When I started my career in the late 1990s, my employer encouraged us to have a global mind to cope with Japan’s recession so-called “the lost decade”. By 2000, the words “global” and “globalisation” were used as the keywords — and sometimes buzzwords — for surviving the upcoming new millennium, followed by the dot-com bubble. My coworkers and I were pressured to raise TOEIC scores, to learn SWOT analysis, MECE, and other terms of logical thinking, to abandon obsolete Japanese work style and get accustomed to global — in many cases American — way of thinking.
In 2006, those ideas were changed. Seeing the Livedoor scandals and accompanying downfall of dot-com millionaires, Japanese people found out that the American way did not work. Instead, they began taking a second look at their own country and reviewing the good things of it. The company I worked for focused on the products for domestic customers rather than overseas ones, with “the Japan quality” as its corporate philosophy.
Starting 2010s, people’s inward-oriented views were changing into global again. Japanese enterprises were going out overseas, not only to the United States at that time but to the Third World such as India, China, Russia, Brazil and Southeast Asian and African countries. I had more and more opportunities to get involved in the services offered to such customers going to those countries in order to meet their needs and demands.
The first half of 2010s was the years of transportation. Low cost carriers helped people fly abroad at low air fares. Everywhere you can see people travelling to and from all over the world on a regular basis.
Yet you see that people’s favour of the global-oriented mind or the local-oriented one swings from side to side every five or six years. That being the case, such a globalised world will come to an end shortly. The event that happened this week in the United Kingdom showed that the most symbolically. The referendum determined the UK to leave the European Union it had joined in 1973. Other European countries like France, Italy and Spain begin the preparation of such referendum whether they should leave or remain the EU by some people tired of enormous numbers of immigrants from the Middle East and accompanying terrorist attacks occurring inside Europe.
Likewise, in the United States, Donald Trump, saying that a wall should be built on the border to shut out Mexicans and Muslims, has the enthusiastic support by the conservative and relatively poor American population. Even Hillary Clinton, one of the rival candidates of Trump, says that she is against the US to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In Japan, some nationalistic extremists carrying patriotic flags with them are making a hate speech on the street, saying that the people from neighbouring countries should get out of Japan and go back to their own country.
I think that now is the turning point of the era and there will be no more “globalised World” from now on. People of each country will pay attention only inside their own country. A dispute or, in some cases, an armed clash may begin between some countries. Such an era will last five or six years, at least Trump or Clinton’s presidential term. What we can do right now might be to look on such the World and to have as many options as possible to be able to cope with the future fluctuation of circumstances.