Public service and serving the public

shining chinese lanterns above bike parked near cafe

I have a general dislike for how the public service is run in Japan. Firstly, those who want to become public servants have to take exams, which apparently dates back to Confucian China. Judging on the other exams I've seen, I imagine they would be very broad and would require rote memorisation of a large number of facts to succeed. The first reason why I'd never want to do it. Then, I've heard there is also an age limit, of around 30. Agism is rife in Japan, people gain positions simply by being older than others, it's also one reason I feel that Japan won't have a female Prime Minister in my lifetime. Too much control by the old men at the top.

But probably my biggest issue is that the people who become public servants do so for a comfortable life. Who could blame them though, right? They get good benefits, and a good salary. These jobs have been especially sought after since the bursting of the economic bubble and the recessions that followed in the 1990s.

No, my issue is that, once you're a public servant, you're set for life. I have quite a few friends who are public servants, and they are all very good and very likeable. I have no problem with them as people. But, in most cases, there is an inevitable wall that has to be overcome, and there isn't too much incentive to put in that little extra bit of effort.

In addition, the requirements for the above-mentioned exams are very broad and include a lot of ethics, which, although necessary for public service, aren't exactly good for public service. Budget constraints make it hard for those in the public service to outsource, and so you're left with people with the greatest of intentions, but with a lack of ability to actually get jobs done.

Case in point is the tourism industry here (although, I also question leaving it up to the public servants). People have the greatest of intentions, but they are quite single-minded, by which I mean they all think the same way, and since they lack skills that could have been developed in the public sector, nothing really develops.

The conclusion to take from this, is that in my opinion the public service should be run more like a private company, or public servants should be exposed to outside influence more often to develop their business skills. I guess I just have to support them how and when I can, which I think will only increase with time. This requires a huge skill-development on my behalf though, for which I need to be experimenting more.

But, I definitely also have to remember that without them, a lot could go wrong. Not everybody has the same ideas as I do, and if they are perfectly happy doing what they're doing, then let them be! They're always very helpful to you! I should also take a leaf out of their book and think about the public more than myself a bit more often!



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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