JFTC Essay Competition

Summaries of the Award-Winning Essays of JFTC Essay Competition 2011

The Grand Prize

Japan v 3.11 - Reclaiming the Date

Nicole BROWN (Jamaica, age 29)

The rationale for this title stems from the practice of inventors giving newer models a numerical suffix preceded by the letter ‘v’. These newer models retain features of their predecessors but include enhancements in functionality and efficiency. In that vein, instead of negatively associating 3.11 with the tragic earthquake and tsunami, the Japanese people can reclaim this date where a post-3.11 Japan is transformed into “Japan v 3.11,” a better and stronger society. Japan v 3.11 is a place where the philosophy, vision, values and innovative capacity of the nation are restructured, while retaining the features that make Japan the great nation it already is.

Section one focuses on the philosophy of global interdependence, which embraces the ideas of shared humanity and inclusion. Japan v 3.11 finds a healthy balance between self-sufficiency and global cooperation. Global inclusion also involves cultivating healthy relationships with foreign nationals, which will in turn create a reciprocal welcoming environment when Japan branches out into new international markets. I use real life examples from my home country, Jamaica to show how Japan can have a positive impact on the rest of the world.

The section on the vision for Japan v 3.11 explores investing in youth development and engaging youth in the decision-making process. I also look at vision in the area of governance, where Japan v 3.11 develops a strong system of sustainable leadership. Vision in knowledge-sharing promotes Japan as a leader in initiating and sustaining a Global Disaster Management Programme, which takes the forefront in disaster response education.

The section titled Innovative Approaches to Development and Reconstruction looks at how Japan v 3.11 can be innovative in the areas of nuclear safety, renewable energy and search and rescue technologies. I examine budding innovations in these fields and show how Japan can contribute to their becoming mainstream.

The section on the values that govern Japan v 3.11 looks at valuing human life and valuing health and wellness in the context of a fast-paced environment, where Japan can become a model society that promotes a balance between productivity and holistic wellbeing.

Using the Jamaican expression “likkle but tallawah” (meaning small but strong), the conclusion weaves together insights and observations from the previous sections and offers a message of hope for Japan’s future. I liken Japan v 3.11 to a Phoenix rising from the ash of despair to the pinnacle of renewal

The Prize for Excellence

The Making of New Innovative Japan: Road Map to Great Recovery

Chiden BALMES (Philippines, age 25)

Innovation is the core engine that propelled Japan to prosperity. Today, it remains to be the key tool to ignite substantial positive changes for Japan. In this essay, I outlined three core visions under the overarching theme called New Innovative Japan. These interrelated visions are Entrepreneurial Japan, Green Japan, and Global Japan.

Entrepreneurial Japan means that small and medium enterprises are given more opportunities to innovate. Japan has to further think outside of the Bento box in enhancing university-industry technology transfer and overhauling the corporate culture in such a way that risk aversion is reduced and the merit system is upheld. Furthermore, entrepreneurship must be well incorporated in the Japanese education curriculum to nurture a more positive attitude toward entrepreneurship.

Green Japan involves seizing the huge opportunity to set the best example in positioning for a green recovery. Japan can use the nuclear crisis to shift toward a more eco-centric development model through eco-innovation. If Japan can turn the present energy crisis from a threat into opportunity – by rebuilding Tohoku as green economic zone with a certain degree of local autonomy – it can trigger a ripple effect around the world in advancing green growth.

Global Japan necessitates developing enterprises and institutions with a global mindset. In order to achieve this, unwarranted conservatism in the corporate and bureaucratic structure must be replaced with cultural diversity, merit and fitness system, work-life balance, and gender equality. Allowing foreigners to work and set up businesses might bring new management models that can shake up the status quo. Japan also needs to improve its communicative English competency and strengthen educational linkages abroad if it wants its voice to be heard at the global stage.

Japan has become too entrenched in the ways of the past that it has failed to take into account the dynamic changes that bring new problems and challenges. The 3.11 catastrophe should serve as an impetus for radical changes. As the international power dynamics gears toward the East, Japan can also rise with Asia but only through a resilient leadership. Transforming these visions into reality is what leadership is all about.