What is the meaning behind Japan’s newest buzzword and era as the newly crowned Emperor ascended to the throne on May 1st, 2019?
The word ‘Reiwa’ is made of two kanji characters ‘rei’ (令) and ‘wa’ (和). The combination of these words together is meant to be understood as “beautiful harmony.” During an extended Golden Week holiday from the end of April to beginning of May, residents and citizens of Japan watched days of television and news coverage of the changing of the Emperor, their histories and the closure of the ‘Heisei Era’ as we entered in to the ‘Reiwa Era.’ The media paid particular attention to the mood of Japanese society and at the NUCB Business School we are interested in how that affects the ‘社会人’, or business professionals in society.
What could this new era mean for business management education and the MBA? An opinion article featured in the Japan Times by Yumiko Murakami, Head of the OECD Tokyo Center, featured a stark change that reached an apex on May 1, 2019 in the Japanese style of employment. Specifically, Murakami focused on the Japan Business Federation’s acknowledgement that lifetime employment was no longer sustainable. The ideal ‘salaryman’ with unwavering and committed loyalty to the company was reflective of the earlier Showa Era but had been declining steadily throughout the Heisei Era. Recognizing the impact and influence of digital transformation in business, shifting demographics to an aging population with fewer younger people, urbanization and the mindsets of fresh graduates there should be a new definition of the Japanese worker set in this Reiwa Era. As Murakami writes, “Perhaps one of the most stunning findings about lifelong learning in Japan is that the share of workers who find education and training useful for jobs is the lowest among the OECD countries.”
Will the MBA be a solution to this stunning fact as the mood seems to be changing in Japan’s society?
Which business schools in Japan stand to benefit the most from taking advantage of a fresh Era to lay down new ways of thinking in regard to lifelong learning, business management education, and human resources development combined with technological skills in automation?