|A New Wave|
The reasoning behind this decision of course is something that has been talked about for a few years by internationally-minded business heads like UNIQLO's CEO, Yanai. In this Asahi newspaper interview, he boldly stated last year that any Japanese worker who cannot function in English will not be able to find a job in 10 year's time.
As 2011 was a nightmare year for any major industry that was Japan based- Panasonic, Sony and all automobile companies took staggering losses due to the combination of the strong yen and the Tohoku disaster. This in combination with the shrinking Japanese working population and strict immigration policies leaves Japanese little choice but to move factories and major operations overseas. This in turn means that most jobs available for Japanese university graduates may be indeed be abroad in the next few years. Whether these graduates choose to work for Japanese companies abroad or foreign companies, it is imperative that they be able to function in at least English- a better bet would be English and Chinese, Korean, French or Spanish.
In many ways, this will update a very stuck-in-a-rut Japanese school system and hopefully create positive changes in all of the educational curriculum in Japan.
If the Japanese Board of Education wants to make sure future Japanese can be successful aborad, they will immediately hire curriculum experts from around the world who can start to implement changes in language education in this country. All JET program teachers hired must be qualified teachers in their own countries before coming to Japan and be allowed to take a leading role in their classes once they are placed. No more foreign teachers as eye-candy, they will be expected to teach immersion style (all English) classes at least once a week for all students.
Since these changes will be implemented quickly, BOE will have to scrap assigning all the textbooks and leave that up to each individual school and teacher. The first 5 years will also have to be a training period for the Japanese teachers who will apprentice in this new style of teaching (to hopefully be able to take over most of the classes someday- we need some jobs to stay in Japan after all).
The same system as JET should be implemented with native Chinese, French, German and Spanish teachers as well.
It is sad that the made in Japan brand will be a thing of the past on the larger scale but as there is little choice it seems for large companies to remain competitive in the global market, this fact needs to be accepted and new ways to still retain a strong economy needs to be created. There is still hope that some companies will maintain their highest quality industry in Japan.
Some major Japanese companies (Toyota's Prius, Mazda cars, etc..) that have boasted about keeping the highest quality components of their products strictly made on Japanese soil, there is hope that they keep at least some manufacturing here.
There are many smaller industries like Kumano brushes (Hiroshima), Kyocera's ceramic knives, and Evisu jeans (Osaka) which all claim they retain a competitive edge by keeping to the highest skilled craftspersonship of their products.
One booming industry that will always stay in Japan is care for the elderly. This is good news for the less than motivated students who cannot speak another language and want to stay in Japan. Although, it does seem that many youngsters would rather work at a convenience store than an old-age home or clinic outside the city, this is another area when immigration regulation may have to become more relaxed.
No matter what changes occur, the Todai decision is likely to send far reaching ripples of change all over the country- and that is a good thing.