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No.43 ,Diplomacy ,Discussions  Feb 13, 2018

Dialogue: Will the Day Come When China and India Coexist as Major Powers?

Horimoto Takenori, Visiting Professor, Gifu Women’s University of Japan Kawashima Shin, Professor, University of Tokyo Kawashima Shin: China is making a range of moves, both large and small, with the National Congress of the Communist Party of China imminent this fall. But we need to keep our eyes on India, in addition to observing how China will change in units of 10 years and 20 years when we think about the future of the world and the future of Asia. Horimoto Takenori: China and India combined are said to have accounted for half of the global GDP in the middle of the 18th century. The same situation is likely to emerge in the second half of the 21st century. To begin with, only two countries in the world, China and India, have populations exceeding 1 billion at the present time. The framework of the ... ... [Read more]

No.43 ,Society ,Discussions  Jan 23, 2018

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]

No.42 ,Diplomacy ,Discussions  Jan 18, 2018

Dialogue: Abe Commences Double Postwar Settlement at Russo-Japanese Summit Talks
Putin Says That National Borders Can Move

Key Points of the Joint Press Conference held on December 16, 2016 The two leaders agreed to commence negotiations for a special system for carrying out joint economic activities on the four Russian-held Northern Islands. The two leaders expressed their shared willingness to conclude a peace treaty and recognized joint economic activities as a step toward its conclusion. Abe expressed the view that the road to the conclusion of a peace treaty covering the Northern Territories issue remains long and difficult. Why the Islands Were Not Discussed Yamauchi: I think many media reported that as usual, no progress was observed on the Northern Territories issue immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin had talks with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Sato: To state my conclusion first, I think that the latest Russo-Japanese summit produced significant results for both countries. Yamauchi: I agree with you completely. ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Science ,Discussions  Nov 13, 2017

Dialogue: The fundamental bases for the Japanese people
To the fundamental bases for the Japanese people
― The possibility of initiatives for integrating archaeology with anthropology

  Editorial staff: This special feature discusses research on the lives of ancient people beyond the boundaries of study areas, with a focus on the time from the Jomon period to the Kofun (ancient tomb) period. Please tell us what you think of the time from the Jomon period to the Kofun period. Shinoda Kenichi: Genome information shows that the genetic structure of modern-day Japanese was more strongly influenced by the immigrant Yayoi people who came to Japan from Korea and China than by the Jomon people, who constituted the fundamental bases for the Japanese people. It seems that because the people from the Korean and Chinese continents were agricultural people, they had a strong ability to increase the population. Anthropological studies on the Jomon and Yayoi periods have revealed that modern-day Japanese living on the main island of Japan have many genes derived ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Politics ,Discussions  Oct 27, 2017

A Long-Lived, Unamended Constitution

As the debate in Japan over constitutional revision becomes heated, two researchers from the University of Tokyo make comparisons with other nations and discuss the unique features of Japan’s constitution and the constitutional revision debate. Kenneth Mori McElwain is an associate professor specializing in comparative political institutions and party politics, while Makihara Izuru is a professor specializing in oral history, political studies, and the study of public administration. Makihara Izuru (MI): I know that you are researching issues connected with the constitution of Japan (COD) and its revision. Please could you first tell us a little about the background to that research. Kenneth Mori McElwain (KM): My original study theme wasn’t constitutional law but comparative political institutions and party politics. Like my parents, I was very interested in politics, and just as I finished high school in 1994 the Japanese electoral system was revised. ... ... [Read more]

No.41 ,Society ,Discussions  Sep 19, 2017

Dialogue: Is Artificial Intelligence Versus Humans Reflected in Shogi as Well as Everyday Life?
AI Raises Again the Question of How Humans Should Live

    Sakai Kuniyoshi Habu Yoshiharu AI Cuts a Path for New Shogi Moves Habu Yoshiharu: AI (artificial intelligence) has been a popular conversation topic over the last few years. I think the long-awaited appearance of AI in visible forms, such as humanoid robots and automated driving, has been a large turning point for this trend. AI has also achieved developments in the world of board games, including chess, shogi and go. Recently, the fields which implement AI have expanded. What was once a fantasy has begun to show potential for successful real world application. People are pinning their hope on such potential for AI. However, they also seem to fear the possibility that AI will surpass them, otherwise known as the singularity. Sakai Kuniyoshi: I’m a scientist who specializes in the language function of the brain. Thinking about AI leads to thoughts about ... ... [Read more]

No.36 ,Science ,Discussions  Dec 26, 2016

Interview: Artificial Intelligence

  Professor Sakura Osamu (left) had an interview with Professor Nishigaki Toru about the artificial intelligence (AI) on September 2, 2016, at the Office of the Dean of the University of Tokyo Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies.   Professor Sakura (hereinafter “Sakura”): First, I would like you to give a brief self-introduction. I have just read your book entitled Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: Gain Insights into Their Possibilities and Traps, which you published in July 2016 through Chuokoron-Shinsha Inc. In this book, you discuss the cultural and social background behind artificial intelligence (AI), with relation to recent big data and singularity. I found it very interesting. I am remembering the excellent impression I got from reading your book for general readers entitled AI: The Concepts Behind Artificial Intelligence, which you first published in 1988 through Kodansha Ltd. Big Data and Artificial Intelligence came ... ... [Read more]

No.35 ,Society ,Discussions  Oct 31, 2016

“Abdication” Is Not Easy

HARA Takeshi (HT): I was literally astonished at the news “Emperor Intends to Abdicate.” When the news was aired on NHK at 7pm on July 13, I happened to have the TV on and, as I was watching it dumbfounded, I started receiving phone call after phone call from the press asking for comments.
KAWANISHI Hideya (KH): I can no longer stand to watch TV. (Laughing)
HT: That’s just not possible any more. The reason I was surprised is that Article 2 of the Japanese Constitution states that “The Imperial Throne shall be dynastic,” and Article 4 of the Imperial House Law, which prescribes matters such as the method of succession, states that “Upon the demise of the Emperor, the Imperial Heir shall immediately accede to the Throne.” I have construed this to mean that the government cannot allow abdication. So if abdication is realized, this is a huge change in policy. ... [Read more]

No.34 ,Culture ,Discussions  Sep 30, 2016

No future for places that fail to attract talent

Cutting a Topknot That Had Been Tied for Twenty-four Years. Meij: You have just had your retirement ceremony and had your topknot cut. Have you gotten used to your new hair style? Nishiiwa: Not yet, because I had a topknot for twenty-four years (laughs). Meij: I’ve read your autobiography (Tatakiage). True to the title, you really are a self-made man. What surprised me most is that you had surgery an astonishing nine times. I don’t know anyone else who’s had so many operations. Nishiiwa: Me neither, other than me. Meij: You won nineteen consecutive tournaments at the three highest ranks below yokozuna. That is amazing. Unlike ozeki, there is no kadoban for these three ranks. So, you will be demoted if you lose many more than you win, or even stay away from the ring for a tournament.... [Read more]

No.32 ,Society ,Discussions  Jun 05, 2016

What does the future hold for funerals in Japan?

Shimada Hiromi: In January this year, I published Zero-so: Assari shinu (Zero funeral: How to die a simple death). It advocates “zero funerals,” whereby the crematorium disposes of the deceased’s remains in their entirety, leaving nothing for the bereaved family to collect. This means that there is no need for the family to pay for a grave either. In actual fact, the funeral urns that bereaved families go to collect in western Japan only contain around one third of the deceased’s total remains. The remainder is disposed of elsewhere, by the crematorium for instance. From a logical standpoint, it would make sense to get the crematorium to dispose of everything. I have been known to criticize modern funerals in the past, saying that they are an unnecessary and expensive formality, but the reaction to this book has been incredible. People seem... [Read more]

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