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No.33
No.33 ,Society  May 31, 2016

Primatology (ape studies) and DNA research unlock the answers…
Where Do Human Beings Come from, and Where Are We Heading?

Racial discrimination, sex, the aging population…
Watching gorillas gives us insight into the future of human society
Fukuoka: Professor Yamagiwa, you were recently appointed president of Kyoto University. I myself too started my gene research at Kyoto University’s Faculty of Agriculture as a junior of yours, but later transferred to Aoyama Gakuin University, and now live life as a researcher in New York. I’m what you might call a kind of stray monkey wandering from troop to troop. I guess that makes you the boss monkey, doesn’t it (laughs)?
Yamagiwa: When you say “boss monkey” I think you’re probably picturing something like a Japanese macaque or other monkey, but actually I’m a gorilla (laughs). ... [Read more]

No.31
No.31 ,Society  Apr 19, 2016

Japan as a Society Dependent on Convenience Stores
What Attracts Me to Japan’s “Konbini”

Gavin H. Whitelaw, Sr. Associate Professor, International Christian University

I am a cultural anthropologist and my research focuses on convenience stores (konbini) in Japan. When people ask me what I study and I say, “konbini,” I often get odd looks. It is not the kind of topic that people expect an anthropologist to take interest in. But konbini are an engaging place to think about Japan and the dynamics of culture. As research site, they are infinitely fascinating. I was born and raised in a small coastal community in Massachusetts. The convenience stores in my hometown are, as is common in American, really gas stations. Growing up, I wasn’t interested in these stores and they played relatively little role in my day-to-day life. In college, my major was Soviet Studies. From August 1991, I spent my junior year studying Moscow. One thing that initially struck me about life in Moscow was shopping and, in particular, ... [Read more]

No.31
No.31 ,Society  Apr 07, 2016

When Idols Shone Brightly
Development of Japan, the Idol Nation, and the Trajectory of Idols

SAKAI Masayoshi, Visiting Researcher, Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan

Japan, the Nation of the Idol
In 2013, the NHK morning drama Amachan and the TBS drama Hanzawa Naoki both proved hugely popular. People said that the programs symbolized the resurgence of the television drama. The Internet was instrumental in winning both dramas a lot of fans and both stories have proved durable with spin-off programs and events still in the pipeline. Amachan is the story of three generations of girls who want to be idols. Amano Natsu was something of a local idol during the period of rapid economic growth and a fan of Hashi Yukio, one of the very early idols. Amano Haruko moved to Tokyo in the 1980s to try to make it as an idol. Amano Aki ends up in Tokyo after a strange turn of events and tries to make... [Read more]

No.30
No.30 ,Society  Mar 31, 2016

Internationalization at Universities – True or False
The Emptiness of “Global HR Development”

YOSHIDA Aya, Professor at the Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences, Waseda University

“Global human resources”—It’s now become a household phrase, but it wasn’t until the latter half of the 2000s that this term started to circulate frequently in society. Amidst the advancing flow of Japanese companies relocating their operations abroad, it was originally a phrase that pointed to employees who could work in locations overseas. But gradually, the “development” of these human resources came to be an issue, and attention focused on the “universities” as the place for that to happen. Then, in the blink of an eye, many Japanese universities started to raise the development of these global human resources as their mission.The role played by the Japanese government in this process cannot be overlooked. What started it all off was the Industry-Academia Partnership for Human Resource Development, ... [Read more]

No.31
No.31 ,Society  Mar 24, 2016

New Plan for Reforming the Japanese Archipelago
Plan for Remodeling a Shuttered Shopping Street

YAMAMOTO Kazumune, chief producer of News Division at Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation

Shuttered shopping streets have become known as a symbol of a declining regional economy. During the period of high growth, these shopping districts were regarded as the centers of the respective cities or towns, where a plethora of lively activities took place. Now, they are seeing customer and visitor numbers gradually fall due to the trends of the times such as the opening of large-scale commercial malls, changes in lifestyles and business customs, and the aging population along with the low birthrate, as well as the burst of the bubble economy. It is not just a local phenomenon that is occurring in some shopping streets, but an ongoing issue that may result in the real decline of municipalities. According to a survey on the actual situations of shopping streets conducted nationwide by the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency in 2012, ... [Read more]

No.31
No.31 ,Society  Mar 23, 2016

Symbolic Phenomenon of a Declining Regional Economy of Japan
The Issue of “Shuttered Shopping Streets”

YOSHIZAKI Tatsuhiko, Economist

The issue of “shuttered shopping streets” is a symbolic phenomenon of a declining regional economy, one of the greatest challenges for Japan, which is suffering from a shrinking population. It refers to a situation in which a shopping district that had previously been prospering changes into a depopulated area where the shutters are kept pulled down even during the daytime, as the number of closing shops increases due to customer situations or aging shop owners. These towns will become desolate if nothing is done. However, people have started to take on efforts to revitalize them in many parts of Japan. In this volume, No. 30, the significant achievements of such efforts are featured in “New Plan for Reforming... [Read more]

No.31
No.31 ,Society ,Discussions  Mar 22, 2016

Is Relocation to Regional Cities the Equivalent of Abandoning Old People in the Mountains to Die?
Governor Masuzoe, is it possible to come to grips with the increase in the elderly population?

The Demise of the Regions and the Elderly Population Crisis in Tokyo Is One and the Same Problem
Masuda: In June, the Japan Policy Council published a strategy for avoiding a crisis in the elderly population in the Tokyo area. In the future, the elderly population in the Tokyo metropolitan area (Tokyo, and Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa Prefectures) is expected to increase rapidly. I must apologize for repeating things that the governor is already well aware of, but the population aged 75 and older is expected to increase by 1.75 million in the next ten years up to 2025. This would hammer the medical and nursing care field. The shortage of facilities for medical and nursing care would assume more serious proportions, but this problem is actually not limited to the Tokyo metropolitan area because any strengthening of the medical ... [Read more]

No.30
No.30 ,Society  Mar 18, 2016

Japan as a Society Dependent on Convenience Stores
Is Survival without Convenience Stores Impossible in the Era of Super-Aging?

TAKEMOTO Ryota, Vice Senior Researcher, Investment Research Department II, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Buying goods from foodstuffs to daily necessities at a convenience store close to our home seems a matter of course when we get used to living in an urban area. In reality, however, “people with a shopping handicap” who experience inconveniences in day-to-day shopping are growing in population segments centered on elderly persons. According to the Report by the Study Group on the Role of Distribution Systems in Community Infrastructure put together in 2010 by a research team at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, there were about 6 million people with a shopping handicap aged 60 or older across Japan. These persons lived primarily in two areas – rural districts where depopulation has advanced and the outskirts of urban communities where former “new towns” and the like are located. According ... [Read more]

No.30
No.30 ,Society  Mar 17, 2016

Internationalization at Universities – True or False
If All Lessons at Japanese Universities Were Conducted in English…
– Globalization Viewed Skeptically

SHIMIZU Maki, Professor at Meiji University

There is currently an atmosphere in and around Japanese universities of innocently agreeing to what is termed the “globalization” of universities. Since even someone as obtuse as myself can manage to sense it, I think that this atmosphere must be totally pervasive. Certainly, if you pay a little attention and take a look around you can see that, in the spaces where discourse on the role of universities takes place, the problem of globalization is being raised repeatedly. Unfortunately, however, you rarely come across an opinion that’s worth listening to. On one hand, when views on globalization are communicated from within a university, in most cases it is either by the people that represent that university, or by those responsible for its globalization. Naturally, there is no way that messages issued by people in these kinds of positions are going... [Read more]

No.29
No.29 ,Society  Jan 16, 2016

Thinking about Terminal Care for the Elderly
Chapter 3: Thinking from the perspective of onsite home medical operations

Yamazaki Fumio, Care Town Kodaira Clinic Director

The era of multiple deaths is coming in Japan. There were around 1.2 million deaths in 2014, but 2025 is projected to see annual deaths of 1.6 million. Cancer, which comes at the top of the rankings of causes of death, is said to be a national disease, and 50% of Japanese nationals suffer from it. Currently, one in three people die of cancer, but the percentage is anticipated to reach 50% going forward. ... [Read more]

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