[VIEWPOINT]Inclusion will prevent a failureProfessor Ikujiro Nonaka, author of the popular book “Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation,” published another book, “Strategic vs. Evolutionary Management: A U.S.-Japan Comparison of Strategy and Organization,” 20 years ago.
With other organizational studies scholars, Mr. Nonaka, after he returned from the United States, analyzed the reasons for Japan’s defeat in World War II. The book looked into Japanese military defeats in a series of battles in China and Southeast Asia; the authors studied the military organization’s leadership, combat management capabilities and strategies.
It concluded that the substance of a failure is a product of experiencing a success.
The Japanese military, armed with a strong spirit to win, failed in battles in China and Southeast Asia as well as in the Pacific because the Japanese Army and Navy were too intoxicated by their past experiences of victories against China and Russia, the authors wrote. The Japanese Navy lost the world’s most powerful battleship, the Yamato, even before the ship had a chance to engage in a real battle. Then Japanese soldiers suffered repeated defeats in mainland China and Southeast Asia.
Japan, which had defeated Russia with its strong naval guns, was confident that it could win any sea battle with its even stronger warships. Blinded by that belief, Japan underestimated the U.S. military’s power in the Pacific. Furthermore, throughout Southeast Asia Japanese Army commanders, believing in their soldiers’ morale and combat spirit, fought battles that were impossible to win.
Japan had won wars against Russia and China with England’s diplomatic help; but blinded by its military victories, it went down to defeat in the larger war.
Similar examples are seen in elections in our country. When a party wins a presidential election, it loses the following general election. Then an opposition intoxicated with victory fails to win the next election.
When the Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung administrations began, many people anticipated that a new political paradigm of democracy would be unfolded. Even those who were not passionate supporters of the two expected positive changes. But both governments ran up against the limits of embracing the whole nation.
In the end, the democratic presidents were no more respected than their military predecessors.
The new administration again inspires hopes of change, but the election also revealed deep divisions between conservatives and liberals and between generations of Koreans. The new government will have to mend those ruptures.
The new government has begun selecting its officials; many people would like to contribute, but wonder if there is any room for them. That is rather embarrassing. If the new administration chooses its appointees on the basis of political inclination rather than ability, unwanted social costs will only increase.
The Roh administration may regard itself as a revolutionary regime, built by youngsters and supporters of reform. But it should understand that not all its supporters cast their ballots for that reason.
It should not be a government of a select group of people; it should be a government that is accepted by everyone. That is why the new government should listen to criticism, rather than turning a deaf ear.
Cold reason is necessary to achieve reform, just as important as a warm heart is. If supporters of Mr. Roh really want the Roh government to build the future of Korea in the 21st century, they should step back and support the administration with cold reason.
It is time for us to remember that a victory in the presidential election can be the grounds of the Roh government’s failure in national governance.
* The writer is a professor of public administration at Korea University.
by Yeom Jae-ho
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