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Archives : No.11

April–May 2012

No.11
No.11 ,Politics ,Discussions  May 31, 2012

WHO IS GROUP 1984?

It was the spring of 1974 when I read the article by Group 1984 for the first time. I was on the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), on my way back to Tokyo from Kansai. The article was titled “Criticism of the Japanese Communist Party’s Platform for the United Democratic Government,” and had been handed to me by Mr. Yamazaki Masakazu, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University. He said that I would find it interesting. I looked to see who the author was. It was co-written by Group 1984. I immediately understood that the group was named after the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four written by George Orwell. This novel is about a dystopian, highly controlled society set in the near future. At the time of its publication, it was also seen as a criticism of socialism as well as of a technostress society. I thought that the ... ... [Read more]

No.11 ,Politics
May 29, 2012

RECONSIDERING NIHON NO JISATSU (JAPAN’S SUICIDE)

The oldest civilization we know of dates back no more than 6,000 years. During these 6,000 years, 21 civilizations emerged, including Minoan, Sumerian, Mayan, Indian, Chinese, Syrian, Hittite, Babylonian, Andean, Mexican, Yucatan, Egyptian, Hindu, Iranian, Arabian, Hellenic, Western European, Byzantine and Far Eastern. They developed, and in time some declined and vanished. According to Arnold Joseph Toynbee, the seven civilizations still surviving in the 20th century are Western civilization, the main body of orthodox Christians in the Near East, a branch of orthodox Christians in Russia, Islamic, Hindu, the main body of Far Eastern society in China, and a branch of Far Eastern society in Japan. There are also three groups that stopped developing – Polynesians, Aleut, and nomads. Does the historic drama of the rise and fall of these 21 civilizations over the past 6,000 years and comparative studies among... [Read more]

No.11 ,Politics
May 28, 2012

THE SITUATION IS GROWING WORSE

Photo : Sakurada Jun

What is most interesting in referring to the mood of the time when the Bungeishunju article titled Nihon no jisatsu (“Japan’s Suicide”) was released in February 1975 is the fact that it was followed by the release of numerous books analyzing the rise of Japan as an economic power. Bunmei to shite no ieshakai [House society as a culture] (Murakami Yasusuke, Kumon Shunpei, Sato Seizaburo, 1979) and Japan as Number One (Ezra Vogel, 1979) are two such examples. “Japan’s Suicide” was a sort of prophecy indicated in the era of Japan’s rise, but has reading value in the era of recession, such as we have today. People living in the current age should reread this Cassandra’s prophecy of an article with the following two points in mind.... [Read more]

No.11 ,Politics
May 27, 2012

COUNTERING PANEM ET CIRCENSES IN THE 21ST CENTURY–FOR THE REEMERGENCE OF QUALITY INTELLECT

Nihon no jisatsu (“Japan’s Suicide”) is quite an evocative title. Few writings have foreseen the pathology that Japan would suffer in the 21th century as accurately as this. This article written by Group 1984, an anonymous group of conservative intellectuals in Japan, was published in the February 1975 edition of the monthly literary magazine Bungeishunju. It argues that Japan should learn lessons from the experience of the Romans, who at a time were industrious but grew absorbed in consumption and asserted their rights so strongly that they forgot their obligations, and ultimately vanished from history in exchange for prosperity. The cautionary words seeking an example from history drew a strong response in Japanese society at that... [Read more]

No.11 ,Economy
May 26, 2012

CONSUMPTION TAX – NO SENSE OF CRISIS AMOUNTS TO A TRUE FINANCIAL CRISIS

The financial crisis in the euro zone has evolved into an actual economic crisis as a result of the credit contraction it incited. The European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to a certain extent delayed the inevitable with their emergency assistance, but this crisis will not be resolved unless the European Union fundamentally reforms the economic and financial structures at their core. For Japan, the crisis in the euro zone is not just fire on the opposite riverbank. This is because Japan’s government debts, including those of central and local governments, have surpassed those owed by Greece’s governments at the epicenter of the euro zone crisis. Japan’s government debts currently total around 200% of the country’s domestic product (GDP). Moreover, social security and related expenses are likely to continue rising in Japan... [Read more]

No.11 ,Politics
May 25, 2012

PEACE FOR PROSPERITY OR WAR FOR SUFFERING

Reflecting on the Senkaku Boat Collision Incident – Almost a year and a half have passed since you were appointed as the ambassador to China in July 2010, the first ambassador from the private sector since the end of World War II. During this period, a series of critical issues took place, including the collision of a Chinese trawler with Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands; the detention of Japanese construction company employees in China; and the suspension of rare earth mineral exports to Japan. How do you look back on this time?... [Read more]

No.11 ,Economy
May 24, 2012

THE BANK OF JAPAN’S EFFORTS TOWARD OVERCOMING DEFLATION

Introduction It is a great honor for me to have the opportunity to speak to you today at the prestigious Japan National Press Club. This is my third time speaking here, having initially done so in May 2008 — my first public speech after becoming Governor of the Bank of Japan — and then again in May 2010, around the time when the European debt problem triggered by the crisis in Greece started to overshadow the global financial markets. Given that today happens to be just a few days after the Bank implemented measures to further enhance monetary easing, this is my first opportunity to provide a thorough explanation of this latest policy decision.... [Read more]

No.11 ,Politics
May 23, 2012

DIALOG BETWEEN JAPAN, UNITED STATES AND CHINA THE ASIA PACIFIC ORDER AND NETWORK DIPLOMACY

NAKANISHI Hiroshi: At the end of last year, on December 19th, news broke that Secretary-General Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, had died on December 17th.What action did you take? GEMBA Koichiro: I was in Washington, D.C. in the United States at the time, but I was notified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo that North Korea would transmit a “special broadcast” from noon Japan time on the 19th, so I instructed the Vice-Minister to take adequate measures, including information gathering. In addition, after the announcement of the death of Commander-in-chief Kim Jong-il, I once again instructed the Vice-Minister to reinforce the information-gathering activity and to make absolutely sure nothing was omitted so that we could respond to any situation. Vice-Minister Yamane reported these instructions to Prime Minister Noda at a meeting of the Security Council of Japan held on that ... ... [Read more]

No.11 ,Economy
May 22, 2012

JAPAN ACQUIRES A STRUCTURAL TRADE DEFICIT AND LOOKS SET TO HAVE A CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT IN 2015

In 2011, Japan posted its first trade deficit since 1980. Was the deficit a temporary phenomenon? And will it move back into surplus from 2012? It is true that a decline in exports caused by the disruption to supply chains associated with the Great East Japan Earthquake and the flooding in Thailand, combined with an increase in imports of alternative energy, were significant factors for the trade deficit in 2011. In 2012, the trade balance will improve as supply chains return to normal, although it is questionable whether nuclear reactors will resume operation.... [Read more]

No.11 ,Economy
May 21, 2012

TOP MANAGERS DEBATE THE CONSUMPTION TAX ISSUE — No TIME FOR DELAY? OR ARE THERE THINGS TO DO BEFORE TAXES ARE INCREASED?

The Noda administration has released a plan titled “Comprehensive Reform of Social Security and Tax”, which includes measures such as increasing the rate of consumption tax. They appear to be determined not to concede an inch, but their approach has come in for much criticism. Japan’s budget deficit is clearly in crisis. Looking at opinion polls on the question of raising taxes, the public are expressing a certain degree of understanding with regards to the issue itself, but are opposed to the way politicians are going about it. In a time of crisis, the attitude that leaders adopt is crucial. With this in mind, last year I interviewed two of Japan’s top business leaders. Two men who are well-known as two of the most capable managers in Japan, whose companies have overcome adversity under their strong leadership. They come from completely... [Read more]

No.11 ,Science
May 20, 2012

PUTTING GEOLOGICAL RECORDS TO USE IN PREVENTING TSUNAMI-RELATED DISASTERS – CURRENT STATUS OF AND ISSUES IN TSUNAMI SEDIMENTOLOGY

Tsunami sediment research has garnered substantial attention since the tsunami triggered by the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami (“2011 tsunami” hereinafter). This is because the 2011 tsunami was possibly a recurrence of the 869 AD Jogan tsunami that was a topic of sedimentology research for the last 20-plus years1. We know for sure that tsunami sediment (composed of various sizes of particles ranging from clay and sand to large boulder2) is effective for estimating when a past tsunami occurred and its size, and is potentially the only and critical proof for tsunami that occurred from prior to the Edo Period (1603-1868 AD) dating back to prehistory, for which historical records are especially thin. Yet tsunami sedimentology is... [Read more]

No.11 ,Culture
May 19, 2012

TURNING SMART COMMUNITY PRODUCTS INTO NEW EXPORT ITEMS

The Key is Local Production of Energy for Local Consumption Japan has been a manufacturing nation, with a dominant manufacturing industry. As such, it has relied on fossil fuels such as oil and coal to maintain a steady supply of electric power. With the global push to reduce total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, however, Japan has faced calls to scale back its use of fossil fuels, particularly given accelerating economic growth in emerging economies such as China and India and the resultant surge in the driving population. Japan had planned to respond to these calls by raising the proportion of electric power generated by nuclear power. However, the accidents at the nuclear power plants in Fukushima have upturned these plans. To ensure that we have a reliable... [Read more]

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