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Archives : No.9

December 2011–January 2012

No.9
No.9 ,Economy  Jan 31, 2012

JAPAN SHOULD MOVE QUICKLY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE TPP NEGOTIATIONS

Photo : Yamashita Kazuhito

Disciplining big powers’ actions in line with international economic rules China has emerged in the East Asia region, with its GDP now exceeding Japan’s. It has also attempted to use its military to protect its maritime interests, stirring conflict with neighboring countries. This situation raises concern that China could implement measures that threaten both Japanese and global economic activities, such as by banning exports of rare earths and other natural resources, imposing restrictions on investment and resorting to other means backed by its tremendous national strength. In the same way the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute-settlement... [Read more]

No.9 ,Economy
Jan 30, 2012

THE JAPANESE ECONOMY AMID AGING AND DECLINING POPULATION AND FISCAL DEFICITS

Photo : Kato Hisakazu

The effect of Japan’s “lost decade” lingers today, nearly ten years later, and there are still few signs of convincing recovery. Faced with new challenges of recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan’s economy will likely continue to confront medium- to long-term constraints that lie ahead, including further population decline, a lower birthrate combined with population aging, and accumulating fiscal deficits. Viewing the current situation it is hard to say that deflation is under control. Advancing strength of the yen and low stock prices tied with the increasing sovereign risk in Europe and the United States are making it increasingly difficult to identify a new growth path.... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Jan 29, 2012

[SERIES: INTERVIEW] “DIET AND LIFE” — FOR HUMANS TO BECOME PEOPLE (FOREWORD)

Somehow, my mother and I have shared a life of working on food. My mother was innately a cook; and even more, she was an expert at raising children. I lived with my mother for almost 52 years without ever questioning the taste of her food. She had prepared food for me until the evening before she died, telling me, “Don’t tell me I should rest. Have some rice with katsuo (bonito) sashimi.” People will always eat food that shapes their life. This warms the hands and feet. It colors the cheeks. It motivates. It is such physical responses that accumulate like layers of thin paper on which people seek dependence. This accumulated dependence eventually redirects to a will to believe in something or someone. From the garden of faith grows hope, and the process has naturally developed the soil for love.... [Read more]

No.9 ,Politics
Jan 28, 2012

JAPAN NEW PARTY MARKED THE TURNING POINT

Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire, famously said, “Fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others.” What has led to the current confusion in Japanese politics? Two guest commentators from Asahi Journal known for their discussions in Kokkai tsushinbo [National Diet report card] reflect on Japanese political parties over the 20 years since 1992 to look for the roots of this disarray. MIKURIYA Takashi: Today we would like to reflect on political parties in the past 20 years, including those that are now defunct, and their relation to politics. My hope is that by looking at what each party did and the policies they achieved, and evaluating them and gauging their historical significance, we can identify the structural problems in today’s government.... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Jan 27, 2012

[SERIES: INTERVIEW] “DIET AND LIFE” — FOR HUMANS TO BECOME PEOPLE

Tatsumi Yoshiko: Last year, I conducted a food lifestyle survey centered on different municipalities. I was shocked when I saw the results from 500 people aged 20 to about 60. Singles in their 20s and 30s skip breakfast, or would eat something like snack rolls or a Chinese dumpling together with a bottle of water. Lunch would be a slice of pizza. Dinner: ramen. Not once during the week did they eat cooked food or ohitashi (boiled vegetables). That’s how they live. They eat just enough so they don’t die. They don’t have a clear understanding on food, self, and life. How did we get to this point? Fukuoka Shin-Ichi: It’s probably because as the act of eating became associated with the notion of improving... [Read more]

No.9 ,Politics
Jan 26, 2012

HOW WE CAN SHARE HOPE WITH AFRICANS

Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko made his diplomatic debut at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. In his address at the General Debate (September 23, 2011), Noda referred first and foremost to the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck the country just over six months prior, and on behalf of the Japanese people expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the friendship, solidarity and helping hands extended from around the world. He noted that university students gathered in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in memory of Japanese victims of the earthquake and together sang the popular Japanese song known outside Japan as “Sukiyaki” (titled “Ue wo muite arukou [Look up when we walk]” in Japanese) saying they wished to deliver the... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Jan 25, 2012

[SERIES: INTERVIEW] “DIET AND LIFE” — FOR HUMANS TO BECOME PEOPLE

Kawashima Midori: The modern day nursing scene undervalues the significance and importance of eating through the mouth. Being in a position to coach and encourage nurses in the field, I always tell them, “Think more about the meaning of eating through the mouth. That’s where you find the role of nursing.” Tatsumi Yoshiko: I think it was in Ohmi, Hikone that there was a patient who had completely given up on eating, saying he didn’t want to do it anymore. The doctor said, “Think of something, anything you would want to eat,” and the patient said, “I want to eat funazushi [a type of fermented sushi].” So he ate a piece, and his body... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Dec 09, 2011

JAPANESE WINES YOU SHOULD TRY

In the last ten years, Japanese wine has improved significantly in quality and offers a greater selection in terms of price and variety. Instead of, “Maybe I’ll give Japanese wine a try for a change,” you can now say, “Tonight we’re having Hamburg steak, so let’s go with a Nagano Merlot” or “The Kellner will go with this Chinese cabbage and pork nabe,” and color your daily meal solely with Japanese wine. Selection has spread most notably for wine in the 1,000-yen range, and I have many to recommend. There are also excellent wines in the 2,000- and 3,000-yen range, and some in this price range have competed against foreign wines of the same grape variety in international wine competitions and won medals. When you drink Japanese wine, take your time tasting it and imagine the land the grape was grown on and the ... ... [Read more]

No.9 ,Economy
Dec 08, 2011

SHIFTING TO A COUNTRY THAT INCREASES GROSS NATIONAL INCOME (GNI) INSTEAD OF GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT (GDP)

The Great East Japan Earthquake has forced Japanese companies to renew their awareness of the risks of operating in Japan. Meanwhile, the extremely strong yen, at less than 77 yen to the dollar, has become a persistent condition. Japanese companies, mainly manufacturers, are hit hard by the reduced export competitiveness resulting from the exchange rate. The yen is expected to remain strong for some time since investors have no choice but to buy yen given the euro zone debt crisis and the slumping economy in the United States. On top of this, rapid aging of society and the declining birthrate have made falling domestic demand inevitable. This has... [Read more]

No.9 ,Economy
Dec 07, 2011

WORRY ABOUT HOLLOWING OUT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS – LIQUIDITY OF RESOURCES IS IMPORTANT TO QUICKLY FILL EMPTY SPACES AFTER COMPANIES LEAVE

Globalization and foreign direct investment of companies We can begin to think about this from the first step. Corporate activities are globalized in two ways: international trade and direct investment. Until the 1970s, the globalization of Japanese companies was overwhelmingly centered on international trade. Japan imported energy and raw materials, which it lacks, and manufactured industrial products and exported them. Production bases were located in Japan, and the imported products centered on those Japan cannot produce domestically. Therefore, hollowing was not a topic of discussion.... [Read more]

No.9 ,Economy
Dec 06, 2011

DETERMINED TO BUILD A WORLD AFTER STEVE JOBS

A messiah for users On October 5, 2011, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs passed away. The news shocked the world, indicating just how big his global influence was. Jobs was indeed a messiah for people all over the world. Products he created revolutionized the cell phone and telecommunications industries and their users. In the early 2000s, long before the release of Apple’s iPhone smartphones, everyone in Japan was using cell phones that could... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Dec 05, 2011

TURNING EARTH’S HISTORY INTO PARKS: REVITALIZING REGIONAL COMMUNITIES WITH GEOPARKS GEOLOGY IS A NEW TOURISM RESOURCE

People have become well acquainted with the World Heritage designation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and municipalities in all parts of Japan are now looking to World Geoparks as a means for revitalizing regional communities and attracting tourists. The “geo” in the term represents features such as the ground, geology, the planet Earth, and Geopark literally means parks of the earth; geological parks. This is UNESCO’s new plan for protecting and utilizing the natural environment. The Global Geoparks Network (GGN; secretariat in Paris) established in 2004 has certified regions with important natural heritage from an earth... [Read more]

No.9 ,Discussions
Dec 04, 2011

HOPE FOR JAPAN OR U.S. CONSPIRACY?

Hosaka Masayoshi: I personally have not yet made up my mind whether to support the TPP. If I’m not mistaken, Nakano-san is basically against it and Okamoto-san is for it. Nakano Takeshi: So far, I have turned down offers to directly debate with people who support the TPP because arguments tend to get emotional and unproductive. But I don’t insist that my arguments are perfectly correct. Without trying to flatter you both, I thought that we could hold a meaningful discussion. The national government has already declared that Japan will participate in the TPP negotiations, but I don’t think we should, for two reasons. First, the advantages asserted by the government are unfounded, while the anticipated disadvantages are numerous. Second, things have proceeded before arguments have matured. Okamoto Yukio: I believe Japan should at least take part in TPP negotiations since things are decided ... ... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Dec 03, 2011

UE WO MUITE ARUKOU (SUKIYAKI)

Ue wo Muite Arukou (Looking Up As I Walk) was a big hit for the Japanese singer Sakamoto Kyu (1941-1985). The lyrics by Rokusuke Ei were set to music by Nakamura Hachidai. As Sukiyaki, the song made it big in the United States, ranked No. 1 by Billboard magazine for the week ending June 15, 1963, and entering the Top 10 in the annual rankings for the same year. Here, we get to the bottom of the background and creation of a work that became a pioneer of Japanese content export, as it were. It was Kuwashima Akira, currently living in Camarillo in the suburbs of Los Angeles, who told me about Dave Dexter, Jr., the A&R man for Capitol, one of the Big Four record labels. A&R is the abbreviation of Artist and Repertoire, and it is a job that only exists in... [Read more]

No.9 ,Culture
Dec 02, 2011

HOW J-POP COULD CONQUER THE ASIAN MARKET

The Japanese music market is number one in the world Japan’s music market will claim the world’s top spot this fiscal year. This reflects the decline of the U.S. market, which long held the lead, giving way to second-ranked Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese market is also shrinking–the CD and music video market, 500 billion yen at its peak, is now around 300 billion yen–so this is no great cause for celebration, but we should applaud Japan’s achievement in overcoming a population difference close to three times its own to claim the top position. The shrinking market scale has much to do with the increase in music downloads via computers and cell phones. Downloads continue to expand, seemingly in inverse proportion to the drop in CD and package sales. Yet... [Read more]

No.9 ,Others
Dec 01, 2011

INFORMATION SECURITY MEASURES UNDER PRESSURE OF REVISION

What on earth is happening? Is Japan taking information security measures seriously?” This year, one after another of the networks of public organizations and corporations, including major heavy industries, have been at the receiving end of cyber attacks, resulting in disclosure of important information in some instances. The damage is gradually becoming clear as the investigations move forward, but in most cases, we cannot expect to understand the full particulars. In many of the attacks, the attackers penetrated protected computers that were only accessible to a limited number of people at the companies to steal information. A great variety of information was targeted including... [Read more]

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