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Anxious Individuals and Governments at a Standstill-METI Envisages How to Live a Proactive Life in an Uncharted Era.

Byline: Naoyuki Haraoka

We live in a world where anxious individuals are increasing. In particular, in developed nations people live in growing uncertainty with low economic growth, increasing income gaps, and enhanced geopolitical risks. Under globalization, all these factors causing uncertainty among developed nations would affect them in due course. Thus we see anxious individuals everywhere in the world. Since all the causes of uncertainty are new and the solutions still unknown, governments are at a standstill at this moment and we will need to acquire greater wisdom to find out how to live a proactive life in this uncertainty.

In this cover story, we would like to introduce such knowledge and wisdom to survive this anxious age. First, we need to know what is the background of this growing uncertainty. With this knowledge, our anxiety would be mitigated by clarification of the nature of the risks and uncertainty surrounding ourselves. Second, some suggestions to turn a life with anxiety into a proactive one are provided.

Logical findings and thinking are crucial to mitigating the challenge and being emotionally overwhelmed by anxiety would not be of help in going through such an uncharted era. Thus we would need pilots to steer us.

We found METI's report published in May 2017 titled as in our cover story to be quite relevant in this regard as our starting point in searching for rationales.

With our first article introducing METI's project in 2017 started by then METI Vice Minister Ikuro Sugawara and young METI officials to explore how to restore our proactive life as well as how the government could work on it, readers will be able to understand what the title of the cover story means. Then, assuming there are anxious individuals not only in Japan but everywhere, we offer an international discussion on how to mitigate anxiety in the world. Dr. Francis Fukuyama, a distinguished political scientist and historian, talks about the future of capitalism and democracy, both of which are allegedly exposed to a crisis, capital sources of anxiety in the world. Following this, Martine Durand, OECD chief statistician, shows the OECD's creative and unique approach to measure values for better lives.

This is a way of diversion from GDP-based capitalism. You can learn how to measure happiness and this would be a good reference for living a proactive life. Against the background of the expansion of IT, cyberspace has become an important venue for security worldwide. State-sponsored cyberattacks are new sources of anxiety in the international community. Jun Osawa, an expert on cybersecurity, talks about possible prescriptions against the increased risks in cyberspace.

We then look into the issues of anxiety unique to Japan. Our distinguished editorial committee member Kazumasa Oguro talks about how to promote higher education, a key to mitigation of anxiety over human job replacement by AI or robots, given the rigorous government budget constraints due to snowballing public debt. This is followed by three articles which offer optimism and hope about the future of Japan: an exploratory attempt for new education to raise creativity and innovation by a talented mathematician and jazz pianist, Sachiko Nakajima; an amazing story of self-governance by residents in a Japanese village told by Toshiaki Miyajima, the deputy headman of Shimojo village; and social innovation in an aging society based on the unique collaboration between government, business and NGO, introduced by Chiaki Hayashi, an active business and social entrepreneur, and innovative METI official Daisuke Asano.

We then have two important articles on specific methods for surviving the era of uncharted seas. One is on evidence-based policy making introduced by Yu Uchiyama, a distinguished political scientist, and the other is on a scenario approach introduced by Masahiro Kakuwa, a former member of the Royal Dutch Shell scenario team, and Kazumasa Kusaka, our chairman.

Finally, we present a spontaneous discussion on the causes of anxiety worldwide and those unique to Japan among three articulate thinkers: economist Long Ke, journalist Robin Harding and business mediator Sanjeev Sinha.

We hope you enjoy the diversity of the issues and opinions in these discussions, all stimulated by METI's report.
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Publication:Japan Economic Foundation (Tokyo, Japan)
Date:Jun 30, 2018
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