Speaking Of Asia: The new Japan rises

For a nation that abhors change, Japan is changing in many ways - from its social mix to strategic posture

Could this be Japan, the monocultural nation where change, if it happens, comes glacially and even that is too fast for most Japanese? On a recent visit to Japan, I stood watching as a man of medium height with faint South Asian looks worked alongside a taller Japanese person as they loaded bags into the limousine bus that would take airline passengers from Haneda Airport into the city.

As the vehicle left, the pair stood respectfully side by side, tilting their heads in the classic Japanese bow. When I checked with the young man, it turned out his name was "Lama" and he was from Kathmandu, Nepal.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2018, with the headline 'The new Japan rises'. Subscribe