Japan can (easily) regain its place among the top tech nations of the world.

Japan is one of the most amazing places on Earth, and the admiration for this nation has increased with each year I have spent as a guest here.

It is an extremely convenient and safe place to live and raise children. Besides the civility and good manners of most of its population, the country has low unemployment, strong multinational companies, zero drug tolerance, zero drunk driving tolerance, and a strict gun control law, to name but a few of its characteristics.

Cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are mind blowing, the countryside beyond beautiful, millions and millions of people living efficiently, cleanly and remarkably peacefully. Japanese people are kind, disciplined, know that it takes team effort to bring about attainment.

The small archipelago survived the loss and the end of the Second World War, and the subsequent American invasion, to become a couple of decades later the technology powerhouse of the 80s and 90s. The Walkman, great TVs, the world’s best video games, bullet trains, automobiles, QR codes, tactile paving, great cameras, great phones, great camera phones, the VHS, the CD, the DVD and wave after wave of cool stuff were all crafted by Japanese minds and hands. The reputation for these achievements has not withered.

But names like Bytedance, SpaceX, Tesla, Byju’s, Apple, Twitter, Uber, Booking, Stripe, Figma, Paypal, Epic, Canva, NFTs, Duolingo, Square, Celonis, and Ethereum, though, besides defining how many of us live our lives now, have something in common: none of them is Japanese. Perhaps Bitcoin, without a doubt the most revolutionary invention of our recent times, is, but we will never now.

It’s not too late, though, but the country needs to change some simple (relatively-speaking) things, and fast. These are:

  1. English language. The lingua franca of the Internet. Products and services in Japanese can only serve a market of around 120 Million people, and dropping every day due to the low fertility rate. the Internet can serve more than five billion, and increasing day by day. It is no surprise that most start up Unicorns come from the US, Canada, Singapore, India, Israel, UK, Germany, and most recently South Korea, all countries with high levels of bilingual people. English is fundamental to replicate, escalate, and reach beyond the geographical borders.

Three priorities, all doable and applicable in a short period of time. With the advent of the Internet, at least number one and number three have become permissionless: you need neither money, nor government nor institutions to learn English or coding or to educate yourself in new technologies. All you need is access to the Internet, some time and constant effort. Number two is harder, at least physically, and still requires a change of policy. This does not mean that foreigners cannot contribute to the growth and future of Japan remotely. The Internet has also made this possible.

It’s time for the great country of Japan to step up again and show the world what it is made of.




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