「新日本人/旧日本人」モデル 英語版

Unlocking the Mystery of Japan?s Long-Term Economic Slump

To those who find it strange that Japan cannot seem to emerge from its economic slump:

Shinya Okamoto


Why is the Japanese economy, with all the human resources and capital available to it, languishing in recession, seemingly unable to perform to its full potential? The most significant reason is not the failure of policies, but values commonly held among Japanese and fundamentally different from those of Europeans or Americans. This Japanese mindset is characterized by fear of change, acute risk aversion, and rejection of all things new.

Kyu Nihonjin (The "Old Guard")

Kyu Nihonjin, or the ?Old Guard,? are hangers-on at their companies, lack a sense of purpose and have ceased to think.

They put the preservation of internal order at their companies ahead of customers and focus on protecting their own personal interests.

They have no interest in strategy, productivity or cost consciousness.

And they prefer to have their worlds defined by connections and a traditional sense of obligation; they despise market competition.

It may seem unbelievable, but this attitude is common among most Japanese businessmen. It is, therefore, very difficult for Japanese companies to generate profits, and returns on equity are, consequently, weak. Left to the private sector, capital has failed to circulate adequately, so the government has come to play a huge role as guarantor and rescuer. The Old Guard reject free economies and their tendency to be organizationally dependent is the cause of Japan?s prolonged recession.

There is, however, hope.
I am convinced that a transformation in the thinking of Japanese businessmen ? so significant that it could be called a renaissance -- is currently underway. This transformation amounts to a change in values that, in terms of degree, far exceeds that which led to the collapse of socialism in the former Soviet Union.
People whose values are completely different from that of the Old Guard, and they can be found in most every organization in Japan. These are the Shin Nihonjin (literally, new Japanese) and they possess both the willingness to change and the rational and strategic thinking that are lacking in the Old Guard.

Shin Nihonjin

As professionals, Shin Nihonjin are self-reliant.

They understand that their jobs connect them with society at large.

They feel that work is meaningless if it is unprofitable; they act rationally.

They respect free markets, where exchanges are based on value, and are constantly working to improve themselves in order to compete successfully.

I want to highlight the fact that there are now two types of Japanese. The table below summarizes differences in their attitudes and values.

Japan is currently undergoing a significant change. This change, however, is being stymied by the Old Guard, the same people who are responsible for bringing the country to its current unhappy circumstances. The efforts of Shin Nihonjin to bring about internal organizational reform are being thoroughly repressed by the Old Guard, who hold positions of authority. For them, changing the established order is tantamount to a rejection of their existence. And as the opposition force, they are engaged in their final, fiercest bout of resistance.
Presently, an intense, yet invisible, struggle between the Old Guard and Shin Nihonjin is taking place in company organizations throughout Japan. I count myself among the Shin Nihonjin who have participated in that struggle.

Having lost in their struggle, not a few Shin Nihonjin have left their companies. But the end is clear and Shin Nihonjin will prevail over the Old Guard. This is inevitable as the vast majority of ambitious young adults are Shin Nihonjin. The critical issue is the speed of change.

I ask that those who want to build mutually beneficial relationships with Japanese government agencies, companies and other organizations and those who would like to see an economic recovery in Japan support the efforts of Shin Nihonjin.

Gai-atsu, or pressure from outside, will not change the attitudes of the Old Guard. I am asking people who deal with Japanese to scrutinize them and determine whether they are Shin Nihonjin. I want non-Japanese to study their Japanese counterparts, ask whether they are self-reliant, capable of rational thought, considerate of the needs of society, and supporters of free markets, and if they are, to support them. Identifying Shin Nihonjin is not easy. Age is not a determinant as many in their 30s are members of the Old Guard. However, noting whether Japanese counterparts ever mention that they want to leave their companies because they are poorly managed may yield a clue as to which side of the line they fall on. The Old Guard cannot exist outside of their companies and would not make such a comment.

The greater the influence of Shin Nihonjin, the faster will be Japan?s emergence as a new country and the stronger will be the beneficial relationships in which it is a participant. Nothing less is dependent on the change that is underway and the speed with which it occurs.

I perform a detailed structural analysis of the Old Guard and Shin Nihonjin in a Japanese-language book due to be published in November 2002.
My hope is that communicating this idea to these people will help to strengthen support for Shin Nihonjin and accelerate the pace of change they will bring. If you find the model I have constructed to be interesting, I would deeply appreciate your passing this message on to others.

Profile: Shinya Okamoto
Born in 1965. Worked as an editor for the monthly business magazine President, published by President Inc., a Japanese subsidiary of TIME Inc. After leaving this position in 1999, began examining the behavior of Japanese businessmen, the subject of a book to be published in fall 2002. Other works include books on IT venture companies, customer orientation, and policy studies.


Shin Nihonjin / Old Guard Comparison


Summary of the Shin Nihonjin / Old Guard Comparison
Old Guard
Shin Nihonjin


Believe in Absolute Equality

Lack Self-Determination


Lack Sense of Purpose

Lack Appreciation for Knowledge
Do Not Think Critically

Attached to Authoritarian Style and Needless Formalities

Like to Play the Role of Benevolent Boss

Focus on the Superficial


Self-Reliant/Disciplined/True to themselves and others







Take Pride in Their Work

Seek Internal Fulfillment

Value Orientation

Pay Little Attention to Value
Conservative, Always Require Precedents, Dogmatic, Neophobic

Opt for Expedience and Adaptation

Prefer the Middle Course and the Policy of Doing Nothing

Value Orientation

Pursue Value

Change-Oriented, Have a Sense of Urgency

Pursue Self-Realization

World View

Have a Closed (=Company-Centered) World View

Pursue Selfish Purposes, Capable of only Vague Leadership

Stress Primacy of Own Group

Oppose Organizational Change

Value Suffering as a Virtue

Lack a Desire to Participate in Society

World View

Have an Open World View

Social Participants

Socially Aware

Aware of Roles in Society

View of Organizations

Favor the Status Quo, Have no Goals

Lack Leadership

Fixated on Rank, Support Authoritarian Systems

Pursue High Positions Regardless of Appearances

Disregard Rules and Norms

Need to Form Cliques and Identify Enemies

View of Organizations

View Organizations as Places to Work With Others

Build Partnerships

View Organizations from the Perspective of Purpose

Respect the Society?s Rules and Norms

Place Society Before Organizations

Support Market Principles and the Principles of Competition

View of Work

Trivialize Work, Focus on Company

Trivialize the Market

Lack Desire for Improvement

Trivialize Value, Have No Desire for Knowledge, Will Not Take Initiative

Organization-Focused = Lacking a Sense of Responsibility

View Work As Forced, Neglect Customers

View of Work

Professionalism = Desire for Knowledge

Confident in Their Abilities to Support Themselves

See Themselves as Critical Players



Work as One Member of Society

Aware of Own Roles

View of People


Group Focus = Equality of Results

Believe in the Universality of Pettiness

Slave-Driving Bosses and Submissive Employees

View of People

Have a Reverence for Humanity

Act According to Philosophy and Principles

Basic Networking Skills

The Old Guard have no interest in information unrelated to their work.

The Old Guard have no interest in the world outside of their companies and do not understand the significance of networking.

Basic Networking Skills

Shin Nihonjin have an external orientation. They have a strong interest in intangible value and seek it out.
They seize on opportunities for exposure to new things.

Shin Nihonjin actively state their opinions and invite those with different perspectives to do the same.

Network Management Skills

The Old Guard understand very little about networking.
They feel that the company?s continued existence makes networking with people outside the company unnecessary and are happy if all of their personal relationships are static ones in which ?supervision = subjugation.? The Old Guard equate networks with collusive relationships.

The Old Guard reject all that they cannot understand.

Network Management Skills

Shin Nihonjin have a solid understanding of the unique qualities of network communities.
Shin Nihonjin develop networking skills and understand the advantage of functioning as a network node.

Shin Nihonjin build their own networks and have the skills to manage them effectively.




Business Mentality

The Old Guard do not sincerely believe that their mission is to make profits.

The Old Guard do not appreciate concepts such as productivity, efficiency, and cost consciousness.

The Old Guard take everything said by the high-ranking or powerful to be correct.

Maintenance of company profits and internal order come before customer satisfaction.

Under the Old Guard, there is an organization-wide suspension of thought and lack of strategic perspective.

Infallibility of Authority

The Old Guard do not understand risk and dislike taking risks. Lacking the ability to deal with risk, they find it impossible to accept any risk at all.

Business Mentality

Shin Nihonjin understand business to be the addition of value and the consequent making of profits.

Shin Nihonjin focus on economic rationality almost instinctively.
Shin Nihonjin have a solid grasp of basic economic concepts.

Shin Nihonjin have managerial sense.

Customer Orientation

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