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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 28-Jun-05
How generational changes affect Japan and China

Web Log - June, 2005

How generational changes affect Japan and China

A page one article in today's Wall Street Journal explains how Japan's attitudes towards China have changed as generations change.

The article explains that "Relations between Japan and China are at their tensest level in decades," and gives a generational reason for this:

"Ten years ago, when Chinese navy ships were spotted in waters between Japan and China, a newly elected lawmaker named Keizo Takemi warned that the Chinese were surveying energy resources also claimed by Japan. He was ignored by senior colleagues, who said they wanted to keep smooth ties with Beijing.

This year, as China prepares to drill for natural gas below that same part of the East China Sea, Japan is reacting very differently. Mr. Takemi, now a leader on foreign affairs in parliament, put together a response that was surprisingly robust by Japanese standards: In March, Tokyo announced it will launch a rival drilling effort, to be protected by Japan's high-tech military if necessary.

"Our nation's sovereign rights are at stake," says Mr. Takemi, 53 years old."

Related Articles

Japan and China in confrontation over comfort women: Meanwhile, countries throughout region are increasingly anxious as China makes major new military announcements.... (7-Mar-07)
China's Foreign Minister replies to "China threat" to US and Japan: And China changes the official transcript to hide what he really said.... (1-Mar-07)
Japan's real estate crash may finally end after 16 years: To see where America is going, look what happened in Japan.... (20-Feb-07)
Japan comes closer to renouncing its postwar pacifism: Japan stirs fears of increased militarism by upgrading its Defense Agency... (18-Dec-06)
New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe represents "hawkish" generational change: He's sure to infuriate the Chinese and Koreans.... (27-Sep-06)
In an Independence Day surprise, North Korea launches multiple test missiles towards Japan: Sticking its thumb in the eye of the United Nations and the United States,... (4-Jul-06)
Japanese minister calls Chinese a considerable military threat: Relations between China and Japan continue to increase in anger and hostility,... (22-Dec-05)
Japanese and Chinese relations are deteriorating sharply : Between China's search for oil and Koizumi's shrine visit, the level of anger and suspicion is rising fast. (23-Oct-2005)
China and Japan head for military confrontation over disputed islands.: Meanwhile, a Chinese general threatens America with nuclear war over Taiwan.... (16-Jul-05)
How generational changes affect Japan and China: A page one article in today's Wall Street Journal... (28-Jun-05)
China makes five demands of Japan: After Japanese leader apologized at length for Japan's history,... (25-Apr-05)
Neither China nor Japan backing off from increasing confrontation: As conflict increases, America's Pacific strategy is coming apart at the seams.... (20-Apr-05)
Chinese rage at Japan grows, as does fear of uncontrolled rioting: Chinese Internet boards are calling for renewed anti-Japanese riots this weekend.... (16-Apr-05)
Thousands of Chinese protesters hurl bottles at Japan Embassy in Beijing: Anti-Japanese feelings in China and Korea have been erupting for weeks.... (09-Apr-05)
Korea - Japan relations nosedive over long-disputed islands: 2005 is supposed to be "Korea-Japan Friendship Year,"... (18-Mar-05)
Japan blocks most North Korean ships from its ports: The Japanese, infuriated by North Korean abductions in the 1970s,... (01-Mar-05)
Increasingly militaristic China denounces US-Japan statement on Taiwan: China is militarily surpassing America in the Taiwan Straits,... (21-Feb-05)
Ambassador to Japan calls North Korean threat "deadly": While the Bush administration has been trying to give a muted, non-alarming response to the North Korean threat,... (18-Feb-05)
North Korea says Japanese sanctions will trigger "war" and an "effective physical" response: Japan has threatened to freeze food aid to North Korea and impose other sanctions... (16-Dec-04)
U.S. and Japanese economies show unexpected warning signs: With the jobs report due out on Friday, America's consumer confidence index fell... (1-Dec-04)
European and Japanese economy show sharp, unexpected slowdowns, as do American factory orders: High oil prices, weakness of the dollar, and slowdown in exports are blamed for third quarter slowdowns... (15-Nov-04)
Bobby Fischer is arrested in Japan.: Bobby Fischer used to be an idol to this nerd,... (16-Jul-04)
Japan: Is Japan's economy finally near collapse? (26-Mar-03)

The article describes "the emergence of a new generation of leaders with new notions about Japan's role in the world," and adds:

"These younger lawmakers, most in their 40s and 50s, want their nation to be more assertive. They are also willing to break old taboos about shows of military force, something Japan long avoided for fear of conjuring memories of World War II aggression. That's a big change from their predecessors, who avoided confrontation with China, instead showering it with billions of dollars in development aid out of guilt over Japan's brutal 1930s invasion. Memories are still raw in China of the Japanese attack, which historians say caused fighting and famine that killed millions of Chinese civilians."

Journalists have to rediscover this every time, but this article is describing one of the most important concepts underlying Generational Dynamics: That as long as a nation's leaders have personal memory of the last crisis war (World War II in this case), they're willing to compromise and contain problems, but they're willing to do anything to prevent another crisis war. That was true ten years ago, when the Chinese navy ships were first spotted.

But once the generational of leaders who grew up during the last crisis war all disappear (retire or die) all at once, the nation's attitudes change decisively and dramatically. The new leaders have no fear of a new crisis war and have a completely different world view than their departed elders. This is what began happening very rapidly in the late 1990s in countries around the world that fought in World War II.

Incidentally, we're not talking only about political leaders. We're talking about senior managers in government, labor unions, businesses, educational institutions, non-profit instituations, financial institutions, and so forth. That's why this generational change deeply affects every organization and institution throughout the nation.

I'm mentioning this article because it's so rare to see any mainstream publication discuss the effects of generational changes on society, finance and politics.

This is quite striking because the changes in the European Union are caused by exactly the same kinds of generational changes that the article describes in Japan.

As we pointed out in our analysis of the French rejection of the EU Constitution, the exit polls indicate that the people who were alive during World War II favor the Constitution because they believe that it's the best way to prevent a new European war, while those born after WW II are opposed to the Constitution because they believe it will cost them jobs. As time goes on, the generational balance will tilt further and further toward people who reject the European Union.

This analysis of exit polls isn't exactly rocket science, but to this day I haven't read a single article or heard a single analyst make this obvious point. Journalists, pundits and analysts are generally completely blind to even the simplest generational issues.

In all of these cases, the generational change continues, and the population of each country becomes more confrontational, and more willing to risk conflict.

Once this mood change takes place, it's very easy for a country to miscalculate. For example, referring to the WSJ story, there might be a small military confrontation between Japanese and Chinese ships trying to drill for natural gas. Each side may expect the other to back down, but as both sides become increasingly confrontational, neither side backs down, and a small battle spirals out of control into a major war.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 30-May-2005
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 2
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 1
China 2 North Korea 3
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

Generational Dynamics predicts that exactly that will happen with 100% certainty -- not just in China versus Japan, but around the world, leading to a new "clash of civilizations" World War. This might happen next week, next month, next year, or shortly thereafter, but it's going to happen with absolutely certainty.

The adjoining graphic, which also appears on the home page of this web site, gauges the risk level in several different regions around the world. Generational Dynamics predicts that once a war breaks out in any of these regions (or there's a major financial crisis or bird flu epidemic), then wars in all the remaining regions will follow within two years or so, leading to a world war. (28-Jun-05) Permanent Link
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