The View From Afar — Japan Singapore Asia #7

You will recall we are canvassing the world to get an idea of how folks think about themselves, their own businesses, their own countries, and the United States.

Today, our globe trotting correspondent is a Canadian ex-pat who has lived in Japan for more than three decades and has roamed Asia, the US, and Canada for his entire business career which has been focused on the science of materials, very exotic materials and problem solving using exotic processes.

His is an informed view of that part of the world. Recently, we had the great pleasure of a long, fascinating convo in the garden behind Texas French Bread in Austin By God Texas.

Please see earlier posts from:

Spain #1

Israel #2

Chile #3

South Africa #4

California #5

Germany/Spain #6

The questions:

1. How are you feeling — optimistic, pessimistic — about business, the world, your country in general?

2. What is the world’s biggest challenge from here on out?

3. Anything that you think I need to know?

Here is what he thinks:

He is optimistic about his business endeavors as he is focused on solving real, important problems — which is the “basic premise of creating value to succeed in business.” Knowing the magnitude and depth of the problems upon which he is working, all I can say is “Amen.”

He voices concern that politics “has bled into” business deeper than at any time in his life.

In what he describes as the “3rd wave” of the pandemic, travel is difficult to impossible which impacts reaching existing customers and making new connections. This unfavorably impacts the ability to  grow.

In Japan the pandemic has been “kind to the nation” — for no reason he can put his finger on. That is a keen observation because he has been traveling in Asia extensively and in the States. He thinks the Japanese people are “generally cautious and follow the rules.” Still, he worries about the impact on what he calls the “famously harmonious social fabric longer term.”

He sees the involvement of government in problem solving by means of regulation and rulemaking as being a big challenge and suggests that government should allow the private sector to attack problems with government providing funding as their contribution. This implies that government is funding “new ideas” rather than throwing money at legacy, Old School solutions that clearly are not working.

Our friend wants us to know that extreme polarization is not solely a USA issue. In more than 200 days of travel, including 4 separate periods of quarantine, he comes away with the general sense that the individual citizen does not feel well represented by the political class of leaders and that what they want desperately is protection from outside threats. He sees the desire for protection and the requisite change to be an ultimate stress test for the “fabric of our global system.”

So, dear reader, there you have it — the view from Japan, Singapore, and Asia from a Canadian ex-pat with more than three decades of exposure in a very techy problem solving environment.

Be well.