Letter from Pernille Rudlin published in the Financial Times, May 28th.
Sir, Contrary to your leader writer (“Factory Flaw”, May 26) I believe Japan would be well advised to stick to monozukuri (“making things”). A healthy society needs a variety of jobs for its population to achieve self-fulfilment in work. We cannot all live by knowledge work alone.
It does seem that there is something rather unsatisfying to the human soul about living off the profits made from trading in complex financial instruments or house prices. Witness all those articles in the Financial Times over the past few months describing how now redundant City workers are flocking to cookery courses, sailing, starting their own vineyards and so on.
The leader writer’s view that manufacturing jobs only require “obedient high-school graduates” and that these jobs are not “professional, varied and lucrative” is not supported by the fact that so many manufacturers at the moment, Japanese and otherwise, are trying to negotiate wage cuts or reduce work time, rather than lay off their core staff.
It costs a lot of money to train key factory workers, as they are (thanks to Japanese management influence) required to be multi-skilled, computer literate, excellent problem solvers and understand complex logistical requirements. Manufacturers do not want to have to go through the expense of finding and training a fresh batch of people once the economy picks up.
It is true that these jobs are not as lucrative as those “triple the national average” salaries that politicians, journalists and bankers seem to feel they are entitled to. But given what is happening to the media, banking and politics at the moment, at least people in industry can feel glad that they have a job, and it is a job that society values.
Japan Intercultural Consulting,
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