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No.28
No.28 ,Society ,Discussions  Oct 13, 2015

A New Era of Michi-no-eki Takes Off!
– Ever-evolving community hubs for local rejuvenation –

Women create vitality and confidence in the region. Michi-no-eki, Den-en Plaza Kawaba (Kawaba Village, Gunma Prefecture)

Michi-no-eki or the roadside station system was launched in 1993, and has since expanded nationwide to a total of 1,040 locations, with annual sales reaching 210 billion yen (as of fiscal year 2012). This nationwide initiative continues evolving as a spearhead for local rejuvenation efforts promoted by the government. The following article reports on the program’s current status and outlook based on discussions held between Ishida Haruo, professor of the Department of Social Systems and Management at the University of Tsukuba, and Hashimoto Goro, Specail editorial board member at the Yomiuri shimbun. (The discussions were held at the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo.)... [Read more]

No.28
No.28 ,Society  Aug 04, 2015

Postman’s Persistence Reunites a Japanese Teacher with Students from Eighty Years Ago

Aletter was sent from Japan to an address in Taichung, in the middle of Taiwan, that did not exist anymore. The letter was sent by a 106-year-old Japanese woman who used to be a teacher at an elementary school there during the period of Japanese rule. A young Taiwanese mailman searched for clues to find the “student” to whom the letter from his Japanese teacher was addressed. The mailman’s persistence has reunited the friendship between the Japanese woman and her students, who are around 90 now. The letter was sent by Ms. Takagi Namie, who lives in Tamana City, Kumamoto Prefecture. Her father was a police officer when she was an elementary school pupil in the Taisho period (1912–1926). Her family moved to live in Taiwan when her father was transferred there and they lived in Taiwan for about thirty years. ... [Read more]

No.26
No.26 ,Society  Jun 03, 2015

A Second Home in Japan
— What comes next after the visitor boom is semi-residence

The attraction is the cheapness of commodity prices and land prices in Japan’s regional cities.

The number of Chinese people visiting Japan is increasing at an explosive rate. In addition to the weak yen, the relaxation of requirements for visa issuance is also providing a boost. There is an increasing trend amongst the high-income classes of wanting to own a home in Japan, too. Chinese tourist visits to Japan are showing an unprecedented upsurge. Last year 2.4 million Chinese tourists came to Japan: an increase of 80% on the previous year. From January 19, a new “five-year multi” visa was introduced which allows holders to come to Japan an unlimited number of times during a five-year period, with up to a ninety-day period of stay being authorized for each visit, and with this momentum the interest of Chinese people towards Japan seems set to heighten even further still. ... [Read more]

No.23
No.23 ,Society  Sep 17, 2014

Former Self-Defense Forces Members Volunteering in Mine Clearance Overseas: They see it as, “Work only we can do.” — An international contribution using a developed skill

Arakawa Ryuichiro・Natsume Yukiaki

In May 2002, retired UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) disposal experts from the Ground Self-Defense Force, established a new organization, the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS). An estimated 100 million mines and UXO are left untreated around the world. JMAS is an NPO formed to dispose of these by giving local specialists skills and information, working alongside them. Why would people who might have been leading a comfortable retirement life with their grandchildren set out for mine areas? What are their real activities? What are they thinking of? Natsume Yukiaki listened to their frank words. Not About Risking Your Life Natsume Yukiaki: Specifically, how do you go about removing mines and unexploded bombs? Arakawa Ryuichiro: In Cambodia, we meet up with former soldiers from the time of ... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society ,Discussions  Apr 13, 2014

The Modern-Day Family Without Tora-san

From Otoko wa Tsurai yo (It’s tough being a man) to his latest Chiisai Ouchi (The little house), movie director Yamada Yoji has continued to portray the Japanese family for more than half a century. What has the Japanese family in the Heisei period lost from Showa? BAISHO Chieko: I heard that with your latest, Chiisai Ouchi (The Little House), it’s already been fifty years since Shitamachi no Taiyo (The Sunshine Girl, 1963), which we worked on together. We’ve come a long way, haven’t we? YAMADA Yoji: The movie Otoko wa Tsurai yo was started in 1969. Baisho: Torajiro Kurenai no Hana, which was the last of the Otoko wa Tsurai yo series was released in 1995, so it lasted twenty-six years. Yamada: Looking back, the Kurumas in that series was a collapsed family. ... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society  Apr 03, 2014

Working to Restore the Scenic View of Onomichi — TOYOTA Masako, Representative Director of the Onomichi Vacant House Restoration Project

“Many people help me. I have no skills but I am good at involving people around me,” says Toyota with a smile. Photo: YOSHIDA Akihito

Located between the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains, Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture is a small city with an approximate population of 150,000. It is a city of slopes and boats. It has narrow streets intricately entangled on slanting land. It is a place where ferry boats sail to and from nearby islands. Its unique taste has grabbed the hearts of remarkable novelists and movie directors and the city has provided the setting for many literary and cinematographic works. This scenic city of Onomichi is now at risk. TOYOTA Masako noticed the change in her hometown when she returned to live there after eight years of working in Osaka.... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society  Apr 03, 2014

Hoping to Save as Many Lives on Mountains as Possible — OHSHIRO Kazue, Diploma in Mountain Medicine

“My biggest goal is to prevent mountain climbers from suffering accidents,” Ohshiro says. Photo: KAWAMURA Isao

In May 2013, adventurer Miura Yuichiro stood atop the 8,848-meter-high Mt. Everest. Ohshiro Kazue, a medical doctor, had stayed behind at the base camp at an altitude of 5,300 meters. Amid the jubilation after Miura, at eighty, had become the oldest man to climb the mountain in recorded history, she was concerned with the changes in his physical condition. Miura, having removed his oxygen mask at the summit, lost more stamina than expected. When he began to descend, his legs failed him and he could not get enough energy to propel them. “At the sight of his safe return to the base camp, I was afraid that he would break if I hugged him as I usually do to fellow climbers rejoining me on a mountain. He looked so brave in his weakness and so adorable,” Ohshiro recalls. At that moment she became both relaxed and relieved.... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society  Apr 03, 2014

Treasuring This Current Moment with My Family — TAKEKAWA Yoichi, Toy Importer

In front of his home is the Biei wheat field, a characteristic view of Hokkaido. Photo: KAWAMURA Isao

Toy Store of the Biei Hills stands facing a vast Hokkaido field that is among Japan’s most beautiful scenery is where the. This store is only open until 3 p.m., at which time it turns into a playground open to the local children. This is because Takekawa Yoichi, who moved here in 2010 from Saitama Prefecture, aims not to make money but rather to develop family time amid Mother Nature. The four years it took to get this started were not easy. “When you read stories of people who moved to Hokkaido, you get the impression that they all made the transition so smoothly,” Takekawa reflects. “I’ve often wondered why we had to have it so tough.” ... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society  Mar 27, 2014

The University Outcry – Merits and Demerits of Rankings and Performance Evaluation
University Reform and Far-reaching National Policy

No Global Excellence Without National Competition

UEYAMA Takahiro, Professor, Keio University

Why evaluate academia?  Sustaining the world of knowledge is difficult in any era. As well as pinning high expectations on the benefits of the technologies and new ideas that emerge from universities, the patrons of society are always casting a stern eye over academia. In The Higher Learning in America (1918), Thorstein Veblen commented on this ironic state of affairs, “[…] idle learning has sought shelter in the university as the only establishment in which it could find a domicile, even on sufferance, and so could achieve that footing of consecutive intellectual enterprise running through successive generations of scholars which is above all else indispensable to the advancement of knowledge.” Before growing to require the enormous financial foundation of today, academia maintained strained ties with patrons for its survival and was continually shaken by the evaluations of the external parties that supported its universities. ... ... [Read more]

No.21
No.21 ,Society  Mar 27, 2014

The University Outcry – Merits and Demerits of Rankings and Performance Evaluation
Universities losing their ideals to internationalization and the mass-production of academic papers

You Can’t Rank Academics

INOKI Takenori, Specially-appointed Professor, Aoyama Gakuin University

The pros and cons of converting everything to figures We find ratings and ranks in so many fields these days. Ratings – numerical indices that put things in order – have some kind of quality that stimulates people’s curiosity and arouses competition. When we are shown international rankings or levels such as the per-country rating list of the Olympic gold/silver/bronze medals won, we have the impression that the strength of something has been measured “objectively,” and nationalism of sorts rises in us. Ratings offer us immobile criteria with which to make judgments, which may become the grounds for drafting a policy or a change of politics. But this “ratings fever” tends to create radical competition based on collectivist psychology, making us lose sight of the true purpose of things. Let me offer just two examples from my familiar field of education and research. Late ... ... [Read more]

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