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Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:31 03/09/2007
Debate: Comment

Comment on Suzuki Opinion

Daniel Dolan (Director, Global Communication Strategy, Weber Shandwick Worldwide)

The call for "creative destruction" of established systems of governance by Yoshihiro Suzuki in his recent essay titled "Regulatory Reform and Policy Making Agents" is directly on target. He points out that Japan paradoxically is ranked second among 49 nations in science and technology "foundations" while Japan's international competitveness scores very low. I suspect that this schism may partly be caused by insufficient cooperation between academia and business: another topic recently taken up on this forum.

Another very important issue Mr. Suzuki raises is the need for public citizens to be active agents of reform. Although his focus is mostly on raising productivity through deregulation, I also see non-economic benefits of citizens becoming more involved in decisions that impact their lives. For example, as a U.S. citizen living in Japan I have often felt that the public sphere in Japan seems tilted in favor of business over quality of life. Why are businesses allowed to build huge advertisement boards on top of buildings or blast sales pitches over loudspeakers in public spaces? My Japanese friends and colleagues in Tokyo tell me that they would prefer more attractive public environments, but that they have come to accept the present situation.

Or consider university education. Most students (and their parents) probably recognize that passive learning is not meeting their needs. So where are the centers for instructional excellence and other education consulting resources that have become popular on U.S. campuses? Once citizens and students decide that change is possible through determined and strategic effort, bureaucrats and University executives will have no choice but to let the old ways die.

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