Life in Japan is actually very good. I can’t imagine a safer and better place to live.
Since the major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, I have gotten so many emails from friends in the U.S. And they worry so much about me and my family. It is heartening. But actually, Japan is a bigger country than they may realize and so far, knock on wood, we are ok here in Osaka-Kobe.
I am sure that Japan will get over this disaster and will become a much stronger country in the near future.
You can see my picture here on Life Magazine! It was taken at a Mister Donuts shop near my school but it was just for fun. Check out the Life Mobile App for the iPhone. It’s cool for making your own personal magazine covers.
I have a few ideas for Japan. Some could make a difference and hopefully the Japanese government will start making a blueprint to move Japan into a stronger and better future.
- Special Economic Zone for the north-eastern (TOHOKU) region. Japan needs to create a no-tax or extremely low-tax area in TOHOKU. This could draw in many businesses and companies both Japanese and foreign-owned. TOHOKU should be the new ‘Singapore’ of the world. It also could draw some population away from TOKYO to make it a little more comfortable there.
- A national drive to increase the number of bilingual speakers. To increase the business speed of Japanese companies and enable them to compete much better on the world stage and to spur foreign tourism in Japan by making it a very foreigner-friendly country for sightseeing and tourism. (Basic English speaking and writing ability should be required at entrance to university (especially national universities) using the Step Grade 2 level (英検二級) in place of the Center Test for English. (Click here to read my original post in Japanese and English and check out my student’s translations.)
- Move the Central Government away from TOKYO. Some candidates would be Ibaraki or Sendai or another slightly remote region. Again, this would result in better distribution the population.
- Increase immigration by non-Japanese. Japan is now ready to make this bold move. Most other developed countries in the world have done this a long time ago and have seen great achievements because of it. Of course newcomers must learn the intricacies and wonders of the Japanese culture and they must learn and become very competent in Japanese. Because the Japanese culture must be maintained and respected. It is a rich and great culture.
Of course these are difficult projects for Japan but they would really help Japan to move forward in a very bold way. I think such steps would really help Japan now. And, wow! I think if such moves were made, Japan could easily become the number two economy in the world again.
It’s actually a very exciting time for Japan and I am glad to be here right now! Here’s another fun picture!
Al Bartle (Owner/teacher Smith’s School of English – Okamoto/Kobe Japan)
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