Discuss Japan > Archives
LinkedInTumblrDeliciousYahoo Bookmarks

Archives

Category Archive

No.45

Trends in Selective Globalism

EU-style economic unification with its simultaneous cross-border flows of goods, money and people is on trial. But rather than considering this a reversal of globalism, we should seize this opportunity to rethink what kind of globalism we want.   In 2016, there were a number of political changes that exerted a significant influence on the world economy, including Brexit in the EU and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. Although the US and UK situations are different, this still feels like the domestic issues of income inequality and unemployment have met disillusionment with the political establishment and criticism towards globalism to create a powerful groundswell. To an extent, this may be a shared phenomenon among advanced democracies, including countries of the EU that have been rocked by the refugee issue. Political change, however, does not determine economic trends. The media often talk ... ... [Read more]

No.44

The North Korea Crisis Enters a New Stage
Can the International Community Align its Strategy?

Hiraiwa Shunji, Professor, Nanzan UniversityA string of missile test launches and a sixth nuclear test suggest North Korea is on the verge of becoming a true nuclear power. With differing views on how to deal with a nation insistent on maintaining its domestic regime, the international community is at an impasse. How should we look for a breakthrough?   On September 3, 2017, North Korea went ahead with its sixth nuclear test. The test was immediately followed up by state-run media reporting that the country had “conducted a fully-successful test of a hydrogen bomb designed to be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).” It is fair to say that North Korea went ahead with the nuclear test after determining that the United States would be unable to launch any military action against it. The test also succeeded in reminding the international community that North Korea was making ... ... [Read more]

No.44

The Current Situation of International Health Diplomacy and the Role of Japan

Takemi Keizo, member of the House of CouncilorsGlobalization is the rapid and massive cross-border transfer of people, things, money, information and technologies. It connects societies, economies and communities beyond national borders and is the engine of global development. As a result, the world has become rich and health standards have also improved. On the other hand, in the 21st century, many infectious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Ebola virus and Zika virus, have spread globally at a never-before-seen pace and scale, which has sent shockwaves around the world. In addition, the revitalization of social, economic and cultural exchange beyond national borders has led to the recognition of gaps that obviously exist and the resistance against such absurdity causes political instability, including terrorism. ... [Read more]

Read more

No.46

An Inside View from the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor ― Looking back at seven months that decided the Emperor’s future

In April 2017, the Advisory Council on Easing the Burden of the Official Duties and Public Activities of His Majesty the Emperor (hereafter, Advisory Council) put together its final report and concluded its work. In my role as acting chairman of the Advisory Council I was also its spokesman, so some readers may have seen me at post-meeting press conferences and other events. There was absolutely no precedent for these discussions on Imperial abdication, so it was inevitable that there would be some trial and error involved in seven months of deliberation. Nevertheless, right now I feel that we produced the best report we could. But just what was this Advisory Council that captured the interest of the Japanese people? As our deliberations have now achieved their initial aim, I’d like to explain as much as I can. On 21 April 2017 the Advisory ... ... [Read more]

No.44

Politicians Need to Present Hard-hitting Reforms
―We have had enough of unjustifiable, policy-free elections

Sasaki Takeshi, Former President of the University of TokyoAt the beginning of the extraordinary session of the Diet at the end of September, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo decided on a dissolution of the lower house, saying that it was a “dissolution to break through national difficulties”; giving as his reasons a change in the use of tax income, and the worsening North Korea situation. Mainly due to the Moritomo/Kake Gakuen issue, Abe’s support rate has been in the doldrums since last spring, and in July the LDP suffered a heavy loss in the Tokyo Assembly elections. So, from the perspective of the opposition, this dissolution was a surprise attack. The previous dissolution in 2014 was also a surprise attack, and the opposition lost heavily, being unable to react effectively. But this time was different. Interestingly, the opposition fought back with their own surprise attack. The Tokyo governor Koike Yuriko set up a ... ... [Read more]

No.43

Restoration, Revolution or Reform?
― The Unexpected Fortune of Winners and Tenacious Efforts of Losers

Shimizu Yuichiro, Professor, Keio University Influential politicians in modern Japan such as Hara Takashi, Goto Shinpei and Hirata Tosuke rose to prominence as individuals from “rebel” parts of Japan that had opposed the new Meiji government established in 1868. The key to the Meiji government’s success was a flexible, forward-looking plan for recruiting human talent for higher positions.   How has the Japanese term “Meiji Ishin” been translated into English? For a long time, the generally accepted English translation for this phrase has been the “Meiji Restoration.” The translation appears to correspond to the idea of “a restoration of imperial rule,” but something may have been lost in translation. What about the “Meiji Revolution” as an alternative translation? There was certainly a distinction between the pro-imperial Ishin army and the pro-shogunate “rebels,” but the author is somewhat at a loss when asked whether or not the Meiji Ishin changed ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.46

HondaJet: Fulfilling the Dream of Soichiro

  As HondaJet continues its successful demonstration tour of Europe, Katayama Osamu looks back on the development of the aircraft, the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class. A red and white aircraft landed at Haneda Airport under a blue sky on 23 April 2015. It was a proud moment for HondaJet, whose development has been ongoing for approximately thirty years, since 1986. On the first day of its world tour en route to Japan and Europe, HondaJet made its first appearance outside the United States. At the commemorative press conference on the same day, the president of Honda Motor Co., Ito Takanobu, said, “Ever since its foundation, Honda has always had a dream of flying in the sky. Today, the dream that was held by the founder, Honda Soichiro, and the dream to enter the aircraft industry, thereby achieving three-dimensional mobility, have been ... ... [Read more]

No.46

Interview: The Future of Digital Currencies

The fluctuations in the value of Bitcoin, an Internet digital currency, are becoming more and more rapid. People can use Bitcoin as money in an increasing number of shops, but is unstable Bitcoin a currency? In the modern age, the existence of currencies that were managed monopolistically by states has been shaken by technological progress. The Asahi Shimbun asked economist Iwai Katsuhito, who is known for his theory of money, about the relationships between digital currencies, central banks and states. After Bitcoin rose sharply to more than 2 million yen at the end of last year, from about 100,000 yen a year ago, it fell and showed volatile swings. Can we say that it is a new currency? Iwai Katsuhito: Since Bitcoin emerged in 2009, I have considered the possibility of it becoming a currency. But I have changed my mind in the last ... ... [Read more]

No.46

Medical and Nursing Care Expenses and Social Security

After 2025, by when the baby-boomer generation will have turned 75, medical and nursing care expenses will be a severe issue. How should we construct an efficient system of benefits and payments? The author will describe the organization of the current system and measures for efficiency and consider a realistic solution. 1.Rapidly rising medical and nursing care expenses It is widely known that medical and nursing care expenses have been increasing along with the aging population. As we move closer to 2025, when the youngest baby-boomer will turn 75, we cannot find effective measures for rapidly rising medical and nursing care expenses. At the beginning of this discussion, the author will describe the organization of the current situation of medical and nursing care expenses. According to the “The Financial Statistics of Social Security in Japan ” published by the National Institute of Population and ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.42

The “Johnny’s” Entertainers Omnipresent on Japanese TV: Postwar Media and the Postwar Family

Introduction What do Japanese people think of when they hear the name Johnnies? Perhaps pop groups such as SMAP or Arashi that belong to the Johnny & Associates talent agency? Or perhaps the title of specific TV programs or movies? If they are not that interested, perhaps they will be reminded of the words “beautiful young boys” or “scandal”? On the other hand, if they are well-informed about the topic perhaps jargon terms such as “oriki,” “doutan,” or “shinmechu” are second nature? In this way the word “Johnnies” (the casual name given to groups managed by Johnny & Associates) is likely to evoke all sorts of images. But one thing is sure: almost no Japanese person would reply that they hadn’t heard the name. If a person lives within Japanese society and they watch television even just a little, whether they like it or ... ... [Read more]

No.42

A Collection of Modern French Paintings on a Return Visit to Europe
— Masterpieces from the Bridgestone Museum of Art Ishibashi Foundation —

Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of TokyoIt is well known that there are outstanding works of fine art in Japan, this island nation in the Far East, but only a few experts know that there are actually several collections of Western art in addition to Japanese art. Nevertheless, several Japanese art museums with collections of magnificent works of modern French paintings have recently started to show the paintings in Europe — no doubt as a reminder of their existence. The Masterpieces from the Bridgestone Museum of Art exhibition held at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris this year (April 5 to August 21, 2017) attracted a lot of attention. The exhibition introduced the most important works in the collection of mainly modern Western art acquired by Ishibashi Shojiro (1889–1976), the founder of the Bridgestone Corporation. It must be said that the choice of the Musée de l’Orangerie, famous for its ... ... [Read more]

No.40

Remembering Ooka Makoto The Poet from Mount Fuji

I didn’t want to come from Mount Fuji,” Ooka Makoto once recollected matter-of-factly. But even as he said the words, he didn’t look particularly unhappy at the idea. Ooka Makoto was born in Mishima, a city in Shizuoka Prefecture at the base of the Izu Peninsula. In other words, he could see that sacred mountain from his home, and as a baby he was bathed in the water that flowed into the Kakita river from Fuji via underground tributaries. Many people have places of beauty as their hometown, but for a contemporary poet it’s no small matter. From ancient times to the present day, Mount Fuji has held a sacred place in the hearts of Japanese people, something you might describe as “special.” For Yamabe Akahito, Katsushika Hokusai, and Lafcadio Hearn among others, Fuji has been an expressive motif that symbolizes Japan itself. And ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.46

Diversity Opens the Path to Innovation

Introduction I joined IBM Research—Tokyo in 1985 as the only visually impaired researcher at a time when there were very few female researchers at the company. Since then I have brought a diversity perspective to my work in accessibility research, one of the fields in Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Aiming to optimize Braille library creation and sharing, I participated in the research and development of digital Braille editors, dictionary systems, and Braille information sharing networks after joining the company. I was able to move the research forward because my visual impairment meant that I understood the value of digitizing Braille. Starting in the mid-1990s, I worked on a text-to-speech reader for the Internet. This idea also emerged out of the needs of the visually impaired, but since then it has spread in ways I never expected. At present, I am working on new assistive ... ... [Read more]

No.44

Prevent Japan from bankruptcy due to the shortage of workers
Hold discussions on coexistence with foreigners
Shortage of workers equal to the period of the bubble economy

Isoyama Tomoyuki, Business Journalist  The effective opening-to-application ratio in March 2017 was 1.45, a high value for the first time in 26 years and 4 months since November 1990. If the present situation continues, Japan may fall into bankruptcy due to the shortage of workers. The time has come when we should seriously consider the role of foreigners as people who support Japanese economic society and local communities.   The Kinosaki Hot Spring is located close to the spot where the Maruyama River flows into the Sea of Japan in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture. The hot spring resort, which is known for the novel Kinosaki ni te by Shiga Naoya, features lines of wooden hot spring inns along the Otani River, which has willow trees lining its banks. The area exudes a unique atmosphere. In the last few years there has been an increase in the number ... ... [Read more]

No.43

Dialogue: Challenge by Tottori, the Least Populous Prefecture in Japan
There is a Right Size for Democracy

Motani Kosuke, Chief Senior Economist, The Japan Research Institute, Ltd. vs Hirai Shinji, Governor, Tottori Prefecture Tottori, a Unique Countryside Motani Kosuke: I read your book, Chiisakutemo Kateru (You Can Win Even if You Are Small). I think this book is like the novel, Shitamachi Roketto (Rockets of an Old Commercial District) by Mr. Ikeido Jun. It’s the story of a young man who grew up in Tokyo and migrated to Tottori. In the story, the protagonist leaves a large company, finds a job at a second-tier company and achieves success as a hired business manager with his strenuous efforts. Hirai Shinji: Thank you, Mr. Motani. I’ve asked you for help in many ways, including a visit to a symposium held in our prefecture and guidance with our prefectural employees, because I really wanted to try what you called the capitalism of the satoyama ... ... [Read more]

Read more

No.

Opinion Poll: Is Japan Tilting to Right?

Intellectuals Concerned About “Tilt to the Right” The survey, to which 282 people including intellectuals and experts responded, asked people in Japan for their opinions on whether Japan is “tilting to the right” as some foreign media have suggested. The ratio of respondents who “feel Japan is ’tilting to the right”‘ as foreign media claim was 23.4%. However, when combining an answer that they do not think so as of now but it is possible later, which was given by 13.1%, nearly 40% of the respondents are concerned about Japan’s drift to the right. Also, 28.4% said Japan is “not tilting to the right but reactions of overseas media over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments and actions are understandable,” suggesting that they think it is inevitable that foreign media look the current situation like... [Read more]

No.9

INFORMATION SECURITY MEASURES UNDER PRESSURE OF REVISION

Photo : Takakura HirokiWhat on earth is happening? Is Japan taking information security measures seriously?” This year, one after another of the networks of public organizations and corporations, including major heavy industries, have been at the receiving end of cyber attacks, resulting in disclosure of important information in some instances. The damage is gradually becoming clear as the investigations move forward, but in most cases, we cannot expect to understand the full particulars. In many of the attacks, the attackers penetrated protected computers that were only accessible to a limited number of people at the companies to steal information. A great variety of information was targeted including... [Read more]

No.8

GREENERY CHANGES CITIES… AND CHANGES HOW WE LIVE

Moderator: This summer, with calls to save energy and reduce electricity consumption, we are seeing the emergence of a movement to use greenery as a way to beat the heat, with “green curtains” becoming the focus of a great deal of attention, for example. Today we are going to hear from two experts about the future of the relationship between cities and greenery. We’ll start by asking your opinions on the current state of the kind of greenery that everyone is familiar with, such as roadside trees. FUJII Eijiro: Unfortunately for the last twenty years or so in Japan, there are more and more trees that have been terribly over-pruned. Even in parks there are a lot of trees that have been pruned unnecessarily. For trees such as Platanus Orientalis (plane trees), for example, if they are in parks then there is no need ... ... [Read more]

Read more

PAGE TOP