Today, I went to the TUJ Mita Campus to hear our good friend Robert Dujarric give a talk. The good news? Japan is rich, stable, and peaceful. (Hey, that’s why he’s here, isn’t it?) The bad news? Japan is missing out on the 21st Century.
I’ve asked him to give a similar talk at another forum, sometime in June. If you’re interested and will be in Tokyo then, send me an email. It’s by invitation only, but it won’t be difficult to convince the sponsor; there’s no refreshments.
There’s another, related story that I want to tell here. It’s a ten, fifteen minute walk from the subway station to the TUJ Mita Campus, and, along the way, it’s mostly machine shops, little office buildings, restaurants, groceries, an odd Buddhist temple or two － the not old, but aging, face of Tokyo. This was the first time that I had been in the neighborhood in broad daylight, so I was surprised by the number of shuttered stored fronts and closed offices along the way.
They talk about the hollowing out of the provinces, the inaka, once teeming city centers that have lost their trade to larger metropolitan centers. They’re not the only ones. Do you remember the 2003 Tokyo office space market collapse that never happened? I think that I have some idea how the Tokyo real estate market absorbed it.
On the way back, I stopped off at Shinjuku and walked through Kabukichō. Do you know that short, wide street that looks like the center of Kabukichō, if anything that can be called that? Sure enough, there was an unmanned information center. Is the rot reaching the core…
The silver lining? I passed through the love hotel district (Kabukichō, not Mita), and all the hotels were open for business. There were even a few couples answering (or having answered) nature’s calls on the streets. One of Mr. Dujarric’s most serious charges is aimed at the very low, Japanese fertility rate. Let’s give those enterprising couples any encouragement we can give them, no?