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Archives : No.10

February-March 2012

No.10
No.10 ,Politics ,Discussions  Mar 31, 2012

TIME FOR JAPAN TO SHOW THE WORLD HOW TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES: PRIME MINISTER NODA, BE PREPARED TO ALWAYS STAY ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

Photo : Nakasone Yasuhiro

Rapid repair and strengthening of ties with the United States needed I recently enjoyed a visit from Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, giving me the opportunity to speak with him. The prime minister has famously described himself as a loach, setting an image for himself that is in sharp contrast with that of former prime ministers Hatoyama Yukio and Kan Naoto. Noda seems keen to get off to a good start with a modest and cautious approach to dealing with the twisted Diet. During the course of our conversation, I told him that I supported this approach and said that his administration could have staying power if Noda handles government effectively. I’m worried that Japanese politics is at risk of... [Read more]

No.10 ,Politics
Mar 30, 2012

KIM JONG-UN REGIME AND DRASTIC GLOBAL CHANGES IN 2012

Photo : Funabashi Yoichi

In describing the Soviet Union when President Mikhail Gorbachev was pursuing perestroika, Margaret Thatcher once said, “Ice becomes in its most dangerous state when melting.” The death of Kim Jong-il somewhat reminded me of Thatcher’s words. The Achilles heel of a totalitarian state is power succession, and North Korea is now entering that most fragile period of dictatorship. What sorts of impacts will Kim Jong-il’s death bring to Japan and the world? There are three points to consider. First, what was left as the legacy of Kim Jong-il’s regime? And what does it mean that his third son and successor,... [Read more]

No.10 ,Politics
Mar 29, 2012

“HASHIMOTO REFORM” HAS A PARTICULAR ABILITY TO SAVE JAPAN

Photo : Sakaiya Taichi

Fierce double election ends – Osaka Restoration Association overwhelms The Osaka “double election” held last November 27 to elect the governor of Osaka Prefecture and the mayor of the City of Osaka was intensely fought. National newspapers and television networks reported constantly on the event and news magazines ran numerous special reports, all focusing their attention on mayoral candidate Hashimoto Toru (former Osaka Prefecture governor). It had been a while since an election for a head of a regional Japanese government had garnered so much national attention,... [Read more]

No.10 ,Politics
Mar 28, 2012

TO OVERCOME REPEATED “NATIONAL CRISES”

As a deputy chief cabinet secretary, I served seven prime ministers from Takeshita Noboru to Murayama Tomiichi. During this period, I worked hard to introduce the consumption tax, was preoccupied with reconstruction from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and was stuck around the clock in negotiations with the United States, including the Japan-U.S. Structural Impediments Initiative and the Uruguay Round. The Democratic Party of Japan is facing many political challenges, and its ability is being tested. There is a strong debate over whether to raise the consumption tax rate to enable fiscal reconstruction. Reconstruction from the Great East Japan... [Read more]

No.10 ,Economy
Mar 27, 2012

BANKS’ HOLDING OF BONDS OBSTRUCTS JAPAN’S GROWTH

Amid a declining loan-deposit ratio (the ratio of outstanding loans against outstanding deposits), Japanese banks have been increasing their holdings of Japanese government bonds. The three mega banks alone held as much as approximately ¥100 trillion of both short- and long-term government bonds as at the end of March 2010. JP Bank held ¥147 trillion worth of bonds. The reasons why Japanese banks are increasing their holding of Japanese government bonds include the following: (i) Demand of corporations for financing has been contracting, as the corporate sector has been a financial surplus sector since 1998,... [Read more]

No.10 ,Politics
Mar 26, 2012

TOKYO: THE 3/11 GENERATION

Let me first admit that as the author of this article I will not be impartial, because I love and have known Japan for almost fifty years. I owe this passion to moviemaker Kurosawa Akira. I had the honor to meet him, long after Rashomon, his masterpiece, allowed me to discover the essence of cinema. Rashomon had encouraged me, as a young Parisian student, to learn Japanese – albeit not proficiently – but also to venture, with somewhat more success, into the study of Japanese civilization. My passion was later legitimated by my maître à penser (intellectual model), the great French anthropologist Claude... [Read more]

No.10 ,Culture
Feb 09, 2012

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

Hosoya Ryota: You always have concern about the dietary habits of today’s young people. And you wonder whether the reason they have difficulty in delivering babies is that their eating patterns contain things such as cola, potato chips and apple pie. Tatsumi Yoshiko: I am very concerned that the number of premature babies with very low birth weights is actually said to be increasing. Hosoya: When I heard that, I went and spoke with an experienced birth attendant since the maternity center of Saint Luke’s International Hospital is located nearby. This person told me there are indeed many pregnant women who have peculiar eating habits.... [Read more]

No.10 ,Economy
Feb 08, 2012

DON’T FEAR HOLLOWING OUT–TRANSFORMING INTO AN INVESTMENT NATION Will SAVE JAPAN

From GDP to GNI In Japan, economic policy discussions are no longer capable of providing us with dreams. The country is full of gloomy storylines: population decline, ongoing deflation, social welfare difficulties, the incessantly strong yen, and stalled growth. People are also not interested in pursuing the subject of change as they are caught in the grips of past success stories. Things are decided in a trickling way, as if people are thinking that, “at least for now this is all we have to do.” Japan is currently facing many thorny problems, ranging from short-term challenges such as how to recover from the earthquake... [Read more]

No.10 ,Economy
Feb 07, 2012

TIME TO RECREATE JAPAN THROUGH GREEN AND SILVER INNOVATION

Japan Echo Web: Could you tell us about the background for considering revitalization of Japan? Komiyama Hiroshi: When I consider the revitalization of Japan, I look at Japan’s historical position. Japan was a world industrial power in the sixteenth century. From the seventeenth century industrialization paused, while institutions and culture developed.... [Read more]

No.10 ,Culture
Feb 06, 2012

IS HIGHER EDUCATION POSSIBLE ON A “SMALL GOVERNMENT” PLATFORM? PROBLEMS OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES SEEN FROM A UK PERSPECTIVE

The changing role of the state In March 2011, a conference was held at the Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies of Oxford University, to which I belong, on the subject of higher education. I took part as one of the conference’s planners. The event was built around the theme of the state’s role in higher education. University education in Europe, which achieved development mainly around national universities, is now at a turning point. In exchange for expanded educational opportunities, heavy fiscal burdens have been placed on the state. The state also faces a... [Read more]

No.10 ,Economy
Feb 05, 2012

PRIORITIZING THE MAINTENANCE OF LONG-TERM, COMPREHENSIVE, AND OPTIMAL COMPETITIVENESS

(i) Japanese firms have become extremely pessimistic about the outlook for their businesses, reflecting concerns over the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the unprecedented strong yen. Managers often make the wrong decisions when they are in excessively bearish mood. If they start developing dual supply chain systems, which will result in higher costs, or if they make hasty decisions to shut down domestic plants only in the pursuit of short-term gains, companies may lose the capability of long-term balanced growth. When facing emergency situations, it is necessary to minimize additional costs, transfer design information to other plants, and develop structures in which the status of suppliers can be monitored efficiently.... [Read more]

No.10 ,Culture
Feb 04, 2012

FROM A PLACE FOR PRACTICAL SCHOOLING TO A PLACE THAT FULFILLS YOUNG PEOPLE’S NEED FOR APPROVAL

“Let me say a few words about what I want for universities. – To start with, I hope that universities will be places where both instructors and students are as free as possible to research, educate, and learn. Secondly, it is my earnest hope that we will become decent human beings through research and education at universities. We need to scrutinize what it means to be a “decent human being,” but here, in any case, I would like to emphasize that human beings must not be an instrument, or a means for something else. Thirdly, universities are not only for the people at the universities, but they also want to serve society outside universities, to enrich the lives of people, and to contribute to decent lives for all human beings.”... [Read more]

No.10 ,Economy
Feb 03, 2012

JAPANESE BANKS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO SAVE THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

The financial sector has reached freezing point More than three years have passed since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008, and it has been two and a half years since the U.S. economy–which was hard hit by the collapse–bottomed out of its economic downturn. During these periods, despite difficulties in dealing with nonperforming assets, major financial institutions in Western countries have somehow managed to cope with the crises, aided by public money and business restructuring. However, they have not fully recovered. Indeed, their ailments appear to have exacerbated by the fiscal crisis in Europe, which began in Greece.... [Read more]

No.10 ,Culture
Feb 02, 2012

JAPAN’S LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE SYSTEM IS A SAVIOR IN THE SUPER-AGING SOCIETY

From benefits to rights Japan has entered the period of a “super-aging society” the likes of which no country has ever experienced. As of 2010, Japan’s percentage of elderly (those aged 65 or above as a percentage of the total population) reached the world’s highest level of 23.1%, and is expected to exceed 27% in 2020. The progress of population aging simultaneously gives rise to the challenge of nursing care. In fact, the number of people with conditions requiring long-term care (defined as “a condition assumed to require care on a continual and regular basis for... [Read more]

No.10 ,Culture
Feb 01, 2012

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

Tatsumi Yoshiko: We have asked Professor Fukuoka Shinichi, Professor Kawashima Midori and Doctor Hosoya Ryota to give us their personal perspectives on the relationship between food and life. This time we are asking Doctor Takeuchi Osamu, who teaches ethics at Sophia University and is also a Catholic priest (Society of Jesus), to sum up their talks. Doctor Takeuchi, I’m hoping you can take this discussion a level deeper to explain how life in its final stages relates with food, and I hope in doing so that we can offer the readers some new insights. Why don’t we start with your story?... [Read more]

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