Old man Japan may not have the chutzpah to keep up with the competitive nations on all sides. The ageing world power recently established a department to negotiate with and study the industries of Korea.
Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo treated the news with a suspicion and a call to arms:
Korea ranked third after the U.S. and Japan in terms of U.S. patent applications last year, but with 8,782 patent applications, the gap with Japan, which filed for 35,904 applications, was vast. In 2008, Korea saw a US$3.1 billion trade deficit with Japan in terms of technological products and services while Japan achieved a $15 billion trade surplus. Korea also lags behind Japan in terms of products that have the largest global market share. Korea only has 53 such products compared to Japan’s 234. Last year, Korea was able to beat Japan for the first time in terms of trade surplus, but over the same period it posted a $27 billion deficit in trade with Japan. Most of the core components that go into Korean export products are made in Japan.
The reason why Japan intends to learn from Korea is that it does not wish to lose. From now on, Korean businesses may encounter even fiercer competition from their Japanese rivals. The government and businesses need to step up the pace and keep a closer eye on them. Some say Japan may be on the wane, but the country still has a lot to teach Korea.
Don’t forget, Korea just stuck it to Japan in women’s figure skating.