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The Future of Work
Japan’s Labor Shortage Will Change the World
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  • Joe Eagar

    We could just replicate the Japanese policy mix. If we stopped low skilled immigration like they did, we won’t need to worry about their tech, eh?

    • Ofer Imanuel

      They stopped all immigration. Even third generation Koreans find it difficult to be accepted.

  • Anthony

    More background as context is always enlightening: “Since its banking crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s global financial markets have expected that Japan will face a financial crisis that will create domestic upheaval…Japan grows slowly and sometimes not at all, but compared to the rest of the world it is seemingly at peace with itself.” See Japanese Exceptionalism: https//

  • Jeremobi

    If there’s a desperate shortage of labor in Japan, why did wages increase only .5 percent last year? If robots are taking over the jobs once worked by humans, why is Japan’s productivity rate so flat?

    • FriendlyGoat

      Your first question goes to whether the collective “we” of the 21st century really understand the economic systems we are swimming in. Lincoln said that people will be about as happy as they decide to be. Going forward, the masses of people will have economics which work for them (them) to about the extent they collectively decide to have. If we are going to continue believing in the “law of supply and demand” with respect prices paid to labor, we had better be sure that incorporated entities did not somehow repeal that law while no one noticed. Yeah, I’m a blowin’ and a goin’ here—–AND YET—–if both economic growth and productivity gains are only percolating to the tops of the heaps, somebody may need to find out why and correct that soon.

    • Tom

      Birthrate. Also, robots aren’t as versatile as people are.


        THey are quite a bit more versatile than the majority of humans on earth….as in freeloaders.

  • FriendlyGoat

    There surely must be a lot of people south of our border, in Europe and in the Middle East who would like to work in Japan. Maybe some from USA too. Flippant remark, yes. And no. There is really no scientific, mathematical reason why people cannot fill shortages anywhere.

    As for Japan innovating and automating——uh, they always do that. As a kid, I grew up around “Made in Japan” as a pejorative phrase protesting alleged “junk” that wasn’t always junk. As a young adult, I watched USA manufacturing people buy Japanese machine tools who once (not long before) would have sworn, “Never!”

    We can’t blame Japan for doing what we would like to be doing, no?

    • ——————————

      The Japs are smart enough to know not to let in many immigrants, especially those low on the food chein, to spoil their country…and their genetics.
      They are smart, and disciplined, so they’ll figure something out.
      Imagine where they would be if they weren’t constrained by a country about the size of California, and has few resources….

      • FriendlyGoat

        There is a reason I chose the words “scientific, mathematical”. We find that “cultural” is a harder nut to crack.

        • GS

          Well, scientifically, the law of parity conservation does not work with money – money tends to flow to the right. And therefore those on the left end short…

      • D4x

        Japan needs a new Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), less anime, to get the birth rate up. Japan does build factories in other countries. I am not sure that there is a problem, except in the way western media looks at this.

  • Unelected Leader

    There are too many jobs, not too little labor. In Tokyo there are two jobs for every applicant. The national job to applicant ratio is higher than it has been in more than 20 years thanks to a slow but steady recovery, at 1.43.

  • J K Brown

    An interesting development for a country that essentially gave up the wheel until the 19th century due to having a cheap labor force.


    I don’t remember any terrorist attacks in Japan.

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