On Monday, November 5th, 21JPSI's interdisciplinary "Japan Politics and Society" speaker series continued with a public lecture by Prof. Joseph Coleman, a professor of practice in IU's Media School and the former Associated Press' Tokyo Bureau Chief.
During his roughly 45-minute talk, Prof. Coleman highlighted the global phenomenon of aging workforces in Japan and the United States—a topic which 21JPSI Director Adam Liff noted in his opening remarks as "an extremely important but understudied and often overlooked" policy challenge.
Prof. Coleman's remarks drew on extensive research he conducted for his 2015 book on the topic. He focused primarily on the situation in Japan, where "the aging society is such an essential part of the Japanese story." After identifying the various stresses that an aging work force can impose on a society, from a lopsided health care and pension burden to labor shortages in key industries, he discussed the ways the Japanese government and companies have responded. In particular, he highlighted the fascinating ways in which individual companies are on the front lines, implementing innovative practices to counteract the challenges created by labor shortages and the like. Inspiring stories such as that of the Japanese town of Irodori, "hammer men" who shape the nosecones for Japan's world-famous bullet trains by hand, and Professor Coleman's energetic and engaging lecture ended the talk on an optimistic note.
After, contrasting the differences between the United States and Japan in their aging workforces and policy responses, Prof. Coleman engaged the audience of about 49 faculty and students in a 30-minute Q&A session. The discussion was wide-ranging, and covered issues and possible countermeasures as varied as changing immigration policies and expanding opportunities for women in the work force.
After a twenty-year career with the Associated Press, Prof. Coleman joined the IU faculty in 2007. In addition to teaching classes, he mentors young journalists and the 2020 Ernie Pyle Scholars honor students in the journalism program. He also advises the IU student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and leads students on annual study trips to Japan.
21JPSI's Fall 2018 speaker series will continue on November 28th with a public talk by Prof. Megumi Naoi of UC San Diego entitled "U.S. – Japan Economic Frictions in the 'Trump Era': Beyond TPP?" (Nov. 28 4pm, PY 100)).
*The 21st Century Japan Politics and Society Initiative (21JPSI) was launched at Indiana University's Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in 2018. Under the leadership of Founding Director (and HLS) faculty member Adam Liff, 21JPSI aims to invigorate and expand research, teaching, and programming on contemporary Japanese politics, society, and international (esp. U.S.-Japan) relations, and to educate, raise awareness, and debate policy responses to the various political, social, and foreign policy challenges that Japan faces in this extremely dynamic era of 21st-century change. Supported by a generous $900,000 grant from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, in its first five years 21JPSI will enable a new tenure-track faculty search in summer/fall 2019; two new courses on contemporary Japan; a speaker series on Japanese Politics and Society; biennial conferences on U.S.-Japan relations; graduate research fellowships, and faculty travel grants. For more information, please see https://jpsi.indiana.edu/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org