Nostalgic “competition with machine”

 I have read the book, “Competition with Machine” written by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. It is a theory on information economy by professors from MIT School of Business, ‘Sloan’. 
 The book warns that computer will continue eroding into human areas. In particular, employment in the middle-skill level will be reduced, with employment divided into two distinct polarities, that is, physical low wage labor and creative high income labor. 
 Computers will also cover driving and translation. White-collar jobs will be taken over by machine, with work humans excelling in relegated to creative occupations such as those in the music, software and sports industry, and occupations which involve physical labour. 

  The first impression will be feelings of nostalgia. There have been discussions on these since 15 years ago. 
  The spread of Internet and PC is being advanced due to this. The general feeling in the United States is to permeate the spread of Internet in order to get rid of unnecessary white-colour and middle-management jobs. In particular, in the East Coast where I resided and where MIT is, such actions have been praised to be valid. 
  This old theme which is currently brought up by professors in business schools can now finally be argued based on empirical data that is available today.
  Professor Erik Brynjolfsson actually launched eBiz Centre in MIT in 2000. At that time, I was based in MIT Media Lab and I persuaded a company called CSK and participated as a sponsor in the founding of the centre. 
  The period before the collapse of the Dot Com bubble was the roughest within the American IT field. Ten years past the difficult period, we now possess data to show that IT is indeed a scary thing. 

While this book is issuing a warning, it also makes several citations in reference to the Luddite Movement of 1811, and advocates the economic teaching that new work will be created even if old ones are lost. Both the first stage of the Industrial Revolution=steam engine and second stage=electrical power, gave rise to many jobs. The third stage of the Industrial Revolution=Internet and computer seems to be like that too in the long-term. The book basically adopts an optimistic perspective. The underlying tone is that digital technology will enrich the human race. 

 Rather than viewing the computer and Internet as an Industrial Revolution in terms of 300 years, I personally viewed it as a Cultural Revolution of 1000 years, and that both steam engine and electricity have different layers. However, in terms of the economy in the long-run, I share the same opinion with the author.  


Growing talents in Anime and Manga

 I am serving as the overall chairman for the “Anime and Manga Human Resources Development Government Linkage Consortium”. It is a job in the Ministry of Education. The other day, I invited Mr. Tetsuya Chiba, and teachers from Monkey Punch and held a symposium. 
I had such a conversation:

“ I am someone who likes to read. However, I only read manga. Manga forms a part of my   body. In the NHK program, “The 100 books of Japan”, where 100 people choose a book each,   I was the only one who chose a manga. I was reproached by university officials who watched the program, but I refuted by saying that “Japan is a country of manga”. 
  I like watching the television, especially anime. Anime forms a part of my body. I sing old anime songs in Karaoke and my friends who go with me are often stupefied by this. 
  In the past, when I was spending all my time watching anime and reading manga, I was admonished as being irresponsible. I was subject to regulation from the perspective of government. 
 But now, anime and manga have become national treasures. I am serving as the content research chairman for the government intellectual property division, and all eight ministries are barnstorming on how to develop our pop culture further, which includes anime and manga. 

The other day when I was visiting the University of Frankfurt, I realize that the Japanese Department is facing manpower issues as they only have two staffs despite 500 students who are mostly anime lovers. I also held a class to PhD students of Peking University in a time when anti-Japanese sentiments are swirling. Instead of being given difficult questions, I was asked to talk more about manga and anime in Japan. 
  So how exactly should we develop this industry? At the intellectual property division or other meetings, it is an unwavering that developing the necessary human resources will be a huge task in the development of pop culture for the future. However, what must we do specifically? 
  This is not yet understood, despite government officials from the University of Tokyo Law Department coming together and thinking for years. This only includes receiving the wisdom, sharing that approach and spreading it from people who have created anime and manga, teaching them and making them into businesses. As digital technology becomes more widespread worldwide, anime and manga are also rapidly globalizing. I would like to grow human resources, attracts talents from abroad, and spread the rich Japanese expressions to the rest of the world. 

  In addition, the foundation for anime and manga is formed from the power of a wide range of people. It is the expressive power of one million people, as anyone can draw characters and draw manga during classroom lessons. I think it is important for us to nurture this kind of force from young people. I have also carried out workshops for a decade, teaching young kids to use digital technology to create works such as anime. 300,000 people so far have participated in these workshops. 
In fact, in terms of activities such as creating and expressing (including children), Japan is actually leading the world. However, this is still not integrated well to our country’s curriculum. 
Japan currently possesses a very large force. I hope the country can spin off an effective human resource development strategy. 


ICHIYA’s POP Eye – Restaurants

  From Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Moshi Moshi Nippon’s “ICHIYA’s POP EYE”.
  Today’s topic is Restaurants!
  My office is in Akasaka, Tokyo. Within 100 meters, there are several restaurants from different countries with food other than Japanese food. China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, America, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and Nigeria.
  Surely, there is no other country that has as many international restaurants as Japan. There isn't another country with so many French and Italian flags, either.
As for Japanese restaurants, there are many kinds of specialty restaurants. Within 100 meters from here, there is Sushi, tempura, ramen, udon, soba, yakitori, gyudon, eel and blowfish,
  There are many restaurants that sell local dishes from Japan's rural areas. Again, within 100 meters from here, there are stores selling lamb from Sapporo, beef tongue from Sendai, soba from Niigata, fish from Toyama, omelet from Kyoto, kushikatsu from Osaka, udon from Takamatsu, bonito from Kouchi, chicken from Miyazaki and pork from Okinawa.

  Japanese restaurants are entertaining as well.
  Many places show the customer how the food is prepared. In French, Italian or Chinese restaurants, it's common that the preparation takes place away from the customer. But for many Japanese restaurants, it's common that the counter for food preparation is near the customers. The roots of the three representative Japanese foods, sushi, tempura and soba, lie in preparing the food at stand-up stalls, right in front of the customer. It probably spread from there.
  Japanese restaurants cherish to entertain and communicate with their customers. It's said that the width of the board for the sushi counter is decided so that the best possible communication can take place between the customer and the sushi chef. Showing how the food is prepared and which ingredients are used results in customer trusting the chef.
  There are also a lot of restaurants where the customers cook themselves. Foods like okonomiyaki or shabu shabu are prepared by the customer himself, just like a barbecue. Do you think they could just cook at home? Well, there are certain tastes you can only get at a restaurant.
  Another characteristic is that there are many magazines about restaurants. They publish a variety of articles featuring ramen, bowl-dishes, sushi and so on. Ever since 150 years ago in the Edo-period, there have been guidebooks telling people what to eat in which store. Japanese have been trusting guidebooks for a long time.
  Nowadays, people thoroughly look up restaurants online as well before they go there to eat. Japanese people somehow can't complain to the restaurant clerks, even if the food tastes bad. Maybe they look into guidebooks to avoid such  experiences?
  Speaking of restaurant books, the Michelin Guide is known all around the world, but there are 64 star-restaurants in Paris, 243 in Kyoto-Osaka and 266 in Tokyo. Tokyo is the biggest gourmet-city in the world.
  But it's not just full of high-class food, you can eat cheap and tasty food as well. In a survey comparing the Big Mac prices around the world, Japan was cheaper than the USA, Europe, China and South Korea, as it ranked the third cheapest of 56 countries.
  So? Do you want to come to Japan to eat?


ICHIYA’s POP Eye – Karaoke

 From Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Moshi Moshi Nippon’s “ICHIYA’s POP EYE”.
  Today’s topic is Karaoke!
  Karaoke, Japan's biggest invention. Since it's creation 30 years ago it has spread around the whole world. Songs are provided via transmission, so many songs from around the world can be sung.
  There is a service where the machine gives points for your singing-skills and ranks them across the whole country. You know where your song is ranked on a national scale. You can even record your song on a CD. Using a camera, you can sing a duet with somebody anywhere in the country.
  There are some Karaoke shops where you can sing in school uniforms or maid costumes, or say famous lines out of Anime. Weird, isn't it?
  Karaoke has already been combined with the latest technology and evolved. In the past, songs have been sung with live performances of guitars or pianos in bars, but in the 1970s performances on tape appeared. In the 1980s the Laser disc was invented and videos were added to karaoke. In the 1990s, transmission karaoke emerged. Tens of thousands of songs could be provided, even if the store didn't have any discs.
  Then, the number of karaoke shops with private rooms rapidly increased in Japan's cities. People enter soundproof private rooms in groups and enjoy karaoke while they eat & drink. There are even karaoke shops, which make tasty food their selling point. At other karaoke shops, you can bring your own food & drinks and have fun with karaoke for only a few $. There are services to go to karaoke with children as well, where toys are provided. It's just like home.
  Many business people use private karaoke boxes as meeting rooms. That's because it is a private room, has drinks, is quite because it is soundproof and the seats are good as well. Another way of usage is to gather with friends not to sing karaoke, but to watch a movie. On the other hand, karaoke shops with one-person boxes are getting more and more popular as well. Thare is a karaoke service where you can bring your own guitar and practice. There are many ways to do karaoke.
  Since Japanese people are very shy, it's often said that one does not know what they are thinking. However, at karaoke they are very excited. That's strange, isn't it?
  At one TV show, we took a portable karaoke machine onto the streets and asked people if they'd sing. While most foreigners said "no", 80% of Japanese people said yes, and did sing.
  I expected the opposite result and was very surprised.
  Japanese people are certainly used to singing in front of other people since they were children. Music lessons are also substantial.
  In contrast, Japanese people don't usually present their opinion on political or social problems. The hurdle to sing seems to be a lot lower than the hurdle to make one self's opinion clear and worry what the other will think about oneself.
  Anyway. Rather than thinking about something this difficult, let's go to karaoke and have a blast!


ICHIYA’s POP Eye – Emoticons

 From Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Moshi Moshi Nippon’s “ICHIYA’s POP EYE”.
  Today’s topic is Emoticons!
  Are you using emoticons on your smartphone? A heart symbol, note, animal or facial expression. It's funny that there are so many symbols, right? In Japan, emoticons were widely used ever since the Internet became available, and they evolved.
  This, for example, represents a smiling facial expression. 
  In the west, this is used to show a smiling face, right? 

  In Japanese emoticons, the face is frontal, while in the west, it's sideways. While Japanese emoticons use the form of the eyes to express emotions, western emoticons express them through the mouth. There is a difference.
Let's take a look at different expressions. A very happy expression. The hands are up.
  Many people are even happier.
  Crying. Tears are flowing down both eyes.
  Angry. The eyes are scary.
  Many people are angry. The form of their mouths shows dissatisfaction.
  Apologizing. The face is lowered and both hands are attached.
m(_ _)m

  Japan is full of expressions other than letters. Emoticons have been used as replacement for letters for a long time. Every household had its family crest, which was used to communicate. It's said that 1000 years ago, there was even color-communication, in which the color combination of one's clothes expressed the feelings on that day.
  There are lots of onomatopoeia and mimetic words. "Niko-niko" stands for a happy expression. "Doki-doki" shows nervousness. "Hara-hara" indicates worries. "Ira-ira" shows anger.
  There was a lot of communication that did not use logical letters or language, but illogical symbols.

  The evolved forms of this are "stamps". In the smartphone application LINE, there are many emoticons called "stamps". Pictures of characters smiling, being angry, being surprised and so on are used to communicate. Communication takes place using only stamps, which means letters are not used at all. The Made-in-Japan service "LINE" is used by 500 million people on earth, so Japanese-style communication is spreading.
  A service was started to create and sell your own stamps, and within just a month, more than 10.000 stamp-sets were registered. The time has come where you can create your own pictures to express yourself.
  Letters were invented thousands of years ago. 560 years have passed since Gutenberg invented the letterpress. People have been communicating through letters since that time. However, will people start to communicate through pictures now?
  What do you think?