Japanese Foreign Affairs Official Visits Berkeley
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
The discussion, which took place at the Women's Faculty Club, touched on many issues relating to Japan's economy, education and foreign relations.
Still reeling from a devastating financial crisis, Machimura is optimistic about Japan's recovery, but admits his country must make drastic changes to facilitate growth.
"We must reform our political process, pension system, healthcare and education," said Machimura. "This restructuring is currently underway but it's a process that will take a number of years."
Tax reductions and incentives, a $380 billion economic stimulus package and new legislation are among the measures introduced by the Japanese government to "rehabilitate the economy," said Machimura.
The inability to transition to a post-industrial society is a significant cause of Japan's economic woes, according to Machimura.
"We had a long tradition of trying to catch-up with America, first with a strong military, then, later with strong industry," said Machimura. "We accomplished our goals in the 1980s but were so busy enjoying the good life, we didn't plan for the future."
Machimura also addressed Japan's often strained relations with China and North Korea.
"We have made some agreements with China on the exchange of sports competition, communications and students," said Machimura.
Despite these agreements, China recently demanded an apology from Japan for its World War II invasion. Machimura said Japan's emperor has already apologized to China.
On the topic of North Korea, Machimura said diplomacy is difficult because "they are such a closed society. We need more information in order to negotiate."