Overview of the 17th “Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan” Forum

Picture Symposium 2016

  • Date:
    Saturday August 6 2016
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "The Asia-Pacific Region in a Great Competitive Era Triggered by the TPP -People,Goods,Money,and Information-"
  • Details:
    • Yutaka Onishi
      (Professor,Graduate School of Law,Kobe University)
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      1) The World Seen from Perspectives of a Miracle Apple Orchardist
      Akinori Kimura (President, Kimura Kounosya Co.,Ltd.)
      2) Globalization of Monozukuri in Japan
      Takao Nakazawa (Guest Professor,The University of Hyogo)
      3)Develop Human Resources Who Can Survive the Great Competitive and Co-Creative Era
      Takayuki Shiose (Associate Professor,The Kyoto University Museum)
    • ○Parallel Sessions
      Group 1: Response to New Economic Ties Including the TPP
      Moderator:Takayuki Satake
      (Professor,Institute of Business and Accounting, Professional Graduate School,Kwansei Gakuin University)
      Group 2: New Trends of Business-Strategies of the Winning Side
      Moderator: Masaru Nakao
      (Presiding Partner,Arco Patent Office)
      Group 3: Develop Human Resources Who Can Survive Great Competitive Era
      Moderator: Sachiko Kubota
      (Professor, Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, Kobe University)
    • ○Plenary Session
      Coordinator: Koji Murata
      (Professor,Faculty of Law,Doshisha University)
    • ○Summary & Acknowledgements

      Makoto Iokibe (President,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)

The Forum opened with a welcome message from Representative Director,Satoshi Iue of the Awaji Conference and subsequently keynote proposals by three speakers,coordinated by Professor Yutaka Onishi of Graduate School of Law,Kobe University.Afterwards,participants were divided into three parallel sessions,where they engaged in active discussions on the respective themes.

The plenary session,which began in the afternoon after lunch,was coordinated by Professor Koji Murata of Graduate School of Law,Doshisha University.The plenary session began with the moderator of each parallel session reporting briefly on the discussion contents of his/her session,followed by a further deep discussion with the involvement of all in attendance.Finally,to close the two-day Awaji Conference,Executive Director Makoto Iokibe of the Awaji Conference gave a summary of the event and made acknowledgements.

Overview of Keynote Proposals
The World Seen from Perspectives of a Miracle Apple Orchardist
Akinori Kimura / President,Kimura Kounosya Co.,Ltd.

The so-called “Green Revolution,”improvement in productivity using production materials,such as fertilizers,agricultural chemicals,and herbicides,has realized a tremendous increase in food production and freed farmers from heavy labor.The revolution has contributed a lot.

It is also true,however,that the use of these items over a long period of time is causing many problems in a wide variety of aspects.

I believe what Japan needs to disseminate urgently to Asia and the rest of the world concerns regarding environmental conservation.

In addition,what Japan needs to do urgently is to regulate nitrate nitrogen levels.In Europe,due to the tragic past problems,strict regulations have been placed on agricultural produce with nitrate nitrogen levels of 3,000 ppm or over.In Japan,however,there are no such regulations yet.

At the same time,the nutritional value of vegetables has been declining.Compared with those produced in 1951,the nutritional value of vegetables today is less than one-tenth.I find that a great pity.

The natural cultivation method that I advocate is to use no fertilizers,agricultural chemicals,or compost.Some say that there are concerns about this method in terms of harmful insects,diseases,and growth,but the reality is that there are no big differences with the ordinary cultivation method.

Today,various organizations have been formed by producers who agree with my philosophy,indicating that my personal activities regarding natural cultivation are developing into organizational efforts.

Taking the opportunity of this forum,which targets the Asia Pacific region,I,as a farmer,would like to highlight and spread the promotion of agricultural methods which give consideration to food safety and environmental conservation.

I hope that I can take a step forward together with all of you,and form a scrum with all the members of the Asia Pacific region.

Globalization of Monozukuri in Japan
Takao Nakazawa / Guest Professor,The University of Hyogo

There are a number of turning points in the history of Japanese manufacturing and globalization.Japan experienced trade friction for a long period of time in the field of light industry in the 1950s;in the heavy and chemical industries from the 1960s to the oils shocks in 1973;and in the assembly and process product sphere in the latter half of the 1970s and the 1980s.Always facing economic friction with the U.S.and Europe,Japan used self-regulation of exports and diplomatic negotiations as its main policies.

At the same time,to manufacture items near places where they would be consumed(i.e.local production),Japanese companies promoted overseas operations at the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s.What must be noted regarding Japanese manufacturing is not high-technologies,but complete process innovations.These process innovations mean that evolution have been achieved in gaining competitive edges in areas that are invisible to consumers.

Competitive edges can be categorized into“surface competitiveness”and“deep competitiveness.”The level of the deep competitiveness,which is the capability to make daily improvements in process control,determines the relevant company’s profit rate and strength.

Regarding overseas demands,the key lies in standardization,the capability to ensure that the relevant item or service is accepted anywhere in the world.Unlike Japan,many countries are very good at standardization.Called into question now is not ways to seek large-scale standardization,but to create comparative advantages while promoting standardization.

It is long past time when Japan engaged in self-regulation of exports against the background of trade friction.Countries are now competing with one another in fields different from those in the past.These new fields can be divided into the visible and the invisible,and Japan is good at the latter.Since it is impossible for Japan to win in all aspects,the country should develop its own forte.

Develop Human Resources Who Can Survive the Great Competitive and Co-Creative Era
Takayuki Shiose / Associate Professor,The Kyoto University Museum

It is expected that the age of multicultural symbioses will come,accompanied by a lack of appropriate human resources.What is required in this trend will be the capability of an inclusive management,which enables a wide variety of candidates to work while demonstrating their own features as they are.

In Japan,where the focus of education has been placed in following suit in highly homogeneous groups,citizens absolutely lack the capability to accept other’s differences in a multicultural environment.In that sense,it is necessary to feature an inclusive,organizational design in order not to iron out such differences,but to accept and utilize them.

Another important capability is to adapt to new environments generated when the capabilities of workers become of no use due to change in their situations,or when they are forced to change their courses.

However,in Japan,workers tend to leave their own career designs to their companies.They have few opportunities to practice designing their careers on their own,and have no role models whom they can refer to when assessing their own career designs.

In addition,in Japan,partly because companies used to feature a thorough lifetime employment system and provide a rich lineup of in-house training programs,few workers today try to study once again at university or other educational institutions after reaching 25 years old.This causes two problems - workers’ receiving only the knowledge related to the fields that their companies have in their minds,and a stagnant flow of human resources into new fields.

Accordingly,workers unavoidably feel threats and fear against new technologies.
However,those who came into contact with robots and artificial intelligence when they were children are free from such fear.I therefore believe that it is necessary to establish an environment in which children can learn about such technologies by experiencing them directly.

In the coming age of great-competition,it is necessary to realize co-creation not by ironing out differences,but by developing differences into value in cooperation with one another.To ensure that children obtain the capability to achieve co-creation,it is important to bring up children,conduct business,and promote education in cooperation with one another in the extensive network of the Asia Pacific region.

Overview of Discussions in Parallel Sessions
Parallel Session 1:Response to New Economic Ties Including the TPP
Moderator:Takayuki Satake(Professor,Institute of Business and Accounting,Professional Graduate School,Kwansei Gakuin University)

With consideration given to the advent of the age of mega-competition with the background of globalization,participants in this session discussed mainly two points.

The first point was what was expected to occur when the TPP was introduced in Japan or in global society.

The other point was matters regarding China,including whether the county would join the TPP, and what trends would arise in terms of the country’s economy and other aspects.
In addition,the world today is witnessing a spate of totally unexpected events,especially those in the U.K.and the U.S.

Globalization was previously regarded as a definitely good thing.Today,however,there are conflicts between the inward-looking theory of those oppose globalization and the outward-looking theory of those who support globalization.This is the backdrop of the discussion on the TPP and Chinese matters.

At the beginning of parallel session 1,some of the participants stated that they were in favor of the introduction of the TPP.

When experiencing the end of its high-rate economic growth,Japan faced a wide variety of harmful effects generated by the high-rate economic growth,such as environmental problems,including energy problems and pollution,and labor shortage.However,players in the Japanese industrial and economic sectors introduced systems that enabled them to respond appropriately to these problems.In the 1980s,Japan entered its era of stable growth.

Likewise,the TPP will act as a large institutional innovation,and it is important to ensure that players in the Japanese industrial and economic sectors can respond appropriately to it,and to realize a proper flow of human resources,goods,and money.

Although the flow of internationalization can be refused,for example by taking some action in the field of customs,the flow of human resources,goods,money,and information in globalization can never be stopped.No matter what action will be taken,it will be impossible to prevent the flow.

It might be possible to refuse the TPP on a short-term basis,but there is no option but to accept it on a mid-and-long-term basis.On the contrary,by taking advantage of the TPP actively,Japanese citizens might be able to explore a new direction for the Japanese economy.This is what underlay the discussion on the TPP as an opportunity for innovation,and was suggested in the remarks made by participants in the parallel session.

Former Ambassador Miyamoto referred to the “totally unexpected events ”found in the global society today,as well as the appropriate response to China.Should Japan include China in its circle? What is the method of Chinese-style economic development? These questions will become major issues in the future international economic and political fields.It is difficult to think about various problems,including the framework of the TPP,without China,the world’s second largest economic power.Due to some political problems,the U.S.and Japan find it difficult to accept China.However,China and other countries in East Asia have great potential,and if Japan takes advantage of them,it will lead to the stabilization of Japanese economy and Japan itself.

Former Minister Hayashi spoke about security and economics.He stated that security and economic power could be compared to the first floor and the second floor of a two-story building,respectively.Without a robust cornerstone,it would be impossible for a country to demonstrate its economic power.At the same time,when the economic power grows to a certain degree,it serves as a weight with which to realize a stable operation of the country.All the participants in the session agreed with what he said,and featured the two elements as the main points when discussing Japan’s future and the country’s position in globalization.

Parallel Session 2:New Trends of Business-Strategies of the Winning Side
Moderator:Masaru Nakao(Presiding Partner,Arco Patent Office))

Parallel session 2 began with my reference to a wide variety of elements in the new waves:technologies,such as the Internet of Things(IoT),artificial intelligence(AI),big data,and cloud computing;normalization and standardization,such as Industrie 4.0 in Germany,the Industrial Internet Consortium(IIC)in the U.S. , the IoT Acceleration Consortium in Japan,and iOS and Android,which are called de facto standards;business models,such as the sharing economy,Fin Tech,and electronic commerce(E-commerce);and products,such as autonomous cars and robots.

In addition,I gave specific examples of the sharing economy by referring to Airbnb,an accommodation matching service;Uber,a taxi matching service;Dog Vacay,an alternative to pet hotels;Task Rabbit,an outsourcing service for household chores and DIY;Prove Trust,a comprehensive management service regarding confidential relations between housing lessors and lessees;and other Internet services launched successively in 2008 and after and operated by U.S.companies.This was followed by session participants’sharing a wide variety of opinions.When discussing“strategies of the Winning Side,”session participants did not analyze what had made some specific companies winners,but focused on what should be noted and considered in order to be called winners and to obtain business opportunities.

One participant indicated that considering that progress in information technologies,sensor technologies,etc.was beginning to solve existing problems,the elements of the new waves did not necessarily lead to the creation of new business fields.

Another participant indicated that it was important to rigorously sort useful information from the waste,and if local medium-and-small sized companies used new technologies as appropriate tools,they would become able to gain a competitive advantage and take opportunities for their development.Moreover,a participant talked about his experience of promoting his own business.He said that he had been continuing to accommodate needs from customers and had found himself riding the trend of IoT without realizing it.

In response to his experience,another participant asserted that in new business fields,it was extremely important to analyze users’ demands,and that Japanese companies were inferior to U.S.and European competitors in terms of such analyses.He continued that on the other hand,Japan was far superior to foreign countries in the field of robot control technologies,and if the focus was placed on that field,Japan would be able to compete successfully in the world.In addition,he said that in the process of the generation of new business fields,it was necessary to establish an environment in Japan where entrepreneurs,even those who had failed before,could try new things.

Furthermore,one participant indicated that while new technologies were expected to contribute a lot to service industries,it was necessary to consider regulations and other problems,as well as to change a wide variety of business practices in Japan,including long-established interdependent relationships in the country.Also,another participant said that since communication technologies served as the mainstay of the business,it was necessary to constantly think about security risks.

In addition,one participant worried that Japan was not good at service industries compared with the West.Another participant stated that if Japan could take advantage of its position as a country experiencing various problems ahead of other countries,and solve the problem of nuclear power generation and other problems,it might lead to the creation of business opportunities.

Actually,one participant actively engages in a business in which senior citizens are provided with smartphones with which they can use various services.

These are the main points of the discussion made in the first half of parallel session 2.In the second half of the session,I first introduced a new trend of earnings structure of Japan,followed by the provision of various opinions from participants.

While Japan has marked a trade deficit,the country has earned 20 trillion yen in its income account,with its intellectual-property-related earnings exceeding 4 trillion yen.Of the 4 trillion yen,2 trillion yen are royalty earnings in the transportation equipment manufacturing industry.This is due to an earnings structural shift in Japanese headquarters as a result of the car industry’s incorporation of license earnings into their business after the Plaza Agreement.

Referring to such a Japanese earning structure,one participant indicated that earnings on intermediate goods from local subsidiaries of Japanese companies to finished-product manufacturers in foreign countries,such as China,did not show up in statistical figures,and are reflected in the national wealth of Japan only in the income account.It was discussed that various points other than exports and imports should be noted at the time of the creation of business models in the future.

Parallel Session 3:Develop Human Resources Who Can Survive Great Competitive Era
Moderator:Sachiko Kubota(Professor,Graduate School of Intercultural Studies,Kobe University)

Parallel session 3 began with Associate Professor Shiose’s supplementary explanation of his keynote proposal,followed by the provision of a wide variety of opinions from participants.

One participant questioned whether it was really happy for companies to survive,and indicated that there was a need to consider what it meant to mankind to be satisfied.A wide variety of participants commented on these from their respective positions.

In the parallel session,a harsh criticism against university education was presented extremely clearly.Specifically,the criticism was related to the necessity to improve difficult-to-understand classes provided by faculty members and unattractive Japanese university education,both of which made my ears truly burn as a faculty member.Actually, university faculty members are in a position where they are forced to consider costs.In addition,the number of students is on the decline.If exaggeration is allowed,it can be said that universities are already in a desperate situation.

A rather active discussion was held regarding how the next generation could be developed in such a very difficult environment surrounding Japanese universities.

A wide variety of opinions were also presented regarding accepting international students and dispatching Japanese students to overseas universities.One of the opinions was that Japanese universities actually attract attention from students in other Asian countries.For not the top elites but middle-class students,Japanese universities are attractive in terms of tuition,well-organized systems,and employment possibilities.Nevertheless,the government forces Japanese universities to compete with top institutes,such as Harvard University.In addition,another participant stated that the systems of universities in the West,especially in the U.S.,were not necessarily good,and that they had negative aspects as well.

Another point to note in the discussion was the concept of“being inclusive,”which was presented by Associate Professor Shiose.One participant asserted that although it was certainly an impressive,good concept,it was somewhat difficult to implement for those who managed companies.The participant continued that all the more for this,such managers themselves needed to have an open mind toward the concept.He also said that companies would be confronted with this problem in the future,and they would feel that it was a big hurdle.At the same time,another participant indicated that considering that nothing would work in the current Japanese society without the concept of“diversity,”there would be no option but to implement the concept of “being inclusive.”

In his keynote proposal,Associate Professor Shiose referred to the square shape in an example of group management.One participant said that the example had a great impact and was very impressive.He stated that he was impressed with the very precise image of organizing a group like creating mosaic art,rather than merely arranging well-shaped squares.

However,another participant indicated that in reality,some members in a group left the group earlier than others,and therefore it was also necessary to consider systems to make up for the vacancies.Moreover,one participant stated that the number of career options for women was still very small.In response to this opinion,another participant indicated that if children had opportunities,such as the Mini Future City,to have career experiences,it would lead young people to have an extensive image regarding job selection.The participant said that he felt that there was great potential.

Despite a truly wide variety of opinions,the majority opinion was that when fostering the next generation in the real world,it was necessary to utilize the perspectives of young people,especially children,and the findings through the concept of“being inclusive”would provide us great potential.

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