The capitol of Japan is Tokyo. The current population is, The Japanese government is a constitutional monarchy. While Japan is still very much focused on traditional culture, the country absorbed a great deal of Western technology during the late 19th and
Saito, It is a great pleasure to exchange views with Keidanren members on each of my visits to Tokyo. Today, more than one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I would like to focus on the future, on a fundamental source of growth and human progress, for Japan as for every country: The skills of a country have become a determinant factor in their efforts to recover from the crisis and build a stronger, cleaner and fairer economic growth.
The skills of our people represent that refined material with which we build the future of our nations, but it is also a key component of our solutions to immediate problems, like unemployment, poverty or climate change.
This Strategy will help countries identify the strengths and weaknesses of their national skills systems, benchmark them internationally, and develop policies that turn better skills into better jobs and better lives.
We need to better understand the skills that drive our economies. We then need to make sure that those skills are taught and learned effectively over the course of our entire lives. And we need to provide an environment in which employers fully utilise the talent available to them.
It all starts with developing the right skills. A generation ago, Japanese teachers could be sure that what they taught their students would remain relevant throughout their lifetime. Education today needs to be much more about ways of thinking, involving creativity, problem-solving and decision-making; about ways of working, including communication and collaboration; about tools for working, including the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies; and, last but not least, about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as active and responsible citizens.
For sure this is an area where Japan has seen important progress. But it still needs to work hard to create a culture of lifelong learning.
Here is what it takes to do this. Japan first needs to gather and use better intelligence about changing skill demand. Japan can also better engage the business sector in designing and delivering curricula, education and training programmes.
You need to link better the world of learning and the world of work. Hands-on workplace training can also smooth the transition from education into the labour market and help to motivate disengaged youth to stay in or re-engage with the education system. It is also essential to ensure sufficient local flexibility in designing and managing training programmes.
Tapping underutilised resources and talents is also essential. Once again, developing the right skills is just the beginning. The much harder challenge for Japan lies in making more effective use of its talent. In fact, many Japanese have strong skills, but for a variety of reasons they do not bring them fully to bear in the labour market.
And we know from research — and from our own experience — that unused skills deteriorate. In particular, the female labour force remains heavily under-used in Japan. Japan needs to better identify inactive individuals and the reasons for their inactivity.
It will need to create financial incentives that make work pay and dismantle non-financial barriers to participation in the labour force. One of these is the workplace culture, which promotes long working hours and excessively favours seniority.
Japan will need to reform its remuneration and career systems, provide high-quality affordable childcare to all parents and encourage a more equal sharing of parental leave. This would help, inter alia, to reduce its gender pay gap, the second largest in the OECD.
This project looks at measures that encourage further gender equality in three critical areas: We will present its first results in our up-coming Ministerial Meeting end of May.
But women are not the only underutilised labour resource in Japan. Older workers also have much to contribute and could be brought to the labour force.
Aligning skills with demands and needs is another a key challenge But even if the right skills are developed and people are willing to supply them, that does not guarantee that they will be effectively used.
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