, and proprioception(body awareness.) For example, people hypersensitive to sound cannot do without noise-canceling headphones. Some people on the autism spectrum are hyposensitive. They tend to require strong stimuli. Research shows that people without intellectual disability (more than 70% out of all the people with ASD) can be classified into three types by thinking styles: visual thinkers who figure in pictures, verbal/logic thinkers who are good at learning languages, remembering facts, and trivia, and making lists, but devoid of visual skills, and pattern thinkers who excel at music and math. Photo-realistic visual thinkers have the benefit of photographic memory. Like other people, individuals with ASD have their strengths and weaknesses. But, they have an extreme difference between strengths and weaknesses. They become overly absorbed with interest in specific fields.

Individuals with ASD have trouble in auditory processing. It takes autistic people longer to process what they heard verbally. Autistic people have difficulty working out the meaning of speech sound even though there is no problem with hearing. They are characterized by lower-level abilities to process and interpret auditory information. In addition, sounds below 80 dB(HL) are more likely to be distressing for them. Normal conversation is about 60 dB compared to around 90 dB of a lawnmower. These are why children with ASD have difficulty learning in traditional ways. Lectures are still the basis for how teachers give their lessons in Japan.

ASD can be categorized into four subtypes of behavior: aloof, passive, active-but-odd, and stilted. Aloof individuals are unresponsive and uninterested in other people and completely immerse themselves in their world. Passive individuals are not actively involved with others but accept contact initiated by them. Active-but-odd individuals are those who make spontaneous social communication with others. Opposed to the aloof and the passive individuals, this type has much longer vocabularies and uses their language. The stereotypical behaviors of the stilted individual are to be dominant, sticking to rules of social interaction without really understanding them.

April 2 falls on World Autism Awareness Day, recognized by the United Nations, and April is World Autism Month. The period between April 2 and April 8 is observed as Developmental Disorders Awareness Week established in Japan. Leaflet-bearers hand out flyers or leaflets to raise public awareness about ASD and other developmental disorders at Okayama Station on April 4 and at Kurashiki Station on April 2. Okayama Castle, Bitchu Kokubunji Temple, and some other facilities were lit up in blue on some days during the period. But it is doubtful whether it raised the awareness of developmental disorders among many people in such trite ways.

CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network reported that around 1 in 44 or 2.30% of children aged eight years had been identified with ASD in 2018, based on research within 11 communities in the U.S. The institute is tracking information on ASD for statistical purposes and regularly issues its community report on autism which is reader-friendly. Meanwhile, e-Healthnet, a website operated by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, estimated about 1% of the population of Japan has ASD. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology released a report on children with developmental disorders based on investigations conducted in 2012. Research said that regular classes have 6.5% of students with developmental disorders: 4.5% for learning deficit(LD), 3.1% for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), 1.1% for ASD (there is some overlap). It seems there are no continuous official statistics of Japan on autism. A medical study group of Shinshu University publicized the study results that the lifetime cumulative incidence of ASD of five-year-old children born between fiscal 2009 and 2014 was 2.75%, based on open data from National Database, in May 2021. The study showed a steady increase, from 2.23% of children born in 2009 to 3.26% in 2014. Hirosaki University, located in northern Japan, announced in 2020 that 3.22% of children aged five years were found to have ASD by their research data, backing since 2015.

Years ago, some public figures, including a model, identified publicly as those with Asperger Syndrome. At that time, the media often took up Asperger Syndrome. But shortly, newspapers and TV stations lost interest in it like a boom. Recently it began to be featured in a lot of the media. NHK, a publicly-run TV of Japan, has developed a campaign for raising public awareness about developmental disorders, including ASD, and has broadcast some programs about them since 2018. However, many Japanese people still do not know ASD well and see it as merely a mental disability.

In Japan, there is a lot of peer pressure. People are trying not to assert themselves to avoid getting attacked by other people. Many children with ASD become targets of bullying for their unique characteristics at school. Some of them stop going to school and shut themselves in their room. The ministry of education reported in 2020 that an increasing number of children in elementary and junior high school have stopped attending school for the last seven years. In 2019, more than 180,000 children, or 1.9% of the total students, stayed away from school. Research says more than a half of children who refuse to attend school have ASD, including overlap with ADHD. For a long time, these children have received public criticism.

It is said people with ASD are good at problem-solving. It is obvious that they shine at challenging themselves as well. Many physicists who might have ASD, such as Einstein and Newton, challenged new issues other physicists did not recognize, like relative time. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are also said to have autistic tendencies. Steve Jobs created compact computers when all computers were enormous. IBM, HPE, and some other IT companies launched programs to recruit people with ASD. A report by a recruitment company shows that 85% of college graduates with ASD in the U.S. are unemployed, compared to the national unemployment rate of 4.5% before the COVID-19 pandemic, while just 40% of people affected by autism in Australia are employed, compared with 83% of individuals without disorders. In Europe, the unemployment rate of people with ASD in Denmark is between 80% and 90%, which is a similar trend across the rest of Europe, according to the Autism Society in Denmark. People with high-functioning autism who have unique sensibility and abilities, strong preferences, great persistence, and weakness in communication, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, are cut out for start-up entrepreneurs. Japan has been reluctant to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship. The U.S. has led the IT industry in the world and expanded its presence in high technology fields while Japan has fallen behind in the fields compared to the U.S., China, India, and some European countries. Japan has almost ignored the presence of people with distinct characteristics and faculties. Japanese people often use the words, "never experienced before" and "take a wait-and-see attitude," at work.

People say ASD is surging among the children of Silicon Valley in the US. Many IT engineers have a head for figures and are weak in communication. In Japan, a lot of manga artists are considered ASD. Japanese manga and animation are very imaginative, and background scenes are photograph-like.

It is often said there is something abnormal in people with ASD. However, what about those without ASD who often tell lies, bully the weak, stand in other people's way, and try to make war?

*Reference Sites:

  • Autism Speaks. What is autism?: There is no one type of autism, but many.
  • Autism Speaks. Sensory Issues.
  • Autism Together. Autism and the senses.
  • All About Science Japan. (2016, Nov 18). Autism is an essential characteristic to human evolution.
  • Forbes. (2017, Jul 5). Research Shows Three Distinct Thought Styles in People with Autism.
  • Edelson, Stephen M. Auditory Processing Problems in ASD. Autism Research Institute.
  • ABA Solutions. (2019, Aug 27). Auditory Processing Disorder and Autism.
  • University of Rochester Medical Center. Interacting with a Child Who Has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Okayama Prefecture. (2021, Mar 25). April 2 falls on World Autism Awareness Day recognised by the UN. The period from April 2 to April 8 observed as Developmental Disorders Awareness Week ~ conducting awareness-raising activities, and lighting up in blue.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. 2021 Community Report on Autism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Psykiatrien i Region Midtjylland. (2015). Information about Autism in Children and Young People: Diagnosis, what can be done, and quality of life.
  • e-Healthnet. About ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger). Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
  • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology - Japan. 5 About Developmental Disorders.
  • Umenaga, Yuji. (2017, Aug). Challenges for Individuals with Developmental Disorders regarding Work, and Their Specific Measures - Mainly Those with ASD (No. 685). The Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training.
  • Sasayama, Daimei; Kuge, Rie; Toibana, Yuki; Honda, Hideo. (2021, May 4). Trends in Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses in Japan, 2009 to 2019. JAMA Network Open.
  • Graduate School of Medicine of Hirosaki University. (2020, May 28). "Press release" Research shows prevalence of children with ASD aged 5 years estimated over 3%. Hirosaki University.
  • Heart Net. Developmental Disorders. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation).
  • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology - Japan. (2020). Summary of Research Results about Problem Behaviors of Students and Issues on Guidelines in Educating Students, Including Truancy, in 2019.
  • Sanin Rosai Hospital. (2017, May 19). Background of Truancy and Children's Depression.
  • Business Insider Japan. (2019, Nov 21). The U.S. IT companies including Microsoft take great interest in human resources with developmental disorders such as autism. Can Japan dig up buried human resources?.
  • Law Society Gazette Ireland. (2020, Nov. 5). Firms urged to look at neurodiversity.

  • Pesce, Lyn Pesce. (2019, Apr 2). Most college grads with autism can't find jobs. This group is fixing that. MarketWatch.

  • EPIC. (2019, Apr 2). 1 in 70 Australians has autism, and only 40% are employed.

  • Autism Europe. (2020, Sep. 1). Carsten Lassen, CEO Specialisterne Denmark.

*Reference Books:

  • Kumagai, Takayuki. (2015, Mar). Lonely Childhood that produced geniuses. Shinyo-sha
  • Montgomery, Sy; Grandin, Temple. (2014, Apr). Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. HMH Books for Young Readers

April 11, 2021

Updated on August 22, 2022

Gender Equality

Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief Mori's derogatory comments about women, "board of directors meetings with many women take a lot of time," caused chaos both at home and abroad. Media in Japan covered the issue extensively every day. But it seems their concern is whether other countries, advanced western countries, regard Japan as a democratic country rather than sex discrimination itself. There was a clash of opinions on who would be his successor: choosing by abilities, regardless of gender, or replacing him for a woman. In conclusion, Seiko Hashimoto, a former female Olympian at seven Olympic Games and Japan's Olympic minister, has been chosen as the new president of the Olympic Organizing Committee effectively with closed doors, not in the selection panel.

In Japan, people seldom discuss gender discrimination in our daily lives. It comes up when someone famous makes sexist remarks in public like this case, or Japan has been ranked much lower by a global gender equality ranking, like Global Gender Gap Report. Japan has been placed 121st out of the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 rankings.

Japanese men tend to adore ditzy but good-looking young girls. This type of girl is popular in plenty of variety show programs in Japan's television industry, especially in their debut. On the other hand, Japanese show business tends to steer clear of intelligent and ambitious young women. It reflects the trend in the everyday world. Many Japanese men prefer treating women as fragile and airheaded to satisfy their sense of self-esteem. As a result, many women consider mental strength and wiseness unimportant.

Some men say Japanese women are passive in improving their careers. But Japanese girls have not received the necessary and proper education on building their careers at school. Researchers revealed that males were the main characters in 122 out of 170 stories included in Japanese language textbooks used in elementary schools in 2008. It accounted for 71.8% out of all the stories. In the rest of the stories, a female main character or a leading character whose gender was unknown was featured. Stories on only three women's lives appeared in the textbooks, whereas those on seven men's lives were included. As for social studies, 45 people were in the textbooks, but only three females, such as Murasaki Shikibu, were included. There were no females in modern times and later.

In Japan, the power leadership style is still the most common. Despotic leaders are forceful and direct, based on personal dominance and authoritarian behavior. In contrast, many advanced western countries have adopted the democratic leadership style. The shared leadership allows equal participation of team members in the decision-making and problem-solving processes. Women tend to place more importance on relationships with other people. Which comes first, spreading the democratic leadership style in Japan or drastically increasing the ratio of female leaders? Or neither of them?

Dutch social psychologist Geert Hofstede developed a flamework for classifying national cultures, called "Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions Theory," which consists of six categories: Power Distance Index, Collectivism vs. Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Masculinity vs. Femininity, Short-Term vs. Long-Term Orientation, and Restraint vs. Indulgence, based on research to employees working in IBM local subsidiaries in over 50 countries. The "Masculinity vs. Femininity" dimension represents preferences in societies for achievement, competition, and materialism vs. those in societies for teamwork, cooperation, and empathy. In masculine cultures, social gender roles are distinct. Men are supposed to behave assertively, and women are supposed to be more modest and tender. Contrariwise, in societies that are considered feminine cultures, social gender roles overlap. People are concerned with caring for others and quality of life. People in masculine societies are inclined to aim to be the best or a winner, but on the other hand, those in feminine societies are apt to follow their interests. The score of Japan on Masculinity is the highest at 95. Japan is considered a hierarchical, deferential, and traditionally patriarchal society, the most masculine country in 117 countries and regions. We Japanese have believed that our society is good at teamwork, cooperation, and empathy. The result is surprising to us. South Korea, Russia, the U.S., and Sweden scored 39, 36, 62, and 5, respectively.

Fumio Kishida formed his cabinet after he formally took office as the new prime minister of Japan on October 4. Three women were appointed to his cabinet even although two women had been assigned to ministers under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The number of female ministers has likely increased one more because of the public outrage over discrimination against women. However, the number of new female vice ministers is just one out of 26 members.

*Reference Sites:

  • World Economic Forum. (2019, Dec 16). Global Gender Gap Report 2020.
  • Nagata, Mayo. Hidden Curriculum Considerations Seen in Japanese Language Textbooks Used in Elementary Schools - From the Points of Gender and Queer. Hiroshima University Institutional Repository.
  • St Thomas University. (2014, Nov 25). What is Democratic/Participative Leadership? How Collaboration Can Boost Morale.
  • Hofstede Insights. National Culture.
  • Hofstede Insights. Country Comparison.
  • MindTools. Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions: Understanding Different Countries.

February 21, 2021

Updated on November 11, 2021


  1. Lounge about Japanese Gardens & Paths to Celebrate Cherry Blossoms & Other Flowers in Spring!
  2. Enjoy Traditional Dancing Festivals & Beautiful Fireworks, Wearing Summer Kimono in Summer!
  3. Feel Traditional Culture through Holly Shinto Festivals with a Long History in Autumn!
  4. Enjoy Traditional New Year's Events and Fresh Sake Made from Okayama's Sake Rice, Omachi, in Winter!



  • Okayama Tourist Information Office

    Momotaro Tourist Information Center

    2F JR Okayama Station, 1-1 Ekimotomachi, Kita-ku, Okayama City

    (beside the ticket gate of the Shinkansen, or the bullet train)

    9:00-20:00 Open everyday. Temporarily closed until June 20, 2021

    Language: English, Chinese, Korean, French ( using telephone ), and Tai ( using telephone )

  • Kurashiki Ekimae Tourist Information Office

    Kurashiki Ekimae Tourist Information Office

    2F Kurashiki City Plaza, 1-7-2, Achi, Kurashiki City

    (just ahead on the right side when viewed from the south gate side of Kurashiki Station)

    9:00-19:00 (Apr.-Sep.) 9:00-18:00 (Oct.-Mar.), Temporarily closed until June 20, 2021. Closed from Dec. 29 to 31

    Language: English

    Tel: +81 86-424-1220

  • Kurashiki Kan Tourist Information Office

    Kurashikikan Tourist Information Office

    1-4-8, Chuo, Kurashiki City

    (in Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter)

    9:00-18:00 Temporarily closed until June 20, 2021

    Language: English

    Tel: +81 86-422-0542

    A 90-minute regular tour of the area with an English speaking guide is offered, departing from the entrance at 9:30. No reservation is required. A charged tour, whose fee for a private visitor is 100 yen, is also available. A reservation is required and can be made by fax or email. A fax form is available at "Kurashiki Welcome Tour Guides". For more information, visit the site.

  • Kurashiki Kan Tourist Information Office

    TAMANO Tourist Information Center

    1-1-1, Chikko, Tamano City

    (inside Uno Station on JR Uno-port Line)

    9:00-18:00 Closed from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3

    Languages: English, German, French and Chinese

    Tel: +81 863-21-3546

    Rental e-bikes and cross bikes available.