Asia Program

The "Creativity Problem" and the Future of the Japanese Workforce

Gerald Hane, Akiko Hashimoto, and Misao Hayakawa

The Japanese government is in the midst of economic and educational reforms to enhance creativity and boost national competitiveness. In this report, three experts explore and evaluate these unprecedented measures.According to Gerald Hane, Japan has already made some progress in removing obstacles to entrepreneurship, allowing innovators to benefit from their ideas, and improving worker mobility—although ample room for improvement remains.Akiko Hashimoto argues that deeply embedded social hierarchies stifle the creativity of Japan’s young people.Youths should be brought into the reform process because creativity cannot be stimulated through top-down regulation, she contends. Misao Hayakawa warns that Japan may go too far in emphasizing choice and individualism at the expense of standards. He maintains that higher education has been more successful than lower education in implementing reforms that are meaningful and measurable.

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