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No.36 ,Economy  Nov 11, 2016

Significance of Free Trade: Continued Trade Negotiations will Allow for New Progress
―Distinguish between internationalization and people, goods, and money

< Key Points > Avoid discussions about the internationalization of people, goods, and money in the same light. The stronger the movement towards trade liberalization becomes, the larger the backlash grows. History shows that protectionism does not provide desirable results. “We looked for an overseas labor source, but those who arrived were people,” said a Swiss writer commenting on the effects of the foreign work force. When considering labor power only as a production factor, it appears logical to seek cheap overseas labor. But this will involve a variety of human factors, such as families, religions, cultures, and crimes, creating a number of difficult issues.  With statements made by U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump and the United Kingdom’s referendum decision to leave the European Union (EU), voices that oppose the development of globalization have been growing louder. However, close examinations of these trends show ... ... [Read more]

No.35 ,Economy  Oct 26, 2016

What is needed to counter the falling birthrate? The short cut is to rectify the long working hours
―A solution in the style of the United States/Northern Europe is difficult

< Key Points > Countries that have brought the falling birthrate under control have transformed the male breadwinner model The cost of childcare presents a challenge to promoting support for work-life balance Active women and improved ways of working for men are one and the same In 2015, the total fertility rate (an estimate of the number of children born to a woman during her lifetime) was 1.46, a recovery of 0.2 points from the lowest ever rate of 1.26 recorded in 2005. Since the birthrate for women aged 25 to 29 is also on the upswing, these trends are likely the result of the recent improvements in the economy and in the work-life balance. However, these numbers fall far short of the figure of 1.8 that the Abe administration has set as the target for 2025. There is also a wide gap with ... ... [Read more]

No.35 ,Economy  Oct 25, 2016

What is needed to counter the falling birthrate?  Bold funding investments are urgent
―Salaries for nursery school teachers and tuition fee support

komamura Kohei, Professor, Keio University

< Key Points > Increasing the birthrate is not likely to substantially increase the number of births. The stagnation in the 1990s and 2000s is a failure of historical proportions. Improve student loan payments and the income-pegged repayment model The Population Section at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare have started to discuss the new population projections. The new population projections will likely be announced in the first half of next year. Population projections are based on the census and carried out at intervals of roughly five years to estimate the population over the next fifty years (one hundred years in case of consultation projections). The results form the basis for pension financing and social security policies, including medical and nursing care, but the socio-economic impact is also significant as the data are consulted for local government policy and for future planning at ... ... [Read more]

No.35 ,Economy  Oct 22, 2016

Abenomics at a Watershed
―Proper Approach to Monetary Policy

Komine Takao, Professor, Department of Regional Development, Taisho University

One of the main topics people have discussed since the start of Prime Minister Abe’s second term in December 2012 is the government’s economic policy, which is commonly referred to as Abenomics. Nearly three and half years have passed since then, and now it seems that the initial form of Abenomics has been driven to take a major change in direction. In this paper, I will discuss Abenomics, focusing primarily on its monetary policy. This particular area has been forced to take a different turn because the limitations of the policy’s stance in the past are now apparent. Abenomics is beginning to lose touch with its goals It is easier to assess Abenomics by dividing it into two periods. The first period runs from the inauguration of the first Cabinet of Prime Minister Abe to March 2014, a period during which the economy remained ... ... [Read more]

No.35 ,Economy  Oct 20, 2016

The “Pokémon GO” Bubble:
Expectations and Anxiety for

Large number of Pokémon Trainers gathered in Ueno Park in the midnight of August 2, 2016. Same phenomenon could be seen all over the nation.

July 25 (Monday), 7:00 p.m. Even though it’s a weekday night, the view at Kinshi Park in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward is an unusual one. Hundreds of people are gathered here, some of them business people on their way home from the office. Almost everyone has a smartphone in hand, and they’re all wandering around in silence, not saying a word. The game everyone’s playing is “Pokémon GO.” At Kinshi Park, Osaka Park, and Tsuruma Park (in the city of Nagoya), there are large numbers of “Pokestops,” locations where players can acquire items for use in capturing monsters. Kinshi Park in particular has gotten a lot of attention on Twitter as a place where players can catch one of the rare monsters, “Bulbasaur,” and large numbers of Pokémon Trainers (players) have been attracted to the area.... [Read more]

No.35 ,Economy  Oct 20, 2016

Will Pokémon GO increase investment?

Yanagawa Noriyuki, Professor, University of Tokyo

Pokémon GO” is a hot topic. Although there are a number of very interesting ideas for discussion related to this app, this essay will discuss the issue of future investment demand using the game as a starting point. In the past, when game software releases have been the focus of major attention, this has led to major increases in demand for hardware such as game consoles. As a result, capital investment demands for expansion of factories and other infrastructure also increased. However, in the case of apps that run on smartphones, a huge number of people already possess these devices. For this reason, demand for new hardware and the capital investment that goes along with it both barely increase at all. Although there has been a certain amount investment demand during the development stage, app development can... [Read more]

No.34 ,Economy  Oct 15, 2016

Perspective on the Problems of Foreign Labor: Enacting Employment Policies That Encourage Long-Term Residence
― Improvements in Ability Development and Handling are Essential

Key Points : 1. 80% of foreign workers enter the country with different qualifications than a job title. 2. Due to the economic growth of developing countries, the appeal of working in Japan is on the decline. 3. l An employment policy that requires foreign workers to return to their home countries without exception is not necessarily in Japan’s best interest. There have been frequent discussions regarding the acceptance of foreign workers both in governmental offices and among the Diet members. The “Choose the Future” Committee, organized by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, has taken a leading role. In the minutes from the first meeting, although utilization of immigrants has become an issue for consideration in light of the declining birthrates in Japan, once discussion turns to acceptance of immigrants, the tone of the discussion declines, and the topic changes to “utilization of the skills of foreign workers” and “accepting foreign labor.”... [Read more]

No.34 ,Economy  Sep 26, 2016

Where have integrity and modesty gone in the policy decision-making process?
Residual Problems in Japan’s Democratic Government Stemming from The Second Postponement of The Consumption Tax Hike

Saito Makoto, Professor of the Faculty of Economics, Hitotsubashi University

The grounds for the first postponement of the consumption tax hike in November 2014 and the latest postponement are complete, and each will have an entirely different impact in the future. Nobody welcomes the raising of consumption taxes. While it is true that postponing the hike ensures victory in elections, the loss caused by this action is far too great.... [Read more]

No.32 ,Economy  Jun 13, 2016

Why Japanese-style Employment Systems Hamper the Success of Women

Yamaguchi Kazuo, Ralph Lewis Professor of Sociology, University of Chicago

At the initiative of the Abe administration, a draft “Act on the Promotion of Success in the Working Careers of Women” (provisional title) will be submitted to the National Diet. While the viability of the bill is uncertain, its intent is sound, and the fact that the administration decided to set numerical targets against protests from Japan’s Keidanren is also commendable. Having each company set figures based on actual circumstances is an unavoidable measure because an insufficient number of female human resources have been cultivated to date, and because setting a quota is not a rational economic move. Instead, we need to visualize the numerical targets and possible outcomes, have each company establish the targets they plan to attain, and make their achievements transparent. The problem, however, is that the main reason the contributions of women in Japanese economic activity have not advanced lies in the Japanese employment system.... [Read more]

No.32 ,Economy  Jun 09, 2016

The Rapid Increase of Elderly Single Households and the Declining Marriage Rate
― Social System Rebuild Inevitable

FUJIMORI Katsuhiko, Chief Research Associate, Mizuho Information & Research Institute, Inc.

Single-person households are on the rise. Living alone is no longer a phenomenon peculiar to young people. The numbers of elderly people living alone after losing their spouses or unmarried senior males living on their own have been growing rapidly. The dramatic rise in the number of single-person households is perceived as an astonishing phenomenon in Japanese society, where a married couple living together with their family has long been seen as “standard.” Astonishing as it may seem, the growing number of people living alone also reflects a shift towards more diversity in the lifestyles of individual people and the way a family functions. Historically, Japan’s care system has been based on the idea of family involvement, in which the caregiver is a family member. The benefits of mutual encouragement within a family have traditionally ... [Read more]

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