Japan’s Excruciating, Inevitable Economic Decline and Korea

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This Is NOT An Personal Vendetta Against Japan, Nor The Japanese
Let’s get this straight. Japan has accomplished the near-impossible. No natural resources, surrounded by no allies to speak of, and thousands of miles away from the largest developed markets, Japan had, at one time, grown to the second largest economy in the world, with less than half the population of the U.S., the world’s largest economy. But things change, and the decline of Japan is akin to the train wreck that no can help but to watch. The Seoul Gyopo Guide has pointed this out on many occasions. And while the Japanese language is easy for native Korean speakers to learn, this blog has stated that learning Japanese is a huge waste of time.

This Is NOT An Personal Vendetta Against Japan, Nor The Japanese
Let’s get this straight. Japan has accomplished the near-impossible. No natural resources, surrounded by no allies to speak of, and thousands of miles away from the largest developed markets, Japan had, at one time, grown to the second largest economy in the world, with less than half the population of the U.S., the world’s largest economy. But things change, and the decline of Japan is akin to the train wreck that no can help but to watch. The Seoul Gyopo Guide has pointed this out on many occasions. And while the Japanese language is easy for native Korean speakers to learn, this blog has stated that learning Japanese is a huge waste of time.

Japan’s Inexorable Economic Decline Continues
Recently, some headlines have grabbed the attention of the Seoul Gyopo Guide. One, here at CNBC.com, points out the decay of the Japanese manufacturing sector. From electronics to automobiles, Japan’s decline has been relatively swift. Perhaps most punishing of all, Sony, the standard-bearer of Japanese excellence, has become a second-class citizen in the technology world. To readers of this blog, these articles are not news at all. A very strong Japanese Yen, coupled with an aging population that doesn’t demand the absolute best features in its products, add up to a very unsavory combination. Where innovation is king, Samsung and Apple now carry the torch. Thirty years ago, Sony was the unparalleled, unchallenged leader. Their slogan at that time? Sony. The One and Only.

Lessons For Korea
Korea and Japan share a very complicated relationship. Love, hate, and envy are just a few words that can be used. Hallyu stars are enormous in Japan. Kara et al probably spend more time in Japan than Korea. It makes sense; Japan still has a population more than twice the size of South Korea’s. It has been said that the economic revelations in Japan usually exhibit themselves in Korea a decade later. Fortunately, this has not been the case so far. Beaten down by the Asian currency crisis, and IMF involvement, Korea has avoided the over-expansion that has plagued the Japanese banking system. That said, there are certain similarities. The first of those is the unwieldy corporate structure of the chaebol is similar to the conglomerate structure of Japan. The second is that the Korean population is rapidly aging. So while in the past, Japan has been a model of sorts for Korea, now it is merely a model of what to avoid, and not what to become.




1 thought on “Japan’s Excruciating, Inevitable Economic Decline and Korea”

  1. Re: Japan’s Excruciating, Inevitable Economic Decline and Korea

    I would totally disagree with you that that the Japanese language is "useless to learn" because the Japanese economy is faring bad. I think learning just about any language in the world is an enriching and rewarding experience, which enables the learner to gain a deeper understanding of a new culture, and so forth.

    I think what has really crippled the Japanese manufacturing competitiveness was the insulated, protectionist Japanese market in the 1980s, which failed to keep up with competition. The bubble of the 1980s, of course, popped, and the yen eventually gained significantly in value, further crippling the competitiveness of exporters. I think Korea will escape this pitfall because it has been opening its economy more and more, and manufacturers are forced to keep up with international trends and competition, if not stay a head above them constantly. Hence the recent FTA with the EU and now with the U.S.

    I also think that ironically, Japanese culture has also a lot to do with their failure to keep up with innovation and creativity. The Japanese corporate culture and management structure are notoriously resistant to change and old-fashioned. Employees have also been found to be notoriously weak in decision-making since they always, without exception, have to refer to their superiors for the smallest of the decisions to make. Their superiors, in turn, have to refer to their own superiors, and this goes on and on.

    Reply

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