There's no shortage of pundits eager to tell Shinzo Abe how to shake up Japan's economy. Instead of looking to academics for advice, though, the prime minister should get into the trenches with some of the nation's more unconventional corporate heads.
Abe talks, for example, about wanting to make Japanese companies worldlier. For pointers, he should study what Tadashi Yanai has already accomplished at Fast Retailing Co., home of the Uniqlo brand. Yanai has become Japan's richest man -- and the only Japanese on Time magazine's latest 100 most-influential list -- largely because of his success at expanding abroad.
At home, low-cost clothier Uniqlo smartly recognized that deflation was a secular, not cyclical, phenomenon. But going global, Yanai discovered, required two skills at which Japan Inc. has traditionally failed to excel: taking risks and speaking English. Yanai shook up the company's ranks by promoting on merit rather than seniority, and revamped its marketing with edgy ad campaigns. Equally important have been Uniqlo's efforts to tap foreign talent and to hold staff meetings in English, so that executives can perform better overseas.
Abe has nodded toward some of these ideas, promising to bolster English education. But then, so have the last 10 prime ministers. Will Abe actually address what researcher C.H. Kwan dubbed the "Economics of Engrish" back in 2002? Abe could start by challenging Finance Minister Taro Aso, who has suggested that corporate Japan's poor language skills are actually an asset. Japan escaped the worst of the 2008 financial meltdown, Aso has claimed, because its bankers were mystified by subprime loans: "Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English, that's why they didn't buy."
The Japanese government decided on Tuesday to send a mission to Malaysia to cooperate in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet under Japan's law on the dispatch of emergency missions abroad. (Jiji Press )
About 38 miles inland from the plant lies the commercial city of Koriyama, where some of the smallest children barely know what it is like to play outside - fear of radiation has kept them indoors for much of their short lives. (telegraph.co.uk )
At 2:46pm every Japanese television channel paused to remember the dead, cancelling their regularly scheduled programming to show the prayers of Japanese people around the country.
That is, every channel except one. One decided to air Alien: Resurrection instead. (ibtimes.co.uk )
Kochi prefectural police are investigating an incident involving a man who sustained severe injuries after being stabbed several times in the abdomen. Police said they believe the attack is linked to a dispute the victim was having with another man over their children dating. (Japan Today )
Police in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, are investigating the mutilation deaths of three cats whose bodies were left in a park. Two were found dead in February, and the third was found on Saturday. (Japan Today )
Banging on drums and waving "Sayonara nukes" signs, thousands of people rallied in a Tokyo park and marched to Parliament on Sunday to demand an end to nuclear power ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. (scmp.com )
Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )