Specialist or Generalist Education and Careers?

It’s well known in Japan that entry to good universities is fiercely competitive, and then students mess around for four years, sleeping in lectures, putting more effort into club activities than study. As a consequence, the large employers who recruit hundreds of graduates every year mainly assess applicants on character and potential, and treat new hires as “trainees” to be developed, rather than contributors.

The Need to be “Applied” in Japanese Universities

Shigenobu Nagamori, the founder of Nidec is interviewed in the Nikkei Business series on how to “wake up Japan” about his latest acquisition – not a company this time, but a university – Kyoto Gakuen. He feels that Japan has become too brand name obsessed about higher education and that 18 year olds should not have their future decided simply on the basis of their standardised score for the university entry exams.

The Cause of Japan’s Low Productivity

In the Nikkei Business series on how to “wake up Japan, Senior Chairman and former CEO of Japanese leasing and financial services company Orix Yoshihiko Miyauchi sees three mistakes that have led to  Japan’s “lost three decades”:

  • Allowing an asset bubble to develop in Japan the first place
  • Not stabilising the economy after the asset price crash
  • Not restructuring the Japanese banking system quicker – real restructuring did not happen until the 2000s, 10 years after the crash.

As a result, Japanese companies were “like tiny boats on a big ocean,
using all their energy to avoid large waves. Rather than innovate or
grow, they focused on cost cutting”, says Miyauchi.

The Causes of Japan’s Lost Three Decades”

The 1990s were called the Lost Decade in Japan, and then as the economy seemed to stagnate in the 2000s, it became the Lost Two Decades.  Now the Nikkei Business in a recent special series seems to be saying it has been a lost three decades.  Turnover and profitability were growing through to around 1990 […]

Glass Lewis:” Proxy Guidelines for 2020″

“….As announced in our policy guidelines last year, beginning in 2019, for companies listed on the first and second sections of the TSE, we will begin making recommendations against members of a board that does not have any incumbent or proposed female members. In such instances, we will generally recommend voting against the chair of the company (or the most senior executive in the absence of a company chair) under the two-tier board or one-tier with one committee structures, or against the nominating committee chair under a one-tier with three committees structure. In the case of a two-tier board structure, we will examine the board of directors and board of statutory auditors as a whole, and in the cases of one-tier with three- committee structures, we will consider whether the company has any female executive officers as well as female directors.

Metrical:”How Fast has Japan’s Corporate Governance Improved? “

Some research organizations reported that Japanese companies have enhanced the corporate governance and others say the improvement wasn’t higher than expectations. Then, how fast has the corporate governance in Japan made progress for a few years? There would be different perspectives on which criteria each person focus. We would like to show one of the easiest ways that we can see the progress. It is the % of Independent Outside Directors (INEDs) of the board of directors (BOD) that shows very well how fast corporate governance in Japan has improved.
Please see the following 2 charts. The first pie chart shows the number of companies of >50% INEDs and =<50% INEDs in the BOD, respectively as of November 2019. The total number of companies was the companies METRICAL INC. covers as the core research universe (most of companies are listed TSE-1st Section and/or JPY10 billion market cap). A number of companies are included in the =50% INEDs in the pie chart will decrease significantly.