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Archives : No.8

October–November 2011

No.8
No.8 ,Culture  Nov 30, 2011

REASSESSING POST-3/11 JAPAN FROM AN AESTHETIC PERSPECTIVE

Viewing 3/11 as an intersection HAMANO Yasuki: A number of people have suggested that the Great East Japan Earthquake, or “3/11,” has provided an ideal opportunity to take a fresh look at Japan. You have summed up the issue very elegantly with the phrase “reassessing Japan from an aesthetic perspective.” What exactly did you mean by that?Hamano Yasuki HARA Kenya: I would just like to start by saying that 3/11 was a terrible disaster, so we need to make sure that we talk about it with the utmost respect. With that in mind however, I personally feel that 3/11 was a key intersection, or turning point. I’ll come back to this in more detail in a moment, but there have been other major events that have become turning points... [Read more]

No.8 ,Politics
Nov 29, 2011

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OPERATION TOMODACHI

U.S. forces took quick action for relief immediately after the quake Katsumata: Following the unprecedented disaster on March 11, U.S. forces promptly announced their full support and collaborated with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). To enable smooth action, BCAT was for the first time ever set up within the Ministry of Defense as well as in disaster-hit Sendai. This organization is essentially BCAT that would be set up in times of an armed attack against Japan or in emergency situations in neighboring regions in order to allow the fluid communication between the militaries of the two countries. It is defined in the Guidelines on U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation drafted in 1997, but had never before been set up. Based on these guidelines, BCAT was established in response to the disaster. BCAT took a central role in running Operation Tomodachi, which people... [Read more]

No.8 ,Discussions
Nov 28, 2011

DYNAMISM OF INTERNATIONAL DIVISION OF LABOR OF THE 21ST CENTURY BROUGHT ABOUT BY REGIONALISM

Photo : Kimura Fukunari

I feel a bit disappointed each time I am asked that simple but important question, “Is trade liberalization actually a good thing?” Theories on international trade, my area of expertise, are here for explaining the need for trade liberalization. Such a question makes me wonder what we have been doing. There are two ways to approach theories on international trade: one is from the economics standpoint where government is well-distanced from the real world economy and is capable of always implementing optimal political measures; and the other is from the political economics standpoint where political measures are formed through interactions mainly involving the economy. Following... [Read more]

No.8 ,Politics
Nov 27, 2011

POLITICIANS, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP BETRAYING OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS?

The “Quintuple Distress” and its impact on the industrial circle ITOH Motoshige: Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have often felt that the government’s actions are slow when it comes to the recovery of the damaged areas and the policy issues that Japan needs to face, and we almost question if they are actually betraying national interests by being too caught up in their own political matters. What are your impressions on the current state of Japanese politics? HASEGAWA Yasuchika: Exactly like you say. As the loss of ruling party control in both houses is almost a given, unless they resolve the problem of the ruling party not even being able to pass a bill on its own, the earthquake recovery and every other policy issue will grind to a halt. Another unfortunate thing that we see happening is that members of the ... ... [Read more]

No.8 ,Politics
Nov 26, 2011

THE NATURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN AND THE FUTURE OF JAPANESE POLITICS

Introduction The media is unsparing in its view of government by the Democratic Party of Japan. The trials and errors and straying course of day-to-day administration, in particular, seem to rub reporters the wrong way, and as a result, the following is the picture painted two years after the party took power. Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio destroyed himself by repeating inconsistent statements as demonstrated by the Futenma issue. His replacement, Kan Naoto, started out by abruptly announcing a tax-and-spend policy before suffering a major defeat in the Upper House elections, and after the earthquake disaster, he made a display of abandoning nuclear power... [Read more]

No.8 ,Science
Nov 25, 2011

Space Exploration: Making Space Accessible to All

An astrometric satellite called Nano-JASMINE will be launched in 2013 from the Alcantara Launch Center in Brazil, with the aim of precisely mapping the position of approximately 200,000 stars across the sky. Developed as part of a joint project between the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the University of Tokyo (Todai), Shinshu University and Kyoto University, Nano-JASMINE is a nanosatellite weighing just 35 kg. In spite of its small size however, there is nothing modest about its mission. It is designed to precisely map the three-dimensional position of approximately one million stars across the sky. Pinpointing the position of stars will help us... [Read more]

No.8 ,Culture
Nov 24, 2011

THOUGHTS ON YAMAMOTO SAKUBEI’S COALMINE PAINTINGS MODERNIZATION THAT DISAPPEARED AND UNESCO MEMORY OF THE WORLD

Painted records of coalmining now registered as Memory of the World The news that Yamamoto Sakubei’s painted records of coalmining were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World (MOW) register on May 25 this year remains fresh in our minds. Accurately termed The collection of annotated paintings and diaries of Yamamoto Sakubei, this record includes 585 paintings, six diaries and 36 manuscripts among other documents at the Tagawa City Coal History Museum, together with four paintings, 59 diaries and seven manuscripts/documents donated by the Yamamoto family to Fukuoka Prefectural University (in Tagawa), for a total of 697 items. Yamamoto, who worked as... [Read more]

No.8 ,Economy
Oct 07, 2011

THE NATION NEEDS TO CONDUCT FISCAL POLICY REFORMS THAT CORRECT THE UNFAIRNESS BETWEEN THE GENERATIONS

As society ages, childbirth declines, and the economy globalizes, the Japanese economy and its fiscal situation have continued to stagnate and worsen since the collapse of the bubble economy in 1990. Public debt is about to reach a figure that is about 200% of our gross domestic product (GDP). And when the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, the situation was exacerbated. While recovering from the quake is important, we must at the same time work on two reforms today to solve the medium- to long-term issues faced by Japan. One is a growth strategy to increase the potential growth rate of the Japanese economy, and the other is correcting the unfairness between the generations by reforming fiscal policy and social security. In terms of the latter, the politicians are currently split between being pro-tax increase and anti-tax increase, but this is ... ... [Read more]

No.8 ,Science
Oct 06, 2011

BEYOND THE AGE OF ENERGY MYTHS – CONDITIONS FOR “GRADUATING” FROM THE NUCLEAR AGE

Many “myths” and little new information Many citizens have maintained an uncertain attitude that: “Nuclear power is dangerous and we want to stop using it, but can we do without it?” This thinking persists even today. Yet surprisingly, we have never had sufficient information on technology, economy or foreign cases that help us find an answer. This is why at the Subcommittee on Energy Alternatives of the Science Council of Japan we set out to gather information that could provide answers to address this uncertainty. During our studies we found a great many “myths” in all areas. Or perhaps I alone had simply been too ignorant. First, above all, we found that... [Read more]

No.8 ,Politics
Oct 05, 2011

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY WORLD HISTORY

Much is being made of the fact that this year, 2011, is the sixtieth anniversary of the San Francisco peace conference that ended the state of war between Japan and the United States and at the same time established the basic framework for a security alliance between the two nations. We could also note that this year marks the seventieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the eightieth anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that ultimately led to the U.S.-Japan war. It is also fifty years since 1961 when President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato declared a “new era” in the two countries’ relationship, and forty years since the “Nixon shocks” of 1971 that seemed to shake the foundation of... [Read more]

No.8 ,Culture
Oct 04, 2011

MUSIC DOCUMENTATION AT THE NATIONAL DIET LIBRARY

We can find out about music and the history of its culture with the help of a range of resources including records, DVDs and other recordings, or audio-visual materials, musical scores, concert programs and so on. These materials about music are referred to as “music documentation”[1. In this article, music documentation is classified as follows on the basis of its content and format. Instruments are not included.The music itself: a) Recordings and audio-visual materials (documentation of actual performances of sounds or settings that have been recorded on some kind of medium such as records, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray etc.), and b) musical scores: Documentation about music, materials relating to themes and activities where music is concerned (including books and magazines on music themes, lyrics, concert pamphlets, posters etc.)] at the library. Music documentation at various institutions in Japan... [Read more]

No.8 ,Politics
Oct 04, 2011

HOW HAS JAPAN TREATED NUCLEAR POWER?

NAKAMURA Kiichiro (Moderator, Editor-in-Chief Diplomacy [Gaiko]): The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11 has greatly impacted Japanese society. No one ever thought this sort of accident would take place. But if we carefully observe it and its consequences, it is clearly insufficient to blame it on shirking or neglect by certain concerned parties. Instead, the manner in which we have dealt with the issues of nuclear power and energy and the lifestyles Japanese society has pursued since World War II are being questioned. Nuclear power shed light on a bright future TAKEDA Toru: In the years not so long after the war, there was a naive optimism that nuclear power, or science and technology in general, would open up a bright future for Japan. I too was strongly affected by Tezuka Osamu’s cartoon... [Read more]

No.8 ,Others
Oct 03, 2011

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]

No.8 ,Politics
Oct 01, 2011

ALLIANCE, BASES AND OKINAWA — WHY DOES JAPAN STOP THINKING?

From a social thought perspective The cost of the U.S. military bases in Japan accounts for a large percentage of the cost of the Japan-U.S. alliance. If the essence of the alliance is an asymmetric exchange of manpower and goods, or the exchange of the U.S. armed forces and bases provided by Japan, as Sakamoto Kazuya put it in The Bond of the Japan-U.S. Alliance: The Security Pact and the Search of Mutuality, Okinawa, where more than 70% of the U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated, provides most of the few things that Japan can provide to the United States. Even if the economic effects of the U.S. bases in Okinawa are added to the... [Read more]

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