Tapping hidden potential

“Japanese culture doesn’t allow people to come back from mistakes”

Do you agree?

That’s a quote from the OECD’s Tokyo office head, from this article about how Japan needs to “tap its hidden economic potential” (from Bloomberg) — which includes women and older people. Another area that needs work: innovation. Even though Japan leads the world in the number of patents registered, a culture afraid of risk (says the article) doesn’t allow innovation in businesses and products. Another surprising statistic: according to the article, Japan had the lowest productivity-per-hour rate of all the Group of Seven countries from 1974 to 2014.


The article includes a short video, too:


Calculating creativity

Not of an individual,  but of a country.

(via Quartz)

This is a “Global Creativity Index” for 2015 (60 page pdf here) — the creativity of countries, ranked. How do they measure creativity? The “three Ts”:

  • technology: basically, how much the country spends on research & development and innovation
  • talent: “the share of the workforce in the creative class and the share of adults with higher education”
  • tolerance: “openness to ethnic and religious minorities and gay and lesbian people”

Japan is ranked #2 (behind South Korea) in the technology index, #58 in the talent index, and #39 in the tolerance index. The researchers ranked a total of 139 countries.

There’s some interesting data here, and a lot of themes you could use as research topics.

Learning more about the TPP

Your eyes may glaze over at the topic, but it’s important to learn about what the deal means and may mean in the future, for consumers, producers, retailers and politicians. I heard a good explanation about it on the news this morning (in Japanese). Here are some links to English language explainers:

“TPP: What is it and why does it matter?” (from BBC)

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership explained” (from the Australian Financial Review — this one has some useful infographics, too)

“Sweeping trade deal sets wide-ranging rules” (from Nikkei Asian Review)

“The just-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, explained” (from Vox, which has explainers on many different topics)

“The TPP, explained in 75 seconds” by the Washington Post (video will open in a new tab):

TPP explained by WaPo

This one is a little older and definitely includes an opinion:

If you’re looking for more details, try going to Google News (or Yahoo News or…) and typing “TPP explained” and then browse the headlines. Make sure you pay attention to the source: Is it reliable? Does it have a bias?

Who belongs on the $10 bill?


U.S. currency is expected to change soon: “Woman To Be Featured on Newly Redesigned $10 Bill, Treasury Announces” (from History.com).

Some people have said that it’s not the $10 that should be changed but the $20. Find out why here: “Keep Hamilton on the Ten, Put Tubman on the Twenty.” (from The New Yorker)

This article is referring to Harriet Tubman, an abolitionist during the Civil War in the U.S.

Some other possibilities include former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and several women’s rights activists.  Read more about these women here: “Whose face do you want on the $10 bill?” (from Democrat & Chronicle) and here: “A Woman on a $10 Bill? Readers Respond” (from the New York Times)

beyonce_bill_full2Someone has even suggested Beyonce: “10 Women Who Belong on the New $10 Bill” (from Rolling Stone)

Some things to think and research/write/talk about:

  • Which of these women are you familiar with?
  • Who should be on the $10 (or $20)?
  • What Japanese currency should have women? Which women?
  • Do we even need paper money anymore? What about digital currency?