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  • Japan's decreasing population

    Japan's population fell by over 250,000 last year.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120418a9.html

    What I don't understand is that if so many baby boomers are retiring and there are relatively few young people around, why is the job market for graduates reported as being so bleak? Japan's economy is not doing well, but it's not doing any worse than the US or Europe.

    Any explanations?

  • #2
    Originally posted by cucashopboy View Post
    Japan's population fell by over 250,000 last year.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120418a9.html

    What I don't understand is that if so many baby boomers are retiring and there are relatively few young people around, why is the job market for graduates reported as being so bleak? Japan's economy is not doing well, but it's not doing any worse than the US or Europe.

    Any explanations?
    Globalization... all of those jobs that are not needed by the aging and controlling managers in companies - are being sent overseas whenever the nature of the job allows....

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by cucashopboy View Post
      Japan's population fell by over 250,000 last year.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120418a9.html

      What I don't understand is that if so many baby boomers are retiring and there are relatively few young people around, why is the job market for graduates reported as being so bleak? Japan's economy is not doing well, but it's not doing any worse than the US or Europe.

      Any explanations?
      It is part way in a cycle. Now, companies are retooling, cutting the fat, letting attrition help them. Factory jobs, however are diappearing overseas. Gradually, there will be full employment again and later a shortage if immigration isn't changed. From my semi-inside track, I know that the well educated grads are doing all right (though there seems to be an excess of IT grads and not enough positions).

      But look at the unemployment in the USA and Europe, it is far higher than here. So if you have been used to almost full employment, 7 or 8% seems pretty bad. Moreover, the number quality of well paying jobs available is decreasing here.
      Last edited by Super Grover; 2012-04-18, 04:11 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm currently in Canton for a trade fair. I have noticed that there seems to be no shortage of highly qualified Japanese economic refugees in China. They seem to put up with the ever-present smog and the lower salaries. The ones I have met don't want to return home to Japan.

        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/bu...-in-china.html

        Japanese Engineers Find New Life in China
        By REUTERS
        Published: April 17, 2012
        DONGGUAN, CHINA \ Their technical skills helped Japanfs corporate giants sweep all before them in the 1980s, and now thousands of aging Japanese engineers are finding a new lease on life in a booming China.

        gMy profession is going out of business in Japan,h said Masayuki Aida, a 59-year-old who made molds for a Tokyo-based company for 30 years but has spent several years in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in the Pearl River Delta in southern China.

        With the near-incessant noise of car horns and a pervasive smell of chemicals, the dusty streets of industrial Dongguan are a far cry from Tokyo or Osaka. Construction sites dot the city while beggars clutching tin cans approach cars at intersections.

        For Mr. Aida and many like him nearing the national retirement age of 60, the choice was simple: Face a few years without an income as Japan raises the age at which employees get their pension, or work for companies in Hong Kong or mainland China.

        gPeople arenft making products in Japan anymore,h said Mr. Aida, who makes molds for products like toys, earphones and coffee machines. gI wanted to pass on to younger generations all the knowledge and technology about molds I had obtained.h

        For Japan, marred by two decades of economic stagnation, the little-reported exodus of engineers means rival Chinese firms are getting an injection of the technology and skills behind gmade in Japanh products.

        Japanese government data show that 2,800 Japanese expatriates live in Dongguan, a city of more than eight million.

        gFrom Japanfs perspective, emerging countries are getting a free ride of the benefits we nurtured. So yes, it is a problem,h said Yasushi Ishizuka, director of the intellectual property policy office at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

        Japan suffered its first technology brain drain about 20 years ago, when South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics poached scores of frontline semiconductor and white goods engineers from big Japanese electronics firms.

        Since then, South Korean electronics manufacturers have bounded into the global top ranks, helped along by that transfer of technical knowledge.

        Japanese technology giants, meanwhile, have floundered.

        Sony, Panasonic and Sharp \ Japanfs three main TV manufacturers \ are expected to have lost $21 billion between them in the fiscal year that ended March 31, partly because of Korean competition.

        Many of the Japanese engineers finding a second life in China do not have the expertise in cutting-edge technology that would deal another crushing blow to Japanese manufacturers, analysts say, but the long-term impact could be severe because they will give Chinese manufacturers the skills to make high-quality goods efficiently.

        China has pushed its own companies to innovate, but many experts cite an educational system that prizes rote learning as an obstacle. For many companies, buying talent is the quickest fix.

        gSkills related to production, like making molds, are something that companies obtained after years of trial and error,h said Morinosuke Kawaguchi, associate director at the management consultant firm Arthur D. Little in Tokyo.

        For example, the slightest tweak to a mold could lead to mass production of faulty items, said Mr. Kawaguchi, himself a former Hitachi engineer who used to make household appliances.

        gThis exodus of Japanese engineers will raise the quality of products made by Chinese companies and allow them to produce efficiently,h he added.

        Mr. Aida said the skills of Chinese engineers had improved over the past decade.

        gWhen I first came to China, a product was considered good as long as it didnft fall apart,h said Mr. Aida. gTheyfve caught up rapidly since then.h

        Chinafs exports of higher-valued machinery and electronic products rose 9.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, when they gained 7.6 percent, to $253 billion, according to trade data.

        Stemming the outflow of engineers to Chinese manufacturers appears to be impossible.

        Sany Heavy Industry, Geely Automobile Holdings and BYD said they had employed Japanese engineers to increase their technological know-how. They declined to comment further.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by rainbowtokyo View Post
          I'm currently in Canton for a trade fair. I have noticed that there seems to be no shortage of highly qualified Japanese economic refugees in China. They seem to put up with the ever-present smog and the lower salaries. The ones I have met don't want to return home to Japan.

          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/18/bu...-in-china.html

          Japanese Engineers Find New Life in China
          By REUTERS
          Published: April 17, 2012
          DONGGUAN, CHINA \ Their technical skills helped Japanfs corporate giants sweep all before them in the 1980s, and now thousands of aging Japanese engineers are finding a new lease on life in a booming China.

          gMy profession is going out of business in Japan,h said Masayuki Aida, a 59-year-old who made molds for a Tokyo-based company for 30 years but has spent several years in Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in the Pearl River Delta in southern China.

          With the near-incessant noise of car horns and a pervasive smell of chemicals, the dusty streets of industrial Dongguan are a far cry from Tokyo or Osaka. Construction sites dot the city while beggars clutching tin cans approach cars at intersections.

          For Mr. Aida and many like him nearing the national retirement age of 60, the choice was simple: Face a few years without an income as Japan raises the age at which employees get their pension, or work for companies in Hong Kong or mainland China.

          gPeople arenft making products in Japan anymore,h said Mr. Aida, who makes molds for products like toys, earphones and coffee machines. gI wanted to pass on to younger generations all the knowledge and technology about molds I had obtained.h

          For Japan, marred by two decades of economic stagnation, the little-reported exodus of engineers means rival Chinese firms are getting an injection of the technology and skills behind gmade in Japanh products.

          Japanese government data show that 2,800 Japanese expatriates live in Dongguan, a city of more than eight million.

          gFrom Japanfs perspective, emerging countries are getting a free ride of the benefits we nurtured. So yes, it is a problem,h said Yasushi Ishizuka, director of the intellectual property policy office at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

          Japan suffered its first technology brain drain about 20 years ago, when South Korean companies like Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics poached scores of frontline semiconductor and white goods engineers from big Japanese electronics firms.

          Since then, South Korean electronics manufacturers have bounded into the global top ranks, helped along by that transfer of technical knowledge.

          Japanese technology giants, meanwhile, have floundered.

          Sony, Panasonic and Sharp \ Japanfs three main TV manufacturers \ are expected to have lost $21 billion between them in the fiscal year that ended March 31, partly because of Korean competition.

          Many of the Japanese engineers finding a second life in China do not have the expertise in cutting-edge technology that would deal another crushing blow to Japanese manufacturers, analysts say, but the long-term impact could be severe because they will give Chinese manufacturers the skills to make high-quality goods efficiently.

          China has pushed its own companies to innovate, but many experts cite an educational system that prizes rote learning as an obstacle. For many companies, buying talent is the quickest fix.

          gSkills related to production, like making molds, are something that companies obtained after years of trial and error,h said Morinosuke Kawaguchi, associate director at the management consultant firm Arthur D. Little in Tokyo.

          For example, the slightest tweak to a mold could lead to mass production of faulty items, said Mr. Kawaguchi, himself a former Hitachi engineer who used to make household appliances.

          gThis exodus of Japanese engineers will raise the quality of products made by Chinese companies and allow them to produce efficiently,h he added.

          Mr. Aida said the skills of Chinese engineers had improved over the past decade.

          gWhen I first came to China, a product was considered good as long as it didnft fall apart,h said Mr. Aida. gTheyfve caught up rapidly since then.h

          Chinafs exports of higher-valued machinery and electronic products rose 9.1 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, when they gained 7.6 percent, to $253 billion, according to trade data.

          Stemming the outflow of engineers to Chinese manufacturers appears to be impossible.

          Sany Heavy Industry, Geely Automobile Holdings and BYD said they had employed Japanese engineers to increase their technological know-how. They declined to comment further.
          Thanks for this post. I also know 2 or 3 older guys who receive retirement income and have gone over to China as consultants.
          The last 2 lines of this article are crucial and worrisome. Geely is a HUGE company and if and when BYD really gets going with good cars for all, it could be game over. Scary stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
            Thanks for this post. I also know 2 or 3 older guys who receive retirement income and have gone over to China as consultants.
            The last 2 lines of this article are crucial and worrisome. Geely is a HUGE company and if and when BYD really gets going with good cars for all, it could be game over. Scary stuff.
            Car production in China has practically doubled since 2008. China is now unquestionably the world's largest auto manufacturer. One thing I noticed here is that most cars on the road are pretty new; there are hardly any old cars to be seen. At first I thought China had a vicious "shaken" in place, as is the case in Japan. Creative destruction (to paraphrase Shumpeter) creates jobs - many governments encourage the scrapping of cars after a few years because "its good for the economy." It took some time to realize that locally made cars, even those that are made at foreign-owned plants, are very badly engineered and practically fall apart within a short time. There is no need for 'shaken' in China; most cars here HAVE to be scrapped after a few years because they constantly break down. Shumpeter would roll in his grave if he could see the craziness of it all. I'm looking outside my hotel room window and visibility is very poor because of the smog. It's been this way for the past month that I have been here. I've seen blue sky just twice. Quality control and pollution are huge problems in China. Throwing things away is a way of life. I bought an amazing Chinese made cell-phone, with lots of bells and whistles. It lasted barely 10 hours before dying. This country badly needs Japanese engineers! Maybe they come here, as so many of them do, for the nightlife - it's pretty good.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by rainbowtokyo View Post
              Car production in China has practically doubled since 2008. China is now unquestionably the world's largest auto manufacturer. One thing I noticed here is that most cars on the road are pretty new; there are hardly any old cars to be seen. At first I thought China had a vicious "shaken" in place, as is the case in Japan. Creative destruction (to paraphrase Shumpeter) creates jobs - many governments encourage the scrapping of cars after a few years because "its good for the economy." It took some time to realize that locally made cars, even those that are made at foreign-owned plants, are very badly engineered and practically fall apart within a short time. There is no need for 'shaken' in China; most cars here HAVE to be scrapped after a few years because they constantly break down. Shumpeter would roll in his grave if he could see the craziness of it all. I'm looking outside my hotel room window and visibility is very poor because of the smog. It's been this way for the past month that I have been here. I've seen blue sky just twice. Quality control and pollution are huge problems in China. Throwing things away is a way of life. I bought an amazing Chinese made cell-phone, with lots of bells and whistles. It lasted barely 10 hours before dying. This country badly needs Japanese engineers! Maybe they come here, as so many of them do, for the nightlife - it's pretty good.
              I have been to China at least 10 times. Pollution is awful, thus electric bikes everywhere. The ability to afford cars is fairly recent, so few old ones are on the road. The foreign cars are okay -- some. BUT, in China such a car costs big big bucks. I believe that China will continue to evolve -- quickly. We have toyed with the idea of living in China after our work here is finished, but the pollution is beyond bearing. If Geely and BYD improve as fast as, say, Hyundai, OUCH, we will be buying those cars. I have thought about investing in BYD, but it is still rather early.

              I am not overly concerned about Japan's declining population. It'll be what it will be, but hardly a catastrophe. More urgent is the dark attitude of so many people. There isn't a lot of optimism here.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
                I have been to China at least 10 times. .
                You must like it! But for the pollution and the human rights situation, China is an excellent place.

                The markets here are pretty Darwinian. Forget regulations, the corporate regulators here are more corrupt than the companies they are supposed to police. The same with the business press, not that I can read Chinese. As for accounting standards......don't ask! Large companies make a pretence of following GAAP. The reality is somewhat different.

                Last year, I visited the Shenzhen stock exchange and spoke to one of their senior economists. I was chasing data on company insiders. He looked at me sheepishly and said "I know what you want. I know every other major exchange overseas provides this information. But here in China things work differently. "

                As for timing: at the current time, if you look at the two main Chinese exchanges' marcap vs GDP ratios, things APPEAR to be as cheap as 2005. But this is China, its full of surprises. I've stopped looking at the local indexes, the components are chopped and changed regularly and its hard to make any sense of it all.


                Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
                We have toyed with the idea of living in China after our work here is finished, but the pollution is beyond bearing. .
                Do it for a year and se how you like it. I'm told places like Yunan are relatively unpolluted.


                Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
                I have thought about investing investing but it is still rather early.
                Automakers are never easy to understand. Maybe you can do a Peter Lynch. He got into Subaru when it listed in the US in the early 80s. I am told it went up 30 fold. He did equally well with Chrysler, although that play would have felt a lot riskier back then.

                Do you follow the China listings in the USA? What a mess! Even the insiders don't seem to know what they are doing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
                  I am not overly concerned about Japan's declining population. It'll be what it will be, but hardly a catastrophe. More urgent is the dark attitude of so many people. There isn't a lot of optimism here.
                  I am very surprised you would say this. You don't think there might be a correlation between the two? I certainly do.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rainbowtokyo View Post
                    I am told it went up 30 fold.
                    Are you sure you didn't just read it? You aren't trying to two-up anyone here, are you?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Only 250,000?!? No wonder I still can't get a seat on the morning subway!

                      When will the first wave of baby boomers kick the bucket?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Call_It_Like_Eye_See_It View Post
                        Only 250,000?!? No wonder I still can't get a seat on the morning subway!

                        When will the first wave of baby boomers kick the bucket?
                        The population pyramid shows a bulge in the population of 60-64 year olds, so maybe another 20 years. The population in Tokyo grew by 0.2% last year, so the metropolises seem to be maintaining their populations for the moment, so no free seats for a while!

                        By the way, thanks everyone for the interesting and enlightening replies.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ozzijp View Post
                          I am very surprised you would say this. You don't think there might be a correlation between the two? I certainly do.
                          And thus the value of open discussion. I think that we are in a down cycle (of course), but we will come out of it with enough jobs for young folks. I think Japanese are not cheery by nature (can I write that?? well I did!), but now they are particularly dark. I think due to the awful government, inevitable taxation, and THEIR core belief that things are just the way they are and can't be changed. I think pessimism is more a function of a belief that their lives won't get better -- referring to older people like myself -- more than any connection to a declining population. I realise this is simplistic, but I have more work to do today!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Super Grover View Post
                            And thus the value of open discussion. I think that we are in a down cycle (of course), but we will come out of it with enough jobs for young folks. I think Japanese are not cheery by nature (can I write that?? well I did!), but now they are particularly dark. I think due to the awful government, inevitable taxation, and THEIR core belief that things are just the way they are and can't be changed. I think pessimism is more a function of a belief that their lives won't get better -- referring to older people like myself -- more than any connection to a declining population. I realise this is simplistic, but I have more work to do today!
                            I think the media play a major part in this pessimism, if the yen is strong, it's a problem, Japanese companies can't compete. If the yen is weak, it's a problem, imports are expensive, whereas both are opportunities. The TV news seems to cover a huge number of human interest (tragedy) stories of families particularly hit by the tsunami or other random acts of destruction, with plenty of close-ups of crying and destruction, followed by sports players saying they will try their best and a bit of hanami or whatever the seasonal thing is to cheer people up at the end. The message is that as a Japanese person, you will suffer and you must try your best and endure. I'd be pessimistic too.

                            Rant over.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cucashopboy View Post
                              I think the media play a major part in this pessimism, if the yen is strong, it's a problem, Japanese companies can't compete. If the yen is weak, it's a problem, imports are expensive, whereas both are opportunities. The TV news seems to cover a huge number of human interest (tragedy) stories of families particularly hit by the tsunami or other random acts of destruction, with plenty of close-ups of crying and destruction, followed by sports players saying they will try their best and a bit of hanami or whatever the seasonal thing is to cheer people up at the end. The message is that as a Japanese person, you will suffer and you must try your best and endure. I'd be pessimistic too.

                              Rant over.
                              I see this daily in colleagues and a fair few students, but of course most students are okay (as they should be).
                              At our meetings, suffering and lack of ________ (insert as required on the day) is portrayed as the norm. There is a lot of what I view as dysfunction here. Anyway, that is not "news" at all, is it?

                              Definitely, the strong yen is a problem more than it is a boon (though I am enjoying it!).

                              Comment

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