JFTC Essay Competition

Remarks by Selection Committee Chair, Dr. Iwao NAKATANI

It is my honor to inform you that a record-breaking 216 essays were submitted from all over the world for JFTC Essay Competition 2012. The topic for the essay was "Strategies for a Depopulating Japan", which, I believe, Japan's future is depending on greatly. Out of 216 essays, 142 were written in English from many different countries while only 74 were in Japanese. I am very pleased as this proves again in 2012 that JFTC Essay Competition remains truly international in nature.

What struck me was that so many people have shown genuine interest in Japan as well as deep knowledge on the situation this country is facing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for their earnest suggestions on how Japan can overcome the problems derived from depopulation.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the selection committee members for their time and efforts for reading through 216 essays to make this tough decision on selecting the best ones. In 2012, one essay for The Grand Prize and three essays for The Prize for Excellence have been selected.

The followings are the summaries of these prize winning essays.

The Grand Prize
Mr. Michael Sullivan: “Strategies for a Depopulating Japan”A British Model and a Japanese Legacy

In his essay, Mr. Sullivan made inspiring suggestions based on the experience of the UK. He explains how we can overcome our sense of stagnation in a shrinking nation and what we should do now to resolve the problems and make the start of a new legacy for the future. His suggestions including measures to provide comprehensive support for financially struggling couples who have no choice but to give up having children as well as possible ways to encourage young people who are studying Japanese for the love of this country to immigrate into Japan are so convincing that majority of committee members voted for his essay as the best. What is insightful is his criticism towards the misguided ideas and direction of Japanese universities that, for the sake of so-called internationalization, teach undergraduate and graduate programs only in English so that non-Japanese students don't have to study Japanese language to graduate.

The Prize for Excellence
Ms. Kadri Metspalu: Strategies for a Depopulating Japan - Towards a More Inclusive and Happier Japan

In her essay, Ms. Metspalu presented us comprehensive measures against the problems derived from depopulation including rebuilding the social structure for women to be able to pursue her career without sacrificing her choice to raise children and for elderlies to be able to utilize their knowledge and experiences, securing employment stability, and changing immigration policies. She foresees future Japan to be more engaged with the rest of the world without losing its heritage. We found her  essay quite well-balanced.

The Prize for Excellence
Mr. Anil Nirody: Japan's Declining Population: The Need for a Comprehensive Approach to Reversing the Trend

Mr. Nirody is a 69-year old American retired engineer. His essay is very clearly written and all-encompassing, just as one would expect from an engineer, and is filled with various useful measures to combat the problems derived from depopulation. Especially, his view that increasing number of young people who cannot find full-time job and are forced to work part-time is one of the major reasons for declining birth rate is quite insightful.

The Prize for Excellence
Mr. Takashi Asano: Building a New Social Structure: Work and Employment Model of "Covering and Sharing"

The focal point of Mr. Asano's essay is that depopulation is progressing along with rapid aging of the society. Therefore, in order to be able to sustain the existing social security system, each one must "play both defense and offence". In other words, by sharing the same work with others and covering each other, everyone can play his role in the society. We found his suggestions quite interesting.

These are the summaries of the prize winning essays. I sincerely hope that JFTC will continue to host this essay competition into the future as it has captured the interest of people from all over the world since the very beginning of the contest.