Setting Sun,Rising Dragon: Young Japanese professionals migrating to China.

Discussion in 'Economics' started by MohdSalleh, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- Genetically, Toshiko and Fukuko Kubo are identical twins. The 30-year-old sisters are physically indistinguishable, from their height to their walk -- even the way they both break into a wide smile.

    Their lives, though, are on two separate paths, mirroring the power shift that is the economic story in Asia.

    Toshiko lives in Tokyo, Japan. She has a graduate degree in art history and longs to work amid the works of the great artists of the classical era of art. Those dreams are shelved, she says, for a job with a steady salary and benefits. She works in a job outside of the field of her choice, logging the typical 14-hour work day expected in Japan. Toshiko doesn't hate her job, but it doesn't exactly inspire her, either.

    Approximately one third of 20-to-30-year olds don't have full-time jobs, according to Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. The ministry also shows the highest rate of unemployment is among people under age 25.

    "Japan is a difficult place to live for young people," says Toshiko. "Young people don't have goals. We can't have dreams. Even if we have a dream, there's no way to make it come true."

    Toshiko's twin, Fukuko, decided early on that the world offered more in life than what she saw in Japan.

    Like her sister, Fukuko also graduated with a master's degree, but in contemporary art, with an undergraduate in architecture.

    Without a job or any concrete employment plan, Fukuko took off to Beijing, China. Three days later, she landed an interview and then subsequently was hired by an interior design company.

    Her current job in Beijing, she says, is challenging, rewarding and interesting. Her new country, says Fukuko, is where her future lies.

    "You can feel a lot of optimistic, energetic (feelings) here. People are so optimistic. It's really, really powerful because everyone knows that the economy is doing really well. Japan's the opposite. It's sort of going down."

    "It'll be worse in 20 to 30 years," says Toshiko from her Tokyo apartment, "but nobody knows what to do about it."

    From Beijing, Fukuko agrees with her sister. "I think if I have a choice," says Fukuko. "I would rather not go back (to Japan)."


    Will the USA follow in the footsteps of Japan? There is a lot of pessimism here too while optimism abounds in the Orient.
  2. Some will (and already have) gone to China. However, Japanese tend to have a better work ethic and there's less culture shock in going from one Asian country to another. I can't imagine too many Gen-X, Gen-Y, etc. types being successful at anything other than a brief "English teaching" stint in China. And that's limited to ones with a reasonable command of their own language--getting rare these days.
  3. Would you be willing to learn Hindi, Spanish or Portuguese? :confused:
  4. mahadiga


    I WAS sorry to hear that the Far Eastern Economic Review has closed. My colleague Banyan has a good column pondering what this tells us about Asia.

    For me, it’s personal. The Review published some of my first articles, back in the days when I was a 21-year-old intern at a software firm in Tokyo who freelanced on the side.

    One piece that has stuck with me was called “A Tale of Two Sisters”. It concerned two members of Japan’s untouchable caste, the burakumin.

    Burakumin are the descendants of leatherworkers and butchers, who were considered unclean in mediaeval times and forced to live in ghettos. They are still subject to ferocious discrimination. But since they are ethnically identical to other Japanese and impossible to recognise unless you know where their family comes from, many choose to live in the closet.

    My story was about this phenomenon. The two sisters hailed from a remote burakumin hamlet in the countryside. One sister had left home, gone to university, concealed the fact that she came from an untouchable family and found a good job in the capital city.

    On the surface, her life was good. But she was terrified that her secret might be exposed. If she fell in love and wanted to marry a man, his family might hire a detective to check out her family background. This is still quite common. And if they found out that she was a burakumin, she feared, they would cancel the wedding. A couple of dozen “passing” burakumin kill themselves every year when this sort of thing happens.

    The other sister took the opposite path. Instead of hiding from bigotry, she confronted it. When she won a prize at high school, she took the podium and announced that she was a burakumin and proud of it. Later, she joined an organisation called the Buraku Liberation League and spent her time fighting discrimination against her fellow burakumin.

    I got to know the family quite well. I was the only foreigner at the firm where the “passing” sister worked, so I was the only person she confided in. She figured that, as a butter-reeking gaijin, I wouldn’t care that her ancestors were leather-workers.

    I’ve tried to find the piece on the web, but it seems the Review’s archive doesn’t go back that far. Still, there's always this.
  5. U.S. has 40% GDP in service industry and 25% profits are from financial sectors. If you count those factors, china has already passed U.S. in real economic strength in producing useful stuff.
  6. very interesting story... kudos for sharing!
  7. 9999


  8. mahadiga


    Economic mobility != Social mobility